Physician assistants work under the supervision of a physician or surgeon to provide direct patient care. They may perform exams, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medication, make diagnoses, provide treatments and assist with surgery. Like physicians, depending on the specialty, evening, weekend, and on-call hours may be a job expectation.
UWM offers all of the prerequisite coursework necessary for application to physician assistant (PA) programs throughout the country. Although it is theoretically possible to enter a PA program after completing the necessary science and math courses but before earning the bachelor's degree, it is a highly rare situation and becoming even less common as more PA programs now require a bachelor's degree. The graduate level schooling to become a PA takes two years after completion of four years of college.
Admission to PA programs is extremely competitive. Successful applicants will have not only a stellar GPA and academic record but also demonstrated excellence and experience in health care related work. Most programs require applicants to have had direct, hands-on patient care experience, some as much as 2,000 hours. It is important to work closely with your advisor beginning in freshman year in order to complete the preparation process in a timely fashion. A suggested timeline is also available to help you plan preparatory activities throughout your four years in college.
Please review the Pre-Physician Assistant Fact Sheet at the right for information about suggested undergraduate courses to prepare for PA school, experiential opportunities available to UWM students, the career outlook for PAs, and options for your major. Pre-PA is not a major at UWM, and students must still choose a major. Since most of the pre-requisites necessary for application to physician assistant programs are in the sciences, many students choose a science major, though it is not required. Our specialized pre-PA advisor works with students to ensure they understand all of the milestones that must be met in college in order to be a competitive applicant to a physician assistant program.
Exploring the health professions
Exploring PA programs
Applying to PA school
- Gap Medics
- Johns Hopkins Summer Programs
- Prevent Blindness Wisconsin
- Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP)
- UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research (CBLLR)
- UWM Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR)
- Vive Peru
- WiscAMP Excel Program at UW-Madison
- Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers (AHEC)