Frequently Asked Questions—Physician Assistant
- Which courses are required to enter a physician assistant program?
“Coursework to be completed before applying to PA programs differs according to entrance requirements for each program, but generally includes science courses such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology/bacteriology, general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and genetics; and non-science courses like English (composition, literature, technical writing), humanities, math (statistics, college level algebra), medical terminology, psychology (general, abnormal, developmental), and sociology.” (National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, 2013)
For more specific information on how these courses align with the Skidmore curriculum, please go to www.skidmore.edu/hpac/physician-assistant/.
- When should I apply?
The CASPA application becomes available in April of the prior year, materials will start to be forwarded in June, and the final deadline is in March. Programs set their own deadlines, so be sure to research your programs of interest and apply early.
- What is the typical profile of a successful physician assistant program candidate?
According to the 28th Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) report, “The average undergraduate GPA ranged between 3.43 and 3.53 for all categories. The average undergraduate science GPA ranged between 3.36 and 3.47 for all categories.” Also interesting to note, the average age of first-year physician assistant students is 27 years old.
According to the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, “Competitive applicants for PA programs have completed the prerequisite coursework required by the specific schools to which they are applying. They also present a solid understanding of the profession and patient care, demonstrated by significant health-related experience. About 85% of PA programs require applicants to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE); some programs may also require the TOEFL for international applicants, or applicants whose first language is not English. Letters of recommendation from professors, health advisors, employers, and health providers (MD, PA, NP) are also part of the admissions process.”
National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc. Health Professions Admissions Guide, Strategies for Success. Ed. Carol Baffi-Dugan and Robert E. Cannon. Champaign, IL: National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc., 2013
For more information, review the Physician Assistant Education Association (www.PAEAonline.org) and American Academy of Physician Assistants (www.aapa.org) websites.
- What does CASPA mean?
CASPA stands for the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants.
- Who can I talk to on campus about my interest in becoming a physician assistant?
Your HPAC advisor, Pat Fehling (Health and Exercise Sciences) or Karen Arciero, D.P.T. (Health and Exercise Sciences). To set up an appointment with the Career Development Center, please contact Shannon Rodriguez at 518-580-5790.