Best major for physician assistant – Undergraduate majors for a PA

Best major for physician assistant - Undergraduate majors for a PA

What is the best major for physician assistants? Although many physician assistant schools will accept candidates from a variety of science majors, some majors stand out when your application is viewed by the college administration. Most colleges are usually looking for people who took either one of these three main majors:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Bear in mind that these majors subjects are taught generally at the high school level and at the undergrad level you may have taken one of the branches of these major subjects so let’s discuss all the sub-branch courses one by one that colleges are looking for. Usually, colleges prefer candidates who are already adept in subjects that relate to the human body or mammals. They would not consider botanical studies or study about fishes as relevant, even though they all come under the broad classification of biology.

Best major for physician assistant - Undergraduate majors for a PA
Photo by Laura James

Biology major sub-subjects preferred by Physician Assistant colleges

Most biology courses taught in your school at the undergrad level will not say biology in general. They would instead be molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience, biotechnology, genetics, botany, zoology, chemical biology, etc. If you took a biology course in undergrad it may make you eligible to sit the PA-CAT but if it does not fall under any category which relates to the human body then the colleges don’t give you extra consideration during the interview process. Courses that have no connection to the human body but still fall under the banner of biology include:

  • Courses about Plants in general
  • Courses about invertebrates such as insects
  • Courses about vertebrates other than mammals such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
  • Even if you did a course on mammals if you are in competition with another individual who undertook courses in human physiology then he will be given more priority in the interviews

This knowledge is no way to scare you. I am just providing you with the knowledge so that you can be prepared. If you are in the mid of college then you should definitely consider taking up courses that relate to humans and their biology if you want to enter any healthcare field. Even if you have finished college you may still be able to enroll in some summer classes and complete these courses in due time. These courses can be beneficial even at a later date as these can prepare you for the PA-CAT or any other healthcare college admission test in general.

Chemistry major sub-subjects preferred by Physician Assistant colleges

Major subjects in chemistry that are usually taught at the undergrad level are either dealing with organic chemistry or inorganic chemistry. Inorganic chemistry courses deal with all compounds that deal with inanimate objects such as metals like gold, silver, etc, or compounds such as cement that make up an important part of our lives. But this branch of chemistry does not deal with the chemistry of the animate objects and so it is not given any preference when it comes to the interviews. The subjects that mostly make up this branch include:

  • Subjects dealing with metals
  • Subjects dealing with the atoms and molecules and their makeup
  • Subjects dealing with the industrial compounds

While these are great fields to study if you are considering going into engineering, they do not have any value in terms of their importance for the healthcare worker. To be a good healthcare worker you need to be very well adept in the second branch of chemistry i.e. organic chemistry. Organic chemistry is a branch that chemistry that deals with compounds found in living creatures. The subjects mostly studied under this field include:

  • Study of the carbon-based compounds
  • Study of compounds found in cells
  • Study of compounds that affect living cells in a certain way, etc.

Focusing more on organic chemistry subjects is a better prospect if you want to pursue a career in healthcare fields. Taking organic chemistry courses should be a must whether you want to appear for PA-CAT or even MCAT or DCAT.

Physics major sub-subjects preferred by Physician Assistant colleges

To be honest medical field is only slightly related to physics. While the laws of physics govern all living creatures. Most of the knowledge of physics is at play when you deal with very large or very small objects. So the knowledge of physics comes into play when you are dealing with learning about X-rays or nuclear medicine, etc. Generally, all advanced physics subjects are given equal importance in the interviews. The amount of weightage in MCAT given to physics is about 10% so this is the same weightage given to physics in interviews as well. So, in my opinion, you should stop bothering yourself about this subject. While taking classes in biology and chemistry sub-subjects that deal with the human body is a must, for physics that is not the case. You can just go by without taking any special classes in physics.

Finally, check out my article on how hard it is to become a physician assistant to learn more about the field in totality. You can also visit the aapa.org website to learn more about being a PA.

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