Frequently Asked Questions:

Prerequisites

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Must prerequisite courses be completed prior to submitting an application?

No. All six prerequisite courses must be completed by the time an applicant would begin the Program in the Fall semester (late August), not when the application is due. If an applicant has not completed the prerequisite courses by time of application, s/he simply completes the portion of the application that states how and when s/he plans to complete the given prerequisite/s (this portion is called the "supplemental application"). The applicant's complete application will be reviewed and a spot in the cohort may be offered on the condition that the candidate successfully completes the prerequisite courses prior to beginning the PA Program.

Must prerequisite courses be completed at JMU?

No. Prerequisite courses can be completed at other accredited colleges, universities, and community colleges in the U.S. or at foreign schools recognized by JMU. The course(s) must assign a final grade and must ultimately produce a transcript.

Must all 1,000 hours of direct patient care be completed prior to submitting an application?

No. The minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience must be completed by the time an applicant would begin the Program in the Fall semester (late August), not when the application is due. If an applicant has not completed the minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care by the time of application, s/he simply completes the portion of the application that states how and when s/he plans to complete the needed hours (this portion is called the "supplemental application"). The applicant's complete application will be reviewed and a spot in the cohort may be offered on the condition that the candidate successfully completes the minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient care prior to beginning the PA Program.

My university offered human anatomy and human physiology as combined courses - Anatomy and Physiology I and Anatomy and Physiology II. Will this meet the prerequisite requirement or must I have a separate course in anatomy and a separate course in physiology?

The prerequisite can be met either by taking a one semester course in anatomy and a one semester course in physiology, OR by taking both semesters of a combined Anatomy & Physiology I and Anatomy and Physiology II sequence.

If a candidate's coursework is older than seven years, but his/her occupation has required him/her to remain current on information in a prerequisite field, the candidate can ask the PA program Admissions Committee for an exception to the seven-year time requirement. The candidate should submit a letter of explanation requesting the exception along with supporting documentation. The Admissions Committee will decide whether or not to grant the exception.

Is there a time limit on how recent the prerequisites were completed?

Yes. The following courses MUST be completed within seven years of matriculation into the Program:

  • Human Physiology - one semester
  • Human Anatomy - one semester
  • Biochemistry - one semester (Organic Chemistry is not a substitute for this course)
  • Genetics - one semester
  • Microbiology – one semester

Within any number of years before matriculation into the Program:

  • Medical Terminology

If a candidate's coursework is older than seven years, but his/her occupation has required him/her to remain current on information in a prerequisite field, the candidate can ask the PA program Admissions Committee for an exception to the seven-year time requirement. The Admissions Committee will decide whether or not to grant the exception. Exceptions are rarely granted.

Can online courses meet the prerequisite requirements?

Provided the online courses were taken from an accredited college or university, academic credit was awarded and a transcript showing the course/s and grade can be forwarded as with any other course. We do not recommend taking anatomy through an online course, because we favor a hands-on, not a virtual laboratory component to the anatomy prerequisite.

Can courses taken at a community college meet the prerequisite requirements?

Yes, however you may want to ensure that the courses are comparable to those taken at a traditional four-year institution.

Please explain the Health care experience requirement. What can I do to gain the direct-patient, health care experience? Can it be volunteer experience? Does shadowing a PA count? Do I have to do only one type of activity for all the hours of experience? My experience is in the mental health area. Does that count?

The healthcare experience requirement can be met in several ways. The hours may come from one experience or a combination of experiences and may be voluntary or paid work. Examples of health care professions that typically require direct patient contact include nurse, EMT or paramedic, corpsman, patient care technician, nurse's aide, surgical assistant, clinic/medical assistant respiratory technologist, radiology technologist, and mental health worker. Other professions and experiences, such as scribe, clinical research assistant, and medical technologist may also qualify if hands-on patient care is performed routinely.

Healthcare related professions that generally do not count toward this requirement because they do not involve hands-on patient contact include transporter, CPR or ACLS instructor, lifeguard, non-clinical research assistant, candy striper, unit clerk, and others. Although desirable for other reasons, PA shadowing and student/intern experience does not count toward the required 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding your healthcare experience.

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, but also the level of responsibility required.

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 may also qualify. If you have any questions regarding the acceptability of your healthcare experience, contact the PA program.

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.

Can prerequisite courses be waived?

No.

I see that the human/mammalian anatomy prerequisite requires a lab. Can the lab be online?

Yes, an online lab is acceptable. However, an in-person lab is highly preferred, as it will only help the successful applicant in future graduate-level anatomy courses.

Do you accept Immunology or Cellular & Molecular Biology in place of the Microbiology prerequisite course?

No. It must be a Microbiology course.

Do you accept Organic Chemistry in place of the Biochemistry prerequisite course?

No. It must be a Biochemistry course.