How difficult will it be to accumulate hours, without a gap year for PA school?
I am a high school senior planning to be a physician assistant. I have been reading that the majority of PAs take a gap year or two to work enough hours for a competitive to PA school. I have also read that some worked their hours in their four years of undergrad. Initially, I was planning to work my hours in undergrad because I just want to go straight to PA school. Now, I am thinking about the quality of my college experience. I want to be able to enjoy my social life, while participating in a handful of extracurriculars (orchestra, cultural clubs, games, etc...), and still maintaining a high GPA for PA school. I am thinking that this might be very difficult and bad for my mental health if I try to add on about 2,000 hours of PCE/HCE hours in four years. However, if it is possible to do all these activities while getting my hours I want to pursue the challenge. Can anyone speak speak on taking a gap year vs. going straight to PA/grad school and what their undergraduate experience was?
I wish you the best!
I'm a third-year PA student, so feel I can share some insights. You seem to have given this some serious thought, because what you currently know is true of many PA students, i.e., some take a gap year after undergrad, others move straight on to PA school after undergrad because they gained enough HCE/PCE hours before and/or during undergrad years, and some others decide to take a break in between regardless of whether they have gained enough HCE/PCE hours upon finishing undergrad studies. Personally, I took a gap year (actually, more than one), and have no second thoughts about it.
I would say it ultimately depends on how you feel as you get closer to the end of undergrad education. I heard time and time again before entering PA school that going through PA school is like "drinking from a fire hose" And as a third-year PA student, my firsthand experience tells me that the saying is no exaggeration! Make sure you progress at a pace that feels right for you.
Good luck with the next adventure, and let me know if I can help with any other specific questions.