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Hello Everyone!


I am a junior in college. I am going to start my 2nd semester of my Junior year soon. I recently decided to pursue PA path and I am extremely confused. I don't want to take a break between my undergraduate and graduate schooling - do you think that will still be possible even though I decided too late? I do have 125 hours of health care hours - 25 hours of shadowing and 100 hours of volunteer so far. My goal is to work as a Medical Scribe this coming summer as well to gather some patient hours. Will it be ok if I mostly have just volunteer and shadowing hours? What should be my goal for my hours? 


Also, when should I start working on my application for PA school? I heard mixed things - some people have said that it is like medical school and need to start a year early while others have said I can do it in spring if I want to start college in fall. Which one is true? 


Thank you for all your help! 

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First of all, this completely depends on the PA program(s) you would be interested in applying to. Programs have varying requirements, including healthcare experience. One program may require 1,000 hours of paid experience and 50 hours of shadowing, the next program may require 2,000 hours of paid experience, and another program may require 2,000 hours and accept any form of experience. With that said, the first step you need to take is begin researching PA programs. Once you have completed that step, you can begin to consider what you next step will be in terms of obtaining healthcare experience. 


Scribing is great experience in some cases but again, this depends on the program. Some will accept it, some will not because it really depends on the specific job and what your duties are. For programs that require paid, hands-on care without exception, this may not be enough. 


In regards to your application, PA school application is like medical school in terms of it being a central application, however, you can NOT start an application a year before you are ready to actually apply. The CASPA application is open from April-March each year and closes down in March until April when it opens again. If you begin an application without the intent to submit it, that information will not carry over to the new year and all your work will be lost. You can read more about the application process here: https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/frequently-asked-questions/.


I am happy to help you with questions if you should have any, my email is in my signature below. 


Best of luck,


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Totally agree with ddisilvestro.  Be sure to "vet" the school you want to apply too. Every school will have different requirements. As for as healthcare experience, you should probably shoot for 1000 hrs. minimal. PA school is very competitive and you will be going up against medics and nurses with years of experience.


As a  side note, keep a journal of all your volunteer, work, and other experiences. This will make you application much easier.


Best of luck in your PA journey!

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The PA profession was created as a means to give already-experienced healthcare providers a means to work under a physician.  Be definition, nearly all programs out there will require a significant amount of hands-on patient care (Western U in Pamona, CA prefers no patient experience, by contrast); the only way to acheive some program's required experience of 1000-2000 hours is by working.


You may consider holding off your decision to go into this field, until after you have accumulated a few hundred hours of patient care.  Day to day life in a hospital setting, especially primary care, can be wrought with a lot of really un-sexy tasks like calling in medications to Wal Mart's pharmacy, reading through pages-long hospital discharge orders to find follow-up recommendations, waiting around for lab results or a bed to open up for hospital admission, reconciling lists of prescriptions, putting up with angry patients who cannot be perscribed narcotics but are demanding them anyway, etc etc.  Each institution will have its own bureaucratic processes which will eventually drive you nuts; it is only by experiencing this first hand that you can make an informed decision.  Scribing is a great job, but some institutions will not accept it as hands on patient care.  I do mean to condescend, this advice comes from my own personal perspective - take it all with grain of salt and bite of lime.


As a short answer, it is possible for you make it into a program that either does not require experience or something along the lines of 500 hours.  Your remaining summer will be a good time to knock this out.  I am planning to apply for the 2015-2016 cycle and I began preparing around late fall 2014.  Letters of recommendation and entering transcript grades by grade can take a little while but you have plenty of time.  Be aware that CASPA will only carry over certain elements of the application from one cycle to the next, and will not carry over anything from one cycle to, the cycle AFTER next.


Best of luck to you!  You may think you are a little late in the game, but (if you are a traditional college student, which sounds the case) than you are about 10 years ahead of people like myself.

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former ed scribe here.


i agree with every reply in this thread so far with emphasis on how scribing is amazing pre-pa school experience, but some schools don't acknowledge it.


also, even if you're an amazing applicant, applying in spring time for fall matriculation is pretty ballsy in my opinion.

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