Join an expanding field that allows you to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Consider this field if you have strong people skills and an interest in the sciences.

Get experience

Some PA schools require up to 2,000 hours of direct patient care experience. Calvin’s pre-professional health advisors can help you identify facilities in Grand Rapids's extensive medical community where you can gain the experience you need.

After Calvin

Calvin graduates have attended physician assistant graduate programs such as University of Iowa, Yale University, Central Michigan University, Emory University, Grand Valley State University.

The prerequisite courses vary for different physician assistant programs after Calvin. The following courses are common prerequisites for many different programs. Talk to the Pre-PA advisor to learn about specific programs you are interested in.

Common prerequisites
Two semesters of general chemistry Organic chemistry One semester introductory biology Anatomy Physiology Microbiology Biochemistry Introductory psychology Statistics

Remember, since prerequisites vary among different programs, it’s best to contact Professor Richard Nyhof, or Professor Amy Wilstermann soon to ensure that the appropriate courses are taken.

Admission requirements include considerable health care experience, sometimes requiring at least 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. You can gain this experience as an employee or a volunteer. Volunteer experience can be arranged through Calvin's Service-Learning Center.

Applying to PA programs

Over 120 PA programs now accept a generalized application. Some programs, however, require a supplemental application form to be sent directly to the program. You can find information about a school’s specific application requirements at each program’s web site.

You should begin the generalized application at least four weeks prior to your first deadline. Programs beginning in May often have application deadlines in October, so plan well in advance of deadlines.

What happens next?

  • Clinical training programs are typically two years in duration (if they include summer courses). Some accredited programs offer baccalaureate degrees, most offer a master of science degree. For a complete listing of the educational programs, visit American Academy of Physician Assistants ».
  • Upon graduation from a training program, you will take the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination to become a "Physician Assistant - Certified."
  • Once certified, ongoing training is required. You must earn and log 100 continuing medical education hours every two years and sit for a re-certifying exam every six years to retain your credentials.

Amy Wilstermann

Amy Wilstermann

Associate Professor
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