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Pre-Physician Assistant FAQ's

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Can I major in a pre-physician assistant program?

No, but students pursuing pre-physician assistant program may take all their necessary prerequisite courses here. While it is not absolutely necessary to have a bachelor's degree before entering physician assistant school, it is highly recommended. Students must choose a major, and their choice should reflect their interests. While many pre-physician assistant students choose to major in the sciences, it does not increase the student's chances of admission. In fact, admissions committees seek diversity in the majors they admit. A broad humanities and liberal arts background is encouraged. The major should be considered as the basis for future career or for graduate study in the event the student is not accepted into a physician assistant school.

Are my chances better if I apply to an out-of-state school?

Normally, state-supported schools are required by law to give preference to residents of that state. Many schools, both public and private, also indicate some preference of residents of neighboring states, and some schools participate in interest and regional agreements. Applicants should recognize that their best chances for admission are at schools within their own state or at private schools. Since the UW is so selective, plan accordingly, and have some back-up options.

Will I get an interview and how important is it?

Although applicants are first screened according to academic performance, the final choice is made after the applicants have been interviewed by the physician assistant school. During the interview, the student's motivation, maturity, poise, humanitarianism, and ability in expression are examined. As the final step of evaluation, the interview is very important.

How important are letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are an important part of the selection process. Admission committees consider academic and character recommendations that applicants obtain from faculty members, physicians, and other persons. Letters of recommendation should discuss and critically evaluate the student's academic ability, strengths and weaknesses, motivation, maturity, difficulty of coursework attempted, and special attributes and assets. Recommendations are usually written between the applicant's third and fourth year of college. It is extremely important for students to develop working relationships with faculty members, physicians, and clinical supervisors in order to earn good letters of recommendation.

Do I need to volunteer or have observation experience?

Absolutely. Volunteer work experience is highly recommended, and observation experience is required. Exposure to health related settings is becoming increasingly important as an admission factor. It is assumed that a qualified applicant will have not only a general understanding of the profession, but also a demonstrated interest and knowledge of what it means to be a physician assistant. Good candidates will also demonstrate commitment to community through volunteer experience.


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