University of Toronto’s Physician Assistant Program Overview

Information here is from the PA Consortium website and past information sessions from the PA program, interviews and profiles from University of Toronto PA Students and Alumni.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or post your question in the Canadian Pre-PA Student Network Facebook group!

About University of Toronto’s PA Program

UofT BScPA Program

Program Name: PA Consortium (University of Toronto, Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences)

Spots: 30 spots

Degree: Bachelor of Sciences in PA Studies (BScPA)

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Tuition: $11,500 per year, plus $1300 in ancillary fees, and $1500 incidental fees (Books, supplies)

University of Toronto’s PA program is one of two PA programs in Ontario offering a Bachelor’s Degree in PA Studies. the BScPA degree candidates receive is from the University of Toronto, and this is in collaboration with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and the Michener Institute of Education at University Health Network (UHN).

The program is 2 years long and full time. It utilizes a distance and distributed education program (online) for first year of PA School with several weeks of “residential blocks” throughout the year where students attend in-person classes on campus in Toronto.  Second-year of PA School consists of clinical rotations in different areas of medicine in Northern and Southern Ontario.

University of Toronto’s BScPA Program Mission Statement

“Our mission is to deliver Physician Assistant education programs built on a foundation of social accountability, particularly to rural, remote and underserved communities.”

University of Toronto’s BScPA Program Core Values

  • Social accountability: Contributing to a sustainable healthcare system
  • Professionalism: That entails the establishment of an identity for PAs in a variety of healthcare settings, focusing on primary care
  • Inter-professional collaboration: That includes the advancement of collaborative patient-centred practice
  • Critical thinking and life-long learning: That enhances the effectiveness of services provided by physicians and other members of the healthcare team

University of Toronto PA Admissions

Admission Requirements:

  • Be a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada 🇨🇦
  • Minimum 10 full-year courses (20 half-year courses) OR 4 semesters of undergrad study.
    • Changes for 2022-2023 Admissions Cycle: minimum 10 full-year courses must be completed with grades before the application deadline
  • Minimum 3.0 out of 4.0 GPA calculated on the OMSAS scale
  • Minimum 100 hours of health care experience hours (volunteer, employment, clinical placement)
    • Reduced from 910 hours due to COVID-19 for admission cycles 2020-2021 and 2022-2023.
  • One Reference completes an Applicant Reference Form

No MCAT, GRE, or PA-CAT. No required coursework to apply. 

Preferred Admission Criteria:

These are not mandatory requirements, but if you meet some of these criteria this may help “boost” your application and make you more competitive. Please note there are many examples of candidates who DID NOT fulfill any “preferred admission criteria” and still got into the program.

  • One full-course equivalent of Human Anatomy, Human Physiology
  • Recent health care experience hours (within the last 5 years)
  • Direct hands-on experience in a clinical setting
  • Paid position as a health care provider
  • A current resident of Ontario
  • Resident (as an adult) in a northern or rural community (Rurality index of 40 or more, outside of Ontario, Rural = population of < 15,000).

Steps for Admissions:

  1. Submit your OUAC 105 Application by January
  2. Enable your JOINid
  3. Submit your Transcripts & proof of English Language Proficiency (if applicable) by February.
    1. Tip: do not wait until the last minute to have this ready. Ensure you have this prepared weeks or months ahead of time so you do not submit documents late.
  4. Complete the Supplemental Application and Reference Form: The supplemental application is where the candidate provides demographic information, lists their health care experience hours and description, and 4 to 5 mini-essay questions for candidates to answer.
  5. PA Interviews: After submission of OUAC, transcripts, and the supplemental application, competitive candidates are invited to the Multiple Mini Interview. Invites for the interview are released two weeks before the interview date.
  6. The offer of admission is released May 20 to successful applicants.

Watch an excerpt from the “I was in your footsteps” webinar hosted by Pradha and University of Toronto PA Students providing an overview of University of Toronto PA Admissions:

View the PA Admissions Comparison Chart

Stats of Past Successful University of Toronto PA Applicants

You can visit past class statistics from the Canadian Pre-PA Student Network Facebook Group, which contains statistics for all 3 PA programs (free to join).

University of Toronto’s PA Program Curriculum

The University of Toronto PA Program is a 2-year program (24 months) with 6 semesters, where first-year is didactic learning (3 semesters) and second-year students complete clinical rotations.

Year 1 PA School

Year 1 is also known as “Pre-Clerkship” year is this is academic-focused. Year 1 has a total of 15 courses.

The program is a distance-and-distributed format:

  • Non-Residential Blocks (online learning): This means that first year, students are not “in class” but learn online from home.
  • Residential Blocks (in-person learning): students come to a central teaching location for in-person classroom instruction at University of Toronto, Michener or NOSM).

All coursework is done through residential and non-residental blocks. Courses include:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Skills
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures (DTP)
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathology
  • Medical Foundations
  • Behavioural Medicine
  • PA Professional Competencies: Intro to the PA Role
  • Interprofessional Education (IPEs): Students engage in activities alongside students from other health care programs (medicine, nursing, OT, PT, Social work, SLP and more) to foster interprofessional collaboration.
  • Longitudinal Clinical Experiences (LCEs): Here students participate in clinical placements in the first year if PA school. Students are provided a database of clinical preceptors and locations, and LCE placements can be done in your area of interest.  PA students are exposed to a variety of clinical settings to complement what is being learned in the classroom.
  • PA Scholar: Evidence-Based Medicine and Quality Improvement

Read more about schedule and classes in our Life of a first-year University of PA student article.

Year 2 PA School

Year 2 is “Clerkship” year where PA students gain direct, hands-on patient experience on clinical rotations in different areas of medicine. They are supervised b y a clinical preceptor (PA or MD). Clinical work with patients occur 4.5 days a week  (does not include on-call activities or academic half days) plus an academic half-day to work on academic coursework.

Students also complete an End of Rotation Exam after each rotation.

Core Rotations: 

  • Primary Care (12 weeks)
  • Hospitalist/Internal Medicine (4 weeks)
  • Paediatrics (4 weeks)
  • Emergency Medicine (4 weeks)
  • General Surgery (4 weeks)

Elective Rotations: The remaining weeks are spent in elective rotations, which can be in the PA students’ area/specialty of interest. Examples include Orthopaedic Surgery, Plastics, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Cardiology and more.

North-South Swap: Half of the clinical rotations are done in Southern Ontario and half in Northern Ontario. This is mandatory.

Academic Coursework during Clerkship Year:

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How does online, self-directed learning work for first-year PA school? 

A. Online, self-directed learning. Outside of these residential blocks students have lectures online. They participate in classes, online meetings and discussions. There are also small and large group study sessions. This distance learning allows students to stay within their communities and with their families so they do not have to move away from Toronto.

Q. Where are Longitudinal Clinical Experiences (LCE) placements completed? 

A. Clinical placements are completed within the student’s community, helping the student build connections & network within their own community.

Q. What happens in second-year PA school? 

A. Second year is clinical clerkship. This is where PA students complete rotations in different areas of medicine for several weeks at a time. Here they function as “clinical clerks” (similar to 3rd or 4th-year medical students in rotations). There are 40 clinical weeks that are completed, with 10 total rotations. This includes primary care, ER, internal medicine, surgery, mental health, pediatrics, and elective rotations in the students’ area of interest.

Q. I noted half the rotations in 2nd year of PA school are done in northern Ontario. What is involved on those rotations? 

A. University of Toronto PA students engage in a North-South Swap for clinical rotations:  50% of clinical rotations are in rural, and underserved areas of Ontario, whereas 50% are in the South. Students do enjoy the split of experiences and there are several advantages to completing rotations in rural areas:

    • Less medical learners in rural rotations – this means you may be more likely to get one-on-one teaching at a community hospital/ rural hospital, rather than the clinical preceptor dividing their attention with 6 other medical students, 2 residents, and 1 fellow (or 1-2 other PA students) at large academic teaching hospitals within the GTA.
    • In rural settings, it is not uncommon to have primary care providers complete shifts delivering babies (some responsibilities in OB/GYN) or doing shifts in the ER or performing some surgeries due to the lack of providers – your experience in rural may include more than your run-of-the-mill practice in a large downtown family practice.

Watch this Q&A we did with University of Toronto 1st year PA students Hannah and Marie-Christine:

Helpful Links

Final Notes

Are you planning to apply for this upcoming PA Admissions Cycle? Visit the PA Consortium Website or get in touch with the PA program by contacting physician.assistant@utoronto.ca

You can interact with other Pre-PA students, current PA students and PA Alumni in the Canadian Pre-PA Facebook Group

Otherwise, leave your question in the comments below!

5 Comments

  1. Faiga Osman February 5, 2022 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    I am an IMG, have master in medical profession education. I am asking about the PA program, the mode of delivery, and if I can do the placement in Lobdon ON if was accepted

    • Anne Dang February 5, 2022 at 10:45 pm

      Hi Faiga! You can go to paconsortium.ca to learn more about the mode of delivery. Here is a link to a description of University of Toronto’s BScPA Program Delivery: https://paconsortium.ca/program-information

      It is a combination of distance and in-person learning in first year, and clinical placements in 2nd year. Half of the placements are in southern Ontario, and the other half are done in Northern Ontario.

  2. Regine February 16, 2022 at 11:22 am - Reply

    Hi. I am a mother of 3, I have my Bachelor’s in Biological Scientist(BS) from a University in Illinois, Phlebotomy certificate from Illinois but now live in Toronto, ON. I would love to apply to the PA program but need more information on how to go by applying and know the requirements for it. Will the schedule be flexible enough for me to still be around my kids? Where would be the best place to apply for the PA program? Thank you

    • Anne Dang February 16, 2022 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Regine!

      For more information on admission criteria, you can visit the UofT PA program website at http://paconsortium.ca or view a comparison of all 3 PA program admission criteria at canadianpa.ca/admissions

      The program is quite intensive, and first year (didactic year) allows you to study from home, with “residential blocks” that include in-person learning for a few weeks at a time. Second-year PA school is like a full-time job, you do clinical rotations in different areas of the hospital in locations in northern and southern Ontario.

      Appications are done through OUAC – and the steps are outlined here: https://paconsortium.ca/admissions-process

  3. moshe ohana May 25, 2022 at 8:17 am - Reply

    please send me some more info

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