What requirements must one meet to get accepted to physician assistant programs?


Quick Answer

The admission requirements for Physician Assistant programs depend on the institution, but there are some common themes. Applicants to PA programs are generally expected to complete a bachelor's degree or specified hours of coursework with a minimum GPA, obtain clinical experience, complete prerequisite courses and present letters of recommendation.

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Full Answer

Physician Assistant programs are highly competitive and admission requirements do vary quite a bit, so applicants should start preparing early and research prospective institutions to determine if they meet admission standards. In addition to coursework and clinical experience that includes PA shadowing, other common requirements for admission to PA programs include completion of standardized tests such as the GRE, and volunteer experience in a non-medical setting. International applicants may also be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Most programs require applicants to complete courses in human anatomy and physiology, as well as chemistry, generally within a specified amount of time before applying so the information will be fresh. Other common requirements for coursework include classes in microbiology or bacteriology, math, and social studies. Many PA programs require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree, but some are structured so that students may transition directly from their undergraduate studies to a master's program. These BS/MS programs commonly take about five or six years to complete.

Admission requirements for clinical experience also vary considerably between institutions, but applicants to PA programs are frequently expected to have about 1000 hours or three years of hands-on experience with patients. In most cases this may include either paid or volunteer work.

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