Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ page attempts to answer some of the most common questions that are asked by potential applicants.

Should you have additional questions that are not addressed on this website, please email the program.


 

When is the application cycle?

Every year, applications are available through CASPA from mid-April until the August 1 deadline for accepted students to begin the following June.

What is required to meet your August 1 CASPA application deadline?

The University of New Mexico Physician Assistant Program adheres to CASPAs Green Deadline which states that applications must be Verified by 11:59 pm ET on August 1 of the application year.  Applications can only be verified once all payments, transcripts, and letters of reference have been received.  To ensure your application is verified by the August 1 deadline, submit your completed application at least 4 weeks before the deadline. Applicants are encouraged to check the status of their CASPA application on a weekly basis.  Learn more about CASPA deadlines.

Applicants must also have a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college and have completed all but one prerequisite course prior to the August 1 deadline.  Prerequisites taken in the summer prior to application must be completed by August 1 (Classes can be listed as "in progress" on the CASPA application. Please send an unofficial transcript to UNM PA Program prior to the August 1 deadline at HSC-PAProgram@salud.unm.edu to verify grades for the “in progress” classes.)

 

I submitted my CASPA application by the Aug. 1 deadline. What happens next?

  1. You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application.
  2. Your application will be reviewed to determine if you have met the admissions requirements. This review process is time consuming. Please be patient as we process the high number of applications.
  3. If you have met the admissions requirements, you will receive a supplemental application via email.

What does the August 1 deadline mean?

The University of New Mexico Physician Assistant Program adheres to CASPAs Green Deadline which states that applications must be Verified by 11:59 pm ET on August 1 of the application year.  Applications can only be verified once all payments, transcripts, and letters of reference have been received.  To ensure your application is verified by the August 1 deadline, submit your completed application at least 4 weeks before the deadline. Applicants are encouraged to check the status of their CASPA application on a weekly basis.  Learn more about CASPA deadlines.

When will I receive the supplemental application and what is the deadline to return it?

The supplemental application will be sent via email to applicants selected to move on in the admissions process. This review process is time consuming, so please be patient as we process the high number of applications. The supplemental application should be sent back to our program within two weeks of receipt. Notification is sent via email. Please ensure email inbox folders have been set to recognize emails from the UNM PA Program and CASPA to avoid important information being sent a spam folder. It does not have an August 1 deadline.

 

May I schedule an appointment with an advisor?

Yes, you can schedule an appointment with the program specialisthere.

Due to scheduling conflicts, we are unable to accommodate any walk-in visits.

Are there any recommendations/suggestions you can give to help my application?

As the program advisor, I would suggest you:

  • Gain more than a year of direct patient care experience (a minimum of 6 months is strongly recommended);
  • Take the highly recommended courses (the pre-requisite courses are required to apply);
  • Do your best to earn the highest grades possible in your courses (3.0 overall from the last 60 credits and science GPA is required to apply);
  • Gain community experience by participating in other activities. This means more than those clinical experiences required to apply;
  • Get letters of recommendation from a well-known PA, MD or DO who can attest to your healthcare experience (3 letters are required to apply); and,
  • Become fluent in a regional language ex. Spanish, Native Languages, Vietnamese and Sign (not required to apply).

I am a re-applicant to the UNM PA Program. What can I do to strengthen my application?

Please refer to the letter you received when you last applied. The letter listed suggestions such as:

  • Improve your science GPA;
  • Improve your overall GPA;
  • Increase patient care experience;
  • Increase community involvement; and,
  • Complete highly recommended courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0

Do I have a chance of being accepted if I am not a resident of New Mexico?

New Mexico residents have a strong advantage but we often accept one or two out of state students.

This section provides information on prerequisites and requirements.

What should I do if some of my prerequisites are older than 10 years?

You will need to retake the science-prerequisite courses and highly recommended courses to refresh your knowledge base.

Who should I ask to write the reference letters?

Applicants must have three letters of recommendation in CASPA by the August 1st deadline. One personal reference and two clinical references (preferably an MD/DO or PA/NP) who have known you for six months or longer who can speak to your ability to be a PA; specifically, your clinical abilities, and your problem solving, critical thinking and interpersonal skills.

My patient care experience has been through volunteer work, is that acceptable?

Yes. More information defining direct patient care experience can be found on CASPA's website.

Can I substitute any of the prerequisite courses?

Yes. However, you can only make the following substitutions:

  • Microbiology with lab can be substituted for General Biology with lab;
  • Organic Chemistry with lab, Integrated Organic/Biochemistry with lab, and/or Biochemistry with lab can be substituted for General Chemistry with lab. You still need two chemistry courses with labs.

And only under one of the following circumstances:

  • Your original prerequisite (General Biology or a General Chemistry) was taken more than 10 years ago and has expired; or,
  • Your grade in the upper level course is higher than the grade earned in the lower level course that was passed with a minimum grade of C.

If you have not met one of these conditions, then a substitution cannot be made.

In summary, you must have had the pre-requisite course at one point. You cannot skip the lower level course for the upper level course.

No other substitutions are allowed.

My courses are from other institutions. How can I best compare them?

Quarter Credits

  • UNM operates on a semester credit calendar. Therefore, classes from quarter system institutions will be recalculated to semester hours (one quarter hour = .66 semester hour). For information please visit here.

Different Titles

Courses without accompanying labs

  • You will have to take the necessary labs to apply.

Please plan on attending one of our group information sessions to determine which labs will serve as an acceptable substitute.

Is the GRE required?

  • Yes, the GRE general test is required. GRE scores are valid for 5 years.
  • The UNM PA Program requires that your official scores be in your CASPA application.  Please designate UNM Physician Assistant Program as a school recipient by using UNM PA CASPA code #7347.
  • The GRE cannot be substituted by any other test; MCAT will NOT substitute for the GRE.
  • There is no minimum score required.
  • We would recommend you take the GRE early in the application year to ensure it is scored and received by CASPA well before the August 1 deadline.

I'm a medical foreign graduate who has practiced in the past and passed Step 2 CS of the USMLE, do I still have the same requirements?

Yes, all applicants are required to take the prerequisite courses within the last 10 years (with English taken in the United States). All other courses taken outside of the United States must be translated and reviewed by a transcript credentialing service. For more information please visit CASPA here and here.

Does it matter if my undergraduate degree is in something other than Science?

No, any Bachelors degree from any regionally accredited college is acceptable.

If I have a MS or PhD in the basic sciences, do I need to retake the prerequisites?

If your courses are older than 10 years you will need to retake the prerequisite courses.

My patient care experience has been through volunteer work. Is that acceptable?

Yes. More information defining direct patient care experience can be found on CASPA's website.

Will online courses and/or labs fulfill the prerequisite requirements?

We strongly recommend that prerequisite and highly recommended science courses be limited to a maximum of two on-line courses. All prerequisite and highly recommended courses must be completed through a regionally accredited institution. Under unique and special circumstances (e.g. active military deployment, living and working in a remote area that does not have a regionally accredited institution), we will consider, on a case-by-case basis, accepting more than two on-line courses.

Will your program accept coursework and/or degrees from for profit institutions like ITTech, Brown Mackie or Grand Canyon University?

All coursework and degrees must be from regionally accredited institutions. To be considered regionally accredited, the institution must be accredited through one of the following accrediting bodies:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education;
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education;
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools;
  • The Higher Learning Commission;
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities;
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; and,
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

It is the student's responsibility to contact their institution to determine if it is regionally accredited.

This section provides information about scheduling.

May I schedule an appointment with an advisor?

Yes, you can schedule an appointment with the advisor here.

Due to scheduling conflicts, we are unable to accommodate any walk-in visits.

Is there any flexibility in the schedule of courses?

Not in the academic phase. Courses are offered once a year and must be completed prior to advancing to the next semester. In the clinical phase there is some flexibility, but any delays will affect the final graduation date.

If I am accepted, will I be able to hold a part time job?

Although not a mandate, we strongly discourage students from working while attending the program. The course of studies is rigorous and the schedule is M-F from 8-5 with evening and weekend study time.