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Do You Have What it Takes to Become a Physician Assistant?

Choosing a career in healthcare is always tough. You need a rewarding job that satisfies your soul, allows you to think creatively, helps you stay socially engaged, and is recession-proof. The physician assistant’s job can be all that. However, like most healthcare jobs, it requires dedication, hard work, skills, academic excellence, and more. So, do you have what it takes to become a physician assistant? Here’s a checklist that will help you decide:

  1. You need GPA (Grade Point Average) of 3.5 and over. If your score is lower and you really want to become a physician assistant, then there’s no other option but to retake the exam. Plus, colleges also need applicants to complete the GRE (Graduate Record Exam).
  2. The school will check if you have taken chemistry (including organic chemistry), biology, mathematics, psychology, anatomy, physiology, social sciences and English in college. Students who have opted for these subjects are preferred over others. So, well, you must take a natural liking to these subjects – if you don’t, getting admissions will be tough.
  3. You must be emotionally and psychologically strong and your level of your cognitive skills must be high. You will be working with sick patients and their families and therefore must be highly motivated at all times. You must also be able to quickly grasp and interpret what patients say and then make the correct decisions based on your understanding. You have to be a smart and quick thinker to do all this.
  4. Smart thinking alone is not sufficient – you need to be an efficient and precise communicator as well. All PAs have to advise their patients, explain prescription medicines, communicate while administering treatments, and sometimes break bad news (example: patient’s demise) to a patient’s family members. Such decision-making and communication requires reasoning, and accurate and sensitive delivery.
  5. PAs must have steady hands and a calm and cool mind. They are required to participate in critical surgeries and even a slight slip can adversely impact the patient. They also must tend to wounds and other non-surgical processes without goofing up.
  6. You need to be a hard worker who’s happy to even work in graveyard shifts (when required) if you want to become a physician assistant. You may be required to work on weekends as well. So, if you’re someone who wants to enjoy his/her life after six in the evening and have fun on weekends, the PA profession is not for you.
  7. Your confidence levels must be high too. You will be required to stand in for your doctor on many occasions and handle patients on a 1-1 basis. If you are unsure of yourself, you may make a mistake or a mess of the situation.
  8. The law requires you to get re-certified every 6 years. If you’re someone who does not want to revisit examinations, then the PA profession is not for you.
  9. Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Well, you can sure become a physician assistant but you cannot start your own practice because you are always required to work under the supervision of a licensed doctor. So, this profession is a no-no for folks who want to be on their own.


If you have these required qualities, and are deeply interested in the healthcare industry and in the well-being of the community, then you should go right ahead and become a physician assistant.

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