Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in most states can write prescriptions.
Becoming a PA typically requires a master's degree, and a bachelor's degree is usually required to be admitted to a program. Some schools offer degree completion programs that allow students to finish a bachelor's degree while working toward the Master's of Physician Assisting. Becoming a certified PA will take at least 5-6 years from the start of college.
Admission to PA school is competitive, so take advantage of any course work or experience that may give you an added edge. Most schools require or strongly recommend health care experience as a prerequisite. To be considered for admission, students should take the Graduate Record Exam and complete a curriculum that includes general chemistry (CHEM 105X, 106X), general biology (BIOL 105X, 106X), anatomy and physiology (BIOL 111X, 112X), microbiology (BIOL 342), entry-level, developmental and abnormal psychology (PSY 101, 240, 345), as well as English (111X, 211X or 213X). Careful planning is necessary because course requirements differ among schools.
Students considering a career as a physician's assistant can learn more at www.uaf.edu/advising/degree/preprof/physasst.html and should see an advisor in the Academic Advising Center.