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How to become a Physician Assistant: A Straightforward Guide

If thoughts have been crossing your mind on how to become a physician assistant, then it is likely that you are seriously entertaining the notion of going down this career path. If this is true, you are quite lucky because employment chances in this field are projected to grow faster than the average occupation. In fact, this is true of a lot of jobs in the healthcare profession. The admission program training prerequisites vary with some degree, and many insist that you at least possess a college degree. Furthermore, even after you finish your formal education, you are going to have to pass an examination prior to getting your license. Those who are working either in inner cities or in rural places are going to reap the most job opportunities.

The First Step

To gain admission into a physician assistant program, you will have to take the needed college courses. For example, all schools demand at least 8 hours of physiology and anatomy. This can be worked out to either two semesters or just one semester of each, plus lab work. For instance, UNC in its premium curriculum solely offers a one semester-combined course that, however, is not going to be accepted by 95 percent of physician assistant programs. In other words, you have to know what you require and if certain courses from the college you are attending actually satisfy the requirements.

The Second Step

You have to be familiar with the purpose of a physician assistant in the healthcare field. Thus, you will require shadowing hours, and some schools demand between 50 and 200 hours of this! Perform these hours with more than just one physician assistant. A lot of schools demand that applicants have some experience hours to show for.

The Third Step

How to become a physician assistant involves getting good references. Each program demands a medical reference, and some want at least one professor’s reference. Try to get the reference of a physician assistant, especially one known to the program that you want to get into. You should remember to plan ahead and start looking to nail down your references up to six months before you actually need them. When the time for references comes, CASPA will be sending your potential references an e-mail that contains a form to mail back to them or write their references online. Be sure you know what your references prefer.

The Fourth Step

Make sure that you study hard for your GRE. One useful suggestion is to focus on learning new vocabulary words. For example, learn a new vocabulary word each day to see if you can utilize it in your everyday conversations. Studying also involves studying at least one or two GRE questions a day.

The Fifth Step

If you want to know how to become a physician assistant, you have to know that it is also based on getting your application in early. You might not realize this, but almost all schools actually reward those who get their applications in ahead of time. For instance, CASPA actually reduces your fee for an early application, and early applicants receive the first interviews and invites. Be early in finishing your essay for CASPA. After a program gets your CASPA application, they will then take their supplemental application.

The Sixth Step

You now have to seriously prepare for your interview! Basically, start your interview with a short (20 second or so) opening on why you want to become a physician assistant. What you say in your interview for admission into the physician assistant program of your choice must be consistent with what you wrote in your essay—it only makes sense! It’s also advised that you rehearse what you will say so that it flows freely and confidently from your mouth during the interview. Some things to talk about include why you want to attend school at this particular location, why you want to work in primary care and what role physician assistants play in healthcare.

The Seventh Step

The last step in how to become a physician assistant relates to presentation. Do dress suitably for your interview, which means that you must look conservative. For men, this means a minimum of a dress shirt, tie and slacks. For women, this means a business suit and no cleavage or short skirts. Since the competition for this occupation is tough, putting forth your best appearance is key.

How to become a physician assistant is a very multi-faceted process. It involves meticulous preparation that is characterized by an emphasis on choosing the right courses, picking the right school and getting the correct references. From there, it includes applying early and making a good impression in your interview so that you can get into the program that you desire.