A physician assistant (PA) is a licensed medical professional who holds an advanced degree and provides direct patient care. They work with patients of all ages in essentially any field or specialty, diagnosing and treating common illnesses and working with minor procedures. The role of a physician assistant has steadily increased with the growing increase in shortage of healthcare providers. They play a critical role in today’s team-based approach to medicine, and they increase access to quality health care for many populations and communities. While specific duties of a PA are determined by their supervising physician and state law, they provide many of the same services as a primary care physician and can practice in a wide variety of clinical settings across the country. Currently, the PA Education Association (PAEA) is the only national organization representing PA educational programs, and information can be found here https://paeaonline.org.
Physician Assistant School Prerequisite Courses
Currently there are over 250 PA programs in the United States all with varying levels of accreditation. For a full listing of programs and more specific information regarding their accreditation status, mission, degrees offered, prerequisites, etc. visit https://paeaonline.org/our-programs.
In general most programs require:
- One year of Biology with labs
- One year of General Chemistry with labs
- One year of Organic Chemistry with labs
- One semester of Biochemistry
- One year of Anatomy and Physiology with labs
- One year of Physics with labs
- Microbiology with lab
- Medical Terminology
Other coursework that may be beneficial:
- Exercise Sciences
- Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolism
Applying to Physician Assistant School
Minimum GPA: Minimum GPA requirements range from 2.75-3.4. PA Programs may require a minimum overall GPA as well as a minimum science or biology-chemistry-physics (BCP) GPA.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE): A student interested in pursuing admission to a PA Program will typically prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) during their junior year (fall/winter) and then take the exam in winter/spring of their junior year. For more information, visit the GRE website at https://www.ets.org/gre. Most programs do not require a minimum GRE score.
Letters of Recommendation: Pre-PA students should be prepared to ask for three letters of recommendation. Typically, one letter is required to be from a current PA or other medical professional. Professors, advisors, employers, coaches, etc. could write other required letters. Schedule a meeting with the professors to directly ask them to write the letters. Don’t just drop in as the request might get shuffled off and forgotten. Be intentional about asking. Bring a list or short narrative of the work you completed in the classes taken under the professor. Professors see many students over the years and don’t always remember specific course assignments or course experiences like you will. Remind them of these experiences. Provide an estimated date for submission of their letters. Give your professors enough time to write a thoughtful letter.
Shadowing and experience: Each PA Program requires a range of direct patient care hours of applicants from zero -2000 hours. If a program does not require hours, they generally encourage some experience in order for the student to discern their desired profession. Other programs give preference to students who apply with some healthcare experience reported.
Application timeline: The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) application opens each year in late April. Application due dates vary by PA Program with the earliest deadline being August 1. Pre-PA students will want to submit their application as soon as possible as some programs offer rolling admission. The application and additional information can be found at https://caspa.liaisoncas.com/.
Physician Assistant Schools Attended by Butler Graduates
Recent Butler graduates have attended the following Physician Assistant Schools:
- Baylor University
- Butler University
- Chatham University
- Elon University
- Gannon University
- George Washington University
- High Point University
- Indiana State University
- Indiana University
- Lincoln Memorial University
- Medical University of South Carolina
- Mercy College
- Midwestern University
- Nova Southeastern University
- Ohio University
- Southern Illinois University
- Trine Univeristy
- University of Evansville
- University of St. Francis
- University of the Cumberlands
- University of Wisconsin
- Wingate University