APPLYING TO PA SCHOOL
There are 195 accredited PA schools in the USA. Until recently, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has been the only PA school in South Carolina. However, North Greenville University recently announced that they are partnering with the Greenville Health System to start a new PA school. North Carolina is home to eight accredited PA schools. To learn more about different programs and the right program for you, follow this link.
Most PA schools use the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) as the principal application service. The CASPA application usually opens for that application year in April, and all applications must be submitted by early September. However, DO NOT wait! Apply as early as you can! You will first need to complete the CASPA application and submit all additionally required documents and test scores by the deadline. A secondary application may be necessary at specific schools. An application fee is also associated with each school that you apply to. An on-site interview will be offered to students that the board of admissions deem as qualified. After the interview, you will hear back about your acceptance.
For more information about the CASPA, or if you're ready to apply, click the button to learn more
The Big Five
The PA application process and schools have “The Big Five” that are essential aspects of applying (and getting accepted) to PA school. These are extracurricular activities and clinical experience/patient care hours, coursework in undergrad, letters of recommendation, the GRE/MCAT, and a personal statement.
1. Extracurricular Activities/Work Experience/Patient Care Hours
Anything that you were actively involved in while an undergrad, whether it be a job, organization, club, team, volunteer work, patient care experience, etc., PA schools want to see that their prospective students are well rounded. Admissions committees can see your academic achievements on your transcript and application, so your extracurriculars allow them to see the real you.
Many PA schools have required prerequisite courses that you must take before matriculation into the professional school. You don't have to complete all of the courses before applying, however you must fulfill the requirements before you graduate from undergrad. You will also need to submit a transcript from each undergraduate school you have attended to the CASPA application.
3. Letters of Recommendation
MAKE SURE YOU DEVELOP GOOD RELATIONSHIPS. We cannot stress that enough; you need to build good relationships with professors, healthcare professionals, and employers. Make them remember you for all the good reasons. You can conduct research with professors, or you can even join organizations and clubs that certain professors represent. The bottom line is that you need to be engaged with your professors, employers, and healthcare professionals (just doing well in their class is NOT enough). Be sure to ask for your letters of recommendation early so that your writers have a sufficient amount of time to complete them.
One important aspect of these tests is that you need to schedule them early so that you have enough time to take them at least twice (only if you feel the need of course). Another important aspect is making sure that you schedule your test so you have enough time to receive your scores for the CASPA application.
5. Personal Statement
Show the admissions committees who you are before they even meet you! Share with them your passions (one of them better be medicine!), and why you want to become a PA. This answer will be a good “warm up” when they ask you “Why do you want to become a PA?” in your interview. IT IS GUARANTEED THAT QUESTION WILL BE ASKED. It is best to write this before you send in your application.