for Healthcare Education
at Miami University
Preparing for a Career as a Physician Assistant (PA)
Once you have decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant, you should:
- Familiarize yourself with general advice for students considering healthcare careers (general advising page).
- Familiarize yourself with the information on this page.
- Visit websites such as:
- American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)
- This site provides further information about this healthcare career option, and you can find a complete list of PA programs from around the country.
- Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)
- This site provides access to a list of PA programs around the country.
- Contact Mr. Rob Balfour (balfoura@MiamiOH.edu, 513-529-3149, 292 Pearson Hall) for any questions you may have about a career as a physician assistant.
Unfortunately, the prerequisite coursework required for admission to PA programs is not standard. While program requirements vary, it is not uncommon for PA programs to require some or all of the following courses:
Physician Assistant School Requirement - Miami Equivalent
- General Biology (1 year)
- *BIO/MBI 115, 116
- General Chemistry (1 year)
141, 142, 144, 145
- Organic Chemistry/Biochemistry (1 year)
- CHM 241, 242, 244, 245
CHM 231, 332
- Anatomy (1 semester)
- BIO 201 or KNH 244†, 244L†
- Mathematics (1 semester)
- MTH 102 or higher
- Statistics (1 semester)
- STA 261
- Microbiology (1 semester)
- MBI 201
- Physiology (1 semester)
- BIO 161 or BIO 305
- Psychology (2 semesters)
- PSY 111 and one higher-level PSY course
* BIO/MBI is a cross-listed course offered by the Departments of Biology and Microbiology.
† Class not accepted by every PA program.
Once again, program requirements are not standard, so once you have decided to pursue a career as a PA please contact the PA schools to which you plan on applying to verify their course prerequisites.
Admission to Physician Assistant school is competitive and schools choose among many qualified applicants. Evaluation of candidates is based largely on objective criteria. While high overall and science GPAs are important, there are other important requirements that you need to fulfill as well. These include:
- competitive Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores. The GRE is required by the majority of PA programs.
- PA schools generally require a certain number of hours of direct healthcare experience (some up to 1,000 hours). Verify the hours requirement with the schools to which you want to apply.
- strong letters of reference (both academic and from a PA)
- evidence of leadership potential as demonstrated by a few carefully chosen extracurricular activities
- well-developed interpersonal skills
Applying to Physician Assistant School
The majority of PA schools require that students apply to their programs using a web-based application service called the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). For more information and for a complete listing of schools that require students to apply through CASPA, visit the CASPA website.