Students walking down a hallway in the hospital.
Atlantis students walking down a hallway in the hospital (Lisbon, Portugal, 2019).

Physician Assistant

Atlantis Shadowing can give applicants healthcare exposure that has depth, breadth, and intercultural perspective to stand out on PA applications and to supplement existing (required) PA experience.

PAs Are Similar to MDs in Their Training and in How They Practice

However, beyond shadowing and other clinical experience, PA schools and programs (unlike MD programs) require a large number of often paid, lower level hands-on hours as an additional way to gain experience. As a PA applicant, you should always ensure you have these paid hours, as they are important.

That said, if you have sufficient hours of this basic required clinical experience, Atlantis Shadowing may bring something else that these typical pre-PA experiences do not bring. This page provides you with the facts that support this claim, leaving it up to you to decide whether Atlantis is a fit for you.

Many participants in Atlantis are on the MD/DO track, but we’ve had hundreds of alumni in or considering the PA path. The same 3 pillars of getting accepted to medical schools apply generally to the PA track. Apply now or read more below about how Atlantis fits the pre-PA track.

Our Alumni Enter Great PA Programs

Kelsie Krahenbuhl headshot.

Kelsie Krahenbuhl

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Utah '15
  • U. of Charleston PA '21
Caroline Wells headshot.

Caroline Wells

  • Atlantis '18
  • Appalachian State University '19
  • Emory University PA '23
Reena Patel headshot.

Reena Patel

  • Atlantis '17
  • UT Austin '19
  • UNT HSC PA ’23
Justine Blide headshot.

Justine Blide

  • Atlantis '18
  • San Diego State '18
  • UC Davis PA '23
Esten Walker headshot.

Esten Walker

  • Atlantis '18
  • UNC Chapel Hill '19
  • Hofstra U. PA '23
Jennifer Bachar headshot.

Jennifer Bachar

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. Maryland '14
  • Emory University PA '21
Kaizeen Badshah headshot.

Kaizeen Badshah

  • Atlantis '18
  • UIUC '19
  • Emory PA '23
Mihala Peltak headshot.

Michala Peltak

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of New England '18
  • Tufts PA '22
Brianna Hackbarth headshot.

Brianna Hackbarth

  • Atlantis '18
  • Texas A&M '19
  • Bethel U. PA '22

Watch Video: the “PA Platform” Interviews  an Atlantis Pre-PA Alumna (who has since been admitted to PA School), focusing on Pre-PA Shadowing Abroad

Cultural Competence, Clinical Exposure

PAs are incredibly patient-oriented, so the more diverse cultural experience you have, the more effective you will be at caring for a wider diversity of your future patient population. To this end, cultural competence gained through Atlantis will positively impact both the quality of care you will provide someday and your holistic understanding of patient-physician relationships. Atlantis clinical shadowing hours are not direct patient care hours, but they can be very valuable for seeing healthcare with depth (e.g. seeing surgeries), and seeing multiple specialties and the breadth of interactions among teams of healthcare professionals.

Students standing in white coats outside the hospital.
Atlantis students standing in white coats outside the hospital (Trento, Italy, 2020).

A New Appreciation for Physician Assistants

Most European countries do not have a PA career path and there is no MD-PA distinction. The jobs that PA’s do in the U.S. are done by MD’s in Europe. Shadowing in those countries is an opportunity to reflect on why the position is valuable, what healthcare looks like without that role, and how you will impact patients as a PA someday. Since a PA’s scope of practice is very similar to that of an MD, shadowing physicians in multiple specialties will still provide you with incredibly valuable clinical experience. This is in addition to all the benefits of study abroad and of 360 Shadowing in general.

Students standing together in the hospital while shadowing.
Atlantis students standing together in the hospital while shadowing (Athens, Greece).

An Unforgettable Experience Abroad

Atlantis is a chance to spend your time furthering your PA career, while also having fun in your free time. Atlantis programs provide ample opportunities for great cultural experiences and sightseeing during afternoons and weekends.

A student standing by the ocean.
An Atlantis student standing by the ocean (Athens, Greece, 2016).

Doing Atlantis Means Adding This To Your Existing Or Planned Clinical Experience:

(Note how these are often lacking in most pre-PA resumes)

  • Depth (e.g., often seeing surgeries)
  • Breadth (experiencing a wider variety of specialties – usually one specialty per week)
  • Intercultural perspective (increasingly valued by all healthcare graduate tracks)

It makes sense that Atlantis cohorts often include many pre-PA students! This is even though our students generally shadow MDs in systems that do not have the MD-PA distinction.

Ready to apply for Atlantis programs? Click here to start your application.

I think that Atlantis put me in a unique position to stand out on my application… I saw so many procedures and really experienced what it was like in an operating room… It demonstrated that I had a good understanding of how U.S. healthcare differed from other countries.

Julia M.Atlantis ‘18St. John’s University PA Program ‘23
Atlantis students outside the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca (an Atlantis site).
Atlantis students outside the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca (an Atlantis site).

I could have worked at a hospital in New Jersey to get patient contact hours for PA school, but I thought that the Atlantis program would set me apart from other PA school applicants because I would be able to bring such unique experiences to whatever graduate school I go to.

Marlayna Salvesen

Atlantis '20

University of Delaware '20 (PA)

I would have never been able to have such an amazing opportunity in America, the way I did in Italy…The Atlantis program taught me so many things that are helping towards my path in becoming a PA, and I know it can help other students as well.

Marietta M.

Atlantis ‘18

UNC-Charlotte ‘20 (PA)

I shadowed a PA for 3-weeks in his office, [and] with Atlantis I definitely learned more and was exposed to opportunities that wouldn’t be a possibility in the U.S.

Catherine W.

Atlantis ‘19

Nova Southeastern ‘23 (PA)

[Atlantis] gave me so much knowledge on how to interact with patients and what the day to day life working in healthcare looks like… doing Atlantis sets you apart from other applicants because it shows you are truly interested in learning medicine and are also well rounded, ready to take on adventure, and do well interacting with people that are different from you.

Erika G.

Atlantis ‘17

UNT Health Science Center ‘22 (PA)

Watch Video: 20+ Alumni Now In Med School Explain: Atlantis Is a Major Reason I Got In Here

This video shows more than 20 alumni, on videos made on their phones, explaining exactly why Atlantis helped them get in to their programs. These are alumni in MD, DO, PA, and other programs, but across all of them you will see a theme: Atlantis can clearly play a large role in interviews, across several degree types. This is a long video but you can pick whichever parts you’d like to watch.

Note, in the video, how alumni often describe the interviewers being impressed with their ability to compare two high-resource-country healthcare systems (Europe and the US), something very few applicants can do. This can be a great contribution to a PA entering class, given your perspective on systems that have higher life expectancies and lower costs than the American system (though Europe has other pros and many cons as well).

Watch 3 Alumni Describing the Breadth and Depth of Their Shadowing

This breadth and depth is often missing in PA applicants who only check off the clinical hours requirement box. Note that these alumni in the video are in MD/DO tracks, but they have the same Atlantis experience that our PA students do, since everyone in our programs shadows together, and our programs treat MD/DO and PA students all the same way.

Ready to Take the Next Step but Not Ready to Apply?