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This is just a quick shout out to all of those pre pa students with "unconventional" health care experience. There is a feel among the pre pa community that being a paramedic or a nurse is the way to be the perfect applicant.

 

I know that not everyone thinks this, but I hear it enough to where I want to give some hope to those who may have some experience that is a little different.

 

I am a COA (Certified Ophthalmic Assistant) this is a valid form of HCE(Health Care Experience) for pre pas. 

 

COAs:

  • Collect histories of present illness.
  • Have knowledge about the effects of common systems diseases i.e. Diabetes, Hypertension, Hyperthyroidism,Ischemia. (For more eye specific review of ocular diseases see my post here.)
  • Instill medications in the form of dilation drops and anesthetic drops
  • Assist optometrists and ophthalmologist in clinical procedures
  • Volunteer abroad such as my trip to Mexico
  • Scribe for ophthalmologist and optometrists
  • Code using IDC 9/CAPT

This is just one example of what some may say is not real health care experience. I heard of pas who were ultra sound techs, physical therapy aids, lab assistants, and some even had no health care experience (not recommended). 

 

Don't get me wrong I think that Paramedics, EMTs(I am one of these to), and Nurses rock. I just think that it is important to get out of the idea that you have to be a "cookie-cutter" applicant to get accepted. Do what interests you and be great at it!

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As an MSW student, I worked as a medical social worker for a level-I trauma center, rotated throughout the entire hospital, was part of ID rounds, plan of care, med charting, etc... my role was direct patient care and clinical interventions, and I plan on continuing to work in this capacity while I complete my pre-reqs... does anyone this this would count for HCE?

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I'm currently a "residential instructor" for a company that owns/operates hundreds of AFC's throughout the country. I pass meds, take basic meds, deal with a wide assortment of mental illnesses (our "house" is dedicated to co-occurring mental illness and alcohol/drug abuse histories), create meal plans...the rest of my time is spent charting everything from BM's to aggressive behaviors to off baseline actions. Although while I'm doing my job, I don't feel that I'm preparing myself for any medical related field, I know that I am learning more about psych, communication, meds, etc.

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I'm currently a "residential instructor" for a company that owns/operates hundreds of AFC's throughout the country. I pass meds, take basic meds, deal with a wide assortment of mental illnesses (our "house" is dedicated to co-occurring mental illness and alcohol/drug abuse histories), create meal plans...the rest of my time is spent charting everything from BM's to aggressive behaviors to off baseline actions. Although while I'm doing my job, I don't feel that I'm preparing myself for any medical related field, I know that I am learning more about psych, communication, meds, etc.

I actually did this same type of job. I was a residential treatment advisor and did the exact same type of duties you desrcibed. I contacted a few programs I was really interested in and they said they would consider it direct HCE. One did however recommend that I try to get other type of HCE to strengthen my application. I felt the same way you did; it was great exposure to mental health/addiction issues and really helped with my communication skills, but lacked in actually medical experience. Communication is an imporant aspect in medication, especially between provider and patient. So use that to your advantage.

 

I have since started working as an ER tech and ER scribe. Both amazing experiences that I think compliment each other well.

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Licensed Acupuncturist.  I'm actually thinking an "unconventional" background will help us stand out among 1000 nurses or EMTs.  That's at least the angle I'm taking in my application.  Got 1 interview so far!  

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  • 4 months later...

I was a COA and then certified for COT. I've had no problem using this as my HCE. (4 interview invites) The best advice I got was to emphasize that you are a "healthcare decision maker." As an ophthalmic technician, I decide which diagnostic tests to perform and whether or not to put dilating drops in. Fun fact: there are only 70 PAs currently working in ophthalmology!

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