How to Gain Patient Care Experience Before PA School

Once you have chosen to follow the physician assistant (PA) career path, you may have questions about how to fulfill your prerequisites. For instance, you know that clinical experience is one of the most vital components of your PA school application, but how do you get that patient care experience? Do you have to volunteer or do you get paid for it? Where can you find medical facilities that will provide you with opportunities for hands-on experience? We will answer these questions and more so you can connect with the right clinical experience for your PA career path. When applying to PA school, admissions committees look to see that your application conveys evidence of empathy, service orientation, ethical responsibility to self and others, an awareness of what a career as a practicing physician entails, and other characteristics and strengths. While shadowing may offer you exposure to the patient care environment, it’s not the only way to demonstrate these skills and attributes. Entry-level healthcare positions provide pre-PAs with direct, hands-on clinical and patient care experiences that admissions counselors value most. Clinical certification training can prepare you for an entry-level position and help you stand out in your PA school applications!
Advanced eClinical Training can help you get the clinical and patient care experience you need when you enroll in our online, self-paced clinical certification courses for pre-health students. Our goal is to streamline your path to PA school by providing affordable, self-paced courses that cover all of the knowledge, skills, and training you will need to feel prepared for your future as a PA. Advanced eClinical Training provides online, self-paced, nationally accredited clinical certifications for pre-health students. In just 8-weeks, you will become credentialed as an allied health provider and prepared to obtain direct patient care roles in various healthcare settings while gaining valuable clinical experience for medical school.

Are you ready to start looking for clinical experience opportunities? Here are some tips to help guide your search.

Enroll in certification programs through your local community college

Certification programs at community colleges are an affordable way to fulfill your local PA school prerequisites. These programs also include clinical practicums that provide opportunities to rotate between different medical facilities. Having experience in a variety of medical settings is great for your PA school application as it shows you have a diverse medical background. Additionally, working in different facilities can help you discover which of these medical settings most appeal to you for your future career as a PA. Some of the medical facilities that may be part of your rotation include:
  • Family practice
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Internal medicine
  • Community medicine
  • Emergency medicine
  • Psychiatry

Enroll in an Online Clinical Training and Certification Program

For optimal convenience, you can earn an online medical certification. Depending on where you are located, your local community college may not be so local, and getting to classes may be challenging with your schedule. Online certification courses expand accessibility to a wider audience, so you can more easily maintain a job while you take classes online at your convenience. When you choose a self-paced online program, there is nothing stopping you from achieving your dreams of entering the medical field. Online medical certification programs can connect you with the same clinical experience opportunities as for community college programs. There may also be partnerships with your local organizations to set you up with patient care experience.

Look for Opportunities to Study Abroad

Organizations like Physician Assistants for Global Health (PAGH) always need medical volunteers to help out in underserved areas of the world. This organization was created specifically for physician assistants and future PAs to connect with one another and share ways to help underserved populations across the globe get the medical attention they desperately need. PAGH partners with various global organizations to connect PAs with some of the following overseas opportunities:
  • Third Wave Volunteers – This organization sets up relief missions to populations in need. 
  • International Medical Relief – This organization provides volunteer opportunities for PAs to assist at medical and dental clinics around the world.
  • Saving Mothers – Future PAs can help provide medical care for pregnant women in areas lacking proper maternity care.
Overseas patient care experience is an impressive addition to any PA school application and will certainly set you apart from the crowd. It demonstrates your compassion and commitment to helping others, particularly the less fortunate.

Seek Volunteer Opportunities

Unlike medical school, PA candidates are expected to have significant clinical experience before applying. If you do not have any work experience in the medical field, you can still gain clinical experience through volunteer work. Many organizations could use the help but do not have the funds to pay an employee. By volunteering your services, you can gain the patient care and healthcare experience you need for your PA school application while also providing a service to organizations in need. Some ideas for obtaining clinical experience through volunteering include:
  • Homeless shelters
  • Senior living facilities
  • Children’s hospitals
  • Health clinics

Advanced eClinical Training: Connecting You With Clinical Experience Opportunities

Advanced eClinical Training can help you along your path to becoming a PA. By starting with one of our convenient online certification courses, such as Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA), you will qualify for medical assistant positions that provide hands-on experience that can be added to your PA school application.
Contact us today to speak to a program director and learn more about our convenient, affordable clinical education courses. Sources: https://students-residents.aamc.org/aspiring-docs-fact-sheets-get-experience/five-ways-gain-experience-without-shadowing

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