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How to get into Physician Assistant School. The Pre-Physician Assistant Club Presents: Updated 11/3/2011. 1. Concentration/ Majors. What majors are most helpful for getting in? Doesn ’ t matter, pick a major you enjoy

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how to get into physician assistant school
How to get into Physician Assistant School
  • The Pre-Physician Assistant Club Presents:
  • Updated 11/3/2011


concentration majors
Concentration/ Majors
  • What majors are most helpful for getting in?
  • Doesn’t matter, pick a major you enjoy
  • Something in the sciences is probably good (then a lot of your classes will overlap with your PA school prerequisites – for example, kinesiology)
  • Make sure you get your PA school prerequisites done!!!
extracurricular activities
Extracurricular Activities
  • What clubs should I join?
  • The Pre-PA Club is obviously the best 
    • Being an Active Member and becoming involved is a great way to stand out on your application!
  • Do what you’re interested in, have fun!
  • Many programs are interested in your community service/volunteering activities
  • Research is great too (ex: UROP)
  • Do I need to take the GRE or the MCAT?
  • Most programs require the GRE
  • Some programs will accept either the GRE or the MCAT (as far as we know, there isn’t a preference for one or the other)
  • A few programs don’t require any test
  • Take practice tests! Try not to take the actual exam more than once or twice
  • Why should I observe PA-Cs in their work environment?
  • You should shadow PA-Cs so that you can better understand the profession and have a real idea of what they do (Admissions people want to see that you know what you’re getting yourself into)
  • It is not appropriate to ever assume that someone you’re shadowing will give you a job/allow you to shadow for more than part of a day/one day
  • Ways to find shadowing opportunities:
    • If your primary care provider is a PA-C, or there is a PA-C in the office you go to, talk to them!
    • Call local doctor’s offices or hospitals
    • University of Michigan Alumni Association Mentors -, 08-05-2008)
  • How will it help me?
  • Volunteering in a hospital is great because it puts you in the health care setting and allows you to observe and become comfortable (and it’s fun!); it is also a great stepping stone and a great way to make connections
    • University of Michigan Health System Volunteer Services - tp://
    • Trail’s Edge Camp for Ventilator Dependent Children -
      • AWESOME opportunity!! First week of June every year 
  • *Some programs WILL NOT accept volunteering as part of your patient care experience, but many programs ARE interested in your community service/volunteering activities (for example, Wayne State REQUIRES you to submit an official record of all your volunteering for 2 years)
patient care experience
Patient Care Experience
  • What are programs looking for?
  • Most programs require anywhere from 500-2,000 hours of “direct patient care experience” – what they accept varies
  • Most programs prefer paid positions, but some unpaid positions work. The more responsibility you hold in your position and the more time you have worked, the more competitive you will be as an applicant
  • Positions include (but are not limited to) Certified Nurses Aid, Phlebotomist, Patient Care Tech/Attendant, EMT, RN, Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy Aid, Medical Technologist, etc
patient care experience cont
Patient care experience cont.
  • Washtenaw Community College Certified Nurses Aid Training Credit course – approx 5 weeks) (*Fills up REALLY fast)
  • The American Red Cross offers a CNA course also, but it is more expensive
  • University of Michigan Job Site -
  • Sunrise Assisted Living -
  • St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Job Site -
  • The Caring Space (Home Health Aid jobs) -
  • Glacier Hills Care and Rehabilitation Center -
  • What is it?
  • The Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants
  • Most (but not all) programs use CASPA, so you can more easily apply to multiple programs
  • *Many programs ALSO require a supplemental application for their specific program/school which may include additional essays that should be different from your initial personal statement!
  • Application not complete without transcripts, payment, recommendations
  • *It can take up to 6 weeks for CASPA to process your application and send it to the specific programs, so don’t wait until their deadline to submit!!!
  • Who should I ask?
  • CAPSA requires three
    • Almost all programs require that one be from a PA-C (or a health care professional who works with/is knowledgeable about them)
      • This should be someone you have had multiple, meaningful interactions with, NOT someone you just shadowed once or twice.
    • Advanced prerequisite professors (i.e. Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, etc)
    • Supervisors from patient care positions
    • Basically, people who will be able to attest to your ability to succeed academically and professionally
  • How do I prepare?
  • *If you are granted an interview, this IS your opportunity, you may not get another chance with this program; that being said, it is your chance to interview them as well
  • Be confident
  • Be prepared (know how to “speak PA”)
  • Be professional
  • Know history of profession
  • Be able to articulate why you want to be a PA (and not a doctor or a NP)
  • The Career Center has MANY interviewing tips & ways to prepare. Visit
  • Come to mini/mentoring meetings!
academic requirements
Academic requirements
  • Things to keep in mind…
  • THIS IS WHY THE CLUB WAS STARTED THE CLUB!! Trying to figuring out classes is very frustrating
  • YOU MAY HAVE TO TAKE SOME COURSES AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES/COLLEGES (i.e. Eastern University, Washtenaw Community College)
  • MOST PROGRAMS WANT A GPA OF 3.0 or higher
now for the fun stuff
Now for the fun stuff…
  • What fulfills my requirements?
human anatomy
Human Anatomy
  • Almost always required. Take:
    • MEDADM 403 - offered Fall and Winter, has a lab that meets 4 times during the semester, offers a lab component that meets 4 times during the semester (works with plastinated bodies, not cadaver dissection, but some schools still count it)
      • Reviews:
        • “One of the most exciting courses I’ve taken so far…there are weekly quizzes which help you stay on track and not fall behind in the course. The professors are great and really help you a lot – I really enjoy the lectures.”
        • “This is my absolute favorite class taken at U of M! The lab portion is really helpful in pulling all of the concepts together!”
    • Also offered at Oakland University (and others)
human anatomy lab
Human Anatomy lab
  • Not often required, but sometimes recommended.
  • FYI- Central Michigan DOES require this!
    • UM does not offer
    • Offered at Oakland University
human physiology
Human physiology
  • At least one is almost always required, sometimes upper level also. Take one or two:
    • PHYSIOL 201 – Lower level
    • PHYSIOL 502 – Upper level
    • AT 375- Pathophysiology through the Athletic Training department
      • Email the professor for an override, he is very receptive to admitting Pre-PA students
      • Does NOT count toward your 120 credits to graduate.
    • MOVESCI 340 – Exercise Physiology (lab included) (**NOT all schools will accept Exercise Phys to fulfill Physiology requirement.)(Wayne State University Accepts Exercise Phys & AT 375 to fulfill their upper level requirement.)
human physiology lab
Human physiology lab
  • Not often required, but sometimes recommended.
    • MOVESCI 340 – Exercise Physiology (lab automatic component of lecture course)
    • UM does not offer
  • *** Regarding Human Anatomy and Physiology Courses – Some schools will accept two semesters of joined courses, some will not (check with your specific programs of interest). ***
introductory biology
Introductory biology
  • Almost always required with lab. Take all three:
    • BIO 171 – Ecology and Evolution, offered Fall and Winter
    • BIO 172 – Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental, offered Fall and Winter
    • BIO 173 (Lab) – Offered Fall and Winter
general chemistry
General chemistry
  • Almost always required with lab. Take both:
      • (Note: If you passed out of Chem 130, check with your school to see they’ll accept that test score in substitution of the course – Not all schools will.)
      • Some schools also require 2 semesters of general chemistry….
    • CHEM 130 – Offered Fall and Winter
    • CHEM 125 (Lab) – Offered Fall and Winter
organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
  • Often either Orgo 1 OR Biochem is accepted
  • Orgo 2 rarely required
    • CHEM 210 and CHEM 211 (Lab) – Orgo I, offered Fall and Winter
    • CHEM 215 and CHEM 216 (Lab) – Orgo II, offered Fall and Winter
    • BIO 310 – lower level, not offered every semester (Need prior or concurrent enrollment in Chem 215)
      • Reviews: “Horribly difficult class.”“Pretty good so far [in progress].”
    • BIOCHEM 415 – upper level, offered Fall and Winter (Need both semesters of Organic Chemistry first; some advisors recommend Physics first but students say it is not necessary)
      • Reviews: “A lot of memorizing and lots of work…lectures weren’t very engaging.”
  • What’s the difference?
    • Essentially same material, 415 exams are all multiple choice while 310 also utilizes short answer questions
    • BIOCHEM 212 – through the nursing school. Some schools accept it, be sure to check with them first! Very easy if you’ve already taken your chemistry and biology classes.
  • Take either:
    • BIO 207 – Lab included, offered Fall and Winter
      • Reviews: “Didn’t really like it much.”“A lot of studying – the lab is exciting and relaxed, helps to boost your grade.”
    • MICROBIOL 301 and 350 (Lab) – Offered Winter only (Biochem is an advisory prerequisite but not required according to advisors)
      • Reviews: “If you do well on the first 3 exams, you don’t have to go to class for the last few weeks since your lowest exam score can be dropped (provided you take all 4 exams)”
  • Not generally required (can get away without taking labs)
    • PHYSICS 125 and PHYSICS 127 (Lab)
    • PHYSICS 126 and PHYSICS 128 (Lab)
  • Calc based physics is not necessary, even if you decide to take the MCAT
  • College algebra or higher
    • Math 105 is Pre-Calc
    • Math 115 is Calc 1
  • Not always required, but usually recommended. Choose one:
    • BIO 105 – Offered Fall and Winter (sometimes… sporadic based on the professor teaching it)
    • MOVESCI 241 – For Kinesiology majors
  • Almost always required
  • Choose one:
    • STATS 100 – Lower level
    • STATS 250 – Offered Fall and Winter
      • Reviews: Great class! Get Brenda Gunderson if possible
    • MOVESCI 250 – For Kinesiology majors
medical ethics
Medical ethics
  • Finally offered @ UM again!
  • Often recommended, gaining popularity as required in some programs
    • PHIL 356
    • Offered at Washtenaw Community College (or others)
medical terminology
Medical terminology
  • Gaining popularity as a requirement (Wayne State just started requiring it)
    • Classic Civ 217: 1 credit
    • Offered at Washtenaw Community College, online at Schoolcraft Community College (or others)
  • Generally only a general or developmental course is required, occasionally abnormal is recommended.(If you have Psych AP credit from high school, make sure to check if your school will accept it – Not all schools will.)
    • Psych 111 – Introductory
    • Psych 250 – Developmental, GREAT class! (need Psych 111 first)
    • Psych 270 – Abnormal (need Psych 111 first)
  • Required by some, Recommended by others- check individual programs
    • Bio 305- Really HARD!
  • Generally one or two composition courses are required (For LSA, English 125 and ULWR should fulfill).
what now
  • Take a deep breath!