May 3, 2017
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I'm currently a biology major and I work as a CNA during the summers, which I've done for the last two years. As of now, I have probably 6-7 months of full-time experience. After next summer, I should have 9-10 months. My question is this: how many hours do I need to be COMPETITIVE for entry into the average PA program? And is working as only a CNA, rather than an EMT or something else, going to hurt my chances?
 

pamac

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Mar 30, 2010
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Every program has their own standards, and they usually will tell you on their website what the minimum requirements are. Websites that are really helpful are ones that give you a breakdown of the stats of applicants that are accepted. From there you have to basically eyeball the landscape to make a guess as to where you stand. If the published minimum hours are like 500 hours of hands on work at a minimum of CNA level, and a 3.0 gpa, but their stats page says that accepted applicants typically had 2000 hours, and an average GPA of 3.8, then you know that to have a real chance at getting in, you probably need to come close to the numbers of the folks accepted. There's no way for anyone to tell you what your chances are based on your question because we aren't privy to the schools you are applying to. But don't make us privy to them, just go to the school's pages and do a little research yourself and dig in. It's actually rare to not be able to find out that info on your own between websites and simply calling the school. But since calls are disruptive, most schools save a lot of trouble and make an effort to spell things out for potential applicants.

There really are no "average" PA programs because they all have a different profile of student they are trying to recruit. The programs I once applied to and got interview invites from wouldn't look at you because they had minimum health care experience hours way higher than what you have, and weren't iterested in entry level health care experience. However, other programs I applied to didn't care about health care experience, but wouldn't look at me because my GPA wasn't high enough for their liking, and I wasn't competetive enough in that regard. So it all is a variable landscape. It's much less homogenized than medical schools or dental programs.

The best answer beyond simply to do some research on your own is to get the best grades you possibly can (I've found that to be the main factor overall that makes the most difference). From there, obtaining health care experience isn't too hard. All PA programs will want to see good grades. Only a smattering of PA programs will have very high thresholds for HCE. The folks with the good grades usually come out on top of the folks with average grades, despite maybe not having as impressive health care experience.
 
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Noisewater-TDX

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Nov 22, 2014
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I'm currently a biology major and I work as a CNA during the summers, which I've done for the last two years. As of now, I have probably 6-7 months of full-time experience. After next summer, I should have 9-10 months. My question is this: how many hours do I need to be COMPETITIVE for entry into the average PA program? And is working as only a CNA, rather than an EMT or something else, going to hurt my chances?
I'm in med school with some people who have far less hands on experience with patients then you will have and i have also worked with many new PAs who seemed to not know how to touch a patient... I would think your CME experiences would be sufficient!
 
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