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Patience Care Experience

Rather than simply having experience shadowing a PA or as a volunteer, most PA programs expect accepted applicants to matriculate having significant “hands-on” experience working in a hospital or other clinical setting. In fact, competitive applicants often have at least a 1000 hours of experience prior to matriculation, with some PA programs requiring up to 2000 hours.

The best experiences bring you in direct contact with patients, and occur in established settings associated with hospitals or clinics. Indeed, many schools prefer that you spend time in a variety of clinical settings such as rehabilitation, acute care, emergency medicine or pediatrics rather than observing just one type of practice setting. Check with the individual schools for requirements, as some are stricter than others.

Most prospective applicants become certified nursing assistants (CNAs), med assistants (MAs), EMT’s, or medical scribes in order to gain enough experience to apply.

For more information, see Mercer’s guide for direct-patient care experience and the types of positions that typically qualify: https://chp.mercer.edu/www/zzz-chp/admissions/upload/PCEInfo.pdf

How do I keep track of my Shadowing and Direct Patient Care Hours?

You should begin keeping track of your experiences in a log (like an Excel spreadsheet or notebook) that includes who you shadowed or were employed by, your duties, the total number of hours worked, the time range (e.g., May 2016 through June 2017), name of supervisor, the name of the clinic or practice and the address and phone number.

Additional Resources for gaining Direct Patient Care Hours: