Read on: You may also be interested in my newest post Healthcare Experience Required for PA School: The Ultimate Guide
I could probably summarize this entire blog post in one sentence:
"THE MORE HANDS-ON PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE, THE STRONGER YOU WILL BE AS A CANDIDATE."
How many healthcare experience hours do you need to make yourself a competitive PA school candidate?
Although this is a topic of some debate, the consensus from both past and present data suggests 2-years, or 2,000 hours of direct hands-on patient care experience, is a good number to aim for.
I received this email yesterday from a pa school applicant Deeba. It is a good question, and I am sure there are many answers to this, but I thought I would share my experience with you here on the blog.
Here is what Andrew Rodican author of "The Ultimate Guide to Getting Into Physician Assistant School" has to say about this topic:
(the following is an excerpt from his book)
PA school applicants come to the table with a variety of medical experience, especially if they’re strong applicants.
Unfortunately, some applicants have no medical experience at all, which certainly hurts their chances of getting accepted.
Most committee members will insist on some prior medical experience before they will consider the applicant as a serious candidate.
On average, four years of prior experience in one of the following areas is common:
- Registered Nurse (RN)
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
- Physical Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
- X-ray Technician
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
- Emergency Room Technician
- Athletic Trainer
- Medical Researcher
- Medical Volunteer
Applying to PA school is an extremely competitive process. The more points you score with the committee, the better.
Think about your own experience and how you might be able to improve upon it. If you have little or no medical experience, consider doing volunteer work at the local hospital or clinic. The more hands-on medical experience you have, the stronger you will be as a candidate.
As much as I love Andrew Rodican's book on the topic of getting into pa school I think he is using an all too common path. I helped a gentleman with his personal statement last year who prior to applying to PA school had many years of experience, not in the healthcare field mind you, but as a dance instructor.
The key is that he loved people, it was apparent in his essay and apparent in our communications back and forth.
Applicants I council tend to get caught up on trying to fill these "quotas" of what they think is necessary to succeed. Often we use the principles of a common denominator... i.e if I become a CNA I can make it as a PA.
The truth is, that I would much rather take the dance instructor, with the solid GPA, who shows he cares deeply about people and is willing to work his butt off.
What I am trying to say is don't sell yourself short and set the bar in a comfortable place. Look outside yourself for experiences that will help you grow as a compassionate and caring human being. From here the sky's the limit.