Notes from PA Speakers

San Diego PAs visit PPASO and speak about their experiences in their profession.

Notes from PA Students

PA students share their pre-PA journey and their advice.

  • USC PA-S Chase Hungerford: Chase Hungerford, a first-year PA student in 2013, skyped in to share his experience of how he came to choose the PA profession and how the daily life of a PA student is like.


Powerpoints from guests and general body meetings.

  • Midwestern U PA-S Cindy Yiu and Grace Deng: Then-first year PA students Cindy Yiu and Grace Deng talk about how to get into PA school, the difference between various medical professions, and daily life as a PA student.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of degree do I need to become a PA?
    • It depends on the program you want to get into. Various programs give an Associate's Degree, a Bachelor's degree or Master's degree. For many Associates and Bachelors programs, you don't need a prior degree. For any Masters program, you will need a Bachelor's degree. There are rumors that Associate's and Bachelor's degrees in Physician Assistant Studies will be phased out by 2024.

  • What is the difference between a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and a Physician Assistant (PA)?
    • They operate under different boards: the nursing board and medical board, respectively. NPs have the option of working independently or as a team, but must first have a B.S. in Nursing before pursuing a Master's (MSN-NP). PAs must work under a physician.

  • The UCs don't offer an Anatomy class or lab. I need it as a prerequisite. How do I get into one?
    • Community colleges (Miramar, Mira Costa, etc.) offer Anatomy classes and labs. No matter the institution - community college, state college or UC - PA schools will credit your anatomy class/lab.

      (Note: Many schools require a passing grade of C or higher.)

  • Hands-on patient experience is a requirement for many PA schools. What kind of experience should I get?
    • Some schools require that the patient experience should be paid, others don't. Other programs may not allow scribe or veterinary technician work. Please check with your program of interest to see their specific prerequisites.

  • Am I too old/young to go to PA school?
    • The average age of accepted PA school students was 27.8 years in 2005 and 27 years in 2010. Some PA schools, such as UC Davis, prefer applicants to get more medical experience before entering the program. Conversely, one isn't too young to enter PA school; many undergraduate applicants are accepted straight out of university.

  • I had poor grades - can I still be a competitive applicant?
    • Many PA schools will accept science classes with "C" grades as a minimum, but only fulfilling the minimum requirement does not guarantee an interview/acceptance. Retaking classes may be necessary. CASPA averages out grades for retaken classes. It might also be good to look into PA schools that "throw out" past grades and only consider your highest grades, such as Western University.

  • How do I find a PA to shadow?
    • Check into the hospital or clinic you are volunteering at for PAs who might be willing to let you shadow them. PPASO invites many PAs as speakers for GBMs and hosts events like Dine With a PA, allowing students to connect with PAs and see how the career is like.

  • Do I need the GRE to apply to PA school?
    • According to PA student Cindy Yiu, "half of them do, half of them don't." To see if the PA schools you're interested in require the GRE, the best way to find out is to check their website or call them.

  • Once I am a PA, how does the recertification process work?
    • According to AAPA, PA-Cs must continue their education, logging at least 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education credits every 2 years. Additionally, PA-Cs must take the Physician Assistant Recertification Exam (PANRE) test every 6 years to get recertified. In 2014, PA-Cs will take the recertification test every 10 years.

  • Where can I find out more about the PA career?