Monday, February 20, 2012

Being non-traditional

Last week I managed to be walking by the yellow elevator (areas of the hospital are color coded) when the doors opened, and since I was heading up to the PA room I hopped on. The person who had actually summoned the elevator turned out to be an extremely friendly third year medical student. Since the yellow elevator is almost painfully slow, we had a nice chat. He introduced himself as a very old medical student (44), and I introduced myself as an old PA student. I'm fine being an older student. I figure even though I won't graduate until I'm 32, I'm going to be 32 anyway and I might as well be that age with the degree and the eligibility to sit for the PA exam than without it.

Myles built biceps out of stuffed animals and underoos.
Of course, I'm also doing this with kids which is different--not exceedingly rare but less common. And things happen because of them... like I have plans to get home and stream my lectures for the next day but find out instead that I have to craft a top hat with 100 of something attached to it for my youngest child. Or my oldest son's basketball team has a mid-week tournament. Or I'm studying for my test and the kids decide to be insane and hilarious and distracting (and want an audience/someone to take pictures of them).

I am more fortunate than most in that my father is living with me and is there for them when they come home from school/take care of them so I can go out with my classmates or my husband (or my classmates and my husband!). And I haven't had to miss any school because one of them is sick (Duke University sent out an email notification that Norovirus is going around and holy crap are kids disease vectors), and now that they are older I don't have to worry so much about them being ill as much as I did when they were infants. But if I had after school care and a trust worthy babysitter (which actually, a med student friend's girlfriend babysits and she's soooo nice!) this would be doable without my dad. Not easy but doable. And I can hope  that I am setting an example for my children and they appreciate the importance of education.

My brother-in-law is getting his CMA license so he can get clinical experience so he can apply to Physician's Assistant school next year and graduate in his late thirties. My father was in his 40s and had a major stroke by the time he graduated with his associates. I grossed during second shift and took the classes I need to reapply to PA school in the mornings. Plus, after I graduate it will be my husband's turn to go back to school, and he will be even less traditional than I am :-)


  1. You go Mamma!! Now lay off the very old med student comments, LOL!!! Speaking of that, I did't know Duke would even consider someone in their 40s!!!

    1. Ha! He was the one who said he was very old! I thought he looked much younger and in great shape (one of the first years described him as a tall Anderson Cooper). But yup, he was definitely in his 40s when he started, so it is possible :)

  2. Believe it or not, college programs (and especially medical schools) consider non-traditional applicants rather highly...and personally, I think it increases your chances of getting in.

    I'll be 30 going-on-31 by the time I get my P.A. master's degree. But naturally, I just can't stop there. Luckily, my college has an evening post-baccalaureate pre-medical certificate program, so I'm going to wind up doing that after the master's. It's a two-year-long program, and I need to take a few medical school courses over again (which, if you read a previous blog of mine when I had it up, you know the deal about that) :) I figure, screw it...It will be 12 years since I took those general science courses, so I might as well take them all over again.

    So to sum up, I hope to get a P.A. job around the general area of my college. Then I can work full-time while taking those pre-med night classes. Now after THAT's done, that certificate program has a special linkage to the M.D. program at my medical school!!! So when they see that I graduated from a P.A. master's at their med school as well as their pre-med certificate program, I'm a shoe-in for that M.D., baby!

    *This is why I really have to do well in this P.A. master's program!* 1) It will let them know that I'm capable of doing medical school-level work and 2) I already gave them almost $80k in tuition by then, so maybe they'll look at me as a trusted benefactor of the college.

    Either way, I think this is the best strategy I've ever come up with for a non-traditional student looking to enter medical school. All I need is to do well in the Master's and land a job in the general area, and it's all gravy from there-on in. God, I love it!!

    1. I think the perceived benefit of non-traditional students is that they have more life/work experience, so I am aware that they can have advantages when it comes to applying. However, it can present additional challenges when it comes to actually being in school in terms of finances/demands on your time/additional non-school obligations.

      I'm glad that you found a program that would allow you to eventually apply to medical school, good luck with achieving your goal.

  3. Well, the finances and demands on your time factors can hold true for any student, not just non-traditionals. The biggest factor for a non-traditional is FAMILY, by far. In the later years, people have a tendency to get hitched and pop out a few kids (i.e. your case). That can certainly weigh any student down, for sure. Maybe it actually does pay to be single while going to college, who knows?