The physician assistant program recommends that all applicants participate in patient contact health care experiences. This may be obtained through employment, volunteering, and/or shadowing. Candidates given preference based upon the total number of hours and the type of health care experience. Quality and quantity will be used as admission criteria.
Applicants should record the required information listed on the Health Care Experience Documentation Form to report any health care experiences they participate in after they have submitted their CASPA application. If the applicant uses the form, one form must be collected for each experience.
The health care experience documentation form is only necessary for health care experiences obtained after submission of your CASPA application.
All health care experience hours claimed may be subject to a random audit by the program to verify accuracy.
Recommended shadowing/observation guide to participation in shadowing and/or mentoring with a physician assistant:
- Contact the desired PA and identify yourself as a prospective applicant who is currently applying to a physician assistant program.
- Ask the PA or a representative of the facility if they permit shadowing/observation, and if so, what their rules and regulations are.
- Explain that one of the admission criterion is to learn more about the profession*, the role and the responsibilities of a physician assistant.
- Ask if the PA would be interested in arranging for you to observe their work activities—emphasize observe only—no hands-on experience is permitted.
- If the physician assistant is willing to have you shadow, be prepared to observe his/her work schedule. For example, if the physician assistant starts at 6:30 a.m. and asks you to meet at that time, it is expected that you will arrive a few minutes before 6:30 a.m.
- If it is not convenient for the physician assistant to have you shadow or he/she is not available to serve as a mentor, accept a “no” graciously and try another physician assistant.
- Dress professionally with “job interview” type of attire--jacket and tie for men, dress or pantsuit for women. Sandals, t-shirt and jeans are not considered appropriate attire.
- Do NOT ask questions regarding patient management or hospital practices in front of a patient; save questions for the end of the day or a break time.
- Always be conscious of the patient’s right to confidentiality and the PA’s need to fulfill the workday’s obligations.
- At the conclusion of your clinical shadowing experience, thank the physician assistant for his/her time. Obtain a signature of the physician assistant on the Health Care Experience Documentation form, thereby validating the clinical shadowing experience.
- Follow this same protocol when observing a physician or CRNP.
Physician assistants are health professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the Federal Government, credentialed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician assistants are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings in rural and urban areas. Physician assistant practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research and administrative activities.