Pre-Physician Assistant Studies: Extracurricular Activities

Nearly all students who plan to apply to physician assistant school will have strong grades and test scores. As a Truman student pursuing pre-physician assistant studies, your physician assistant school applications must showcase how you use your spare time with meaningful social or academic enrichment.

Pursue Meaningful Experiences
Working to support yourself, volunteering in an appropriate health-care setting, and undergraduate (or graduate) research are the most common co-curricular and extra-curricular activities on student resumes. In addition, college organizations and fraternities offer many social and academic service opportunities where you can develop and practice important leadership skills. Even serving as a Teaching Assistant for a college professor can become a meaningful learning and leadership opportunity.

Physician assistant schools also look for students who show dedication to causes and/or communities. These do not necessarily have to pertain to the health-care industry, but should demonstrate that you are capable of deep involvement and making a long-term commitment. In many cases, students will become involved, volunteer, or work in a health care setting to shadow a number of physician assistants and interact with patients.

Volunteering and Job Shadowing
The more time you spend volunteering, shadowing or employed with health-care professionals, the more convinced you will become that physician assistant is (or is not) the right path for you. Most physician assistant schools recommend shadowing hours of a physician assistant.

These types of experiences allow the student to demonstrate that they understand the day-to-day rigors of the profession and are still able to commit to a professional life-style that is very demanding of one’s time, energy, intellect, and in many cases, one’s integrity. In the process, students are also likely to glean information about issues important to the health-care industry, an increasingly important facet of becoming a compassionate physician assistant.

Need some ideas for shadowing or volunteering in Kirksville? See this resource for shadowing, volunteering, and employment.

Paid Clinical Hours
Most physician assistant schools require a certain number of hours of paid clinical experience in order to be competitive. In some cases, 1000 hours or more is required, and many schools specify that those hours must be patient-contact hours. If your preferred method of paid clinical experience requires training (such as EMT or CNA), consider doing this training before you get to Truman or during a summer semester.

The average number of paid clinical hours for accepted students is 2,875 hours.

Here are some ideas to get paid clinical experience:

  • CNA
  • Phlebotomist
  • EMT
  • Medical Assistant
  • Surgical Technician

Consequently, regardless of the type of commitment you undertake, physician assistant schools will assess your activities with the goal of determining whether you have the fortitude to successfully complete a tour through physician assistant school. Remember, not only do you have to undertake such commitments; you have to demonstrate convincing proof on paper that your experience reflects outstanding accomplishments and positive personality traits, and warrants further consideration.

Much like the proverbial tree falling without anyone to hear it, an accomplishment without a publicist seldom yields additional opportunities. You have to be your own publicist and sell your experiences and accomplishments. In some cases, there will be physical proof (as with a publication in a scientific journal or the establishment of a soup kitchen). In many other cases, you (and your letters of recommendation) should provide a verbal description of the depth and character of your extracurricular experiences and accomplishments.