Frequently asked questions
Physician Assistant Studies Program
1. Besides the prerequisites, what are you looking for in an ideal candidate?
An ideal candidate will be academically prepared for the program’s challenging curriculum, possess relevant health care experience, demonstrate compassion and good communication skills and indicate an interest in practicing in Arizona following graduation.
2. Is the new PA Program at NAU Accredited?
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation - Provisional to
the Northern Arizona University Physician
Assistant Program. Accreditation - Provisional is an
accreditation status. The status indicates that the
plans and resource allocation for the proposed program appear to demonstrate the program’s
ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards, if fully implemented as planned. Accreditation -
Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status and is limited to no
more than three years for any program.
The Accreditation Review Commission
on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is an independent
accrediting body authorized to accredit qualified PA educational programs leading to
the professional credential, Physician Assistant (PA).
3. Where is the
program is housed at the new Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix, at
7th Street and Van Buren Street.
This is also the location of the University of Arizona College of
Medicine – Phoenix.
4. Will it ever be offered in Flagstaff?
At this time, it is not
anticipated that the program will be offered in Flagstaff
5. What degree will I earn?
completion of program requirements, you will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
6. What are the admission requirements for the
admission requirements can be viewed at:
7. Is the minimum 3.0 GPA required for ALL
science courses taken or just the PA Program prerequisites?
The most qualified
candidates will have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 for all college level science coursework.
8. Will upper division courses in genetics,
microbiology, biochemistry, and immunology fulfill the upper division biology
course requirement as well as the specific course requirement or
Yes, any required or recommended
biology courses that are taken at a 300 or higher level will fulfill both the
specific course requirements and the upper division biology requirements.
9. What is meant by a ‘hands-on’ science lab
This is any lab course that is
taken in a classroom/on-ground lab as opposed to online.
10. How do I know if the
statistics course I take will be acceptable?
Any introductory course in statistics will fulfill the
requirement, and should include topics such as statistics terms, analytical
statistics, measurement of the mean and variance, null hypothesis, p-values,
confidence intervals, and probability.
11. Does it matter what chemistry courses I take?
Yes and No. To
fulfill the basic chemistry requirement for the program, you may take any two
college level chemistry courses.
However, taking biochemistry and organic chemistry (recommended courses)
will enhance your competitiveness for admission.
12. What “related experience” would substitute
for an Anatomy and Physiology refresher course?
might be accepted in lieu of a refresher course in A & P include, but
are not limited to, graduate assistant to A&P course, teaching A&P at
high school level or above, and working as an autopsy technician.
courses from other colleges and universities be accepted to meet the
prerequisite courses may be taken at any US regionally accredited school,
including online programs. Be sure that the courses taken are at the level
required (lower division courses are generally numbered 100 and 200, while
upper division courses are numbered 300 and above. Upper division courses generally are not
available through community colleges).
14. Will you accept Advanced Placement credits?
No, the program will not accept
any advanced placement.
15. I have graduate level coursework in Anatomy
completed at another institution. Do I still need to take the Anatomy course
required in this program?
all required coursework must be taken in the program. No advanced placement/transfer credit is
16. Will you accept the MCAT instead of the GRE
for admission purposes?
No, we only accept the GRE.
What is the GRE School Code that I need to put on the GRE application so
that my scores will come to you?
It is 4006 for Northern Arizona University. There is no program code for the NAU PA
Must the GRE scores be submitted at the same time as the application or
can they come in later?
must be submitted at the time of application.
I took the GRE many years ago. Do
I need to take it again or can I submit a copy of my original score?
you have an original score report, you may submit it in lieu of retaking the
20. How do I prepare for the GRE?
NAU offers GRE Test Prep Courses -- information can be found at nau.edu/testprep.
What types of health care experience are recommended to fulfill the
admission requirement of 500 hours?
High quality health care experience might include, but is not limited
to the following: medical assistant, PT, RT, OT, MSW, EMT, LPN, chiropractor,
RN, CNA, nurse's aide, medic or corpsman, paramedic, PharmD, OD, NP, foreign
medical graduate, DVM, DPM, medical lab technician, medical technologist,
athletic trainer, audiologist, exercise physiologist, radiology technician,
phlebotomist, optometry technician, registered dietician, patient care assistant,
and PT assistant. Additional acceptable
experience might include the following:
medical scribe, research technician, lab-based researcher volunteering
at marathons, blood donor clinics, and other
non-medical work in waiting room or other medical setting.
Must the prerequisite courses be complete at the time of application?
Yes, all prerequisite courses must be complete at the time of the application.
Is the application process through CASPA?
Yes, the application process will be through CASPA. In addition, there is an NAU Graduate College Application that must be completed and submitted by the September 1 deadline.
24. When and how can I apply, and when is the application due?
CASPA opens April 16, and will close September 1 for this program. The NAU Graduate Application will be available in April as well.
25. Will an interview be required? If so, when will it occur?
most qualified candidates will be invited for an interview. Interviews will begin in September.
26. When will you make decisions about who is
accepted into the program?
Some applicants will be informed of their admission
status shortly after their interview, and others will be notified at the end of
the interview process, which likely occur sometime in January.
27. How many students will be applying and how many will be accepted into the program?
We can only estimate the number of applicants, and based upon last year’s number, we will likely receive about 1,000 applications for 50 seats.
28. How many students applied for the class
beginning 2014, and what was the average GPA?
For the fall 2014 class, there were close to 800 applicants for 50 seats in the program. Those accepted had an average GPA of 3.6, an average science course GPA of 3.6, and an average of 91 credits in science courses. The average age is 27.
29. Will there be a wait list for the program?
in addition to the 50 individuals who will be selected for admission, other
qualified applicants will be wait-listed in the event that positions in the
class become available.
What are clinical rotations and how many hours a week are required?
Clinical rotations are supervised clinical practices under the supervision of a preceptor who is responsible for student training
over a four week time period. While some
rotations have a 40 hour work week, the time required could be higher. The student is also expected to do additional
studying after hours to meet the expectations of the rotations and the program.
What disciplines are covered in clinical rotations?
The ‘core’ clinical disciplines will be covered in
seven, 4-week rotations. They will be in family medicine, internal medicine,
pediatrics, OB/GYN, mental health, surgery and emergency medicine. There will
be two ‘selective’ rotations in primary care with a choice between internal
medicine, family medicine, pediatrics and OB/Gyn. There will also be two
‘elective’ rotations in disciplines that may be identified by the student in
conjunction with the clinical coordinator. All the rotation assignments will
ultimately be determined based on availability and quality of the site, and
will be located in Arizona.
32. Can I work while I am taking courses and doing
the clinical rotations?
program is an intensive and demanding course of study. Working while attending
the program is strongly discouraged.
33. Where will the clinical rotations be?
The program will be responsible for the assignment of
all clinical rotations. Clinical
rotations will be available throughout Arizona, and in a variety of
settings. Students are expected to be
flexible and although the program will make all reasonable attempts to
accommodate student preferences, students may not always be assigned their
choice of sites. When feasible and at
the students’ requests, placements will be made in locations close to or within
the communities where students have ties. This is in support of the program’s
mission to develop health care providers for the underserved areas of Arizona.
Students are responsible for the cost of housing and transportation
during this phase of the program.
34. How can I meet others who are interested in becoming PAs and continue to learn about the profession and local programs?
The three Arizona state universities all have Pre-PA Clubs for their enrolled students. Additionally, Paradise Valley Community College also has a Pre-PA club for enrollees who are interested in the profession. Each club sponsors activities and speakers relevant to the profession and are great resources for support and information.
NAU Pre-PA Club
UA Pre-PA Club
ASU Pre-PA Club
ASU Polytechnic Campus Pre-PA Club
Paradise Valley Community College Pre-PA Club