Patient Care Experience

Patient Care

Settings such as hospitals and hospital-related clinics offer the greatest opportunities for working alongside and understanding the range of professional responsibilities of multiple members of the healthcare team. In these settings, but also private physician offices, charitable clinics, and therapy businesses, there are opportunities for you to gain exposure to a wide range of patient problems, diagnoses, and treatment management.  Whatever it is you are doing now or choose to do to gain clinical exposure prior to PA school, we recommend that you keep a detailed list of tasks performed and procedures in which you assisted.

Direct Patient Care

Although there is no minimum direct patient care requirement, applicants are encouraged to complete one year (2000 hours) Direct Patient Care (DPC) experience before their intended matriculation.*

To help you better understand what qualifies for DPC, think of DPC as actually providing healthcare to patients. So, Direct Patient Care means actually providing care and doing for patients.  We often think of DPC as ‘hands-on’.  However, work that is ‘hands-on’ may not qualify as Direct Patient Care.  The element of providing healthcare must be present.   The following discussion is aimed to make this more clear.

Examples of DPC include taking vitals, bathing patients, helping patients transfer from bed to bedpan or toilet, walking patients, drawing blood, performing diagnostics, administering prescribed therapy or treatments, counseling. For applicants who are already health professionals, such as paramedics, respiratory therapists, or nurses, 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 DPC experience working as a medical or nursing assistant, or aide. 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.  Applicants often complete nursing assistant certification, gain paramedic training, or learn how to become a scribe in order to secure paid employment while gaining clinical experience. Scribe work is perhaps the only example of non-professional level clinical experience we consider to be DPC which doesn’t allow for touching patients. It is the integration and application of various aspects of patient care required of a scribe working alongside a physician, PA, or ARNP that qualifies scribing as providing Direct Patient Care.


*matriculation: enrollment date

Direct Patient Care Experience (DPC):

Positions receiving full credit

Positions receiving less than full credit

Acupuncturist (up to ½)
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Behavioral Therapist (up to ½)
Chiropractor Chiropractic Assistant (up to ½)
Clinical Psychologist Dental Assistant (up to ½)
Corpsman (Navy) EEG/EKG Tech (up to ½)
Dental Hygienist Home Health Aide (up to ½)
Dietitian/Nutritionist Medical Technologists (1/4 to full credit)
EMT/Paramedic Massage Therapist (up to 1/2)
ER Tech Mental Health Counselor/Therapist (up to 1/2)
Exercise Physiologist/Athletic Trainer Nuclear Medicine Tech (up to 1/2)
Medic (Army) Optician (up to 3/4)
Medical Assistant/Nursing Assistant Phlebotomist (up to 1/4)
Nurse (RN, LPN) PT/Rehabilitation Aide/Assistant (up to Full)
Occupational Therapist  Research Coordinator (up to 1/2)
Patient Care Assistant/Tech (PCA)  UF ER Research Associate (1/2)
Physician OR/Surgical Tech (up to 1/2)
 Respiratory Therapist

Health Related Experience

Health Related Experience (HRE) is considered to be an individual’s exposure to the healthcare field, the patients and the healthcare professionals caring for them, but the exposure doesn’t permit the individual to provide healthcare, or the exposure is outside of the medical setting.  Examples of HRE include shadowing, transporting patients, patient education, clinical trial work other than DPC work itself, laboratory bench work, telephoning patients, non-nursing home health care, clerical work, electronic medical records work outside of patient care, office work.  Also, without exception, internships and other categories of educational training are considered HRE.

UF Admissions puts great stock in applicants who take the time and effort to regularly shadow PAs for a meaningful period of time. Regardless of your exposure to Physician Assistants in your work area, you are encouraged to seek out PAs to shadow on a regular basis and in a variety of settings. Opportunities such as these will help you  to better understand the variety of PA roles in primary care, e.g., family medicine, internal medicine, general pediatrics, and some of the many  subspecialties in which PAs serve the medical community.


Health Related Experience (HRE):

Lactation Specialists                                                                                                               Personal Trainer
Medical Office Clerical Staff/Receptionist/Scheduler
NICU Baby Cuddler
Patient Transporter
Pharmacy Cashier/Clerk
Pharmacy Tech
Research Assistant (health related)
Student Clinical Rotation/Internship
Ward Clerk

Patient Care/Health Related Experience and CASPA

CASPA applications request listing of responsibilities and total time spent in patient care (DPC) and HRE. Shadowing experiences are to be listed as HRE on the CASPA application, as discussed above.

You will be asked to list job title, role, name of institution, name and title of supervisor, and to provide a detailed description of tasks, number of hours worked per week, and total number of weeks worked.

Specifically, we ask that you break down jobs/clinical experiences which combine direct and related healthcare exposure, such that DPC and HRE hours are listed under respective DPC and HRE CASPA sections. The same job/clinical experience title and dates worked should be used for each.

Applicants should be careful not to duplicate information and to provide accurate dates/hours in each section of the CASPA application.