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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shadowing for Physician Assistant School

Shadowing for Physician Assistant School
It’s only normal for a student to be curious about who to shadow for admission into physician assistant school. You might have questions such as the following listed below. Well, I’m here to answer them to the best of my knowledge.While some may disagree with my answers, this is just my opinion and if you wish, you can check out PhysicianAssistantForum.com for more information.


  • Is it acceptable to shadow a MD/DO or Nurse Practitioner instead of a PA?
    • Yes. While you may shadow a physician or nurse practitioner, it is recommended by many programs that you shadow a physician assistant as well. Shadowing these other providers gives you knowledge and experience of their roles in healthcare, but you should know the differences between them and a physician assistant.You can really shadow anyone in healthcare. I've heard of people shadowing physicians, nurse practitioners, paramedics, etc.
  • Do programs prefer shadowing of a physician assistant?
    • By and large, yes! At all costs, shadow a PA, even if it is for only 3-5 days.
  • What types of clinical settings are appropriate for shadowing?
    • In my own experience, the physician assistant I shadowed gave me some good advice. She suggested shadowing her in clinic and hospital (surgery) settings. Ultimately, it gave me a very broader understanding of the role of a PA in various settings, as well as learning the differences between outpatient and inpatient services. This is important for your own understanding as well and shadowing in all settings will make it easier to talk about during your interviews.
  • How long should I shadow for?
    • This is ultimately your decision. Shadowing a provider for a few days (40 hours) is just as helpful as shadowing for 40 days or weeks. The length of time shadowing really doesn’t count for much in admissions, but the amount of knowledge you gained from shadowing is important. There are only a select few PA programs out there that actually require shadowing minimums. The admissions committee is more worried about your hands on patient experience in addition to your understanding of the roles of physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners (through shadowing). Personally, I shadowed my PA for about 5 days total in clinic and 3 days total in surgery. You don’t want to overstay your welcome with a PA. Ask your PA if they know other PAs you could shadow as well. When I began shadowing in the hospital setting, I was introduced to 3 other PAs in different specialties that quickly offered shadowing to me whenever I pleased.
  • How should I record (document) my shadowing hours?
    • While there is no official way to record your shadowing hours, it’s always important to use an honor system. I think most students use pen and paper or an Excel file to record their hours. Make sure to record the date, name of the provider you shadowed, and number of hours spent shadowing. You might also consider jotting notes down about each day so that you can use them when entering in information about your shadowing into CASPA. Some of your supplemental applications might ask for provider information to confirm your shadowing, so make sure to keep phone numbers and e-mails. You can check out this shadowing form created by Wayne Highlands School District.
  • Is it okay to shadow my primary care provider (PCP)?
    • Yes! If you are fortunate enough to have a provider (physician, PA, or NP) offer shadowing to you, you should gladly accept their offer!
  • Should I shadow a PA in one specialty (longer) or many PAs in various specialties (shorter)?
    • While I think you could easily benefit from shadowing one PA or provider in one setting/specialty, I think you could benefit more by shadowing multiple providers in various settings/specialties for a shorter amount of time. If you have the option, shadow a PA in primary care or an underserved area. It will be great experience and knowledge for your application and interview.
  • How can I obtain a shadowing experience or position?
    • While most students find it easiest to simply network with prior contacts to obtain a shadowing position, this may not always be accessible.
    • Some hospitals have formal shadowing programs that you must apply for, such as St. Luke’s Hospital and Geisinger's Intership/Externship Program.
    • Physician Assistant Shadow Online is another helpful resource to find shadowing experiences. You can create an account and see if any PAs in your area are available for shadowing.
    • LinkedIn allows you to create essentially an online resume. You can use this account to connect with other professional individuals, such as PAs.
    • You could also consider joining a global medical brigade - these travel to third world countries and offer clinical services to the underserved.
    • Other students have reported having success by contacting their state PA chapter. You can do this by e-mailing the administrator or PAs from the directory a little bit about yourself (including you wanting to shadow), the area you live in, and possibly a resume. Additionally, I know a few people who have become AAPA members that have access to the nationwide member directory. Using the directory, you can narrow your search to AAPA members (PA-C) within your area. It includes their contact information and the school they went to. If you choose to contact them, let them know you found their information through the AAPA directory. There are also specialty organizations, caucuses, and special interest groups that you can use to your advantage.   
    • Yourdoctor.com also has a list of PAs by state.
    • Having HCE can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a shadowing position. Some providers want to see that you are familiar with medicine or the PA profession before shadowing. If you have any certifications or certificates, it would be helpful to mention these in your correspondence. Examples include, but are not limited to: BLS for Healthcare Providers, HIPAA compliance, OSHA bloodborne pathogens, and any others.
    • You might also find your own workplace to be of great value as you can inquire from other healthcare professionals to see if they know a fellow PA you might be able to shadow.
  • What should I expect to do during shadowing?
    • First off, always be on time. Typically, before entering or immediately after entering the room, the provider will ask the patient if they mind you being present. Most often the provider will ask that you remain to the side and be quiet during the procedure or visit. Sometimes you’ll be able to help out with getting supplies, but most of the time you are listening and observing. You can expect to see physical exams, suturing, casting, injections, and everything else you’ve read about PAs doing. If you are shadowing in surgery, never touch the blue! Try to steer clear of it. Ask as many questions as you need to, but never during an exam or visit. You might research procedures or surgeries beforehand to be familiar with what you’ll be observing that day. Always make sure your phone is turned off during shadowing. As far as bringing study materials - just don’t. In my own experience, I had an hour or two of downtime where she was charting. After watching about the first few hours of charting, you understand how to write a note, but you don’t need to watch everything they type. Instead of studying or bringing leisure reading, talk with other staff in the office. Try to remain engaged and be involved, even when things get slow. You don’t want the provider to feel as though you are bored because they might ask you to leave.
  • What should I include in correspondence with a provider I am shadowing?
    • When you’re contacting a potential provider always include your full name, e-mail, and phone number in all correspondence. This serves as a preventative measure in case they ever need to contact you outside of e-mail. Providers I shadowed gave me their cell numbers because it became easier to contact them. Always thank the provider for the opportunity.
  • What if hospitals or clinics I am looking at don’t allow students to shadow?
    • Many hospitals and clinics are eliminating shadowing privileges due to HIPAA violations. If this is the case, you can always ask a PA to lunch and ask them questions/interview them. While you may not get the full scope of practice, you can at least get more information about the PA profession than what you read online.
  • What types of questions should I ask while shadowing?
    • It’s probably best to establish with your provider when a convenient time to ask questions would be. Some would rather you hold them until after a procedure, exam, charting, or dictation, while others may let you ask during a procedure or surgery.
    • Don’t ask questions that you can look up later yourself. It might be helpful to keep a journal where you log your questions and only ask the important ones during down time.
    • Ask them what they do in their practice on a day to day basis, such as:  
      • How do you usually treat this type of injury/illness?
      • What signs/symptoms do you look for? How did they get it?
      • When would you refer a patient with these symptoms/signs to a surgeon or specialist?
      • Where did you go to school? Did you like the program there? Are you still involved with the school? Do you ever regret becoming a PA and not pursuing another profession?
      • What drew you to the profession?
      • How would you answer the question, ‘what is a PA?’
      • What is the most difficult part of your job? What do you wish you could change about the PA profession?
      • What is your favorite procedure? What is most rewarding about your job?
      • How did you think the PANCE/PANRE were? Did you use any preparatory courses?
      • What can I do to stand out to PA programs?
      • What is your relationship like with your supervising physician?
      • What are challenges currently being faced by the PA profession?
  • What should I wear to shadow?
    • Always coordinate with your provider what is appropriate wear for shadowing. In my own experience, wearing scrubs was never necessary, but some providers may ask that you do wear them. Check with the provider to see what color of scrubs you’re allowed to wear as well. I’ve always worn business casual wear when shadowing. Always wear comfortable shoes.  
  • Should I ask my provider for a recommendation letter after shadowing?
    • The best advice I can give you on this is to think about how long you have shadowed and known your provider (PA, NP, MD/DO). If you only shadowed them for a few days, you probably should look elsewhere for a recommendation letter. Just because you get a recommendation letter from a PA doesn’t mean that it will be a good one. Admissions committees can read right through your letters and can tell when someone truly knows you. If you know someone through work from your hospital/clinic in which you work, it would be better to ask them for a letter of recommendation if you’ve known them longer. For example, I asked one of the charge nurses from the ICU unit where I previously worked for a recommendation letter, even though I was already shadowing. When I applied, I didn’t have a letter from a PA, but some schools contacted me asking me to submit information for a PA that would write one for me. They contacted the PA and she wrote my letter for me. It must’ve worked because I was interviewed at all of those schools and accepted 1 offer.
  • When is it appropriate to ask for a recommendation letter?
    • Personally, I wouldn’t ask for a recommendation letter until you are nearing the end of your shadowing experience, if at all. If the PA has learned about you (what type of person you are, your knowledge of the PA profession, and how you learn) then it may be suitable. However, if you have barely known them and they cannot remember your name, it’s best to either wait, or ask another individual you may know better. If your schools require a letter from a PA, you might want to plan ahead to shadow someone, rather than waiting until the last moment before your letter is due. You want to give them time to write your letter, although occasionally they’ll allow you to write it.
  • Is it appropriate to send a thank you card afterward?
    • Yes! Extremely appropriate! If you want, you can even send your PA a nice little treat for taking time out of their schedule to allow you to shadow them.
Sources:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CGgQFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.columbushosp.org%2Fsites%2Fwww%2FUploads%2FFiles%2FJobShadowing%2FShadowinginHealthcareConfidentialityandHIPAA.ppt&ei=VVMoU8m5H4TN2AWM5ICwBg&usg=AFQjCNFm3clhPnRrgJB8r-ScMV_IVpM5Zg&sig2=gvZ8i66hMJyy5qYoE2Jkow&bvm=bv.62922401,d.b2I

58 comments:

  1. I have a question, when should we start our shadowing, should it be before pa school while we are getting prerequisites done or while we are in our pa program?

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    1. Personally, I began shadowing well before PA school. It doesn't really matter when you shadow though as long as it is before you apply to CASPA. I chose to do mine during and after I finished pre-requisites, but you can shadow whenever it is convenient for you and the PA you are shadowing of course :)

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  2. I am a ma wanting to be a pa but i want to know every step to get their do i need a ba in what study and questions like that

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    1. Hi anonymous, for complete pathway to PA, look at AAPAs website: https://www.aapa.org/twocolumnmain.aspx?id=288

      There is no requirement for what you obtain your bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in. You can major in theatre if you wanted to - you just need to fulfill the pre-requisite requirements for each PA program you plan to apply to.

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  3. Hi Paul,

    I have shadowed a ER PA for 40 hours in a span for about a year (This PA is my good friend's older sister which I believe changes the dynamic between the shadow-er and the PA.). I also shadowed an ER-MD supervisor for much longer, and who knows me very well. I personally asked the PA what her opinion was on asking for a letter of rec and what she would do in my shoes: get an LOR from a PA she shadowed or from an MD that knows me very well. She answered the latter. She did also offer to write me an LOR before this conversation, however commented that she is not able to comment on my clinical skills. She also said she has a letter of recommendation "template" already filled out...which I thought wouldn't make the LOR personal at all. However, what strikes me is when referring to a book written by a PA, he states applicants write about shadowing a PA "however fail to get the reference from such a valuable resource," and that committees would value a reference letter from a PA much more than anyone else. What is your opinion on who I should get the LOR from?

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    1. While that is true - committees would value a letter from a PA - don't trust a book just because it was written by a PA. I applied with no letter from a PA. I had a letter from a professor, a letter from a supervisor, and a letter from a charge nurse who I worked with. I got many interviews and was accepted to many schools. When some schools saw that I did not have a letter from a PA, they asked for one, so the PA I shadowed wrote one gladly for me. I knew that the charge nurse could comment on my clinical skills and on me as a person because I knew him very well (2.5 years). The PA did not know me as well and I had only shadowed her for a short time because my hospital did not utilize PAs. I would go with her suggestion - the MD. If the schools really like you - they'll email you and ask for an additional letter from a PA because at least 3 schools did this for me. Good luck and good question!

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    2. Thank you so much Paul! Thanks for contributing your time in making this amazing blog. It has been extremely helpful and very fun to follow!

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  4. Thanks for the info paul! I plan to start my shadowing in a yr or two when I finish most of Pre-reqs so hopefully I find somebody who I connect really well with. Quick question, my HCE is practically none right now. Im a Recreational THerapist major and I was planning to work as that for about two yrs to get maybe like 4000 hrs of experience in that field. DO you think that would be accpetable work?

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    1. Yes. Reading online about your profession it seems that it would count. Just make sure it is direct patient care - you can clarify this with the PA programs you plan to apply to. Best of luck to you!

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    2. Awsome! Thanks for all that you do!

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  5. So I am finishing up my bachelor's this June and am planning on remediating some poor grades in the lower division sciences to help my GPA at the local JC. With this said, I was planning on applying for the Fall 2017 cycle for PA programs while acquiring some more patient contact hours (and completing a 1 year M.P.H. or post-bac degree). I was wondering if it would be appropriate to start shadowing Summer 2015 for several weeks to a year (once a week), even though I wouldn't be applying until a year later. When would I ask for a letter of recommendation? As my shadowing ends, immediately after it ends, or wait an that entire year and then ask?

    Also, would you recommend taking notes in the room with the PA and patient? Or just wait until there is downtime during the day?

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    1. That's probably in your best interest to begin shadowing earlier on. This way, you can explore inpatient and outpatient settings, in clinic and possibly surgery if you are interested. It will also give you time to build a relationship with the PA/MD you shadow and maybe you can ask them for a recommendation later. I would wait until you are "finished" shadowing them and ask if they wouldn't mind writing you a letter of recommendation to hold onto for when you plan to apply. If it's more than a few months, just make sure to keep in touch with them and keep them updated about what else you have been doing to improve your application.

      I wouldn't necessarily take notes, but just be observant and ask questions when it's appropriate (usually after the patient leaves).

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  6. Hi Paul, thanks for the helpful article !
    Do you think shadowing a pathologists during autopsys (in addition to +40 hours of shadowing PA/MD) is appropriate to list in the CASPA app under the Heath Care Shadowing category??

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    1. I've actually never heard that before, but I think they are more-so looking for shadowing to be clinically related [as in the patients are alive ;)]. You could still list it and just mention in the comments section, what exactly you did/observed or took away from the experience. It's nice for admission committees to see something new every once in a while. You might also list it under the "other" category, I forget the term they use (where you would list volunteer work).

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  7. Hi! I am a first year Biology student who hopes to be a PA in the future! I read in your 'About Me' section that you previously worked as a patient care technician. I am also interested in this position as a way to gain experience and to earn a little cash because I am a struggling college student, lol, as I'm sure you could relate. How did you find and apply to the PCT position because I do not know where to start! What kind of qualifications did you have going in because I feel like a lot of the hospitals are asking for specific certifications that I do not have. Any advice as to how I can find entry- level jobs in a hospital setting? I wouldn't mind volunteering but I really need the money and I want to work at a hospital because this is where I see myself working in the future as a P.A. This is why i'm pretty adamant about being a PCT rather than just settling for a retail or restaurant job. I live in CT by the way. Thank you in advance!

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    1. Hi anonymous,

      I actually found my position by going online and just looking at available positions at a nearby hospital. This hospital was within biking distance of my university and made it easy to get there and back.

      I only need to be BCLS certified, which you can usually do at any local program that offers it through the American Heart Association. You can look at AHA's website for more information.

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  8. I am seriously considering a PA program but i just don't know where to start. I graduated with my bachelor in Science degree in May 2014. I had overall gpa of 3.33 and a science gpa of like 3.1. I know my gpa is not super competitive. I'm hoping I can be strong in other area. I have no shadow experience or health care experience. I can find someone to shadow in my local area. Can someone get in the program with my kind of gpa? What health care can I do that does not require much schooling to fufill health care requirement? Serious inquiries, PA hopeful

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    1. People ask your question a lot and there really is not a 'answer' to that. People get in with GPAs of 3.0+ because that is the minimum, but the lower it is, the less your chances of acceptance. You are competing against other applicants that have an average of a 3.5 GPA.

      As far as healthcare experience, you will need to do some research and look at your options. I have provided a blog post on my blog about HCE, so I would advise you to start there first.

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  9. Hi Paul,

    I graduated with a biology degree and got my masters in Medical Sciences (GPA 3.6). I was hoping to get into medical school, but didn't get in so I have been looking into PA school. I have tons of clinical experience, both volunteer and paid, but have never shadowed a PA. I have been studying to take the GRE this summer, do you think that I should be ok to apply this summer or should I wait until next year? I am hoping to find a PA to shadow soon, but I will not have that many hours done by the time I apply.

    Thanks for your time and for this blog!

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    1. Hello anonymous,

      I would shadow a PA as much as you can or as many as you can in different settings before applying to PA school. Schools will see right through you if you apply and know absolutely nothing about the profession. Just make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. It seems like you may be qualified, but scores and experience aren't everything. Your interview is at least 60% of your admission, in my opinion.

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  10. Hello Paul. Two weeks ago, I started shadowing a P.A. at the Nursing Home where I work

    Tomorrow, 7/14/15, will be my second day of shadowing.

    However, I am still lacking understanding of how to keep track and to record my shadowing hours

    I was wondering, if possible, if you could explain in a greater detail about this

    Maybe, even uploading a couple of examples?

    It would be truly appreciated!

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    1. Hi Brice,

      When you fill out your CASPA application for PA school this will all make a lot more sense. You basically need to have the following information: the place you shadowed at, the number of hours/days/weeks you shadowed, the name and contact information of the person you are shadowing, and what you did/learned there. It doesn't have to be super long, but make sure you keep some notes after you finish because your application will ask you things about your shadowing experiences.

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  11. Hi i am thinking about apply to both PA and PT school. I was looking at some admission requirements for PT school like NAU, which requires at least 500 hrs of direct patient caree. I am volunteering at a PT clinic where i am also Teching for them too, do you think those hours would be considered direct patient care? or are they looking for more impatient hospital scene?

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    1. It really just depends on your job description. Generally speaking, though, most PA programs would like your HCE to be paid, rather than volunteer work. Don't think that-that experience won't be useful to you, though. You can definitely document it as volunteer or possibly even "other HCE" on the application. I think you should check with CASPA or your other programs to find out if your job description meets requirements for direct HCE.

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  12. Hello,
    Thankyou for this blog it is super helpful. I have around 700+ hours of community service. However, I do not have healthcare experience amongst this. I am wondering how can I get started on that. I have been applying to the hospital but did not hear anything back. Can I by any chance ask you how you got started on it?
    Regards.

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    1. I had a reference. I would try networking to see if you know anyone in the medical field. LinkedIn provides great resources for that.

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  13. Hello,
    I recently found myself wanting more out of work and to find a job I feel would be more suited for myself, I think it may be as a PA. I currently work in a hospital lab as a medical technologist, I have my bs in this. While in the lab I tend to always want to know more about the patient and determine what is wrong with them, the lab results help but I'm still left wanting more. I want to go to pa school and have most of the pre reqs complete but no direct hce to put on an application. Do you think I could get in due to my lab experience even though I don't have any real direct patient care?

    Thanks in advance!
    David

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    1. Hi David,

      In my honest opinion, probably not with just lab experience. Most programs are going to want you to have some direct patient care experience to "get your feet wet." They want to be sure you know what exactly you're getting yourself into.

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  14. Hi Paul,

    What kind of patient care experience did you get as a PCT in the ICU? Like you, I am working as a PCT at UCSF in the preop/recovery department. My primary duties consist of helping the nurses, checking patients in, taking vitals, hooking them up to the ekg moniter, feedings, and the occasional changings. Do you think PA schools will accept my hours? I do have some experience as a CNA at a nursing home.

    My prereq GPA is 3.9 and my overall is 3.8. I'm not really worried about my GPA. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance :)

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    1. Hi,

      I had a similar experience as a PCT, but keep in mind any extra opportunities to learn new skills as you continue to work there. Learn how to utilize glucometer machines and bladder scanners, etc. Always ask the nurses if you can insert foleys and want to do more while you are there. Learn as much as you can before PA school because that experience is invaluable. It sounds like you are doing just fine with patient care experience so keep it up!

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  15. Amazing ideas...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello, I have some questions but I was wondering if I can ask you to a direct email please, I feel better notposting here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Parmida,

      I realize lots of pre-PA students have questions about their own journey, and I recommend thePAplatform (http://www.thepaplatform.com) and myPAresource (http://www.myparesource.com) for your questions.

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  17. Hi Paul! Thank you so much for this amazing blog you put together! I just got certified as a CNA (for the purpose of gaining heath care/ direct patient care hours and experiences), the thing is, I'm an international student so I am not able to work off campus, but one clinic that I talked to will allow me to volunteer as a CNA. Would that work? Thank you so much!

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    1. Hi unknown,

      volunteer work isn't looked at the same as paid-health care experience. I would look into getting a work-visa in the US if you are serious about applying to PA school. I believe they would want you to have proof of visa status in the US before applying as well, so it'd be best for you to have that ahead of time.

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  18. Hello Paul! I'm currently a high school Junior and was wondering if there was an age limit you had to reach in order to shadow a PA. I'm also from Austin, Texas and was wondering how you found a PA to shadow. Thank you for the awesome blog!

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    1. Hi anonymous,

      I don't think there is an age minimum you have to meet. I had a connection with someone who knew the PA I shadowed and put me in contact with her, but that's not necessary. I know that working in the medical field is a great way to get in contact with all healthcare professionals who can probably put you into contact with someone who knows a PA.

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  19. Hi Paul, I'm currently a college graduate from UT-Austin (Go Horns!)- I worked in the OR as a neurophysiologist technician and basically observed vascular, spinal, and ortho surgeries day in and out. I have over 3,000 clinical hours, 3.78 GPA (Intl Relations and Biology), and am currently working on my leftover pre-reqs (couldn't finish them all at UT) at ACC. I am also planning to take my GRE this summer. Do you think my work hours count as "shadowing" hours since I observed PA's and physicians in their line of work? I plan to shadow more outside of my work environment, but was wondering what your opinion is. Also, what do you think of my current reqs? Any suggestions for improvement?

    Thanks for your blog! It's refreshing and very informative!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I think you could probably count some of these as shadowing hours as long as you split them up and don't double up on hours.

      Definitely shadow outside of your current hours, but it sounds like you've got great experience. Make sure you have good LOR and someone who can attest to your academic abilities as well as work ethic and clinical abilities to think critically and problem solve. Good luck to you!

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  20. I love your blog! It is very informative and inspiring. I aspire to be a PA. I had a question, I'm only in my 2nd year of pre-requisites, would now be a good time to shadow a PA?

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    1. Shadow a PA whenever you'd like. The earlier the better.

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  21. I'm currently a radiologic technologist but would like to continue on to PA school once I get my bachelors degree in advanced imaging sciences. Is it still necessary to shadow a PA even though I work in a hospital and urgent care with direct medical experience?

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    1. I think its necessary. If you're going to invest as much time and money into pursuing a profession for the rest of your life, wouldn't you want to be sure its what you wanted before putting in all of your cards?

      There are some PA programs that don't require shadowing, but in my opinion, it should be. Good luck to you.

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  22. Hi, I am currently a college senior and I will have all of the prereqs done by the time a graduate besides organic Chem. Do you think I should take this as a post bac class? My gpa is a 3.2 and I have received a C in human bio my freshman year. Do you think I should retake this? All my other grades for the pa prereqs are A's and B's. I have been volunteering for a year about 4 hours a week. I also have around 40 hours pa shadowing. I am taking the MCAT this fall as well. Do you think I have a good chance at getting into PA schools? I live in Ohio. Do you know good but easier pa schools to get into? I have great LOR as well as I worked in a pharmacy as a tech and worked at my college under the supervision of the director of admissions. Any info helps! Thanks so muc!!!

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    1. Hi anonymous,

      Lots of questions about whether or not you should pursue different avenues based on your prior grades and current GPA. I think that's ultimately a decision you need to make. What will benefit you most and bear the least burden on you financially? Also, why are you taking the MCAT? Most PA schools will accept the GRE. I would never take the MCAT willingly.

      As far as your chance to getting into PA school - every pre PA applicant wants to know this, but its not definitive. No one can give you a percentage or tell you whether you are more than likely to get in. Its not a for-sure thing that can be determined by a bunch of numbers in an algorithm-like fashion. There are too many unknowns and confounding variables that are intangible things we cannot measure.

      Also, I don't know if there are 'easier' PA schools to get into and its shameful that you ask about them because no student should ever hold themselves to a lower standard. If you are as bright and experienced as you make yourself seem online, then you should have no problem applying to any PA program in your area.

      Good luck to you.

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  23. Hi Paul!

    I know a lot of prospective PA students start gaining shadowing opportunities from people that they know personally. However, I do not know one personally. Therefore, I am using the sites that you listed in your post.

    I know you touched on it in your post, but what would be some information to include in the email? I by no means want to bother the PA, but I would love to connect with one in my area. Should I include a cover letter or resume?

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    1. Hi Karilynn,

      Great question! I would probably include
      (1) why you are interested in the PA profession and/or medicine
      (2) what you are looking to gain or learn from shadowing (and how often/long)
      (3) what your future plans are
      (4) attach a resume or CV (no cover letter)

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  24. Hey Paul!
    I'm having trouble finding PAs and their contact information in New York. What should i do? I tried the PA site but to no avail.

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    1. There are many facebook groups, including one titled Physician Assistant where many prePA students ask for PAs in their state. Also try the physicianassistantforum.com

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  25. Hi Paul,

    Thanks so much for the helpful blog. Do you know how schools verify your shadowing experience? I'm a non-traditional student trying to prep for PA application next cycle. I have shadowed multiple MDs in the past since 2009. However, I neglected to record down how many hours I've obtained shadowing. So, I've been estimating. And since it's been a while, I wouldn't be surprised that these physicians, some of which I've only shadowed once or a few days, won't even recognize my name. I'm asking to decide whether to list them in my shadowing experience on CASPA.

    Thanks in advance for your time.

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    1. You should definitely still list them and most PA programs won't take the time to verify it especially if its experience that is that far back. Don't get me wrong - we're on an honesty-basis here, but try to be as accurate as possible.

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  26. Hello, thanks so much for the information, I wanted to know if you think scribing could be considered shadowing? I work in the ED as a scribe and I am assigned a doc each shift and basically follow them around all day and document patient information but could that be considered the same thing?

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    1. I would think scribing counts as 'other' HCE. I think shadowing is strictly you following the PA and learning about the things they do and they relationships they form with their supervising physicians (unpaid experience).

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  27. hi Paul
    i am struggling in this question in BCM supplemental application
    can you lead me what should i write
    From what you understand about the Baylor College of Medicine PA Program, what part of the total learning experience will be the most challenging for you?
    earning to make time for recreation somewhere between studying and class

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    1. Sounds like you're on track there. I'm not sure how I would respond, but these essays need to come from you, not me.

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  28. Hey Paul,

    Many PA Supplemental Apps ask for PA shadowing Experiences. While I will be actually shadowing a PA in the next week (not paid), I have extensive experience scribing for a couple PAs. I recently discovered that people automatically assume that doctors are the only ones that have scribes, but I want to explicitly address that I have many hours scribing for a PA. Would it be appropriate to place these hours in the PA shadowing section and then explicitly remark that these were paid hours- just so that the Admissions committee understands that I have observed/worked with physician assistants and I do know what they do- at least in context of the emergency department.

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    1. Sure! I think that as long as you explain, you should be okay.

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