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When is the best time to get Patient Healthcare experience?

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Hi guys.

I am an undergraduate student (freshman) studying Psychology and am Pre-Pa (although no “pre-pa” track exists at my school). I was wondering when the best time to get patient experience hours are. I just received my Medical Assistant certification from an outside program and planned on going to school part time next semester while also working as an MA to start accumulating hours while in my undergraduate years. However, my advisor has recommended that I stay a full time student so I don’t lose scholarship money. With that being said, I’m worried that going to school full time and then working in a somewhat stressful environment (given that I would be responsible for someone’s healthcare) will have a negative effect on my GPA because I may “overwork” myself. In addition, it’s really difficult to find a part time medical assistant job that works around my full time school schedule. What should I do? Should I wait until graduation and then work full time for a few years? Should I look for summer opportunities? Should I work on weekends or nights even if it’s stressful?  When do other Pre-PA students typically get these hours?

Either way I still plan on getting a job while a full time student. I just don’t know if I want to do a more stressful medical job as opposed to a regular on campus job (then medical job after graduation) My GPA needs to stay high in order to get into a PA program, so I’m weighing all the possible options. 

Any suggestions?


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Everyone chooses the path that works best for them! 

That being said, I have seen the most success with students who gained PCE during summers/breaks and potentially took extra time (gap year) after school to accrue enough. This strategy allows for focus on grades, and then hardcore focus on quality PCE. 

What I personally did: focused on school, graduated a semester early with great grades, used that extra semester to work 60+ hours a week in PCE job, applied in early June, accepted by mid-September. 

But I don't think there is a definitive right or wrong. The greatest risk I see with doing both a full-time course load as well as working is burnout. 

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I agree with above.

Personally, I graduated from college and then began my EMT certs/work. Worked well for me as I was able to completely focus on one aspect at a time. I would focus on your GPA, especially your science courses, for now as it is one of the harder things to change towards the end.


Edited by Samson113
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