[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V42RgIXx4rA]

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose, and treat patients.

Physician assistants work in all areas of medicine, including primary care and family medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, and psychiatry. The work of physician assistants depends in large part on their specialty or the type of medical practice where they work. For example, a physician assistant working in surgery may close incisions and provide care before, during, and after the operation. A physician assistant working in pediatrics may examine a child and give routine vaccinations.

When applying to PA school, students will use a centralized application service known as CASPA.  This link provides a detailed look at the CASPA process and the various key components that PA schools will look at.


Timeline for Getting into PA School


PA School Application Service https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/participating-programs/


Course Recommendations for PA School

You’ll typically need to complete at least two years of college coursework in basic and behavioral sciences before applying to a PA program, which is very similar to premedical studies.

The majority of PA programs have the following prerequisites:

  • Chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Biology

To find out the exact coursework required for a specific PA School, visit the PAEA Program Directory


What kind of curriculum should I follow?

The requirements for admission to the schools and colleges of physician assistant vary, but students wishing to study physician assistant should be certain to take 2 semesters of general biology with lab, 2 semesters of general chemistry with labs, 1 semester of organic chemistry with lab  as well as 2 semesters of  human anatomy and physiology and labs. The science courses should be pre-professional level courses designed for science majors and should offer a laboratory experience.

Other courses such as cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and medical terminology are highly  recommended, depending on the physician assistant program.  

Statistics, introduction to psychology and one upper-level psychology (abnormal or developmental are preferred) are non-science prerequisites for the physician assistant program.

Due to the variance in requirements for each physician assistant program, It is highly recommended that students meet with a pre-professional health advisor early to develop a degree plan.


Important Qualities of a Physician Assistant

Communication skills. Physician assistants must explain complex medical issues in a way that patients can understand. They must also effectively communicate with doctors and other healthcare workers to ensure that they provide the best possible patient care.

Compassion. Physician assistants deal with patients who are sick or injured and may be in extreme pain or distress. They must be able to treat patients and their families with compassion and understanding.

Detail oriented. Physician assistants should be observant and have a strong ability to focus when evaluating and treating patients.

Emotional stability. Physician assistants, particularly those working in surgery or emergency medicine, should be able to work well under pressure. They must remain calm in stressful situations in order to provide quality care.

Problem-solving skills. Physician assistants need to evaluate patients’ symptoms and administer the appropriate treatments. They must be diligent when investigating complicated medical issues so that they can determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics