Read our Physician Assistant guide to learn how to prepare and apply to PA school. Stay informed about upcoming programs, fairs, experiential opportunities and more by subscribing to the HMP3 Listerv.
Discover whether a physician assistant career matches your interests, skills and abilities and meets your lifestyle expectations:
- Ask What is a Physician Assistant? at the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) website
- Read about the PA Profession and PA Education at American Academy of Physician Assistants AAPA
- Learn about the PA Scope of Practice
- Consider Surgical Physician Assistant and the Education required for this specialty.
- Learn how to become a certified PA and Specialty Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQ)
- Get advice from UCSD alumni who are PAs
- Find salary info and more about PA and other health professions at ExploreHealthCareers.org
Get Experience & Prepare
Confirm your interest in PA, prepare academically and develop the necessary skills and experience:
- Identify PA school pre-requisites on program websites, and the classes at UCSD or elsewhere to meet them
- Talk To, shadow or volunteer with a PA. Find them through your network of family and friends, Professional Associations, or the HMP3 Mentor Program
- Join a pre-PA or pre-health Student Organization
- Find Clinical & Hospital Experience
- Many PA schools want applicants with extensive direct patient care experience. Consider training as an EMT, phlebotomist, medical assistant or other Allied Health role. (See our Health Professions page for details)
- Keep a record of all of your health/medically-related experience
- Discover Research Opportunities on and off campus
- Take classes within the Global Healthor Health Care-Social Issues minors
- Develop communication and leadership skills through Express to Success
- Explore San Diego Health Agencies and more ways to Get Experience
- Learn how to Maximize Your Experience
- Keep track of your experience (dates, hours, contacts) for future applications
You apply to PA school in the fall or winter before you want to start the program. Identify programs that match your interests and complete an application. Some steps take more time to complete than others, so plan ahead!
- Schools & Programs: consider curriculum, clinical training options, location and cost
- Workshops:Watch our Calendar for application how-to sessions
- GRE: If required, Prepare, Practice and take the Graduate Record Examination
- Applications: Carefully prepare and submit:
- Letters of Recommendation: Get to Know Writers and Collect Letters
- Application Essay: Write your Personal Statement and get a Critique
- Interviews: Get prepared for Interviews
- Financial Aid & Fellowships: Learn how to Pay For School
For additional help with your professional & graduate school preparation and application come into the Career Services Center or contact your Professional & Graduate School Advisors.