You're not responsible for that patient's care and/or aren't physically putting your hands on them doing ANYTHING. The point of rev ronin's rant, and frankly the PA profession, was stated clearly summed up by the statement that the intent of the PA profession is to uplevel those that HAVE EXPERIENCE.
Thank you rev for writing this because it's so true. However, as an applicant, I've seen more and more the reduction in actual hands on experience and school's advocating shadowing and volunteering as an acceptable means of acquiring HCE. You're absolutely correct that HCE hours are not paying the dues. You should be doing them and wanting to do them already with becoming a PA being a chance to move up.
Finally, I cannot agree with you more with the statement that there is NO WAY you can know that you want to become a PA without having direct knowledge of what they do day in and day out. Shadowing gives you a glimpse, but then watching NASCAR on television doesn't mean you understand what Dale Earnhardt goes through driving a car at 200mph. This year, on multiple occasions, I've heard program directors flat out state that experience is neither a prerequisite of their program nor does it improve your standing in their review. Another program said that their last class had an average age of 23 and less than 200 hours of experience. You've got to be kidding me!
I for one am looking forward to clinicals and thankfully feel I have likely dodged a bullet when it comes to training with those that haven't put their hands on another human being until they got to school.