Health Professions Advising

Leslie North
Health Professions Advisor
TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT: Please see information on the right side of Health Professions home page.

Other Health Professions

Physician Assistant

According to MONEY magazine and U.S. News, physician assistant is one of the top jobs in America.

The physician assistant role developed in the mid 1960's to address the shortage and uneven distribution of primary care physicians in the United States. Duke University graduated the first class of PA's in 1967 — mostly military corpsmen with extensive medical experience gained during the Viet Nam war. Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the federal government credentialed, to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. PA programs have the advantage of requiring only two years of study after Hamilton, if all the prerequisites have been completed. Recent Hamilton graduates have attended PA programs at Duke, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, LeMoyne College, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, Upstate Medical University, among others.

The prerequisites for PA programs vary from school-to-school but Hamilton students should plan:

  • Extensive clinical hours; a few schools require 1000-2000 hours of clinical experience
  • Two semesters of biology (Bio 101 and 102 or Bio 115 and Bio 248 or 336)
  • Two semesters of anatomy and physiology (see Leslie North; Bio 222 and 331 ordinarily suffice unless "Human" A&P is required)
  • Two semesters of chemistry, including Organic Chemistry I
  • Microbiology (Bio 221)
  • Statistics (Math 100, Math 253, or Psych 280)
  • Intro psychology and developmental or lifespan psychology (see Leslie North)
  • Additional social science
  • One semester of English/ writing
  • Several PA programs require students to submit GRE scores

For more information about the PA profession visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants Website.

Many PA schools use a common application. The CASPA Website provides links to all the common application PA schools and much useful information on requirements.