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Direct Patient Care

Mississippi College recommends that all applicants complete the equivalent of at least six months (1000 hours) of direct (“hands-on”) patient care experience before entering the School. Applicants must provide information on both direct (“hands-on”) and indirect (“related”) healthcare experience, including role or job title, name of institution, name of supervisor, description of tasks, number of hours worked per week, and number of weeks worked at that institution. Clinical experience can be on a paid or volunteer basis.

Examples of direct patient care may include drawing blood, taking vital signs, providing personal hygiene care, serving as a technician in Radiography, etc. For applicants who are already health professionals, such as nurses, paramedics, or respiratory therapists, the practice of your profession for the recommended length of time would constitute such clinical experience.

Applicants without previous healthcare experience are often able to acquire good direct patient care experience working as a medical or nursing assistant or aide in settings such as hospitals, clinics, or physicians’ private practices where a wide range of patients is seen and there is an opportunity for exposure to numerous types of health care providers. Patient care experience in settings such as nursing homes and private homes utilizing the services of home health aides, offer limited exposure to a wide range of patients and providers and are therefore not as favorably regarded by the Admissions Committee as settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ private practices.

Applicants often complete a short nursing assistant or EMT program in order to secure paid employment while gaining clinical experience. 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.

Related Health Care

Related Health Care Experience is considered to be any experience working with patients that does not permit hands-on delivery of healthcare to patients. Examples include front office clerical work in a private physician’s office, medical records clerical work in a hospital or private office, etc.

Applicants with minimal exposure to physician assistants should arrange with one or more PAs to “shadow” them on a regular basis, especially in a primary care setting (family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics). Shadowing experiences should be listed as “Related Health Care Experience” on the application.


Although research experience may be considered by the Admissions Committee in evaluating an application, it is not a substitute for direct patient care. Experience in laboratory research studies is not regarded as direct patient care unless it involves actual hands-on contact with patients who are subjects of a research study. Laboratory assistant positions in basic science laboratories are also not regarded as patient care.