Health Care Experience/Shadowing FAQ - Physician Assistant Studies
How many hours of health care experience is required in order to apply to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program?
In order to be competitive, an applicant should have a minimum of 500 hours of direct, hands-on patient health care experience to fulfill the pre-admission health care experience requirement. Applicants must demonstrate evidence of completion of the 500 hours of professional or volunteer hands-on patient health care experience prior to submitting the CASPA application.
Examples of hands-on patient care experience include, but are not limited to emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, scribe, nurse, medical assistant, certified nursing assistant (CNA), emergency room tech, physical therapy assistant (PTA), phlebotomist, clinical research assistant and more.
Student training experiences including medical student, nursing student, EMT student, student athletic trainer, or other health care student training, for example, are not accepted as clinical hours (direct, hands-on health care experience) but will count as “other health care experience” on your CASPA application. Experiences such as “shadowing” laboratory testing with no patient contact, non-clinical research, lifeguard, or clerical work are not accepted as direct, hands-on patient health care experience.
Is it required to shadow a certified Physician Assistant prior to the application to the PA program?
Yes, a minimum of 100 hours of shadowing experience with a certified Physician Assistant is required.
Applicants are required to observe and/or shadow a certified physician assistant to become informed of the role of the PA, although the experience does not count as direct, hands-on patient health care experience for your pre-admission health care experience requirement.
How do I obtain physician assistant shadowing hours?
- Take a HIPAA class so that you can tell prospective practitioners that you are HIPAA compliant.
- Volunteer to work in any capacity in an office or emergency room where PA’s are employed. In the course of your volunteer work, you might become acquainted with a PA who may be willing to let you shadow - separate from your volunteer time.
- Approach smaller practices or rural practices where they might be more amenable to having someone shadow.
- If you are affiliated with the military, try to find a military PA to shadow. PA’s are on staff at all military medical facilities.
- Contact your local, regional or state PA chapter for insight and guidance. Ask to attend one of their meetings and personally seek out a PA to shadow.