WHY YOU DONT NEED TO BE A GENUIS TO APPLY TO PA SCHOOL
I get so many messages daily asking about my statistics that got me in to my program. While these statistics matter so much, it doesn’t take a genius to make it in to PA school.
Example A: ME!
When applying to PA schools, the program has specific criteria they look for after making sure each applicant passes the general requirements to be eligible. Though each program has a different criterion they check off with every applicant, the majority want to make sure the following bases are covered:
2. Patient Care hours/Past Experiences/Jobs
3. Volunteer hours
4. GRE score
5. Extracurricular involvement
Having that a high GPA would be extremely favored just about every program…but how well rounded is your application? How personable are you when interacting with others?
This is the beauty of applying to PA school: all of your eggs are not in the same basket. Schools want to see you encompass each aspect a competent Physician Assistant possesses before learning the actual material
Let me let you in on a little secret: I was never the smartest kid in my class, I never got the highest grades, and I surely didn’t test well.
BUT I KNEW WHAT IT HAD TO TAKE TO GET WHERE I NEEDED TO GO.
And this may be you, too. In fact, I’ve met applicants applying alongside me get denied from other programs with a 4.0 GPA but lacked the rest of the criteria the program was looking for.
Getting in to a PA program doesn’t require being a genius, it requires hard work & passion.
Take this moment to jot down these 5 points above & underneath each number write what you have to offer. Next, examine each bullet…which one lacks the most experience?
In particular, here are just a few areas you may have not considered prior to help boost the quality of your application and your experiences before PA school begins:
· Character: If you met a random stranger and shared a conversation for 30 minutes what kind of person do you think they would describe you as? Think of how your personality is perceived by others, as a future provider this actually matters. Your ability to connect with humans is one that you will eventually need to refine day in and day out as we treat & interact daily with those of various walks of life. When applying, schools look for people who will ADD to the quality of their program- reflect and refine in areas you think you could improve in whether it be demonstrating compassion, patience, a positive attitude, etc.
· Dedication to the field: How committed are you to the Physician Assistant profession, or a better yet, what kind of extracurricular involvement do you participate in when you aren’t in class that may make you stand apart from the rest? Areas such as volunteer opportunities, getting a research position, Pre-PA clubs, Pre-Health Honor societies (Ex: I was in Alpha Epsilon Delta & totally recommend it) & taking the time to visit the school ahead of time for a tour will all help you stand out to the faculty reviewing your application.
· GPA/GRE scores – If you do need to improve your GPA or if you’re concerned about a grade in particular, retake it! Retaking a course will only show your commitment to excellence & will show that you’re willing to do anything to get there.
· Patient Care hours/Volunteer Hours – These are a HUGE deal, not only do they prepare you to have contact with patients and get in a comfortable groove with patient care/interactions. Have a ton of hours but still have time left before applying? Try diversifying your experience- get connected in new areas of volunteer or patient care opportunities– Ex: mission trips, volunteer in community organizations, volunteer at hospital, also work hours (if you have a previous career), get involved in philanthropies your university collaborates on annually, honestly I could go on…there’s so much out there to get involved with that’s worth adding to your application!
If you are reading this and you’re interested where I received hours of volunteering/PCE when applying for schools, check out my FAQ post