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What is Pre-PA?

A “pre-physician’s assistant” means you are working towards applying to a Physician Assistant program. Length of Physician Assistant programs range from 24 months to 36 months, subsequent to the completion of a bachelor’s degree. The primary difference is due to summer classes and/or additional supplemental areas of study such as public health.

Entry into these programs is highly competitive, so you’ll need to go above and beyond the basics of GPA and clinical experience. It is essential that you differentiate yourself from other applicants by gaining unique skills to contribute towards the creation of a diverse learning environment that’s sure to enrich the education for everyone.

What Is a Physician’s Assistant?

A Physician Assistant (PA) practices medicine under the supervision of a physician. PAs provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventative medical care. They record notes, carry out therapy, instruct and counsel patients, prescribe certain medications, and even perform minor surgeries.

Although PAs are trained as generalist healthcare providers, they often specialize in specific areas like dermatology, orthopedics, cardiology, and emergency medicine, which is among the most attractive aspect of the profession.

How Do You Become a Physician’s Assistant?

You need to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but major need not be in biological sciences. Students should select a major in an area of specific interest to them. A pre-physician’s assistant is not a major, so be sure to complete the most common pre-requisites as follows:

Coursework Generally Required by Many PA Schools*        

  • One year General Biology
  • One year General Chemistry
  • One semester Organic Chemistry
  • One year English (Lower & Upper-Division Writing Course)
  • One semester Calculus
  • One semester Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • One semester Human Anatomy and one semester Physiology or One year AP 1 & AP 2
  • Microbiology with lab

* Check for any additional requirements from the school to which you are applying.

Recommended courses:

  • Statistics
  • Biochemistry
  • General Physics
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Medical Terminology

Factors of Consideration for Admission:

  • A cumulative grade point average and science grade point average (GPA)
  • A Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Personal statement
  • Interview (in-person and virtual)
  • CASPER Situational Judgment Assessment
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Healthcare experience
  • Patient-care experience

Central Application Service to Physician Assistants (CASPA) is the centralized application system for applying to most PA programs, some require direct application on their website.

An excellent academic and personal enrichment is the Postbaccalaureate Pre-PA Certificate (PPA) program at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) in Claremont, CA. This program is specifically designed to give PA applicants a competitive advantage with a comprehensive academic program and extra-curricular activities and work experience.