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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician Assistants (PAs) are health professionals who practice medicine with supervision by licensed physicians.

  • PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services to diverse populations in both rural and urban settings throughout the world.
  • PAs work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, nursing homes, student health services, and rural and urban clinics. Although their main focus is patient care, PAs may also perform educational, research and administrative activities.
  • PAs are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and by certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
  • PAs can treat patients and write prescriptions when the physician is away from the practice.
  • PAs are trained to recognize when patients need the attention of a supervising physician, and they refer as needed.
  • PAs have demonstrated a commitment to their patients and a continued competence in delivering quality, humanistic health care.  For more information on the physician assistant profession, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants at its web site: www.aapa.org


Is PCOM's PA program affiliated with any undergraduate institutions?

PCOM has collaboration agreements with three undergraduate programs: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, Brenau University in Gainesville, GA, and Thomas University in Thomasville, GA.  All schools offer programs of undergraduate preparation for the physician assistant profession. The undergraduate phase at each university includes solid grounding in natural and social science courses preparing the student for progression into the graduate phase, if progressive requirements are met.  Candidates who are successful in the first phase of the undergraduate institution will be granted an interview for admission into PCOM's PA program.  However, admission to PCOM’s PA program is not guaranteed.

Candidates from other institutions do not need to complete their prerequisite coursework at any of the aforementioned institutions in order to qualify for admission.  The associations are useful to those looking to complete a bachelor's degree program, as either a first or second degree, that provides both the core science as well as a clinical foundation prior to entering an MS program in Physician Assistant Studies.

For more information on the associated schools, visit the following web sites:

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia www.usciences.edu

Brenau University www.brenau.edu

Thomas University www.thomasu.edu

What can I expect from PCOM's PA program?

  • During the the 26 month program, students are prepared for their careers in clinical practice using a variety of learning strategies.  During the 14 month didactic (classroom) phase formal lectures, practical laboratory classes and information literacy are employed. In the 12 month clinical phase students will rotate through a variety of clinical settings. Students will develop patient communication skills and advanced clinical problem solving skills, in addition to acquiring technical proficiency in areas related to professional practice.
  • Graduates of our program will develop and implement clinical treatment plans in collaboration with their supervising physician. This program is highly intensive, most of it is provided by physicians and physician assistants in order to assure that patient care functions provided by our physician assistant graduates are of the highest quality.

Can you tell me about the clinical rotations at PCOM? 

PCOM offers 6 week rotations in the following disciplines: emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, prenatal/gynecology, general surgery, pediatrics and behavioral medicine/long term care. In addition to those 7 core rotations we offer the opportunity to students to select their own 4 week elective rotation. PCOM has established affiliations across the country with hospitals, clinics and private practices.

What are the demographics of an average PA class at PCOM?

PCOM encourages and is proud of its diverse PA class. The students vary in age, from students who are coming into the program directly for undergraduate studies to students that are pursuing second careers. Our students come prepared with a solid foundation in the biological, chemical and social sciences but have degrees ranging from Bachelor's degrees in Biology to Master's degrees in Public Health. Our students and alumni represent many different states around the US. 

Will I be able to work full time while I am going to PA school at PCOM?

Our program involves an intensive course of didactic and clinical medical education. It is extremely difficult to work during the didactic and/or the clinical phase of the program due to the intensity of the coursework. During the clinical preceptorship year most of our students will average 50 or more hours per week in clinical learning activities.

Where do students attending the PCOM PA program live?

There are a variety of housing options in the area available to our students. Students may choose to reside in center city, Philadelphia or within the many housing developments around the college. There is no on campus housing. 

If I am chosen is there an orientation program for new students?

There is a mandatory orientation that occurs a few days prior to the start of the academic year. Typically orientation is held in early June.  

What are the estimated costs for the PCOM PA program?

Information on the cost to attend PCOM's PA program can be found by clicking here. Information on tuition refund policies at PCOM can be found through the Bursar's Office Refund Policy page.

Is there a chance to visit PCOM and see the program?

The Office of Admissions at PCOM offers Open Houses throughout the year as well as online information sessions. Visit their website by clicking here.

What is the admission process?

You can apply online by visiting www.caspaonline.org. However, we ask that you please review the following web page concerning the admissions process at PCOM in advance of beginning your application through CASPA:  

When do you interview selected applicants and does everyone get interviewed?

Only selected applicants are interviewed. Admission to the PCOM PA program is very competitive. Interviews are scheduled from September through February each application cycle.

If I don't have a baccalaureate degree, can I still apply for admission to the program?

Yes but in order for a candidate to be admissible to PCOM's PA Studies program, one must have a bachelor's degree completed prior to enrollment in the summer term (early June start).  For more information click here.

What kind of health care experience or volunteer work do I need to fulfill the 200 documented hours of required health care experience?

Candidates complete the requirement in a variety of ways, some of which include: working as a certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, LPN, EMT paramedic, etc.  Many have experienced medicine overseas as volunteers in clinics. Any volunteer work or paid work in a clinical setting wherein candidates are either providing hands on care or witnessing care first hand can be acceptable, depending on the nature of the role.  Shadowing experiences are counted and recommended.

Would it be useful for me to shadow a PA within a clinical setting prior to applying?

Shadowing includes observing a PA in their daily clinical practice and offers the student the opportunity to understand the role and responsibility of a PA. The experience is extremely useful and should be obtained if possible. The experience should be documented and included in your application.

Last Updated: 5/1/15