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WSU Health Professions Student Center Pre-Physician Assistant

Pre-Physician Assistant students looking at chest x-ray

 

Pre-Physician Assistant specialist

Marian McDonnell Horton

Physician Assistant

PAs work under the supervision of a physician, perform routine physicals, assist in surgeries, order tests, diagnose and treat many illnesses, counsel patients about managing medical problems, and are able to prescribe medications in all 50 states.

Our staff will help you plan how to accrue your health care experience hours, help you fit prerequisite courses into your major, and prepare to apply the PA programs in which you are interested. There is one PA program in Washington State, and more than 170 across the country

+Physician Assistant School Requirements

Completion of pre-requisite courses: if applying to multiple schools, use the list above. Otherwise, check each school’s websites.

GPA: Most want 3.0 to apply, but 3.5 + is average for admission. Check each school’s websites for their minimums.

GRE Scores: Some schools require. This test is made up of 3 sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing scored between 130-170 for each of the first two sections. Score 155 in each section to be in the top 60th percentile.

Letters of Evaluation: 1-2 from science professors, 1-2 from clinician(s) who can reference your patient skills, and 1 from a person who knows you well (supervisor). Check each school to which you are applying for their requirements.

Experience: Evidence of compassion and empathy for the sick, elderly, injured, or disabled, which may include: Between 1,000 – 4,000 paid hours of healthcare experience. Check each school for specific requirements. Time spent shadowing physician assistants and physicians vary. Provide evidence of leadership experience and volunteerism.

Personal statement: Why are you the best candidate? Incorporate: why you want to be a PA, steps you have taken to accomplish this goal, provide background information, explain special situations, and describe where you see yourself in the future.

Personal interview: Evaluation of students may include several 30-60 minute personal interviews used to assess the applicant’s maturity, motivation, communication skills, knowledge of the profession, and desire to contribute to society through medicine.

+Prerequisite Courses for PA School

+Helpful Links

U.S. Dept. of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook
The profiles cover hundreds of occupations and describe what duties, work environment, how to become one, average pay, and more. Each profile also includes BLS employment projections for the 2010–20 decade.

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
The national organization open to enrolled PA students; provides in-depth info on the profession.

Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)
Includes a map of physician assistant programs in the United States and links to each program’s website.

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)
A centralized, web-based application service provided by PAEA to help simplify the application process for prospective PA students.

PA Focus
The Physician Assistant Education Association’s new website for students, with great resources for students in the application process, an excellent section under “Applying” on paying for PA school that includes PA scholarships, traineeships, state and federal loans, and repayment programs. There is also a large section for veterans, including a list of PA programs that offer assistance to veterans, and interviews with veterans enrolled in PA programs.

Inside PA Training Blog
An information-packed site with sections on job shadowing, obtaining health care experience hours, getting into PA school, preparing essays, readying for interviews, paying for PA school, specialties, learning resources, and much more.

PA Forum
Established in 1998, the physician assistant forum has become the largest online social network of physician assistants, physician assistant students and those interested in becoming a physician assistant. The forum has over 14 years of experience related information and physician assistant jobs or employment opportunities. It also has a large physician assistant school section with lots of helpful information for applying and interviews.

Physician Assistant Scholarships
A sortable, filtered directory of physician assistant scholarships that PA students can use to find potential funding sources.

Physician Assistant Training Program at the University of Washington
 School of Medicine
This PA program is run by MEDEX Northwest and was one of the first PA programs in the US. The goal of the program is to expand access to high-quality healthcare by training second-career midlevel clinicians to join the primary care workforce.

The PA Coach
A YouTube channel containing short videos from Dave DuBose, a practicing PA, with advice on numerous aspects of the application process, including examples of mistakes to avoid and essential preparations for interviews. Dave also maintains a website with similar information.

Top Physician Assistant Careers
A resource which graduates of physician assistant programs can use to find jobs; includes general job boards, professional association sites, and government job sites. Also provides general information about a career as a physician assistant.

The PA Life
A website fFilled with excellent resources for pre-PA students, grad students, and professionals. Especially helpful are an online PA job shadow site, and the “PA School Finder” that is geographically-based and which links directly to PA programs nationwide.