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Social Worker to PA

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I previously worked as a social worker for CPS. I'm wondering if my experience could be used as clinical experience. Because I lived in a rural area and finding workers was difficult, they did not require a Masters or to be a LCSW. Also, due to this we often had to be more hands on since we did not have the money to hire third-party companies to do assessments or drug tests. 

Some of my duties included: 

Assessing clients/patients (adults and children) with substance abuse and/or mental health issues. When I first received a case we would assess them with various initial assessment tools in order to know if they were to be referred to mental health services and/or substance abuse resources. While we did not make a treatment plan for them, but we had to make sure they were following the plan and providing them with advice and constant "therapy." I say "therapy" because it was not in a clinic but rather depending on the location. It could have been in a rehab facility, their home, our office, etc. I  was also responsible for collecting urine or oral samples on a daily basis for multiple clients and sending them to the toxicology lab. 

We also dealt with medical records, immunization records, and had to be present at discharge to get discharge instructions for foster parents and understand the terminology.

I have emailed one PA school on what they consider PCE and they wrote back with "As long as you are assessing patients and providing medical or psychological treatment directly to patients in a clinical setting (CPR, administering medication, psychotherapy, physical therapy, etc.), your experience will be accepted. The more hands on treatment you provide, the stronger your experience will be considered."

Another school has listed on their website: “Direct-patient care experience” means that the applicant was an active participant in the care of a patient. This may include performing a service to the body (physical therapy assistant, paramedic, etc.), performing a service to the mind (counseling, health education, etc.), or personally interacting with patients (scribe, etc.) in the medical environment. Direct patient care does not include front office or administrative work. The medical environment refers to the place where medical services are rendered or medical examinations occur. 

While I feel like I was providing a service to the mind by interacting with my clients, I am STILL unsure if they would count this as PCE. Does anyone have any experience from going from a social worker to a PA?

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25 minutes ago, MT2PA said:

Frankly, I think it would NOT qualify as PCE.  Maybe if you had the degree/training behind it (i.e actually a licensed LCSW).  Maybe.

It's unique experience for sure.  Your best bet will be to contact programs individually.

I appreciate your input. I'm also thinking it won't count as PCE, but was hoping it did count. I contacted one of the programs and that was their response in my post.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi there! I am a (former) social worker applying this cycle to PA programs.  I e-mailed a few schools my job description (which was more case management as a do not have an LCSW) and was told that the hours would count towards PCE. My role did involve completing biopsychosocial assessments and treatment plans for clients but it sounds like you might have done some of that as well. I would definitely e-mail each school you are considering to be sure.

It was suggested to me by one school to get some volunteer/work experience in a health care setting in addition to my social work experience. Last fall, I ended up leaving my job to knock out all the pre reqs and am now working as an MA (not licensed but found a practice that was willing to train me). It was tough because I was making way more money but otherwise it was going to take a while to complete the courses and I'm not getting any younger...

All the PAs I've shadowed and worked with said that being a social worker will be a great asset in the career so I'm hoping schools think that as well!

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