Are you considering applying to pharmacy school but are concerned about job prospects when you graduate? Join us on Wednesday, July 28th at 8 PM Eastern to hear from three PharmDs about their experiences and options outside of retail pharmacy.
Most, if not all, US medical schools require that you have some previous clinical exposure before they will admit you to medical school. Whether that be volunteering in a hospital, working as an EMT/Paramedic, or any other medical experience, you MUST have something. Otherwise, how would you know you wanted to be a physician?
most competitive applicants to pa programs have 3-5 years experience at the level of respiratory therapist, paramedic, or rn. the concept of pa education is to expand upon a set of basic skills already possessed by the applicant. the original class of pa's were all navy corpsmen in vietnam and the idea was to expand upon that skill base.
some pa programs are now compromising their integrity by accepting those with minimum experience.this dilutes the quality of pa graduates and is a poor trend for the profession. without exception, the top grads from every program are those with significant prior experience.sorry to rant, but this is a touchy subject in the pa realm right now. I am on the adcoms of several programs and am constantly surprised by the poor preparation of some applicants. a bs in biology plus 6 months as a cna does not cut it in my opinion. if these folks are serious about the profession, then they should work at a professional level for a few years to gain adequate background.
ok, so let me ask you this. My parents are psych nurses and my sister who is at Uni at the moment as a part time job works as a nursing assistant so she just assists the patients with the jobs you wouldn't expect a nurse to do. Would that count as experence. You don't learn how to do CPR or give certain types of drugs but it's still patient care. Would this do as experence? <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
coolthang- it depends on the program. some would accept cna as adequate medical experience. the more hard core programs really want rn/paramedic/lvn/respiratory therapy level backgrounds.these folks have shown a commitment to health care by taking courses > 1 year in length and learned a lot of medical"basics".
Hi Coolthang! A year ago I wanted to go straight to PA school, but after talking with nurses and other PA's that I used to work with I immediately changed my curriculum. Like emedpa said, it's good to have a good amount of experience and quality healthcare experience. Also I'm a CNA and I'm learning a lot of things, but it's not like being a RN or anything like that. I decided to go for my RN, that way I'll have my bachelor's degree and work a year or two, then apply to PA school. Having good grades, and good quality healthcare experience will increase your chances to get into a PA school.
I don't understand what I'm expected to do now. I graduated with my BS in biology in 1994. I've worked in the research sciences since then. Now I'm supposed to become an RN or RT before I apply to PA school?? That seems like a waste of time and energy. If that's not what's being suggested here, I'd like to know how I can get meaningful experience without starting another career first. I agree that those with that experience will be more qualified in some respects for PA school, but it's too late to go back and change that now. What should someone like me do for experience?
your best bet at this point would probably be to take an EMT- basic class( 100 hrs or so) and volunteer or work for a year . EMT classes are given all over the place and can be scheduled nights or weekends only. best of luck.
That doesn't really sound like a solution to my problem to me. Your suggesting I go back to school to get 100 hours of credit, to volunteer or work for a while then apply. That would put me 2 or 3 years away from even applying to PA school. Isn't there something else I can do in the next year to make me more qualified? It just seems like alot of extra time and money for something that isn't my end goal. Surely there are other jobs in the profession that don't require 1-2 years of additional school work?
What percent of those accepted have this type of long term high level experience?
EMT-B certification can be completed in one semester. I was enrolled last summer and completed my certification in 2 1/2 months. The hours he was referring to are the hours you have to complete in the ambulance/ED/ and classroom. I received 6 credit hours total. The quickest certifications to consider would probably be EMT-B, CNA, or phlebotomy training. You should start making some phone calls to the programs you are considering applying to and speak to the admissions directors. They should let you know exactly what type of healthcare exp. (if any) you need before applying. Take a deep breath...and go for it!
People people people...
I know I'm just one person with one experience but here goes anyway. I applied to PA school right out of college. All the experience I had--ALL OF IT--was volunteering at a free health clinic while I was in school. That's it. I got to do lots of shadowing, translating for doctors, and minor (read that again: MINOR) history taking. Never EVER did I even so much as touch a patient. I applied to 4 VERY COMPETITIVE schools and I was accepted to all 4. The school I attend right now turns away 10 people for every 1 spot. I say that not to boast but to make this point: surely they turned down people who were VERY LIKELY more experienced than me. But in the long run it's not the only thing that matters. They look at the WHOLE applicant--grades, GRE scores, DESIRE TO BECOME A PA, stuff like that. So don't get bogged down at all. By the way, in my class there are people who worked for years as EMT's, Clin tech's, respiratory therapists, MA's, you name them. Then there's people who like myself never did anything beyond shadowing and filing at a medical office. Do I think we're going to be worse PA's for it? NOT IN THE LEAST. I think we bring a fresh perspective into the field. Everything to us is exciting. We're curious, we love to learn and the zeal you see in us "newbies" is amazing. I say if you have any kind of health-care related experience AT ALL, you're good to go. Just show them on your essay and interview that your heart is in the right place. That's what the profession really needs.
God Bless and Gig 'em!
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas Class of 2004
Thank you so much for the encouragement. I was beginning to think I was out of my league for applying to PA school. I am volunteering right now and shadowing a couple of PAs, and hopefully that will be helpful. I feel like my whole package is very competitive, but my real experience is limited.
What emedpa is referring to is the fact that the PA profession has been built on the notion that you take exceptionally well qualified (medically qualified) people and you put them through mini-medical school to become "almost physicians". The first group of PA's was a group of Navy corpsmen who all had more medical experience than some ER doctors of today. It stands to reason that if you want someone to be the best PA they can be that they have to have medical experience to even start. CNA, MA, or even EMT-B is in reality not preparatory enough. The best prepared PA students are RN's, RT's, EMT-P's, and any military medic or corpsman. These skills in addition to top-knotch grades in the basic sciences are what make the most qualified PA apllicants. My school (UTMB) did not care about medical experience when I went and it showed in their graduates. Most of my best friends had degrees in biology or engineering but I sat back and watched them all struggle because of the lack of true healthcare experience. I remember one crazy faculty member stating at orientation in 1995 that healthcare experience was more of a hinderance than a help. I myself came in to the program with the least amount of college of anyone, but more medical experience than all. I found PA school to be challenging but very manageable, and when I graduated I was more than ready to start working in a near autonomous fashion. The PA profession is selling its soul to the devil to crank out more PA's but this is beginning to dilute the quality of the PA profession. Over the last few years I have seen more unqualified PA students than ever, with more pre-requisite education than ever! This is one reason I left working as a PA and am in medical school now. My guess is that it is only a matter of time before the PA profession becomes supersaturated and pay starts to drop significantly. Then there will be 4 PA's competing for the same low paying job. I do not honestly hope to see this happen but all the trends are pointing that way I am afraid.
Here's something that I often wonder about...people put such a huge emphasis on PA students having this wealth of health-care experience when medical students are more than 90% of time fresh college graduates who like myself had very few opportunities to do something "hands on" in college. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't a slacker and I would have loved to have been able to do more than file and shadow. But the way health care works--and rightly so, in my opinion--you have to be qualified to do even the most basic of things such as taking blood pressures. Back to my point though: medical students come in with the same preparation as the "new trend in PA students" do. Yes, they go through more schooling and more time in the clinics but keeping that in mind, they get to do much more once they graduate. Heck, they're the ones hiring US! I hardly think, though, that just because a person isn't an EMT or whatever that they're going to make a poor PA. Very much on the contrary. We're coming in just like the students who are going to be amazing doctors one day. I'm sorry, but I can't see anything inherently wrong with that.
UT Southwestern Class of 2004
You are comparing apples and Volkswagons. Medical Students take a path that leads to a minimum of 7-10 years before they are fully licensed and able to be set loose to harm people on their own. PA students are on a path to be able to do the same level of harm in some cases less than 27 months. Medical students have time to blossom while a PA student is planted one year, bloomed the next, and then made ready for harvesting. There is no doubt in my mind that someone without any medical experience will make a good PA one day, but that day may take years. And not every PA has excellent supervision or the balls to tell their physician to supervise them more closely. Thus, your point is well taken, and I don't doubt you will make an excellent PA. The reality of the PA professsion these days though is that it has fallen to the pressures of politics. Now most every PA program is headed toward awarding a Masters degree, which means it will undoubtedly attract more people similar to medical students without any medical experience. This is because many of the people in the healthcare field who are the most qualified to become PA's are so busy working in the field that they cannot afford the time or the money to get a BS. And truthfully, it is unnecessary to take some of the courses that are becoming more and more common as pre-reqs for PA school. I mean come on, do PA students really need to take biochem, organic, physics, or anything other than bio 1/2 chem1/2? The pre-reqs are now harder than medical school pre-reqs across the board. Pretty soon we will be like the PT's and shooting for a doctorate and forgetting all the old guys who were the best PA's ever. They also had certificates and BS degrees at the highest, and most were ex military medics. But all things change with time. I just see the PA profession losing credibility in the near future when 5 years ago you could be sure that any graduate from a PA program was quality produced.
I'm curious about your opinions. I am a biomedical engineering technician. Would my 7 years experience as a BMET count as healthcare experience for the PA schools? I work around patients and on medical equipment, but not ON patients....what do you think?
My experience was filing, answering phones, and talking to the patients to make sure they qualified to be at our free health clinic. That's it. I'm now in PA School.
UT Southwestern Class of 2004
aggie-no offense, but your background(medical receptionist?) wouldn't qualify for many if not most PA schools. this guy doesn't even talk to patients, he repairs equipment, so his experience with patients is zero. while there are programs that will accept folks with no or minimal experience, the great majority require at least 1000 hrs of direct patient care experience with most quality programs looking for several years. I am on the admissions committees of 2 well known programs and interact directly with adcoms from several other programs so I am not speaking as one uninformed. yes, this guy and others like him could probably qualify for the bottom 10% of programs, but not any reputable ones.
coreyb-here is some info from your local program at the university of washington copied directly from their site. while their practice requirement is fairly stringent many others are similar.
Q: What kind of background are you looking for? What kinds of people get into the program?
People who are accepted into the program have a wide variety of backgrounds. We have students who have been nurses, EMTs, paramedics, corpsmen, and who come from a number of allied health backgrounds like medical assisting, respiratory therapy, medical technology, pharmacy, and others. Successful applicants have on average about 8 years of health care experience, and have diverse or broad-based patient care experiences.
Q: What do you mean by recent patient care experience?
Generally within the last year, but definitely within the last two years.
Q: I do not have any patient care experience. How do I get into your program?
The MEDEX Program is designed to train people with prior health care experience who desire a new profession as a Physician Assistant. We are not a program designed to train people for their first experience in health care. The strongest Physician Assistant applicants are those who have a variety of skills and experience and academics.
While I agree with you on the whole issue that the guy never had patient contact and that might become a barrier to his being admitted to PA school, I would like to make a case (albeit small) for those of us who list volunteer work at hospitals as our only source of experience. For the schools I applied to I did have to show (and send documented info) that I had done at least a certain amt of hours (and this varied by school) of "patient contact" work. So I submitted my info when I volunteered at the hospital and also the hours from the free health clinic I volunteered at. While I did have "patient contact" per se, I didn't exactly do anything cutting edge. Okay, so I didn't even take blood pressures! But those hours were all accepted and counted towards my "patient experience" by the schools. I hate to say this but I think I applied to some very very competitive and reputable schools: Arcadia in Philadelphia, Baylor, UT Southwestern Medical and UT Medical Branch in Galveston. All 4 schools thought I was qualified enough for an interview and offers of acceptance. I may be way off my rocker here but I don't think those are bad schools. And so to say that volunteer work isn't enough doesn't go by what I've seen and experienced. Granted, a Biomedical Technician might be a whole 'nother story and I apologize if I misled anyone.
UT Southwestern Class of 2004
After graduating Magna Cum Laude, I applied for both PA and med school just to test the water. I received interviews at all med programs, but not even one interview from PA schools. I was told by admissions officers that PA schools expected at least 1000 hours of patient contact.
Subsequently, I enlisted in the US Air Force as a medic. Since that time I have been invited to pursue the PA certification through the military, and I've been accepted into med school. I now know that med school is the way to go- only because I have spent 3 solid years working with patients. Military medics are highly qualified... we do almost anything an RN does, but of course for less money.
For the most part, being a good PA requires a solid background in hands-on patient care. But if you are committed, I believe anyone can achieve anything. You may just struggle a little more than other more clinically experienced PA's right out of the starting gate. Doesn't mean you can't surpass them in the long run though.
I haven't read all the posts but have sat as an interviewer for PA programs and this is the best concise answer I can give:
Most PA programs want you to have some sort of experience so that they can see if you really understand what it's like to work in this business of medicine. We want to know that you are committed to the profession. It really makes no difference what other schools or occupations want, (nursing and medical school) but to be honest with you if you apply for those programs and you have had some sort of experience in the field then you would be more competitive and more desireable as a student. You can be sure that not all of the students have "experience" or exposure but they interview well and their maturity and "other things" offset the need for the "experience". Am I explaining myself here? We really don't care what others do or don't expect out of their applicants...those are just the standards set by the PA programs predominately.
Additionally, PA programs were initially designed to advance the capabilities of those who already worked in medicine and to offer them the opportunity to participate in this new occupation. It was originally felt that a person with prior medical experience would be easier to shift into this new field in the limited time that the PA programs were designed to educate the students. They could carry the experience and knowledge from thier current occupations into this one.
Soooooooo......that's the best answer I can give.......many programs don't adhere to those standards anymore. If you have experience of some sort you are just more competitive and more likely to get a seat in the class. It won't necessarily exclude you from the class, but you might get hedged out by someone who does have the experience.
Aggie PA....I have to respectfully disagree with EMEPA...If all else is equal, your grades were good and you interviewed well you could easily get into the program I used to interview for.....read my above post and compare it the quotes form Washingtons program....they want to ENHANCE to careers of others in the health care field...but not all are that strict .........