Frequently Asked Questions

About the Physician Assistant Profession

What is a physician assistant?
Physician assistants are health care professionals educated at the graduate level to diagnose, prescribe, and treat patients in a team with physicians.

What types of duties do physician assistants perform?
Physician assistants are trained to perform medical histories and physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, formulate diagnoses and management plans, write prescriptions, counsel patients and assist in surgery.

How did the profession begin?
In the mid-1960s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage of primary care physicians. Dr. Eugene Stead of the Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina selected Navy corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service and in Vietnam but who had no comparable civilian employment. In 1965 he put together the first physician assistant class and based the curriculum of the PA program in part on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.

What areas of medicine can physician assistants work in?
Physician assistants (PAs) are found in all areas of medicine. They practice in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, orthopedics, behavioral medicine and many other areas.  Many PAs work in settings such as education, government, administration and research.

If I want to change areas of practice, do I have to go through additional training?
Because physician assistants receive a broad education in medicine and can perform duties assigned to them under the scope of the physician supervising, PAs can change specialties without further training.

What is the average salary for physician assistants?
According to The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-2015, in May 2012, the median annual wage for PAs was $90,930.  The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,430, and the top 10 percent earned more than $124,770.   Income varies by specialty, practice setting, geographical location, and years of experience.

What does the future look like for physician assistants?
Our future is bright!  According to The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-2015, PA jobs will increase 38% between 2012 and 2022.  The PA unemployment rate is 1.2%, while the national average is 5.8%. Studies and reports from CNN, Money Magazine, Forbes Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal all indicate a continuing rise in the demand for Physician Assistants.

About the Physician Assistant Studies Program

Why should I choose the Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital PA Program?
Pass rates for first time takers on the NCCPA certifying examination have been consistently high. Our 5 year aggregate pass rate on the NCCPA certifying examination is 97% (in comparison to the 5 year national pass rate of 93%).

The Pace University- Lenox Hill Hospital PA Program is located in Manhattan, allowing students the experience of working with diverse populations in a culturally enriched environment.

Our curriculum includes:

  • Cadaver lab at NYU School of Medicine
  • Extensive instruction on practical skills procedures which include phlebotomy, IV cannulation, foley catheterization and suturing.
  • Teaching associates (live models) are used for female and male genital examination instruction.
  • Early interaction with patients during the didactic year.

Our faculty is experienced and dedicated to educating students with the goal of providing the medical community with well trained, knowledgeable physician assistants. With most faculty working as clinical physician assistants they bring real life experiences into the classroom. Faculty clinical backgrounds include: primary care, internal medicine, emergency medicine, gynecology, behavioral medicine, critical care, surgery, orthopedics, and hematology/oncology.

Is the PA Program accredited?

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Pace University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2020. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

How is the curriculum structured?
The didactic phase is 14 months in length. Students take a variety of medical science courses including Clinical Medicine, Clinical Applications, Clinical Anatomy, Basic and Laboratory Sciences, and Medical Pharmacology, as well as professional courses. Students also have some exposure to medical patients through scheduled floor experiences, during which they are given the opportunity to interview medical patients and perform physical exams.

During the clinical phase of the program students complete 8 required clinical clerkships and 1 elective clerkship in a variety of medical specialties. Electives are available in diverse areas that include neurosurgery, dermatology, plastic surgery, oncology, cardiothoracic surgery and many more. We also have international clerkships available.

What kind of degree will I receive upon completion of the Physician Assistant Program?
Students who complete all requirements of the program will receive a master of science in physician assistant studies (MSPAS) and a certificate of completion from Lenox Hill Hospital.

How big are the classes?
New enrollment is limited to 80 students each year.

When does the program start?
The program starts annually in mid-July

What is the program work policy?
Program faculty does not advise outside employment while participating in the Physician Assistant Program. Faculty recognizes that employment may be an issue that some students will face. Given this recognition, realize that Program obligations will not be altered due to a student’s work obligations. It is further expected that work obligations will not interfere with the student’s learning progress or responsibilities while in the Program. Working often interferes with learning opportunities during rotation activities. The schedule of clinical experiences and clerkship hours to be observed are set by the Program or preceptor and are not negotiable. The Program does not permit the student to work clinically at the same site where they are completing clinical experiences or clerkships.

Students who are involved in, or commence, volunteer or paid work during the course of their Physician Assistant training, cannot use their affiliation with the Physician Assistant Program in any aspect of that job. Work outside the Physician Assistant Program undertaken by the student, independent of the Program, is not covered by the liability offered for clinical work associated with the educational experience and students may not represent themselves as Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant students.

Are any international clerkship experiences available?
As one of the free electives, an international clerkship is available and is coordinated through Child Family Health International (CFHI). Students are responsible for the extra costs incurred by electing to participate in an international rotation. Information addressing travel, housing and other expenses can be located on the CFHI website.

What is Pace University’s policy for processing student grievances?
Information regarding Pace University’s policy concerning student grievances can be found in the Pace University Graduate and Undergraduate Student Handbook.

What are Pace University’s withdrawal policies?
Please see the Office of Student Assistance Registration FAQs page for more information regarding student withdrawal.

About Applying for Admission

How do I apply for the PA Program?
Students must apply through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). CASPA will collect and summarize all of the applicant’s data (application form, transcripts, recommendations), which will be forwarded to the Office of Admissions and the PA Program. For admission into our class begininning in July, the application deadline is September 1st of the previous year.

Do I need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for admissions?
Yes, and other eligibility requirements must be met. Reviewing and understanding the admission criteria and academic prerequisites will assist you in meeting requirements.

What is the admission criteria?

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution;
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale;
  • Minimum cumulative science GPA of 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale;
  • A minimum of 200 hours of direct, high quality, hands-on patient care;
  • One page personal statement describing why you wish to become a physician assistant (CASPA Narrative);
  • Three references from professionals (one of which must be from a health professional); and
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses at the time of CASPA e-submission;
  • No more than one grade that is less than a "B-" in a required prerequisite course

GPA’s are calculated utilizing all college level courses completed by the applicant.

If you graduated from high school in a country where English is not the official language AND English is not your first language, you must submit scores from the “Test of English as a Foreign Language” (TOEFL) OR the “International English Language Testing System” (IELTS) that are no more than two years old. In general, a TOEFL score of 570 (paper-based version) or 230 (computer-based version), 88/89 (internet-based version) or an IELTS score of 6.0 is sufficient to demonstrate the requisite proficiency in English for admission directly into Pace University’s academic programs.

Is the GRE required?
No, we do not require you to have taken the GRE.

What prerequisites do I need to enter the program?
The minimum math and science prerequisites for the Physician Assistant Program are as follows:

Mathematics (Precalculus or Statistics) (3 credits)
General Biology + Laboratory (8 credits)
General Chemistry + Laboratory (8 credits)
Microbiology (3 credits)
Organic Chemistry + Laboratory OR Biochemistry + Laboratory (4 credits)
Human Anatomy + Laboratory (4 credits)
Human Physiology (3 credits)
      OR Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II with Laboratory (7 credit minimum)

After completing the CASPA application I finished other courses. Where should I send official, updated transcripts?
Transcripts should go to Graduate Admission, 1 Pace Plaza, New York, NY 10038.  
Please only send updated transcripts if they are requested by the University.  If you secure an interview, please bring any updated transcripts with you to the interview.  Updated transcripts are not added to your application and a new GPA/SGPA will not be calculated.

I am planning on taking prerequisite courses next semester/or currently taking prerequisites, am I still allowed to apply even though they are not completed/started?
No, all prerequisite courses must be completed prior to the e-submission of the CASPA application.

Is there a specific time frame in which prerequisite courses must be completed?
All prerequisite courses must have been completed less than 10 years ago.

If I do NOT have a bachelors degree what should I do?
A bachelor's degree is mandatory for admission into the physician assistant program. You must have your bachelor's degree prior to matricluation. You may be in process of completing it at the time your application is e-submitted.

If I meet all admission criteria, does that guarantee a seat in the PA Program?
Seats in the PA Program are limited. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a seat in the PA Program. The Physician Assistant Program Admissions Committee will admit candidates who meet the admission requirements, are granted an interview and present the best overall profile evidenced in these areas.

Is there an interview process involved?
A personal interview may be granted if admission criteria are met. During the interview applicants will be evaluated on cognitive capability, professional awareness, commitment to the profession, leadership qualities, service and community orientation, communication skills including verbal ability, personal and behavioral qualities, interpersonal skills, self confidence, motivation and initiative, professionalism, social support and coping abilities. Meeting the minimum academic requirements does not guarantee an interview.

If accepted into the program, can I defer?
Pace University offers deferred admission to students who wish to take time off before beginning full-time studies. Once accepted, such students may be granted a one-year deferment and are assured a place in the following year’s class provided they do not attend another institution during the deferment period. Requests for deferred admission must be made in writing to the Director of PA Admissions at:
Pace University – Lenox Hill Hospital
Physician Assistant Program
Director of PA Admissions
163 William Street, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10038

What Happens after Graduation?

What degrees/certifications are awarded upon completion of the program?
Students who complete all requirements of the program will receive a master of science in physician assistant studies (MSPAS) and a certificate of completion from Lenox Hill Hospital.

What exams need to be taken?
Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Successful completion of this exam awards graduates a Physician Assistant Certification. This certification is required for employment on a national level.

What else needs to be done before I start working?
In addition to obtaining certification, students must register as a physician assistant on the state level. Each state has specific requirements for physician assistants and prospective candidates must fill out an application. PAs working in New York State need to complete an application through the New York State Department of Education. For more information, you can visit their website at

How can I get a job?
Although the PA Program does not maintain a formal job placement service, the Program receives requests from prospective employers throughout the year and happily passes the information to our graduates. In addition, students make contacts during the clinical clerkships, which assist in their job search.

How do I maintain my license and certification?
Physician Assistants must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and take the recertification exam every ten years in order to maintain their certification and licensure.