Answers to Pre-PA Questions #9


Recently I received the query from someone reading one of my Squidoo PA lenses:

Thank you so much for compiling all of this great information and resources!

I’m currently a Sophomore undergraduate student, currently on my way to getting a B.S. in Classics with a minor in Biochemistry. I am very interested in the PA profession and am on my way to finishing the prerequisites of the top PA schools by the time I graduate.

My question is what is the best way I should go about getting health care experience.
Should I go through a certification program to become a medical assistant, nurse assistant, or EMT during the summer? Or should I use my summers to volunteer at hospitals and shadow PAs/other medical professions?

Looking at the 1,000+ hours of experience required for application is a bit daunting when I’m a full time student. Is completing all of these hours and my bachelors simultaneously overambitious? Should I simply count on taking a few years off after graduating to complete the hours requirement?

Thanks so much for your help!


Anne, Thanks so much for reading my lens and asking this great question.

Lets consider experience. Look at the hours in work weeks Anne. A typical week is 40 hours. 1000 hours divided by 40 equals 25 weeks. That is about 6 months experience. Many programs do not want volunteer experience but between your sophomore and junior year you could get 6-8 weeks, 6-8 weeks the next summer or just work from graduation until you get into a program.

It is doubtful you would get in the summer after your senior year so it will likely be 12 months after you graduate before you start a program [average at acceptance is 24] (most begin in the summer). It will stretch you to get that done. I suggest becoming an EMT this summer. Work with a local squad as you can and maybe even upgrade to intermediate before you graduate. You should have plenty of experience by the time you are accepted. You can volunteer in the ER and get shadowing experience and maybe pick up a reference from a PA that works there. You can get in shadowing experience with PA’s during your summer breaks so you have plenty of idea of how a PA works and fits into different types of medical teams. If you don’t like ER type medicine, go to CNA school one summer and get a job on a hospital medical floor or surgical ward. You will do blood sugars, vital signs and help patients with their daily living in the hospital. Both will give you what you need to be a better PA and the qualifications for a top program.

Categories : PA Programs


  1. Anne says:

    Thanks so much for your advice, Bruce.

    I am now looking into summer EMT and CNA certification programs near my hometown. Though this is proving to be somewhat of a challenge, I’m convinced that either of these paths would be the best choice for me to get my health care experience hours.

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