Feb 25, 2010
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this question is geared more towards older PAs, the ones who worked in healthcare before PA school, and current PA students. what do you feel is the best HCE if you had to generalize for applicable skills learned? emt-p, RN, RRT, or military corspman/medic? if I had to guess I'd lean more towards the corpsman but I willingly admit I am no authority on the subject.

also I reckon certain jobs translate to different specialties better; emt-Ps and ER RNs probably feel more comfortable in the ED, RRTs in the ICU, etc... so Im just looking for generalization across the board.
 

emedpa

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emt-p/corpsman, rn, rt are all generally considered to be among the "best" hce.
really depends what you want to do?
critical care pulmonology? definitely rt
emergency med? emt-p/corpsman or er nurse
IM subspecialty? former rn in that specialty(say cardiology, nephrology, etc).
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Hi, I was hoping everyone out there could help me. I'm looking to get a entry-level health care job and/or clinical volunteering so I could build up at least several hundred hours (more than 500) for when I apply to PA school in 3 or 4 years from now.

For most people this would not be a problem, but for me I have a special situation. I had a L5-S1 spinal fusion last year. I have physical limitations in that I can not lift anything more than 20-30lbs. The problem is, some of the best health care jobs/volunteer positions (ie transport, EMT, PCA, etc etc) where you get great patient interactions I can not do since your are expected to be able to help lift patients up and down, which I obviously can't do with a fusion now, without severely hurting my back.

I was hoping all you professionals out there could be so kind to give me possible ideas or recommendations for jobs and volunteering experiences that I could do so that I can get patient experience without putting myself in the hospital because I threw my back out!

I greatly would appreciate your ideas and input. Thanks in advance!!
 

Narnian

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Feb 1, 2009
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You may want to try being a Phlebotomist! I do not think there is any heavy lifting required for the job. There may be a little stocking here and there, but if there is any heavy stuff I'm sure that you can explain your situation. That is the only direct patient care job I can think of that does not require heavy lifting to perform your essential duties. You can work in a clinic or a hospital.

Good Luck! :thumbup:
 
Dec 30, 2009
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You may want to try being a Phlebotomist! I do not think there is any heavy lifting required for the job. There may be a little stocking here and there, but if there is any heavy stuff I'm sure that you can explain your situation. That is the only direct patient care job I can think of that does not require heavy lifting to perform your essential duties. You can work in a clinic or a hospital.

Good Luck! :thumbup:
I still have a lot more researching to do but that is a good idea. Not sure if I could stick people with needles all day long though, that is the only thing. I am planning on applying to non-competitive programs that have no standardized test requirement and recommend between 200-500 clinical hours of experience so a good chunk of that I plan on doing volunteering at my local hospital and clinics doing patient related activities. I'm also looking for health care jobs like hospital PR or patient representative among other things.
 

pamac

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Im a Med Tech, and do a fair amount of phlebotomy in my hospital. I dont think our phlebotomists do that much heavy lifting, but there is a great deal of awkward positioning that takes place during blood draws when you are working with ccu patients and tough draws. Even when I did clinical work, I had to lean over folks sitting in chairs. Phlebs spend a whole day on their feet as well.

I think a really good place to be would be in hospital registration. Im thinking specifically how my ER works. Our registration folks roll into the bays and do a lot of work one on one with patients there while everyone is working around them. They spend time working with family members if the pt is unconscious. Our ER docs also have folks that I think must be scribes of some sort that follow them around with a rolling workstation and do all the paperwork (i think thats what they are doing).
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Im a Med Tech, and do a fair amount of phlebotomy in my hospital. I dont think our phlebotomists do that much heavy lifting, but there is a great deal of awkward positioning that takes place during blood draws when you are working with ccu patients and tough draws. Even when I did clinical work, I had to lean over folks sitting in chairs. Phlebs spend a whole day on their feet as well.

I think a really good place to be would be in hospital registration. Im thinking specifically how my ER works. Our registration folks roll into the bays and do a lot of work one on one with patients there while everyone is working around them. They spend time working with family members if the pt is unconscious. Our ER docs also have folks that I think must be scribes of some sort that follow them around with a rolling workstation and do all the paperwork (i think thats what they are doing).
All very good suggestions. Yeah, that was something I was worried about about Phlebs because my spinal fusion is at L5-S1 and I can't really bend at the low back constantly without huge amounts of pain. When examining patients I would have to either lean over at the upper back or sit next to their bed. But even with examining patients your not constantly bending like you are with phlebs. Thats what most of my current physicians do anyway. Even if I get a health care job, a lot of clinical experience dealing with patients will come from volunteering because volunteer positions are much more flexible with patient interactions, such as reading/helping out ped kids, visiting with or getting things for inpatient people or therapeutic music. I wish I had a therapy dog, I'd love to do that job.

I would love just visiting with patients who haven't had any visitors because I have a lot of empathy and good ear for listening considering how much personal medical crap I've gone through myself.
 

pamac

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Something to keep in mind that maybe experienced PAs could clarify would be how a school with no standardized test requirement would view an applicant with volunteer experience like what you mentioned vs HCE. I would imagine that a program that didnt require the GRE would probably be doing so in order to place more of an emphasis on the merits of a background in a health care setting. A candidate with that has basically been vetted to some degree by their employer and shown to be worthy of being trusted with patients. As a result, they dont have to prove as much. Showing up to read to kids or sit with old folks doesnt require discipline or a lot of structure, and could easily be contrived. I've no reason to say it would be in your case, but just the fact that it wouldnt automatically say anything in particular about you without you filling in the details makes it something I wouldnt rely on.
Medical and dental programs seem to like to see a lot of volunteer work but they dont recruit as much directly from health care (although there are plenty of med students who are impressive exceptions to that). You have to expect that the competition is going to have great grades, scores and HCE that they bring to the table that shows well on paper and in person. To top it off they pulled every string and sprinkled on volunteer work just to put them over the edge. A lot of what Ive heard on here indicates that PA isnt just med school-lite, but a different species. You could look for the exceptions, but when you get into the ring with these folks in this environment, you are up against people that are hungry for it. You want to make yourself appeal to the broadest segment potential evaluators.

I only mention this because Im in the middle of all this as well, and among a lot of folks that fancy themselves to be good PA material. One gal I work with left my dream PA school after one year to be a Med Tech for gosh knows why. I have fine grades, great responsibilites and experience, and people that would go to bat for me. Despite all that, Im still nowhere near counting on getting in (my top choice is ten minutes away from my door, but tends to pick up really bright younger kids with little HCE). Maybe you fit into that category and will do just fine.
 

pamac

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What do you mean when you say you want to apply to Non-competetive schools? By that I mean, do you have any examples? They all seem to be competetive.
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Something to keep in mind that maybe experienced PAs could clarify would be how a school with no standardized test requirement would view an applicant with volunteer experience like what you mentioned vs HCE. I would imagine that a program that didnt require the GRE would probably be doing so in order to place more of an emphasis on the merits of a background in a health care setting. A candidate with that has basically been vetted to some degree by their employer and shown to be worthy of being trusted with patients. As a result, they dont have to prove as much. Showing up to read to kids or sit with old folks doesnt require discipline or a lot of structure, and could easily be contrived. I've no reason to say it would be in your case, but just the fact that it wouldnt automatically say anything in particular about you without you filling in the details makes it something I wouldnt rely on.
Medical and dental programs seem to like to see a lot of volunteer work but they dont recruit as much directly from health care (although there are plenty of med students who are impressive exceptions to that). You have to expect that the competition is going to have great grades, scores and HCE that they bring to the table that shows well on paper and in person. To top it off they pulled every string and sprinkled on volunteer work just to put them over the edge. A lot of what Ive heard on here indicates that PA isnt just med school-lite, but a different species. You could look for the exceptions, but when you get into the ring with these folks in this environment, you are up against people that are hungry for it. You want to make yourself appeal to the broadest segment potential evaluators.

I only mention this because Im in the middle of all this as well, and among a lot of folks that fancy themselves to be good PA material. One gal I work with left my dream PA school after one year to be a Med Tech for gosh knows why. I have fine grades, great responsibilites and experience, and people that would go to bat for me. Despite all that, Im still nowhere near counting on getting in (my top choice is ten minutes away from my door, but tends to pick up really bright younger kids with little HCE). Maybe you fit into that category and will do just fine.
I'm not sure if I'm completely understanding what you are saying. I get that the majority of people come from health care jobs but I know of a few people who went directly from undergrad to a master's in science program to show they can do grad level work and got accepted into PA programs afterward with little to no health care job experience. She had volunteer experience though at hospitals and clinics.

What I'm worried about is and I've heard from many PAs on here, is that most programs, regardless if they have a GRE or MCAT requirement, want to see health care related jobs, ie RN, EMT, PCA, etc. I mean I could put in 400-600 hours of clinical volunteer experience working with patients in various roles but its not considered a health care job. Because of my physical limitations, I can not do most of the typical health care, pre-PA jobs, because I can not physically lift patients. Is that going to put me at a disvantage? I'm trying to find out on SDN and from program directors and PAs in practice what recommendations they have for ideas of health care jobs where I can work and see patients that don't require heavy lifting, ie transport, PCA, EMT, etc! This is my biggest challenge.
 

pamac

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I'm applying this year so I couldnt tell you what works yet, but in my situation I'm hoping that my hce experience lends some weight to my application because my undergrad grades were lackluster. My clinical lab science program and the short stint I had in grad school right before that demonstrated more success. But again, Im sure Im competing against folks with great hce and great grades. My job can be very stressful, but I know that paramedics and others have some powerful narratives that go along with their work. The thing I was suggesting above was that a school that asked for no standardized test scores probably isn't aiming to pick up students with no hce that just didnt want to take the GRE. They probably figure its just not that relevant for a former hc worker that demonstrates that they really want to be there and can handle the workload. Just take the GRE and it give yourself access to many more schools that would have an appetite for students with less hce. I thought the GRE to be a frustrating test, but mostly because it seemed so stupid. The math was math from high school that was hard to remember, and the vocab words were words that you had to study beforehand to comprehend. My impression is that grad schools want a generalized test that shows you are willing to prepare for it. When you take the generalized GRE you are taking the same test that a history major, or a business major would take for thier grad school, so they basically make it a test that folks from all backgrounds could take without a bias towards science or knowledge already acquired. Its not like you are taking the DAT or MCAT. Frankly, its a blessing that PA schools only ask for that. They could be hardcore and ask for the MCAT, and rule out a lot of the population of aspireing PAs. It would do that to me... I dont want to take the MCAT. But the mission of the PA force is a little different from that of physicians, so being med school lite would scuttle a lot of what the PA profession is.
You may want to look into the PA forums: http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/forums/forum.php. I saw an individual on there who was a dietician who wanted to PA and asked how many had a dietician background. There were quite a few who chimed in and said they were former dieticians who were accepted. I was impressed. Its more encouraging at those forums than SDN can be sometimes. However, if the folks over there get the impression that you arent sure what you want to do (ie. MD,DO,POD,PA) they may not be as receptive. From your other posts it seems you have taken nibbles in a bunch of different fields before settleing on PA.
I took Lab science in the same building as the PAs at my school, and when they werent sitting in class (all day... before I got there and well after I left EVERY DAY) they were up and around working on skills. There were things they did that were fairly physical.
 

pamac

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I rambled a bit and didnt answer your question. Some jobs that I see in my hospital that dont require heavy lifting are things like working in registration (getting information and health history from patients), scribes (dont know exactly what they do but they exist), psyche techs (you will have to face off against aggravated individuals), schedulers, unit secretary, pharmacy tech, assist the MRI techs with paperwork (although you move people from gurneys to the tables). Outside of that you could work in a group home or a subtance abuse facility as a tech, or a psychiatric facility. At my facility I had orientation with someone that was going to operate the public address system for paging. She may do more but I cant prove it.
 

pamac

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And finally, there is my job... lab scientist. I did it the hard way and did a year biology grad classes after undergrad before I discovered this. I did a one year program and came out and got several job offers, along with what they tell me is another bachelors degree. That was just before the economy tanked, but there is still a call for med techs if you can relocate. That one year of school did more for me than the grad school work. I found the material to be easy (it probably wasnt, but it seemed like it because I liked it). The job description says that I need to lift 45 lbs, and I do, but most of my coworkers are over 55, so they dont lift things... many have existing back issues. At many job sites, you would be along a bench on a comfy chair sitting. As a med tech, you certainly dont have to take on the kind of work that I gravitate towards (i like to run around and get in on the tough stuff). There is plenty to do around the lab itself. There is a lot of responsibility, but its cool. I make pretty good money. At this facility, I love my job. Other places I did rotations at were cool too, but I got lucky. I work with cool people and there are cool opportunities that make for a diverse day.
 
Dec 16, 2009
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Have you considered Medical Assistant?

As for volunteering, you want to approach it from this standpoint ... yes, you will be much safer and prepared come application time with a solid base of paid, clinical experience. However, in addition, volunteer. Learn everything you can. Practice talking and working with patients and providers/staff in as many situations as you're able. Volunteering can be a way to see and do a lot, and you don't even have to pay for it. Get into your local ED, see if you can get into your local Hospice, try a Children's Hospital in your area ... go start learning different aspects of medicine and interacting. If you do that, not only will you have a more impressive resume/application, you will be showing that you have what it takes to be flexible and that you have aptitude and determination to learn and excel.
 
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Apr 5, 2010
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Become a medical assistant if you just want the health care experience. If you're looking for something that will benefit you when you're in PA school, I'm not sure if being an MA does jack tho.
 
Dec 16, 2009
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Become a medical assistant if you just want the health care experience. If you're looking for something that will benefit you when you're in PA school, I'm not sure if being an MA does jack tho.
Perhaps, but the comment was directed to the poster who has spinal issues. And I think there's something to be said for clinical experience versus 'O2 and transport' ...
 
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