The List of Physician Assistant Programs in the South…

…without a direct patient care requirement

Many aspiring physician assistants have backgrounds in healthcare. From EMTs to nurses, becoming a PA is a next step for many in the medical field. But, what if you want to become a physician assistant and lack significant healthcare experience? 

If you’re thinking about becoming a physician assistant, you may have noticed that many PA schools require that students have experience working directly with patients in the healthcare setting. In many cases, this requirement amounts to hundreds of hours. Fortunately for aspiring physician assistants, there are a handful of schools in each region of the country that do not require direct patient care hours for admission. These southern physician assistant programs, for example, admit students who may not meet the direct patient care requirement of other programs. 

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Birmingham, AL

Direct patient care experience is not required for entry to UAB but is considered in the overall application score, with the most successful applicants having at least 1,000 hours. The program is the #16 graduate program in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings and continues to climb annually.

Adventist University of Health Sciences

Orlando, FL

Adventist University’s Master’s PA program was first offered in summer 2015. The school does not have a requirement for direct patient care hours but strongly recommends applicants have at least 2,000 hours.

Barry University

Miami Shores, FL

Evidence of prior healthcare experience is highly recommended, though not a requirement at Barry University. The physician assistant program offers seats to students at three different locations including its campus in Miami, St. Petersburg College and at its St. Croix campus in the US Virgin Islands. The school is proudly affiliated with over 15 different hospitals throughout Florida.

Florida International University College of Medicine

Miami, FL

FIU is South Florida’s only public medical school and is transforming the future of public health and education opportunity in the region. Direct patient care experience is not required for entry into its PA program, though recommended. Shadowing, however, is required at the time of application.

Nova Southeastern University

Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Fort Myers, FL

Nova Southeastern University offers physician assistant training opportunities at four of its campuses in Florida with each campus having its own accredited PA program. Prior healthcare experience is not required for entry into any of the four programs, however those with formal certifications in a health care field are considered more competitive.

South University

Tampa, FL and Savannah, GA

South University offers PA programs across the country in various locations. The university’s Tampa and Savannah physician assistant schools do not have a requirement for a predetermined number of hours of direct patient care experience, but do consider such experience as a valuable attribute during the review process of candidates.

University of Kentucky    

Lexington and Morehead, KY

Prior patient contact in a healthcare setting is required in order to attend the University of Kentucky, however there is not a set minimum number of hours needed to apply. The college houses the longest-running PA program in Kentucky, which is offered at both its Lexington and Morehead campuses.

Mississippi College

Clinton, MS

Mississippi College offers the state’s only physician assistant program, making it extremely competitive amongst state residents. It is recommended that applicants have at least six months, or 1,000 hours, of direct hands-on patient care experience before beginning the program; though it is not a set requirement for application.  

Christian Brothers University

Memphis, TN

PA students at CBU have the opportunity to train at clinical facilities that have been ranked in the top fifty medical centers in the United States. Direct patient care experience is not required but preferred amongst applicants.

South College

Knoxville, TN

Though evaluated on an individual basis, applicants to South College are encouraged to obtain a sufficient amount of direct patient care experience in order to be able to recognize the physical and psychological demands of caring for patients, as well as to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Norfolk, VA

EVMS does not require applicants to have healthcare experience in order to apply to its program, but does strongly recommend that hopefuls have at least 1,000 hours; with the average accepted student having between 1 – 2 years of paid experience, or 2,000 hours, of direct patient care. The school looks highly upon paid healthcare experiences that are hands-on as opposed to those that are unpaid and indirect.

Mary Baldwin University

Fishersville, VA

Mary Baldwin University has a strong 175 year history and a solid academic foundation. Actual health care experiences, in addition to health care observation hours, are recommended but not required for acceptance into its physician assistant program.

Shenandoah University

Winchester and Leesburg, VA

Shenandoah University offers its PA program at two historic locations. Its Winchester program is located on the campus of the Winchester Medical Center, a 445-bed regional referral hospital; while its Leesburg program is located on the campus of Loudoun Hospital, a 183-bed nationally recognized hospital. Healthcare and shadowing experiences are not required, though considered by the admissions committee. The school also gives preference to applicants who can demonstrate a commitment to primary care in medically underserved areas.

Alderson Broaddus University

Philippi, WV

Direct patient care experiences are weighted at Alderson Broaddus University, but not required of applicants. Students are, however, required to have at least 40 hours of shadowing experience. Approximately 300 applicants apply to the physician assistant program annually, but only 36 are accepted.

University of Charleston

Charleston, WV

The University of Charleston began its first PA class in January 2013. Though the program seeks candidates who are well-rounded, hands-on patient care experience is not required and is only partially considered in the selection process. Attributes such as outstanding and altruistic commitment to service and volunteerism, passion for medicine and the physician assistant profession, and a desire to serve as a primary care practitioner in a medically underserved area are also seen as favorable.

West Liberty University

West Liberty, WV

Located in the beautiful hills of West Virginia along the Ohio River Valley, West Liberty University does not require applicants to have direct patient care experience but preference is given to those who do. West Virginia residents are also considered favorable candidates. 

Where will you go for your physician assistant degree? 


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