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Pre-Physician Assistant

Why Choose Pre-PA at Eastern?

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision.  They conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order tests and interpret results, advise in preventative medicine, assist in surgery and write prescriptions (in most states).  This is one of the fastest growing careers in the health professions.  There are 14 PA programs listed in Pennsylvania alone!  It was estimated that there were about 46,000 PAs in clinical practice at the start of 2003.   PAs are trained mostly in primary care, but also can work in specialty fields like cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics and emergency medicine.  The structure of PA programs is similar to that of medical schools, but PA programs are much shorter in length.  Most accredited programs (133 in the US) take 25-27 months to complete.  There is high job satisfaction among the majority of practicing PAs and over 69% of those surveyed would recommend the profession to others.

Coursework

There is no Pre-Med or Pre-PA major at Eastern University.  Instead, you can have any major as long as you take the required courses for your desired graduate program (although most students usually major in science).  Each Physician Assistant (PA) program you apply to can have slightly different requirements, so be sure to investigate those schools you are most interested in to satisfy their prerequisites (see https://portal.caspaonline.org/#). In general, most places require these undergraduate courses:

  • Biology: five laboratory/lecture courses from a Biology Department to include at least anatomy and physiology and microbiology. (Biochemistry is recommended.)
  • Chemistry: four laboratory/lecture courses from a Chemistry Department, to include at least organic chemistry.
  • Psychology: one course in psychology (Developmental or abnormal psychology is recommended.)
  • Statistics: at least one statistics course and possibly another math course, like calculus.
  • Humanities: at least five courses in the humanities are required
  • English composition and literature
  • Medical terminology
  • Other recommended electives include: genetics, medical ethics, nutrition, abnormal and developmental psychology. 

Again, please check your school of interest for their unique requirements.  For example, some require a semester of Physics.

NOTE: Physician Assistant programs usually require a minimum of 200 (some programs require 500) hours of PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE or a combination of health care experience and research.

Please check your programs of interest for their specific requirements for coursework and clinical experience!

Web Sites To Help Plan for A Career As A Physician Assistant

Examinations

Most PA programs require the GRE (http://www.gre.org).  Some do not require any standardized test at all.  Check your school of interest.

Other Important Contacts

MMI (Medical Missionary International)
www.mmint.org

InterServe (medical missionary opportunities)
http://www.interserveusa.org/

Project MedSend
Project MedSend offers grants to repay student loans owed by healthcare professionals while they serve as medical missionaries in medically underserved areas of the world. Grant Applicants must

  1. be under the authority of a collaborating sending agency (an "Associate")
  2. be within 18 months of leaving for career medical missions service
  3. show fiscal responsibility and stewardship maturity
  4. be in the process of paying off their student loans as soon as earning begins (internship, residency, practice). For additional requirements, contact http://www.medsend.org/.

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