Finally. Reading this discussion board has been rough.
I am not a PA but I am currently applying and hope to be a PA student shortly!
I have a 4 year undergraduate Bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology with a minor in Psychology. I have taken both the MCAT and the GRE and I am working in clinical research.
To enter PA school you need a 4 year undergrad degree with courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, biology (A&P, Micro, cell molec) as well as english and psych.
PA school is 115 weeks on average and awards a master's degree while medical school is 150 weeks and awards a doctorate. No REQUIRED residency for PA grads but there is the option.
PAs can do 80% of what a doctor can do. Including prescribing schedule II - V drugs which includes narcotics, and they have their own DEA number! Which means it doesn't depend on their physician.
Yes they have to work with a physician but that doesn't mean the MD/DO has to be on site. They can be in another state in some instances.
I wish people would really try and find out about the profession before they go talking poorly about it. It's laziness and ignorance that I can't stand.
Just on a side note, one of the main reasons I chose to become a PA was the ability to switch specialties without having to go back to school, or to work in more than one specialty at the same time. PAs, like MD/DO, are trained as generalists, so they can choose any specialty they so desire. However, unlike MD/DO, they are not pigeonholed into one area their entire careers. This flexibility was SO appealing to me.