Answers to Pre-PA Questions – Gaining Experience to become a PA


I received a message thru the contact form of The PA Path about how to gain experience to become a viable candidate. This person was interested in the program located in the Anne Arendel CC in Maryland.

Looking at the PDF for the last 3 PA class profiles there, students commonly had these medical backgrounds:

Emergency Medicine Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant,
Athletic Trainer and
Medical Technology

The last class had an average of 3681 hours of patient contact experience. This is true of most of the students but prior classes had 5000-6000+ patient contact hours of experience. This means they worked a year full time for every 2000 hours of experience gained and Emergency Medicine i.e. EMT/Paramedic were the preferred students. I advise Pre-PA students all the time that this is a great way to gain experience on a part-time basis. Many schools weight experience but do not require it. This particular program places a premium on it. They also have some great students with an average GPA of 3.39 on a 4.0 scale.

They have a list of preferred experience types that can be downloaded as a PDF.

It appears to be a competitive candidate, you must take their 5 prerequisite courses, listed on a PDF available from the Anne Arendel Community College PA Program website here. Those courses are:

General Microbiology with lab, Anatomy and Physiology 1&2, 4 credits of Chemistry like Organic 1 w/lab or Biochemistry w/lab, 3 credits of Psychology like Intro to P or Developmental Psych

They do take older students, with the upper ages in the mid to late 50’s. The classes are 65-90% female and about 15% have advanced degrees.

If you have a killer GPA and have all the science course plus some – (getting into these programs is quite competive – AACC gets 500 apps per year for the PA program and accepts about 30 students – a 6% over all acceptance rate – comparable to most programs) then I would opt for this type of experience:

Nursing Aide / PCT / GNA / CNA /PCA

Patient Care Assistant
Patient Transporter

Pharm Tech
Phlebotomist / Venipuncture

Phlebotomists are trained by lab companies and hospitals. Weekend and holiday help jobs are usually available. Volunteer for free for a while to just help techs and you should be able to get all the experience you can want. Think about taking Basic Life Support and Advanced Life Support Certifications. Take a Terminology course and a course on Drugs (Exam Masters has one that is quite inexpensive). Get yourself medically educated – that is what they are looking for and that you have gotten time with helping patients under your belt. Depending on the opportunity, becoming an EMT and then do some volunteer work for a fire company, ambulance transport company, or hospital ER. You could probably volunteer in a NH and do vital signs and get certified as a medicine tech, esp with med term course and the drug course. All these types of experience could be obtained part-time evenings, weekends and holidays.

PA Programs consider your GPA, GRE scores, past education, experience, references and essays. If you have good GPA,GRE and experience, then it is the references and essays that get you an interview. The interview gets you accepted. You may want to take my “Getting Accepted Course” where I have tips on CASPA, the programs, essays and interviewing, some basic medical terminology and drug information. Over 20 weeks it can help you be better prepared in many ways. Or if you need help just with the essay or interview, hire me to coach you. Look at the navigation bar above to find these opportunities.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ

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