7 Different Jobs to Help You Get That Patient Care Experience You Need To Be a Strong Physician Assistant Applicant
One of the vital parts of the application process for Pre-Physician Assistant Students (Pre-PAs) is to have direct patient care experience (PCE). The time spent providing treatment, obtaining vital signs, assisting patients are small but crucial steps that help you gain confidence, be a part of the team and understand how the healthcare system operates. PA school is accelerated, taking 24 – 36months to complete and most schools require at least 1000 hours when you apply. You will need to work at least 6 months to gain 1000 hours and proper planning is imperative so you can have your requirements by the time you’re ready to apply. When making the decision on which job to get, do not be discouraged by the lenght of time it takes to complete. Time will always move forward, but you don’t want to be where you were last year because you’re afraid of how long it will take to finish something.
- EMT – An emergency medical personnel who helps to stabilize and transport patients. Completing an EMT training will expose you to a variety of population and complaints. You also get to interact with different providers, which helps to improve your teamwork experience. Most EMT programs take as little as 3 to 6 months to complete.
- Certified Nursing/Medical Assistant – CNA/MA assists patients with direct needs, often taking vital signs, assisting with medication and working under the supervision of nurses. Most programs are weeks to few months long and usually inexpensive. If you do this course, try to get a position in a hospital or acute care setting, where you’re going to have more hands on experience as compared to a home care setting.
- Pharmacy Tech – Works closely with pharmacists. This certification program usually takes one to two years and an externship. This experience will be very beneficial in pharmacology and pathophysiology. Trust me when I tell you that having prior knowledge about the mechanism of actions and ability to group medications saved me while in school.
- X Ray Technician – Works by using radiographic images to help diagnose patients. Programs offer certificates as short as 6 months or an associate and bachelor’s degrees that can run for a year or more.
- Occupational/ Physical Therapist Assistant : Work with OT or PT to help their patients recover or improve activities of daily living. The program ranges from 18 month to 2 years and can provide an excellent introduction into anatomy.
- Phlebotomy – A person who draws blood and complete blood transfusions. The program can be completed in as little as 48 hours.
- Licensed Practical nursing – Nurses who care for patients with scope of practise similar to an RN by administering meds, placing IVs, etc. The programs are usually 24 months, more expensive than the previous listed ones but afford you more direct care experience. Working as a LPN was very helpful in pharmacology, honing my skills of interacting with patients, completing procedures and writing notes.
- Volunteer : You may be able to volunteer in clinics, shelters, hospitals and acquire patient care hours, but this can be difficult because you might be limited to just observing rather than providing actual care to the patients. When you observe, your hours will be categorized as “healthcare experience”, so be mindful about this.
All of these jobs are some of the ways to get into the healthcare field but are not limited to just these. Obtaining these certificates or licenses are some of the sure ways to guarantee that you will not have to wonder if your hours will count. Through these paths, you will discover what you like, where you need improvements and help you gain the patient care experience you need to take your application to the next level.
What ways did or will you get your PCE?