Pre-Physician Assistant Requirements for Biology Majors

The following pre-PA requirements and recommendations on this page are for the Wichita State University Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Because PA programs vary widely in their required coursework, students should consult other PA Program's requirements to ensure they are on track with prerequisite coursework.

What do physician assistants do?

How is the Wichita State University Program set up?

General Biology (1 semester)
BI 102 Gen. Cell. Biology (5)
General Chemistry (1 year with lab)
CH 151 Fund. of Chemistry I (5)
CH 152 Fund. of Chemistry II (5)
General Microbiology with lab (1 semester)
BI 301 General Microbiology (4)
Human Anatomy
BI 275 Human Anatomy (4)
Human Physiology (1 semester)
BI 255 Human Physiology (4)
MA 140 Statistics (3)
Pathophysiology (1 semester; upper division)
AL 320 Human Disease (3) OR
NU 313 Pathophysiology / Pharmacology* (3)
Medical Terminology
AL 141 Medical Terminology (3)
* With permission from the WU School of Nursing
HIGHLY Recommended Courses:
AL 101 Introduction to Health Care (3)
BI 333 General Genetics (4)
BI 362 Immunology (3)
CH 350 Biochemistry I (3)
HS 270 Theories on Aging (3)

Other Requirements: Health care experience (direct patient care) is strongly preferred.

Application Requirements (for the P.A. Program at Wichita State University).

A bachelor degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university will be required prior to matriculation into P.A. School. Minimum GPA for degree and prerequisite coursework is 3.0. Coursework more than 10 years old will be subject to departmental review and in some cases applicants may be required to repeat certain courses.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores must be submitted by all applicants and the exam must have been taken in the previous five years.

All applicants must be submitted through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) website. The initial application deadline for summer admission is usually the October 1 of the prior year. Applicants must also submit a Wichita State University Graduate School Application. A supplemental application will be sent to qualified applicants.


What Do Physician Assistants Do?

The functions of a physician assistant include performing diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services in any setting in which the physician renders care, in order to allow more effective and focused application of the physician's particular knowledge and skills.

Your role will require intelligence, sound judgment, honesty and the ability to relate to people in a reasonable manner. An attitude of respect for self and others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communication, and a commitment to the welfare of others are essential attributes for you to demonstrate.

The specific tasks you will have to perform, as a physician assistant will vary because of the differences in practice requirements mandated by geographic, political, economic and social factors. For those reasons, your education will emphasize didactic and clinical studies that will prepare you to function as a generalist with the ability to expand to more specialized areas.

Upon graduation, you will be eligible to take the certification examination developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners and administered by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. The examination is required for PA practice in most states, including Kansas.

How is the Wichita State University Program set up?

The professional curriculum is divided into two phases, each lasting 12-14 months:

  1. Didactic Phase.  The didactic year includes graduate coursework in the basic sciences (anatomy, pharmacology, pathophysiology), clinical sciences, research methods and statistics, epidemiology, behavioral medicine, ethics, preventive medicine and community health, social and legal issues, and clinical skills.
  2. Clinical/Research Phase.  The clinical/research year is a series of clinical rotations in a variety of medical settings, primarily in Kansas, and directed studies in research leading to the completion of a final research project. Students are required to complete rotations in family practice, general internal medicine, pediatrics, prenatal care and gynecology, general surgery, emergency medicine, psychiatry and behavioral medicine, and geriatrics. Students complete nine rotations of 4-8 weeks each (approximately 50 weeks total). All students are required to complete a minimum of three rotations outside the city of Wichita, KS with at least three rotations in a rural or urban underserved community.

The ideal candidate for the P.A. Program will have:

  • A real desire to be a P.A.
  • Familiarity with the role of a P.A.
  • Realistic expectations about the program
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Maturity
  • Interpersonal skills