The Dr. Dennis J. Patterson
Center for the Health Professions



Patterson Center

» Pre-Physician Assistant

Pre-Physician Assistant

Physician assistants perform much the same work that physicians do. They examine patients, make diagnoses, and plan and implement treatments for a wide variety of illnesses and conditions. Physician assistants must work under the supervision of a medical doctor, and most PAs enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy. PA's have plenty of choices about where they practice, too. Physician assistants work in clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals, academic medical centers, prisons, and more.

Will I need further study?
What should I major in?
What are the course requirements?
What about advising?
How do I get certified?
Where can I find additional information?

Will I need further study?
Yes, you will need to pursue a master’s degree after graduating from Elmhurst College which typically last two years.

What should I major in?
You may choose any major, but you must complete the course requirements when applying to any physician assistant program.

What are the course requirements?
Requirements for PA programs will vary so students must work directly with the individual professional schools to verify admission criteria. In making admission decisions, physician assistant programs give preference to students who have health care experience. This experience can be in a variety of credentialed and non-credentialed positions, either on a part-time or full-time basis, with compensation or as a volunteer. Recommended courses include:

  • BIO 200, 201, 315, 221 or 321, and 107/108 or 430/442
  • CHM 211, 212, 311, 312, 315, 316
  • ENG 105, 106
  • MTH 121 or a higher course and statistics
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences

What about advising?
Expert advising is an important part of the Patterson Center for the Health Professions. You will meet with one of our expert advisors to discuss your specific academic and professional interests. Your advisor will work with you throughout your Elmhurst career, clearing obstacles and giving expert guidance. Want to know more? See Advisors.

How do I get certified?
Graduates of professional programs sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

Where can I find additional information?
You can start by contacting us at Elmhurst’s Patterson Center for the Health Professions or check out these web sites:

The American Academy of Physician Assistants
AAPA is a national organization that represents physician assistants in all specialties and all employment settings. On this site, you’ll find information about physician assistant programs, how to apply, and what to expect as a PA.

Physician Associate/Assistant World
This site provides information on what a physician assistant does.

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