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Hi! This fall I will commence my undergraduate studies at SUNY Cortland and I'm pretty concerned with being prepared for applying to PA programs, especially in regards to obtaining direct patient care hours. I was doing research and there are programs in which their accepted candidates average or will have even have more than 4,000 hours. This is quite the daunting task considering I plan to be a full-time student over the next four years.

As of now, I plan on being involved in the campus EMS squad where I will receive training and will be required to serve a minimum of two 12-hour shifts per semester. However, I will aim to serve at least 1 of these shifts every week. Do these volunteer hours count as direct patient care hours? Additionally, the squad will pay for my EMT-B training throughout this upcoming year's spring semester if I agree to volunteer for them for the two semesters of my sophomore year. Thus, I will be able to at least volunteer as an EMT-B over the next few summers as well.

Cortland Regional Medical Center is also a five-minute drive from the university, so I will most likely be able to shadow and volunteer here, but they are not a teaching hospital so they do not often have training experiences.

So my overarching question is how am I supposed to get the hours I need by the fall of my senior year when application season begins? Will I most likely have to accumulate hours for another year after my undergrad? Furthermore, are there any other positions I can seek to display diversity within the hours I accumulate, and are there any other pieces of advice you can offer me as I begin to plan?

Thanks for all the help!

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I'm a 2016 SUNY Oneonta Grad (Go Red Dragons), and got the majority of my hours on campus through our EMS squad.  It was a really cool experience.  Meet a bunch of people, see some crazy stuff and gain a lot of experience. 

I was only on the squad for my last 3 semesters and was able to accrue over 600 hours of experience (I would sign up for the overnight shifts and be asleep for 7 hours, did that 1-2x/week.  Would get a call once every 2-3 shifts for a drunk student).  Some schools require more hours than others, I saw a range of 80-1500 hours of minimum HCE when I was in the application process.  I got into school with around 1200hrs HCE, but I know some people in my class that got in with limited HCE (~200hrs HCE).  The majority of people I know that got into school recently had about 1000hrs HCE, which is not that difficult at all to achieve over your 8 semesters (~125hrs/semester if you only worked EMS).

Get good grades in school, work EMS and shadow when you can (only 25hrs minimum for most schools) and you'll be fine.  Have fun at SUNY Cortland, spent many great weekends up there - great town!

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