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Why dont PA programs standardize prerequisites?


New Member
10+ Year Member
Nov 15, 2006
    Last year, I began to look into different PA programs and was shocked when I learned of the vast differences in requirements. In relation to other fields, there are relatively few PA programs and with the huge variations in prerequisite classes, types of graduate tests (MCAT or GRE), and necessary hours of medical experience ( 500 hours to 1 full year of work) I do not see how any applicant can be qualified to apply to more than a handful of schools in the entire country.
    My first question is very simple...WHY? This process does not seem to help anyone and places undue stress on those that want to enter this profession. I have met many people at my university in health/science courses who were interested in becoming a PA but quit when they realized the process involved in actually getting into a program. Also, is there any sort of push from groups like the AAPA to standardize requirements of PA programs?
    Also I wanted some feedback about my current plan to eventually get to PA school. I switched my major to nursing (despite the jokes about male nurses) because I was terrified that I would not get into any PA schools and would end up with a worthless psyc degree and a lower GPA because of all the bio and chem. I think I will still apply to PA school when I graduate (nursing should impress) and will have a career in medicine to fall back on if I don’t get in. Plus there are loads of graduate options for nurses and I could always reapply to PA with more experience.


    Global Doc (DHSc)
    Aug 26, 2001
    Taking an Away team....
    1. Post Doc
      until 10 yrs ago or so there was no standaridzed application process for pa school application(caspa) so each program had their own ideas of what was needed.there are currently around 140 pa programs out there so lots of options.
      in general the higher the academic award given by a pa program the more they rely on coursework and gpa and the less emphasis they place on prior experience so if you 1st decide what level of program you are shooting for( as vs bs vs ms) you should get a closer knit group of prereqs.
      in general if you have :
      bio( a+p and micro), chem, psych, microbio and math plus 1 yr of patient care experience you meet the prereqs. for most places.
      some(not all)ms level programs want the gre . I do not know of any that require mcats.
      as a bsn to be you really should consider the dual pa/fnp programs at u.c. davis and stanford. 2 yrs of classes and you take both boards and get both certs. that opens up a lot of options vs either cert alone.
      see www.aapa.org for more general pa info
      see www.appap.org for info on optional pa residencies
      see www.physicianassistant.net for a pa specific forum
      good luck whatever you decide.


      10+ Year Member
      5+ Year Member
      Mar 18, 2005
        I applied to 5 schools, and didn't have any problems with different prereqs. I remember applying to them though, and going through the whole CASPA deal definitley was stressful.... but I knew it was what I had to do to get accepted. Because of the limited number of seats in each PA program, it really is a "survival of the fittest" type of gig. I believe my passion for the field was the driving force, but if you are already stressed out before applying and are having second thoughts...maybe its not for you. Applying to PA school is just one of the many things that will test your patience. On the other hand, if you are trying to apply to like 10-15 schools, then no wonder you are getting overwhelmed! Good luck in deciding what to do. One piece of advice is to apply early....b/c CASPA can be a nightmare if you don't.
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