Health Sciences Department

Pre-Physician Assistant

Pre-professional


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Flexibility and Face Time

If you’re looking for a way to study medicine and help people, becoming a physician assistant (PA) may be the career for you. PAs list flexibility and more face time with patients as two major benefits to the career. Plus, U.S. News and World Report ranks the PA profession as one of the fastest-growing health-care careers in the nation and in 2016 named it the No. 1 most-promising job for millennials.

As a Pre-Physician Assistant student you may major in any discipline as long as you complete the necessary pre-requisite courses for physician assistant school. If you are a Health Sciences major, you will work closely with your advisers to design an individualized course of study. This allows you to complete the required science and social science courses to prepare for you for admission to your chosen PA program.

Health Science majors also take the Health Science Seminar, a course designed to help you with the graduate school application process, from preparing your personal statement to interview tips and financial planning. During the course, Guilford alumni who are currently in or recently graduated from graduate programs in the health professions often come back to share their experiences with current students. This class should be taken the spring before you plan to apply to PA school.

Take a look at this sample double major for the Pre-Physician Assistant program. This course of study satisfies the pre-requisites for a graduate program in the health professions while also fulfilling major requirements.

Guilford graduates have or are currently attending PA school at Barry University, Campbell University, Chatham University, Christian Brothers University, Drexel University, Jefferson College of Health Science, Nova Southeastern University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Quinnipiac University, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Seton Hill University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Kentucky, University of Washington, Wake Forest University and Wingate University.

Pre-professional requirements and course descriptions are available in the online version of the Guilford College Catalog. Use the keyboard shortcuts Control F for PC or Command F for Mac to search the document for your program.

Applying to PA School

The GRE is the standardized test all students who wish to apply to PA school must take. The exam should be taken in summer of the year in which you plan to apply. For example, if you plan to enter PA school the fall after you graduate, you should take the test before or during the summer of your junior year. (As a non-credit program, Guilford offers a GRE prep course with specialized instructors and exposure to actual exams to help prepare students to approach the GRE with confidence.)

Most PA schools use the online application service CASPA, which distributes the information to the students’ chosen schools. The completed application should be submitted by mid-summer of the year before the student plans enter PA school. For example, if you plan to enter PA school the fall after you graduate, you should submit the application during the summer of your junior year.

Our expert faculty are also available to help you through the application process.

Prerequisite Course Requirements for Physician Assistant School

Note that admission requirements vary by program. Health Sciences majors should work with their adviser to make sure they are taking the correct prerequisite courses for the graduate programs they plan to apply to. Chemistry 111 and 112 and Biology 111 should be taken during your first year at Guilford because they are pre-requisites for other required courses.

  • BIOL 111 — Integrative Biology: Molecules and Cells
  • BIOL 112 — Integrative Biology: Organisms, Ecology and Evolution
  • BIOL 315 — Microbiology
  • BIOL 341 — Human Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BIOL 342 — Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIOL/CHEM 434 — Biochemistry
  • CHEM 111 — Chemical Principles I
  • CHEM 112 — Chemical Principles II
  • CHEM 231 — Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 232 — Organic Chemistry II
  • MATH 112 — Elementary Statistics
  • PSY 100 — General Psychology
  • SPST 215 — Medical Terminology

Hands-on Learning

Most PA programs require significant amounts (500-plus hours) of clinical experience prior to admission. There are a number of ways to fulfill this requirement, including but not limited to work as an EMT, medical assistant, paramedic, CNA, emergency room technician or phlebotomist. It is essential that applicants know the requirements of the programs they plan to apply to. This information can be obtained from individual program websites or from the online PAEA Program Directory, which is available from the Physician Assistant Education Association. Both the pre-health professions advisers and the Career Development Center can help students find these experiences.