The Physician Assistant (PA) profession is a growing field as the demand for health care increases and our health care system looks for new and cost effective ways to provide quality healthcare. According to the Physician Assistant Education Association, the physician-PA team relationship is fundamental to the PA profession. PAs have their own patients, and, under a written agreement with a licensed physician, make clinical decisions. PA’s take medical histories, perform physical exams, order and interpret laboratory tests, diagnose and treat illnesses, counsel patients and assist in surgery. PAs can practice all throughout the U.S.
Preparing for Physician Assistant School
Earn a bachelor’s degree
Physician assistant school is a graduate program; to become eligible to apply to PA school students need to earn a bachelor's degree and take specific pre-requisites (classes that PA schools require). At UT, students can earn a bachelor's degree and take pre-requisite courses. They will need to choose a major as pre-PA is not a major or a program at UT.
Students who are interested in going to PA school typically major in biology or allied health with a concentration in medical sciences. These majors include some of the required courses for entrance into PA programs. However, other degrees can also prepare students for health professions; thus students are encouraged to major in the field where they excel and should consult the pre-health professions advisor about course work.
Basic pre-requisite courses required for physician assistant school:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Biology and/or Microbiology
- General Chemistry
- Biochemistry/Organic Chemistry/Physics/Statistics/Medical Terminology: may be required depending on school
*Each PA school has its own set of pre-requisites, and students need to research the admission requirements of each school to which they are intending to apply.
Build an extensive record of relevant experiences
- Shadow a PA – gain knowledge of the PA field and confirm if this is your passion
- Clinical Experience – direct/hands on patient care in a healthcare setting is usually required or preferred
- Volunteer/community service/work/research – in a medical setting
- Leadership - roles on and off campus
Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE)
- The GRE is required for most PA schools. It is about four hours long and cost $205.
- Students who are on the traditional plan of going to PA school directly following graduation from UT should be prepared to take the GRE in the late spring/early summer of your junior year.
- Take the GRE before applying to PA schools.
Physician Assistant school applications
- Students can start to apply to PA school a full year before they intend to start (summer of junior year through fall of senior year).
- Applications open late spring and each school has its own deadline.
- Take a look now at what is expected of the application: CASPA application
PA School Information and Beyond
- Students apply for PA school through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants website.
- After completion, the student earns a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree.
- A student then must pass the PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE).
- Following the exam, students must be licensed by the state in which they wish to practice.
- As a result, they will become a PA-C (certified).
Pre-professions advising has a dedicated program specialist to help students prepare for professional school in the health sciences. The advisor would like to see all pre-health students early on to ensure they are on the path for success. Please email Jackie Mikulski to schedule an appointment.
Explore Health Careers – Physician Assistant
American Academy of Physician Assistants