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Any former social workers make the switch to PA school?


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Hi Everyone- first time posting but have been reading through the forums for a little while. I currently work as a director at a non-profit and have a master's degree in social work. I started out in undergrad on the PA track but have now taken a looong detour. I started taking classes this semester in hopes of applying next year. I called a fairly high ranking school in my area and they said my experience with clients would count towards HCE but recommended some volunteer or additional work in a health care setting (which I hope to start this summer). Has anyone else made the switch? Do you find your social work background to be an asset or are schools focused on more traditional HCE? If you work as a PA, did your background help in your work with patients?

Thanks!

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I have not applied to PA school, but am thinking about it. I am a social worker, BA in Psych, as well. I work with elders, people with dementia, and those at end of life. I’ve done this for about 10 years (I’m 32) and am really wanting to switch fields. I am currently a Field Manager with a home care agency- I go into client’s homes and assess them, and train caregivers. I was also a family caregiver, a care consultant, and a Geriatric Care Manager. All at different points in my life. 

 

I am curious if my experience would count as HCE. I will also need to go back for the science pre-reqs. While I don’t have a huge science background, I personally think social services give really great experience that would translate well to PA. We look at the psycho-social wellbeing of our clients, and already have phenomenal (most of us) bedside manner. I’m hoping someone else comments with their experience as well! 

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Hey fellow SWers! So happy I found this thread. I just received acceptance to my top choice program today! This was my 2nd cycle applying (only applied to 1 school last cycle and was waitlisted after my interview). I have both my BSW and MSW, worked with at-risk youth, individuals with developmental disabilities, and worked on a locked unit at state psych hospital. I decided to pursue PA route during my work at the psych hospital because I worked so closely with our Dr's and nurses and found myself wanting to work with patients in more of a medical capacity. As you probably already know the SW background did not provide much in the way of the sciences, so I did go back to school to complete all the pre-reqs. Having gone through the application process I really feel as though my background in SW was an asset. I felt that it set me apart in that we are already trained to see the pt through a bio-psychosocial lens and understand that what impacts the pt also impacts their family, support system, employment, etc. Also, we have already had immense training in building rapport, empathy and multicultural competency.

I was able to count my experience on the psych unit as PCE hours because I did complete intakes, treatment plans, individual/family/group therapy, and discharge planning. Also working in a group home with individuals with developmental disabilities I did do a lot of CNA type work (med administration, glucose testing, routing diabetic care, bathing/toileting).  I counted my other experience as HCE. 

I did quite a bit of shadowing of different healthcare providers in various treatment settings. About 200 hours split between PAs, MDs, and NPs in primary care, neurology, oncology and the ED. I would have taken a position as a scribe or PCT, however I have to little ones and it did not work out for our family for financial reasons, so I volunteered as a Patient Care Liaison at my local ED. Since the last cycle I was able to build up about 400 hours while my husband was home on weekends or if they were with the grandparents.

Not going to lie, but after not making it in last cycle I was really doubting myself and my decision to pursue becoming a PA. I questioned if I wasted my and my family's time, but I kept telling myself this is my life and this is what I want/am meant to do (even if I took the long way to get there). It was a rough journey but after today I am so happy that I kept at. I know that my background will be invaluable once I graduate and am a practicing PA. 

I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide to do.

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I’m not a social worker, but I recently had my orientation for my PA program (which is beginning in May), and there were a fair number of social workers in my cohort (in addition to one of the professors, who is presently a PA, but formerly a social worker). 

I think social work provides a unique perspective through which to view health care, and one that is advantageous in many regards.  Because interpersonal communication is so important as a PA, I think this is an area where social work experience can potentially shine — not to mention having perspective on mental illness and how socioeconomic status is potentially intertwined. 

Good luck!

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Thanks everyone for your responses! It's great to hear that I'm not the only social worker making the change. I feel like having a deeper understanding of the biopsychosocial factors that impact individuals and their medical issues will be an asset.

Massilu, I especially am encouraged that you are headed back to school with little ones. I have 4 year old twins, which definitely adds to the pressure of knowing that I'm making a good decision. It's also helpful that you only applied to 1 school. It seems like many folks on here apply to a ton of school to increase their chances to get in somewhere. I don't feel like I can uproot my family to go to PA school so my school choices are somewhat limited as well. Please keep us posted on how school goes! 

Good luck everyone!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am so happy I came across this thread. I am a therapist working on an inpatient psych unit of a hospital and I have been considering PA school. I was hesitant about starting to complete the remaining pre reqs because I was unsure of how my experience and application as a creative arts therapist would look (I know how competitive PA school is!). It is a relief to know that it isn't impossible! Yay for career changes and going for your dreams!  

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