Pediatrician Assistant Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Pediatrician assistants learn how to treat patients from birth through age 18 under the supervision of a licensed physician. They are generally responsible for performing physician examinations, gathering medical data and developing treatment plans. In many states, they are able to prescribe medications. The field is a component of general physician assistant practice and is not taught independently.

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Students can be trained to work as a pediatrician assistant through a graduate physician assistant program. Individuals may also earn associate's and bachelor's degrees in pre-physician assistance.

Top 10 Physician Assistant Schools

As of 2015, U.S. News and World Report ranked these schools as having the top ten physician assistant schools in the United States:

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Offered Tuition (In-state; Graduate 2015-2016)*
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $47,590
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 4-year, Public Master's $8,396
Emory University Atlanta, GA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $38,800
George Washington University Washington, DC 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $27,810
Oregon Health and Sciences University Portland, OR 4-year, Public Master's $20,412
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $17,190
University of Colorado Aurora, CO 4-year, Public Master's $6,516
University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 4-year, Public Master's $6,230
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE 4-year, Public Master's $7,830
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $36,420

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Students looking for a school with a physician assistant program should keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Find out if the program has been accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA), because this is necessary for licensure.
  • Make sure you have met the prerequisite educational and work experience requirements of the program for which you are applying.
  • Learn more about the technological offerings of the program, which may include access to on-campus, state-of-the-art labs, as well as laptop and tablet PCs that can be used during the program.
  • Get more information about the hands-on experience opportunities that the program offers. These may be found at local hospitals and medical offices, but aspiring pediatric physician assistants should ensure that at least one of a program's rotations occurs in a pediatrician's office.

Associate of Science in Pre-Physician Assistance

These programs consist of two years of study in a specific scientific field such as biology or chemistry. Credits may transfer to a 4-year college or university. Students complete general education and science courses in order to prepare for a Physician Assistant program in the future.

Bachelor of Science in Pre-Physician Assistance

Students in these 4-year programs complete 120 credit hours of general education and scientific courses. Some programs are combined with master's degree programs and can be completed in only five years.

Master of Physician Assistance

These 2-year programs consist of one year of classes and one year of clinical experience. Clinical experiences are divided into practice rotations for obstetrics, family medicine, emergency medicine and pediatrics. Students must complete a thesis paper prior to graduation. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

By completing premedical coursework as an undergraduate and finishing a master's level physician assistant program, aspiring pediatrician assistants can prepare to take licensure exams and start their careers in pediatric care.

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