GAP Pre-PA

Accelerated Special Consideration Programs for Physician Assistant

 

Mercer University’s Accelerated Special Consideration Programs (ASCP) offer high-achieving, first-time students enrolled in either the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) or the College of Health Professions (CHP) the opportunity to earn both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Medical Science (MMSc) degree in about six years, and give students the security of a guaranteed interview with the PA program at Mercer University’s College of Health Professions.

Eligibility.  Students interested in earning special consideration status upon application to the College of Health Professions’ Master of Medical Sciences (MMSc) program should be deemed “calculus-ready” upon admission to the undergraduate program (have a math index of 980 or higher, have college credit for pre-calculus through dual enrollment or CLEP credit, or achieve a score of 15 or higher on the math placement exam (https://aas.mercer.edu/for-students/placement-exams/).

Students must be first-time college students who have not attended other colleges or universities after high school graduation. Transfer students are not eligible for this program, and students may not decline transfer credit to gain eligibility. Students must be enrolled in either the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences or the College of Health Professions.

Students who plan to earn special consideration status upon application to Mercer’s PA program (and who are eligible to participate) must read the program mission and description presented on the College of Health Professions website, as well as the “Technical Standards” described on the Mercer University College of Health Professions website.

Coursework and Residency Requirements.  To be guaranteed an interview upon application to the MMSc (PA) program, students must complete all of their coursework at Mercer (“in residence”); no transfer hours are allowed after high school graduation.

The minimum number of hours required in residence for students enrolled in the CLAS ASCP option and the CHP ASCP-Kinesiology option is 90 semester hours; the minimum number of hours required in residence for students enrolled in the CHP ASCP-Public Health option is 111 semester hours. 

With the approval of the CHP Director of Admissions & Student Affairs, dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate credit may be used to fulfill the pre-PA requirements, but cannot count toward the semester hours required in residence by the program. Physical education and military science courses also cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

The specific coursework required for each of the ASC programs is listed in the document, ASCP-PA Checklists, available on the GPS advising course in Canvas (or from the Director of Pre-Health Professions Advising). 

The timelines required for completion of the required coursework are shown the document, ASCP-PA Timelines, available on the GPS advising course in Canvas (or from the Director of Pre-Health Professions Advising).  

Academic Performance.  To be guaranteed an interview upon application to the PA program, students must maintain overall grade point averages (GPA’s) of 3.2 or higher, as well as 3.2 in all natural science courses (indicated by red type on the ASCP-PA Checklists).  Achievement of higher GPA’s than the minima will increase competitiveness and chances of early acceptance.

Grades of “C” or above must be earned in all PA prerequisite courses; if a course must be repeated, both grades earned will be averaged when calculating the student’s GPA’s. Students may not elect to be graded on an “S/U” basis in PA prerequisite courses. 

Declaration of Intent. Students who have earned the minimum GPAs required for this program by the end of their third semester (fall semester of year 2) may declare their intent to participate in the ASCP. Declaration forms can be found on the Track Page in the GPS course in Canvas, and must be submitted between Jan. 1 and Mar. 1 of spring of year 2.

Majors and Minors for ASCP Students. Official declaration of major in the fall semester of year 2 is required for all students seeking accelerated special consideration status. 

    CHP Students. Students enrolled in the College of Health Professions must declare the Public Health major or the Kinesiology major; no minor is required for either degree program.  Note that completion of the requirements for these programs requires 7 semesters or more (summer semesters are often required). 

    CLA Students. Students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences must declare the Biology major. In the CLAS option, the Biology major is used as a back-up plan only; CLAS students who achieve ASCP eligibility and are accepted to the PA program will not finish this degree, as they will earn the B.S. in Health Science upon completion of the first two semesters of PA school.  Students who change their minds or who do not gain early acceptance are then on track to complete the B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry if they remain enrolled in the CLAS for year 4.

CLAS students interested in a different major and/or minor will be granted permission to declare them if a reasonable 3-year plan to complete program requirements is produced. No minor is required with the B.S. in Health Science, but is allowed if a student can complete the minor requirements without deviating from the ASCP guidelines.   

Advising. Pre-PA students must maintain contact with their primary (departmental) advisors and with Dr. Bokros. Students participating in the Accelerated Special Consideration Program for PA should also seek specialized advising from the representatives of the College of Health Professions’ MMSc program during their undergraduate years. Every fall semester, PA program representatives and the Director of Admissions & Student Affairs visit the Macon campus to outline the requirements and expectations of the MMSc program in a group meeting, and to meet individually with undergraduates for pre-PA advising (by appointment).  The relationship between ASCP participants and the CHP is further strengthened in the spring semester, when pre-PA students have the opportunity to visit the Atlanta campus to tour the CHP and meet with program representatives about their progress towards the PA profession. 

Direct Patient Care Experience RequirementStudents pursuing ASCP status must obtain 1,000 hours of direct patient care experience (PCE) before matriculation to the PA school. A minimum of 500 hours of PCE must be described in the CASPA application, which is due by Jan. 1 of year 3. Applicants should have a plan for completion of the remainder of the 1,000 hours of PCE before matriculation and be prepared to discuss it with representatives of the CHP during the interview.

See the document, Patient Care Experience, on the Track page for complete information about acceptable patient care experience (PCE). In summary, PCE may be paid or unpaid and may be gained by working in a variety of settings. 

Many pre-PA students choose to pursue certification or training (e.g., certified nurse assistant; patient care technician; emergency medical technician; phlebotomist) so that they can find employment in the health care field in order to earn their PCE hours.  These students may obtain training and/or certification at a technical college or school without losing ASCP eligibility, as long as those hours do not transfer back to Mercer.  Students may claim the hours spent in hands-on training that is part of their certification program as PCE. 

Students must keep a record of their experience (locations, dates, times, supervisor contacts, skills learned), but are also encouraged to reflect on their experiences by journaling about what they have witnessed and learned. Such a record is essential when completing the CASPA application, and is also helpful when writing the Personal Essay and preparing for interviews.  CASPA does not require documentation of the PCE described by applicants, but the CHP will require documentation of the remainder of the required PCE by Dec. 1st before matriculation.

Graduate Record Exam Requirement. Students are no longer required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test as part of their CASPA application (deadline Jan. 1 of year 3). 

Application to the MMSc Program.  Students applying under special consideration status are required to submit an application to the CHP no later than January 1 of their third year. See the document, The PA School Application Process, on the Track page for details about the process; in summary, application includes:  1) Submission of a completed application to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) The CASPA application must include a score for the CASPer assessment and three letters of recommendation (LOR’s) to be considered complete. One of the LOR’s must be from a physician assistant or a medical doctor and another must be from a University instructor, and 2) Submission of a Supplemental Application directly to the CHP (available on their web site; not listed here because the link changes every year).  The application fee for ASCP students is waived.  [Note that the supplemental application deadline for non-ASCP applicants to the CHP is on or around March 1st.]     

Interview Requirement. Students who adhere to all guidelines for their respective program will be guaranteed an interview with representatives of the CHP’s PA program. Students must not underestimate the impact that the interview has on their candidacy for PA school, and should prepare accordingly. Students are encouraged to read the document, Preparing for the PA School Interview, and use the other resources available to Mercer students to prepare for their interviews.

If Early Acceptance is Achieved.  Students who have been accepted to the PA program through the ASCP must take appropriate action to complete their undergraduate degree, as described in the GPS Canvas course.