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Best Physician Assistant Schools In California

Are you one of the students who are interested in caring for patients and improving lives, studying physician assistant will be a good choice.

We will be listing out and discussing the best physician assistant schools in California in this guide to aid you in making the right choice of school.


Over 90% of patients agree that PAs improve health outcomes and the overall quality of healthcare they receive.

From hospitals to long-term care facilities, physician assistants often serve as principal healthcare providers.

They are expected to have a comprehensive understanding of medicine and strong clinical skills. Working alongside healthcare teams, PAs contribute to patient-centered decisions.

Before practicing medicine, PAs must complete an accredited program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam. See Best Veterinary Schools in California.

PA programs educate students on essential topics, including anatomy, pharmacology, psychiatry, neurology, and many more.

Physician assistant schools also provide opportunities to apply their classroom knowledge through clinical rotations at community healthcare centers.

After developing the necessary communication, cognitive, and patient care abilities, PAs go on to work in healthcare.

As home to the second most certified PAs in the nation and a popular choice for students, California is home to many people in need of medical care.

There are over 10,000 PAs in the area who work in a variety of fields such as primary care, pediatrics, and surgery.

As the second-fastest growing healthcare profession over the next decade, many students will hope to enroll in physician assistant school. California is home to many strong PA programs that aim to educate the next leaders in healthcare.

Here are the best physician assistant schools in California, as they appear in the US News ranking.

  • University of Southern California
  • Stanford University
  • Touro University California
  • Samuel Merritt University
  • University of California Davis
  • Western University of Health Sciences
  • Loma Linda University

1. University of Southern California

University of Southern California holds the honor of being ranked 1st in California and 10th nationally for its highly successful physician assistant program.

This placement, as decided by US News, is a result of peer assessment surveys sent to other schools in the discipline.

The school’s strong curriculum emphasizing team-based medicine continues to impress universities and employers across the nation.

physician assistant students can join a variety of professional organizations and student clubs to pursue their interests and grow their network.

The National Student Challenge Bowl, hosted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, challenges PA students to answer questions about their field.

In 2018, USC’s team beat out 95 other teams to bring home the title. Their victory was a result of the intensive curriculum at USC and months of training.

While at University of Southern California, physician assistant students have the opportunity to contribute to their research profile.

Both laboratory and clinical settings provide access to unique experiences in the laboratory. An impressive six departments make up the top 10 in NIH funding nationally, including ophthalmology, physiology, preventative medicine, orthopedic surgery, neurology, and otolaryngology.

2. Stanford University

Stanford’s physician assistant program uses the flipped classroom educational model to redefine medical education.

Traditional lecture content is shared online, allowing PA students to participate in interactive learning during classroom time.

Other innovative strategies such as leadership tracks and capstone projects will encourage the next generation of healthcare leaders.

Community health, health services and policy research, clinical research, medical education, and healthcare administration are the leadership tracks available for physician assistant students.

Along with unique strategies, Stanford uses state-of-the-art technology to educate PA students. For instance, the Center for Immersive and Simulation-based Learning has a variety of options available to help students practice their hands-on skills.

In addition, part-task physical trainers help individuals practice hands-on skills over and over again under supervision. On the other hand, virtual reality technology is used for more complicated procedures and surgery.

After physician assistant students create their hands-on skills, they can use them in the clinical phase of the program.

Thus, Stanford students are exposed to medical care across their lifespan, from infants to the elderly. The program is designed to provide 8-12 weeks of clinical exposure in any interest area.

3. Touro University California

The unique program at Touro University allows students to earn master’s degrees in both physician assistant studies and public health in just 33 months.

By combining these two professions, Touro University California graduates are trained to consider the individuals and communities they serve.

Coursework includes education on health disparities and specific issues faced by medically underserved communities.

Along with the public service focus, students study the same topics as other top-tier PA schools, such as anatomy, pharmacology, behavioral medicine, and more.

The school’s mission of increasing access to care is seen through its highly successful program and graduates.

For example, many of the required clinical rotations focus on medically underrepresented populations.

Furthermore, 13% of recent graduates from Touro’s physician assistant program work in clinics serving medically underserved communities, compared to a national average of 3%.

As a result of the opportunities offered at Touro University California, the application process is highly competitive.

Each year, 10-15% of those who apply are interviewed, and ultimately, only 48 students are admitted.

This is not surprising considering the unique clinical offerings and accelerated program of study. Students learn from top faculty members, resulting in an overall PANCE pass rate of over 98% for the past 15 years.

4. Samuel Merritt University

At Samuel Merritt University, physician assistant students support student success through medical simulation technology.

The advanced healthcare simulation facilities enable students to collaborate on real-world scenarios. This hands-on practice bolsters technical abilities, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.

Using a model environment where patient safety is the priority, Samuel Merritt University emphasizes the importance of positive patient outcomes.

In addition, the Health Sciences Simulation Center provides immediate feedback to reinforce classroom learning.

Samuel Merritt University physician assistants are compassionate health professionals who aim to make healthcare more accessible to those in need.

Service-learning experiences give students the tools to reduce disparities in clinics, schools, faith communities, and shelters.

The International Healthcare Club, led by Samuel Merritt University faculty, participates in medical mission trips to Panama twice a year.

After graduating from Samuel Merritt University, physician assistants go on to make a difference across the state and nationwide.

An impressive 100% of the program’s alumni find work in a clinical setting within six months of graduation.

In addition, the licensure and certification rates exceed averages, showing the school’s academic excellence.

By providing patient care, conducting research, or teaching, Samuel Merritt University graduates go on to make a difference in the healthcare community. Some common employers include Stanford Health Care, UCSF Benioff Oakland, and Sutter Health.


That was all on the best physician assistant schools in California. Was it helpful to you? Let us know in the comment section.

Last Updated on June 26, 2023 by Admin

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