A minimum of 500 hours of clinical experience is required prior to matriculation. The purpose of clinical experience is to allow for exposure to how the healthcare system works and to gain an understanding of the PA profession. Having direct patient contact is valuable to helping applicants establish a comfort level when working with patients and other members of the medical team. Hands-on direct patient care experiences may come from a variety of places. The extent to which an applicant is actually involved in patient care will be weighed based on the description of the applicant’s duties during those hours. The title of a position is not as important as the duties the applicant performed in terms of patient contact and interaction with patients and other healthcare providers (physicians, PAs, nurses, etc.). Common examples of direct patient care experiences may include but are not limited to “Tier 1” positions that are described below.
Although applicants may be in-progress of completing hours at the time of application, applicants who have completed and/or exceeded the minimum 500 hour requirement at the time of application are deemed more competitive. Clinical hours must be completed by July 15. The program is not responsible for assisting applicants with finding places of employment, shadowing opportunities, certifications, etc. It is the responsibility of the applicant to arrange their own clinical experience.
The program considers hours in two tiers:
- “Tier 1” hours are defined as positions that have direct patient contact and are normally paid positions. Typical hours that are considered “tier 1” are positions such as, but not limited to: Medical Assisting, C.N.A, EMT, Paramedic, Scribe, Respiratory Technician, Nursing, Surgical Technician, Military Medic, Phlebotomy, University Athletic Training, PT Aide, ER/ED or Patient Technician, etc.
- “Tier 2” hours are defined as hours that have limited or no patient contact, but are somewhat relevant to an applicant’s preparation for PA school and the PA profession. Only 250 hours of “tier 2” hours will be counted towards the 500 hour requirement. As a result, the applicant will need to obtain the remainder of the outstanding 250 hours (or more) in a “hands-on” or “tier 1” type of position(s). Tier 2 hours include experiences such as, but not limited to: Pharmacy Technician, Laboratory Technician, and Shadowing.
The program reserves the right to designate hours into Tier 1 or 2 as it deems appropriate.
* – Tier 1, ** – Tier 2
- Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)*
- Emergency Room Technician*
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)*
- Military Medic*
- Surgical Technician*
- Radiological Technician*
- Respiratory Technician*
- Certified Laboratory Technician**
- Certified Pharmacy Technician**
- College or University level Athletic Training*
- Certified Physical Therapist Assistant*
- Shadowing a PA, NP, MD/DO** (due to COVID-19, virtual shadowing is acceptable)
- Clerical duties for any organization
- Transporter (orderly)
- Veterinarian work
- Medical answering service
- Ward Secretary
- Massage Therapist
- Dental Assistant
- In-home care assistant (i.e personal care giver for ill family member)
- Shadowing of any profession other than PA, NP or MD/DO
- Pharmaceutical Sales
Clinical Experience FAQ
Is documentation of my hours required?
No, the program does not require documentation of hours, but applicants should keep pay stubs or logs of hours in a central location. This organization will help applicants tally clinical hours for the application and the applicant can always provide proof of hours.
What are the program’s thoughts on shadowing?
Shadowing is encouraged and is a great way to get an idea of how PAs function in the medical field, and to help determine if this is the right profession for you. However, applicants should seek quality time with PAs when planning shadowing experiences. Quality time is defined by spending upwards of 50 hours or more with one or a select number of PAs and/or supervising physicians. Applicants are encouraged to shadow mostly PAs and not just physicians and/or NPs.
How does the program view volunteer experience?
The program accepts volunteer experience as quality experience IF the applicant has direct patient care. Volunteer hours that include stocking rooms, comforting patients, or escorting patients will not count towards the 500 hour requirement.
I have no clinical experience and have plans to apply to the program. I do have a plan in place to complete my experience hours by July 15th, am I still competitive?
No, you would not be as competitive with the applicants whose other factors (GPA, GRE) are equal. The purpose of clinical experience is to allow for exposure to the PA profession, communication skills, and is critical to helping applicants establish a comfort level when working with patients and members of the health care team. The program looks favorably upon applicants who have invested time to prepare themselves prior to applying. Most competitive applicants have completed or exceeded the 500 hour minimum at the time of application. If the applicant has no patient contact he or she is strongly encouraged to wait until the next application cycle to apply; thus allowing ample time to accumulate quality hours.