Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How old are you?
Q: Where did you go to for undergrad?
A: University of Florida
Q: Why did you choose to pursue a career as a physician assistant versus other careers in the medical field?
A: This is a somewhat loaded question that deserves a blog post of its own, but for now I hope this can suffice: When I was in search of what type of professional I wanted to become and ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ I began taking pre-requisites for nursing classes knowing that the medical field was an interest but I wasn’t sure beyond knowing that.
It wasn’t too far in to pre-requisite courses when I discovered the Physician Assistant profession. The role of being a mid-level provider with the freedom to switch specialties seemed like a dream. Soon became just that, a dream- but one that I could now work towards.
From then on I switched my focus to the classes that would prepare me to be the best candidate for the PA programs I wanted to apply to. Becoming a provider was the most important aspect to me; improving the connection in the patient-provider relationships without the requirement of a residency in addition to the extra two years of medical school.
Becoming a PA was no question once I researched the responsibilities & role they play in the team of providing healthcare. The rest is history!
Q: How did you decide on what your undergrad major would be?
A: Based on the classes needed for PA school I searched majors I felt would prepare me best before entering in my junior year of college. I chose to be a Health Science major because it offered two labs as a ‘filler’ by the Occupational Therapy program that would allow undergrads to participate in a human cadaver lab for both Musculoskeletal and Neuroanatomy. In addition to these two classes, many other courses offered through the Health Science major served as great preparation for future healthcare providers.
However, contrary to popular belief: you do not have to be a science major to apply to PA school, you must simply have the required/recommended pre-requisite courses completed- which may or may not be covered through your undergraduate major prior to your uptake in interest of the PA profession! Pick a major you are genuinely going to love.
Q: Did you take a gap year between undergrad and PA school?
A: Yes, I took one year off to complete my last prerequisite course and to acquire more PCE (Patient Care Experience)
Q: What did you do for HCE (Healthcare Experience)/PCE (Patient Care Experience)? And how many hours did you have when you applied?
A: In undergrad I worked nights and weekends as a Patient Care Tech (equivalent to a Certified Nursing Assistant) in a Pediatric After Hours clinic which was a part of the Pediatric Emergency Department.
After graduating with my degree in Health Science, I worked for a surgical tool company- although this didn’t apply toward my direct patient care hours- it was a great HCE.
Other direct patient care hours I used in my application were medical mission trips to Nicaragua and India.
I applied with roughly 1,000 hours of PCE
Q: What organizations did you go through for your medical mission trips?
A: Fun fact: Medical mission trips are on my top list of things I’m passionate about- so, I LOVE this question!
In undergrad I went on two different medical mission trips; the first through Global Medical Training (GMT) and the second through International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ); I highly recommend researching both of these organizations out on your universities campus & become an active member if you are interested in a future trip! A special bonus is that most of these organizations will sign off to count toward hands on experience for your PA school applications.
Q: What study technique has been the most effective?
A: Personally, I’m a kinesthetic learner. This meaning that in order to retain information and learn the most efficiently I must be physically moving. This type of learning is different from those who learn best by re-listening to lectures or watching demonstrations. Since rewriting things can be time consuming, I try my best to listen the best I can during in class lectures & go over it at home with my whiteboard as soon as I can!
Q: How do you prevent burnout while in school?
A: I think it’s important to remember day in and day out that PA school is a very, very short period of life- yet, it’s such a vital part of life to be fully present in for our future patients!
On the same note, balance is also imperative to maintain. Whether you prefer working out, meditating, or just unwinding with an episode on Netflix-make sure to allow yourself time to unwind!