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Best Health Care Experience For PA School? Phlebotomist or Caregiver?

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Hey everyone I just have a question about health care experience and which is best when applying to PA school. I go to Miami Dade College here in south florida, any PA's from my school that graduated will help. I am in my 2nd year of earning my bachelors in Health science with an option of physician assistant studies. I have two options which I feel I like and they Phlebotomist, and caregiver. Now I am not sure if caregiver is accepted for PA schools but I found it on the "inside pa training" website. I like caregiver because my family actually owns a nursing home and it would be great if I can get hours right at my house but I am not sure if that is also accepted for PA schools (getting hours at a family owned business I mean). I would have too check with them first but if they do agree that it is fine would being a caregiver be the best option for me? I was considering EMT but I do think the job is a little too managing for me at the moment.


I also found CNA which is also something I could do in a nursing home.

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I'm not really sure what you mean by "caregiver". I assume there is not certification involved with this, otherwise it sounds pretty similar to CNA. Every school is a little different in what they classify as PCE. For me you safe bets are EMT, Paramedic, CNA, MA, RN, RRT and Phlebotomy. Of course there are variants off this list like Corpsman and other similar military healthcare positions.

In my experience if the job requires a certification then it is typically viewed more highly in terms of PCE. EMT is a great example of this, it also gives you a huge amount of flexibility in terms of setting you can work in. This can be anything from running 911 call in an ambulance to working on a patient care floor in a hospital to working in a doctors office.

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Just from the top of my head and what I've come across from browsing this forum, phlebotomist might not qualify as PCE for some programs. It might go under HCE. EMT and CNA are definitely under PCE for most schools. You will never go wrong with EMT and CNA choice. 'Caregiver' as mentioned above sounds like a vague title. What is the job description and duties that fall under that?

Check with the programs you are considering on what they classify as PCE and HCE. That should help with making your choices. 

PS, good on you to start this early planning out for possible career in PA profession. Stay motivated and good luck. 

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I agree with above; not sure what "caregiver" entails, but a CNA is a great choice, and since you can do it in your family business, it would be convenient for you.  I do not believe the fact it's through your family-owned business is an issue provided you complete the hours.  A CNA job can give you great experience from the nursing side of patient care that can make you more compassionate as a PA once in practice. 

I was a phlebotomist before PA school, which gave me a great overview of different areas of the hospital and the opportunity to interact with multiple different providers, but I see the value of knowing more about healthcare from a nursing side before practicing.  You'd have to see if phlebotomy qualifies as PCE as moleashish noted though...

EMT and RRT both would require a longer certification course but would provide excellent experience, as well as maybe pay a little more as you work through school?

Best of luck to you!  


Chris Darst, PA-C


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Low end HCE: MA, CNA, phlebotomy, EMT-B (basic)

High end HCE: EMT-P (paramedic), RN, RRT would be the quickest/best health care experience prior to PA school. Now you can always do OT/PT/SLP/AT/social work/etc but that is usually for people that already have those degrees. I would not recommend doing a masters degrees in SLP to become a PA (but you can if you want to! :)) Good luck!

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