Pre-Health Professional Program

Physician Assistant

photo of a medical student with a patient

On this page:

Professional Overview

Physician assistants are licensed medical provides, working under a physician’s supervision, who perform many patient care tasks traditionally conducted by doctors. They may perform complete physical examinations, give treatment, prescribe medication, and counsel patients on their health problems. Physician assistant schools are graduate-level programs typically two to three years in length. While most physician assistant programs train students for general medicine, there are special assistance programs, such as surgeon’s assistant and child health associate. 

Physician assistants work in various settings, including physician’s offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare settings.

General Pre-Physician Assistant Prerequisite Coursework; Wright State Specific Courses 

Most physician assistant schools require the following prerequisites:  

  • Anatomy and Physiology (with lab): 8 semester hours (ANT 3100, ANT 3120) 
  • General Biology (with lab): 8 semester hours (BIO 1120, BIO 1150) 
  • General Chemistry (with lab): 8 semester hours (CHM 1210, CHM 1220)   
  • Medical Terminology: 3 semester hours (BIO 1010) 
  • Microbiology: 3-4 semester hours (BIO 2200 or BIO 3100 with lab)  
  • Statistics: 3 semester hours (STT 1600 or STT 2640)

Some schools may require:  

  • Organic Chemistry (with lab): 8 semester hours (CHM 2110, CHM 2120)  
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: 3 semester hours (BMB 4210 or BMB 4001)  
  • Physics (with lab): 8 semester hours (PHY 1110, PHY 1120) 
  • General Psychology: 4 semester hours (PSY 1010)  
  • Genetics: 3 semester hours (BIO 2110)  
  • Additional Psychology: 4 semester hours (Abnormal PSY 3110 or Development PSY 3410) 

Note. Individual requirements vary by school. It is important to research individual health professions programs for specific requirements. Contact the Pre-Health Advisor for assistance. 

Academic Major 

Any major is acceptable if you complete the required prerequisite coursework, recommended extracurricular activities, and present a strong application to physician assistant school. Physician Assistant school seeks students who have demonstrated they can do well, particularly in the prerequisite courses, and followed their academic interests. 

Pre-physician assistant students often major in one of the following since many of the prerequisite courses are part of the major’s academic requirements: 

  • Biological Science 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Chemistry 
  • Neuroscience 
  • Physics 
  • Psychology 
  • Public Health 

Presenting a Competitive Application 

Students should check directly with the schools they plan to apply to for application requirements, information, and timelines. Admissions to health profession schools tend to be very competitive. While there is “no magical formula” for gaining admissions, general expectations include: 

  • Strong academic performance (3.5 or higher) in both your cumulative and prerequisite courses. 
  • Scoring at or above the 50th percentile (150 or higher in both the verbal and quantitative sections) and a four or higher in the analytical writing on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Many PA programs require the GRE; however, not all do. Some schools, instead of the GRE, require the Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT). For more information on which schools require the PA-CAT, check the Participating PA Program List here
  • Physician assistant schools require extensive familiarity with the field of physician assistants to gain an appreciation for and understanding of the profession. Students should: 
    • Shadow several physician assistants to gain a realistic perspective of the profession. 
    • Gain direct patient and/or clinical exposure/experience in several unique and diverse settings and various types of patients. 
    • Get involved in community service, volunteer experiences, and co- and extracurricular activities on campus. 
    • Seek leadership responsibility, such as employment, church, community, and school organizations, including coaching, tutoring, and mentoring. 
    • Conduct research (however, not required) to help you understand scientific literature, how research is conducted, and distinguish credible research. 
    • Demonstrate the ability to balance school and responsibilities outside the classroom, demonstrating your ability to handle the difficult demands of physician assistant school 
    • Exhibit strong interpersonal skills, the ability to work in teams and among a diverse group of people, and a desire to help others; communicate and listen effectively and possess skills to express your thoughts and ideas.