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Physician Assistant

MS Master of Physician Assistant Studies, PA-C Physician Assistant-Certified

Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings in rural and urban areas. Physician assistant practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research, and administrative activities.*

Services performed by physician assistants include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Evaluation – initially approaching a patient of any age group in any setting to elicit a detailed and accurate history, perform an appropriate physical examination, delineate problems, and record and present the data.
  • Monitoring – assisting the physician in conducting rounds in acute and long-term inpatient care settings, developing and implementing patient management plans, recording progress notes and assisting in the provision of continuity of care in office-based and other ambulatory care settings.
  • Diagnostics – performing and/or interpreting, at least to the point of recognizing deviations from the norm, common laboratory, radiologic, cardiographic and other routine diagnostic procedures used to identify pathophysiologic processes.
  • Therapeutics – performing routine procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, managing simple conditions produced by infection or trauma, participating in the management of more complex illness and injury, and taking initiative in performing evaluation and therapeutic procedures in response to life-threatening situations.
  • Counseling – instructing and counseling patients regarding compliance with prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning, situational adjustment reactions and health maintenance.
  • Referral – facilitating the referral of patients to the community’s health and social service agencies when appropriate.

Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every 10 years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

After completing your bachelor’s degree, Physician Assistant Graduate Degree programs take approximately 26 months (two to three years) to complete. After graduating from an accredited PA program, graduates will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). You then will obtain a state license to practice. (Information provided by American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA, 2021).

  • Suggested Timeline
  • Prerequisite Chart
      • PreHealthRequirements.pdf (
      • UF School of Physician Assistant Studies Prerequisite Courses
        • Human Anatomy & Physiology* (6-8 semester hours, including labs)
        • Microbiology** (3-5 semester hours, including lab)
        • General Chemistry (Inorganic)*** (8-11 semester hours, including labs)
        • Statistics (including statistical tests and analysis) (3 semester hours)
        • Medical Terminology (1 semester hour or more)
        • *Human Anatomy & Physiology: To meet this requirement take Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 with lab PLUS Human Anatomy and Physiology 2 with lab –OR– take Human Anatomy with lab PLUS Human Physiology. Human Anatomy and Physiology courses must cover all organ systems. Applied Anatomy and Physiology courses that do not will not be recognized as fulfilling the prerequisite course requirement. Comparative, Survey, Elementary, Mammalian, Vertebrate, and/or Functional Anatomy; Exercise, Applied, Advanced, Survey, Vertebrate, and/or Mammalian Physiology courses CANNOT replace the Human Anatomy and/or Human Physiology requirements.
        • **Microbiology: Many of the Clinical, Medical, Introductory or Survey Microbiology courses will not meet our prerequisite requirement.
        • ***Chemistry: A complete sequence (i.e. Chemistry 1 with lab PLUS Chemistry 2 with lab) geared toward science majors (appropriate as a first-level course for a Chemistry major)
        • UF School of Physician Assistant Studies: CLEP or Advanced Placement Courses – CLEP examination or advanced placement credit may not be used to meet any of the School’s requirements. Experiential learning is also not an acceptable substitute for prerequisite requirements.
        • Check schools of interest for any additional prerequisite courses that are required.
  • Recommended Additional Courses
    • Medically-related Sciences, including such courses as:
      • Biochemistry (prerequisites: Organic Chemistry 1 and 2), Biostatistics, Cell Biology, Cell Physiology, Embryology, Epidemiology, Genetics, Histology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics, Organic Chemistry, Parasitology, Pathogenic Bacteriology, and Virology
    • Non-medically-related Sciences, including such courses as:
      • Physical Chemistry, Physics, and Quantitative Analysis
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences, including such courses as:
      • Abnormal Psychology, Death and Dying, Developmental Psychology, Human Growth and Development, Human Sexuality, Marriage and the Family, Medical Ethics, Psychology, and Sociology
    • Writing, including such courses as:
      • Expository Writing and Technical Writing
    • Humanities/Liberal Arts, including such courses as:
      • Communications and Humanities
    • Check schools of interest for any additional recommended courses.

  • GPA Information
    • A minimum Overall Science GPA of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale). (UF School of Physician Assistant Studies Program)
    • Applicants must complete all preprofessional prerequisite courses at colleges or universities accredited by one of the regional accrediting bodies.
    • All applicants must complete their prerequisite courses with a grade of C or better by the end of the fall semester before the program’s academic year begins in late June. Preference is given to applicants whose prerequisites are no older than 5 years at the time of application.


    • The resources listed below are just a handful of those that are available to you. Please do some exploration on your own to see what options may be
  • Research
  • Shadowing
      • Shadowing Experience: recommended to obtain 40 to 100 hours with a Physician Assistant.
      • Check schools of interest to explore observation/shadowing requirements they require.
      • UF Medi-Gators Virtual Shadowing Program
  • Healthcare Experience/Patient Care Experience
    • UF School of Physician Assistant Studies Program: Although there is no minimum direct patient care requirement, applicants are encouraged to complete one year (2000 hours) Direct Patient Care (DPC) experience before their intended matriculation (enrollment date).*

To help you better understand what qualifies for DPC, think of DPC as actually providing healthcare to patients. So, Direct Patient Care means actually providing care and doing for patients.  We often think of DPC as ‘hands-on’.  However, work that is ‘hands-on’ may not qualify as Direct Patient Care.  The element of providing healthcare must be present.   The following discussion is aimed to make this more clear.

Examples of DPC include taking vitals, bathing patients, helping patients transfer from bed to bedpan or toilet, walking patients, drawing blood, performing diagnostics, administering prescribed therapy or treatments, counseling. For applicants who are already health professionals, such as paramedics, respiratory therapists, or nurses, the practice of your profession for the recommended length of time would constitute such clinical experience. Explore additional examples of direct patient care experiences versus health related experiences.

Applicants without previous health care experience are often able to acquire DPC experience working as a medical or nursing assistant, or aide. Patient care experience can be acquired on a paid or volunteer basis, as long as the recommended amount of time is met in an acceptable health care setting.  Applicants often complete nursing assistant certification, gain paramedic training, or learn how to become a scribe in order to secure paid employment while gaining clinical experience. Scribe work is perhaps the only example of non-professional level clinical experience we consider to be DPC which doesn’t allow for touching patients. It is the integration and application of various aspects of patient care required of a scribe working alongside a physician, PA, or ARNP that qualifies scribing as providing Direct Patient Care

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  • Professional School Directory
  • Standardized Test Resources & Information
      • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
        • ETS GRE Information Page
        • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored from 130 to 170 with a mean score of 150 each (300 total). For the Analytical. Writing section, the two essays are averaged and rounded on a 0-6 score scale. Scores are available 10-15 days after your test date in your ETS account. Four free score recipients are included with your test fee.
        • The overall testing time for the GRE General Test is about three hours and 45 minutes. There are six sections with a 10-minute break following the third section.
        • The sections of the GRE include:
          • Analytical Writing (One section with two separately timed tasks)
          • Verbal Reasoning (Two sections)
          • Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections)
          • Unscored section (does not count towards score)
  • Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT)
        • PA-CAT Information Page
        • This is a specialized discipline-specific exam that is designed to measure applicant knowledge and application in key prerequisite science subjects typically required for PA school. Subjects include: Anatomy, Physiology, General Biology, Biochemistry, General and Organic Chemistry, Microbiology, Behavioral Sciences, Genetics, and Statistics.
        • The exam is a 240-item assessment covering 9 science subject areas. 4.5-hour total exam window. Electronically administered by Prometric.
        • Cost of exam: $228 (includes the test center fee for administration)
        • Free PA-CAT Study Resources including two 120-question PA-CAT practice exams, 30+ hours of video subject learning modules with practice questions and quizzes, 9 subject 3,200+ question bank for self-assessment, and 9 subject-specific practice exams.
        • Applicants apply on average to 8 PA programs during an admissions cycle.
      • All schools will accept the GRE. However, some may also accept the following: PA-CAT.
        • It is important to do your research on your schools of interest to see what exams they may or may not accept in place of the GRE.
  • Fee Assistance
Application Requirement Costs ($)
GRE Exam or PA-CAT Exam $205 for the exam; optional additional test preparation items (FREE - $72.00); PA-CAT Exam is $228
Standardized Tests Accepted Other Than the GRE Most physician assistant programs accept the GRE ($205). Some schools may require a PA-CAT instead of a GRE; check with each program you are applying to.
Step 1: CASPer® Professional Health Sciences Test All UF applicants are now required to complete the CASPer® U.S. Professional Health Sciences test, a situational judgment test and general screening for personal.professional characteristics. The test takes 60 - 90 minutes to complete. Learn about the test and register at the CASPer® website. Reporting of scores to UF will take 3 weeks.
Step 2: Complete the PA School supplemental application Check with the schools you plan to apply to, to review their supplemental application requirements and deadlines. These should be completed BEFORE the submission of your CASPA application. Fees can range in price (UF’s application fee is $30).
Step 3: Complete the CASPA Application $179 for the first program you apply to and $55 for each additional program; CASPA opens in late April. CASPA applications must be VERIFIED by September 1, 2021* for the class entering in June of the following year (*UF School of Physician Assistant Studies).
Transcript Processing $10 *Beginning Monday, August 16, 2021, all official UF transcripts will cost $10 per copy. Order through the Office of the University Registrar, Official transcripts should be sent directly to the CASPA Transcript Processing Center.
In-person Interviews Will depend on the school/program preference. Potential costs to consider: Attire > $150, Airline Ticket > $400, Hotel > $200/night, Ground Transportation > $50
Virtual Interviews Will depend on the school/program preference. Check with each program to learn more. Additional information about UF School of Physician Assistant Studies Interviews is located at this link.
Background Checks Will depend on the school/program. Check with each program to learn more.
Acceptance Deposits Will depend on the program. Can be up to $500 or more to guarantee your spot in a program. Some deposits are applied to your tuition in the first semester of the program.


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UF School of Physician Assistant Studies

  • #14 among PA programs, ranked by U.S. News & World Report. About our program
  • 2,000+ graduates of the school, more than two-thirds of whom remain in Florida for clinical practice. Get involved as an alumni
  • #1 Health Care Job: Physician assistant has been ranked as best health care job by the U.S. News & World Report. About the PA program

98-100% pass rate for board examinations. See board scores