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Healthcare Experience

Many PA programs also require prior healthcare experience with hands-on patient care. 

After you have determined your plans to apply, you will need to begin building a portfolio of clinical hours. Many schools require between 1,000-4,000 hours of “direct patient healthcare experience.” Some require paid clinical hours.

You can get healthcare experience by being a (not an exhaustive list):

  • Medical assistant
  • Emergency medical technician (EMT)
  • Paramedic
  • Medic or medical corpsman
  • Peace Corps volunteer
  • Lab assistant/phlebotomist
  • Registered nurse
  • Emergency room technician
  • Surgical tech
  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

One way to get that experience is to start at a community college to gain a certificate.

It is very challenging for some students to acquire the high number of clinical hours while also maintaining a competitive GPA. Not only is it acceptable to take a year or more off after graduating before applying, but in many cases, this is preferred. While at CSUSM, you should be involved to the extent that it does not affect your GPA. If you sacrifice your GPA for amazing experiences, you are not helping your chances of getting into a program. A strategic way of being successful involves focusing on your grades while in school and planning to gain work experience in between graduating and applying.