Archive for Pre-PA HS


Spanish Podcast 1

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This podcast is on Bites and Stings from Animals or Insects

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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A few more pieces of advice:

●    Look at your own intentions and mission statement and at the school’s to which you are applying. Are they compatible? This was the advice of one PA program director to Elizabeth when she interviewed.(If the program is committed to producing PA’s for rural primary care situations and you want to be in cardio-thoracic surgery there is a mismatch between your intentions and the programs. It reduces your chances of getting in to that program and will probably make you quite dis-satisfied if you were to attend.)

●    When you visit at an open house ( you should visit before you apply) and when you interview, ask yourself if you can see yourself there?  If you can’t, don’t go there. Bruce took a job that he could not picture himself in. He had feelings of avoidance but took the offer anyway and had a terrible year until his contract was up.

●    Talk to students about the things they like best and least about their program. Have a written list of questions for the students when you visit.

●    Check out the cost of living in the area where you are going to school. If you are borrowing money, you want to be borrowing the least amount of money possible, so low cost of living is important. (There is a post on PA Program Tuition on The PA Path with these parameters for each of the top 25 programs)
●    Speak to alumni of the program to see if they feel the program prepared them well.

●    Go with your gut when you apply and when you accept an offer of admission.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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You generally need to take these courses in a 4 year college:

●    15 or 16 hours of biological sciences for science or pre-med majors that include 8 hours of Anatomy and Physiology and the remainder in courses like Genetics, Microbiology, Embryology, Immunology

●    12-16 hours of Chemistry, General Chemistry, Organic, Biochemistry,

●    Most programs require math, Statistics is most common
●    Other courses you might need are 3-6 hours of Psychology, English Composition, Medical Writing, Basic Life Support certification

  • Some programs require you to have medical terminology prior to the start of classes in the PA Program

●    There are 2 or 3 references needed so you need to begin to decide who this will be and discuss it with them.(A PA and even better a PA alumni recommendation of where you intend to apply is really worth the effort on your part.)

●    Check the web sites of the Programs to which you intend to apply for specifics, put them on your time line. Check the sites regularly. (No disrespect intended but you are dealing with educators and they change things. Elizabeth had a program, to which she was applying, change the requirements by adding a required course 3 months before the application deadline. She took the course online and got accepted but it was tough.)

●    Schedule a time to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). If you attend a program granting a Masters degree, you will probably need to submit GRE scores that are less than 5 years old.

In the first 30 days you will find posts here with references to the top 25 PA Programs that will include information from their websites as of 2011. You need to know exactly what is required by each school you plan to attend. Just about every school requires labs with the major biology and chemistry courses i.e. Anatomy with lab and Chemistry with lab or Physiology with lab (Anatomy and Physiology with lab can be a combined 2 semester course.)

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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If you have done a little research and have decided you still want to be a PA you need to do a few things right away.

●    Create a time line with points to hit and deadlines to get them done

●    Points to think about are

  1. Patient Care Hours you need to do
  2. Courses you need to take
  3. Finding a place to get those hours that employs PAs’ you can work with
  4. Take a medical terminology course and maybe a speed reading course

●    Read some books about Physician Assistants. Start with A Kernel in the Pod by J. Michael Jones.

●    Keep a small notebook with you, in a pocket, all the time. Everything new you learn – a word, a medical fact, or a new illness diagnosed in a patient you help with – write it down and learn more about it in your free time. Get the people you work for to give you some old medical journals. Reading medical literature is going to be a life long pursuit, so get used to it.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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If you have the tenacity and intelligence to do what it takes to get into PA school, then you have what it takes to do many things. Indeed, many people have come to the profession from many different careers. That is less and less true today as the average student is a woman 26 years old with 1000 or more hours of health care experience.

Here are some tips on why and how to decide to become a Physician Assistant:

●    Follow your passion.  Do you know what PA’s do?  Does this excite you? Check with people who know you to be sure you are being real. If they agree then a medical career is probably for you.

●    Be sure you want to do this. Becoming a Physician Assistant is not a short cut to medical school. If you want to be a Doctor, do not go to PA school. You are going to be frustrated and the work is really hard.

●    Be able to articulate your desire to go to PA school instead of some other occupation like M.D., Nurse or Nurse Practitioner. The admissions committee members want to hear your reasons but not that  you would rather be a doctor but you are settling for becoming a PA.

●    Become familiar with the history of the PA profession.  In a little over 45 years, the profession has gone from an idea to a growing main-stream occupation.

●    Become familiar with what PA’s do clinically. Research your state laws governing PA’s and in states you think you would like to practice.

●    Shadow a PA and work with one if at all possible. A recommendation from a PA is something you want if it is possible and knowing what a PA does up close is the only way to get one. If you can’t shadow a PA then find and interview several in different PA jobs to understand their typical work week.
●    Talk to friends, family and acquaintances about PA’s. Listen to their opinions about their experiences with doctors and physician assistants. Realize that real patient care is not like TV.  It is a challenge to communicate with many different types of people with many different motivations. They aren’t all coming to see the health care provider because they are sick.

●    Try to talk to people who are in PA school or recently graduated. Inquire about the rigorousness of the academic environment of PA school. Ask about the intensity of the requirements and the pace. It is not for everyone though it can be done and is done by thousands or people every year in 150+ PA programs.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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If you decide to become a PA, you need more than one reason and economic reasons should be #3 or 4 on your list. But, this photo should make those 3rd or 4th reasons more solid. I am not going to say more but will allow the graph to speak for itself. Nurse Practitioners fared well here too.

PA job #2 of top 50

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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Answers to Pre-PA Questions #8

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I received this follow up comment via email from Squidoo. Unfortunately, I do not see this on my PA lens on Squidoo. I will answer the question here and hopefully the author will see it.

Thank you. I actually withdrew from that institution. Now I plan to study for the GRE by purchasing the book recommended by Elizabeth Murray. I really was thinking about UNC because that is my dream school, however UNC does not offer a PA program nor do they offer PrePA courses. Could a person try to obtain an MPH online through an institution and still be able to apply for a PA program? I am a CNA for over 5 years, Community Support Worker for over 2 years, and currently volunteering in the ED  of a local hospital. I have more than enough experience. I just have to focus on the prereqs and the GRE. Do you think that it would behoove me to take the MCAT as well or should I complete the prereqs first?

If you have prerequisites done, and a good GRE score, go for it. UNC has an NP program. There are 5 PA programs in NC now and soon to be 9.

They are Duke, Wake, ECU (the only state supported program), Methodist, Wingate. Opening now is Campbell and soon Elon, High Point U and Garner Webb.

Not many colleges have pre-PA programs so those wanting to go to PA school need to create a list of all required/recommended courses  for the programs they intend to apply for admission.  Then you have to get with an advisor and finish the courses. It helps to create a time line for this and other important milestones to be accomplished like experience, references, shadowing a PA etc… Many PA programs offer and MPH option through the program. You graduate with 2 Masters degrees an MPAS and a MPH. George Washington U. comes immediately to mind and there are others. Getting one online probably will not increase your probability of admission. Getting one the traditional way would.

When I was married, had two children under age 2 and got out of the Army to go back to school (actually when I got out my wife was pregnant) it was tough. No health insurance, no savings, no guarantees and no one knew what a PA was then 1974. I had a motto “Find a way or make a way.” I think Sir Ernest Shackleton said it. He did bigger, tougher things than me but I adopted that attitude and just plodded along.   May of 2011 will mark 33 years since I graduated as a PA from Duke. It can be done, many did it and more are doing it. The rewards are great. As I said earlier, “Go for it!”

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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Answers to Pre-PA Questions #7

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From Squidoo Sarah writes:

Hello Bruce,
I just got interested in the PA program. I am recently in a community college, with a GPA of 2.77. I was actually in the RN program until recent when i decided to change my major to Physician Assistant. I would like to know if I need any more classes. Also I have been a CNA for 3 years now, and I will be taking the LPN  program this March. Do you have any tips for me on how to apply to schools, for the 2012 admission. Thank you.

Hi Sarah,

Applications to PA Programs go in “Cycles”.  Many schools (118 of 140) participate in CASPA ( which is the application arm of the Physician Assistant Education Association. Every program belongs to PAEA.  The application cycle for acceptance in 2012 begins in April 2011 and ends around 1 Nov 2011. Interviews begin around Oct 2011 and end in Feb or March 2012. Most classes enter PA school during the summer 2012. Most schools require a bachelors degree as a requirement for admission. There are still a few associate degree programs in California, Florida and Maryland. There are a couple programs that still give a bachelors but the standard degree and a requirement more and more for most jobs is a Masters Degree in PA studies.

You are going to need some upper division courses to get into PA school – Chemistry, Organic chemistry, Biochemistry, Anatomy and Physiology all with labs. There are others, you need to check the websites of programs in your state for their particular requirements. To be a competitive candidate you need a GPA of 3.2 or better. The published student profiles of accepted students show they are 60-70% women, age early to mid-twenties, some are older, GPA usually 3.4-3.9 and great GRE scores >1100 total verbal and quant.

If you are interested in the PA profession I encourage you to not go to the LPN program. You have plenty of experience as a CNA. Do a transfer program, get the required courses, transfer and get the prerequisites done along with a degreeat a 4 year college. Then if you have a 3.0 GPA or better, pick some PA programs (attend some open houses at programs near you – some require you to attend before you apply – check the website of programs that interest you) and do the correct cycle – not 2012 for you.

I have a free pdf on the process of creating a career for your self as a PA. Sign up for it on the front page of this site. You may, if you decide to pursue the 4 year degree, want to purchase my program “Everything You need to know to get into PA School”.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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Answers to Pre-PA Questions #6

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Via Squidoo, Andrew Lu wrote me:

Hello Mr. Bair,
I am a post BS/PT/Pre-med Degree, with a 3.15GPA (with several 400 level graduate classes such as Clinical Anatomy with Cadaver, and Clinical Physiology with Cadaver.) Currently, I am applying to CUNY City College for a BS-PA. I am a EMT-B and have been since 16… (8 years), and also am a Medical Surgical Tech for a well known hospital. I also was a PT for 2 years, and worked as a Clinical Practice Manager for 6 years. I have literally thousands if not tens of thousands of patient contact hours, and clinical experiance. I just want to know what are my chances in getting in, as I am truly looking to get my PA-C.


Andrew, thanks for your question. It appears you have enough experience for any program anywhere. Your GPA is a bit thin but if you have some A’s in those higher level courses that should be quite favorable for you. If you have a solid >1100 total GRE (500 verbal and 600 Quantitative) you are a good candidate. Your background should interest any admissions committee. Your essay and your references should set you apart. You need to have a very good understanding of what a PA is and does. Hopefully your experience has gotten this for you and qualified you for references from PAs, even better if they are grads of the programs to which you apply. Chances of acceptance are about 1 in 10.

Once you are invited for an interview you are in a 50/50 chance of acceptance. The interview gets you accepted. Most schools have rolling admission and participate in CASPA. Get your app in early and accurately. You may want to watch the videos available on CASPA in the Everything You need to Know program I offer. Good Luck Andrew.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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Answers to Pre-PA Questions #5

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Maria writes to me via Squidoo:

I am planning on applying to PA school this spring. I have a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine, a GPA of 3.25, all my prequisites except for the GRE…which I am taking in March and I just started working in as an Emergency Department Assistant to obtain experience. I’ve shadowed various PAs and have documented 130 shadow hours. I am very nervous about getting into PA school because my GPA isnt that competitive, I have an F in cell biology from when I was a freshman at a huge university and I decided to take a ‘PASS’ in biochemistry my senior year because it wasn’t part of my major and i took the class without a previous organic chemistry course. I am apprehensive because of those faults in my transcript however I plan on taking either a cell biology or biochemistry class in the fall. Is there anything else I should do to make myself a more stronger, more competitive applicant, such as Volunteer experience? More work experience? Thanks for your help!

Maria, I do not know where you are planning to apply but most of the same courses are required.  Generally they are:

  • anatomy with lab 4 hours
  • physiology with lab 4 hours
  • chemistry with lab 4 hours
  • organic chem with lab 4 hours
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Cell Biology
  • Embryology
  • Histology
  • Immunology
  • statistics
  • advanced math
  • Psychology

You need a 3.2-3.5 to be competitive. Of course you need a degree and yours is an excellent major! You need more experience for some top 25 schools but what you have is sufficient for many. A GRE is important, but you are more mature now and should do well with as my friend Elizabeth Murray says “The GRE mind-set.” Learn a few words a week, use them in conversation. Do a few questions a day and learn how the GRE is structured and how to answer GRE questions.

I suggest you take a semester of under grad courses, repeating some you did poorly in. You can apply and see how you do but if you don’t get in consider repeating/taking the courses to show you can do the work.  Sometimes, your essay to the program, not the CASPA essay can be used to show how you have matured and changed. In any case, you need to get your app in early and not make any mistakes in CASPA. Most programs have rolling admissions so the early bird gets the worm.

Look over what I have to offer, perhaps we could talk for 30 minutes through the coaching program I offer. Not matter what, I offer you my best wishes and hope for your success on your PA Path.

Categories : Pre-PA HS, Pre-PA Univ
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