Updated: Apr 21, 2020
What is a Physician Assistant?
Physician Assistants are medical professionals trained to treat and diagnose patients in nearly all areas of medicine. Physician Assistant training programs have been significantly gaining in popularity in the last couple of years. The reason for this spike in popularity can be seen in the lower cost of education and less time spent in school. For a Career comparison of PA to other healthcare providers like doctors and nurse practitioners view our article M.D vs. NP vs. PA. In to become a physician assistant many programs require anywhere from 250 - 4,000 hours of clinical hours. Physician Assistants, for the most part, have the same role and autonomy of a Medical Doctor. They just have to confirm with a senior medical doctor regarding the tests and treatments they plan to do on a patient. When a patient is seen by a Physician Assistant they are getting multiple medical opinions
How To Get Clinical Hours
Meeting the Clinical Hour requirements for a Physician Assistant program may be seen as a challenging task for those interested in this career path. However, through planning and taking a comprehensive look at your unique situation you can make the best decision for you when approaching the clinical hour challenge. One way to meet gain clinical hours is to attend a trade or vocational training program to become certified in a given skill and gain the opportunity to apply to healthcare jobs.
Complete a trade or vocational training program right after high school, in between semesters in college, or after you complete your degree. Working while in school may be a difficult task, however, if you manage your time effectively and get a per diem or part-time position at a hospital you can study, get the clinical hours you need and earn a decent income in the process.
Another option to obtain clinical experience is to complete a bachelor's first. Then take a trade or vocational training program, become certified, and work full time for a year or two depending on the hour requirement of your program. This path gives you the choice to focus on your education while in college and not work if that is a logistic option for you. However, this option may take you longer to meet the clinical hour requirement and if you are in a position where you have to work, you might as well work in a position that will count towards your end goal.
Best Programs To Get Clinical Experience for Physician Assistant School
Working as a Medical Assistant before entering a career as a Physician Assistant can give you a detailed view of what to expect from this healthcare profession. Medical Assistants have a good mix of administrative and clinical tasks, which will prepare Physician Assistants for the paperwork they have to do as well as clinical procedures. The majority of Medical assistants typically work in a doctor's office setting, scheduling appointments, performing basic procedures, taking patients' medical history and vital signs. These could be an excellent learning event for future PA's as 55% of Physician Assistants work in a doctor's office setting as well. Heres 5 reasons to become a Medical assistant.
Normal Length Of Training Program: 4-6 Months
Entering an EKG technician training program can give you useful and life-saving information for you to utilize especially once you are in the role of a provider. An electrocardiogram (EKG) technician places electrodes on a patient's chest. These electrodes pick up the electrical activity of the heart and can show many heart conditions or damage. EKG's are a great diagnostic procedure or assessment technique to use on a patient to rule out potential medical conditions. Receiving EKG training prior to starting a Physician Assistant program can give you valuable and use clinical exposure. Here's how to become an EKG technician.
Normal Length of Training Program: 5-6 Weeks
Phlebotomy Technicians are normally tasked to draw blood from patients and perform minor laboratory testing. Phlebotomy is considered an invasive procedure and requires skill in order to complete the task successfully. Blood work is another initial diagnostic procedure used on patients for healthcare providers to asset there status. Phlebotomy Technicians hardly ever have difficulty finding a job. Although many employers require experience, the demand for phlebotomy technicians usually overrides this requirement. Many Phlebotomy Technician training programs even have you train on your classmates to get you familiar and build confidence in doing these producers. Working as a phlebotomy technician can provide you with useful clinical skills you can build off of later in your career. 6 steps to become a Phlebotomy Technician.
Normal Length Of Training Program: 5-6 Weeks
Patient Care Technician
Patient Care Technicians are a well-trained member of a healthcare team. They are cross-trained to perform many different types of procedures on patients. Patient Care Technicians are qualified to perform blood draws on patients, EKG's, Range of Motion, and MMT testing. Patient Care Technicians are trained in many things invasive procedures to basic patient care. Patient Care Technicians also have the choice to work in nearly any hospital department they chose because of there vast skill set. Having exposure to the different departments in a hospital will give future PA's access to shadowing experience and insight for which type of physician they want to work. Here is a detailed look at a Patient Care Technician Career
Normal Length Of Training Program: 3-4 months
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