Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants (PA) practice medicine under the supervision of a physician and are able to examine and treat patients, take medical histories, prescribe medications, assist in surgery, and perform minor medical procedures. Physician Assistants complete a master’s degree through a program lasting 25 to 28 months and then must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination and apply for a state license.

The Applied Human Biology major is one path to a career as a physician assistant. Many other majors are suitable, but students may need supplemental courses at SPU or after graduating. Because coursework requirements vary from school to school, it is essential for students to become familiar with the specific prerequisites of the PA schools to which they intend to apply. Most physician assistant programs require a high score on the Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT). A few schools accept Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores instead. Unlike medical schools, PA schools require students to have significant work experience in a patient-care setting prior to applying. For this reason, most applicants wait until a year or two after earning a bachelor’s degree before applying to PA school.