The Program does not have a model candidate. PAs work in a wide variety of jobs within the medical field. The role of the PA program is to educate people who can fill that wide variety of jobs. Therefore, the program selects candidates with a wide range of abilities, backgrounds, and interests who will combine their PA education with those varied interests and fill a broad range of PA positions.

Below is a statistical profile of candidates admitted to the PA program over the past few years. We expect some year-to-year variation in these ranges and means. They are offered here to help candidates gauge how competitive they may be with other candidates. Where provided, the ranges are more significant than the means.

Student Characteristics:

Student Characteristics
  Year Enrolled - Year Graduated
Number enrolled
Average credit Hours Prior to PA School
Average Undergraduate Overall GPA
Average Undergraduate Science GPA 
Highest prior degree held
Hours of Health Care Experience (mean)
Hours of Health Care Experience (range) 1,000-16,000 1,000-24,920 1,000-38,976
Female: 97% 81% 72%
Male: 3% 19% 28%
Age (mean) 24.2 24.2 25.6
Age (range) 21-33 21-34 22-44
Students with Prior JMU Coursework 13% 19% 13%
Students from Virginia 47% 53% 62%
GRE Analytical Writing (percentile) 68th 68th 80th
GRE Verbal Reasoning (percentile) 64th 66th 63rd
GRE Quantitative Reasoning (percentile) 52nd 46th 50th

Interpreting the Table:

This profile was assembled for reporting characteristics of enrolled students. It is not a list of selection or admission criteria. Not all the characteristics listed are admission considerations or criteria.

  • With GPAs it is important to consider the table gives an average not a range. Also, students' performance is seldom uniform throughout their academic work. So, the average may not reflect that their more recent academic work may be better than their average. In such situations the Admissions Committee may be more influenced by the recent work.
  • All students who complete the PA curriculum receive a Master of Physician Assistant degree.
  • JMU connection includes students who have taken courses at JMU at any time prior to acceptance into the PA program.
  • Health Care Experience: The health care experience requirement must involve work directly helping patients with their healthcare problems. The patients might have physical or mental health problems. The experience can be attained in many ways. The experience could be either a paid or volunteer position. It might be accumulated through a single type of experience or by combining different types of experience that collectively fulfill the required hours.

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.

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 also qualify. If a candidate is engaged in an activity and is not sure whether it would qualify, he should inquire of the PA advisor at the program.

Credentialed, employment-type activities:

  • EMT or Paramedic
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Certified Nursing Aid
  • Cardiology Technician
  • Medical Technologist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Licensed Practical Nurse
  • Veterinarian
  • Surgical Technologist
  • Exercise Physiologist
  • Rehabilitation Tech.
  • Crisis Counselor
  • Clinical Research Tech.
  • Mental Health Case Manager

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.

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