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The Path to become a Physician Assistant

Updated on August 23, 2017

How to become a Physician Assistant

If you are looking at this you are at least curious or have had the epiphany that this profession is for you. Once you make that decision there are some check marks needed alongside a number of tasks that become your list to professional success.

First: no one gets into a PA program without taking the appropriate college courses. All schools want 8 hours of anatomy and physiology. They can be combined over 2 semesters or one semester of each and they must include a lab. UNC in its premed curriculum only provides a one semester combined course that is not accepted by 95% of PA programs. Look at the info in the PA Path.com and on the website of the program to which you are going to apply. Details change from year to year. I had to update the information on Duke and Emory this month due to requirement changes. Know what you need and if specific courses from your college fulfill requirements.

Create a time line on a paper and write down all the courses you will need and when you will have them completed.

Second: Even if you don't need experience to be accepted, you do have to know and understand the role of a PA in health care. You will need some shadowing hours. Some schools have specific requirements for this - 50-200 hours is the range I have seen. Do those hours with more than one PA. Put your schedule for this on your time line and track it. Many schools require some experience hours. Some accept volunteer hours as an assistant in a free clinic and some want paid hours. If you need paid hours consider First Responder EMT basic, CNA or MA as means to get a quick certification and the patient care experience required. If you apply the spring of your senior year of college, you can work the months between graduation and the start of PA school and log 90% of your hours then. Remember 1000 hours is just 6 months of full time work.

Third: You are going to need some references. Some schools specify a professor as one but every program wants a medical reference. A PA giving you a reference is a big boost, especially if the program knows them. Once you decide to ask an MD or PA for a reference, ask them to have a cup of coffee or tea with you and ask them what it would take to get a reference from them. Do this early i.e. 6 months before you need it. Take notes on what they say. I like to see Pre-PA's carrying a book with them, something pocket-sized, and writing down terms, tips or a diagnosis that they are going to read about later. It shows an interest in learning and that you don't think you know it all now. When the application time comes, CASPA is going to send them an email to either download and mail a form or to write your reference online. Know their preference and email address. Get the application cycle right! I once wrote a reference, did not keep a copy and the person discovered they were early and I had to do it again.

Fourth: Study for the GRE all through the year before you take it. I personally love to learn new vocabulary words. I like to play games with the Pre-PA's I work with to see who knows the most on the list that day. Learn a word a day and how to use it in your daily conversation. Study a question or two a day and learn the GRE way of thinking. Elizabeth Murray in her tips for PA school advises this: she says the GRE is just a way of thinking and if you are in the GRE mindset, you will do well.

Fifth: Be prepared to get your app in early. The schools almost all have some sort of reward for early submission. CASPA cuts your fee if you E-submit your application before August and pay your fees then. The early applicant gets the first interviews and first invites to the program. You will need to get your essay for CASPA written early - I have a video about this in my membership program on ThePAPath.com. Have a transcript of your grades for you to use to enter your course work. CASPA will need some official transcripts requested on their form but you don't have to wait, so get one so you can be entering those courses while your "official" transcript is in the mail. Be sure to let those providing a reference know what your submission time frame is, so they can get it done asap. Once Programs receive your CASPA app, they will accept their supplemental app. Some allow you to complete and send it before CASPA arrives but won't look at it until your CASPA app is in their hands

Sixth: Prepare to be interviewed. Have what some call "an elevator pitch". A 20 second message about why you want to be a PA. Rehearse it and

know it. It should be congruent with your CASPA essay. Have an essay writing plan. Some schools have you write the supplemental essay at the interview. You need to have idea blocks done and practiced so you can use them to put together an essay on the spot. Have some 100 word ideas around the topics of - Why you want to be a PA? Why you want to go to school at ______ Program? What it means to be a PA? Why you want to work in primary care? How PA's fit into the health care system? You need to be writing about 15 or 20 similar ideas and work on them the year before you apply. These will help you answer interview questions also.

Next: You need some appropriate clothes - not expensive clothes but appropriate. Guys, minimum are slacks, shirt and tie. Conservative, no cartoon characters on the tie. Ladies a suit of some kind. Eighty percent of new PA students are women. The competition is tougher for you. Look good but make sure they see you and not your cleavage, thighs or bling. Laura has some video's on how to tie a tie on her Squidoo.com lens on interview tips.

These are the highlights. They apply to most situations. There will be specifics. Remember that you are being "interviewed" anytime you talk to someone at a PA program about anything. If you have a question, be sure to be clear, listen - spend twice as much time ears open to mouth open time. Be on your best behavior. Dave, the PA Coach, tells about a fellow who hit on the female student touring his group at Emory. He did not get in there that year. A friend of mine applying to Medical School called a program to talk to someone about a question he had. The person answering the phone was really impressed with him. It turned out the Dean had answered the phone and was impressed enough, she made sure his app was put into special consideration. He got in because he qualified but he got a special look to see if he qualified because his phone "interview" went so well.

Good Luck on your PA Path and congratulations on your decision to become a PA.

If you want to get into PA school how do you get the grades? - Dr. Cal Newport has written some books to help you.

Cal Newport lies to find out how to do academics well. He published how to do H.S. well then how to do college well and not spend every minute in SILENT study. His book offers suggestions for humanities courses, math and science. It is worth a read.

University of Iowa c/o ConusRankings.com
University of Iowa c/o ConusRankings.com

How to become a Great PA Program Applicant

Focus on First things first or pay the price of rejection

You want to be a PA. You want a smooth path to PA school. You want "The Ultimate Guide to Getting into Physician Assistant School". Andy Rodican wrote that and I prominently recommend it in two places on this lens. Rodican has a coaching program too. It costs 250-600 dollars. He is a savvy guy and worth the money.

I think I can do it better for less and allow you to get most of my services free. Before I ask you for a decision let me give you some free advice. Free advice is all over the internet and the 9% of you that apply to and get into PA school will know soon enough that the advice your patients get on the internet is of various age and quality. So is the advice of those giving it for free. Here is some of the best I can tell you.

**First thing that you have to have to get accepted are good grades in more than the minimum prerequisite courses. **

It is a given that every top applicant will have good grades. I am asked often "What can I do to make myself a better candidate?" When I look at their Resume, I often see a less than 3.0 over all and barely a 3.0 science GPA. That will not get you into a top 25 program. Neither will the minimum number of courses. Taking all the prerequisites isn't done. You take as many courses as possible. There are the required ones and then those that are "recommended". Take as many as possible and get a 3.0 or better in every course. You need a GPA in science greater than 3.5 to be a top candidate. No one can take the courses for you, but get a tutor and do what it takes.

**Second, prepare for the GRE.**

We have a bunch of tips in the membership program written by Elizabeth Murray now a PA-C herself. The most important thing you can do as an undergrad is expand your vocabulary. Learn a couple of new words a week for 4 years and you have 400 words. Use them in an email or in conversation or in a paper to lock them away.

**Third, **

Begin to think about medical experience as soon as you start college. There are plenty of programs that don't require it but they weight it heavily. If you apply and get an interview, all things being equal, the person with the most and best experience is going to be offered a seat. You need to get some kind of certification like MA, CNA or EMT in the summer before college or between your freshman and sophomore years. To be a PA you have to get a large solid foundation before you ever set foot in the program. Most of your experience can be obtained after you graduate from college while you are applying. 1000 hours of experience is 40 hours a week for 6 months. Easy if you got a certification and were doing some volunteering with your medical training during college.

**Fourth, **

Prepare to get some great references. Often a professor is approved to give you one and then you are going to want two from health care providers. Preferably one or both should be PA's and if they graduated from programs to which you are applying, so much the better. You can begin to get some experience by shadowing a PA. Before you even ask one to do so, get a professional name tag made with your picture, name and in large letters below you name the word Student. Wear it on you right upper chest to that anyone with whom you shake hands can see both your name and status.

Take a medical terminology course. You can buy a good book, I recommend some here, and learn the basics so you understand what you are hearing. You can then ask questions not about patients, but about how the PA knows or suspects "that" was the problem. I will give you your first hint - the suffix ITIS means inflammation so appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix, diverticulitis is inflammation of a diverticulum etc... Get one of those black moleskine cahier books and keep it in your pocket. Write down hints, tips and new information like words, diagnosis etc... that you learn.

I think a person who takes notes on new stuff is ambitious. Get a medical dictionary app for your iPhone, iPod touch or Android phone. Look up stuff.

You can start finding shadowing opportunities by checking with the PA's that work in student health, your own doctor's office and at the local health department. Also shadow a nurse and a doctor. Then you can have a response to "Why do you want to be a PA?" that begins, after I shadowed a PA, Doc and Nurse I realized that....answer in no more than 4 sentences or 20-30 seconds.

Know why you feel that way and then look them in the eye and tell them. There are ways to get a good reference. A bad Reference is the number one App Killer!!!! I will tell you what to do in week 10 of my membership program.

**Fifth,**

Get ready for the essay. Get out that moleskine. What did you learn during work, shadowing and taking terminology etc... What makes you special? How do you meet the mission of the program you want to accept you? Can you tell them in 500 words?

You need a strategy for speaking and writing these facts. You need to be able to draw out from your preparation, examples that will connect you emotionally to the reader. Your essay should make you irresistible. It should make meeting you a priority for the reader.

This is a 500 word description of your brand. How does your brand solve the problems the PA program has? You have years of college to think this over. You can communicate with admissions faculty and staff about preparation and ask what they think about certain things you are doing to prepare for admission.

Take Laura Phelan's advice and send them a thank you note after every contact. Know the program's address, get the person's name you talk to and write a simple thank you right after the call. Keep a folder on each program and record who you talked to in one line and if you sent a note. It will help you explain why you chose them - they were friendly each time you called or emailed especially so-and-so etc...

**Last,**

Get prepared for the interview. This is where an experienced interviewer can help you. Behavioral questions are asked more and more by both employers and admissions committees. You have to be ready to answer them and you need a strategy.

My coaching program can help you with that. You can hire me as needed for 30-60 minutes at time. You could hire Andy Rodican, but his program is $250 self study and $600 if you want his help in a group. One of the things he does is edit your essay. This can get you in trouble if your GRE writing score is low.

Especially if you have a dynamite CASPA essay and then bomb the essay they have you write at your interview. Better to have a little essay writing practice in college and then have a strategy that suits you that will help you think write and speak clearly and from a position of strength and preparedness. I am ready to help you. Just click on the link to the right Link-The PA Path

One last thing, a list of what kept people from being accepted is linked to the pic of the Iowa PA program headquarters. Just click on the picture to see the list.

If you can only buy one book to help you become a PA, Get this one. - THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING IN TO PA SCHOOL

If you want to get in, hire a coach. I only know of 3, and I have the best program, but Andrew Rodican wrote the book and he was first. I own it and highly recommend it. Books by their nature are old information, but Rodican's book is as good as you can get in print. If you are going to do this alone, and everyone who does not get in has done just that, then at least click here and get this book.

Physician Assistant Program Prerequisites Video - Iowa, a top 10 program, is a good example of what courses you need to take.

PA programs are competitive. As one of the top 10 occupations of the next decade, PA's are in demand. The salary is good, the autonomy is great and the time is right. I am asked all the time, what do I have to do to get in? The answer is, you have to meet the minimum standard, get an interview and then do well on the interview so they take you after your interview. I have a whole separate lens about the interview process here http://www.squidoo.com/PhysicianAssistantInterview...

Bruce Bair PAC
Bruce Bair PAC

Physician Assistant Program Prerequisites

What do you need to do to get accepted?

I have talked about this before. It is very important to know the prerequisites of the programs to which you will apply. When I looked at just the top 25 teams, it took me 50 hours to extract 25 different items per program onto an Excel spreadsheet. I make that Excel file available to you in the program "Everything You need to know to get Accepted to PA School". Until you purchase that program, let me talk about this issue.

Rule number one is to exceed the minimum. Just barely qualifying won't get you accepted. The top 25 programs receive about 15+ applications per seat. Duke gets 700-800 for 70-75 seats. Emory reports similar stats and Iowa, ranked #1, only has 30 seats in its program. You have to get noticed by your academic record first and they look at how many courses you have taken, how heavy your load was (PA school is intense and you need to show you can do it) and what kind of grades you made. A 3.0 overall GPA is the cut-off for most schools. For your last 60 hours, you need more than a 3.0.

What courses do you need? Think about Anatomy and Physiology with labs, Microbiology with labs, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry with labs, Statistics, Cell Biology, Genetics and advanced courses in Psychology plus Medical Terminology. Think about Embryology and Immunology also. Almost all the top 25 programs require a degree for acceptance to their program. In the 2010-11 application cycle, St. Francis University in Loretto, PA did not have a place for anyone outside their pre-PA program. This is not the norm but could be as more and more students choose the PA profession as their first choice.

Then there is the GRE. Most Masters degree programs require it. You have to send it directly to the program and not through CASPA. You don't need a course if you will prepare for the GRE mindset with a book. Elizabeth writes about this in her tips in the PDF that is part of our "Everything You need to know to get Accepted to PA School". Click on my picture to go to the site to look at the information mentioned.

The PA Path Video on PA Program Acceptance Strategy - Only 1 in 10 Get In!

Be one of the 10% of applicants to be accepted to a PA program. There is a strategy to this.

What Kind of Experience is Required for PA School

Get this one right early

I have been asked in the comment section of my blog www.thePAPath.com recently about the amount and type of experience needed to get into a quality PA Program. The exact answer to this is answered on the admissions requirements page of the website for the program you want to attend.

Most programs want 1000 hours of really high quality experience. This amounts to 10 hours per week for 2 years. Usually volunteer experience is not enough. and many kinds of experience that are paid do not qualify like Pharmaceutical Company Sales Rep, Lifeguard, Candy Stripper, etc... Duke's admissions site (listed below)covers all the things they will not accept in detail and it is probably representative of all top 10 or top 20 schools.

My advice is to become either a CNA or a basic EMT early on. Then you can arrange to volunteer in the ER to gain experience. As a basic EMT you would be able to do chest compressions in a typical "code", take blood pressures and other vital signs and bandage wounds after minor procedures done by a PA or MD. CNAs in small hospitals could do much the same things. You would be asked to do some of the routine work also and if you make the right nurses life easier she or he will help you get into situations that will help you learn, and get you exposed to people that can write you a good recommendation.

Other routes are to become an Army Medic or Navy Corpsman in the reserves. You will get called up in times of "national emergency" but the experience is unbeatable and you would be eligible to apply to the Armed Forces PA program which is a top 20 school and get paid to go to school.

If you need the real scoop, consult the school. Go to an open house and ask the administrators for the school,"What experience do you need?".

Bruce Bair PAC, iPhone App
Bruce Bair PAC, iPhone App

How do You write a good Essay for your CASPA application?

In 500 words tell them why YOU want to be a PA

Squidoo allows me to use 10,000 characters here, but I will try to only use 5000 as that is all CASPA allows you.

The most important thing to remember is emotional impact! You want to connect on an emotional level. Think about why you cheer for your favorite sports teams. It isn't the stats, it is the emotional impact. You love the team, you root and cheer and celebrate when they do well and grumble, moan and act disgusted when they don't.

Connect with the reader emotionally. The readers are mainly PA's. They have been where you are and wanted what you want. Don't talk about what PA's do, they know! Talk about why getting to do it is important to you. You have 500-600 words. Tell 3 150 word stories.

What words not to use:

-I

- an, the, or other articles

- adverbs, your verbs should be strong, present tense action verbs

You need a hook. The first 150 words should make the reader want to read more. Each sentence should pull them to the next one. You will use these stories as sound bites during your interview to renew that emotional connection. To turn on that light in the interviewers brain - this is THAT Applicant!

You have a story. You just have to organize it succinctly and effectively. It has to reflect you and your personality. The tendency is to allow the inner voice that says - you don't have anything to say, you are not special, forget it who want to know about you - to be dominant and freeze you from taking effective action.

You should spend about 10 hours writing this essay. Begin by writing all about your interest in medicine from as far back as you can remember until now. Write 250+ words about "When I first remember knowing what a doctor was." "Malapropisms I used before I knew much about medicine" "A significant experience I had as a patient" "How I became aware of the PA profession" "The PA's I know best their influence on me" "When I first knew I wanted to be a PA" "10 reasons I want to be a PA" "Why I don't want to be a Doctor(or a Nurse or PT or Chiropractor)" "What I want to accomplish as a PA and why"

You see what I am having you do? Sweep up every idea, solidify your ideas and thinking, give you sound bites for your interview, and material to write your supplemental essays. You will need to really know the program and tailor your supplemental essay toward the programs mission and goals. Once you have written 10-15 essays on the above or similar topics, you need to pull out the bullet points and put them in lists.

For the essay "10 reasons why I want to be a PA" or for me why I keep doing it after 33 years

- It is a good living and I still enjoy seeing patients daily

- I want to influence patients to think and act preventatively and proactively

- I want to teach people to use and renew their Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Energy

- I want to help people locate and use accurate information

- I want to continue to be a patient advocate in the medical community

OK, now you take those bullet points and select the 3 best, most powerful groups. Which area of writing fired you and energized you? You will use those to ell your story, by example, if possible.

When I went to PA school I had met some students in the Utah Medex program, I had seen a Duke catalog and I had read an article in the paper about the relationship of one PA with his Doctor and how much the Doctor trusted and depended on the PA. I needed to go through a less expensive and shorter training program than MD for my wife's mental health. I had been an Army Medic and done things many residents in training did not do. I was licensed as an LPN but hated the work, it was too restrictive. I needed more autonomy to be professionally satisfied. So,I applied, first just to the Medex program - first alternate, Next year to several Eastern PA programs - accepted everywhere. The rest is history.

You need to write your history in a way you emotionally connect to the reader. Being open, honest and transparent are ways to do this. Tell stories from your health care experience, your own health experience with a PA, how you make decisions. Tell unique vignettes from your point of view. Use the exercises and advice from above to refine it and make it the pure essence of you and your desire to be a PA.

If you really feel the need for help, I have a coaching program on my site www.thepapath.com

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How do you get Accepted to the PA Program of Your Choice?

What is the benefit to you to get into PA School?

Getting into PA school is a series of steps that begin with a realization that the Physician Assistant profession exists and that you like some things about it. You are reading this because you are interested in the profession and you think this article might help you. Great!

**The first thing you need to know is why you want to be a PA.

-What are the benefits to you?

-Do you know them or is it just exciting to think about.

-Do you get excited because you really want to be a Doctor but don't want to pay that price? Or

- have you been treated by a PA and liked them better than the Doctor?

-Have you seen a PA do things you thought were cool and that you would like to do too?

What was it that got your attention and how will paying the price to do that benefit you?

!!This is important because over and over you are going to be asked why do you want to be a PA?!!

People who you are friends with will ask you, people you want to shadow will ask, people you want a reference from will ask. CASPA will ask you to submit an essay on the subject when you apply and you will write supplemental essays and answer interview questions on the topic.

!!You need to know the benefits to you.!!

Features of the PA profession are

_shorter training time,

_less costly training usually,

_more professional flexibility,

_lots of jobs,

_good professional recognition, etc...

The benefit to you though is

- less time from decision to application,

-less loan repayment,

-able to find professional opportunity almost anywhere you might need to move ...

You should be catching on to this idea now. Write a list of these benefits now. Come back here when you are done.

**Next,**

You need to think about the benefit of admitting you for the programs that interest you. They publish mission statements. How will having you as a PA student benefit them? You should be able to point to 5 reasons over time. Begin working on this.

**Last,**

How will you benefit an employer? Most PA programs want you to commit to primary care. Now within their institution there are PA's teaching, some in specialty clinics far from the front lines. That is a given, but as an applicant you need to show How you will benefit them in their stated mission to practice primary care, especially to under-served populations.

Look at the mission statements to the programs in your state or for the programs in states where you think you want to be a PA. What are the benefits to primary care employers to hiring you?

Now you should have 3 lists,

-one for you - Why I want to be a PA, the benefits to me.

-The benefits to the school and

- the benefits to the potential employer.

I would love to discuss these with you, either in the comment section here or through my coaching program on ThePAPath.com Let me know how I could benefit you.

Duke PA Program
Duke PA Program

How do you get a great Reference to PA School?

What is in it for me asks the person giving the reference?

There are factors that combined get you and interview to PA programs you want to attend.

--Grades are first. Everyone who gets accepted has great grades. It is a given that you will. Do first things first, get good grades. I get lots of questions from people who have a GPA less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale about, "How do I improve my chances?" My answer is get some A's in tough science subjects while carrying at least 15 hours in one semester.

--Next is a good GRE score for schools that require it. Prepare for this the way Elizabet Murray recommends in "Everything you need to Know" on http://www.thepapath.com Your CASPA and supplemental essays are very important. You need correct grammar and spelling but more important you need and essay strategy that extends to the interview process.

--Experience counts even where it is not required. Get some good experience! This is where you will likely meet the people who can give you a strong recommendation. If everything else is equal, a strong recommendation from a PA will put you into the interview category. What do you do to get one?

I have written only 5 recommendations over my entire career. Four of them have been in the last 4 years for people working with me as medical assistants and Spanish translators.

Things I am looking for in a good candidate are the ability to use correction constructively. Example- the first day Laura Phelan translated for me, she did not know Spanish medical terminology. I understand most of what Spanish patients say and can follow the conversation. I just am not fluent in conjugation. Laura translated a phrase I said incorrectly. I told her, "That is not what I said." She got a dictionary and blank booklet for her pocket. She looked up terms, learned what I needed to know for common conditions and by the time she asked for a recommendation, I knew she was great material for PA school and I wanted her to get in, so I really worked hard on my recommendation.

You might ask someone you want a recommendation from - What are you looking for in a Pre-PA candidate to the program you graduated from? Ask to buy them a coffee or something and pick their brain a few times. Keep track of things they corrected that you now do correctly and any comments you get from patients, other staff and the person you want to recommend you. When you ask for a recommendation, create a file of bullet points like this:

-learned to do a dip stick urinalysis

- learned to do vital signs

- you corrected me about *****, and never had to do it again

- I learned and can speak in medical terms -( I personally respect this)

- I learned the names of 100(?) drugs and can spell them and know what they are used for

etc...

You get the picture here. First you do a good job. Find out how they like things done, make notes on specifics, ask good questions, take correction without making an alibi, excuse or laughing or getting angry.

Just listen, ask to be sure you understand and then make the change. If the person is angry because they can be, forget them as a reference. Learn how "not to be" from them. Just be sure you know your scope and stay in it. Reminding the person giving you an order, you aren't trained or authorized to do, about your status is important. This is usually a no-brainer but just in case, you are officially reminded.

I have been doing this for over 30 years and my supervisor still "corrects" me. He sometimes just needs me to do it his way to make him comfortable. I don't do anything wrong, but I still need to change. It is part of the process.

Be on-time, be professional in your dress, talk, and at work behavior. Let the person you want a recommendation from know you are going to need one and create a conversation with them - get them to mentor you some, then they will be invested in your success.

When the time comes, remind them verbally and give them your bullet points and deadline. Ask if they want to do it online or on paper? Then get their info, make sure you are in the correct submission period (Laura had me write her recommendation only to find out is was too early and I had to do it again. We were friends by then so no big deal but you might not be friends so get the details right.) and submit their info thru CASPA or in the way the program recommends if it is not a CASPA participant.

Recommendations are an important part of the over-all process and vital to getting an interview.

Everything you do gets you an interview but the interview gets you ACCEPTED. Essays, Experience and References set you apart from the pack and get you the interview.

Everyone has questions and probably even more people have answers. If you are a Pre-PA ,meaning you want to be a PA but are not in school and haven't applied yet - what do you want to know? I will do my best to help you.

The PA Path - A blog plus much more dedicated to the PA profession.

We wanted to help those wanting to be PAs to find the path more easily. For those on the path in school or after graduation, you can help and we will have info to help you too. This lens will eventually be a place for polls about being a PA. Visit our new blog and leave us some comments

Physician Assistant Programs - Which are the Best?

How would you decide if a program that trains Physician Assistants is a good one? I had my thoughts but let me show you what I have learned.

In 2007 US News rated PA Programs. I have looked carefully at the top 25 programs and have noted similarities. US News rated 68 of the 139 programs (programs who did not submit their information or did so incompletely were not rated). They are slated to update their ratings in 2011.

Quick addendum, nothing changed much in 2011, Duke is number one, the top 10 really did not change much.

Similarities I noted are these:

* All are Masters degree programs

* All are a minimum of 24 months

* All but one use the CASPA application system

* They all have first time pass rates for the PANCE above 97%

* All but one are associated with top medical schools.

* Most have been training students for a decade and some for over 30 years.

* All of them require a 3.0 GPA in all top level science courses

The tuition costs range from $15,000 - $100,000.

None of them are online for the primary training (Nebraska has a distance Masters for graduate certified PA's without one) or have advanced placement.

TIP:

If you are going to apply to the best, be one of the best applicants. The two things that will really set your application apart are your Essays and your References. These get you an interview if you are equal in every other way i.e. great GPA and GRE. The INTERVIEW gets you accepted. Get yourself some great advice and coaching on these three things. Tips on this are on my website.

Learn Medical Terminology EARLY! - This is the language of medicine and medical literature.

Once you make the decision to go to PA School, you need to learn the language of medicine. You have to learn the suffixes, prefixes and root words that medical professionals use to communicate information in a precise technical way. You will need to know the meaning of otomy, ectomy, itis, rrhea, etc... Get yourself a text and learn the words. To fix them in your mind, go to places that write for medical professionals like online journals or Pubmed and read some literature to practice. I recommend the books below to help you.

Laura Phlean's PA Path - The Road to Wake Forest University PA Program

Laura is candid in this video on YouTube. She tells you about her victories and her temporary defeats. She doesn't brag on her self much but she is fluent in Spanish and did lots of translation this past 2 years while working as a medical assistant.

Elizabeth Murray tells her Pre-PA story - Elizabeth Graduated from Emory Univ. PA Program in Dec 2010 with a 4.0 GPA

Bruce discusses the PA profession over the last 30 years - This history is intersting but it is historical.

Elizabeth Receives her White Coat Emory University, August 2009 - Are you on the PA Path

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Entry to Health Sciences Learning Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GATerry Mize, MMSc, PA-C, Part of the PA program staff at Emory and doing his job introducing the White Coat Ceremony speakerKathleen Deep MMSc, PA-C featured speaker at Emory's 2009 White Coat CeremonyElizabeth, author of 60 Tips for the PA Path, is introduced byEmory Program Director Dana Sayre-Stanhope Ed. D., PA-CReceiving her coat from instructor, Marquitha Mayfield, M.Ed., PA-CCongratulations from Ms. Mayfield!Elizabeth with her coauthor and now professional colleague and author of this lens after the ceremony! Congrats Elizabeth, you more than earned them and my even greater respect.
Entry to Health Sciences Learning Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Entry to Health Sciences Learning Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Terry Mize, MMSc, PA-C, Part of the PA program staff at Emory and doing his job introducing the White Coat Ceremony speaker
Terry Mize, MMSc, PA-C, Part of the PA program staff at Emory and doing his job introducing the White Coat Ceremony speaker
Kathleen Deep MMSc, PA-C featured speaker at Emory's 2009 White Coat Ceremony
Kathleen Deep MMSc, PA-C featured speaker at Emory's 2009 White Coat Ceremony
Elizabeth, author of 60 Tips for the PA Path, is introduced byEmory Program Director Dana Sayre-Stanhope Ed. D., PA-C
Elizabeth, author of 60 Tips for the PA Path, is introduced by Emory Program Director Dana Sayre-Stanhope Ed. D., PA-C
Receiving her coat from instructor, Marquitha Mayfield, M.Ed., PA-C
Receiving her coat from instructor, Marquitha Mayfield, M.Ed., PA-C
Congratulations from Ms. Mayfield!
Congratulations from Ms. Mayfield!
Elizabeth with her coauthor and now professional colleague and author of this lens after the ceremony! Congrats Elizabeth, you more than earned them and my even greater respect.
Elizabeth with her coauthor and now professional colleague and author of this lens after the ceremony! Congrats Elizabeth, you more than earned them and my even greater respect.

Medical Terminology - If you aren't a PA but want to be one

When you are getting medical experience you need to know medical terminology. Here are some online references to help you. Also look at del.icio.us, DurhamDad and click on the med.vocab tag for more sites.

CASPA - what is most important?

The majority of PA Programs use the Central Application Service for PA's. It is a way to confirm your prerequisite courses and to see if you can follow complex instructions. The most important thing for CASPA is to complete and submit your application early. Of course, being 100% accurate is very important. You need an early submission of accurate data. One tip is to hat a copy of your transcript for your use before CASPA opens in April. When the portal open you van begin logging your courses.

CASPA - Get prepared so you can submit your application early.

Know anything about CASPA? There are a few tips and tricks you could learn. I have prepared a video on this to help you get prepared.

Vote on the contents of my book - Tips to get into PA School and Tips on being a good graduate PA

What subjects would you like to see included in a book or booklet about the process of becoming a PA?

See results

Books about Becoming a Physician Assistant - Books about PAs by PAs

Recommended reading if you are thinking about becoming a Physician Assistant

Getting Into the Physician Assistant School of Your Choice
Getting Into the Physician Assistant School of Your Choice

This is a standard and classic. Most criticism stems from lack of online resources.

 
A Kernel in the Pod
A Kernel in the Pod

My coAuthor on the blog The PA Pathread this and reviewed on our blog. She is a 1st year at Emory and really recommends this book.

 

Physician Assistants- income potential

According to the Bureau of Labor (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos081.htm)

Physician Assistants in 2005 graduated from 135 different accredited programs. After passing the national certifying exam (NCCPA) they were able to practice. 90 programs give masters degrees on graduation and the other 45 give either a bachelors or associates degree.

In 2004 the median annual income was $69410. For new graduates it was $64536. The lowest 10% earned <$37320 and the highest >$94880. The middle 50% were between $57000-$83500.

Those working in hospitals had median income in 2004 of $70310, those in physician offices and outpatient clinics $69210.

In 2004 there were 62000 PA jobs. There were more jobs than PAs to fill them as many PAs held more than one job. Employment in physician offices accounted for 50% of all PA employment. Hospitals accounted for another 25% and outpatient care centers in HMOs, colleges and universities, prisons, professional schools and self-employment accounting for the remaining 25%.

What is a Physician Assistant - Good explanation

If you think you want to become a physician assistant, here is an explanation of what is a PA and what is the difference between a PA and an MD.

Physician Assistants-Pros and Cons

What's good and tough about being a PA

I received an e-mail through Squidoo from a visitor to this site. He was wondering about PAs and NPs and the pros and cons of being a PA. I sent him a brief reply and decided to add this module.

I have enjoyed being a PA and find these items to be the PROs.

When I went to PA school no degree was required to get in. It was a two year program and if you qualified, you were also awarded a bachelors. I have made a good living and had a great opportunity with a two year education.

-The pay over the years went from so-so to excellent

-Acceptance and understanding of the profession is very good and has made being a PA very pleasant

-The working conditions are great and you get to work with the best and the brightest most of the time

-The work is challenging everyday, although some of it is routine, the responsibility never is

-I get thanked for what I do much more than 10% of the time (remember the story of the 10 lepers)

-I am delegated as much responsibility as I can accept. I have worked in the clinical end of medicine my entire career.

-There is a great deal of flexibility in what a PA can do. It is generally not hard to find a place to work if you choose to relocate. Even in Great Britan, American PAs are sought after.

Cons:

-I have to get at least 50 hours of CME a year. You can get high quality or junk. It takes time and money to get high quality CME if you stay in rural areas like I have much of my career

-You will never be independent. A PA by definition is a dependent practicioner. Even if you "own the business" an MD will always have to over see your clinical duties. It does not always have to be over-the-shoulder but it has to comply with your state laws and regulations.

-You need skills as good as any clinician but will always be paid less than an MD in most cases no matter how good you are. (That does not bother me now but it used to.)

-You have to take and pass a certifying exam every 6 years. That may change but for my entire career it has been the standard. I have passed it 5 times now.

For a look at NPs visit "NPs Save Lives" here on Squidoo. The lensmaster posted a link to that lens on my guest book.

Duke PA Program
Duke PA Program

2011 Top 3 PA Programs

US News Rankings

Each year US News ranks graduate schools all across the nation. It causes many to really jump through hoops to keep their rankings high.

For 2008 the top 3 PA programs of the 80 US News ranked were:

1. Duke

2. Iowa

3. University of Utah

4. Emory

Literally tenths of a point separated the rankings of these three. Duke and Emory have been top choices for years but Iowa has risen to the top.

I wrote a review of Iowa recently on the blog

www.thepapath.com You can visit The PA Path for reviews of the programs, their rankings, and information about how you can get on your own PA Path.

Physician Assistant Student
Physician Assistant Student

The Pros of Becoming a Physician Assistant

Why decide to do it?

Bureau of Labor and is expected to increase 27% through 2014.  There are over 149 different PA programs where PAs earn degrees from associates to masters with the majority of programs offering a masters degree.

Income is excellent, as are working conditions.  Physician Assistant Salaries range from the high 30's to the low six figures for experienced specialty Physician assiatants.  Physician Assistants work in ERs, hospitals, clinics, prisons, long-term care facilities, Private solo and group physician practices, Rural Health Clinics and many other public and private areas.

It hasn't always been such a bright future but many of my contemporary PAs have used their time, labor and money in an effort to improve our ability to practice in every state, prescribe medications and do more for every patient as well as our own careers.  I wanted to help anyone interested in the PA profession to find information quickly.  So here is my lens on the PA profession with links to important sites, products and services for PAs and those wanting to be PAs. It is a work in progress.  Let me know what you think it needs. LIKES of this lense are really appreciated as are comments and questions.

What is a Physician Assistant - Common PA Program Interview question

Here is a place to get answers to important questions you may be asked like:

"What is a Physician Assistant" "What do PA's do?" "What do you think are important issues facing PA's in (insert name of state or nation here)?"

Here are some resources for you to study as you prepare for your interviews. Not preparing because you don't have one and are waiting to see if it will happen. You likely did not get a good recommendation either. Prepare "as if" it is inevitable. Expect it because you have done all in your power to get one. There are two other videos I did about PA Programs that are actually video comments to YouTube videos from those programs or their students.

What is the NCCPA? - This organization keeps tabs on you, certifes you and collects lots of money from you.

New PA's don't know what it was like when a PA wasn't called by his or her name. They were Dr So&So's PA. Nurses spat it out like it was a dirty word. We didn't have prescription privileges in most states. We were locked to one M.D. in one job and almost needed an act of congress to get a new one. PA's could not be partners in a medical practice and we were not reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid.

One of the ways that changed is through the development of a way to certify our competency. We adopted some of the most stringent certification standards in Medicine. Like many other things innovated for and by PA's, other areas of medicine adopted some of these principles.

You need to know about the NCCPA or the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. This link will take you to a video on their site.

Prior Experience Counts - What kind of medical experience did you have before PA School

This is a poll to help potential PA students see what kind of experience people had before acceptance to a PA program.

What Kind of medical experience did you have before PA school?

See results

Physician Assistant Preparation - A poll for those preparing and dreaming and those further along in the journey.

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a PA?

I decided to become a PA because

See results

Physician Assistant candidates for Duke University

This information can be found in greater detail on the Duke PA Program site.

To apply to the Duke PA Program you must use the CASPA or Centralized Application Service. After you have finished that application and submitted it, Duke will send you an e-mail that gives you authorization to access the Duke supplemental application. In adddition you must have 1000 hours of direct patient care experience. Duke is very specific about what this means so read their website linked in a module here to be sure you have met that qualification. You will need three recommendations, one of which must come from someone who has seen you provide patient care.

For the 2008 year you must complete CASPA and the Duke supplemental applications after May 1 and before Oct 1, 2006. The Supplemental form by 15 Nov 2007.

The class that entered Duke in 2007 were chosen from 570 applications and had the following group qualifications.

Over all GPA 3.1 - 3.5

Natural Science GPA 3.0 - 3.5

Total Natural Science Credits 42-68

GRE General test scores

Verbal 460-570

Quantitative 550-670

Analytical Writing 4.0-5.0

Months of full time patient care experience 10-34

Go to the Duke PA Program (paprogram.mc.duke.edu) site and check out the admissions process. These stats are from the general information from that site.

43 States have at least one traing program for PAs as well as Washington D.C. and the uniformed services. New York has 19 PA programs and California 10. Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming have zero programs to train PAs.

Get the Skinney on each state. - The opportunity is available in every state for PAs to practice.

Every state, Washington D.C., and US territories allow PAs to practice. Where do you want to practice?

Physician Assistant specific links

How secure is this profession? What is a PA and what do they do? How are they trained and licensed? This and other information can be found in the following links.

What did you think of this lens? - You don't have to register to give me your opinion.

Tell me and everyone else what you think. It will help me to make this lens better.

How would you rate this lens?

See results

Let me know things you would like to see here or items or experiences that helped you that aren't mentioned here.

The New GRE - Kaplan explains the changes

The New GRE - How you can be bitten by this test courtesy of Kaplan

The new GRE has higher level reasoning and thinking questions. Some of them are a fill in the blank and some carry only a one in 27 chance of guessing correctly. From now thru Sep, GRE scores will not be reported until Nov 2011 which could run you short on time. Best scenario, prepare longer, take the test closer to November and have a backup plan for retaking the test if needed.

GRE Vocabulary is critical - Tip: Learn a new word every day and use it in a sentence that day.

Start this habit as an undergraduate.

Duke PA Program
Duke PA Program

Duke Alumni Hall of Fame

Duke PA graduates of particluar distiction - nominated by their peers.

The Alumni Hall of fame for Duke University PA program is located on the Duke PA Program website here Duke Alumni Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame was established in 2002 to honor alumni who have achieved success in their lives and careers. The first inductees include alumni who have received the distinguished alumnus of the year award since its establishment in 1985. They were inducted on October 6, 2002 during PA Day ceremonies held at the Duke University Medical Center.

My class, 1978, has 5 persons inducted into the Hall of Fame, tied for most from any class with the class of 1968. There are also honorary PA's inducted and I want you to read about Margaret Schmidt and Mildred Woody if you don't look at anyone else. One special person is Reginald Carter '78. He was the Program director for many years and finished his rotations in time to graduate with my class. He was educated with many classes and served as a guiding beacon for the PA program before he retired and took over the PA history responsibilities at Duke.

Visit the site. I unaware of other programs that have such recognition but if they do, please let me know.

Interservice PA Program - This program for training Military PA's is in the top 25 of all programs

How did you prepare to apply to PA school. - Independence vs Guidance

Did you seek help in the preparation and application process for PA School?

If you are a PA or work in health care, tell us your area of expertise and what reference is most valuable to you.

Questions from Pre-PA's - What do you want to know to improve the process of acceptance to a PA Program?

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    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 3 years ago

      @brie1993: They expect the core prerequisites in science to be done at a 4 year college that has science majors. They should be the courses taken for science majors. Some pre-med Survey courses do not count. The rest they don't care about so much as long as you have a BS or BA degree.

    • profile image

      brie1993 3 years ago

      Do PA schools consider what undergraduate school you attended-- ie. do they take note of students who do less well in a course at a more challenging university as opposed to doing well in courses taken at a community college level?

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 3 years ago

      @hellothere7: I have tried to answer your question in a very long email. Let me know when you receive it (Friday May 9?) and if it is what you were looking for. Thank you for contacting me and for signing up on my email list on ThePAPath.com

    • profile image

      hellothere7 3 years ago

      I have a low gpa from my first undergrad, which includes grade replacement. I understand CASPA does not allow for grade replacement and counts every grade. I know why I want to become a PA, and I know what I need to do to prepare. But what I don't know is if my way is correct. My first undergrad gpa with 128 credits is a 2.45. Mind you that is with grade replacement. I have taken a two science courses, twice each,and failed both times times 4. Discouraged and confused, I headed toward a major I did not like and was not passionate about and graduated with a 2.45.After graduation and working in a nonscience field, I knew I wanted to give it another try and I was not the student I was in my undergrad. So I am back to school now, starting off with biology and chemistry again. What is your advice in how I can accomplish my goal of overcoming my past gpa? Should I stick to retaking all the pre reqs and more upto 60 credits, or should I take the pre reqs and apply to masters in health sciences and then apply for PA school?

      What can I do that will not waste my time and money and still help me become a good candidate?

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 3 years ago

      @williamslaw: Thank you very much.

    • williamslaw profile image

      williamslaw 3 years ago

      This is a great lens. Anyone aspiring to be a PA will find this very helpful.

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 3 years ago

      @bluman1: Bluman,

      You sound like a great candidate. They look most closely at the last 60 hours of college credit. There are two important things you can do to help yourself, first is the CASPA essay. It really has to make you stand out, second is references, if you have PA references that are well written then you are likely to stand out. The app is to see if you qualify, meet course requirements for admission and to see how bad you want it. Each class is a team and needs a certain mix to see them thru a rigorous grad program.

      You need a bit of strategy as to where you apply. Some newer programs that want their grads to pass to national test in high numbers would consider you a very great candidate as you have demo'd your ability to do grad level work in a similar science.

      If you need some one on one help, I am available as a coach. You can find me on thepapath.com. It is being revised so don't judge me too harshly by the site appearance. Good luck.

    • profile image

      bluman1 3 years ago

      After a non so stellar undergraduate career finishing with a 2.7 overall and 2.6 science. I went on to purse a Masters Degree in kinesiology not only to help my prospects but to give me a plan B. With one semester to complete (30grad credits taken), I currently hold a 3.9 gpa and have retaken 25 credits worth of pre-reqs over with a 4.0. With the retakes I've taken and grad gpa I still havent been able to cross the 3.0 threshold but am close. I'm currently working in clinical research and at a local hospital as an ED tech to accumulate the necessary HCE. Currently at 1200. From reading forums and blogs I can't help but to feel discouraged I feel that competitively I don't match up to the hundreds of applicants that have 3.5+ undergrad gpa's and thousands of hours and with Caspa opening soon I cant help but feel that I've been in way over my head with this goal. I recently applied to a few schools where i thought I would stand a chance (havent heard back anything yet) and recently found out that that all of them have broken records in the number of applications that they've received, one school by close to 1,000. Could you offer up any advice to a discouraged 23 yr old?

    • BruceBair profile image
      Author

      BruceBair 3 years ago

      @gir-gurung: Most PA schools in the US require a BS degree with all preresiquite courses completed. You will have to pass a test of English also. If you go to college outside the USA there is a service you must use (CASPAonline.org) to convert your credits to US college equivalents. Look at my Blog at ThePAPath.com for more information. Look at PA program sites at Duke, Oklahoma, SUNY, UCDavis, or on the PAEA website for program specific info. There are programs, most are in the northeastern US, that recruit freshmen to enter a program that leads to a BS and an MS in PA studies over 5 years. You begin right out of HS. All of these are private and costly but probably not more than just being an out of state student. Best wishes to you. Let me know if this was useful or not.

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      gir-gurung 3 years ago

      hi i am from Neapl and currently a 12th grade student.Can you tell me what i need to do to study PA in the US?

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @mariebauer: Thank you. I have a blog, ThePAPath.com also

    • profile image

      mariebauer 4 years ago

      I have a friend who is aspiring to become a PA. I will surely share this lens with him. Keep it up!

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @Karen50: Every program is different. Some as the one you have described have a 5 year program from HS to PA with a masters degree. Others are 24-33 month post grad programs. Most schools want you to be able to handle 18 hours of Science for science majors courses - like organic chemistry for Chemistry majors and Biology courses for biology majors. You need to demonstrate the ability to learn lots of tough material in a normal semester. It isn't easy, and requires one to figure out your learning style. One thing I did that I have since learned is common in high achievers is study out loud. I would teach the material to myself on a black board (dating myself) in a study room in the library. When I could explain the concepts aloud with out notes, the tests were a breeze. It takes daily discipline to go there and do the work to make it stick in your brain. Silent study is not nearly as effective for most people. I did it not because I was a high academic achiever but because I have a learning problem and that was my work-around. I hope your daughter realizes her dreams. Best wishes.

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @kingjay1983: you can turn military service into undergrad college credit but you can't get any advanced standing in the PA program. You experience will put you at the top of applicants if you make the grades. Pre-nursing is not a great major for getting into a PA program. If you want to be a nurse and then go on to NP school, that is a great choice. When I got out of the military I was a 91C20. I had independent duty experience and 65 weeks of military school plus basic. The college I attended gave me credit for health, PE, military science, and 12 general education credits toward graduation - about 20-22 credit hours total. It will be a case by case basis. You will need to take all your science courses at a 4 year university and be sure before you pay they qualify. At UNC here in Chapel Hill, Pre-med A&amp;P is not accepted by any of the in-state PA programs. They want the 2 semester combined A&amp;P course designed for PT and Kinesiology and Sports Medicine grads. It is a much tougher course. Talk to the programs you think you will apply to to ask about specific details.

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @leticiax94: Leticiax94

      Your future is as secure as your ability to make good grades. It is hard to see the future and can be hard to expend the energy necessary to get the job done but you can do it though like anything, if you want it you have to pay the price. I can tell you that it is a great profession and if you like learning, are self motivated and can handle correction, this is a wonderful occupation.

    • profile image

      leticiax94 4 years ago

      Hi, I'm 19 currently going to community college. I was confused as in which career to pursue my grades aren't very high and I am now scared that my future is sinking. I'm interested in becoming a PA, I really want to succeed and was hoping for your advisement. Is it too late for me now? what's my best choice in this situation?

    • profile image

      kingjay1983 4 years ago

      Salutations! I scrolled through alot of these comments trying to see if my questions would be answered by the way. I am currently in the military as an Army medic and am looking to get out in the next couple of months after 7 years of service. I have held a EMT-B certification since October 2006 and have been doing direct patient care under numerous PA's ever since. I'm enrolled in an online college studying a degree plan towards an Associate in Pre-Nursing with 53.5/93 credits fulfilled thus far. Just wanted to know if you had any info as far as how to document my time in the military and translate it into civilian credit towards a PA program???

    • profile image

      Karen50 4 years ago

      I have a daughter who's dream is to become a PA, she worked hard in Highschool as has started her sophmore year in College, She did well the first year in everything except Chem so she withdrew from that at took the class over the summer and recieved an A, she is a hard worker and I hate to see her give up on her dreams but again this year struggling in the Organic and I also heard Physics is a difficult class, I have no doubt she is smart enough to succeed and I support her the best I can . I am a single mom disabled and I believe her passion came when I was misdiagnosed. There is a PA program at her College but only 30 students were accepted but she can try to apply in every year..I don't understand though how the ones in the program only have to due intro to organic for one semester is the actual program set up differently ? Thanks for you time

    • BruceBair profile image
      Author

      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Grades first!!!!!! experience second. If only experience keeps you out easily remedied, bad grades are the death of an application. Get the Grades Naina.

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @mbustam: OK, make a list in each area. Maybe you are very humble but if you are a grad that works in clinical medicine your whole career and never does anything else but you stay current, treat patients with care, compassion, and thoroughness, are a member of your local PA society and work on legislative or charitable projects that make it better for all then you are making significant community and professional contributions. People are better off because you work to make them better and keep your ego in check. You will influence some to stop bad habits, help others get well more quickly, recognize a couple of problems that will save lives and reduce morbidity for many. That is fulfilling the mission. You aren't going to do that alone, you are going to ask therapists of different kinds and specialists and your supervisor and colleagues for advice and they will give it because they know and trust you. It will happen, believe me. Now go answer that question. Want a personal cousult - see ThePAPath.com for coaching options

    • BruceBair profile image
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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @Adrian91: Adrian91, I think you are wrong. Some applicants have prepared since HS but more are decided in college. I don't know what CPT1 is but I assume it is an entry level patient care position of some type.

      What I can say is you will invest 4 years in college and 2-3 years toward a masters degree in any field where you become an independent decision maker.

      If you want medicine and don't want to do 7-12 years post college, then PA is a great choice but not the only choice. If you like lab, there is pathologist assistant. Great demand for them. Nursing has its own benefits and you can start that at year 2, get a bs, masters or PhD. You think about what you want, then pay the price. I love being a PA but it isn't for everyone.

    • profile image

      Adrian91 4 years ago

      Hello, I am aspiring to be a PA, however i am unsure if it would be a worthwhile venture for me. the majority of applicants are preparing for this since high school. I slacked off in high school, and am just now starting to go back to college again, at age 22, i still have 2/3 of my pre reqs to go before i can even consider transferring to a CSU/UC. I have a CPT1 certification, but will that suffice as part of the work experience requirements. I already know what classes I would have to take in order to transfer, but any honest advice to someone looking to invest the next 7-10 years of their lives to something that might not be in their best interest?

    • profile image

      mbustam 4 years ago

      I am currently applying to PA schools. I submitted my CASPA application and I am working on my supplemental applications and I find myself stuck when trying to answer the questions. Here are some of the questions I am being asked for Northwestern. I would like some advice in starting off, please.

      1. The mission of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Program is to prepare PAs to provide compassionate, high quality, patient-centered care as members of interdisciplinary teams. The graduates will be culturally competent, committed to continuous learning and professional development, and make significant contributions to communities and the advancement of the PA profession.

      Please state how you plan on fulfilling the Mission of the Program.

      2. Why have you chosen to specifically apply to the Northwestern PA Program?

      I am a Texas resident and one of the reasons why I chose to apply to Chicago was because I wanted to have the opportunity to study out of state and have the experience leaving my home state and move out from my home.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello, I am currently a senior at CSU Sacramento. Next fall I will be applying for the PA program. I currently have 700 Hours done as a caregiver. For this fall I am taking 21 units and find it difficult to even work two days a week. I wanted to quit my job for this semester and possibly volunteer and get at least 300 hours volunteering but I don't know if thats a good idea?

    • BruceBair profile image
      Author

      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: The major isn't as important as the GPA and that you get all the required prerequisites done with good grades. One of the best PA'a I know majored in Spanish. Do not become some other professional first! Get some experience with patients and with health care teams. Being a hospital phlebotomist would be good enough for that. Take a position in a high turn over field like CNA. You can get all your experience in a year after college while you prepare to apply. Take a major you like and would work in if you weren't going to be a PA like motivational psychology, behavioral economics, stuff like that. Have fun and enjoy college. Just make good grades.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, i plan to be a PA, many physician assistants advise me to take kinesiology as major, than bio since , everyone takes bio, so the employer would think it is more unique. they advise me to become a chiropractor first,earn a private practice or work for someones practice, then become a PA, should i major in bio and have a minor in kinesiology, what do you think, dont worry about marks, im a A- student.

    • BruceBair profile image
      Author

      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Most people borrow the money for grad school. You can't fulfill your father's dreams, just yours. I know plenty of unhappy doctors who would rather do something else but it was their family tradition. Once you are in practice, if he has a change of heart, there is no prepayment penalty for early payoff of the loans.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My father advises me to become a plastic surgeon, i currently have a 3.78 GPA, my father said hell pay for it, he makes roughly over two million dollars in a private practice in California, personally i have no desire, yet he says if i don't accept his offer, I'm paying for my PA course, help, sorry for any grammatical m, mistakes, I'm on the go right now.

    • BruceBair profile image
      Author

      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Take the courses in HS that will get you accepted to a good 4 year institution. Get very good grades. Practice essay writing and do some things you really like to do or find something you can learn to love and invest some time in it. I suggest reading Cal Newport's book about excelling in HS. There are about 50 credit hours you need at the university level as PA school prerequisites. Get them as part of your degree or separately and a degree in non-science. Just do very well, 3.5 GPA in science, 3.2 or above over all.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      what should i take in high school to be a PA, and what to major in University? thank You

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Kevin, good grades, experience, good recommendations, good GRE scores, great essay and killer interviews are what you need. Get the good grades first! Look at experience. EMT is more likely to yield shadowing of PA's which is more likely to get you a relationship and a good recommendation. I can say that Duke admits on their website that they rarely admit seniors to PA school. That is probably true of many but not all top schools. Go for a quality preparation with grades and experience your top priorities.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Kevin, the job varies from state to state. I recommend using the training to work in an ER or an office like urgent care. My company uses EMT's to check in patients and do work like a CMA - give meds, start IV's, ect...

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have another question! Do EMT-B do a lot of lifting. What does their work entail? What is a typical day in the life of an EMT-B? Do they have to drive ambulances? Is it easy to find a job as an EMT-B?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, I am a freshman in the spring term of college. I was looking at ways to complete the clinical experience requirement for Physician Assistant school and am torn between either CNA or EMT. I considered other professions such as phlebotomist, EKG Technician, etc but heard that it would be too hard to get a job as one of those. Is this true? And even though most PA programs accept CNA or EMT, which would you prefer to make your application stand out? I did a lot of looking around online and some people say CNA is better than EMT and vice versa, so I really don't know which one to pick. Another concern I have is that most PA programs accept only 8-10% of applicants. If my credentials are as follows: 70th percentile GRE scores, 3.75-4.0 cumulative and math/science GPA, 1000 clinical experience hours, and some undergraduate research experience, what are my chances of being accepted? I want to go to PA school right out of college, but I hear competition is so tough for college seniors because most applicants will have a year of healthcare experience and also I will be competing with registered nurses, paramedics, medical assistants, etc. So is it hopeless for me given the statistics? Sorry if this is so long, thank you!

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Lydia, It is not too late but you may have some tough work to do. Look a Laura's video on this blog about her mistake. I would Look at the requirements you need to get into a good program and concentrate on completing those with really good grades. If you can squeeze in EMT or CNA in the summer that would be great. Grades can not be undone so concentrate on that. You can work after you graduate and pick up a course or two as you take the GRE and then apply the next April after graduation for acceptance. I think you would be slated to graduate in Spring of 2015 and you would apply for school spring of 2016 for 2017. That strings it out a bit but you will have a really high percentage chance of getting in to a great school and really doing well. In addition to good grades you need a great GRE score, PA references, and as much experience and shadowing time as you can get. If you are thinking of going right from college into PA school, it can be done but it is extra stressful and ultimately the foundation you lay will make you a better PA. Good luck with what ever you decide about your PA path.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi! I am a sophomore in my spring term of college. I just recently started looking into Pre-PA when a friend was telling me about it. I am going to talk to my adviser about looking into being a PA, but I was wondering if you think it's too late in my college career to start getting clinical hours? I can shadow PA's this summer and possibly take EMT classes or something similar to start building them up.

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      jayfee504 4 years ago

      @BruceBair: Wow.. thank you so much for the "real talk". I am changing courses midstream and I do need to be aware of all the challenges. Once i have made my final decision, I will contact you for your services. Thank you again for the advice.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Matt, If you complete all prerequisites with a great GPA then the degree should be fine but be prepared to to give good answers as to why you never did anything with the opportunity. If you say you thought it would help you as an oncology PA they are going to ask you which oncologist and which oncology PA did you discuss this with. You better have some names and be able to give a quick synopsis of the advice they gave you. If you can't do that then using the slot that someone who is going to stay in rad science could use might be frowned on. Might not but saying I talked to so and so in the occupation and they thought it would be a big help is a good thing to be able to say.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi! I'm entering a radiologic science bachelors program this coming fall. I was wondering if this would be a good bachelors to have before pa school, I plan to become a pa in oncology so I feel as though it would be relevant? Many of the prerequisites for the rad program I've applied to have the same prerequisites for pa school.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @jayfee504: Jayfee504

      Here are the admission hurdles for you:

      1. GPA - your science GPA needs to be 3.5++

      2. You need to know why medicine, why now and why PA?

      3. To "know" you want to be a PA you have to have some type of experience and that requires at the least 100-200 hours of PA shadowing time.

      4. You need at least one PA and one MD recommendation to be a viable candidate. You will need someone very credible to give you one that can say you are a good risk - you are changing horses mid-stream, do you have a passion you suppressed or are you a bit crazy and to be avoided.

      5. Your competition is a woman 25-28 y/o, a 3.65 GPA, science GPA 3.85, 1000 hrs or much more medical experience who knew by her sophomore year she wanted to be a PA.

      I have a patient who went to a top 10 school at age 65 and is now 86 and practices 10 hours a week. His passion was medical care for the poor and he has worked with indigent populations all his career. He had a history of volunteering his whole life and one big name program gave him his shot.

      Medical experience is a huge help. All other things equal, generally the experienced person will get invited to attend the program. It is through your experience you find PA's and M.D.'s to recommend you.

      EMT basic and CNA are CC programs, often taught at night and last 6-8 weeks. I would start there and then volunteer to work in ER's of small rural hospitals, on volunteer rescue squads on weekend nights etc... You can do this but get your eyes open.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @BruceBair: Thank you!

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      jayfee504 4 years ago

      Thank you for offering this resource for people who want to go in this direction. I think I have a good idea of what I need to do, but wanted to bounce it off of your staff. For the past 20 years I have worked in the field of business and process improvement initiatives. I am 40 and I would like to do something different for the 2nd half of life. I am interesting in becoming a PA. I have a bachelorâs degree and I am currently enrolled to take some of the required prereqs courses such as chemistry, biology, etc. I should be completed by next year summer or fall. I am wondering is medical experience a requirement to get into the program. I have read that getting a CNA or EMT and then working in that field for 1000hrs is something that could give you an edge in the application process? If this is true most programs are a year plus long and to get the hours required is another 6mo-1year. If this is not common place in the requirements to getting into a PA program then I will forgo this route as it adds an additional 2 years prior to applying to the program. Please advise on this and also on anything else that would be good prep work since I am in the beginning of my journey.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Tobi, most schools use CASPA for applications. CASPA has you list every course and every grade for every year you are in school. It then calculates a GPA based on every course you took. Retaking a course is good especially if you jump from an C to an A. Science courses are best taken at a 4 year university in the same department that science majors take them. That said in NC there is an anatomy and phys course taught at a community college by a local plastic surgeon that has the reputation. Many students retake the course there after graduation to get the course. The local schools know about it, schools in other states do not. So community college courses for science are usually considered inferior in science for science majors.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, I am curious about pre-requisite grades. Most schools want a B- and above and I was wondering what happens if you retake a course. Is it recommended to retake a class? Do they average your grades? Do they take the most recent? Are you looked down upon if you decide to retake the class at a community college?

      Thank you!

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Nicloe, a gap between school graduation and starting PA school is common. People take time off to travel, earn money and gain experience. I would not get a masters, your GPA is great. It looks like you do well on standardized test (PCAT) so prepare for and take the GRE. Get some health care experience. Even the toughest schools are happy with a years experience. If you work now until next cycle, you would apply in April 2014 and start school that fall. By the time your started you would have 1.5 years full time experience. If you really want to be a PA, go for it. This will also give you time to line up some PA recommendations and to shadow some PA's extensively.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: SarahA, here is a blurb from the Methodist PA Program "A bachelor's degree from a four-year regionally accredited college or university. No specific major is required. An overall college GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended."

      I am not aware you "HAVE TO" major in biology. You do have to complete all the prerequisites for PA school, all of which are about the same. Methodist PA Program says you need:

      Microbiology with lab 4 s.h.

      Anatomy and Physiology with lab 4 s.h.

      2 additional animal/human Biology courses* 8 s.h.

      General Chemistry I with lab 4 s.h.

      General Chemistry II with lab 4 s.h.

      Organic Chemistry I with lab 4 s.h.

      Organic Chemistry II with lab 4 s.h.

      Biochemistry** 3 s.h.

      College Algebra or higher 3 s.h.

      Statistics 3 s.h.

      2 semesters of Psychology 6 s.h.

      Medical Terminology 1 semester

      It may be easier to major in biology to get this done in the shortest possible amount of time and maintain your GPA above 3.0. Some of the sharpest PA's I know majored in humanities or languages like Spanish. Just be prepared to work really hard where ever you go and what ever you choose as a major.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Jonel, I advise you to think about Nurse Practitioner instead of PA if you are going on to a nursing degree. RN is not a good preparation for PA.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, I am in my first year of college, and I'm to study to become a nurse, but now I am considering PA. If I receive my bachelors in Nursing, I am interested to know what steps would be necessary for me to become a PA.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @BruceBair: Hello, I am a senior in high school and will be graduating in June. I have been accepted into the Pre-Physician Assistant program at Methodist University in North Carolina. If I major in that degree i will graduate college with a bachelors in biology then will have to apply to physician assistant school. I am afraid i will not get into the PA program my first try and will be stuck with a degree in biology. I have also been looking at Cape Fear Community College, getting a two year degree in radiography or dental hygiene, then going back to school to finish my bachelors, and then apply to physician assistant school when i am settled down and can fall back on a job. What to you think is the best decision!? HELP!! I have less than two months to figure it out!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello,

      I'm in a bit of a dillema. For a while now I thought I wanted to be a pharmacist. I graduated last may with a bachelors in biomedical sciences and a gpa of 3.85. I spent this past year volunteering for a pharmacy , shadowing pharmacists, studying for the PCAT and applying. I got into pharmacy school and now I'm having second thoughts as the job market for pharmacists looks grim and is very saturated. It's a huge investment of not only time but money at around $160,000+. I have grown interested in PA school but I don't have the healthcare experience recommended. I wanted to apply this cycle to get into school for Fall 2014 but I doubt ill get accepted. Therefore it will be 2 more years until PA school starts meaning by the time school starts it will be 3 years since I've been in school. My question is do you think I should gain healthcare experience these next two years or get a masters before PA school (along with some healthcare experience) so that it won't look like a large gap between my undergrad years and PA school? If so, what type of masters degree would you recommend?

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @Whistleman: Hi Martha, I think it will help if you are going to apply to an all inclusive 5 year PA program right out of HS. If not it won't hurt but it is not something a masters degree program is going to see.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, I'm a junior in High School and I have been interested in this career for a while now. My school has a health academy program and I was wondering if that would help me get noticed or if it wouldn't make a difference.

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      Whistleman 4 years ago

      Nice informative lens. Best of luck to all the prospective PAs out there!

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @KennethCassi: I have no idea. How old is his degree? What prerequisites has he had and what does he need. Where is going to apply? To little info to make any type of judgement on that.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Welcome

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Look at my blog, ThePAPath.com and listen to my vlog post on what major is right.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: If you read my many replies here and asking this question indicates you have not, you would know my answer to the question is no. get some other degree or become a nurse and then a nurse practitioner.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Shakera, You need your BS degree with all the prerequisites for the school you want to apply to. Which one interests you? Set up a timeline to meet all the requirements. You can do the research yourself or hire someone like me to help you.

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      raluk777 4 years ago

      verry good and intersting article

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have my associate degree in liberal arts. What should be my next step because I graduate May 2013. I work at a doctor office for over five years and I am a phlebotomist. My GPA is a 3.3

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      hello, i am a high school junior and i am planning on to apply to colleges. i really want to be a PA , i wanted to ask is it good if you get a BSN degree first and then apply for a PA program. If not then what other better major should i choose ?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      hello,

      First of all I'm so grateful that i came across this blog. About me, i am a high school senior and am applying to colleges. I am really interested in pursuing PA as my carrier. The problem is i am not planning to enroll into any 5 year pa program. My question is what major should i enroll into for bachelors or any other and then later on get into PA program.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @BruceBair: Thank you !

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      KennethCassi 4 years ago

      A friend is a mechanical engineer graduate, but because of the advise of some friends, he's considering going to the PA route, how long would it take him to get into the program and get the prerequisite subjects? Any timeframe? Thanks Bruce!

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Foreign Medical Graduates are not accepted into most PA programs. They have enough applicants that have chosen the PA profession as a first choice and not an alternative route that they won't consider you. You need to do what it takes to get your M.D. license.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: KeepGoing, grades are the base. Everyone can have a bad semester but over all you have to show you can do the work that will be thrown at you. Your overall GPA is a partial reflection of this. I had some bad grades so I took some graduate level courses my Senior year, second semester, to prove I could handle the work. You might try that and if you really have great references from some PA's and really good grades, you might apply to a new program. They do not use CASPA the first year and you might have a better chance there. Without a really strong finish, good references and an outstanding GRE score, you are going to need to show you can handle the academics and that might mean a graduate degree, if you get the 3.2+ average there.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      So I just graduated this past fall with a not so stellar overall gpa 2.82 my science gpa is around the same but my last 60 cr. gpa is about a 3.5 with about 500 hours pch as a research assistant and as an emt-b. I've been studying for a month for the gre and feel I will do amazing.

      From reading forums and researching schools realistically its almost impossible to get into many pa program below a 3.0. I'm not sure if I should try to apply to pa school when the cycle opens or should I just apply to a grad program and figure out another route to get into the field.

      Guidance is really needed. Thanks in advance.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi

      I am a foreign graduated physician (I am from romania) and I have been in California since last year. I have green card. I am studying at home foor step 1 USMLE. I really need a job, since my exams cost lot of money. I heard about this PA job and I would like to get into...but I do not know how...Would you, please, help me with some informations about it? Thank you!

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: visotr,

      you must not have read much here or on my blog site The PA Path.com because I go into great detail. Read the hundreds of answers I have here to the questions I have been asked, then ask me some specific concerns you have. I think I have covered the basics here and on the blog.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Ashley, the GRE comes after graduation so you have a while for that one. I recommend you go to www.thepapath.com/blog and look at my video on what major to pursue. You might want to spend $35 and hire me for 30 minutes to help you develop a plan. Look at my coaching offer on the website above.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am currently in my second year of my I undergraduate studies. I am passionately interested in becoming a physicians assistant. I would like to get a bit of information as far as the direction I should be going in to pursue this career, for example;

            What Should I major in as far as undergraduate studies go?

           When is a good time to take the GRE?

      If I could get a bit of help in obtaining this information it would tremendously appreciated.

      Thank you for your time.

      Looking forward to your response.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      HI!! i am a sophomore at a 4yr college ( Bio Major ) as i write , i really want to become a PA but i dont know where to start. I have read every information about becoming but i need some advice because i just dont know how .

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: The school can do what it wants. They change constantly that is why you have to keep up month to month on prerequisites for any career you are preparing to enter. Knowledge is dynamic and preparation and the level of preparation all have a bearing on success in that graduate school. The school is really obligated to tell you this and be sure you can succeed. I wish your girlfriend success. Tell her not to put all her eggs in one basket.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: How can I tell you how to find the "perfect career" Careers are all about individual preferences. Have you shadowed any medical professionals? I would shadow an RN with 10+ years experience, a PA with the same level experience, an MD and maybe Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy etc... Spend a couple of days following them around, asking questions when appropriate, and writing down your impressions about what you liked and maybe disliked. Look on salary.com to find the pay for these specialties in your area. Then decide. You can always change. If you become an RN and don't like it become an FNP or Nurse anesthetist or an administrator etc... RN is a very flexible career but lots of folks burn out in it. There are reasons medical professionals burn out, study these. But ultimately you have to choose. I will say becoming and RN is a poor career path to PA and I don't recommend it unless you are going to be an RN for 5-6 years and then decide, that isn't so bad, but if PA is your choice, then don't major in nursing. Good luck.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello Mr. Bair

      I am at the point in my life where I am trying to find the perfect career for me. As of now, I am a second year Junior (Sophomore with Junior Credits) at a 4 year State University in California. My ultimate career goal is to become a PA, however, I am thinking of taking an alternate route. My major is Pre-Nursing and I am applying to the Nursing school at my university for Spring 2013. (I am not sure if I am able to get in nor am I sure if it is the proper career path for me) I have about 1.5-2 more years of school left and my current GPA is a 3.6

      However, I am increasingly becoming more interested in being a Paramedic for about 5 years and then going to PA school after I receive experience. I have been researching a lot about Medic school and the biggest problem for me at the moment is that you do not need a bachelors degree to be a Paramedic but rather a certificate at a vocational school or community college.

      My question to you is: 1. Would you recommend completing my bachelors degree (in order to complete some prerequisites needed for PA school) / 2. What majors would help me for future PA school / 3. After graduating college with a bachelors, do I need to go back to school for EMT in order to be a paramedic or is it possible to go straight into Medic school / 4. Is it worth getting a degree and then going back to a lower type of educational institution to become an EMT -&gt; Paramedic ---&gt; PA / 5. Are there any other types of medical occupations that someone like me could possibly be interested in?

      Thank you for your time.

      Will be looking forward to your reply.

      Sincerely,

      Confused College Student

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My girlfriend met requirements of a 3.0 over 60 hrs and now as she has started applying again the school changed requirement to 3.4 over 30 hrs. Is this ethical or for that matter legal?

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: One Thing at a time Mohamed. First, great experience is a huge benefit to you. Second, most schools are Masters Degree programs. The majority require you to have certain prerequisite courses and a BS or BA degree when you apply. Some programs are 5 year programs, 3 years of prerequisites, then 2.5 years of PA school You get our BS at the end of your first year of PA school and Masters when you finish the program. You should look at the website and admission requirements of programs in your state to get an idea of what you need to do.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello mr. Bair

      My name is Mohamed. I graduated from Highschool. I'm currently taking a one year cource at at icci to get sertified as a medical assistant. I have I have 60 days left and my currant gpa is a 4.0. I want to get sertified and gain one years worth of experiance and take pre requisite to get into one of these programs.

      I have a few questions!!!

      Can I take prerequisites at the Same college/university as the program?

      Is it 2 years of prerequisites and 2 years of PA program?

      Is there some sort of bundle/plan that one can take to become a PA, is it a pre packaged degree or will I be all over the place taking different corces?

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @JJMagee: Thank you.

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      BruceBair 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Choose one path, since you likely won't get in to PA school with the ultimate intent to become a Doctor. If you want the M.D. do it, go work hard enough to pass the tests and get the license. PA is not a stopping off point or a place you settle for until you move on to the next better thing.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hello Mr Bair

      I was graduate fr Medical school fr other country.

      Im interest&amp;was thinking to become a PA while still gonna try to pursuing My dream to become a doctor in US by take USMLE.

      Questions that i wanna ask u,i've got My Bachelor degree fr Medical school 5 years ago,do u think can i still go to PA school?

      What The steps that i've to do to get into PA school?I live in Savannah Georgia.

      I don't hv a good GPA,do u think can i still go to PA school&amp;is there a way for me to fix My GPA become 3?How to fix My GPA?

      Do i need take Toeffl?

      Thank u

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      JJMagee 4 years ago

      Coolness !!!

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: You are so welcome. Thanks for your praise. You did the work, I did some polishing.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wanted to comment about my recent experience of obtaining guidance from Mr. Bruce Bair. Just a little about myself... I graduated from college in 2007 with a bechelors in biology minor in chemistry. I worked as a medical assistant to a nephrologist for 8 months in Michigan then was hired at an office where my sister worked as a physician assistant in dermatology. All I had was a bachelor of science therefore I worked in the clinical research department as a clinical research coordinator and was trained as a medical assistant to PA's, dermatologists, and plastic surgeon. Once there I began preparing to apply for PA school. I first applied in 2010 and went on 6 interviews and was either waitlisted or turned down. In 2011 I reapplied and to more schools, exactly 40, and went on 8 interviews. Texas Tech University was one school where I interviewed and it really stood out to me. I was thoroughly impressed with the school, staff, and curriculum. It was the right one for me. When I interviewed there they told me I was lacking 2 courses, and within 2 weeks I received a letter indicating that I was on the alternate list. In the mean time I completed the 2 courses online, but still was never accepted. I decided to apply earlier in 2012 for one last try then I was going to give up my dream of becoming a PA. I reapplied to Texas Tech and a few other schools. In July I left my job at the dermatology office and start my own research company with a new Principal investigator and decided this is what I was going to do. I received an invitation to interview at Texas Tech, the only interview I received this year. I accepted. I knew I completed everything they asked of me, yet something was lacking... I was given advice by my boyfriend that maybe I'm falling short in my interviews and should consider getting a coach. I started research PA interview coaches and came across Bruce Bair. Bruce coached me for an hour and gave me a plethora of pointers. He told me what to say and what not to say. He gave me advice to start researching specific sites and not just looking up the school. However, for me to express all the advice Bruce gave me would not help everyone. Everyone is unique ... I really recommend getting his help for the entire process... So I went on my second interview to Texas Tech University ... the very next day I was accepted! It is because of Bruce I got in.. Sometimes we all need someone to help put things into perspective and boost your confidence a little!

      Thank you so much Bruce Bair!!

      Sincerely Mara Kryvicky

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      OUTFOXprevention1 5 years ago

      Great pathway for a medical career!

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @prepa300: If it does not affect your grades, organizing the club will be a plus. Volunteer hours are just that and you will be able to record them from where ever you do them. Lots of students go on medical trips to undeveloped nations to help provide care as volunteers. Those hours count. To be competitive, paid hours, are important. Look at the schools that interest you. Often they publish a profile of the qualifications of the last class and hours of paid experience is a range. I can say that even at schools that do not require experience, if all things are equal, and one candidate has 1000 hours of paid experience and the other 500 volunteer hours, the paid experience will gain entry. One other thing to look for is a way to get 1-2 PA recommendations for school. If you volunteer, try to do it in a place where PAs work or volunteer also. Getting their attention and backing will be very helpful to you.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Sally,

      You should read many of my replies here. Experience is necessary, I believe, since your training time is so short. EMT is a 6 week course at most community colleges and can easily be done during the summer. Often it can be done at night. Look at what is available to you first. What could you learn that would get you some experience with patients? Before I did that I would contact the State PA Society and find some PAs who will let you shadow them. Dress professionally if you do that. Try to do about 30 - 40 hours with 3 PAs and ask them how they got their experience. Then look at the requirements of the programs you intend to ask for admission. What does their average student accepted have in the way of experience. If it is more than 1000 hours, you are going to have to get it to be competitive. Often, students volunteer while in college and take the year after graduation to get 1500 hours of experience and apply during that year. That way they have time and money to perform the application process and interview without compromising their studies. There is no excuse or forgiveness for low grades. The first cut is your GPA so study hard and get a good GPA.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Khadija,

      Those mean different things to different programs. Most of the top programs mean, working in a paid position taking care of patients. That could be as an EMT, Paramedic, CNA, MA, phlebotomist, ECG tech or Xray Tech. Some accept volunteer hours in an indigent clinic where you take vital signs and prepare patients for the encounter with the health care provider but are not paid. Most of the people accepted to PA school have 500-1000 hours of paid experience. That is 3-6 months full time work i.e. a summer job for instance. Talk to the programs you intend to apply to. See what they want and what their average student accepted has done. Then you will know what you need to do also to be competitive. I know many students who work a year after graduation and get the experience then and apply when they are not dealing with class and tests. There is no excuses accepted for low grades. Get them first, they are the base and then get experience and shadowing time with PAs

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Anonymous, had to look that up. It would depend I think on why, how long ago and what you have done about the circumstances that led up to that event. If it was in the last 2 years, it should show up in a background check and I think would have an influence. If it was 10 years ago, you have worked, had a life and gone to school and made great grades, I think it would have little or no influence on their decision and probably would not show up on a background check. Most only look back 4-5 years and at your police record. 5150 do have a court order recorded in most states.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @mxiong04: mxiong04,

      Usually you need direct patient care experience. The job you have will make you very familiar with drugs, their uses and side effects but probably will not be accepted by top programs. The thing to do is to make an appointment and then call and discuss this with a member of the admissions committee where you intend to apply. It is their opinion after all that counts.

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      mxiong04 5 years ago

      Hello Mr. Bair, I am grateful to come across your guideline pathway to becoming a PA, and I have to say I have to say it has been such a challenge working towards PA, but I am sure it will pat off. Anyways I've been asking around and it seems no one seems to know the answer to my question, but I am currently a Pharmacy Technician and I want to know if it counts as patient care at all? I work in a 24 hour pharmacy hospital, so a discharge pharmacy, but since its not dealing with any direct care I am aumming it is not? If you know I would like to get an answer for this because if it does not count I want to look into volunteering to get some hours in, but I have 2 more years until I am done with the pre-reqs anyways thanks for taking the time to look at this.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi, I have a 5150 on my civil record, and I'm worried that it will effect any opportunities of becoming a PA. Do you know if that kind of check will be performed? Or if I am interviewed and I reveal that I do have a 5150 on my record if that would greatly damage any chance of obtaining a job as a PA?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hello Mr. Blair,

      I am currently a junior in college and am doing a degree in Health Sciences. I want to be a PA but am currently lost as to how to go about accomplishing it. I want to know what is meant by the clinical hours that are now required and how can I get them done without having a degree completed. If there's a chance you can let me know, I'd greatly appreciate it!

      Thanks

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi dr.brucebair. I know i's so early to ask about it for me, highschool student: senior. But

      it seems PA every student who are preparin for PAs has

      hard times to get experience. So how can I get experience? Some articles

      say a lot of PAs students already worked as registeted nurse or EMT

      How could be possible.

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      prepa300 5 years ago

      Hello Mr. Bair,

      I had a few questions, I'm currently a 4th year undergraduate student taking all the pre-reqs for PA school. My school does not have a PA club, we have a pre med club, pre optometry and many others, I'm currently starting a PA club for my school, so I will be the founder and the president once I get it running. I wanted to know how good that would look on my application, and the difference it would make, if any at all.

      My second questions was that I went to Canada last summer and volunteered at a clinic during my stay there, will that count as volunteer work or does my volunteer work have to be in the US?

      Last but not least, I know volunteer work is acceptable but I also know that most schools prefer paid experience hours, do you know the statistics of how many people get accepted with volunteer hours, or how acceptable it is to most school?

      Thank you for your time!

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Read books on interview skills, watch video on the same. get yourself a coach like me, Rodican or Dave the PA Coach to help you.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: You need a BS or BA from a 4 year college that has advanced science majors so they have the types of courses you need. Look at programs on line and begin to take the courses you need. There is a school in Texas that specializes in training bilingual hispanics, you may want to look there as well as at other programs.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I just precepted a PA student - married mom, 36 years old. Your experience makes you a top candidate and you have many ways to synthesize info you have to learn. You know how to handle patients and to get a brief focused history. Go get some good grades, be top notch as a student, you need A&amp;P 2 semesters, some Chemistry and stats and a few bio courses. Get a good score on the GRE and you should be in. Talk to the directors of programs that interest you about what they want you to do with prerequisites. Then do them well and be top notch.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Karabelle. Get the prerequisites required for the programs to which you will submit applications. Depending on the school you might apply but all things being equal, the program is going to take the person with the most experience.

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      BruceBair 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Kaplan's latest. Do 4-5 questions 2-3 times a day. learn to think like a GRE exam writer. There are some good video on Interview skills for the PA path, another squidoo lens