Patient Care Experience
Direct Patient Care
Applicants must provide information on the CASPA application on both direct (“hands-on”) and indirect (“related”) health care experience, including role or job title, name of institution, name of supervisor, description of tasks, number of hours worked per week, and number of weeks worked at that institution. Applicants should be careful not to duplicate information in each section of the CASPA application and to provide accurate dates and hours so that the Admissions Committee can calculate total amount of time spent in each type of clinical experience. Clinical experience can be on a paid or volunteer basis.
The School recommends that all applicants complete the equivalent of at least one year (2000 hours) of direct (“hands-on” actually TOUCHING patients) patient care experience before entering the School*. Examples of such care may include drawing blood, taking vitals, providing personal hygiene care, serving as technician in Radiography, etc. For applicants who are already health professionals, such as nurses, paramedics, or respiratory therapists, the practice of your profession for the recommended length of time would constitute such clinical experience.
Applicants without previous health care experience are often able to acquire good direct patient care experience working as a medical or nursing assistant or aide in settings such as hospitals, clinics, or physicians’ private practices where a wide range of patients are seen and there is opportunity for exposure to numerous types of health care providers. Patient care experience in settings such as nursing homes and private homes utilizing the services of home health aides, offer limited exposure to a wide range of patients and providers and are therefore not as favorably regarded by the Admissions Committee as settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ private practices.
Applicants often complete a short nursing assistant or EMT program in order to secure paid employment while gaining clinical experience. Patient care experience can be acquired on a paid or volunteer basis, as long as the recommended amount of time is met in an acceptable health care setting.
* Preference will be given to applicants who have completed 1000 hours of direct, hands-on patient care by December.
Related Health Care
Related Health Care Experience is considered to be any experience working with patients that does not permit hands-on delivery of health care to patients. Examples include front office clerical work in a private physician’s office, medical records clerical work in a hospital or private office, etc.
Applicants with minimal exposure to physician assistants should arrange with one or more PAs to “shadow” them on a regular basis, especially in a primary care setting (family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics). The Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) provides students a resource for contacting PAs who are willing to make themselves available for shadowing (www.fapaonline.org/listShadow.asp). Shadowing experiences should be listed as “Related Health Care Experience” on the CASPA application.
Although research experience may be considered by the Admissions Committee in evaluating an application, it is not a substitute for direct patient care. Experience in laboratory research studies is not regarded as direct patient care unless it involves actual hands-on contact with patients who are subjects of a research study. Laboratory assistant positions in basic science laboratories are also not regarded as patient care.