You must start the process of becoming a physician assistant by chatting up about the profession with a practicing PA or with a doctor. Not everyone is interested to get into the professions, and so if you are inclined to be a PA then you must figure out all about the profession as soon as you develop an interest. You can also browse online for resources and visit many PA forums to understand how the training and the job goes. There are a ton of resources available online – you can check these out as well.
Start planning to get a bachelor’s degree in science and take the following subjects in college – anatomy, physiology, biology, mathematics, chemistry (including organic chemistry), psychology, social studies and English. Knowing these subjects will give you an edge over other applicants. You also must take out some time and volunteer your services in a medical clinic. Nothing works like practical knowledge and experience, and your work at the clinic will help you know what the job entails. Moreover, such work will sail you through the strict admission process.
Choose your PA school in advance. Remember that each PA school has a limited number of seats and there is a huge demand for admissions because the career is recession-proof and plenty of PA jobs are available. So, go ahead and shortlist a few schools to check if you meet their admission criteria. You can even talk to a graduate from the school you have chosen and ask him more about how his studies and career panned out. Once you have shortlisted a few schools, call them and ask them to send their information packs over.
You will have to open an account with CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants) and submit your applications through it. A CASPA application is not like filling it in a web form – it is a long and elaborate process and you must prepare for it. Before you work on CASPA, assemble your education, employment and other relevant information. PA schools require 3 letters of reference, and at least one reference must be from a practicing healthcare professional. Keep these letters ready. Take your time and read each CASPA question thoroughly and answer it precisely without making grammatical mistakes.
The process of getting into a school can become a lot smoother if you prepare well for the interview. You must do a few mock interviews and answer questions that schools typically ask in the interview. One question that will always be asked is, “What made you think of becoming a physician assistant?” You should also read up on the history and ask your PA acquaintances many incisive questions about the profession. The interview dress code is formal and you are expected to behave in a polite-formal (but not stiff) manner at the interview. Also, be punctual and know that the admission process will set you back by about $1,000.
Knowing these processes will help push you in the right direction. Once you’re in school, your hard work and dedication will help you realize your goal of becoming a physician assistant.