The Touro University California Joint MSPAS/MPH Program (TUC Joint Program) is a highly competitive program that prepares its students for clinical practice as physician assistants with a public health perspective. In recent years, between 2% and 5% of all applicants were offered admission.

Here are some profiles of successful students before they applied:

How to Apply Step 1

The most successful students shared our mission.

  • We seek to bring quality medical care to medically underserved populations. Many of our most successful students worked in FQHCs or other sites that serve medically underserved populations. They often themselves came from a background of lack of access to medical care and other necessities. They all demonstrate a deep understanding of the many barriers to care that people face.
  • A key element of the quality care our alumni deliver is their ability to bring a public health perspective to their patient populations. To be able to do this, all our students earn a Master of Public Health degree, simultaneous with their clinical training. In earning their MPH, our students take over a dozen classes in the public health program; the course load is extremely rigorous. Successful students share the deep commitment to this integration, which carries them through the challenges of being a TUC Joint Program student.

How to Apply Step 2

They understand the role of a Physician Assistant – and were able to articulate this on their interview day.

  • They shadowed PAs in different areas of primary care, or worked with them clinically.
  • Before shadowing, they did their research on the role and duties of a PA, using the many resources available online.
  • Those who were unable to find a PA to shadow found other ways to get the insight of clinically practicing PAs.
    • If their medical provider is a PA, they talked to them.
    • They took a PA out for coffee.
    • They asked a PA for a fifteen minute phone interview.
    • They asked all PAs for a recommendation for another PA to talk to.
  • In doing their research, they attended our information sessions, or, if not possible, the information sessions offered by nearby PA programs. Many elements of PA education are similar across programs, as all are held to rigorous standards. TUC's info sessions are generally offered between April and October; keep an eye on our front page for more information.
  • See the bottom of this page for "Shadow Match," a resource designed to help prospective PAs in California find shadowing experiences.

How to Apply Step 3

The clinical experience of the most successful students consists of direct patient care in primary care, in medically underserved communities.

  • The most successful students provided care in areas that were directly relevant to our mission: primary care, in medically underserved communities. This is because their personal mission matches that of the program.
  • Successful students recognized that earning direct patient care experience is a process of developing practical skills and competencies in a professional and ethical manner. This experience may have been paid or unpaid.
  • Their patients reflected a broad cross-section of people – ages, ethnicities, abilities, compliance, and barriers to care. Some were present when patients received the difficult news that they or a loved one had a serious medical condition; all knew that they might need to do the same as clinicians.

How to Apply Step 4

All our students have a rigorous courseload; the most successful students come highly prepared.

  • Prior to starting the program, they have demonstrated to themselves that they can handle a rigorous courseload. This takes many forms: maybe they took courses while working full-time, and earned good grades; maybe they were dedicated students in their undergraduate work.
  • They addressed any weaknesses in their personal knowledge by retaking courses where needed. There is no harm in repeating a course, even if an applicant has already met our program prerequisites; strengthening understanding of material makes for a stronger student. This often involves taking courses in writing, as the public health classes involve writing essays.
  • They have determined their best studying styles. Many times, they have taken specific courses in learning how to learn, so they were able to use their limited time effectively.
  • They are practiced at time management, and at budgeting. This enables them to focus on their schoolwork. It is not possible to work full-time as a student at the Joint Program, and only rarely do successful students work even part-time.
  • They are comfortable with both science classes, and being tested via multiple-choice tests, and with the essay writing and nuanced perspectives of public health classes. They are rigorous critical thinkers. Our unique blending of physician assistant education and public health education means our students must be as comfortable, for example, writing a five-page essay as they are with human physiology.

How to Apply Step 5

Successful students prepared for the interview day.

  • The interview day involves many short interviews with faculty. It can be intense; preparation is key.
  • Preparation was especially important to those applicants from non-traditional backgrounds: those whose parents did not complete a four-year degree, or who otherwise did not come from a background oriented towards earning a professional graduate degree. The less their background prepared them for interviews, the more preparation helped.
  • Successful students often did mock interviews with friends. They recorded their performance, reviewed it, made changes, and tried again. This enabled them to present themselves effectively and handle challenges.
  • Some applicants were able to get assistance with preparation from their undergrad schools’ career centers, or from local non profits.

Shadow Match 111


Are you in California and having trouble finding a PA to shadow? ShadowMatch 111 is a new program that matches PA candidates with practicing PAs. ShadowMatch 111 is only in California. ShadowMatch 111 is not a Touro-sponsored program; this information is simply provided for your convenience. ShadowMatch 111 was created by Anthony Gauthier, an orthopedic PA from Long Beach and Larry Rosen, a family medicine PA practicing in North Hollywood. All candidates will be pre-screened and instructed on HIPAA regulations and confidentiality. Scheduling will be coordinated with the participating PA. All PA and candidate information will be held in strictest confidence, not to be released without the prior permission of either party. For more information, please visit their site.