Physician Assistant

What does a physician assistant do?

Physician Assistants (PAs) “are medical providers, most with graduate-level education. They are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and to provide medication for patients. PAs work in physician offices, hospitals, and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician. Because of their advanced education in general medicine, modeled after physician education, PAs can treat patients with significant autonomy within the physician/PA relationship” (PAEA).

Physician Assistants, among other things, get the opportunity to take medical histories and perform physical exams, order and interpret laboratory tests, assist in surgery and set fractures, and counsel patients.

Choosing This Field

When figuring out if this profession is right for you, make sure to look at various resources to inform you about physician assistant career paths, engage in self reflection regularly, and seek out relevant clinical and service experiences.

To explore what your career could be in this field and what the right fit is for you, visit the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)’s page What is a PA?. Look as well as the American Academy of PAs’ (AAPA) pages What is a PA and Become a PA.

What is the required preparation?

There is no required major for pre-PA students—students are welcome to explore their major options.There is variability when it comes to course requirements for entrance to a PA program, so applicants are encouraged to explore their specific programs of interest and research their coursework expectation.

According to the AAPA, the majority of programs expect coursework in:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Physiology and Anatomy

Our office advises completing:

  • General Biology sequence
  • General Chemistry sequence
  • one semester of Organic Chemistry and lab (CHEM 2241 & 2242)
  • Biochemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology sequence
  • one year of General Psychology
  • one year of English
  • one semester of Statistics
  • one semester of Microbiology
  • Recommended: Genetics and Medical Terminology

To find a full list of PA programs with their respective requirements, click here.

The typical physician assistant program takes three years to complete. For information on the application process and how to prepare, visit the PAEA Applying to a PA Program page.

Finding a Program

The PAEA offers a free, searchable database of all the Physician Assistant programs called the PAEA Program Directory. You can also review the accreditation status of programs by clicking here.

Talk to the Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising Office

Our office is here to support you as you explore health care pathways and careers! We welcome appointments to discuss your options with our pre-medical and pre-dental advisors. To schedule an appointment, visit our website.

UConn’s Allied Health Sciences Department also offers advising for students who are interested in pursuing a pre-PA track, regardless of major. To take advantage of those resources and schedule an appointment with an advisor, visit their website here.