Physician Assistant Program Overview
Students graduating from the Penn State College of Medicine PA program will be awarded a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree.
The Penn State PA Program, located on the Penn State College of Medicine Campus in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is a 24-month, full-time graduate program with the inaugural 30-student class enrolling in May 2014 and graduating in May 2016.
This master's degree is a professional graduate degree which identifies the recipient as being trained in the practice of medicine as a physician assistant. This degree is not a preparation in the science of medicine but rather connotes preparation for professional practice as a physician assistant. This degree is awarded as a Penn State degree and is presented from the College of Medicine. Students who complete all graduation requirements will take part in the annual College of Medicine Graduation Ceremony held each May.
Consistent with the goals of the Penn State College of Medicine, the program will emphasize humanism in medicine which takes into account the dedication of individualized and personalized medicine. It will focus on providing preventive health care services, care for both acute and chronic disease, and will support development of lifelong learning and cultural diversity. Students will be prepared for their professional role as clinicians with an emphasis on care provided in the primary care setting.
We believe that the Penn State PA program will prepare its graduates for modern medical practice and that these graduates will be supremely prepared for their role as clinicians. The goals of our program are the following:
- attract a diverse, academically qualified graduate student;
- promote application of learning and development of critical thinking skills;
- enable graduates to practice competent and compassionate health care with emphasis in primary care;
- prepare students for their role as clinicians, professionals, educators, and leaders in the physician assistant profession;
- treat the entire patient with cultural competency, addressing physical, medical, psychosocial, and emotional dimensions of the patient.
Application Process/Admissions Cycle
The Penn State Physician Assistant Program accepts applications though the CASPA application system beginning April 17, 2013, with an application deadline of January 15, 2014. The Penn State PA Program's GRE code is 0900. The secondary application, a requirement for the Penn State Program, will be sent to applicants after the CASPA application has been received.
Applicants will need to complete an undergraduate bachelor's degree prior to matriculation into the Penn State PA Program. The emphasis on his/her major should be in the health sciences, however this is not mandatory for consideration into the program.
For admissions consideration, an applicant should ordinarily have the following admission requirements:
- at least an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0;
- at least a required science GPA of 3.0;
- health care experience of 500 hours (paid or volunteer);
- completion of pre-requisite courses, as listed:
- general biology
- anatomy and physiology – two semesters (or one semester each)
- general or principles of chemistry
- biochemistry or organic chemistry
- general psychology
- statistics or bio statistics
- two semesters of English composition (or two courses listed as writing intensive courses)
- completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) without minimum score requirement or MCAT (medical college aptitude test) with a combined score of 29 (if less than 29, the GRE is required)
- three letters of recommendation for the candidate
- personal statement describing the rationale for pursuing the physician assistant career
The most qualified applicant will be invited to campus for an in-person interview in order to ascertain who will be the best fit for this program, and for the applicants to find out more about this PA Program. The link to Penn State's supplemental/secondary application will be emailed to applicants after the CASPA application has been completed and verified.
International Student Requirements:
All international applicants must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language(TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a minimum of 19 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). Request submission of your TOEFL test scores to The Pennsylvania State University, school code 2660. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.
International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.
The Penn State PA program will not prohibit students in the program from working. The program believes that the student is the correct person to make personal decisions regarding life outside of the program. The program is cognizant that each student has made a great deal of personal sacrifices to matriculate into a PA program and students are aware of the challenges of succeeding in a PA program. To this end, the program respects the student's personal decision regarding work. The program generally does not have mandatory attendance policy for class attendance - we would like you to attend class because we feel that the teachers will be excellent classroom facilitators and instructors but we respect learning styles and the student's decision to decide on how to best assure their own learning styles. Each course in the curriculum will provide information regarding attendance and students are required to attend all scheduled tests. Although the program does not prohibit employment during the pre-clinical or clinical training, we obviously do not encourage working because of the personal demands and dedication that PA training mandates. Students attending clinical rotations will have a minimum of 40 hours per week at the clinical site and these hours may involve different shifts and weekends which would make employment very difficult. Students are expected to conform to the schedule that the individual preceptor makes and the preceptor will not be altering this schedule to accommodate a working schedule on the part of the student.
Penn State College of Medicine PA Program intends to be fully compliant with Fair Practices regarding reporting of first-time pass rates on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination for Physician Assistants (PANCE). We will report this data for the five most recent graduating classes. Since our program has not yet matriculated its first class (inaugural class will begin May 19, 2014 ), we do not yet have data to report. Please check back after May 2016 when our inaugural class will graduate!
The PA program will not award advanced placement for any course offered in the curriculum. If a student requests special exemption to this policy, the request will be denied. All of the courses are required for graduation.
As the Penn State PA Program develops further, we will be hosting information sessions. This information will be posted on the website when they are planned.