Characteristics of Admitted Students

The Program does not have a model candidate. PAs work in a wide variety of jobs within the medical field. The role of the PA program is to educate people who can fill that wide variety of jobs. So the program selects candidates with wide ranges of abilities, backgrounds and interests who will combine their PA education with those varied interests and fill a broad range of PA positions.

Below is a statistical profile of candidates admitted to the PA program over the past few years. We expect some year-to-year variation in these ranges and means. They are offered here to help candidates gauge how competitive they may be with other candidates. Where provided, the ranges are more significant than the means.

Student Characteristics:

Year Enrolled – Year Graduated
  2017-2019 2018-2020 2019-2021 2020-2022 2021-2023
Number enrolled 30 32 32 32 32
Average prior college credit hours 139.7 149.6 150 147 141.75
Average Overall GPA upon admission 3.5 3.49 3.53 3.48 3.59
Average Science GPA upon admissions 3.42 3.46 3.51 3.41 3.47
Highest prior degree held Doctorate: 3%
Masters: 10%
Bachelors: 87%
Doctorate: 0%
Masters: 6%
Bachelors: 94%
Doctorate: 0%
Masters: 6%
Bachelors: 94%
Doctorate: 0
Masters: 9%
Bachelors: 91%
Doctorate: 0
Masters: 10%
Bachelors: 90%
Hours of health care experience (mean): 4,149 3,417 4,299 3,531 3,200
Range 1,000 – 44,160 1,000 – 24,752 1,000 – 17.040 1,000-16,428 1,000-16,000
Gender Female 87%
Male 13%
Female 69%
Male 31%
Female 72%
Male 28%
Female 56%
Male 44%
Female 96%
Male 94%
Age (mean years) 26.7 24.3 25.1 24.7 24.2
Range 22-46 21-35 21-37 20-36 21-33
Percentage of Students with JMU course work 30% 25% 13% 9% 13%
Percent students from Virginia 56% 53% 59% 56% 47%
Analytical Writing: 67th 62nd 70th 70th 68th
Verbal Reasoning: 63rd 67th 66th 68th 64th
Quantitative Reasoning: 54th 58th 49th 54th 52nd

Interpreting the Table:

This profile was assembled for reporting characteristics of enrolled students. It is not a list of selection or admission criteria. Not all the characteristics listed are admission considerations or criteria.

  • With GPAs it is important to consider the table gives an average not a range. Also students' performance is seldom uniform throughout their academic work. So, the average may not reflect that their more recent academic work may be better than their average. In such situations the Admissions Committee may be more influenced by the recent work.
  • All students who complete the PA curriculum receive a Master of Physician Assistant degree.
  • JMU connection includes students who have taken courses at JMU at anytime prior to acceptance into the PA program.
  • Health Care Experience: The health care experience requirement must involve work directly helping patients with their healthcare problems. The patients might have physical or mental health problems. The experience can be attained in many ways. The experience could be either a paid or volunteer position. It might be accumulated through a single type of experience or by combining different types of experience that collectively fulfill the required hours.

Some candidates are applying to PA as a career change. Typically they have been working in some type of direct-contact health care job and have many hours of experience. Other candidates are seeking PA as a first career in health care. They often seek health care experience specifically to meet the requirement and they do not have education in a prior health care profession. So, they are more likely to seek activities that require brief education such as Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or a position with on the job training. These candidates typically have fewer hours. It is important to note the wide range of hours. It indicates that candidates from both groups are selected. Health care experience is not evaluated merely on the number of accumulated hours.

Below is a partial, but representative, list of the types of activities that students have engaged in prior to entry into the PA program. These are only examples, many other types of positions also qualify. If a candidate is engaged in an activity and is not sure whether it would qualify, he should inquire of the PA advisor at the program.

Credentialed, employment-type activities:

  • EMT or Paramedic
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Certified Nursing Aid
  • Cardiology Technician
  • Medical Technologist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Veterinarian
  • Surgical Technologist
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Rehabilitation tech
  • Crisis Counselor
  • Clinical Research Tech.
  • Mental Health Case Manager

Volunteer activities include these settings:

  • Rescue Squad
  • Physician Office
  • Emergency Room
  • Nursing Home
  • Free Clinic
  • Mental Health Crisis Counselor

Shadowing PAs The program does not count time spent shadowing PAs as meeting the direct patient contact health care experience requirement, because the activity is generally, purely observational. The program does encourage candidates to shadow PAs, if it will help the candidate determine whether or not PA is the appropriate career choice for the candidate.