APPLY! REQUEST

Pre-Physician Assistant

Physician assistants (PAs) work under the supervision of a physician. However, PAs may be the principal care providers in rural or inner city clinics, where a physician is present for only a few days each week. In these cases, the PA confers with the supervising physician and other medical professionals as needed or as required by law. PAs also may make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing homes to check on patients and report back to the physician. Locally, PAs work in our hospitals and emergency rooms.

PAs can do most of the same things that a physician can do but their scope of practice is determined by state laws.  There were 137 accredited or provisionally accredited educational programs for physician assistants; more than 90 of these programs offered a master's degree. The rest offered either a bachelor's degree or an associate degree.

Make certain you do your homework as far as the scope of practice for PAs and how that is similar or differs from that of a nurse practitioner (NP). Schools will ask questions like this during the interview process.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements vary from school to school, but one thing is certain: admission to a PA program is highly competitive. It is best to visit a particular school's website (see link to the right) for specific pre-requisite coursework required. In general, coursework is equally rigorous as the pre-medicine curriculum, but the content can differ substantially. For example, some PA schools require organic chemistry; others do not.

Coursework

The majority of PA programs have the following prerequisites:

  • Chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Biology

Healthcare Experience (Hands-on Patient Care)

Many PA schools have specific requirements regarding the number of hands-on patient care hours necessary.  Some schools require hundreds of hours whereas the more competitive schools require thousands of hours of hands-on patient care. Use this handy guide (click here) to find just what each school requires for admission to their school.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

You must score well on the GRE in order to be admitted to a PA program.  Each school has specific criteria on the three portions of the GRE, so consult each school's website for more information.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Having a high GPA overall and in your science and math classes is crucial to being admitted to PA school. Each school has specific criteria for GPA, so consult each school's website for more information.