Admission to the Physician Assistant Program
Admission to the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program is very competitive. Each applicant is evaluated on his/her individual merits. Decisions are based on a combination of strength of academic record, performance on the GRE, personal references, written personal statement, a personal on-campus interview, previous health care experience and a variety of non-cognitive traits.
Applications are accepted only from U.S. citizens and permanent residents as long as the undergraduate, premedical course work has been done in the United States or Canada and the GRE has been or will be taken. If the undergraduate, premedical course work has been done outside the U.S. or Canada, the applicant must receive a degree from an institution in the United States or Canada and meet all other requirements for admission.
Only full-time students are admitted to the curriculum. All courses within the curriculum are required, no transfer credit is accepted, no credit is granted for pre-admission experiential learning, and no advanced placement is awarded (advanced placement is defined as a waiver of required coursework included in the PA curriculum for applicants to the program and/or a waiver of required coursework included in the PA curriculum for currently enrolled students in the program which results in the student advancing in the curriculum without completing required curriculum components at the sponsoring institution).
A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution or an equivalent institution as determined by the Wake Forest School of Medicine must be awarded prior to matriculation into the program. A baccalaureate degree is a minimum requirement. Therefore, a masters or doctorate level degree awarded in lieu of a baccalaureate degree will meet this requirement.
Applicants educated outside the U.S. and Canada must utilize a transcript evaluation service to document their training. The academic record must show credits and grades equivalent to those given by U.S. institutions of higher learning. In addition, the applicant must receive a degree from an institution in the United States or Canada and meet all other requirements for admission.
- Upper Level Biology: one semester (a minimum of three semester hours or four quarter hours) of an upper level biology course (such as Cell Biology, Genetics, Immunology, Pathophysiology, etc.).
- General Chemistry: one semester (a minimum of three semester hours or four quarter hours). One semester of Organic Chemistry will also fulfill this requirement.
- Biochemistry: one semester (a minimum of three semester hours or four quarter hours) of Biochemistry. An acceptable substitute for Biochemistry would be two semesters of Organic Chemistry (a minimum of six semester hours or eight quarter hours).
- Anatomy & Physiology: one full academic year (a minimum of six semester hours or eight quarter hours). This requirement may be met by taking either one semester of Anatomy and one semester of Physiology, or two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology combined.
- Microbiology: one semester (a minimum of three semester hours or four quarter hours) with lab preferred.
- Statistics: one semester (a minimum of two semester hours or three quarter hours).
- Medical Terminology: one course in medical terminology. The course should result in a course grade on a college transcript. Before enrolling in an online course that does not result in a course grade on a college transcript please contact our Admissions Office for approval.
All of the above courses must be completed with grades of “C” or above. Please note that a “C-“ will not be accepted. No course may be used to meet more than one prerequisite requirement (i.e. if Organic Chemistry is used to fulfill the Biochemistry/Organic Chemistry requirement, that course cannot be used to fulfill the General Chemistry requirement). Approved substitutions for prerequisite courses may be considered. All prerequisite courses, as well as the baccalaureate degree, should be completed by the end of the Fall Semester in which application is made. The Admissions Committee may consider qualified applicants who will complete their baccalaureate degree and/or prerequisite courses in the Spring semester prior to program matriculation.
Computer literacy is strongly encouraged, including knowledge of e-mail and word-processing as well as Internet navigation.
Letters of Reference
At least two of three letters of reference must be received by CASPA in order for an application to be complete. Preference is given to applicants who have at least one reference from a health care professional. The Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program accepts three letters of reference per applicant from CASPA. Any additional references received by the WFSM PA Program admissions office are placed in the applicant's file, but will not be considered in the application review process.
Official scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) - General Test taken within the last five years are required. GRE scores must be submitted using the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program code 5923 and the Department Code 0634 for Physician Assistant.
Pre-Admission Clinical Experience
Clinical Experience that includes direct patient care is required. In order to be competitive, an applicant should have a minimum of six months full-time healthcare employment or 1,000 hours of hands-on patient care experience. Applicants must demonstrate evidence of some patient care experience prior to submitting the CASPA application, but should complete 1,000 hours of hands-on patient care by the time of matriculation. Applicants accepted in the last admission cycle had direct patient care experience ranging from 1000 hours to 25,000 hours.
Preference is given to applicants having experience that requires a period of training and results in direct (hands-on) patient care. Examples include, but are not limited to: EMT, Paramedic, Nurse, Medical Assistant, CNA, ER Tech, Physical Therapy Aide, Phlebotomist, etc. Experiences such as "shadowing", laboratory testing with no patient contact, non-clinical research, student experience, life guard, or clerical work are not accepted as clinical hours. We encourage applicants to "shadow" a PA to become informed of the role of the PA, although this experience does not count as patient care experience. Evidence of community service in a health care setting. (i.e. healthcare for underserved populations, medical mission work, etc.) is highly valued.
In addition to the above criteria, applicants will also be evaluated on a variety of non-cognitive factors. These non-cognitive factors are utilized in the admissions process and include:
- Military service
- Diversity of life experience
- Success in overcoming adversity
- Aptitude for problem-based learning
Applicants applying to the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program must submit an application through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), submit official GRE scores, and complete a Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program supplemental application.
Skills and Attitudes
Preparation for entrance into the Physician Assistant Program requires the development of certain attitudes as well as the acquisition of basic skills and specific knowledge. These skills and attitudes are valuable in not only the study of medicine, but also the pursuit of any knowledge, and include:
- the ability to read with speed, comprehension and retention
- the ability to understand principles and to think logically
- the ability and initiative to independently carry through projects requiring data collection, analysis, and interpretation of findings and the drawing of conclusions
- the ability to adapt quickly to change
- the recognition that a Physician Assistant is a life-long student
- the view that learning is not solely a means to an end, but a satisfying of intellectual curiosity and a pleasure within itself
- the knowledge that the Physician Assistant has a special responsibility to society and an obligation to recognize and understand the problems of that society
- the capacity for compassion and a commitment to service
Background Check and Health Assessment Policy
All students who enter the Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program will be required to have a criminal background check and a health assessment completed prior to matriculation. The offer of admission is conditional upon results of the background check and health assessment, to include a drug screen. During enrollment, repeat background checks, health and drug screens may be required. If a prospective student declines to undergo the background check or health assessment, including a drug screen, or if findings of a grievous nature are revealed, the offer of admission will be revoked. If a student declines to undergo a background check, health assessment, or drug screen while enrolled in the program or if findings of a grievous nature are revealed, this will be grounds for dismissal from the program.
A copy of the Background Check will be given to the student during Orientation. Other copies will be distributed on a need to know basis for educational purposes (i.e., clinical education sites).
Acceptance into and successful completion of the Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program does not imply or guarantee that the student will be able to obtain state licensure upon graduation.
Student Employment Policy
Employment by or in the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program during the period of matriculation is strictly prohibited. Due to the rigorous nature of the curriculum, employment outside of the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program during the period of matriculation is highly discouraged. Students must not work, substitute, or function as instructional faculty in the PA program.
A candidate for the MMS degree must have abilities and skills in five general areas:
- integrative, quantitative, behavioral and social
Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. More detailed information on these Technical Standards is available.
For more information contact:
WFSM PA Studies Admissions
Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program is committed to considering all qualified applicants without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, veteran status, handicapped status or disability. Wake Forest School of Medicine has a procedure for resolving any type of discrimination complaint.