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When Should I Apply? HCE (and GRE) advice

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So I am currently a medical technologist generalist. I do pretty much everything in our hospital's main clinical lab: chemistry, rapid serology, blood banking, micro planting, urinalysis, coagulation and hematology. I do not do phlebotomy and I have no direct patient care in my job. I have been working here for 7 months (started 2 days after undergrad graduation), and I plan to stay here until the spring to make it a full year before I look for a job doing direct patient care. I have my EMT cert and some volunteer experience. My question is, considering that soon I'll have 2,000 hours of HCE, how many hours of direct patient care should I accumulate before I apply to PA schools/when should I apply?

Other info:

Studying for the GRE now to take it in December (Tips would be appreciated! Math is my trouble area.)

3.9 GPA 

Shadowed 3 different PAs for a total of roughly 30 hours, continuing to shadow.

 

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definitely for studying for the GRE use Magoosh. It's an online program that tells you everything you need to know as well as tips and tricks, I seriously can't recommend it enough. I tried my best to stick to their one month study schedule (which I didn't do a great job of bc it's really intense) and am very happy with my score. Also if I were you, I would get a job in patient care ASAP and you should be able to apply this coming cycle.  I applied in July with only about 900 hours initially and was fortunate enough to have a few acceptances.  My goal to apply was 1000 hours of PCE, which is the minimum for some schools. I ended up falling just short and there were a couple I couldn't apply to, but I am glad I sent it in when I did. Good luck with the process!

 https://magoosh.com/gre/2017/how-to-study-gre-one-month/#_ga=2.157339260.734068338.1512009946-1884994231.1510889243

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8 minutes ago, PrePA886 said:

definitely for studying for the GRE use Magoosh. It's an online program that tells you everything you need to know as well as tips and tricks, I seriously can't recommend it enough. I tried my best to stick to their one month study schedule (which I didn't do a great job of bc it's really intense) and am very happy with my score. Also if I were you, I would get a job in patient care ASAP and you should be able to apply this coming cycle.  I applied in July with only about 900 hours initially and was fortunate enough to have a few acceptances.  My goal to apply was 1000 hours of PCE, which is the minimum for some schools. I ended up falling just short and there were a couple I couldn't apply to, but I am glad I sent it in when I did. Good luck with the process!

 https://magoosh.com/gre/2017/how-to-study-gre-one-month/#_ga=2.157339260.734068338.1512009946-1884994231.1510889243

I'm using Magoosh and it is definitely a godsend! I think I'm going to stick it out here until spring, idk it might just be a personal thing but I think it will look best if I have a full year of experience as a med tech before leaving. Thanks so much! :)

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For direct patient care HCE, it depends on the program, I've seen everything from a "recommended" amount of 500 hours to a "minimum" of 2,000. EMS, CNA, phlebotomy, and scribing seem to be the most popular for those who are doing them for the purpose of PA applications. You can also probably volunteer at a free clinic or something like that and get some direct HCE.

As for GRE math, it is all very quick geometry, stats/basic probability, algebra, and calc (functions and derivatives). You have like a minute or less per problem, so it is all about being able to size it up and solve it quickly, or eliminate one or two answers and take a guess. There is no point in studying for the types of problems that require a lot of work to solve. 

Also, don't stress the GRE, from what I can tell, it is used primarily as a cutoff to cull the huge number of applications PA programs are getting. Getting a 310 (or even a 300) doesn't seem to be much different than a 320+. The means for most programs that I've seen published is 153/5-ish for verbal and quant. With a 150+ in both V and Q you should be fine. And with a 3.9, if you meet the minimum GRE cutoff, no one is going to question your academic prowess. I too have a 3.9 (and mediocre GRE scores), in all of my interviews no one asked me about either. The only thing that was ever said was "Looks like you have a lot of A's" or "I see you didn't have any trouble in undergrad." The GRE was never mentioned. 

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When it comes down to it, PCE>>HCE.  That said, ideally aim for the 2000 hrs of PCE - which is about a year of full time work.  

Depending on your current work schedule, there's no reason you can't pick up a part time job and use your EMT cert to start getting PCE.  You'll likely miss having your MT paycheck when you switch to a hands-on job so if you can swing both and save money for PA school, you'll be glad you did in the long run.

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