Seven tips for getting accepted into physician assistant school

October 23, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Gap Medics student Stevie in the surgery department Career opportunities for physician assistants appear to be growing. Physician assistants work in a variety of settings and medical specialties. But before you can become a PA, you have to graduate from a physician assistant program. PA school varies in length but is usually about two years long.  

As the field continues to grow, and more opportunities for physician assistants emerge, competition to get accepted into a PA program is tougher. But there are several things you can do to increase your chances of getting into the PA program of your choice.

Start your research early

PA schools have different admission requirements. If you wait until your senior year to decide which programs to apply to, you may not meet all the requirements. Gradually do your research throughout your undergrad career and make a list of programs you are interested in.

Pay attention to your grade point average

Although grades are not everything, they are important. You may not need straight As, but the better your grades are, the higher your chances of getting an acceptance letter.

Earn your bachelor’s degree

Not all physician assistant programs require applicants to have a four-year degree. Some programs only require an associate degree. But you increase your chances of getting in with a bachelor’s degree. You can major in anything you like. Make sure to take the pre-recs, which are required before applying to physician assistant school. Many schools require classes in psychology, microbiology, sociology, chemistry and biology.

Consider becoming an EMT, nurse’s aide or medical assistant

Many programs require applicants to have medical experience and complete a specific number of hours doing patient care. Although volunteer experience counts, other types of experience may give you an advantage over other applicants.

Apply early

The application process is time-consuming. You need to send your transcripts and obtain letters of recommendation, as well as write a personal essay. In addition, your applications may go through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants. CASPA reviews applications before they send them to the schools you are applying to. It helps streamline the process for both students and schools. But it can slow things down a bit. Consider applying at least four to six weeks before the school’s deadline.

Exceed minimum requirements

Physician assistant programs have different requirements. For example, they may require a minimum G.P.A. or a certain number of hours of patient care experience. Consider going beyond the minimum. Doing more than what is expected may show your work ethic and your desire to become a physician assistant.

Your application to physician assistant school includes your transcripts, letters of recommendation, verified medical experience and essay. Pay attention to the details. Spend time on your essay, making sure grammar is correct and your personality comes through. Obtain letters of recommendation from people you can count on to write a great letter. Follow directions, and don’t submit your applications with anything missing or they may not be considered.