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Role of Physician Assistants

PAs are vital to healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010, recognized PAs for the first time as one of three primary care providers (PAs, Nurse Practitioners and Physicians). The law also empowered PAs to lead patient-centered medical teams. Team-based care is at the core of a PA’s training. PAs can practice autonomously or in a collaborative relationship with other members of a patient’s healthcare team. This combination is a major source of their strength.

PAs are experts in general medicine. They undergo rigorous medical training. PAs must take a test in general medicine in order to be licensed and certified. They must graduate from an accredited PA program and pass a certification exam. Like physicians and NPs, PAs must complete extensive continuing medical education throughout their careers.

PAs diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine. Thanks to an education modeled on the medical school curriculum, PAs learn to make life saving diagnostic and therapeutic decisions while working autonomously or in collaboration with other members of the healthcare team. PAs are certified as medical generalists with a foundation in primary care. Over the course of their careers, many PAs practice in two or three specialty areas, giving them deep experience and the flexibility to meet the changing needs of their patients, employers and communities.

Note: Information above taken directly from the American Association of Physician Assistants.



Pursuit of Physician Assistant at Clemson

Clemson University prepares students for application to a two-year Physician Assistant (PA) degree program. Many students apply one or two years following the completion of a Bachelor’s Degree.

Traditional PA Timeline

Pre-physician assistant is not a major. Therefore, you must choose a degree-granting major (and minor, if appropriate). PA schools do not discriminate among the different disciplines from which you may choose, meaning that you can and should choose the curriculum that interests you most and excel. Be sure to accommodate prerequisite courses for your PA schools of interest.

What is considered competitive?

Admissions criteria vary by institution and should be verified individually. According to CASPA data, a competitive applicant for admission to PA programs for the fall 2014 class had an average Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.54. According to MUSC, a competitive applicant will score at or above the 50th percentile on the GRE and have an average of 500 completed patient care hours.

Core Preparation Courses

Introductory Biology BIOL 1030+1050 & BIOL 1040+1060 or BIOL 1100 & BIOL 1110
Introductory Chemistry CH 1010 & CH 1020
Organic Chemistry CH 2230+2270 & CH 2240+2280
Anatomy and Physiology BIOL 2220 & 2230 or BIOL 3150 & 3160
Physics PHYS 1220+1240 & PHYS 2210+2230 or PHYS 2070+2090 & PHYS 2080+2100
Microbiology MICR 3050
Sociology SOC 2010
Psychology PSYC 2010
Calculus MATH 1020 or 1060
Economics ECON 2000 or 2110 or 2120
Statistics STAT 2300
Composition ENGL 1030
Literature ENGL 2000 level coursework
Communication COMM 1500 or 2500
Liberal Arts Electives See specific school requirements. 
Note. Requirements vary by institution and should be verified individually.