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From cleaning teeth to PA School?

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Hi everyone,

Just found this forum and am very excited about all the information out there. I was hoping some of you might be able to give me some insight into the journey to becoming a Physician Assistant.

I graduated w a Bachelors in Science of Dental Hygiene. I have been working as a hygienist for a little more than a year and while it is a wonderful job it is very monotonous and not something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life. Before I graduated I started looking into Masters programs, and after extensive research and soul searching I have decided to pursue a career as a PA. I do still have quite a few pre-reqs but I would love to get any tips or advice on how to have the best application possible. MY GPA is around a 3.8 (hoping to keep it this high after taking all my classes), and although I have not gotten my written score, my Analytical and Quantitative score for the GRE was 156 for both (although I may take it one more time to try to improve my score). I am working on shadowing a few PAs and possibly volunteering in the ER or other hospital setting. Do you think that my experience as a hygienist would count towards patient experience? Although it is in the dental field, my schooling still required classes on Pharmacology, Medical Emergencies, Anatomy, Internal Medicine, etc. and I would hope this would be a plus. Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!


PS I'm in Louisiana so any recommendations for great PA schools in the south are welcome.

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I think my dental hygienist is freaking brilliant. She has awesome bedside manner, attentive, skilled, thorough and when she uses the nitrous she is very attentive for effect, respiratory drive, and other indicators of my response. While it doesn't cover a broad spectrum of medicine I believe the skills she has would help make her a great clinician. You can learn medicine...you can't learn bedside manner.


I say go for it.


Emory has a good rep for their PA program

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  • 4 weeks later...

I started PA school two weeks ago and we have a former dental hygienist in our class. My early impression is that she is a strong student. You seem like a strong candidate and your science background should serve you well. I'm not sure about the HCE. It seems like it should count but you need to check with CASPA and individual programs. Good luck!

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  • 3 months later...

I'm SO glad to find this thread! I've been an RDH since 2001 and finally started back to school to finish my B.S earlier this year. I need to have a M.S. degree to teach at a hygiene program and when I stumbled on the PA program I was totally floored and knew it was for me. I've traveled overseas to 3rd world countries and am thrilled to think of what being a PA could allow me to do on future mission trips (as opposed to just being a dental hygienist). While I absolutely love being an RDH and have prevented the classic 10-year-burnout (I work one day a week now and spend the rest of the time writing dental oriented articles), the PA career path thrills me...I simply hope that my previous clinical experience in treating, treatment planning and educating my own patients can be used as patient care experience. Let me know how it goes and if your clinical experience is adequate enough for entrance. I have at least a year to go before I can apply.

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  • 8 years later...
On 4/7/2021 at 6:17 AM, Mary1000 said:

Can a licensed PA perform scaling for dental patients if they wanted to without a license as a hygienist ? Just curious ! 

I would say that would be out of your scope of practice.  

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