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Physician Assistant Program

Houston, Texas

Anatomy instruction at Baylor College of Medicine
Physician Assistant Program
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Frequently Asked Questions

View the list of questions by the following topics:

General
Prerequisites / Applications
Demographics

General

Do you have a counselor or advisor I can talk to?
Questions that cannot be answered via the program's web site of links and resources within the institution may be addressed in e-mail to the program. These requests will be responded to by one of the faculty members of the program.

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 BCM. These informal, early evening sessions are held throughout the year. For more information and registration, view the Information Session page.

Do you offer any on-campus tours?
We only offer tours of the campus and institution in conjunction with invited interviews that occur in January of each year. It is possible to obtain a virtual tour of the Texas Medical Center and BCM online.

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

Do you offer clinical rotations for students enrolled in other accredited PA programs?
We no longer offer clinical rotations for students enrolled in other Physician Assistant programs.

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 health care 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 health 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 no longer offer clinical rotations for students enrolled in other Physician Assistant programs, except in special circumstances and when asked for special 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 2-3 minute walk from BCM, 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 by their parent or spouse.

Are students covered by malpractice insurance?
Medical, nurse anesthesia, and PA students are covered by malpractice insurance while enrolled as students performing duties on a core clerkship or approved elective, either at BCM or elsewhere. Activities aside from the above are not covered by BCM malpractice insurance.

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Prerequisites / Applications

What can I do to improve my application/chances of being accepted into the BCM 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. Do not just cut and paste the CASPA narrative into the BCM Supplement. The supplement asks 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. One's inattention to details such as this is quickly picked up on by faculty looking at 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 and Baylor Supplemental applications cannot be accomplished in one sitting, so plan ahead, work a little each day, and be sure to submit both applications before the midnight September 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 contained within the Supplemental Application, as the information sought after is different.
  • 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 and BCM in a timely manner. Documents not received by the stated deadlines will result in an incomplete application that will not be considered.

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.

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 admission to 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 BCM Supplemental Application by the symbol "IP", with a course to be taken in the spring denoted by the symbol "TT." 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.

Can I substitute the MCAT or GMAT for the GRE?
Other measures of aptitude through testing may NOT be substituted for the Graduate Record Examination. The GRE General Test comprised of verbal, quantitative and analytical (writing) sections are required as part of the application process. The scores received must not be more than five years old based on the application deadline. You are not required to take any of the GRE subject exams.

What is your deadline for taking the GRE General Test to be considered for admission?
The GRE General Test must be taken before the Sept. 1 application deadline. Taking the exam after the deadline will result in your application being incomplete and not considered.

When is your application deadline?
The published deadline for both the CASPA Application and BCM Supplemental Application is Sept. 1.

When is your deadline for supporting documents?
The deadline for the receipt of supporting documents is Sept. 1. We typically watch the mail for posted documents for a week after the deadline. Late posted documents will make an application incomplete and not considered.

May credit earned for courses completed while enrolled in a foreign medical school or graduate school be used to fulfill the prerequisites for admission into the PA Program?
Individuals applying for admission to the PA Program, who have completed their education outside the United States must do two things before making application for admission. First, they must enroll in and receive transfer credit towards a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university before previous course-work can be used to fulfill admission course prerequisites to the PA Program. Second, candidates who received a bachelors degree or above from a college or other academic institution outside the U.S. must complete at least one year (30 semester hours) of additional undergraduate or graduate study at an accredited US college or university prior to making application for admission to the PA Program.

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Demographics

How many new students do you enroll each year?
Each entering class is comprised of new students. Approximately 850 applications are received each year of which 120 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 state of residence, admission to the PA Program is on a competitive basis.

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