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Q&A: EMT, Paramedic, Surgical Tech, EKG Tech, Medical Assistant education help for Physician Assistant School?

by tom44 on April 27, 2014

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Question by zman79_99: EMT, Paramedic, Surgical Tech, EKG Tech, Medical Assistant education help for Physician Assistant School?
I need patient care hours for admittance into Physician Assistant School. I was talking to an adviser for the PA program, and I was told that I needed to get certified in something to get credited for my patient care hours.

I want to get this done ASAP so I can start PA school as soon as possible. Some ideas the adviser said were EMT, Paramedic, Surgical Tech, EKG Tech, Medical Assistant, and Nurse’s Aid.

A little background information on me is that I graduated with a B.S. in Biology, minor in Exercise Physiology, and a certified personal trainer(A.C.E.) I live just outside of Detroit, MI.

So I would appreciate if I could get some advice on what job I could get the quickest, and maybe some information on the program I would need to enter.

Best answer:

Answer by Diane A
The EKG, and nurses aid probably would not be very useful, compared to the others. Paramedic would be great but that’s a pretty long & intense course for something you don’t really want to do (and not fair to take a scare position from someone who wants to be a paramedic). Surg tech & MA would be useful given the skills (MA more so); EMT program is pretty light. on material learned & there are really no skills taught. From all these, I would recommend the MA.

Addendum: This person is trying to get into PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT school NOT nursing & not physical therapy. MA schooling affords the greatest skill set that a PA can use (and I KNOW what I am talking about here!!!!). The things a CNA does are just not that useful for PA school, sorry, but true, as a PA will not be doing much nursing skills A MA learns to draw blood, bandage, irrigate ears & eyes, set up sterile trays, take vital signs, give meds, give shots, TB tests, simple lab tests (Hgb & UA etc), remove sutures, set up suture trays & wound care, and much more. The CNA does not learn this stuff & this is what you would do more of as a PA.

Honestly what is with the thumbs down?? I am the only PA answering the question & I am giving my opinion based upon I went to PA school AND a PA residency! (BTW/I do draw blood & I do set up all my own trays)

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2 thoughts on “Q&A: EMT, Paramedic, Surgical Tech, EKG Tech, Medical Assistant education help for Physician Assistant School?

  1. jannsody says:

    I would agree that the cna (certified nursing assistant) can be very useful in learning about patient care, patient relations, basic assessment (even though lpn/licensed practical nurse and rn/registered nurse traditionally do assessment) and carry over of physical therapy (including range of motion) as someone else mentioned. The cna course is also most likely the quickest course out of the careers that you’d mentioned. Please steer clear of those private expensive schools and instead look into the county vo-tech school or community college (perhaps non-credit course)

    The job of a cna can be quite emotionally stressful as well as physically draining but should give one excellent experience working with a patient caseload. Regarding the medical assistant, there are not supposed to be too many jobs for the MA (or medical billers and coders, just fyi ;) despite what the private career schools proclaim. For PA school, perhaps applying to a few different schools may be more to your advantage.

    For general info: and search ‘nursing, psychiatric and home health aides’ or such.

    US colleges:

  2. rita_alabama says:

    First off, patient care hours are patient care hours…as a PA, you’re probably not going to be setting up sterile trays, drawing blood, and all that menial work LOL. You’ll be telling people to do that stuff! :)

    EMT would be the fastest route to those elusive patient care hours. It only takes a month or two to become certified as an EMT-Basic, whereas paramedic and MA takes closer to a year (I know; I’ve done both programs). If I were you, I’d avoid becoming a nursing assistant, unless you are particularly fond of changing adult diapers. I can’t comment on the surgical tech or EKG tech programs, but I suspect that it is also a vocational program, and those usually last 6 months to a year.

    Good luck! :D

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