Becoming a Physician Assistant is not a light decision. It makes sense that programs would expect you to have experience in healthcare prior applying for school. Seeing as this is a decision that may guide you to happiness or your own destruction, you should check it out first! No pressure.
I never knew about the PA profession until my sister married one. For six months after college I did some serious soul searching. Med school? PA school? Did I mention that those six months were spent in Haiti? The time I spent there was indescribable. The improvisation and just barely getting by every second never ceased to amaze me. The Haitian doctor I worked with allowed me to suture, administer vaccinations, start IVs, preform pelvic exams and help with the start up of a clinic in rural Haiti. This is the hands on experience that PA programs are looking for.
We had a patient that came to the clinic for a severe asthma attack. She was wheezing, tachypneic, using accessory muscles, and lots of other stuff that made her look really sick. The electricity went out (again) so we hooked the nebulizer up to a generator. She was sitting there with a neb as the exhaust from the generator spewed into her face. Seemed counterproductive but we had no better options.
There was another patient who had an accident 12 years before and had a penetrating wound to the lower back. Because he was a diabetic he had very poor circulation and wound healing. I pulled out a snakelike bandage from his wound and changed it daily. 12 years and it still was not healed.
These are the kind of experiences that made me stand out during my interview (yes, one). But if I was not genuine they could have smelled it before I came through the door. You have to love patients. You have to love medicine. You need the experience that proves this, more than just being an occasional volunteer at your local hospital. What kind of experiences helped you to decide to get into the PA profession?