Physician Assistant


A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional who works under the direct supervision of a licensed medical doctor. An important characteristic of being a physician assistant is that you are efficient and effective for the physician you are working under. 


The Professional School Advising (PSA) team offers a variety of tools to help you become a competitive physician assistant school applicant. As you explore the medical field, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a pre-PA advisor to discuss your goals and review your professional resume. 

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PA responsibilities and salary expectations

Responsibilities - PAs assist licensed physicians with the examination, diagnosis and treatment of patients in all kinds of healthcare settings, from small private clinics to larger full-fledged hospitals. Physician assistants are licensed to perform a broad spectrum of medical services that have been traditionally performed only by doctors. The only thing they are not trained to do are procedures that are extremely intricate and complex.

Some of the job functions of a Physician Assistant include:

  • Recording patients’ history

  • Interpreting X-Rays and laboratory tests

  • Patient examination

  • Determining the course of treatment

  • Treating minor illnesses and injuries

  • Performing therapy

  • Suturing

  • Administering medications as well as injections

  • Administering First Aid when necessary

  • Assisting in surgical procedures

  • Applying dressings, administering First Aid when immediate treatment is necessary and

  • Undertake managerial duties depending upon the job setting

Depending on the specialty you choose, there could be several variations in your job function as a physician assistant. 

Salary Expectations - If you’ve got an eye on a career as a physician assistant, you’ll be happy to know that the salary is pretty decent. According to the 2013 AAPA Salary Report, you can expect to earn between $93,520 to $102,000 a year. This figure can vary depending on several factors including the state and the type of healthcare setting you choose to work in. Hospitals and other healthcare centers in urban areas pay considerable higher salaries as compared rural healthcare settings.

Research PA Schools

Prepare to Apply

Application Requirements:

GRE Score The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a multiple-choice, computer-based, standardized exam that is required for admission to TX PT schools.  This exam consists of 3 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Achieving a 150 in the verbal and quantitative sections and a 3.5 in writing would be considered a solid score.

Most students take this exam in the spring or early summer of the year in which they apply. The exam can be taken on weekday mornings or afternoons and your score is given to you at the conclusion. You can take the exam more than once, yet you must wait 30 days in between testing.

Grade Point Ratio: PT programs will look at your Science/Math, overall, last 60 hours, and prerequisite GPR.  A 3.5 in all areas is considered competitive.  

  • Science and Math - This GPR varies per program and is not usually as big a component as the other GPRs considered.

  • Last 60 hours - Your last 60 graded hours.  This is an indication that the programs are looking at your grade trends (which need to be upward). It is a great opportunity to prove yourself academically especially if you had a rough academic start to your college career.

  • Prerequisite GPR - The classes listed below are what most Texas programs require:.  Please note that all prerequisites and information are subject to change at any time and without notice. It is the responsibility of the applicant to remain up-to-date on all requirements.

     BIOL (BIOL 111 and 112)
     CHEM (CHEM 101/111 and 102/112)
     OCHEM (CHEM 227/237 and 228/238)
     MBIO (BIOL 351 or VTPB 405)
     ANAT & PHYS (BIOL 319 and 320 
     PSYC (PSYC 107 + 3 hours of PSYC or SOCI)
     STAT (STAT 302, or 303)
     GENE (GENE 301, 302, 310, or 320)
     NUTR/IMMUNO (NUTR 202, BIOL 454, or VTPB 409)
     Upper Level Science  (3 hours)
     Medical Terminology (HLTH 354)

Specific Field Experience - Although experience it is not required by some programs, you won’t get accepted without it.  PA programs want to be very sure you know what a PA does.  You should get as much healthcare experience as possible, it all counts whether volunteering, shadowing, or working at a hospital or clinic and/or with a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or physician.  Talk to the PA’s about more than just the patients, ask them about their jobs, their lifestyle, what they would change, what they like or don’t like about the profession.  

PA programs also want to see patient contact experience on your application. This is actually touching patients or being involved in their direct care. This is extremely valuable for acceptance.

Letters from evaluators - Every school differs in this regard. Some will want only evaluations filled out, some will want only letters, some will want both! The central application you fill out when applying will let you know what is required by each Texas program. Be prepared to ask a professor and two physician assistants.  Stay in touch with all the PAs you spend time with you may need them to officially verify the time you spent with them when it is time to apply.

Community Service - A non-medical related type of community service is recommended, (soup kitchen, Habitat). PA programs want to know that you care about your community and have leadership skills.

 

Program Start Dates:

Program

Starts

Prereq Deadline

Baylor, Tech, UTMB, HSU

Sum/Sum/Sum/Fall

Prior to starting

UNT

Fall

December 31

UTSW, UTHSC-SA, UTRGV

Sum/Sum/Fall

September 1

The Application Process

The CASPA - The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) is a division of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) that exists to make the application process fair and efficient for applicants and PA schools. CASPA becomes available at the end of April or beginning of May, it changes every year. 

Application Timeline - Your first opportunity to apply is the summer after your junior year, which is when you should start getting your letters of recommendation, take the GRE, and write your essays.  To be a successful candidate you should be completely finished applying by mid/end of June the summer before you graduate.

The Application Cycle 

  • You should have or be waiting for the release of your GRE test score.  It is a good idea to take an earlier test dates and help avoid delays. 

  • Confirm deadline dates for individual PA programs. 

  • Begin to fill out and submit applications for PA programs. If applicable, contact CASPA, or individual schools directly for specific questions that are not found in their instruction manuals.

  • Have letters of recommendation sent to CASPA.

  • CASPA verifies primary application & begins releasing application to schools within four weeks of receipt.

  • Continue to work, volunteer, etc.


Last Stages of the Process

  • Attend a Health Professions Interview Workshop with the PSA office.
  • ​PA programs begin to interview candidates.

  • When interviews are completed, schools inform applicants of admission status. Admissions decision processes and timelines vary between PA programs.



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