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Undergraduate Program Pre-Physician Assistant

Degree Details

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Pre-Physician Assistant Pre-Professional Program Overview

Physician Assistants (PAs) are licensed health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in virtually all states can write prescriptions.

Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA's practice may also include education, research, and administrative services. Physician assistants are found in all areas of medicine. They practice in the areas of primary care medicine – family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology – as well as in surgery and the surgical sub-specialties.

Portland State offers a strong pre-physician assistant program that enables students to complete their prerequisite coursework, earn a baccalaureate degree, and obtain assistance in preparing for and applying to Master’s level physician assistant programs.

Pre-physician assistant is a professional track (not a major), but common majors for pre-physician assistant students include: Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Health Studies: Health Science. Students can choose any major while also completing their pre-physician assistant coursework.

Prospective students interested in PSU can meet with a pre-physician assistant advisor to learn about the pre-physician assistant track.

Pre-Physician Assistant is a pre-professional track, not a major. Students can select any major of their choice.

Pre-Physician Assistant Pre-Professional Program: Why PSU?

PSU has dedicated pre-health advisors to help students plan their coursework, support them in gaining relevant healthcare experience, and guide them through the physician assistant (PA) school application process.

There are a very wide range of clinical and other volunteer opportunities available in the Portland area to help students better understand the role of physician assistants and other healthcare providers, gain exposure to different clinical settings, and boost their application to PA programs in the future.

Beyond the pre-requisite courses needed to prepare to apply to physician assistant programs, PSU offers many additional courses of interest to pre-health students, including Communicable and Chronic Disease (PHE 363), Physics in Biomedicine (PHY 337), Gender, Race, Class, & Health (PHE 452), Philosophy of Medicine (PHL 318), Biomedical Ethics (PHL 446), Sociology for the Health Sciences (SOC 250), and many others.

Many of Portland State’s departments and schools offer student research opportunities, including Biology, Chemistry, and the School of Public Health.

PSU has the Ignite Scholarship program, developed in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente and Portland Leadership Foundation, which emphasizes a culture of support and community for students in healthcare career pathways that can sometimes be complex and overwhelming. Students who receive the Ignite scholarship will be part of a program emphasizing leadership and mentorship (supported by a $5,000 scholarship), which includes serving as mentors for incoming pre-health students.

Incoming pre-health students seeking mentorship can apply to be matched with PSU's Ignite mentors. This is a one-year commitment (fall, winter, and spring terms) for mentors and mentees.

Student organizations on campus help students to connect with peers pursuing pre-health tracks or science fields, as well as many different multicultural, social, and community involvement focused groups. Examples of student groups include the Health Promotion Student Organization, Portland State Women in STEM, Science Outreach Society, Biology Investigation and Outreach, and the Neuroscience Club at PSU.

What can I do after completing the Pre-Physician Track?

Many students in the Pre-Physician Assistant track at PSU go on to earn master’s level degrees in Physician Assistant Studies, though the name of the degree may vary depending on school: Master of Science (MS), Master of Health Science (MHS), Master of Medical Sciences (MMS) or Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

Schools in which Portland State students and alumni were recently admitted include:

  • Franklin Pierce University
  • George Fox University
  • Husson University
  • Pacific University
  • Regis University
  • Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
  • Touro University
  • University of Nevada - Las Vegas
  • University of Puget Sound