How Many Shadowing Hours for PA School? (FAQs)9 min read

Shadowing Hours for PA School: You’ve decided to become a PA, which is a fantastic career decision. A career as a physician assistant is extremely rewarding, worthwhile, and beneficial to one’s overall life.

A few challenges need to be conquered before you can make your goal of being a physician assistant a reality.

This is because shadowing a PA is one of the most important parts of your application to PA school. It will give your application more weight and give you more experience and knowledge in your chosen PA program or PA career.

Who is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

Physician Assistants are qualified medical professionals who have completed an advanced degree and can provide direct patient care to patients.

These doctors handle patients of all ages in a wide range of specialties and primary care areas, diagnosing and treating a wide range of ailments, and performing minor operations.

Is PA School worth it?

A meaningful career as a patient advocate can begin with training to become a physician assistant (PA). In order to become a physician assistant, you will first need to earn a master’s degree in the field.

Paying for PA school and becoming a physician assistant can be done in a variety of ways. You can pay for your education and living expenses with federal and private student loans. Options exist to pay for PA school without relying on student debt. 

What is PA Shadowing?

A PA shadowing opportunity is an opportunity to observe a Physician Assistant in action in a clinical setting.

It’s a great way to learn more about the PA profession and discover if it’s a suitable match for you.

Actually, shadowing is just a fancy word for hanging around with someone and observing them at work.

It’s essentially a “hands-off” experience of what the work is like.

Additionally, there is usually an opportunity to ask questions at various times throughout the day, such as in between patient visits or at a lunch break.

Why is it Necessary for Physician Assistants to undergo Shadowing? 

Students can figure out what they want to study or do for a career by shadowing.

PA shadowing is an important step that all students who want to become physician assistants in the future should take to ensure that this is the right career for them.

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The ideal pre-PA student will find that shadowing a PA before starting school is the best way to solidify their conviction that this is the fulfilling line of work they want to pursue.

Shadowing is the best way for someone to find out the truth about whether or not they are prepared to be a physician assistant.

You should shadow a physician assistant for at least two to three days, even if doing so is not a prerequisite for your enrolled school.

If you are already enrolled in PA school but have not participated in PA shadowing, you may be required to complete this process to fulfill the requirements for graduation.

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How does Shadowing Experience Work?

To fulfill the requirements for PA shadowing, you will need to follow a PA around during their workday and observe what they do as part of their obligations.

The initial step is to look for a PA to observe. This can be not easy, especially considering how full their calendars are already.

You may need to send emails, make phone calls, or even visit PAs in their clinics to ask them if you could shadow them.

You can also research possible internships or shadowing experiences by going to medical facilities, local hospitals, and clinics and doing so.

PA students can become members, which will help you build a network with other people who want to go into the same field as you.

There are a few different tools that you can make use of, to locate and gain access to other PAs who are willing to participate in shadowing sessions with you. Spend some time investigating the following:

  • The Online Version of PA Shadow:

You can make a profile, search for “PAs Near Me to Shadow” and get in touch with them directly to discuss shadowing opportunities.

  • The Forum for Physician Assistants

There is a part of this that is devoted to looking for opportunities for shadowing.

How Many Shadowing Hours for PA School?

There is no particular assigned minimum number of hours that all institutions that require PA shadowing experience need of their applicants.

PA programs demand as little as ten hours of shadowing, while others may ask for as much as forty or more hours.

Other schools require students to complete shadowing experiences with two to three PAs working in various practice settings before graduating.

It is essential to research the prerequisites necessary for participation in particular PA programs that are on your radar.

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PA Schools That Require Shadowing Experience In The United States:

1. Kettering College:

Shadowing experience is required in almost all cases. Working directly with patients is a must or a strong plus, and you should have at least 250 hours of shadowing experience.

2. Harding University:

For Harding University, it is necessary to shadow a PA for a total of ten hours. This condition is not met by virtual shadowing.

CASPA applications should include a section for shadowing other health care professionals (e.g., nurse practitioners, physicians, etc)

Examples of shadowing working experience with patients include: working as a medical assistant, RN/LPN/CNA, physical therapy aid, health care related technologist, pharmacy technician, or participating in clinical research with patients.

3. Eastern Virginia Medical School:

Experience in PA shadowing is not considered a prerequisite in this institution. Experience working directly with patients is preferred but not required.

4. Des Moines University:

As an applicant, you must have a minimum of 750 hours of experience working or volunteering in a medical office, hospital, or long-term care institution providing direct patient care.

It is necessary to observe a medical assistant in action. It’s okay to mix and match your clinical experiences, but they all need to include time spent directly caring for patients.

Combat medic, field medical tech, and similar positions that require extensive knowledge of patient care are in high demand.

Prior to completing your patient care experience hours, you may apply to the PA program; however, you must state on your application that you intend to do so when you do.

Kindly be informed that for consideration, completing PA shadowing hours prior to applying is often expected.

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5. James Madison University:

Experience in shadowing is not a prerequisite here. Shadowing hours for PA school with a patient requires a minimum of 1000 hours of experience (volunteer or paid work).

All jobs that require direct interaction with patients include emergency medical technician (EMT), patient care technician, certified nursing assistant (CNA), phlebotomist, and certified athletic trainer (ATC).

6. East Carolina University:

It is recommended that you have shadowing experience. Experience working directly with patients Is required, with a minimum of one thousand hours obtained through paid, volunteer, or shadowing opportunities.

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7. Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation:

Shadowing a normal family physician at Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation will expose you to a wide range of circumstances.

Finally, it can be quite gratifying to shadow physicians in a range of specialties and work environments to obtain a greater breadth of exposure to the medical field.

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Moreover, applicants must have at least ten hours of experience shadowing a physician assistant.

Patient contact experience is required and can be either paid or unpaid. However, there is no minimum number of hours.

8. Drexel University:

Physician assistants trained by Drexel University’s physician assistant program will have a strong foundation in the core values of the profession: respect for people of all backgrounds, collaboration, patient advocacy, and giving back to the local community.

Shadowing experience is required in almost all cases. Patient contact experience is required, with a minimum of 500 hours required for applicants who already have or are working toward a degree and a minimum of 1,000 hours required for applicants who do not have a degree. Moreover, volunteering or working for free might both count as experience.

Frequently Asked Questions on Shadowing Hours for PA School:

How many hours is good for shadowing?

If you must have a specific number, aim for between 100 and 120 hours. So, if you’re willing to spend a total of 10 days shadowing 10 different doctors, you’ll easily meet your goal.

How many PAs should I shadow?

The minimum number of hours required for PA shadowing varies from school to school. Only 10 hours of shadowing is required for some PA programs, but 24 to 40 hours or more is common. Additionally, there are certain institutions that require students to shadow at least two to three PAs in a variety of situations.

Does online shadowing count?

Students will benefit from a high-quality, on-site shadowing experience with the Virtual Shadowing. Clinical shadowing hours and other important activities can be counted toward medical school applications.

How do you ask to shadow someone?

Emailing the company’s secretary or directly asking the individual you want to shadow for an interview is the ideal method for requesting an internship (if you can find their email). Introduce yourself and explain why you are emailing them.


You should take advantage of the opportunity afforded to you by your shadowing experience to take in as much information as possible.

Therefore, train your mind to focus on gaining knowledge and becoming better. If you are given the opportunity, offer your assistance with non-clinical responsibilities or inquire about how you might be of support to your PA mentor.

Awesome one; I hope this article answered your question.

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