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Application and HCE advice

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I am seriously considering pursuing a career as a PA. My hurdle (as it seems for many) is getting the appropriate quality and quantity of HCE hours. However, I was wondering, barring my lack of HCE, whether I would be a competitive candidate...


Background: Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology (cardiac rehab internships ~550 hours - i know this doesn't count for HCE) 

masters GPA: 4.0

Undergrad major: Biology and Psychology 

undergrad GPA: 3.88

sGPA: 3.8

GRE: 161 quantitative, 165 verbal, 6.0 writing 


I find it hard to decipher just how much academics factors into the admission process vs HCE. 

I recognize the value of HCE before entering so that your PA education supplements a stronger experiential/knowledge base, but wonder just how much is truly needed from an admissions standpoint. 


Do you think it is possible to be a competitive candidate if I focus on accruing HCE for the next year or so to apply in 2018?

I'm thinking the CNA route and just trying to learn as much as possible from whomever I work under.  




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Hi! Your academic stats are obviously there. I think you should contact schools that you are interested in and most are willing to meet with prospective students or have a phone conversation about your potential application. I would ask them if your internships would qualify as patient contact hours for their school and then listen to their recommendations for additional experience and then do it! The only issue is you don't have much time until CASPA opens... and I would recommend applying early as possible. You can always update the schools after you submit your application though!

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The average minimum requirement for HCE for many schools is 1000 hours but this obviously varies school to school and most applicants exceed that number. That's not to say having only the minimum won't make you competitive, myself and many applicants I met in this process didn't have far above that number but schools look at many things on an application.  Many schools also want that done by the time of application as well so make sure to check the places where you want to apply and see what you still need before you submit. You can always update your CASPA after submitting to add more information, but some schools won't consider information on updates and some will. Some schools I applied to don't accept volunteer HCE as HCE and it has to be paid, so check on that too if your internships were unpaid. Academically speaking you're fine so if I were you I'd just try to get the minimum HCE-hour mark as soon as possible. CNA work is great for that, lots of job openings in the field and the places I've worked are always letting people pick up extra hours so it can add up quickly if you work full-time or overtime.

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I really didn't have a lot of health care experience when I actually applied, but I had recently been hired before applying so I was able to say in my application essay that "I just began *** position and expect to gain *** hours of health care experience by the time I matriculate" You do have to meet the minimum number of hours a school requires before they will look at your application but if you are applying with the bare minimum this is one way to make unimpressive health care experience seem more competitive. 

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