Q: Do I have to take the GRE?
A: No, The University of South Dakota Physician Assistant Studies Program does not require the GRE at this time.
Q: I don't have the prerequisite courses completed yet. Can I still apply?
A: As long as you have a plan to complete the prerequisite courses by June 1 of the year you would officially enter the program if you were accepted, you are eligible to apply right away. We do however strongly recommend that you have no more than 3 prerequisite courses outstanding at the time of application due to the large number of applications we receive. Due to the rigor of the Program, candidates are not permitted to complete prerequisites after matriculation into the PA Program.
Q: Why is it recommended that prerequisite courses be taken within the last ten years?
A: The fields of science are rapidly changing on a regular basis. The PA Program believes that students should have a relatively current knowledge base in the sciences which will provide a solid foundation for the clinical science instruction provided in the PA curriculum. The most competitive applicants have completed the prerequisite courses within the past 10 years.
Q: Can substitutions be made for required prerequisites. e.g. immunology in lieu of microbiology?
A: No, we do not accept substitutions for any required prerequisites.
Q: Can clinical, work or research experiences be substituted for prerequisite coursework?
A: No, clinical experiences, including those obtained through foreign medical school programs, work experience and research experience will not be substituted for any prerequisite coursework required.
Q: What if I took the required prerequisite course, but did not complete the corresponding lab? Will I still need to complete the lab?
A: Yes, if we require a lab in addition to the required course, you will need to complete the necessary lab.
Q: What type of clinical experience are you looking for?
A: Previous healthcare experience, while not required is expected, and regarded as one measure of the applicants’ interest in healthcare. In addition, such experience offer a means by which the applicant can better understand the role of the PA within the healthcare delivery system and appreciate the relationships between health providers.
Direct patient care would include roles in which you are responsible for things like taking vital signs, administering medication, charting, drawing blood, tending to personal care, dressing wounds, etc. Some positions which may allow an applicant to accumulate these hours would be nursing (RN, LPN, nurse aid), medical assistants, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and military corpsman. Other experiences include, but are not limited to, community health aides, physical therapist, and phlebotomy, to name a few (Average direct patient care of accepted students is more than 1,000 hours). For more information about allied health fields that may satisfy the direct hands on patient care experience requirement, please visit the American Medical Association website. Additionally, you may contact the program with questions about experiences that may qualify.
Q: Does shadowing experience count towards direct patient care hours?
A: No. While shadowing experiences are valued, we do not count shadowing experiences as direct patient care.
Q: Does volunteer experience count towards my direct patient care hours?
A: It depends. If your volunteer experience involved direct patient care and direct contact with patients, then we will evaluate your volunteer experience to determine if it will be acceptable for our health care experience recommendation.
Q: Where should I obtain references?
A: References should include persons who are acquainted with the applicant’s actual abilities, talents, personality and academic performance. References from college teachers who can comment on academic potential from first-hand knowledge, PAs, physicians, and other health professionals who have worked with the applicant or know the applicant well are preferred. It is recommended that candidates seek references from individuals who are well acquainted with them academically, personally and/or professionally. It is desirable that candidates seek a variety of sources for references. The reference source should have been acquainted with the candidate for a significant period of time.