5 things to do this winter break as a pre-PA student

December 1, 2020

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Your break from school is coming soon, and you might be wondering: what should I do over winter break as a pre-PA student

Whether you are accepted into a physician assistant program, or you are planning to apply to PA school, you have lots of options. You can take a break and relax or find ways to keep working towards your goal of becoming a physician assistant. We also have a third option where you can do a bit of both.

At Global Pre-Meds we offer doctor shadowing and global health programs for students interested in becoming a nurses, midwives, doctors, or PAs. Our programs are designed to be an amazing social experience as well as an educational one. You can enjoy two weeks at our beautiful guesthouse, with a real vacation feel and lots of fun activities, while you gain clinical shadowing and global health experience

Below we have listed 5 ways you can make the most of your winter break as a pre-physician assistant student. We want to help you on your path to PA school and beyond. 

1. Healthcare experience  

Getting healthcare experience is helpful, whether you have applied to PA school or will be applying in the future. 

You want to make sure you have fulfilled all your prerequisites if you have not yet applied to a program. If you are applying in the U.S., you will most likely use the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) which was created by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).

You will find that you can record your medical experience into different categories, one of which is healthcare experience. Healthcare experience can be any medical experience where you are not directly responsible for patient care, as you will want to save those experiences for the next section. Healthcare experience can include hospital or clinical shadowing hours, administrative work in the hospital, or any volunteer work where you assist but do not directly handle patient care. 

One valuable example of healthcare experience is hospital shadowing. You can shadow a physician assistant, doctor, or another healthcare worker that helps you gain an understanding of what different careers entail, and how a PA may work with them. While not all programs require shadowing, most physician assistant schools want to see that you understand the roles and responsibilities of a PA. 

We can help with that. Our Global Pre-Meds students get to observe a variety of medical cases on the front lines of international hospitals and clinics. Whether your goal is to spend as much time in a hospital as possible, or observe multiple healthcare providers within a culture, we have a program for you. We handpick medical doctors to serve as mentors for students because we know they will provide a comprehensive learning experience for you. 

If you want to get the best shadowing and healthcare experience as a pre-PA student, consider one of our programs for your winter break. 

2. Patient care experience 

After earning a bachelor’s degree, many pre-PA students need to get at least one year (2,000 hours) of patient care experience before they can get accepted into a physician assistant program. This can be achieved through paid or volunteer experiences. 

Some paid options include EMT/paramedic, CNA, medical scribe, and ER tech. You should always check with your program before relying on any job or hours to count towards your requirements. 

If your plan is to work for patient care experience, you may want to start that process during your winter break. Many paid medical jobs require training and schooling of their own, in addition to applying for the job itself. 

If you are not eligible for any direct patient care experience yet, you may want to start by shadowing a physician or volunteering.  

3. Volunteer  

We have already mentioned volunteering can be a good way to earn patient and healthcare experience hours. However, we also want to point out the benefits of volunteering outside the medical field

While you may be too busy during the school year, you could spend time on your winter break as a pre-PA student pursuing some other interests, and giving back to the community through volunteer work. This gives you something to talk about with your admissions officers, on your entrance essays, and makes you feel good. 

While you can always find volunteer opportunities at a hospital, you may want to take the opportunity to work at the animal shelter or become a reading buddy. These life experiences also help us become better healthcare professionals. 

At Global Pre-Meds, we offer our students the chance to volunteer with local organizations during your off hours. We believe in giving back to the community, so we partner with other organizations to make that happen. This may be an environmental project or working with a local orphanage.

4. Take an online course

We know you are on break, so taking more classes may not seem that appealing. However, if your grade point average is not above a 3.0, or if your science classes do not have a high enough average, you may want to consider retaking a course

You can also take a more advanced class that may help you stand out from the crowd of other applicants. This may mean you can fulfill a general course requirement for PA school in the meantime. Physician assistant programs are competitive, and you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to show them you’re ahead of the rest. 

That’s another reason we recommend our doctor shadowing and global health programs. We know our students observe cases that other pre-PA students would never have the chance to. By shadowing internationally, you learn about medicine in a different context and are exposed to surgeries and medical cases that may not even exist in your home country. If you are not in the mood for classroom style learning, join us for this one of a kind experience. 

5. Enjoy your break

As you prepare for another few years of school, you may want to use your winter break to take an actual break. You’ve earned it!

That’s why we want to present you the option of taking a vacation, flying to a new country, and gaining new healthcare experience all at the same time. 

Our programs are designed to fit students’ needs. We will make sure you get a well-rounded experience in the medical field and have a great time. The student guesthouse is a beautiful space, staffed with an in-house chef and full time support so that you don’t have to worry about anything. We take care of all of your transportation to and from placement, and offer opportunities for excursions. 

Get to know the culture, get some rest and relaxation, and work towards your career goals. Check out our program dates here