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Hello, I am a high school senior that is interested in becoming a PA. I‘m currently in the process of applying to colleges and would like to know what major would be the best for me to pursue. For a little bit of background, I had originally planned on majoring in Biology because I read that it was the most common route taken for PA school( I’m also quite fascinated with biology itself). However, after researching again, I now plan on getting a BSN so that I'll have a backup job in the medical field just in case everything doesn't go as planned. I've read that majoring in Nursing unfortunately doesn't look good because PA schools will question the student's commitment to the PA profession. Personally, I am certain that I want to become a Physician Assistant but I also want to be able to secure a job in the medical field after receiving at least my bachelors. It also seems as though the medical-related jobs that I could get with a Biology degree wouldn't be very patient care related, which is something that I wish to have in a job. Overall, I feel as though I would prosper in a more health-centered major because it relates more to my passion.

So ultimately, my questions are:
1. Between majoring in Biology and Nursing, which is the more advantageous route to take in order to become a PA? 
2. Is there any true disadvantage to having a BSN when it comes to applying to PA schools? 
3. Are there any other majors that would be a better choice to study than Biology or Nursing?

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone can get help me out!

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I am an RN with a BSN and I'm in my second semester of PA school. Not sure where you read that nursing doesn't look good to PA schools, because I've had the opposite experience. Granted, I have about 14 years of critical care experience, but I think any sort of nursing experience would look good. The only thing they want to know in interviews is why you'd pick PA over NP. All my nursing experience has been very helpful in many of my classes, and honestly nursing is invaluable experience that not a lot of PA applicants can compete with. Just my 2 cents!

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My honest opinion would be to pick a major that you love! I'm sure a higher GPA in a major that you love with strong pre-req courses looks better than a major that may look good but one that you hate.

I've also seen many RNs become great NPs and great PAs.  Us PAs love all members of the healthcare team!

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To reiterate SARBU....Pick a major you will be happy with if PA is not an option.  Lots of things happen and more than likely you will be working in that career PRIOR to PA school (gap year or more for most).  That should be the basis of selecting your major.

Now a caveat to that when it comes to PA school.  Look at the courses you will need to take for the different programs.  Ensure they are inline with most program requirements and gear your electives to some of those to help (Orgo II, 2nd Pysch class, Medical Terminology,  BioChem, etc). 

Watch your core classes in your degree that may be GPA killers.  My undergrad had me taking extremely technical courses with difficult professors (4000 level).  While I learned a ton about Bacteriology, Serology, Mycology and Clinical Microbiology - receiving a B in those classes hurt the cGPA and sGPA.  Many schools don't look at the extras needed for the undergrad that are not a prereq and just look at the GPA.  Don't let those classes hurt your GPA.


Hope that helps!

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If you can find a science major that has a lot of electives, I'd go for that. My university (University of Houston - Downtown) offered a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies degree. It was basically the un-offical "pre-med" option for students that didn't want to be overwhelmed with the Bio degree. We had to take our basic sciences ( BIO/CHEM/PHY/ GEO), MATH (Algebra/CALC/Stat), General Ed stuff, and we had 60 Credit hours dedicated to electives. A large portion of that 60 had to be dedicated towards the sciences but you got to choose the sciences ( as long as you met the pre reqs). The rest was dedicated to whatever you wanted. I guess the main point i'm trying to make is pick a degree that will offer you the best bang for your buck and will give you the best GPA. After you get into PA school your bachelors wont mean THAT much. Employers want you for your PA-C. Not your bachelors degree. So pick something that wont stress you out, will allow you to get good grades, and something you genuinely are interested in. I'm currently in PA school and there are plenty of people that don't have science degrees. as long as you have the pre- reqs and HCE, you should bee good.

Also at some point you're going to have to start working on those health care experience hours. So start looking at scribe jobs, or take an EMT course during your summer break and work as an EMT.


Wish you the best. Get good grades.

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  • 3 weeks later...

There are a handful of undergraduate programs that offer an accelerated (5 year) Physician Assistant BS/MS pathway.  I believe they have early application deadlines but if you scramble you may be able to find a couple that would be a good option for you.  Here is a link to help you start the process: https://www.collegetransitions.com/dataverse/accelerated-physician-assistant-programs

I've been a PA for 25 years and was surprised to learn that these programs exist.  

Good luck.

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Neither, from a primary care PA perspective.

Pick a completely off-the-wall major, minor in biology, and STAND OUT from among the sea of biology and nursing majors. My suggestions:

* Spanish (or any other language represented in the area you want to work after graduation)
* Psychology/social work, esp. with a focus in addictions
* Religious studies, esp. with a preaching/outreach, intercultural studies (missiology), or social programs.
* Nutrition

Bottom line? The world is full of hurting people who are emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually alone... who also have medical problems occasionally.  Biology won't help at all, and a BSN maybe a little bit, prepare you to deal with the complex world of bio/psycho/social/spiritual concerns that people bring with them to your visits.

If you want to go be a sub-specialist or a surgeon, go to med school.  If you want to be competent to handle the real problems of real people, master both the medicine (you'll get that in PA school no matter how you arrive there) as well as the art of treating people.  Yes, this applies even to surgical PAs, because you will be busy dealing with those psycho/social/spiritual issues pre- and post-op, because the surgeon, in the vast majority of cases, is not going to want to.

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