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Physician Assistant Prerequisites: Education Expectations Before You Take Your PA Course

You’ve likely realized you’ll need considerable physician assistant prerequisites before you can even start studying in this rewarding field. It’s a career that’s perhaps closest to being a doctor without having the full designation. Nevertheless, you’ll work closely with physicians to assist them in complex medical procedures. That’s why your training is close to the full eight-year cycle doctors take to get their doctorate.

physician assistant prerequisitesBefore you can even get training for being a physician assistant, the prerequisites for being accepted into a certified program is still considerable. As seen from OHSU’s physician assistant training course, they expect you to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Generally, it won’t matter what your major was in getting your degree. You obviously need training in some medical field, though many of the prerequisites demand you study specific medical subjects before you’re considered.

Because you may have to take over for the doctor you work for on occasion, you need a full understanding of the human body and medical science.

As a result, take a look at the expected subjects you’ll need to study before acceptance into a physician assistant course. The latter courses usually take place at the master’s level and can take up to two years to complete.

Nevertheless, these prereq subjects are already thorough and necessary to give you a rounded education, despite needing periodic updates.

Courses in Biology and Chemistry

You’ll be expected to complete full courses in biology and chemistry as just one part of your pre-education. When you work with a doctor, a full understanding of what makes the body work is essential when you make emergency diagnoses or decide on immediate treatments.

As part of your biology course, you should focus on either cell or molecular biology for a deep understanding of internal anatomy. Studies in genetics are also acceptable since it relates to how disease gets inherited from blood relatives.

For chemistry, you’ll need general studies along with organic and inorganic chemistry knowledge. Lab work is always preferred for both chemistry and biology, though it’s not absolutely essential. Even so, you’ll find considerable benefits working directly in a lab for more practical experience.

Learning Anatomy and Physiology

While biology can help you understand how the body works, anatomy helps you understand the body from a more practical standpoint. That’s because you’ll be expected to have some lab work working with human anatomy. In some cases, it could mean working on cadavers to fully understand how illness affects the body.

With physiology, you learn about the functions and activities of certain parts of the body, and it requires just as much lab experience. Don’t think online learning helps, because certified courses have you working directly in labs to prepare for real-world scenarios.

Studying Psychology

General or developmental psychology is usually expected as well since communicating well with patients means understanding how they react to things. While you won’t always diagnose mental disease, understanding human nature can help you in calming nervous or upset patients.

You may need only three credits for psychology, but it’s all part of the wider picture in proving your expertise.

Prerequisite Before Going into Practice

Once you complete your certified physician assistant course, you’ll have to go after your license in your state before getting a job. This is known as the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) where you’ll prove your knowledge in a computer-based test.

The PANCE website provides a content blueprint for what you can expect to find on the exam. You can’t expect to take it and be done forever because certification requires recurring educational updates, including re-testing within six years.

Contact us here at Physician Assistant to learn more about the necessary prerequisites you need to help you kick off a rewarding physician assistant career.