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What is it like going to a BS/MS PA program like? Should I chose this route instead of taking a more traditional entry into the PA profession?

I'm thinking about being a PA (physician assistant/associate) which is why I thought about taking a more advanced program straight out of high school. It allows me to enter the work field sooner as well as cut down some costs. The one thing that concerns me is the amount of vigor/what it entails and the question I have about whether or not this counts as a "college degree". If being a PA doesn't work out, will I have to go back to college and earn my degree again because I technically didn't go to college and instead, I went to a BS/MS program?
#college #medicine #healthcare #medical #pa #doctor

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John’s Answer

Arisa, a Bachelor of Science degree opens doors to many career paths. Physician Assistant (PA) program requires a significant formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.


Before starting PA school, you typically need a bachelor's degree. Though not mandatory, an undergraduate degree in a science or health-related field is ideal. Many PA programs prefer that you have a health degree and some professional health care experience prior to admission. Working as a medical assistant during your undergraduate program is a way to get some of the necessary basic health care experience. There are several medical careers that can be pursued with a bachelor's degree.


Prospective physician assistants must obtain formal training through an educational program approved by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). These programs are usually require applicants to have a bachelor's degrees and some amount of experience in the healthcare profession to gain admission. Most physician assistants serve as nurses, diagnostic medical sonography or paramedics before pursuing admission to a physician assistant program (see below for job descriptions).

Physician assistant programs generally take 26 months of full-time study to complete. During the first year, students focus on classroom instruction in medical science and clinical preparation. Courses may include pathology, pediatrics, diagnosis, surgical technique, emergency medicine, pharmacology and research methods. Afterward, the curriculum shifts to focus mostly on clinical rotations in various disciplines, such as general surgery, gynecology and behavioral medicine. During these rotations, students gain first-hand experience in patient care under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Physician assistants can choose to specialize in a particular field of medicine, such as internal medicine, surgery or pediatrics. Becoming a specialist entails completion of an additional postgraduate training program and certification from the NCCPA. Candidates for specialty certification must hold PA-C certification, have two years of experience and complete a specialty certification program. They may then become certified by passing a specialty exam. Specialty certification must be renewed every six years.

1.) REGISTERED NURSE (RN) – Many nurses start their careers with a 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing. After obtaining a degree, graduates must pass an exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing in order to obtain a RN license. Registered nurses help care for and treat patients who are living with various illnesses and conditions.

2.) MEDICAL SONOGRAPHY – Diagnostic medical sonographers use ultrasound technology to form images of a patient's internal organs. Educational and training opportunities are available in 4-year bachelor's degree programs in diagnostic medical sonography. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) administers an exam leading to licensure.

3.) PARAMEDIC – Paramedic training programs are the most advanced education level and may be offered as an associate's degree program. Paramedic programs require students to earn multiple medical procedure credentials, such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Associate's degree programs may require significant scientific coursework, including biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Many programs require applicants to be certified EMTs and may prefer those who have experience.

Hope this Helpful Arisa,

John recommends the following next steps:

Obtain your Bachelor of Science (BS) degree and complete the common prerequisite courses.
Obtain your Healthcare Experience (HCE) or Patient Care Experience (PCE).
Once you have your BS and acquired your HCE or PCE, it’s time to start preparing your PA application.

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Colleen’s Answer

Fast Track professional degree programs, whether they lead to a career as a PA, dentist, or other program are good options - if you already have a passion for the field. If you are still in the stage where you are thinking or considering a career path, I would not suggest locking yourself into a program like this. While they can save some time and money, it is only time and money saved if you end up with the career you want.

Earning a B.S in a science, ideally while earning some real-life experience with a part-time and/or summer job, is a safer option for many students who are fresh out of high school because your interests may change or evolve. You may end up loving patient care, but could find you prefer research or public health policy and advocacy. Get a strong foundation in a hard science and you will have lots of paths open to you.

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Ian’s Answer

The first thing you need to do is research the profession to make sure this career will make you happy for years to come. If yes then fast track it, keeping in mind that it will be intense and very vigorous . If however you are not 100% sure then your backup plan may be a BS in an area that you may like ,then you can pursue your PA if you still want to go that route after you have BS degree. You can also look into schools that have accredited PA program that enables you to get a degree, so that if you change your mind you can continue on to MS program using the BA you already earned. Always have a backup plan. Make sure this what will make you happy, because you will be spending a good portion of your life doing this . Careers vs Jobs ,Careers should make you happy . Jobs you just do. Hope this is helpful

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Rhonda’s Answer

My thoughts are to research the requirements, but I definitely would gain my college degree prior to entering a physician assistant program. The PA program is intense and very focused and you most likely will need your undergraduate degree. In addition having this degree will open doors or other areas of potential career opportunities. Stay focused work hard and you will end up where you want to be.