The Best Physician Assistant Schools & Programs in Texas

For students interested in caring for patients and improving lives, PA school is a great choice. 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. 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 the second most populated state, Texas is home to many people in need of medical care. There are over 9,000 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 PA school. Texas is home to many strong PA programs that aim to educate the next leaders in healthcare. Here are the best physician assistant schools in Texas, as they appear in the US News ranking. In the case of a tie, College Gazette will determine the tiebreaker. 

7. University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (Galveston, TX)

University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston
Tacovera1, UTMB’s Research Buildings, CC BY-SA 4.0

As the first medical school in Texas, UTMB has had 130 years of quality medical education. After graduation, PAs join a network of over 2,000 alumni. The UTMB community contains many leaders in the medical field, including TAPA officers, Texas Medical Board members, program directors, and deans nationwide. Many choose to practice in primary care, with others working in family practice, internal medicine, or cardiology. 

Although the UTMB PA class is large, the faculty work hard to give each student individualized support. The Faculty Coached Learning Teams help foster a sense of community. In addition, each PA has their own faculty member with whom they have the opportunity to meet with each week to discuss medicine, career development, or anything else happening in their life.

During the Gross Anatomy course, UTMB students have access to a full cadaver lab. The unique program allows PA students to learn the intricate structures within the human body in a hands-on way. This vital educational experience forms the foundation of other courses to follow as students experience anatomical structure, variations, and pathologies.

6. University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (Rio Grande Valley, TX)

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Elmopancakes, UTRGV, CC BY-SA 4.0

At UTRGV, students gain judgment, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills essential for a healthcare career. Along with the courses, students are supported through the school’s cohort system. PA students work and connect with peers in the same program. By learning in a comfortable environment, student success and growth are prioritized. This network of people dedicated to the field is beneficial through PA school and beyond.

Apple Corporation recognized the UTRGV PA program in 2013 – 2015 for its innovative use of iPad technology in the PA curriculum. This groundbreaking use of technology to further education resulted in a prestigious Apple Distinguished Program Award. UTRGV uses state-of-the-art technology in a variety of settings from student integration to faculty and staff utilization.

Along with current students, UTRGV paves the way for the next generation of physician assistants through the Physician Assistant Career Track Early Assurance Program. The university selects high-achieving high school students in the community to begin their undergraduate education and support them through admission to the PA program. Dedicated to cultivating future healthcare professionals, this program paves the way for quality healthcare prospects across South Texas and beyond.

5. University of Texas Health Science Center (San Antonio, TX)

University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio
Zereshk, UTHSCSA main, CC BY-SA 3.0

The University of Texas Health Science Center is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary center that trains the healthcare providers of tomorrow. Bringing together doctors, dentists, nurses, PAs, and research scientists, the San Antonio campus community is respected for their development of biomedical solutions.

UT Health’s program highlights the clinical practicum as a vital part of educating PAs. During this portion, students transition from lecture and laboratory learning to working in a real-world setting. Students receive training in all disciplines to explore their professional interests as part of a healthcare team. 

The required supervised clinical practice experiences provide a broad foundation, including internal medicine, family medicine, primary care, emergency medicine, pediatrics, inpatient care, women’s health, general surgery, and behavioral therapy. In addition, PA students select five elective rotations and a supervised clinical research experience. 

As a result of the diverse clinical experiences and in-depth curriculum, UT Health PAs graduate in demand with employers. Alumni are employed at many local and regional health care providers such as Community Medicine Associates, Seton Healthcare, Texas Liver Institute, and the University Health System. Of the Class of 2014, 46% of PAs work in primary care, much higher than the national average.

4. University of North Texas Health Science Center (Denton, TX)

At the UNT Health Science Center, PAs have a variety of extracurricular activities to build relationships with their peers and further their careers. The PAS Boot Party, hosted by second-year PAs, is an event dedicated to celebrating their transition into the clinical year. They can also participate in medical mission trips abroad. By practicing healthcare in different communities around the globe, PA students develop their clinical and communication abilities. 

During the clinical phase, PA students complete their education through a master’s project, senior seminar, and clinical rotations. The master’s project, a capstone assignment completed in the third year, demonstrates the student’s application of evidence-based medicine. This may include case studies, presentations, or research papers that are submitted for publication. The senior seminar prepares students to pass the PANCE and enter the workforce through a series of lectures and workshops.

UNT Health Center graduates appreciate the quality education they received, as shown by survey results. Over the past five years, PA graduates rated the overall quality of their education as 3.6 out of 4. Furthermore, 96.5% felt well-prepared to work as a PA as a result of their college experience.

3. Interservice Physician Assistant Program (Fort Sam Houston, TX)

The Interservice Physician Assistant Program at Fort Sam Houston is committed to educating and training the next military healthcare leaders. As a combined Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard Program, students study at the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences. After 16 months of didactic coursework, PA students go on to complete 13 months of supervised clinical clerkships at affiliated medical facilities.

With access to the Army’s Academy of Health Sciences, PA students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of critical labs. The emergency medicine lab, EKG lab, orthopedics lab, and many others prepare PAs for their future clinical work. In addition, senior PA students go on to practice advanced techniques from trauma management to thoracostomy skills.

Graduates from the IPAP go on to serve the healthcare needs of the greatest patient community, including Active, Reserves, Guard, Retired, Veterans, and their family members. In addition, many go on to hold leadership positions across the globe from squadron PAs to members of the White House Medical Unit. While in the IPAP program, students are fully employed by the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security and enjoy guaranteed PA positions within the organization upon certification.

2. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, TX)

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Nightryder84, UTSW Nima, CC BY-SA 4.0

Located near the heart of Dallas, the UT Southwestern community is immersed in a thriving center for healthcare, business, and education. The university has many impressive resources for PA students to complete their clinical training. Parkland Memorial Hospital, labeled as one of the nation’s best healthcare facilities for more than a decade, hosts many UT Southwestern students. In addition, William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital spans 35,000 square feet and is dedicated to research, collaboration, and learning.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies is led by expert faculty members who are well-known for their excellence in academics, research, and clinical care. In addition, professors are recognized for student interaction and dedication to teaching. Receiving prestigious teaching awards, many faculty members are recognized as leaders in the physician assistant profession.

The vision of the PA program at UT Southwestern is to become a destination school for economically and environmentally disadvantaged faculty and students with excellent outcomes. By keeping tuition and fees reasonable, the school supports underrepresented PA students. In addition, the holistic applicant evaluation process values diversity by seeking students who speak more than one language, come from medically underserved areas, or have a disadvantaged background.

1. Baylor College of Medicine (Waco, TX)

Baylor University College of Medicine
WhisperToMe, Ben Taub Hospital Houston TX, marked as public domain

Ranking #3 nationwide by US News, it is no surprise that Baylor’s PA program is the best in the state. PA students are encouraged to learn side-by-side with medical students, whether in the laboratory or clinical sites. In order to support this goal, PA students have the option to pursue their interests through interdisciplinary enrichment pathways. These include medical ethics and tropical medicine through collaboration with the School of Medicine.

All students in Baylor’s PA program are required to complete at least 12 hours of service-learning within a specific community partner. This leads to further understanding of the curriculum while developing insights about health service and its connection to complex social issues. By interacting with underserved members of the Houston community, students learn how social and medical problems interact.

Baylor is one of the largest biomedical research universities nationwide, providing plenty of learning opportunities for PA students. The College of Medicine focuses on improving health through collaborative research initiatives. With 12 departments ranked in the top 30 for NIH funding, from pediatrics to neuroscience, Baylor is a leader in medical research.

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