Pre-Physician Assistant

Physician assistants provide many of the health care services typically performed by a physician—while under the supervision of a physician.

The Pre-Physician Assistant Program serves students from any science major who are interested in pursuing a career as a physician assistant. The program ensures that students have access to the courses they need (over a 4 year time period) to meet their pre-professional requirements as well as providing support and guidance along the way.

We help our students develop the credentials that physician assistant schools are looking for:

  • demonstrated academic excellence in all course work, particularly the core biology, chemistry and physics
  • demonstration of a long-term, growing commitment to serving others
  • ability to balance a rigorous academic schedule with meaningful extracurricular activities

Program Features

Many of our graduates have had remarkable success in applying to post-undergraduate professional schools, largely due to our supportive environment and individualized approach to education.

  • upper-level science courses with no more than 20 students,
  • introductory science courses with fewer than 30 students
  • labs that have faculty as instructors and fewer than 16 students
  • A Pre-Health Professions Club that allows you to take advantage of events and activities

Dedicated, Comprehensive Advising
Maryville students planning to apply to physician assistant school are guided in their preparation by the Pre-Health Professions advisor, Dr. Kyra Krakos, and the Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee usually consists of the Pre-Health Advisor, three additional science faculty members spanning the disciplines, a Psychology faculty member, an English faculty member, and someone with a degree in the health professions. The Advisory Committee offers students:

  • Information about physician assistant colleges and careers
  • Introduction to admissions requirements for physician assistant schools
  • The opportunity to conduct undergraduate research in the sciences
  • Assistance identifying shadowing and volunteer opportunities
  • Evaluation of whether your course mix, GPA, and PCAT scores are competitive for schools you’re considering
  • Letters of recommendation to physician assistant schools
  • Help preparing for admissions interviews

We encourage you to make an initial appointment with the Pre-Health advisor during your first semester at Maryville to make sure that the process of applying to physician assistant school isn’t overwhelming.

Sophomore Review Process

During the spring semester of the sophomore year, students are invited to go through a sophomore review process.  The process is explained to the students in the fall of the sophomore year.  Students will be required to assemble an application with materials similar to those required for many physician assistant program admissions.  The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee will review the students’ applications prior to conducting formal interviews with all applicants.

Students going through the sophomore review process will receive feedback from the committee with recommendations for strengthening their application before the start of their junior year.  Students that follow the committee recommendations may request a Committee Letter of Recommendation when applying to physician assistant schools.  (The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee will not write letters of recommendation for students that did not go through the sophomore review process.)

This process, during the sophomore year, allows us to provide feedback to students on ways to strengthen their application materials, life-experiences, academic success and course selection, etc. while they still have time to make the improvements—prior to application to a physician assistant program.

Physician Assistant Graduate Programs

General Recommendations
While no one major is prescribed for admission to physician assistant programs, you should build a strong foundation in biological and natural sciences.

Regardless of the major you choose, your course load should be challenging and well-rounded. We also strongly recommend volunteering at a local hospital or clinic to gain practical experience and exposure to the medical profession. The ideal physician assistant has an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of medicine, understands the nuances of society, and can communicate well.

Common Requirements
There is no universal curriculum recommended for physician assistant graduate school applicants, but most schools want to see that you’ve completed the following courses:

·         General Biology I & II

·         General Chemistry I & II

·         English Composition: Theme Writing

·         English Composition: The Essay

·         Statistics

·         Medical Terminology

·         General Microbiology

·         Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy and Introduction to Gross Human Anatomy orAnatomy and Physiology I & II

·         Biochemistry, General Genetics or Cell Biology

·         Physics I & II

·         Some programs require several psychology courses as well

A good resources for physician’s assistants is the American Academy of Physician Assistants (http://www.aapa.org/).

We recommend that students seeking to apply to a Physician Assistant Program begin by using the Physician Assistant Education Association website (http://www.paeaonline.org/) which lists accredited programs. It is important to learn early the specific application requirements for the program (or programs) in which you are interested in applying.  Most programs have application deadlines between November and March of the year prior to commencing study.

Most programs take two to three years to complete.

Professional/Career Opportunities

Physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics, schools, physician offices, and long-term care facilities.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of physician assistants will grow 39 percent from 2008 through 2018.

Degree Offerings

We typically recommend majoring in biochemistry, biology, or chemistry. Pre-Physician Assistant is a program of study, not a major at Maryville University.

Admission Requirements

If you’re interested in joining our Pre-Physician Assistant program, you need to meet the general admissions requirements for the University.  Specific requirements will be defined by the major you choose.

For more information

Dr.  Kyra Krakos
Assistant Professor of Biology
Office: REID 3305
Phone: 314 529 9405
Email: kkrakos@maryville.edu