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Pre-Physician Assistant

Pre-Physician Assistant


Degree options for becoming a physician assistant: Master's Degree*

*All Physician Assistant programs in Illinois and Missouri offer a Master's degree.

What does a physician assistant do?  PAs are medical providers, most with graduate-level educations.  They are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease, and to prescribe medication to patients.  PAs work in physician offices, hospitals, and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician.

What is the lifestyle and salary like?  The growth of the profession has been substantial since its origin in 1965.  Currently, there are more than 86,000 practicing PAs.  The job outlook for PAs is bright.  In CNN's annual "Best Jobs in America" repots, PAs were ranked as the 16th best job, with a projected 30% growth rate over the next 10 years.  The average pay for a PA is $86,410.

What should I major in if I want to go to PA school?  You can choose any major that interests you as long as you fulfill the prerequisites for your chosen program.  A science related major is recommended.  

Do I need healthcare experience before I can apply to PA school?  Some programs require previous health care experience while others either strongly recommend it or do not require it.  Those that require experience are specific in the length of time and the types of experience they expect of their applicants.  It is best to know the kind of previous health care experience a program will consider before you apply.  You can obtain this information by contacting the admissions office at each program.  

Additional Resources: 
Is a career as a physician assistant right for you?
American Academy of Physician Assistants
Physician Assistant Education Association
PAEA Program Directory
PA Focus (PAEA Blog)
Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)

Regional Institutions:
SIU School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program (Carbondale Campus)
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Saint Louis University Doisy College of Health Sciences


What is the GRE and do I have to take it?  The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test required for admission to most graduate programs, but it is not required by al PA programs.  Contact the program you plan to attend for its specific admission requirements.  

Find out more about the GRE: GRE Revised General Test (GRE)

Prerequisites recommended from SIUE:
KIN 211: Medical Terminology
BIOL 150: Introduction to Biological Sciences I
BIOL 151: Introduction to Biological Sciences II
BIOL 220: Genetics
BIOL 240 A/B: Human Anatomy & Physiology
BIOL 350: Microbiology
CHEM 121A: General Chemistry I
CHEM 121B: General Chemistry II
CHEM 241A: Organic Chemistry I
PSYC 111: Foundations of Psychology
STAT 244: Statistics

Most programs require a GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply.  The GPAs of accepted students are generally in the 3.5 range.  

Student Organizations to consider joining:
Pre-Physician Assistant Association

Find more student organizations HERE!

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