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Hi everyone, 

Im a sophomore in college, about to be a junior. I started off in a CC. I’m currently taking a chemistry class that combines OCHEM, biological, and general chem. It is TOUGH! I’m wondering if i’ll make it to PA school. I’m volunteering at a hospital now but have not been going in the last couple of weeks due to having to be at work at 4 am and being completely exhausted after. I am feeling like I don’t have enough time to catch up on volunteering or shadowing. Does anyone have any tips for volunteering and finding someone to shadow? Stories of you also feeling this way? 

Thanks all, 

Sienna.

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You are in a good spot -being a sophomore and trying to figure this all out. It is overwhelming, but a few tips may help. Have a clear path of what your next 2-3 years of school will look like. Try to preplan when you will not be as busy, like when you have a semester that is not as difficult as others, and try to rack up the volunteer and shadow hours then. Maybe the summer will be your best time to do this. I would focus the majority of my energy into getting awesome grades. Poor grades in the first years will only make more work for you later on having to retake courses to improve your GPA. You also need to think about working to get hce hours. If you don’t know what this is, do some research and try to figure that out. As for finding someone to shadow, you need to call offices and see if you can shadow there. This can be frustrating because you can get a lot of “no’s”. I found that smaller clinics/dr groups are a little easier to get into than a huge hospital or large dr group. Explain to you contact person clearly why you want to shadow and they may be more supportive of your request.

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i am not a PA student (YET) but i had similar worries as you - " not making it into PA school". however, if you want to be a PA, you WILL become one. believe in yourself and your capabilities. also, i think you are in a great shape - i started getting my PCE hours after my junior year (in the summer), and i have accumulated around ~1,200 hours by working 12 hour night shifts in the ICU (7p-7a), while also being a full time student. working nights and going to school is probably one of the toughest tasks i ever had to do, but i am fighting for this spot in PA school! as you can see, i started pretty late and my hours arent competitive yet, but i am still working on them! with that being said, make sure that you get direct patient care hours (have to be paid) that will 100% count for the program(s) you are interested in (for ex. some schools do not count the role of a scribe as PCE). also, excellent that you are volunteering! i have read so much about the importance of volunteering, especially in disadvantaged areas. for instance, i spend my whole summer after my sophomore year in Nepal working in the ER where i accumulated around 350 hours.

PS. while volunteering, start creating connections, asking questions and showing your interest for the field. you will need these connections for LORs

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I’m not a PA student so take my opinion with a grain of salt - but you can always get more PCE and work more years before grad school (which honestly you probably should do since you are young, get some life experience) but you can’t go back and fix a poor GPA. If balancing all isn’t working for you, worry about school first and foremost because a poor GPA will be an automatic no and can’t go back from that. You are young, don’t stress too much just get the ball rolling! 

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