What are Physician Assistants?

Physician assistants (PA) are medical providers who are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and to prescribe medication for patients. They work in physician offices, hospitals and clinics in collaboration with a licensed physician. The physician-PA relationship is fundamental to the profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care. Because of their advanced education in general medicine, modeled after physician education, physician assistants can treat patients with significant autonomy.

Physician assistants are critical to increasing access to care for rural and other underserved patients as they are often the only health providers in these areas. Physician assistants also work in specialties outside of primary care, including medical and surgical specialties and sub-specialties.

What does being “Pre-Physician Assistant” mean?

Most Physician Assistant programs require applicants to have a four-year college degree. Each year a few students are accepted with only three years completed, but these are exceptions. PA programs require specific pre-requisite courses to be completed with good grades, and successful applicants to demonstrate skills and knowledge developed outside of the classroom.

 

Our pre-PA program, part of the pre-health professional program, is structured to ensure that students obtain critical skills to achieve admission to a Physician Assistant program:

 

  • Academic rigor- Students receive expert guidance from an academic advisor for their major, and from the Pre-health advisor to ensure that courses required for PA school are taken. Our outstanding faculty ensure that the pre-requisite courses you take will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed for success in PA school, and a strong performance on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • Experiential learning- Experience in hospitals or clinics that use PAs will help to ensure that you are making a good career choice. Many PA programs require a minimum number of clinical service hours- check with the PA programs you are interested in to find out what they expect. PA admissions look for evidence of such experience. Benedictine students are provided with myriad opportunities to shadow PAs, or volunteer in clinics and hospitals.
What should my major be?

Most schools do not require a specific major, but it is important to review the specific recommendations at any school you are interested in attending. We recommend choosing a major that suits your personal interests. Physician Assistant admissions teams will check carefully to make sure you have all of the specific prerequisite courses and experiences that they require for consideration. At Benedictine, you will have an academic advisor for your major, and still be helped by a separate expert pre-health professions advisor to encourage and guide you through of all pre-requisites and extracurricular activities you will need.

Why Benedictine?

The Benedictine Benefit

Birck Hall of Science
Benedictine University has a tradition of excellence in science programs. The College of Science at Benedictine offers specialized advising for all students interested in a healthcare profession, regardless of their major. Our nationally-recognized faculty enjoy engaging students at all levels in investigative research in their laboratories, often presenting their work at national, professional conferences. Our students are active in the many student organizations on campus, athletics, and campus ministries, all of which contribute to a broadly fulfilling college experience.

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William R. Law, Ph.D.
Dean of the College of Science

Tonia Rucker, Assistant to the Dean
Email: trucker@ben.edu
Phone: (630) 829-6187
Fax: (630) 829-6186

Dean's Office Hours:
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Dean's Office Location:
Birck Hall Room 119