Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Many are primary providers, but specialties are possible. Training occurs in hospitals, colleges, universities and medical schools. The typical PA training format is a BS/MS degree or MS degree following four years of undergraduate study. Bachelor’s programs are four years in length with the prerequisites integrated into the total program. Some programs award a certificate instead of an academic degree. Degrees offered range from Associate’s degree (rare) to a Master’s degree. Selection criteria vary according to the individual institution’s philosophy. UB students pursuing Physician Assistant careers complete their Bachelor’s degree in any major, as well as the prerequisite courses, and apply to PA programs typically in the summer of their senior year. However, individual school deadlines should be carefully consulted. Many schools are on rolling admission, so applying early is important.
The minimum grade point averages hover near a 3.0 GPA but most students admitted have very competitive averages (e.g., 3.5 and higher). Course work in the sciences typically includes biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and microbiology. Certain schools do require organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry and often calculus. Psychology, English and credits in humanities are frequently cited. Increasingly, PA programs insist on a specific number of hours of health related experience. Since each school varies in the number of hours and whether these may be volunteer or paid, students must research each school very carefully to determine qualifications.
For more information you may consult the Physician Assistant Programs Directory. There are close to 300 PA programs in the United States; several of which are in the State of New York. There are a large number of programs in the downstate area. There are three programs in Western New York at Canisius College, Daemen College and D’Youville College in Buffalo. Canisius and Daemen are free standing Master’s degree programs; D’Youville offers a combined BS/MS. The Canisius PA program gives preference to applicants from either Canisius or UB.
From the time you begin college, you are assembling a complete dossier with which to apply to these professional schools. Each of the requirements is a part of the whole. For PA schools your record will include:
We recommend researching PA programs early as requirements can vary greatly from school to school, and you may need to plan ahead to fit in all required courses. The chart below contains the more commonly required courses, but check with individual schools for specifics or additional requirements.
|COURSE NAME||COURSE NUMBER(S)||CREDITS|
|Chemistry||CHE 101-102 w/labs 113-114, or 105-106, or 107-108 w/labs 127-128||10 credits|
|Biology||BIO 200, and BIO 201 w/lab 211||9 credits|
|Anatomy||PAS 113 or PAS 427 or APY 345-346||4-5 credits|
|Physiology||PGY 300 or PGY 451-452||4-6 credits|
|Microbiology||MIC 301 or 401||4 credits|
|Psychology||PSY 101, possibly additional PSY or other social science courses||3+ credits|
|Statistics ||STA 119 or PSY 207 or STA 427||4 credits|
|English/Writing || |
Many require -
Communication Literacy 1 and 2
|Organic Chemistry ||Many require 1 or both - CHE 201-202||5-10 credits|
|Biochemistry||Many require - BIO 305 or BCH 403||3-4 credits|
|Medical Terminology ||Some require - CL 151 or OT 217||1-3 credits|
|Genetics||Some require - BIO 319 or BCH 410||3 credits|
|Other Requirements||May include other courses in physics, math, humanities, communication, etc.||3+ credits|
Physician Assistant programs may require a minimum number of hours of health related experience that can range from as little as 100 hours to 1,000 or more. They may also require applicants to have hands-on patient care experience as opposed to just patient contact. Positions that involve patient care may include, but are not limited to:
Consult individual PA school websites and admissions advisors for more suggestions and to be sure that they count these options.