How to Prepare for Physician Assistant School

Physician assistants are valuable health care team members.

Physician assistants are valuable health care team members.

Attending physician assistant school is no small undertaking. Your mind will be challenged with heavy course loads featuring biology and physics. Your endurance will be challenged as the average length of PA school is 26.9 months, according to the Physician Assistant Education Association. Accepting these challenges requires dedication -- although your efforts will be rewarded when you’re licensed to practice medicine under a doctor's supervision.

Complete all prerequisite coursework. This is non-negotiable as missing even one credit hour can delay your entrance. Check your transcript against your school requirements to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Correct any errors or omissions promptly to avoid setbacks.

Unlock your reasoning for becoming a physician’s assistant. Setting aside time to delve into your career intentions will make you a stronger student. You will undoubtedly be asked why you chose to become a PA, instead of a doctor or nurse. Firing off a solid answer can boost your confidence and silence doubters.

Gain health care experience. Besides fulfilling school requirements, getting hands-on medical experience helps ease anxieties and prevents brain dump. Working or volunteering in facilities that match your after-license aspirations may lead to job opportunities.

Form bonds with health care professionals. Listen to the practical advice of aides and nurses without appearing condescending. Ask physician assistants for first-hand accounts about workloads, staff dynamics and stress relief tactics. Seek pointers from practicing physicians as they are charged with overseeing physician assistants. Getting used to being a part of a team will help you be a better PA.

Streamline your schedule. Physician assistant school features a demanding course load. Failing to make enough time for studying can lead to failing grades. Let your friends know that you may need to drop out of the social scene while in school. Make arrangements with family to assist with household errands and chores. Using your time wisely can help you avoid burnout.

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About the Author

Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.

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