Physician Assistant Admission Requirements

Physician Assistant Programs

Core Values

The Samuel Merritt University Physician Assistant Program faculty place significant importance on the admission process. We believe that recruiting high quality candidates who will actively engage in graduate medical education and honor the responsibility placed on a health care provider is imperative to the success of our graduates and our institution. To this end, the MPA faculty has identified core values that will be evaluated in all candidates for admission to our program. These values, in order of importance to PA faculty are:

  • Interpersonal/Interprofessional Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Patient Interaction/Professional Exposure
  • Responsibility
  • Patient Contact
  • Technical Skill
  • Medical Knowledge

In our review of your application, we will be looking carefully for evidence demonstrating these values. It is the applicant's responsibility to use the components of the application to demonstrate the above values in clinical experiences, community service, recommendation letters, personal statements, etc.

Admission Requirements

The MPA is an entry-level master’s degree designed for someone who has already earned a baccalaureate with a major in any area. Applicants will be evaluated for admission based upon the following criteria, in context of the SMU MPA program’s core values:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution AND all prerequisites completed by the time of application.
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA; competitive applicants will have above a 3.2.
  • Minimum science GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA; competitive applicants will have above a 3.2.
  • Level of experience in healthcare as described below.
  • Adequate exposure and knowledge of the Physician Assistant profession, including scope of practice, role, and responsibilities. This should include physician assistant shadowing experiences (50 hours minimum). 
  • Three letters of reference including references from healthcare providers who have directly supervised the candidate and can comment on how the applicant's work reflects the core values of the program. One letter must come from a Physician Assistant. Letters from relatives or family friends will not be considered.
  • Writing samples as described in the CASPA application.
  • Results of in-person interview as described below.

Prerequisites

All pre-requisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C-“ or better. All prerequisites must be completed by the time of application.

Requirement

Units

Biological Sciences
A minimum of 16 semester or 24 quarter units of biological sciences are required.
Courses must include classes in: anatomy, physiology, microbiology and an additional biology elective. The remaining units can be in any area of the biological sciences.
 
Human Anatomy*

Introductory or advanced course is acceptable, no lab required. A combined course in A&P can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are presented.
 
Human Physiology*

Introductory or advanced course is acceptable, no lab required. A combined course in A&P can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are presented.
 
Microbiology*

Introductory or advanced course is acceptable, no lab required.
 
Biology Elective

Any area of the biological sciences.
16 semester or 24 quarter units
Statistics
Introductory or advanced course is acceptable.
3 semester or 3 quarter units
Inorganic/General Chemistry*
We will accept a standard Inorganic Chemistry course. Or the first course of a General Chemistry course series. We require chemistry courses at the level a biology or premed major would complete.
4 semester or 6 quarter units
Organic Chemistry*
We will accept a standard Organic Chemistry course or the second course of a General Chemistry course series. We require chemistry courses at the level a biology or premed major would complete.
4 semester or 6 quarter units

*Strong preference will be given to those who have completed these courses within the past 5 years. This recency recommendation is less stringent for those currently working in the health care field.

Health Care Experience

The MPA program defines health care experience as direct, "hands-on" patient contact that is paid and/or volunteer and reflects the core values listed above.  This experience can be gained through a variety of paid or volunteer work includ­ing, but not necessarily limited to: EMT, paramedic, certified nursing assistant, phlebotomist, scribe, registered nurse, medic, etc.

Most competitive applicants will have a minimum of 1,000 hours of related direct patient contact in addition to a minimum of 50 hours shadowing a Physician Assistant. We acknowledge that applicants may have diverse health care experiences.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to address how their particular experience incorporates the aforementioned core program values in the application.  This can be accomplished in the job duties and/or personal statement.

Interviews

Upon receipt of your verified application from CASPA, the review process will begin. Approximately 144 individuals will be invited to interview and a class of 44 will be accepted. Academic potential, personal integrity and maturity, interpersonal skills and knowledge of the health care system in the United States are all part of the evaluation process and weigh heavily in the final admission decision.  The interview is a mandatory, all day, on campus interview. 

Students who need disability accommodations may request them by emailing Elisa Laird-Metke at drc@samuelmerritt.edu. Please give as much notice as you can to allow time to set them up. Further information about the Disability Resource Center can be found here

GRE Scores

Results from the GRE exam are not required for admission into the MPA program.

International Medical Graduates

International medical graduates and students educated abroad may apply for admission. Regardless of previous professional training and academic degrees earned, Samuel Merritt's MPA curriculum must be completed in its entirety. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all International Medical Graduates.

All international academic transcripts must be evaluated by a U.S. evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES) for degree, course content, semester unit equivalencies and science and cumulative GPAs prior to the application deadline. The evaluation must be sent to CASPA as part of the application.  Information on NACES may be found atwww.naces.org. For all applicants educated outside the United States it is strongly recommended that they complete one semester (15 units) of graduate or undergraduate coursework at a U.S. college or university. In addition, all other admission requirements must be met.

TOEFL

The need for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all international medical graduates and scores should be submitted with the application. The need for a TOEFL for other applicants will be assessed based on information provided by applicants on their application. If the TOEFL is required, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test). Scores must be submitted during the application process.

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