Physician Assistant Hopeful

Hi guys! I’m new to the site, and I figured this would be the best place to voice my questions on getting into a PA school, since I have virtually no one in person who has the answers that I need (even at my school).

I am a current junior at Skidmore College, with a double major in Spanish and Human Health and Physiology, with a minor in Chinese. I am hoping to follow a PA track, but I don’t have any particular schools in mind yet (ideally, on the East coast). My main concerns are what I’m going to have to do to be a competitive candidate in the admissions process. My parents have always pushed me to learn languages (due to a natural gift), but I have been interested in the sciences for a while. Unfortunately, I have just now convinced my parents to let me follow this track, so I’m concerned that I am a little behind. I have very little clinical experience, but I am hoping to take a year between graduation and application to PA schools to get at least 100 hours under my belt.

I am currently proficient in around 7 languages (English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Norwegian), and I am a native speaker of both Spanish and English. I have done a three-month program in southern China working with the few remaining speakers of a language called Nushu, or “women’s language”. I am wondering if PA schools will consider that a bonus? I know that what they’re mainly looking for is clinical experience, but I am hoping that it will at least make them take a second look.

My GPA isn’t extraordinary, but I’m going to try to raise it to at least a 3.45 (due to family issues I had a bit of a bad semester that lowered my GPA).

Thank you so much in advance, and all the best!

Speaking multiple languages won’t be much if any help for getting into PA school. Academic competency in pre-reqs plus the overall strength of your application will be the primary consideration. But speaking multiple language may give a boost in the post-graduation job market.

Have you started taking the required sciences for PA admission? What’s your GPA for your pre-req science classes?

Although exact requirements vary by programs, they generally include a full year of introductory biology, a full year of general chemistry, anatomy, physiology, microbiology and statistics. Some programs have additional requirements that may include: organic chemistry, biochemistry, additional upper level bio classes, psych, medical ethics.

Here’s a list of accredited PA programs:
You can click on the link by the name of the school and go to home page for each program. From there you can find the pre-req classes and required minimums for clinical experience.

Unfortunately 100 hours of clinical experience isn’t going to be enough for most programs. Most programs require anywhere from 200 to 2000 hours. Please check specific schools for their requirements. And the hands on experience need to be paid work for most programs, not volunteer. (Paid because you need to have documentation of your hours and duties, plus LORs from your supervisor.)

Some jobs that pre-PAs do to gain hours–phlebotomist, EMT, certified nursing assistant, nurse, paramedic, medical assistant, ER tech, surgical tech, physical therapy assistant, patient care assistant. All of these jobs require training/coursework and licensing/certification that you’re unlikely to find offered at Skidmore. Check your local community colleges under vocational training.

PA programs are quite competitive. A few comments:
–Be sure to look at the prerequisite coursework needed to apply to PA school and have them completed before you apply.
–Many PA programs want/require a couple of years of experience in a medically related field (ex. my D’s friend who wants to apply to PA schools is working as an EMT now).
–Try to bring up your GPA and study hard for the GRE.
–Speaking multiple languages is nice and you can note it on your application but I think academics (courses taken, GPA, standardized tests) and clinical experiences will be most important factors.

–Certainly your proficiency with languages can help to make you an attractive candidate for a job at a place where all/some of the languages you are fluent in are spoken.