FAQs

Students should decide how they can best learn the information that will be necessary for success in the program.  If an online course, AP course, or a CLEP test meets the program’s requirements and student’s needs, then it is acceptable.  

Must I have all of my prerequisite courses or my bachelor’s degree complete prior to applying to the program?

No. A significant number of courses should be completed in order to demonstrate the ability to be successful in the program.  Students must have a plan for completing all remaining courses and their bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation. 

What courses are prerequisites for the program?

See Admissions Requirements page.  We recognize that there may be courses that have different names, therefore, students can designate certain courses in the CASPA application portal.  The admissions committee will review this information to ensure that these courses meet our requirements. 

Are online courses, AP courses, or CLEP accepted for prerequisite courses?

Students should decide how they can best learn the information that will be necessary for success in the program.  If an online course, AP course, or a CLEP test meets the program’s requirements as listed and student’s needs, then it is acceptable.  

In general, the best strategy is for a student to retake this course.  If there is a compelling reason that the program should consider a prerequisite waiver for older courses, or if the applicant needs clarification, please reach out to paprogram@wcupa.edu.

Does the program allow advanced placement or advance standing in the program?

No, even students with significant previous coursework or work experience must complete the program in entirety.

How much patient contact is required?

Students must complete a minimum of 400 hours of direct patient contact at the time of application.  If students complete additional hours between application and interview this will be considered separately. 

What types of experiences are accepted by the program?

Students must complete a minimum of 400 hours where the student is working directly with the patient in a health or medical capacity.  These experiences can come from paid or volunteer work.  Students are evaluated by level of education required to perform the profession, the quality of the experience, and the amount of experience.  Higher level experiences will be weighted more heavily and considered more favorable than lowel level experiences. 

Students have a variety of backgrounds but common examples include working in the following professions: scribe, EMT-B, certified nursing assistant, paramedic, athletic trainer, social worker, registered dietician, radiology technician, laboratory technician, clinical researcher, respiratory therapist, nurse, etc.

Why do I have to shadow a physician assistant?

It is essential that a student have a strong understanding of the profession.  In order to fully appreciate this role, students should spend a minimum of 4 hours observing a physician assistant.  It is ideal to shadow a PA that students have a personal connection with.  Otherwise, it can be difficult to find a PA to shadow, but contacting the local state physician assistant organization or human resource’s office at a local hospital system can be helpful.

When does the program start?

The cohort begins at the end of June or early July with orientation.  Students will then spend approximately 13 months in the didactic (classroom) component of the program and then approximately 13 months in the clinical component.  Students will graduate in August, 26 months after beginning the program.

Where is the program located?

The majority of the program will initially be housed at the WCU Exton campus. Certain courses/events will be held on main campus.  The Exton campus is a quick 15 minute drive to/from main campus where resources such as the library, health center, counseling center, IS&T services, and gym are located.  A bus is also available between Exton and main campus. 

What is the typical schedule for didactic students?

Students are typically in class from 8-5 Monday through Friday.  Students will have a one hour lunch break and some days with longer breaks, earlier arrivals, or earlier dismissals. 

What should I do if my prerequisites do not meet the program’s listed requirements, i.e. they are older than 10 years, they do not meet the minimum grade of a C or better, they do not have enough credits associated with them, etc.?

In general, the best strategy is for a student to retake this course.  If there is a compelling reason that the program should consider a prerequisite waiver for older courses, or if the applicant needs clarification, please reach out to paprogram@wcupa.edu.

What type of teaching modalities does the program use?

Students will have a combination of lectures, small group sessions, and lab sessions each semester. Courses will build upon one another and will be clinically oriented.

Who teaches the didactic courses?

The principal faculty coordinate the majority of courses.  Adjunct instructors and guest lecturers supplement core faculty expertise. 

What is the typical schedule for clinical students?

The schedule for each student is set by the clinical site and primary preceptor. Most students will spend 35-60 hours per week at their clinical site. This will likely include nights and weekends.

What clinical rotations do students complete?

Students complete 7 core rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, women’s health and prenatal care, surgery, and emergency medicine.  In addition, students can choose from various medical specialties such as orthopedics, urgent care, neonatology, cardiology, dermatology, etc, for their elective rotation. 

Where are clinical rotations?

Clinical rotations are at private physician offices and hospitals generally within a 60 mile radius of West Chester University.  However, students should expect to travel to a distant clinical rotation site a few times during the clinical year.  Housing may or may not be provided at these distant sites.

Can I set up my own clinical rotations?

As per ARC-PA standards, the responsibility for clinical site development and placement rests with the program.  The Director of Clinical Education will outline a process for students who may want to recommend a clinical site for program development, however, the student may not set up their own clinical sites.

Where do students typically live?

There is some university-sponsored housing located on the South campus.  However, most graduate students choose to live off campus either alone or in groups. 

Is a car required?

Yes. A car will be required in order to facilitate travel from the Exton campus to main campus during year one.  During the clinical phase, students will travel to various clinical sites and will require a reliable vehicle. 

Can students work or participate in athletics or extracurricular activities while in the program?

Students are highly encouraged to prioritize their education while in the PA program.  Students are not prohibited from these activities, but should limit outside responsibilities in order to maximize potential for success.

When will the program know if it has received provisional accreditation?

The program has received provisional accreditation. The program will undergo continued review by the ARC-PA during the provisional accreditation period and will be eligible to apply for "accreditation-continued" status approximately 2 years after graduating the first class of students.

When is the program eligible to be “fully accredited"?

Students are eligible to sit for the NCCPA’s PANCE examination even if the program is provisionally accredited.  The program will undergo continued review by the ARC-PA during the provisional accreditation period and will be eligible to apply for “accreditation-continued” status approximately 2 years after graduating the first class of students.  

 

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