Tips for Getting Into PA School

April 10, 2015

unusual medical careers (1)

There are a lot of options if you are interested in working in healthcare. Becoming a physician assistant is a great choice for many. Physician assistants have the opportunity to work in many of the same specialties as doctors. They often get to perform a wide variety of tasks including invasive and advanced procedures.  Physician assistants also do not go to school as long as a doctor does, which for some is another advantage to the profession. 

In order to become a PA, physician assistants are required to graduate from an accredited PA program and competition to get into school can be tough. Consider some of the following suggestion to increase your chances of getting into a PA program.

Make sure you meet the school’s minimum requirements

Physician assistant schools have different requirements. Don’t assume one school will be the same as the next. GPA, medical experience and academic prerequisites may vary between schools. Information can be found on the school’s websites, or you can contact the Physician Assistant Education Association for information regarding specific schools.

Keep your grades in mind

Although it may vary, most PA schools require students to have a grade point average of between 3.0 and 4.0. Grade point average is accumulative, so if your grades were low your freshman year, you still have time to raise your overall GPA.

Get a strong foundation in science

PA school is rigorous. Classes will most likely include pharmacology, chemistry and physiology. As an undergrad, it is helpful to take classes that will prepare you, such as anatomy, biology and medical terminology.

Gain enough medical experience

Many PA schools require students to have between 2000 and 4000 hours of patient care experience. Even if a school does not require medical experience, it can give you the edge. Consider medical jobs which do not require years of education. There are many medical jobs which you can start with a year or less of training, such as working as a medical assistant, emergency room tech and surgical tech.

Many of our Gap Medics alumni have also found that their work shadowing placement overseas gave them great medical experience and something really memorable to talk about at interview stage.

Apply to several schools

Not everyone who applies to PA school will get accepted. Your chances of getting accepted vary based on your grades, experience and other qualifications. Even if you are a strong candidate, don’t rely on only one school for acceptance. Factors  such as the number of applicants can change what you think is a sure thing.

Polish your application

Don’t rush through the application process. Make sure you complete everything, which is required. Review your application for accuracy, neatness and proper spelling. It may also help to get a school counselor or existing PA to check it through for you. Make sure you submit transcripts and letters of recommendation as requested.

Take your interview seriously

If you are invited to interview at a particular school, spend some time preparing. Do some research in order to determine what makes you a good fit for a school. Practice your interview skills and think about how you would answer typical interview questions. An interview can make or break you when it comes to getting accepted into a school. Do your best to excel.

All things considered, if you can take the time out to complete a work shadowing placement with us, it can only work in your favour.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.