What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician Assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine as part of a team with physicians, surgeons and other healthcare providers.


Quick Facts: Physician Assistants
2021 Median Pay $121,530 per year
$58.43 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 139,100
Job Outlook, 2021-31 28% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 38,400


From: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/physician-assistants.htm


How do I become a Physician Assistant?

Earn your Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers in any subject, taking required prerequisites as part of your major, minor and/or elective coursework. Get good grades. Shadow a PA and get hands on clinical experience that requires you participate in direct patient care. A few examples include, EMT, medical assistant, Physical Therapy Aide, home health care worker, Certified Nursing a\Assistant, etc.

Apply to a graduate (master’s level) program to become at Physician Assistant through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Here is the link for CASPA: https://caspa.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/


What prerequisite courses do I need to take to apply to Physician Assistant Programs?

Prerequisites vary from program to program so you need to check the individual schools to which you plan to apply but some common requirements are:

  • Biology, may include Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Medical Terminology
  • College level math, including statistics
  • English
  • Psychology


How long are Physician Assistant programs?

Programs vary in length. The average is 27 months. Note, the Rutgers PA program is 3 years.


How much do Physician Assistant programs cost?

The average tuition cost for PA schools in 2020 was $50,289 for in-state resident students in a 27-month program at a public institution. The average cost for non-resident students in these programs was about $88,677.

Note, these costs due not include fees or living expenses and will be higher at private schools. For comparative information see: https://www.thepalife.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-go-to-physician-assistant-pa-school/


What GPA do I need to get accepted into a Physician Assistant program?

These programs are very competitive. The average undergraduate overall GPA for PA school applicants who WERE ACCEPTED into PA school was 3.49, with an undergraduate science GPA of 3.36, and non-science GPA of 3.56. Please remember these are averages.


What standardized tests to I need to take to apply to Physician Assistant programs?

Some schools require the GRE. Regarding the (Physician Assistant College Admission Test) PA-CAT exam: most PA schools do not require the test. Some schools do say that they expect they will require it in coming years.


What other requirements are there for Physician Assistant programs?

  • Clinical experience
  • Letters of reference


Where can I find more information?