Building a Solid Pre-PA Resume: What to Include and Highlight

resume tips tips for success Apr 10, 2024
PA students


Aspiring physician assistant (PA) students face a competitive admissions process when applying to PA programs. Crafting a compelling and well-structured pre-PA resume is a crucial step in standing out among the pool of applicants. Your resume serves as a snapshot of your academic achievements, clinical experiences, and extracurricular activities, providing admissions committees with insight into your qualifications and potential as a future PA. In this article, we will explore the essential elements of building a solid pre-PA resume and how to effectively highlight your strengths to increase your chances of acceptance into your desired PA program.


  1. Resume Formatting and Layout 

The first step in creating a strong pre-PA resume is to focus on its formatting and layout. Keep your resume clean, organized, and easy to read. Use a professional font and maintain consistency in font size and formatting throughout. Avoid using colors or graphics that may distract from the content. Aim to keep your resume to one or two pages, highlighting the most relevant and impactful information.


  1. Personal Information and Contact Details 

Begin your resume with your name, contact information, and a professional email address. Include your phone number and LinkedIn profile (if available). Make sure that your email address is straightforward and appropriate for professional communication.


  1. Objective or Professional Summary (Optional) 

Consider including an objective or professional summary at the beginning of your resume. This section should be concise and highlight your career aspirations and dedication to becoming a physician assistant. If you choose to include this section, tailor it to the specific PA program you are applying to, emphasizing your alignment with the program's values and goals.


  1. Academic Achievements 

List your academic achievements, including your undergraduate degree, GPA, and any relevant honors or awards. If you have taken courses or completed additional certifications that are pertinent to the PA profession, such as anatomy, physiology, or medical terminology, include them in this section.


  1. Relevant Work Experience 

Highlight your relevant work experiences, especially those in healthcare or clinical settings. Include details about your job responsibilities and the skills you developed in these roles. Emphasize experiences that involve direct patient care, as these are particularly valuable for PA programs.


  1. Clinical Experience and Shadowing 

Admissions committees highly value hands-on clinical experiences and shadowing opportunities. Detail your experiences in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or private practices. Mention the number of hours spent in each setting and the types of tasks you performed. If you had the opportunity to shadow a physician assistant, make sure to highlight this experience separately, as it demonstrates your understanding of the PA profession.


  1. Volunteer and Community Involvement 

PA programs look for well-rounded applicants with a commitment to community service. List any volunteer experiences or community involvement activities that you have participated in, especially those related to healthcare or underserved populations. Describe your roles and responsibilities, as well as the impact you made in these positions.


  1. Research and Publications (If Applicable) 

If you have been involved in any research projects or have published any academic papers, include them in a separate section. Mention the title of the research or publication, the authors involved, and any relevant details. While research experience is not a requirement for PA programs, it can be a valuable addition to your resume.


  1. Leadership and Extracurricular Activities 

Highlight any leadership roles or extracurricular activities you have been involved in, both within and outside of the healthcare field. Leadership positions in student organizations, clubs, or community groups demonstrate your ability to work collaboratively and take initiative.


  1. Relevant Skills and Certifications 

List any relevant skills or certifications that align with the PA profession. This may include CPR certification, foreign language proficiency, or proficiency in specific medical software. Including these skills can demonstrate your readiness for the PA program.


  1. Professional Memberships and Affiliations 

If you are a member of any professional organizations or pre-PA clubs, include them in a separate section. Being part of these groups shows your commitment to the PA profession and your interest in staying updated on current trends and advancements.


  1. References (Available Upon Request) 

End your pre-PA resume with a simple statement such as "References available upon request." This indicates to the admissions committee that you are prepared to provide additional references if requested.



A well-crafted pre-PA resume can significantly impact your chances of acceptance into a physician assistant program. By including essential elements such as academic achievements, relevant work experience, clinical exposure, volunteer work, and leadership experiences, you can effectively showcase your qualifications and dedication to the PA profession. Remember to format your resume in a clean and professional manner, and tailor it to align with the specific PA program you are applying to. Seek feedback from mentors, professors, or a physician assistant admissions coach to ensure your resume stands out and effectively highlights your strengths. By investing time and effort in building a solid pre-PA resume, you will strengthen your application and increase your chances of fulfilling your dream of becoming a physician assistant.

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