These Midwest PA Programs Don’t Have a Direct Patient Care Admissions Requirement

Thinking about becoming a physician assistant? What you may or may not know is that many schools require that PA program applicants have a background in providing direct patient care. This requirement may mean that you cannot apply to physician assistant schools unless you have thousands of hours of healthcare experience under your belt. For many aspiring PAs, the direct patient care requirement is prohibitive in furthering one’s career. Fortunately, there are a handful of schools in each region of the country accepting applications from PAs to-be without a patient care background.

Physician assistant programs that do not require patient care experience typically do give strong preference to applicants with a background in healthcare. So, if you do have the opportunity to gain some patient care know-how before applying, it’s always a good idea, even if experience is not required by your program of interest. Applying without significant healthcare experience is always worth a shot, however, especially with an otherwise strong application package.

If you’re interested in becoming a physician assistant and don’t have a significant amount of direct patient care experience to go along with your application, consider these Midwest programs without a patient care requirement.

1. Butler University

Indianapolis, IN

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Butler University houses the oldest PA program in the state and boasts above-average national board passing rates with a 100% job placement rate within six months of graduation. Though strongly recommended, this premier PA program does not require any healthcare experience for consideration of admission.

2. Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Indianapolis, IN

Included on US News & World Report’s National Universities Best Colleges Up-and-Coming in 2015, IUPUI does not have a required minimum of direct patient care hours. The school prefers, however, that applicants to its PA program have prior clinical experiences with urban and/or rural medically underserved populations.

3. Indiana State University

Terre Haute, IN

Accepting only thirty students annually to its physician assistant program, health care experience is highly encouraged. Preferential treatment is given to applicants who are residents of Indiana, ISU graduates and those interested in Rural Health Medicine.

4. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Chicago, IL

Located in the heart of Chicago, Northwestern University is one of the top academic medical centers in the world. With an enrollment of only thirty students once per year the program is competitive. While the school does not have a patient care requirement, competitive applicants have a minimum of six months of full-time healthcare employment or 1,000 total hours of hands-on patient care experience and/or community service in a healthcare setting. Applicants admitted in June 2015 averaged over 3,900 clinical hours.

5. Wichita State University

Wichita, KS

Ranked in the top 35% of the nation’s physician assistant schools, Wichita State’s PA program is highly competitive with a 20:1 applicant ratio. Direct patient care experience is strongly preferred and helpful to the selection process, although not required.

6. Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

North Chicago, IL

Successful applicants to the Rosalind Franklin University physician assistant program have at least 800 hours of direct patient contact and PA shadowing experience, although none is technically required. Rosalind Franklin University accepts seventy hopefuls annually into its PA program.

7. Southern Illinois University

Carbondale, IL

A major research institution and a pioneer in using PBL, simulated patients, innovative evaluation techniques, and clinical mentoring programs, SIU accepts only forty applicants the year prior to matriculation. Applicants are recommended to have significant health care experience, with preference given to those with at least 2,000 direct patient care hours, in addition to shadowing. Combinations of experience may vary and can be full-time or part-time as an employee or volunteer.

8. University of Missouri- Kansas City

Kansas City, MO

Located in the heart of the city, UMKC offers access to community health centers, academic medical affiliates and surrounding rural locations, giving its PA students a wide variety of settings that serve a diverse patient population. While preference is given to hopefuls with previous or ongoing direct patient-care experience, it is not required for admission; a minimum of eight hours of shadowing experience is, however.

9. Baldwin Wallace University

Berea, OH

With a commitment to small classes, admission to the Baldwin Wallace University PA program is a highly selective and competitive process. Though there is not a set minimum, candidates with direct patient care experience are preferred, as are Ohio residents and Baldwin Wallace University alumni.

10. Cuyahoga Community College

Parma, OH  

In partnership with Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College’s PA program was the first in the state of Ohio to earn program accreditation. Tri-C receives an average of 500 applications to its PA program each year; but accepts only 28 – 35 students, making direct patient care experience highly recommended amongst applicants.

11. Kettering College

Kettering, OH

Owned by Kettering Medical Center, PA students at Kettering are given the unique opportunity to experience the clinical portion of their education within a nationally recognized hospital network. Applicants are rated on both the type of health care hours and the number of hours completed at the time of application. Kettering College recommends that applicants have at least 250 direct patient care hours as well as exposure to the PA profession by job shadowing.

12. University of Findlay

Findlay, OH

For ten consecutive years, University of Findlay has been listed among the top regional universities in the Midwest. The school has earned top overall rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey of “America’s Best Colleges”. Its PA program has also ranked among the best graduate programs of its kind in the country, making admissions highly competitive. Though there is no required minimum, the amount and type of healthcare experience are used in the decision making process for admission into Findlay’s physician assistant program.

13. University of Mount Union

Alliance, OH

While the University of Mount Union does not require direct patient care experience, it is helpful to the admission process with only 40 students accepted per cohort. Hopefuls are required, however, to complete 40 hours of shadowing a PA prior to the time of application.

14. University of Toledo

Toledo, OH

The University of Toledo’s PA program leads to a Master of Science in Biomedical Science with a Physician Assistant concentration. The UTPA Program accepts forty students each year and sees direct patient care hours as a highly beneficial attribute, although such hours are not a requirement.

15. University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD   

The physician assistant program at USD ranks 12th out of 154 PA programs in the nation for its percentage of graduates practicing in rural health locations. Though regarded as a measure of the applicant’s interest in health care, direct patient care hours are not required for admission. USD currently only accepts 25 new students each year, of which 20 must be South Dakota residents.

16. University of Wisconsin- La Crosse

La Crosse, WI

In partnership with the Gunderson Medical Foundation and the Mayo School of Health Sciences, length and depth of healthcare experiences are a factor in the selection process at UWL. Though the program does consider all types of health care experiences, it is expected that experience involve direct patient contact. The majority of accepted students average three to six years worth of healthcare experience, with a range from three months to over 20 years.

How many direct patient care hours will you have when you apply to PA school?


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