I'm entering my freshman year of college and I've been reading up on how to gain direct patient care hours for PA school admission in the most efficient way possible. I know I'll be continuing to volunteer at a hospital in the coming months, but along with undergraduate work, there's no way I'll be able to reach the tremendous number of hours needed for acceptance.
So with that being said I have a few questions:
1) I've read a lot of stories and seen on quite a few LinkedIn profiles, people who seem to be moving straight from undergrad into PA school. How is that possible? Where & how, if so, do they get their patient care experience?
2) I am considering majoring in Dietetics, becoming an RD and gaining hours through that career, but to become a registered Dietitian I will need to complete an 8-24 month internship. If I don't go through the Dietetics program I will be completing an undergraduate major in Health Science and then entering into a certification program (either EMT or Lab Tech) and then getting hours. Which is, in your opinion, preferable? I think the RD route will be longer. Do hours completed working as a Dietitian count as hands on?
3) Is it possible to get into PA school strictly with volunteering and shadowing hours or do you have be working as a certified professional, such as a Lab Technician or EMT? I know from experience that volunteering does limit what you can do hands-on.
4) I will be beginning pre-reqs for PA school freshman year, due to the number of AP classes I've taken in high school, but many PA schools I'm looking into prefer for all pre-reqs to be finished within 5 years before applying to PA school. If I begin classes my freshman year, graduate in 4 years, and then get hours for 2 years, will that hurt my chances significantly of getting into a school, as my pre-reqs will have been taken over 5 years earlier.
I plan to go above-and-beyond both in my studies and my hours needed, but I still have a lot of questions.