To all the PAs out there...about the PAprograms...

Hi everyone, this is a question I have for all of you who are PAs or quite familiar with PA programs…
I have been mulling over the idea of becoming a PA. I have taken a look at several PA programs in my area and all require “direct patient care contact” for X-amount of hours. Can someone tell me exactly what constitutes the kind of patient contact that the programs are referring to. It’s my understanding that most PA applicants are EMTs, nursing assistants, medical assistants–all people with direct patient care contact. What if you are someone who does not have a job like that??? How would you get the required hours if you are not someone who is already in the medical field? What do the folks who are accountants do if they choose PA as a second career for example??
I was just wondering because I have all of the course requirements…and work as an addiction counselor in a hospital (see patients at bedside, review charts, go on rounds etc)–but don’t think that’s what admissions people have in mind for direct patient care contact. Can someone/anyone clarify??? Thanks, Anna

I think you’ll need to talk to AdComs to find out if, in fact, your contact with patients as an addiction counselor is what they have in mind when they say “patient care.” Quite honestly I would think that it would qualify but I am not on a PA AdCom nor do I know much about how it works. I have formed the impression over many years that the direct patient care requirement is, indeed, a challenge that PA applicants have to work hard to meet.

There are some nurse practioner programs which would take 3 years to complete–one for RN, two for the MS in nursing–which would give you a similar scope of practice and not necessarily require the same kinds of things a PA program would. However there are some distinctions, partly regional I think, in terms of what NPs and PAs can do. Something to keep in mind if the PA admissions folks think your experience doesn’t count.