Set Yourself Apart with Unique Hands-On Patient Experience

During the EXCELL Pre Physician Clerkship Program, you’ll undergo a PA mentorship that includes both mentoring and shadowing experience. Not only does the program provide you with insight into the PA profession, you also get first-hand experience observing how PAs interact with patients, collaborate with physicians, and generally operate in their medical practice. In addition, you get to administer a Quality of Life Patient Survey and present a Plan of Action to your facility administration, giving you a sense on contribution to the quality of service for current and future patients.

If you think this unique, hands-on experience isn’t valuable, take a look at a past student’s recollections of their time in the program. 

Today was another sensitive day at the office. The first patients of the day, Carol and Ron, came in for a follow up for Carol since she had spent the day in the ER a few days ago. They are both getting older and sick, with Ron’s issues spiraling out of control a little quicker than Carol’s. With this, Carol being the caring with she is, does not leave Ron’s side, not even to go to the doctor’s appointments my PA mentor has been telling her to go to for the past few months.


The other day, Carol told Ron that she had felt dizzy so he called 911 for her. This had happened before and her cardiologist told Ron that if she ever complained of this again to call 911 and that’s what he did. When the first responders arrived, one of them made a comment such as “oh, you’ve done this before, I remember.” Whether the woman meant this in a kind way suggesting she remembers Carol and her Condition, or said it in a rude and annoyed tone, Carol took it as the woman insinuating that she did not truly need to go to the ER because her condition turned out to be ok last time. Ron felt embarrassed because he was the one who called 911 and his feeling of pride turned into guilt with that one comment.


This event reminded them of another incident last month when Ron went to the ER. The doctor hold him he could not go home in the condition he was in and would have to spend the night. The following morning, no one came back to check on Ron until a nurse came in to tell him he could leave and that he wasn’t sick enough to occupy a bed overnight. Again, whether the nurse meant this comment in a kind way trying to tell Ron he was going to be okay, or said it in a rude and annoyed tone, Ron and Carol took it as another blow to them saying what they did was foolish by bringing him to the ER.


This was a very emotional topic to discuss in the office and Carol cried through it all, out of both sadness and frustration. I am so thankful I got to sit in on this appointment. Being in the room made a strong impact on me and I will never forget that conversation. I never will be that first responder, or that ER nurse that makes someone feel foolish for trying to take care of themselves. You never know what someone is going through or the struggle they endured to even get to the ER or to call 911. We as people, as especially health care providers, need to do everything in our power to be kind and nurturing, especially to those who need it most.


The final case of the day was another that stood out to me. This was another follow-up from an ER visit. This patient got into a domestic altercation with her boyfriend who beat her up very badly. There’s so much you want to say to someone like this who is so broken inside, so much girl power you want to preach to her, but you have to keep it professional in the office.

In the room, my PA mentor handled it so well and was so professional. She tried her best to keep all of her questions and comments medically based. When we left the room, her true emotions came out and it was such a learning experience on how to keep your emotions at bay for the sake of the patient and your career. Every case is different but now I know how I should model similar situations as a PA.

-Kristen, 2016

Through her time spent shadowing in the EXCELL program, this student was able to experience the true human factor of healthcare first-hand. This made an emotional impact on her that carried on through her interviews and likely stuck with her through PA school. Her experiences provided anecdotes she could recount during her interview and allowed her to reinforce her motivations for becoming a PA.

If you think that hitting the books and practicing interview techniques is enough to get into a top PA program, think again. Remember- these patient contact experiences are difficult to come by unless you provide direct care or shadow a PA. Hands-on experience is just one of the many benefits you’ll receive during the EXCELL program. Click here to learn about what our EXCELL Pre Physician Assistant Clerkship Program can do for you!