Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the direction of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.
Admission requirements for physician assistant programs
All physician assistant programs have prerequisite courses you must complete, sometimes before even applying to the program. You must verify with an advisor and/or with each physician assistant school you plan on applying to, that your pre-physician assistant or pre-PA pathway meets all prerequisites, and all direct health care experience requirements are completed properly.
Education and training
Physician assistant educational programs usually take 2 years to complete, if you are a full-time student.
PA education includes classroom and lab instruction in subjects like biochemistry, pathology, human anatomy, physiology, clinical pharmacology, clinical medicine, physical diagnosis and medical ethics. They also include supervised clinical training in several areas, including family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, prenatal care and gynecology, geriatrics, emergency medicine and pediatrics.
You are not required to select a particular major in order to be eligible for admission to a PA program. In selecting a college major, consider how you will you satisfactorily complete the prerequisite courses for your designated physician assistant programs, in addition to the college/university's degree and major requirements. Work with your academic and/or pre-PA advisor to plan your course schedule.
You have the option to choose from a wide variety of undergraduate majors to prepare you for a physician assistant program. Possible undergraduate majors include Exercise Science, Biology, Psychology, Child Development, Therapeutic Recreation, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
Most programs look for a minimum undergraduate cumulative 3.0 GPA but the average GPA for matriculates is a 3.5 cumulative and a 3.5 in the sciences. Keep in mind these numbers are averages and various schools can have their own averages that are higher or lower. Also, these averages are climbing higher each year and admission to physician assistant graduate programs is more competitive than ever. Be sure you take your studies seriously and put in the proper time for reading, studying, and review for each course.