The Pre-Physician assistant Program serves students from any major who are interested in pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant (PA). 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.
Individual, Supportive Education
We have had many students successfully apply to graduate programs, largely due to our supportive environment and individualized approach to education. Most of the upper-level science courses you take will have no more than 20 students, so you and your professors will get to know each other well. Most of our introductory science courses have fewer than 30 students. Our labs that accompany courses have faculty as instructors and fewer than 16 students. We encourage you to get involved with the Pre-Health Professions Club as early as possible, so you can take advantage of events and activities, and gain a sense of belonging to Maryville’s Pre-Health Professions community.
Dedicated, Comprehensive Advising
Maryville students planning to apply to physician assistant programs are guided in their preparation by the Pre-Health Professions advisor 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 PA programs and careers
- Introduction to admissions requirements for PA programs
- The opportunity to conduct undergraduate research
- Assistance identifying shadowing and volunteer opportunities
- Evaluation of whether your course mix, GPA, and GRE/MCAT scores are competitive for schools you’re considering
- Letters of recommendation to schools with PA programs
- 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 a physician assistant program isn’t overwhelming.
Sophomore Review Process
During the spring semester of the sophomore year, students are invited to go through a sophomore review process. Students assemble an application with materials similar to those required for physician assistant school admission. The Pre-Health Professions Advisory Committee will review the students’ applications and conduct 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.
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 PA program.
Physician Assistant Graduate Programs
While no one major is prescribed for admission to a PA program, you should build a strong foundation in biological and natural sciences. That doesn’t mean that you’re tied to a science major, though. Liberal arts majors that develop analytical reading, writing and critical thinking abilities can have very competitive applications.
Physician assistant programs give preference to applicants who complete a rigorous course of study and demonstrate academic excellence in all course work, particularly the core biology, chemistry and physics courses. Applicants must also provide competitive admissions test scores and should be able to demonstrate a long-term, growing commitment to serving others. As an active participant in the Pre-Physician assistant Program, you will learn to balance a rigorous academic schedule with meaningful extracurricular activities.
Regardless of the major you choose, your course load should be challenging and well-rounded. We also strongly recommend volunteering at a physician assistant clinic to gain practical experience and exposure to the profession. The ideal physical therapist has an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of medicine, understands the nuances of society, and can communicate well.
There is no universal curriculum recommended for physician assistant graduate program applicants, but most schools want to see several years of healthcare experience and that you’ve completed the following courses:
- General Biology
- Anatomy and Physiology
- General Chemistry
AP credit in the sciences should be supplemented with upper level course work. Some physician assistant graduate schools have requirements not listed here so don’t wait until it’s too late to determine specifically what classes you should take.
The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA, www.aapa.org) and the Physician Assistant Education Association website (http://www.paeaonline.org/) list accredited programs and detail the specific requirements for application to physician assistant graduate programs. We strongly suggest that all prospective applicants take a look at these resources.
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.
Maryville has a number of articulation agreements within the health professions:
- 3+4 Podiatry Degree with Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine
- 4+4 or 3+4 Optometry Degree with UMSL
- 4+4 or 3+4 Osteopathic Physician Degree with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)
- 4+4 Dental Medicine Degree with LECOM
- 2+3, 3+3 or 4+3 Pharmacist Degree with LECOM
- 3+3 Doctor of Chiropractic Program with Logan College of Chiropractic
Physician assistants work in hospitals, clinics, schools, physician offices, and long-term care facilities. Academic PAs share their skills and knowledge with students.
While we typically recommend majoring in biochemistry or biology, you may select another major. Pre-Physician Assistant is a program of study, not a major at Maryville University.
If you’re interested in joining our Pre-Physician Assistant program, you need to meet the general admissions requirements for the University. Specific course requirements will be defined by the major you choose.