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I was originally shooting for medical school, but after much thought may have changed my mind to pursuing the PA profession. Unfortunately, because of that, I'm not really sure how I measure up to those who have been shooting for PA schools all along and want to see if I'm in the ballpark with what I have. Basically just seeing if I'm competitive or if there are any areas I need to improve in. 


- 3.7 cGPA, 3.79 s GPA 

- 505 MCAT 
-162Q, 158V, 4.5 GRE 
-I volunteered for a cancer center for about three years and racked up a little more than 1000 hrs in the PACU with pretty direct patient contact. 
-Have close to 500 hours of shadowing all sorts of doctors - neurology, cardiology, pulmonologist, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, endocrinology, and urology. (will start shadowing a PA within the next few weeks to really solidify my desire to change paths)
-Work as a discharge coordinator for a local pediatric clinic, and have about a year in there... I'm not entirely sure if this counts as HCE as I don't really perform any clinical work.. mainly just handle referrals and insurances. 
-Worked for an Alzheimer's research lab for about a year and a half, unfortunately didn't make it out on a publication though. 
 
 
I'm thinking of getting EMT certified to gain HCE, but am not sure if I could get in with what I have already. 
 
Any advice or pointers would be much appreciated. 
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Everything looks good except you are missing the paid patient care experience. I would work on that for now. Volunteer patient care does not count. Try finding a job as a MA as many places doesn't require a certification for that. If you are willing to take few years off, EMT or CNA would get you the PCE hours. If possible shadow a PA as well. 

Good luck. 

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As stated above, you need to get the paid PCE hours.

Look into getting some kind of tech certification and start looking now for jobs that don't require a certification. 

Some positions that may not require a certification would be an MA, EKG/cardiac/tele tech, medical scribe, PT aid. It really just depends on the hospital/clinic that is hiring.

I had some classmates who got hired on as patient transporters (or radiology aid-someone that helps transport pts down to xray etc.) in the hospital which wouldn't count as PCE but it could get you in the door of a good hospital system so that when you did get a certification or if another position pops up you might have a better chance at landing the job.

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1 hour ago, Mimsi said:

Thanks guys, I had thought that was the way to go but wasn't sure. I was hearing a lot about students going straight from undergrad right into a PA program without much HCE, so was just hoping! From what I hear too, PA Programs normally look for about 1000 hrs, correct? 

It really is best to look at each program you are wanting to apply to for how many hours of PCE is needed. A program may list 1,000 hrs as their minimum requirement but then their average accepted applicant may have 5,000 for example. It is very school dependent. While there are some schools that will list and accept students with very minimal PCE, I think that is doing a huge disservice to yourself and your future career. But that is just me, others may not see it that way. You could still just try to apply to schools that require and on average accept a student with minimal PCE.

Shadowing a PA is also a component that needs to be improved. 

I'm also a bit curious about why you are making the switch, especially with no real shadowing (unless you had exposure at one of your volunteering positions?)

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Haha, I didn't make the decision completely in the dark. While I was volunteering with the PACU, I worked with several PA's, and was able to talk to them. 

I would be lying if I said my driving force towards the change wasn't family oriented. I'm in my mid-twenties and my wife and I are looking to have children probably within the next five years or so. I want to be a part of that family, and able to support them as well, thus the PA route trumps the 7+ years of school and double the debt. 

In terms of actually practicing, the PA's that I spoke to seem pretty happy about their career, and advocated strongly towards the field. Meanwhile, the majority of the Doctor's I've shadowed have discouraged me from pursuing an MD/DO. From my experience it seems like job satisfaction and happiness seems to be significantly higher with PA's. Granted I've only worked with a handful of them though. 

That and I don't really have any problems about not being a doctor. I just want to practice medicine, and am pushing towards pediatric primary care right now. The lateral mobility of the field seems cool too, but I'm aware that it may be a thing of the past with the increase in PA residencies springing up. 
 

Becoming a PA over MD/DO just seems more realistic in terms of what I want out of life. 

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You look really good as an applicant. I think you'll have a really good chance for an interview. I don't think the PCE/HCE has to be paid and I don't see a reason as to why they would deny your volunteer PCE if it was direct patient care, but still check with the programs. If you are able to work full-time starting now, I think you can get ~700 paid hours by July. If you are unable to find a position or accumulate close to 1,000 hours, I would suggest taking a gap year and increasing your PCE/HCE. Everything else on your application looks great!

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I might have missed the detail on the definition of PCE, but from my understanding it is paid direct patient care. That is why volunteering in patient care setting now goes under HCE. Am I understanding this correctly? I believe this is why every applicant you hear from are either looking for a patient care job or have at least 1000 hrs under their belt already. 

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1 hour ago, moleashish said:

I might have missed the detail on the definition of PCE, but from my understanding it is paid direct patient care. That is why volunteering in patient care setting now goes under HCE. Am I understanding this correctly? I believe this is why every applicant you hear from are either looking for a patient care job or have at least 1000 hrs under their belt already. 

PCE is just patient care experience. Whether or not it has to be paid varies from program to program.

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Well, while it seems tempting to apply with just my volunteer PCE, I think I'll stay on the safe side and work a bit before actually applying... 
Looking into a lot of programs though, it seems like they don't really differentiate between the two, they simply stick with the guideline of about 1000 PCE hours, and don't specify paid or unpaid. 
At least for Florida anyways, I haven't really looked into any other states. 

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