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School of Health Professions

PA Program Frequently Asked Questions

Master
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COVID-19 Accommodations

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCM PA Program will accept online laboratory courses completed in the Spring of 2020. Subsequent laboratory courses should be completed in person as per our prerequisites. And, all prerequisite coursework should be completed for a grade. If you have extenuating circumstances, please email paprogram@bcm.edu.

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Email is the most efficient and accurate means to have your admissions questions answered. Please allow two weeks from the time your email is received for a response.

The following list includes frequently asked questions within the topics of general questions, prerequisites/applications, and demographics of the enrolled students.

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General

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Do you have a counselor or advisor I can talk to?
Questions that cannot be answered via the program's website may be addressed in an email to the program. These requests will be responded to by a representative of the admissions committee.

Do you offer any information sessions?
We offer on-campus information sessions for persons interested in finding out more about the PA profession and the Master of Science PA program offered by Baylor College of Medicine. These informal, early evening sessions are held throughout the application cycle.

Do you offer any on-campus tours?
We only offer tours of the campus and institution in conjunction with invited interviews that occur in November of each year. Individual or group tours are not offered.

Is there a difference between instate and out-of-state tuition?
As a private institution, the tuition and fees charged to state residents and non-residents are identical.

Do you provide options for shadowing physician assistants?
The PA Program does not offer or arrange opportunities for shadowing a PA in the clinical setting. Passage of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established standards to guard the privacy of a patient’s protected health information. Compliance requires that institutions and care providers ensure the confidentiality and integrity of a patient’s information, and prevent errors that could compromise the privacy of a patient’s protected health information. The security and privacy elements within these regulations have caused clinical settings to greatly limit who may have access to patient information in oral, written and electronic form.

Students enrolled in health professions educational programs that use protected health information must undergo HIPAA training prior to accessing such information. Persons not enrolled in such an educational program may not have access to protected health information in any form. Essentially, physicians, PAs and other healthcare providers are prevented from talking with you about patients, bringing you with them when they visit with and examine patients, and disclosing any information contained in the medical record. As a result, most clinical settings no longer allow for shadowing to take place.

Do you grant credit for experiential learning?
Applicants are not required to have prior healthcare or patient care experience to submit an application for admission. Credit for experience obtained within the workplace or community setting not related to a recognized course offered by an accredited academic institution is not reviewed by the institution for the award of credit. Work experience must be evaluated for and the applicant awarded credit by another college or university before the awarded credits may be applied toward any stated PA Program admission prerequisites.

Do you offer clinical rotations for students enrolled in other accredited PA Programs?
We do not offer clinical rotations for students enrolled in other Physician Assistant programs, except in special circumstances and when asked for assistance by the director of another PA program.

Is there on-campus housing available?
Baylor College of Medicine as an institution owns no dormitory facilities. Favrot Tower Apartments, a two-three minute walk from Baylor, is operated under the administrative control of the TMC Housing Department and operates as a service to all students and medical professionals associated with the TMC. Community-based housing, such as furnished and unfurnished apartments, condominiums, duplexes, and houses are available near the Texas Medical Center in a wide variety of styles and cost.

Are students required to have health insurance?
Students are required to participate in the medical insurance plan offered by the school unless they are covered by a comparable plan elsewhere.

Are students covered by malpractice insurance?
Physician Assistant students are covered by malpractice insurance while enrolled as students performing duties on a clerkship or approved elective, either at Baylor College of Medicine or elsewhere. Activities aside from the above are not covered by Baylor College of Medicine malpractice insurance.

Are students able to work (volunteer or paid) while enrolled in the program?
Physician Assistant students are strongly encouraged NOT to hold any employment while enrolled in the program. The schedule of the didactic and clinical years, coupled with study and other requirements, do not allow for students who are employed to be successful in our program.

Does your program participate in rolling admissions?
No. Regardless of the submission date of application, all applications are screened and interview invitations are extended at the same time on a yearly basis.

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Prerequisites

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Are there any specific requirements for patient care or shadowing hours?
There are no requirements for patient care experience, healthcare experience, or shadowing hours. If applicants chose to gain these experiences, they will be evaluated in the context of their overall application. However, they are not required for admission.

Can prerequisite courses be completed at a community college?
The listed prerequisite courses may be completed at any accredited college or university in the United States; this includes a community college.

Can someone apply for admission without all the prerequisites completed?
The admissions process is designed to allow individuals to make application to the program as long as all prerequisite courses are completed by the time of enrollment into the program. This means that all course requirements must be completed no later than the end of the spring semester of the academic year to which they are seeking entry.

A course in progress during the fall semester should be indicated on the CASPA application. Please visit the CASPA FAQ for listing coursework on the CASPA application.

When is the latest I can complete the prerequisite courses and still apply for admission?
Outstanding course prerequisites must be completed no later than the end of the spring semester of the year in which you intend to enroll.

May credit earned for courses completed while enrolled in a foreign medical or graduate school fulfill the prerequisites?
No, all prerequisite coursework must be completed at a regionally accredited US institution.

Do you accept advanced placement (AP) credit for program prerequisites?
AP credit is only accepted if it resulted in a letter grade on your official transcript.

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Applications

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What can I do to improve my application/chances of being accepted into the Baylor College of Medicine PA Program?
Select references wisely and talk with the individuals so that they clearly understand what it is you are about to do. It is not uncommon for letters to speak about an applicant making a good medical student and future physician. This attention is most important if the same reference has been asked to send letters to both a medical school and a PA program

Pay great attention to the quality of the narratives submitted with the application. The program specific questions ask each applicant to provide specific information. This is where you can talk more about yourself along with why you think you are prepared to succeed in graduate studies. Be careful about changing the name of the school you are applying to in the narrative. Inattention to details such as this is quickly picked up on by faculty screening applications.

Stick to the basics and do them well. We look for congruence between measures of academic performance, letters of reference, and written narratives. Continue to be a good student. Continue an ongoing volunteer experience, but do not run out at the last minute and do it. We look for sustained patterns of performance.

It is also essential to understand the importance of all parts of the application. This is where you get to present who you are and what you are about. It is also the hurdle one must get over to be asked for an interview. With hundreds of applicants all meeting minimum grade, aptitude score, and course prerequisites, the narrative components and letters of reference take on even greater significance.

What are the mistakes individuals make as applicants?
The common mistakes result from ineffective time management, inattention to details, limited follow through, and non-specific responses to questions asked. The most common mistakes include:

Missing application deadline - completion of the CASPA application cannot be accomplished in one sitting, so plan ahead, work a little each day, and be sure to submit the CASPA application, required documents and payments before the midnight Aug. 1 deadline.

Information in narrative statements not responsive to questions - narrative statements should be well written, incorporate the use of critical reflection, and respond directly to questions asked. Avoid using the CASPA narrative response as the sole basis of your response to the questions in the program specific section of the CASPA application.

Lack of follow-up - applicants are responsible for ensuring that all college and university transcripts, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores are received by CASPA in a timely manner. Documents not received by the deadline will result in an incomplete application that will not be considered in the admissions process.

There are also occasions when persons invited for interviews experience difficulty in communicating information in response to questions raised by interviewers. Because communication and interpersonal skills are competencies expected of all physician assistants, they are a very important part of the interview process.

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Demographics

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How many new students do you enroll each year?
Each entering class is comprised of new students. Approximately 1,200 applications are received each year of which 150 are invited for interviews on campus before offering positions to 40 individuals.

Do you give preference to Texas residents?
Applicants seeking admission to the program come from many states to include Texas. In that more applications are received from state residents, it is possible for any one entering class to be comprised of more residents of Texas. Regardless of the state of residence, admission to the PA Program is on a competitive basis.

What is the entering class profile?
Based upon a review of demographic and academic information on applicants matriculated into the PA Program entering class, the typical student was female, 24 years of age, and had a bachelor's degree. The mean grade point average was 3.7 (range 3.2 to 4.0) and the average GRE score percentiles were 75 percent (verbal), 56 percent (quantitative), and 71 percent (analytical writing score).