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What are some helpful classes to be able to get into Physician Assistant school?

What are some extra classes that could help me in the long run? Also, what are your tips for pursuing this career? #physicianassistant

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Ashley’s Answer

Hey there! I would start by researching what schools you want to apply to, as each school has individual requirements. All of them will require your basic anatomy, chemistry, physiology, and at least one psychology class, but electives are where they start to vary. Some schools I applied to required 4 credits of microbiology, while some took the 3 I had. Some needed genetics while others were fine if you took cell biology. I think taking genetics, extra psychology classes, and additional biology electives like pathophysiology and exercise physiology have helped me so far in school. I also think it is important to look at what schools require what patient contact hours, their GRE requirements, and any shadowing hours/volunteer requirements they have. Keep in mind that your grades are important, but those evaluating your application will be looking at your whole application and making sure you are well rounded!

Ashley recommends the following next steps:

Research schools and make a spreadsheet/excel document of what schools require what classes
talk to an academic advisor about signing up for these classes and what they suggest
Join clubs, organizations, etc. to help strengthen your application and gain patient contact hours
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Madeline’s Answer

I would second what Ashley has said, it also helps to create your CASPA account to view those individual class and hands-on hours requirements for each school. Depending on the quality of the class medical terminology and medical ethics could be helpful outside of the basic required courses. Find a way to get the most **hands-on** experience that you can possibly get be that by becoming an STNA, EMT, home health aide, or other healthcare-related job. Most schools require at least 500 hands-on hours of medical experience and shadowing does not count. If you can get that experience in a field you think you'd be interested in working in as a PA in the future then even better. Medical scribing often does not count as hands-on (some schools do and some don't count it), however, many of the students in my class that had been medical scribes had a lot of additional insight and knowledge, so if that's something you have time for on top of any hands-on experience it wouldn't be a bad idea to look into, not to mention the network building it could lead to for future letters of rec. You could also look into getting involved in research.

Madeline recommends the following next steps:

1. Check out CASPA, choose schools you're interested in and make sure you are doing what you can to meet their minimum requirements first
2. Gain hands on patient care experience and keep track of your hours - this may also help you build a good personal statement
3. Build your network for letters of recommendation for schools - via professors, advisors, and try to have at least one be a doctor, PA, or NP (this could be via your hands on experience or through shadowing)
4. Get involved in volunteering, research (ask a professor to get involved in their research), extracurricular medical groups at school
5. Use electives for supportive classes like medical terminology, medical ethics, genetics, etc.
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