Physician Assistant – Preparing For the Education

Physician Assistant programs numbered 136 as I write this with colleges in many states preparing to host another program. It is a profession that offers much to those in it and to the medical establishment. PAs are often the only employees a medical practice can hire that do not add to overhead.

What actions and decisions make you a better candidate for PA school and will ultimately make you a better PA? Here are a few suggestions that have benefited myself and some recently accepted PA students.

The medical profession is ever changing. New studies are always being done and new information and therapies result from these studies. Two skills that can be gained before PA school are the ability to read faster with greater comprehension. A course in this skill and regular practice will make life much easier.

An understanding of statistics and medical study design will allow you to judge the quality of studies and understand flaws that might affect conclusions. Most PA schools with a Masters program require a course in statistics. Be sure you look carefully at the prerequisites and plan your undergrad education accordingly. I have seen a few careers delayed because the student did not realize they needed statistics or microbiology with a lab.

You are going to need some high quality patient care experience. You want working with a graduate, certified PA to be part of that experience. Carry a small sturdy notebook with you and write new words you learn. Later look up and write down the definition. You might learn the words dysarthria and aphonia when you discuss a patient with a stroke. Write them down and look them up when you have time.

Write down clinical pearls that you learn also. You might be taught in a discussion about a case that you must distinguish Pityriasis Rosea from syphilis and body fungus. Write down that differential diagnosis.