Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals who practice medicine with supervision by licensed physicians.

  • PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in both rural and urban settings throughout the world.
  • PAs work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, nursing homes, student health services, and rural and urban clinics. Although their main focus is patient care, PAs may also perform educational, research and administrative activities.
  • PAs are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and by certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
  • PAs can treat patients and write prescriptions when the physician is away from the practice.
  • PAs are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising physician, and they refer as needed.
  • PAs have demonstrated a commitment to their patients and a continued competence in delivering quality, humanistic health care. For more information on the physician assistant profession, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants web site.

Is PCOM's PA program affiliated with any undergraduate institutions?

PCOM has collaboration agreements with three undergraduate programs: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, and Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia. All schools offer programs of undergraduate preparation for the physician assistant profession. The undergraduate phase at each university includes solid grounding in natural and social science courses preparing the student for progression into the graduate phase, if progressive requirements are met. Candidates who are successful in the first phase of the undergraduate institution will be granted an interview for admission into PCOM's PA program. However, admission to PCOM’s PA program is not guaranteed.

Candidates from other institutions do not need to complete their prerequisite coursework at any of the aforementioned institutions in order to qualify for admission. The associations are useful to those looking to complete a bachelor's degree program, as either a first or second degree, that provides both the core science as well as a clinical foundation prior to entering an MS program in Physician Assistant Studies.

For more information on the associated schools, visit the following web sites:
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Brenau University
Thomas University

What can I expect from PCOM's PA program?

  • During the the 26 month program, students are prepared for their careers in clinical practice using a variety of learning strategies. During the 14 month didactic (classroom) phase formal lectures, practical laboratory classes and information literacy are employed. In the 12 month clinical phase students will rotate through a variety of clinical settings. Students will develop patient communication skills and advanced clinical problem solving skills, in addition to acquiring technical proficiency in areas related to professional practice.
  • Graduates of our program will develop and implement clinical treatment plans in collaboration with their supervising physician. This program is highly intensive, most of it is provided by physicians and physician assistants in order to assure that patient care functions provided by our physician assistant graduates are of the highest quality.

Can you tell me about the clinical rotations at PCOM?

PCOM offers 6 week rotations in the following disciplines: emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, prenatal/gynecology, general surgery, pediatrics and behavioral medicine. In addition to those 7 core rotations we offer the opportunity to students to select their own 4 week elective rotation. PCOM has established affiliations across the country with hospitals, clinics and private practices.

What are the demographics of an average PA class at PCOM?

PCOM encourages and is proud of its diverse PA class. The students vary in age, from students who are coming into the program directly for undergraduate studies to students that are pursuing second careers. Our students come prepared with a solid foundation in the biological, chemical and social sciences but have degrees ranging from Bachelor's degrees in Biology to Master's degrees in Public Health. Our students and alumni represent many different states around the US.

Will I be able to work full time while I am going to PA school at PCOM?

Our program involves an intensive course of didactic and clinical medical education. It is extremely difficult to work during the didactic and/or the clinical phase of the program due to the intensity of the coursework. During the clinical preceptorship year most of our students will average 50 or more hours per week in clinical learning activities.

Where do students attending the PCOM PA program live?

There are a variety of housing options in the area available to our students. There is no on campus housing.

If I am chosen, is there an orientation program for new students?

There is a mandatory orientation that occurs a few days prior to the start of the academic year. Typically orientation is held in early June.

What are the estimated costs for the PCOM PA program?

Information on the cost to attend PCOM's PA program. Information on tuition refund policies at PCOM can be found through the Bursar's Office Refund Policy page.

Is there a chance to visit PCOM and see the program?

The Office of Admissions at PCOM offers visit events throughout the year as well as online information sessions.

Admissions-Related FAQ

How do I apply and what are the application requirements for the program?

You can apply online by visiting Details on application requirements can be found in the Admissions section.

When do you interview selected applicants and does everyone get interviewed?

Only selected applicants are interviewed. Admission to the PCOM PA program is very competitive. Interviews are scheduled from September through February each application cycle.

If I don't have a baccalaureate degree, can I still apply for admission to the program?

Yes but in order for a candidate to be admissible to PCOM's PA Studies program, one must have a bachelor's degree completed prior to enrollment in the summer term (early June start).

What kind of health care experience or volunteer work do I need to fulfill the 200 documented hours of required health care experience?

Candidates complete the requirement in a variety of ways, some of which include: working as a certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, LPN, EMT paramedic, etc. Many have experienced medicine overseas as volunteers in clinics. Any volunteer work or paid work in a clinical setting wherein candidates are either providing hands on care or witnessing care first hand can be acceptable, depending on the nature of the role. Shadowing experiences are counted and recommended.

Would it be useful for me to shadow a PA within a clinical setting prior to applying?

Shadowing includes observing a PA in their daily clinical practice and offers the student the opportunity to understand the role and responsibility of a PA. The experience is extremely useful and should be obtained if possible. The experience should be documented and included in your application.

What is the prerequisite coursework?

Along with a bachelor’s degree, candidates need to have completed the following with a grade of C or better:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
    8 credit hours
    Can be taken as separate courses or combined as Anatomy and Physiology I & II
  • Other Biology Coursework
    3 credit hours
    Examples: Genetics, Microbiology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology
  • Biology II
    4 credit hours
    With a lab
    Biology I
    4 credit hours
    With a lab
  • General Chemistry II
    4 credit hours
    With a lab
  • General Chemistry I
    4 credit hours
    With a lab
  • Other Chemistry Coursework
    3 credit hours
    Examples: Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry
  • Health related Science Course or Physics
    3 credit hours
    Examples: Physics, Nutrition, Immunology, Virology, etc.
  • Social Sciences
    9 credit hours
    Examples: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.
  • Math
    6 credit hours
    Statistics is an acceptable Math course

Generally, it is acceptable to have 1-2 of those courses “in progress” so long as the acceptable grade of C or better is earned prior to the start of classes in June. All science and math prerequisites must have been completed within the last 10 years. Applicants with graduate degrees and/or over five years of health care experience may be considered on an individual basis.

What should I expect if I get placed on the wait list?

The wait list is utilized to fill seats that open after interviews have concluded in February. The wait list is not ranked or ordered. Typically, candidates are selected as seats become available from February until classes begin in June. After all expected candidates arrive for orientation in June, those not selected will be sent a final decision letter.

What is the deadline to apply for admission? What term can I apply for?

CASPA allows candidates to apply beginning in mid-April for admission the following summer. Applications MUST be submitted through CASPA by Dec. 1 for Summer enrollment. Supplemental applications are sent via email to each candidate once PCOM receives the upload from CASPA. Supplemental applications are due no later than January 1st, however, applicants are reviewed for admission on a rolling basis, so it is strongly encouraged that candidates apply early. All degree candidates begin their studies in the summer term (mid-June start). Candidates are not permitted to begin out of sequence and may not reduce their course load.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

Yes. Candidates must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (as calculated by CASPA) to be considered. Every candidate for admission is reviewed on an individual basis and GPAs of admitted candidates vary. However, the average for those admitted in 2012 was 3.47. Applicants with graduate degrees and/or over five years of health care experience may be considered on an individual basis.

Is the CASPA application the only application?

Yes. Candidates may not apply for admission in any other manner. If a candidate is reapplying for admission, he/she must apply through CASPA again and the old file will be married with the new one, once received in the Office of Admissions.