Physician assistants (PAs) practice medicine under the supervision of physicians and surgeons. PAs are
formally trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services, as delegated by a
physician. Working as members of the health care team, they take medical histories, examine and treat
patients, order and interpret laboratory tests and x rays, and make diagnoses. They also treat minor
injuries, by suturing, splinting, and casting. PAs record progress notes, instruct and counsel patients, and
order or carry out therapy. In 48 States and the District of Columbia, physician assistants may prescribe
medications. PAs also may have managerial duties. Some order medical supplies or equipment and
supervise technicians and assistants.
Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician. However, PAs may be the principal care
providers in rural or inner city clinics, where a physician is present for only 1 or 2 days each week. In
such cases, the PA confers with the supervising physician and other medical professionals as needed and
as required by law. PAs also may make house calls or go to hospitals and nursing care facilities to check
on patients, after which they report back to the physician.
Many PAs work in primary care specialties, such as general internal medicine, pediatrics, and family
medicine. Other specialty areas include general and thoracic surgery, emergency medicine, orthopedics,
and geriatrics. PAs specializing in surgery provide preoperative and postoperative care and may work as
first or second assistants during major surgery.
Above information taken from The Physician Education Assistant Association 950 N. Washington St. Alexandria, VA 22314-1552. Internet
http://www.apap.org/ See also: American Academy of Physician Assistants Information Center, 950 North Washington St., Alexandria, VA
22314-1552. Internet: http://www.aapa.org
Employment of PAs is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through the year
2014, ranking among the fastest growing occupations, due to anticipated expansion of the health care
industry and an emphasis on cost containment, resulting in increasing utilization of PAs by physicians and
health care institutions.
Median annual earnings of physician assistants were $69,410 in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned
between $57,110 and $83,560. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,320, and the highest 10 percent
earned more than $94,880. Median annual earnings of physician assistants in 2004 were $70,310 in
general medical and surgical hospitals and $69,210 in offices of physicians.
Most applicants to PA educational programs already have a bachelor’s degree.
Physician assistant programs usually last at least 2 years; admission requirements vary by
program, but many require at least 2 years of college and some health care experience.
All States require physician assistants to complete an accredited education program and to pass a
national exam in order to obtain a license. See also National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants,
Inc., 12000 Findley Rd., Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097. Internet: http://www.nccpa.net
In 2005, more than 135 education programs for physician assistants were accredited or provisionally
accredited by the American Academy of Physician Assistants. More than 90 of these programs offered the
option of a master’s degree.
Employment Information above was obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos081.htm
In Georgia, PA programs are offered at Emory University, The Medical College of Georgia, and South
University. In general, these programs require that you have a Bachelor’s Degree, one year of biology,
chemistry or physics, one semester of biochemistry, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology with labs.
Additional requirements can be found at our website:
B.S. Biology at VSU
The B.S. Biology degree at VSU includes all of the prerequisites needed to attend any of the Physician
Assistant programs in Georgia. In addition, our advisors will make certain you take the proper elective
courses you will need to meet specific program requirements. Finally, our advisors will also make sure
you have completed the required extracurricular activities needed to apply to programs to become a
The following information was obtained from the respective institutional websites. Be sure and check
those websites for current information.
Physician Assistant Program of Emory University
1462 Clifton Rd., Suite 280
Atlanta, GA 30322
The admissions committee makes every attempt to select those candidates who show promise of
becoming outstanding physician assistants. Decisions are made based on a thorough evaluation of the
applicant’s academic record, written narrative statements, personal references, performance on the GRE,
previous health care experience, and a personal formal interview.
All successful applicants to the Program must have completed a baccalaureate degree.
All applicants must have maintained a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.8 (on a 4.0 scale) for all
undergraduate work completed.
Specific Emory University Admissions Requirements:
All applicants must have completed at least 35 semester hours distributed as follows:
15 semester hours in natural sciences (such as biology, chemistry, physics) with specific
requirements to include full courses with lab in general biology, general chemistry, and an
unabridged (i.e., not a survey, introductory, or "principles of") course in organic chemistry or
Recommendations for additional preparatory course work include: anatomy, physiology, and
10 semester hours in humanities (such as art, classics, English, foreign language, music,
10 semester hours in social sciences (such as anthropology, economics, history, political science,
psychology, sociology), with a course required in psychology (either introductory, general,
developmental, or abnormal).
All courses must be completed at a grade level of "C" or better
Medical College of Georgia
Physician Assistant Department
Augusta, GA 30912
Admission is based on undergraduate college coursework including the overall, transfer, and math/science
grade point averages. Other criteria include personal interviews, assessment of the applicant's motivation
and the possession of the personal qualities needed to successfully complete the program. Preference is
given to residents of Georgia and to residents of states with no Physician Assistant Program.
Prior to enrollment, the applicant must have:
A grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on all previous college work and an average of at least
2.8 on math and science courses.
Completed 90 semester hours of prerequisites at an accredited college or university.
A minimum combined GRE score of 1000 is needed for full admission.
A minimum of 100 hours of health care experience or volunteer activities.
Observed physician assistants in a variety of PA clinical settings (more than two).
Three references that focus on the applicant’s generic abilities for clinical work rather than just their academic
ability—one of which must be from a physician assistant that indicates PA contact. Having at least one reference
from a physician assistant from each of the clinical settings observed by the applicant is highly recommended.
Course Requirements for Physician Assistant Program of Medical College of Georgia
General Chemistry I and II (Labs required)
Biology I and II (Labs required)
Anatomy and Physiology (Lab required)
Human Growth and Development
General Biochemistry (No lab required)
or equivalent (i.e., Cellular Biology)
Introduction to Computers
709 Mall Boulevard
Savannah, GA 31406
Criteria for students interested in applying to the South University Physician Assistant Master of Science
Applicants must have an earned bachelor's degree with an overall minimum cumulative GPA of 2.60 (on a
4.00 scale) and a required minimum science prerequisite GPA of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale).
Applicants must submit scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (verbal,
quantitative, and analytical). Preference will be given to those with competitive scores (50th percentile or
Course Requirements for Admission into South University PA Program
Complete at 32 credit hours of math and science, which must include the following course distribution:
Human Anatomy & Physiology sequence 2 courses
General Biology sequence 2 courses
General Microbiology1 course
General Chemistry sequence 2 courses
Organic Chemistry 1 course
Clinical experience that includes direct patient care is strongly recommended for application and
selection into the program; however, there is no requirement for a predetermined number of hours
(or months) of health care experience to be earned by an applicant. Clinical experiences should
provide the applicant with a knowledge of and orientation to the presentation, signs, and
symptoms of a variety of ill or injured patients. Such experiences are evaluated on an individual
basis with regard to time spent with PAs or physicians observing/caring for ill and injured