Quote from kanzi monkey
The direct entry NP program at my school doesn't require any healthcare experience at all. It DOES require working as an RN for at least 9 months before completing the master's level. The PA program requires healthcare experience prior to entering the program (though I'm not sure what qualifies specifically since I went the NP route). I don't think it's common for a PA or an NP to start practicing in the provider role without any healthcare experience. NPs will obviously usually work as an RN for awhile.
Does anyone know what type of work a PA usually does before taking on the PA role?
Programs vary widely in what type of medical experience that they will accept. The Duke program published a snapshot of their program two years ago. On page seven they compare types of medical experience:
This is pretty representative. MAs and EMTs probably make up the majority of prior health care experience. Military medics were initially the majority of matriculants but are a much smaller percentage now. Nursing remains steady at 5-10%.
To the OP, medical experience requirements vary widely by program. Around 1/3 of the programs require medical experience, 1/3 encourage it, and one third do not address it. Even with that the average student has around 3 years of direct or health care related experience. Within programs that require health care experience (HCE) the requirements vary from more than 2000 hours of paid direct patient care to 100 hours of paid or volunteer experience. For information on PA applicants:
The programs that do not require health care experience are statistically longer than programs that do require health care experience. Most if not all programs discount HCE as direct experience for PA programs. I'm not aware of any program that gives advanced credit for previous coursework. For example the pharmacist in our class still had to take pharmacology. This largely reflects the diversity of backgrounds that PA students bring. By teaching every student to the same standard they may duplicate educational experience but they ensure that the standard is met. The difference between HCE programs and non HCE programs is largely based on geography and the programs experience. Programs that value HCE think that it allows the student to participate in the health care environment quicker, programs that don't value HCE don't think that this is the case.
Remember that on the average PA students will have 1400 didactic hours and 2100 clinical hours. Non HCE programs average 2200 clinical hours and 1600 didactic hours. They are also more likely to place students in clinical situations in their didactic year.
David Carpenter, PA-C