Requirements for PA Program
Admission to the Presbyterian College PA Program is very competitive. Students must have completed all of the following requirements by July 31st prior to matriculation (entrance) to the program. These are the minimum requirements; however, given the competitiveness of the program, students are encouraged to complete courses above these requirements. Meeting minimum requirements for the program guarantees neither an interview nor admission to the program with one exception: All Presbyterian College students and graduates who meet the minimum requirements will be invited for an interview.
A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States with a 3.2 science and 3.2 overall GPA on a 4.0 scale at the time of application is required for admission. Students must earn a B or better in all prerequisite coursework with the exception of Organic Chemistry in which students must earn a C or better. Advanced coursework will be considered as part of the admissions process. Students are able to list classes that they intend to complete within CASPA and these applications will be reviewed as well. Advanced Placement (AP) courses may satisfy prerequisite coursework after evaluation by the Admissions Department. Courses must be non-remedial level coursework.
Academic Courses that must be completed within 7 years of application to the program:
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II with labs (minimum of 8 semester hours or 10 quarter hours)
- Organic Chemistry I with lab (minimum 4 semester hours or 5 quarter hours)
- Psychology (minimum 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours)
- Microbiology with lab (minimum 3 semester hours or 4 quarter hours)
- Genetics (minimum 3 semester hours, lab optional or 4 quarter hours)
Academic Courses that must be completed within 10 years of application to the program:
- General Chemistry I and II with labs (minimum of 8 semester hours or 10 quarter hours)
- Biology I and II with labs (Mammalian, Cell or Human; minimum of 8 semester hours or 10 quarter hours)
No Time Limit:
- English (minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours)
- Statistics, Algebra, Calculus, Finite Math, or other equivalent Advanced Mathematics (minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours)
- Humanities and/or Social Science (minimum of 6 semester hours or 8 quarter hours)
- Medical Terminology
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- GRE in last 5 years
Applicants are required to complete a minimum of 250 hours observing or participating in the delivery of healthcare in a clinical environment. At least 50 of the 250 hours must be from direct shadowing of a clinically practicing physician assistant. Make sure to fill out our Shadowing Hours Form. Although this form does not need to be used exclusively, all prospective students will need to retain documentation. Documentation must be available for verification.
Clinical hour requirements may be met through paid or volunteer experiences. Additional shadowing hours with a physician assistant or physician can be counted toward total clinical hour requirements. Applicants are encouraged to be very detailed in their description of health care positions in their CASPA application.
Types of Health Care Experience
The Program doesn’t necessarily base decisions on a position’s title, but rather the duties and skills involved with the position. However, we offer the types of experience below as suggested avenues for obtaining health care experience. There may be other acceptable experiences, but just not mentioned.
- medical assistant
- emergency medical technician (EMT)
- medic or medical corpsman
- peace corps volunteer
- lab assistant/phlebotomist
- health care-related technician
- emergency room technician
- surgical technician
- other hospital technician positions
- clinical nutritionist or dietician
- clinical research assistant
- community health worker
- certified nursing assistant (CNA)
- physical therapy aide
- medical technologist
Applicants are required to submit three references from sources who are familiar with the qualifications of the applicant. The reference is expected to comment on attributes he or she feels will ensure the success of the candidate while attending the physician assistant program and in the medical profession. References from relatives, even if they are healthcare professionals, are highly discouraged.
One reference is required from EACH category:
- A person holding the PA-C, MD or DO designation and who also holds a current license to practice under that designation.
- A college or university professor holding a doctoral degree in any discipline where the candidate has been a student in one or more of the classes taught by the faculty member OR an additional person holding the PA-C, MD or DO designation and who also holds a current license to practice under that designation.
- A reference of your choice of someone who has knowledge of your work ethic, academic record, volunteer work or other activities and can comment on your ability to succeed in the physician assistant program.
Following the initial review of applications, a limited number of applicants will be invited for a personal interview. Verbal and interpersonal communication skills will be assessed during the interview as well as the applicant’s qualifications overall. The interview score is an important component for determining admission to the program.
The Presbyterian College Physician Assistant Studies admissions interview is a structured interview process that is designed to assess core competencies that are difficult to measure via an application alone. These competencies are:
- Commitment to the physician assistant profession
- Communication skills
- Ethical and moral reasoning
- Interpersonal skills
Interviewer scores, as well as the interviewer and staff comments, factor prominently in decisions for admission to Presbyterian College. Admission is competitive and selection for an interview does not guarantee admission.
Invitation to Interview
Interviews are initiated and scheduled by the PA program. Once you receive your interview invitation, you should respond promptly to confirm your interview appointment. In the case of a major conflict, you should call the Physician Assistant Program at 864-938-3746 immediately to discuss rescheduling your interview.
You are responsible for arranging accommodations and travel to Clinton, SC for the interview process. If you are selected for an interview, you will be given detailed information regarding the interview date, time, and location.
Proof of identification, including picture ID, is required to participate in the interview process.
Attire: Dress professionally. Suitable attire includes dresses or skirts of medium length, non-denim tailored slacks, and appropriate tops for females. Slacks, collared dress shirts with a jacket, tie, and socks are appropriate for males. Underdressing (jeans, tennis shoes, etc.), overdressing (party dresses, etc.), or wearing revealing clothing is inappropriate.
Punctuality: In order to ensure that you arrive on time to your interview, you should allow time for the unexpected (e.g. traffic or weather delays). In the case of an unavoidable delay, you should email Mr. Josh Tyson at firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Answering Questions: Answer all questions honestly and as completely as possible. Be yourself! Don’t try to second-guess the “target” answer to questions. Ask for clarification if needed and answer “I don’t know” when applicable.
After the Interview
Please do not call or email the admissions office for information on the status of your file after your interview. The College and Program will not release any information on the status of your file until an official decision has been rendered.
The program does not offer advanced placement. High school advanced placement (aka, “AP” high school courses) may be considered to fulfill admissions requirements at the discretion of the PA Program.
Presbyterian College Physician Assistant Program encourages applicants with diverse life experiences to apply. The admissions process is highly competitive and attributes beyond the minimum requirements will be considered during the interview and selection process. The principal faculty and Interview Panel will consider a wide range of factors when selecting applicants for interviews and for matriculation into the program.
The PA program principal faculty will render the final decision on candidates accepted into the program. When selecting applicants for interview and matriculation into the program, the principal faculty may take into account any and all aspects of the student’s prior educational record and application materials. These factors include but are not limited to:
- Overall GPA
- Sciences GPA
- Healthcare Experience within the past 5 years
- GRE Scores
- CASPA Student Essay
- Letters of Recommendations
- Advanced Degree
- Community Service within the past 5 years
- PA Shadowing within the past 5 years
All Presbyterian College students and graduates who meet the minimum requirements will be invited for an interview. An invitation to interview, however, does not guarantee admittance to the program.
All prospective students must be honest about their criminal record. A comprehensive background check will be performed through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and CastleBranch, a national vendor for background screening. The Presbyterian College PA Program has the right to deny enrollment based on previous convictions or false information. Appeals to any information found during the background check or drug screen must be made directly through CastleBranch according to their listed policies and procedures. All cases will be reviewed individually.
The Presbyterian College Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree signifies that the graduate is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine.
Therefore, the graduating student must possess the skills and knowledge to effectively function in a variety of clinical roles and have a wide range of responsibilities. Superior patient care is critical, and therefore physician assistants require standards to maintain the integrity of quality patient care.
As part of the admission process, Presbyterian College will evaluate the total student to evaluate his or her ability to function effectively as a physician assistant. Therefore, the College will evaluate the applicant’s academic standing, current physical state, emotional status disability status, and any other obstacles that may impair the student’s ability to safely and effectively interact and treat patients and to work effectively with co-workers.
In accordance with College policy and as delineated by Federal and state law, Presbyterian College does not discriminate in admission, educational programs, or employment against any individual on the basis of that individual’s handicap or disability and will make good faith efforts to providing reasonable accommodation as required.
Candidates for the PA program must possess the ability, aptitude, and skills as outlined below:
Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem-solving, the critical skill demanded of PAs, requires all these abilities.
The candidate must also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate should possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.
Candidates should be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.
Candidates should be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the admission and education processes.
Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, hear and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive non-verbal communication and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture. A candidate should be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing as well. Communication in oral and written form with the healthcare team must be effective and efficient.
Observational: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, laboratory evidence and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms, and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate should be able to observe a patient accurately and completely at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation and is enhanced by a sense of smell.
Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to carry out basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, wet mount, gram stain, etc.), carry out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (phlebotomy, venipuncture, placement of catheters and tubes) and read ECGs and X-rays. A candidate should have motor function sufficient to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment for patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of a physician assistant are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medications, the application of pressure to arrest bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such skills require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision. Candidates must have sufficient motor function capabilities to meet the demands of the PA program and the demands of total patient care. They must be able to complete the didactic and clinical curriculum in its entirety.
Physical Demands: The PA student must possess the physical ability to learn and implement the various technical skills required by the program. The PA student must possess an adequate range of body motion and mobility, with or without accommodation, to perform the following essential functions: prolonged periods of sitting, occasional bending and stooping, and the ability to lift and carry books and other items such as medical instruments weighing up to ten (10) pounds, with or without accommodation. They must be able to exert up to ten (10) pounds of force occasionally, and/or a negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to lift, carry, push or pull or otherwise move objects, including the human body. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time.
Capacity to Practice Medicine: The PA student must demonstrate the ability to practice medicine. The capacity to practice medicine is to be construed to include all of the following:
- The cognitive capacity to make appropriate clinical diagnoses and exercise reasonable medical judgments and to learn and keep abreast of medical developments;
- The ability to communicate those judgments and medical information to patients and other healthcare providers, with or without the use of aids or devices, such as a voice amplifier; and
- The physical capability to perform medical tasks such as physical examination and surgical procedures, with or without the use of aids or devices, such as corrective lenses or hearing aids.