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
- 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
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
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
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.