Benefits of joining the AAPA as a Pre-PA Applicant

FOR A LIMITED TIME!!!

AAPA MEMBERSHIP IS DISCOUNTED $25 WHEN YOU USE THE CODE: PREPA

As you may have heard by now, myPAresource has entered into a collaborative relationship with the AAPA to help provide some benefits for their Pre-PA applicants. Never before has the AAPA provided Pre-PA students with resources to help them get into PA school, as the benefits they have previously offered were geared more towards accepted PA students who were already in school.

Below are is a list of reasons why, as a Pre-PA student, you should consider joining the AAPA:

  • Discounts on Pre-PA Services/Resources- As we mentioned above, the AAPA has started to focus more on their Pre-PA members and helping them get into PA school. As an AAPA member, you’ll get EXCLUSIVE discounts on services from myPAresource, the PA Platform, PA School Prep, Kaplan GRE Prep, the Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs, and the PA School Interview Guide. You’ll also get discounts to resources once you get accepted and become a PA student!

  • Applicant Timeline and Checklist- This checklist will help keep you on track while you’re getting ready for the upcoming CASPA application cycle. This way you’ll know EXACTLY what you need to have done and by when to ensure that you apply early and that you have collected all of the necessary information, paperwork, and references to submit to CASPA to give you an edge.

  • Subscription to JAAPA (The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants)- JAAPA is a monthly journal that is mailed right to your door and includes the newest, most up-to-date research and guidelines to help expose you to your future profession. It’s never too early to get learn about those disease processes you’ll later spend HOURS learning about in school. Plus, it’s FREE!

  • The AAPA Huddle- an EXCLUSIVE online community/forum for AAPA members to ask questions, connect with other members, find a mentor, discuss challenges, network, and even find mentors!

  • Support Your Future Profession- Probably one of the main benefits of joining the AAPA is supporting your future profession. Not only will your membership dues help support efforts to help expand our profession, but they’ll also help raise awareness of PAs, further instilling the obvious need for physician assistants within the medical community.

  • Include AAPA Membership on your Application- being involved is a GREAT addition to ANY Pre-PA student’s application! And what better organization to be involved with than the AAPA??? Show schools that you are serious about becoming a physician assistant and prove how long you have been working to be a part of this incredible profession. Being an AAPA member will further help set you apart from other applicants who are not currently members.

As if being involved with the largest organization that represents your future profession isn’t enough, we hope the benefits listed above give you some insight into why you should consider becoming an AAPA member as a Pre-PA student.

FOR A LIMITED TIME!!!

AAPA MEMBERSHIP IS DISCOUNTED $25 WHEN YOU USE THE CODE: PREPA

Guest Post by Future PA Gaby De Vita

The most important essay of your life

Who would have thought that explaining to some strangers why you want to go into the career of your dreams, and on top of that convincing them that you are worthy of this opportunity, would be so hard? After all, we are our own best advocates, and we all love talking about ourselves… Well, maybe the majority of people do.

If you are applying to PA school, or are considering doing so, you probably know that you have to write an essay explaining your motivations to become a physician assistant. Along with that explanation you should also let them know, with supporting evidence of your past experiences, that you have both passion and what it takes to survive PA school. Oh, and f that isn’t enough pressure, lets just add that you have to successfully address all of this in no more than 5000 characters.

Throughout our years in high school and undergrad we were required to write several essays that we were later graded on. Sometimes we would choose the topic, other times a topic was assigned to us. Either way, we would usually have a set of requirements to fulfil, and the guidelines to write a complete essay. If you know how to follow instructions, do your homework, and visit the writing center, you would usually end up with a passing grade on that essay. Little did we know that the most important essay in our lives would have very little instructions, and while it can be frightening to have no guidelines other than answering the main question, it can also be the best opportunity to showcase your unique journey.

Prior to writing the first word of my essay for PA school I thoroughly researched how to do it, how were other people writing theirs, what things to keep in mind, what to say and what to avoid, and so on.  When I sat down to start writing it, I had so many ideas in my mind, there was so much I wanted them to know about me. So, I created my own guidelines based on my previous research. I made a list of all the things I considered important about my academic and professional life, as well as my background, skills, and other aspects of my life that made me who I am today. Then, I grouped experiences together by topic, and created an outline of my future essay. Finally, I started to type what I thought was a good introduction.

Many drafts followed my initial attempt to create a worthy essay that was all about me and why I wanted to become a PA. Even though I was happy with how it was turning out and several people thought it was great, I still had insecurities about it. They say that an exceptional essay can land you an interview, and having chose to apply to two schools only, I needed to maximize my chances at getting an interview. Eventually, when I felt my essay was pretty good but knew it wasn’t perfect yet, I decided to seek help from the experts, even if that meant an additional cost to the already pricey process of applying to PA school. So, I contacted the team over at myPAresource and purchased one of their services. And boy! Could I be any happier that I did, because they were fantastic!

The team at myPAresource did an incredible job at helping me write a truly winning essay. Even though I knew I would receive suggestions for improvements, I still was shocked when I got their feedback. For a minute it felt like I had to start all over, but when I read it a second time I realized I was in the right direction but needed more help than I thought to make it perfect. The way they edited and commented on my essay was very specific, easy to understand, and relevant! I agreed with most, if not all of their comments and suggestions. I worked on my essay with all their suggestions, submitted my CASPA application to two programs only, and a few months later guess what happened? Yes! I got my interview invite, followed by the best call ever, an acceptance call!

So, if you also think that the PA school essay is probably the most important (and most challenging) essay of your life, know that there is help available and you can ask for it at any point. Choosing to go with professional help for my essay is a decision that helped me tremendously in crafting a winning essay, and it also helped boost my confidence in my overall application. The people you are explaining to why you want to become a PA, have the power to grant you an interview, but you have the power to convince them with an exceptional essay! Don’t let that chance slip by.

You are welcome to follow my journey through PA school on Instagram @healthymode.pa while I also do my best to help and inspire prePAs on their own journey!

 

 

Guest Post by Future PA Jamie Murawski

Common Misconceptions: CASPA Edition

 

Hey all, I’m Jamie, a PA student from Detroit Mercy about to graduate in August (2018). For the last three years, I’ve been active on many different websites - lurking through the Physician Assistant Forum, moderating the Reddit /r/prephysicianassistant subreddit, commenting and reading threads on Facebook groups like The Pre-PA Club, and building my Instagram account (@jamienicole_pa.s). I have a lot of experience in the world of PA school applications and the commonly asked questions about each piece of your application. I thought I’d address a few things that I see over and over that I think are misconceptions. These are mistakes you don’t want to make!

1.     Personal statements should focus on why you want to be a PA.
If I can replace the word PA with doctor or nurse, you have only told me why you want to be in healthcare and not why you want to be a PA. Don’t spend too much time re-stating the things I can already see in your resume as far as experience goes; focus more on WHY you want this career.  And be specific!  

2.     Don’t make physician possessive!
“Physician’s assistant” makes the admissions committee cringe; the profession is “physician assistant” (lowercase unless directly referring to a PA, in which case it is part of their title and should be capitalized as a proper noun).

3.     Volunteering does not have to be healthcare related!
You can walk dogs or socialize cats at an animal shelter, you can organize or walk a 5K charity race, you can go on a mission trip with your church – all of these things count as volunteering! They show that you’re well rounded and interested in giving back to your community. You don’t have to be a greeter at the local hospital.

4.     You CAN list an experience as both healthcare and patient care experience.
The perfect example of this is medical assisting. As an MA, you likely do some clerical work like calling in prescriptions and verifying patient appointments – these things are healthcare experience. There’s probably also time where you’re greeting the patient, asking what brings them in, taking their vitals, maybe even giving vaccinations, or drawing blood for a CBC – these things are patient care experience. Split the time as best you can into each category. Do not fudge how much you’re actually spending time with patients. If they call your office and find out you mostly do paperwork, that’s a fast track to rejection.

5.     Letters of recommendation should come from people who actually know you.
Everyone is so focused on getting a person who looks good (e.g. a PA they shadowed) that they lose touch of the purpose of the letter. If you only spent 8 hours with a person, and most of that time was watching them treat their patients, did you really show them your personality, your drive, your ability to succeed? Probably not. Ask someone who has seen your work ethic, that may be a PA you work for/with but it can also be a professor, an academic advisor, an RN supervisor, etc.

6.     If you are not ready to apply to PA school, you don’t need to open CASPA and start entering data “to make it easier”.
I think this one bothers me most. If you create an account and start an application, you have to select at least one school to apply to. Even if you never actually submit, on the next cycle when you go to log back in, it will welcome you as a reapplicant. This freaks people out because they are like, “I never applied! Will schools see my app as a reapplicant?” The answer to that is no, but the bigger point here is that the time you spent entering your data last year will now make you have to wait to retrieve that old information (which can take 30 minutes or it can take an entire day). It doesn’t save you time, and I find that it just adds extra stress because you worry about all the different components you saw on the application (that you probably weren’t ready to answer). Open your application and apply in the cycle you are actually ready for.

7.     Lastly and probably most important… applying “early” does not mean getting your application in by the end of April.
Hint: CASPA opens at the end of April… applying by the end of April sounds a little rushed, doesn’t it? I see so many people now wanting to apply early and getting incredibly stressed out that they aren’t applying fast enough. DO NOT RUSH! It’s easy to make mistakes that will delay your submission in the long run. Take your time to enter your data correctly and really focus on making yourself stand out as a good applicant. “Early” is certainly important for schools with rolling admissions because the earlier you submit, the better your chances of acceptance. But if you apply mid-June for a school with a September deadline, that’s still plenty early. May and June are great times to submit your application. There are even schools with December and January deadlines – think about how much will change by then if you’re applying in April. Apply with a confident and well-prepared application when YOU are ready.

Follow Jamie on her journey on Instagram: @jamienicole_pa.s

Guest Post by Future PA Jinal Mary

I am More

 

Before applying to Physician Assistant (PA) programs, I was actually pursuing an education in musical theatre. I wanted to make people happy and wow the crowds with a powerful song and see a sparkle in their eye when they laughed at my wicked jokes. My dad, on the other hand, wanted me to be a doctor. And with being a young woman raised in a sheltered family, I was almost forced to oblige to his orders. 

I never saw myself pursuing medicine because the long work hours and the numerous required educational years did not appeal to me at all. So, the little rebel in me still enrolled in music classes, performed as leads in musicals, and flashed my jazz hands on stage. It wasn’t until my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and cardiac problems where I really began to understand what medicine was about.

Surgery after surgery, appointment after follow-up appointment, I came across a vast variety of medical providers. I saw how broken other individuals, not just my father, were in their darkest hours and how the community of healthcare providers worked around the clock to give them a glimmer of hope— even if it was just a small smile on their face.

Although my father’s continuous hospitalizations took a toll on my entire family, it was my time in the hospital during his recovery which opened my eyes to the physician assistant profession. As his surgical PA made his daily rounds, his vast knowledge, and commitment to informing my father and family of his care plan, resonated with me. I began to see sparkles of hope in my dad’s eyes— like the sparkle I saw in the eyes of the audience during my musical theatre days. This made me realize that as a future healthcare provider, I aspire to effectively educate patients in all spectrums of health as well.

In my undergraduate and graduate years, I struggled heavily with balancing it all: working full time, enrolling in full-time classes, leadership roles in academic/social clubs, and maintaining a healthy relationship. And though I was a fantastic leader, kicked butt with gaining those patient contact hours, and volunteering, it adversely took a hit on my GPA. Because of this, I was often advised to consider a different career path because my GPA couldn’t stand against other applicants with straight 4.0s. 

This not only frustrated me but almost felt as though others were taking a hit at my capability. Sure, my GPA wasn’t the best, and I may not be the most outstanding test taker, but I knew that I was capable of critically assessing and diagnosing patients, given the proper education, and do so with compassion. 

That’s when it hit me. I realized I am more than just numbers; more than my GPA. I am a leader. I am a team player. I am a philanthropist. I am a patient advocate. And it is SO IMPORTANT for other applicants to understand this as well. PA programs, and medicine itself, is not looking to spit out robots that can binge and purge information for exams; they’re looking for leaders who are ready to make a positive movement in medicine for their profession and for their patients.  

Every applicant’s path in medicine is unique and should be highlighted. Your personal statement helps to portray a little taste of who you are as a person, a student, and a future clinician. I thank myPAresource for giving me the tools in aiding me to convey my personal story in a professional, meaningful, and powerful way.

You are more than that bad biology grade your freshman year. You’re an individual who preservers, no matter the circumstances. You are more than just a number. I still tell myself this as I walk into the testing room for every PA school exam. And I will continue to tell myself this I treat patients after graduation. It’s not about the grades; it’s about the patients. 

 

Follow Jinal's journey through PA school on Instagram: @notoriouspa_c

Guest Post by Future PA Jazmine Kwong

Third time’s the charm : Getting into PA school

 

HEY everyone! My name is Jazmine, a first-year PA student at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. After much contemplation, I've decided to create a blog! Here, I'll be able to document my wanderings throughout PA school with a dash and sprinkle of everything else. 

Here is a question I get frequently: Why did it take you 3 times to get into PA school?

Yes, it took me three attempts to get accepted into PA school and what a journey it has been! It was an undulating ebb and flow- some ups and a lot of downs. In retrospect, it all happened for a reason. This year, the PA profession turns 50 years young and I am so happy to celebrate! I simply want to share my experience and to encourage all pre-PAs to keep striving and of course, share why it took me so dang long!

Rewind to 2012, when I shadowed a PA for the very first time. It was my third year of college and I thought pre-med was the path for me. Before this, I thought PA meant personal assistant. Others did too; some people during that time thought I wanted to be a personal assistant. Nothing against personal assistants however, I want to highlight how far the profession has come in a little over 5 years. I say “I’m going to PA school right now” and many people respond with “Oh! Physician assistant!”

Soon after my shadowing experience in 2012, I made the decision to go pre-PA! I shadowed many doctors and nurse practitioners to get a feel for all three professions and I ultimately chose PA because it just fit! I started researching all the programs and made a timeline for myself. I wanted to get in right after I graduate- no breaks, I want this NOW. Nope. It didn’t quite happen like I wanted.

2014: I applied to CASPA, entered in all the grades I ever had, wrote a personal statement about my life and why I wanted to pursue this wonderful profession in under 5,000 characters and rushed my GRE test. I was so eager to start and devoted so much emotional energy into it.

 

WHY I DIDN’T GET INTO PA SCHOOL CYCLE #1: I DIDN’T READ THE DIRECTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS.

 

Yes. Something as simple as reading the requirements - I didn’t do it and it broke my heart when I realized it was something so straightforward. I assumed that my upper division psychology and sociology courses were acceptable for the prerequisites. I called the programs specifically to check and they said, sorry. I had to wait another year and it was all my fault and it sucked. Boo. 

I didn’t let this deter me, in fact- it prompted me to read every single requirement thoroughly and I realized this was a chance to improve on my overall application- to improve myself. I refused to just wait around, I needed more patient care experience hours and needed to retake some courses. And that's what I did.

 

WHY I DIDN’T GET INTO PA SCHOOL CYCLE #2: MY GRADES AND HOURS WEREN’T COMPETITIVE.

 

I had an overall GPA of 3.1 and maybe 1,000 patient care hours. The bare minimum for some programs. I increased the number of programs that I applied to from 4 to 8 programs. I received one interview that cycle! YES. “Here’s my chance and I’m so excited!”  I felt as though I did great in my interview but a few days after, I was reviewing what I said and I realized I rambled. A lot. A few days after that. I was flat out REJECTED.

I cried. I was so so close and it all looked so promising. How am I going to do this a THIRD time? And what if it doesn’t work out - a fourth time? Should I give up and reevaluate what I want to do? Am I even good enough? UGH. 

Your harshest critic is yourself. And luckily, I surrounded myself with a loving support system. “You got an interview! This means that you look great on paper. Perhaps, prepare better for your interviews. You’re so close!” Many words of encouragement pulled me out of my funk and I continued to improve myself. I reached out to schools and asked for feedback and worked on my weak points.

 

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM: MAKE YOUR COMEBACK STRONGER THAN YOUR SETBACK!

 

My third cycle, I increased all my hours in shadowing, patient care experience, and volunteering. I retook all my Cs and made them As. I attended PA conferences to comprehend current issues affecting PAs in California. I reached out to current PA students and medical students and coordinated many mock interviews. I audited PA classes in the area and attended more info sessions. I was SEASONED and well-versed this THIRD time around.

To my surprise, I was offered 5 interviews out of the 12 programs I applied to! Year after year, rejection after rejection- it was super refreshing to see these emails. Going into interviews this time around, I felt as if I knew myself better. I had more experience under my belt and felt comfortable in telling others my story. I was then blessed with 3 acceptances and I happily accepted.

 

MORAL OF MY JOURNEY: IT’S NOT A MATTER OF IF YOU’LL GET INTO PA SCHOOL, IT’S A MATTER OF WHEN.

 

Yeah, it got really dark at times and I questioned my worth during those moments but it’s ultimately how you bounce back after the fact. There is always room for improvement. And quite honestly, if I didn’t make it in this time around- I would’ve tried a FOURTH time. Because I simply want to be a PA that bad.

 

You got this.
JAZMINE

Follow Jazmine's story on her website: https://www.jazminek-pa.com/ 
And her Instagram: jazminek_pa

Guest Post by Future PA Aaron Hunro

CASPA: The Emotional Rollercoaster

"What is CASPA? Is that Casper's ghetto cousin?" The source of this quote will remain unnamed, however, the quote itself will never be forgotten. I remember letting out a slight chuckle that resulted in myself and this person laughing hysterically. It was just what I needed. I was in the midst of the 2016-2017 CASPA (The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants) cycle. I vlogged each week during that application cycle, almost like Matt Damon's character in The Martian. I recapped exactly what I had done so far, what obstacles I encountered and overall, just what I was feeling. This was my first time applying to professional health professions schools and I was going through it... alone. I had no friends who were pre-PA, at that time. Most of my friends and classmates who were applying, submitted to their respective medical and dental schools when their application services opened, the thing that our advisers usually tell us to do. Did I listen? Of course not. I did not officially submit my CASPA application until July 14th, 2016. I was nervous, anxious, hopeful and stressed out.

I remember feeling as if my application was just a dart throw in the dark because my GPA (crap) and hours (mediocre) and personal statement (no comment) were the best I had at that point in time. I "felt ready" to start PA school and that's why I submitted... to 14 programs. They say the waiting game is the toughest and for me, it really was. I tried to distract myself with enjoying the time I had with my family whenever I visited (I was living in Northern California at this time) as well as during my friends' weddings in Arkansas and Long Beach. I did continue to work a lot but at the same time not as much as I did *spoiler alert* my second time around.

I received my first rejection from a school in New York, a month or so after submitting (again a dart throws in the dark, blindfolded and on a unicycle). I wasn't hurt or disappointed... or at least I didn't show it. And I think I was more so, aloof about it. "Oh well, I didn't want to go there anyway!" #ArrogantApplicantMindSet

The one rejection that did hurt was my second one. It was still relatively early in the cycle, August. I had been networking and putting my name out there with this particular university. My cousin went there, I thought this was going to get me some points, and I met the program director on several occasions as well as some of their current students. It felt horrible getting this rejection because it was essentially an automatic rejection due to my microbiology course. As I pleaded my case and explained in an email attached with the course description and syllabus, it was a regular microbiology lecture and lab course. However, it was only 3 quarter units. So, I was short in terms of unit count. And this began the descend of the roller coaster...

One after another, I received rejection after rejection, most programs cited the microbiology course as the main culprit as well as my abysmal GPA. It was painful because I knew it wasn't anyone else's fault but mine. And I really didn't have anyone to vent to because a) I was embarrassed for people to know b) The one person I could talk to about things like this, was my ex-girlfriend, who I broke up with in the middle of the CASPA application (not recommended).

So here I was, alone up north in The Bay, without family, without emotional support, and so I stayed hopeful yet realized that I needed to make some moves between now and the next application cycle.

I decided to move back to Southern California. I was still waiting to hear back from about 3-4 more programs including my top choice. The pressure to "get in and get out" as some PA's (including my dad) have told me was immensely high. I felt at a low and the only "highs" were from anything outside of medicine and PA school (i.e. football, rap, concerts, dating, etc.) But even then, they weren't really highs-- they were more-so short-lived stress reliefs. The football team I was playing on wasn't very good, that was stressful. My raps and music were ehh... Concerts were expensive and caused financial stress. And of course, dating in itself was stressful, hence not being able to keep a committed relationship after my previous one. I think it was around December in which I really was at my low, I was at 190 lbs. (the heaviest I had ever been), I was broke, I was getting rejected by schools... and girls. Essentially, I was hating 2016 and this CASPA application cycle.

After dwelling on my shortcomings and failures, I thought about alternative careers and jobs, from sales, to substitute teaching, to photography, etc. But I got a figurative slap to the face which kept me back on track. Thanks Dad!

Enter 2017, this was going to be the year where I made no excuses. I got a patient care experience job that worked well with my schedule of classes. I registered for 4 classes that semester through a local CC, I also had an accelerated microbiology course scheduled in February (which would address my micro bio units required "blemish") and I was ready to take more classes if need be.

I was "waitlisted to interview" by my top choice but other than that I got no buzz and all rejections. I reached out to these programs and they told me exactly what I needed to do. After realizing that my scribe hours were actually pretty golden for most programs as well as working in the ABA realm, I continued to work even harder.

This fueled my fire to really work hard and not make ANY excuses for myself. This schedule was perfect because I had no time to lolly-gag and it allowed me to also get back into the gym. I can honestly say I was putting in work like a mad man during that first quarter of 2017, and it paid off. I got a 3.7 GPA in those classes, I got another 200 hours or so of PCE, another 20+ hours of shadowing and lost 11 pounds! It was addicting to see these results so I kept grinding even harder. I started networking with several pre-PA folks and groups. I registered for 2 more courses and got a new job as a scribe in Pediatrics. So, during the month of April-June, I was working 52 hours a week and taking those 2 courses.

Enter CASPA 2017-2018 cycle, aka Round 2 aka "GYA (Get Your A _ _) into PA School, Aaron". This time around, I was in the 5,000-6,000 hour range (a bump from about 3,000-4,000), I added more shadowing hours, more volunteer hours and a 3.8 GPA in my last 60 units or so.

Additionally, I made one of the biggest improvements to my application, via my personal statement! I don't want to spoil the outcome but I can honestly say the personal statement allowed me to share who I was as a person and PA applicant. I attribute the personal statement success to multiple people-- my dad, my mentor, Anthony, and Brian from myPAresource. They dissected my personal statement to the teeth and gave valuable insight and advice. They were truly invested in my story content-wise. I thought of using myPAresource as an investment, and it truly was! I trusted Brian and his team because he knows what admissions committees look for after spending YEARS interviewing applicants, he IS a PA-C and was genuinely invested in my success, as he is for all pre-PA students. (Highly recommended)! For me, the cost of missing out on another year of potential PA salary, re-applying and stress massively outweighed the price for a revision by their experts.  

Again, I did not submit until mid-July but when I did, I was not in the right mindset. I was working on my application at the summer camp I volunteered at and one of the kiddos just got sent to the hospital and a camp director was giving me a lot of crap for having my laptop with me but I told her it was for my application so essentially, I had to work on it in front of her. I was ticked off. I could not believe this situation and it was probably a reason why when I submitted, I made some errors on my experiences section (small errors but I hate careless errors so this made me even more upset). I stayed up until about 2 am and submitted that night. #BadIdea

But everything worked out because I kept working hard and kept grinding as if I did not have any other options. A month after submitting I received my first PA school interview and I was elated!

I was looking up flights, mock interview prep stuff, interview materials, suits and just anything related to this program. I had a month to prepare and I was on top of it! The interview was in the end of September and I had not received any rejections just yet so I was still pretty much grinding... but on cloud nine.

I was extremely nervous for the interview but I was on top of my game, I remained calm, collective and extremely grateful for the opportunity. I could not believe it! All of that work paid off and I was actually in a PA school interview. I was in the zone and until I dropped off all those thank you notes, I was on top of my game and I felt possessed almost. It was an incredible experience that I'll never forget. But what came after that was even more unforgettable.

A few weeks after the interview, I received a letter stating that I was waitlisted. I was extremely excited and happy but at the same time still bummed out because I did not have my seat yet. I remained hopeful and again, continued to work hard. I kid you not, the very next week, I got the call during work and I almost fell to my knees...

I cried tears of joy and it honestly felt like all of those long nights and longer days paid off and those stressful events were what led me to where I was, accepted! This seriously was a rollercoaster of emotions and I enjoyed it thoroughly but I was relieved! I started planning out my summer before PA school including my "Summer U.S. Tour" but the ride was not over!

In December, I got a call from my top program stating that there was an interview on Saturday (this was Monday) and I was waitlisted to interview. The admissions director told me that there could be a good chance I might be called the day before and she asked if I was interested. I told her, absolutely! I waited, and prepared, but waited, frustrated yet excited. I wanted this, but at the same time I knew I had an acceptance in my back pocket already. So, I was less stressed but still pretty anxious. Friday rolls around and I get a call at noon. "We just wanted to see if you are still interested in interviewing tomorrow?" "YES! Absolutely. Thank you for this opportunity and I will see you tomorrow." Boom! Switched into that mentality and was on top of my game, however, I felt as if I did not do as well as I wanted to, especially for this program. But I was relieved and again, grateful for the opportunity.

A month and a half later, I get the call and this time there were no tears but man I was so happy that I was speechless. Literally. I still can't really explain the feeling but I knew I was torn between this and the first program. It took a lot of in-depth decision making. I prayed on it, discussed it with my family and parents. I finally made my decision and placed my deposit in for this program knowing that I would lose out of the $1,000 deposit for the first program. 

So now... I sit here, relieved, knowing that all of my hard work had paid off and that long roller coaster was the thrill of a lifetime. So many mixed emotions, growth, maturity and appreciation for the ride but as I get off of this roller coaster ride, I'm ready and anxious to get on another, even crazier roller coaster one. This one being PA school.

Follow me as I share my ride leading up to and and during PA school:
@aaronangkor

Your CASPA Application: October 2017 Deadlines

October 1 is one of the most popular application deadlines.  Below you'll find a list of PA schools that WILL NOT accept your application after the October 1 deadline: 

Adventist University
Arcadia University
Bay Path University
Boston University
Bryant University
Campbell University
Carroll University
Chapman University
Chatham University
D’Youville College
Duke University
Emory University
George Washington University
Heritage University
High Point University
Hofstra University
Kettering College
Le Moyne College
Lock Haven University
Loma Linda University
Louisiana State University
Mary Baldwin University
MCPHS University (Boston)
Midwestern University
New York Institute of Technology
North Greenville University
Northwestern University
Ohio Dominican University
Rocky Mountain College
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
Rush University
Sacred Heart University
Samuel Merritt University
Stony Brook University
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Thomas Jefferson University
Touro College (Winthrop)
Trevecca Nazarene University
Union College
University of Findlay
University of Mount Union
University of New England
University of Oklahoma, Tulsa
University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City
University of Saint Joseph

Your CASPA Application: Early Deadlines 2017

The first group of PA programs have deadlines coming up in just over a week!  If you haven't finished your application, be sure to get your materials together ASAP!  Hopefully by this point you've started!  See all of the early deadlines below:

July 15, 2017:
Missouri State University
Saint Francis University
University of California- Davis
University of Kentucky
University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

August 1, 2017:
Augsburg College
Bethel University
Butler University
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
Indiana University
James Madison University
Louisiana State University
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Milligan College
Northeastern University
Ohio University
Oklahoma City University
Saint Catherine University
South University (Richmond)
South University (Savannah)
South University (Tampa)
Tufts University
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Bridgeport
University of Charleston
University of Evansville
University of Missouri, Kansas City
University of New Mexico
University of the Cumberlands
University of Utah
University of Wisconsin- La Crosse
University of Wisconsin- Madison
Westfield State University

September 1, 2017
Anne Arundel Community College
Arizona School of Health Sciences
Baylor College of Medicine
Bethel University
Central Michigan University
Charleston Southern University
College of St. Scholastica
Concordia University
Dominican University
Drexel University
East Carolina University
Eastern Michigan University
Gardner Webb University
Marquette University
Medical University of South Carolina
Mouth St. Joseph University
Northern Arizona University
Oregon Health & Science University
Pace University
Pacific University
Quinnipiac University
Red Rocks Community College
Rutgers University
Stanford University
Sullivan University
Touro University Nevada
Towson University
University of Colorado
University of Florida
University of Nebraska
University of North Dakota
University of South Carolina
University of South Dakota
University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
University of Washington
UT Southwestern
Wake Forest University
Wayne State University
Yale School of Medicine

As we usually suggest, APPLY AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE!  You don't want to wait until the last minute to submit your application!  PA schools won't wait to start interviewing!

Guest Post from Savanna Perry, PA-C, of The PA Platform- Personal Statement 101: Editing

This is sound advice from Savanna Perry of The PA Platform.  She is so passionate about helping pre-PA students achieve their goals.  Her blog is FULL of tips and tricks to help applicants navigate through the application process.  See below for her advice on personal statement editing!


Once you have a rough draft for your essay, it's time to start editing.  When reviewing your essay, you need to be looking at a few different elements: 

  • Content 
  • Grammar
  • Flow

Editing for content - Are you providing important information and not wasting space with unnecessary details and words?  Are you answering all of the essential questions and not leaving anything unanswered? 

Editing for grammar - Your essay should be easy to read, and errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar should not be included in your final draft.  While this isn't an essay for literature class, it is probably the most important 5,000 characters you will ever write.  You don't want poor grammar and careless mistakes to distract your reader.

Editing for flow - Is your essay easy to read?  Does it make sense?  The experiences you discuss in your essay should make sense chronologically and be easy to follow.  A confusing essay is one of the worst kinds.  It makes it difficult to focus on the content when I'm just trying to figure out how everything fits together.  

While you will obviously want to edit your essay yourself, you need to have others read it as well.  A family member or friend's opinion is great, and they may be able to help you with grammar, but that isn't the most subjective option.  Since you're writing an essay to try to get into physician assistant school, you need a PA to read your essay.  This can be someone you have shadowed or worked with, or you may consider a revision/editing service.  These services will NOT write your essay for you, and I would discourage you from pursuing any avenue that offers to do this.  I work with myPAresource because they only use PAs, many of which have served on admissions panels, and the feedback you receive is honest and extremely helpful.  If you decide to use the services over at myPAresource, make sure to use the code "thePAPlatform" for a discount! 

To end the discussion on editing, I have to give you a caution.  Please do NOT have someone random on the internet that you talk to in a forum or group edit your essay, especially if it is a fellow applicant.  You can't know someone else's motives, and you don't want to take the chance of someone else plagiarizing part of your essay or stealing your ideas.  Make sure anyone who is reading your essay is someone that you know and trust, or a secure service.

PA School Prep

As a PA school applicant, it's vital that you make it a point prepare for this next step in your academic career.  PA School Prep contains everything you need to know before you start PA school.  They have partnered with Medcomic and DoseofPA.blogspot.com to provide future Physician Assistants with the education they need to be successful on their journey through the rigors of PA school. 

As a future Physician Assistant, you have made the commitment of being a lifelong learner.  And right now is the perfect time to fine-tune your study habits and invest in your success.  The stress of PA school is real.  PA students EVERY YEAR go through the entire application/interview process only to be put on academic probation and/or excused from their programs because they weren't ready for what was waiting for them in PA school.  Don't become one of those statistics!

Included in the price of the course is a complete review of Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, lectures structured by PA program adjunct faculty, and system-based quizzes to ensure your understanding of the material.  When you complete the course, PA School Prep notifies your school that you are ready to hit the ground running when matriculation begins. Perfect for waitlisted candidates too!

Check out their website at www.PASchoolPrep.com!

 

Common mistake: How a single letter could make or break your PA school application

Here is an example of why our service is so valuable:

Recently we received one of the overall BEST essays we've ever read.  The flow of the essay: superb.  The structure, grammar, punctuation: outstanding.  This essay was the seemingly-flawless "diamond in the rough" that every applicant strives for.  Except for this one thing...

The letter "s."

Generally the letter "s" helps those of us that speak the English language communicate multiples, possession, even contractions.  But there is one area that the "s" does not belong:  in "Physician's Assistant."  

The name of the career you are so passionate about and have attempted to convey your lifelong devotion to should be known by the time you are applying.  By adding an "s" at the end of "Physician," you are implying possession.  Also, by not knowing the correct title of the profession, you are bringing attention to your ignorance, something that shouldn't be advertised to those deciding your future.  

PA schools want to know that their applicants are familiar and knowledgeable about the Physician Assistant profession.  It's important to sound as mature and knowledgeable to the PA school admission panels in your personal statement in order to come off as a strong applicant. While this error might not seem like a big deal to you now, trust me, once you start practicing you'll understand.  

Simple errors like this can ultimately make the difference between being considered a serious applicant or brushed to the side for another year spent on the waitlist.  Don't let a simple mistake decide your future.  We are here to help ensure that your personal statement shines above the rest of the PA school applicants.  

Be well,

 

So... why Penlights?

You'll notice that recently we started offering Penlights to all of our clients with the purchase of a revision.  Why?  Because we are confident that our service will help you get into PA school.  

But then what?  We have already edited your personal statement for PA school.  You've submitted your application to CASPA.  We didn't want our service to end after you were accepted.  We value your education and look forward to everything you are able to achieve once you graduate.  We want to be there to aid in your Physician Assistant training.  

The Penlight is a common tool you will use almost everyday when you examine your patients. You'll be able to use this tool during your head-to-toe physical exams in order help diagnose and treat those in the community you serve.  Heck, you can even use it if the power goes out!  But we want to aid in your training to become the BEST physician assistant you can be.  

It's a small token of appreciation that you've made the choice to pursue this rewarding career.

Be well,

 

Most Common Themes in PA School Personal Statements

A few years ago, the PAEA, or the Physician Assistant Education Association, released an article detailing the most common subjects mentioned in Physician Assistant school essays.  As you can see from the image above, some of the most common words are "patients," "care," and "experience," among others.  It's important to note that these three areas are among the most important to focus on when brainstorming ideas for your personal statement subject matter.  

In addition to the word cloud, see the table above.  In this image, you can see which subjects those that ended up being accepted (or matriculated) into a PA program.  The most common theme discussed, by both those who were/were not accepted, in the personal statement is clearly experience.  Your resume can only give the reader a finite amount of information.  It's the responsibility of your personal statement to fill in the blanks.

The absolute MOST COMMON themes discussed in personal statements are as follow:

  • Altruism and desire to help people
  • Challenges or hardships
  • EXPERIENCE
  • Key accomplishments
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Positive perception of PA career attributes
  • Role models
  • Religious or spiritual quest

Having a hard time putting it all together?  We can help.  Visit our homepage at www.myPAresource.com to find out more information.  Or, click the button below:

The full article discussed above can be downloaded at the PAEA website HERE

Forister, J. Glenn. "Thematic Analysis of Personal Statements in Physician Assistant Program Admissions." The Journal of Physician Assistant Education.  Volume 22 Number 2.  2011.  6-12.

7 things to think about when writing your PA school personal statement.

When creating a draft for your PA school personal statement, it's important to cover all of the main topics ADCOMs look for in their applicants.  Keep in mind that Admissions Panel Members (like those here at myPAresource.com) read HUNDREDS of personal statements every cycle, so it's important that your essay stands out from the rest.  

You would be surprised how many essays are submitted to PA schools with obvious mistakes, making it clear that little attention and focus were given to the task.  It has been recommended by PA students and faculty alike to get your essay proofread before submission to avoid any costly mistakes.  You want to come off as a well-educated, motivated future Physician Assistant.  And you can accomplish this by reviewing the topics below:

1. Create a strong introduction
The introduction is the most important paragraph in your essay.  Why?  Because PA school Admissions panels read HUNDREDS of personal statements every cycle.  By creating a strong introduction, you ensure that your essay will stand out above the rest. 

Begin your essay with a story/experience that YOU think someone else would be interested in reading about.  Talk about the time you witnessed a PA step in a help a patient at a critical moment.  Talk about a traumatic event that happened right in front of your eyes that spring boarded your interest in medicine.  Whatever it is, make sure your first sentence grips the attention of the reader and makes them want to keep reading on, interested in learning more about you as a candidate. 

2. Prove you know what a PA is
It's incredible to read personal statements for PA school without any evidence that the person applying has ANY idea what a PA is.  The word "Physician Assistant" or "PA" should present itself within the first half of your essay, if not the first 2 paragraphs.  It needs to be clear that you are applying for PA school.  This leads us to topic number 3...

3. Prove you know what a PA does
It is not good enough to simply state, "I know I want to be a PA because it is a great fit for my personality."  What?  No.  Prove to the reader that you have done your homework and spent the necessary time/effort to research your future career.  There's no telling what percentage of PA school applicants heard in a news journal that Physician Assistants were one of the best upcoming jobs to have.  Don't be one of those people and be lumped with all the band-wagoners.  

Prove that you know what a job as a Physician Assistant entails.  What interests you about the position?  Why not pursue another career in the medical field?  

4. Discuss your time spent shadowing a PA
It's not a bad idea to take a paragraph and show the reader what you learned during your time spent with a PA.  This topic could be covered in your introduction (if you're interested in using one stone to kill 2 birds).  Why is this important?  Because your personal statement's purpose is to prove that you are educated on this career that you are applying for.  Show them what you learned during your 20 hours shadowing Mr. What's-his-name at the orthopedist's office and that the time spent walking around the clinic wasn't a waste. 

5. Don't be cocky
Yes, you need to promote yourself in your personal statement... but don't overdo it.  There is a fine line between offering information and bragging.  Please don't say, "I am the best" (it's been done).  You want to make the reader THINK you are the best without actually saying it.  Does that make sense?  Throughout your essay you need to highlight your strengths as a candidate without coming off as arrogant or entitled.  

Writing an ideal personal statement truly is an art.  The trick, as mentioned above, is to make the reader THINK you are the best applicant applying to their PA school.  By keeping the reader interested while also highlighting the strong points of your application, you'll impress the reader while not coming off as arrogant.

6. Take it seriously
Trust us.  ADCOMs will be able to tell if you simple wrote a few paragraphs and submitted the essay to CASPA.  TAKE YOUR TIME!!!  This is not a simple task.  Every single PA school reads every single personal statement.  And they take it seriously.  Your personal statement can ultimately determine the difference between an invitation and a denial.

7. Be honest!
Now is the time to dig deep and really prove why a career as a Physician Assistant is perfect for you.  Especially in your conclusion, make one final stand and talk about why a life as a PA is what you were meant to do.  Leave it all on the line.  Finish your essay with one final "push" to show the reader why you were MEANT for this profession.  This is why you should take some time to brainstorm your personal statement.  PA schools will be able to tell if you are BSing them or not.  Don't make a costly mistake.

Once you read over these topics and use them to your ADVANTAGE, you should be on your way to creating a strong PA school personal statement.  If any of the topics were unclear or you have further questions about how to write a strong personal statement, feel free to email us at info@myPAresource.com
 

The Basic Revision PLUS

We've added a new service!  Because of the recent popularity of The PA School Interview Guide with our clients, we are now creating a package that not only creates incredible personal statements, but also prepares applicants for the next step in the process: the INTERVIEW!  

The Basic Revision PLUS package includes:

  1. a single revision of your personal statement
  2. an expedited delivery time of 48 hours
  3. review by one of our sought-after Admissions Panel Members
  4. a copy of The PA School Interview Guide

That's a $150 value for only $109!  It's no secret that our clients receive more interview invitations, so this package offers incredible value.  After your order is complete, you can rest assured that you'll impress PA programs with both your essay as well as your preparedness for your inevitable interview.

The PA School Interview Guide

You've applied to CASPA and now you're playing the waiting game.  Nobody likes the waiting game.  But rather than sitting there checking your email every 15 minutes, keeping your phone at your hip 24 hours a day, and basically stalking the mailman, why not make use of your time and get some answers?  

www.PAschoolinterviewguide.com has compiled a list of every PA school in the country and provided pertinent information including when Physician Assistant programs send out interview invitations, how many people they typically interview, and what their interview day consists of.  The guide also comes with a foreword from Brian Palm, PA-C, founder of www.myPAresource.com.  Brian uses his experience on Admissions panels to give applicants a look at what to expect and how to best prepare.

We highly suggest that all of our clients purchase The PA School Interview Guide to give themselves an ADVANTAGE when interview day inevitably comes.  There are a number of different books out there that claim they help pre-PA students prepare for their PA school interviews, but the school-specific details in this book are not available anywhere else.  Stop wondering when you'll hear from your top choice PA school!  The answers are available at www.PAschoolinterviewguide.com!

Top 5 things to include in your personal statement

While it's important not to be cliché while writing your personal statement for PA school, there are certain subjects that EVERY narrative should have prior to submitting to CASPA.  Be sure to do your best to set yourself apart from other applicants while discussing these topics!

1. Why do you want to be a PA?

This should be pretty self explanatory.  CASPA's prompt for narratives states, "write a brief statement expressing your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant."  You'd be surprised how many applicants fail to include this pertinent information in their narrative.  Don't make this mistake!

2.  How/when were you first exposed to the PA profession?

This should be pretty easy to include as well.  Obviously you heard about Physician Assistants, were treated by one at some point in time, or came across a PA while volunteering, so be sure to mention where your exposure came from.  

3.  Healthcare experience

While ADCOMs will have all of your HCE, volunteering, and work experience, don't hesitate to delve further into what you learned throughout all the hours you invested in medicine. Many applicants simply "review" their resumé and merely mention the jobs they had, but it's important to show the reader how your time spent has made you a better applicant for PA school and your future as a physician assistant. 

4.  Your strengths as a candidate

The goal of your personal statement is to "promote" yourself to the reader and prove why you are the BEST candidate out there.  Highlight those aspects from your academic or healthcare experience to help you stand above the rest.  

5.  WHY YOU?

PA schools generally have HUNDREDS, if not THOUSANDS of applications each cycle.  It's important that you explain WHY you deserve a seat in the class above all the rest.  Generally you want this information to be in your conclusion to leave a lasting impression on the reader.  Some estimates have shown that many schools have 25 applicants for every seat in the class.  Show the reader why you will make a great Physician Assistant.

Creating a draft and implementing these top 5 things into your essay will make for a great starting point.  While there are other important subjects to include in your personal statement, you'll be on the right track if you start here.  

Our admissions consultants are standing by eager and waiting to help you achieve your goals.  Don't make the foolish mistake of applying to PA school without the complete confidence that your personal statement will stand above the rest. 

Deadlines are fast approaching!

We realize that CASPA "just" opened in April, but believe it or not, PA school deadlines are just around the corner.  In two weeks the first schools close their doors to applicants.  If you haven't started putting your application for PA school together yet, NOW is the time.  

July 15- UC Davis, Kentucky
Aug 1- Augsburg College, Bethel University (MN), Butler, LSU, MGH Institute of health professions, Missouri State, Ohio University, Red Rocks CC, Saint Francis University, South University (FL and GA), Tufts University, University of Bridgeport, University of Charleston, University of the Cumberlands, University of Missouri, University of New Mexico, University of Utah, University of Wisconsin- La Crosse

The first step in ensuring a solid application is putting together a rough draft personal statement for PA school.  THIS WILL TAKE THE MOST TIME.  Create a draft, take a day or two to put the rest of your application together, and by the time you're done with everything else your personal statement will be ready to submit to CASPA.  

DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!

Don't become a Statistic!

Every year, thousands of candidates like yourself take the leap and apply for PA school.  Thousands of people are fighting for the same seats as you.  In many cases, PA school applicant pools can reach nearly 2000 applicants for 50 seats.  In those cases, after applying, you have a less than 5% chance of being accepted to a program of your choice.  

Let's take your average PA school: 1500 people submit applications.  PA schools generally invite 30 people per interview date.  An average PA school will schedule 5-6 days for interview per cycle.  This means that 150-200 people will be invited to interview, which is about 10%.  The average PA class is approximately 50 students, which means of the 1500 people that apply, only 3% are actually accepted.  

Confused?  Let us simplify this: you need all the help you can get to receive an invitation for interview.  Want to take your chances and apply without a leg up?  More power to you.  We exist to help those that don't enjoy wasting time get accepted.  A majority of candidates will not receive interview invitations.  Give yourself the unfair advantage by writing the perfect personal statement.  We will ensure your narrative portrays you as the ideal candidate, focuses on your strengths, and engages the reader.  

Don't leave your future up to chance, and don't become a statistic!

Things you need to know before being interviewed:

A topic we get frequent questions about is the interview for PA school itself, specifically what types of questions are generally asked during the discussion.  Luckily our team is made up of the same people that field those same questions!  Below we'll review a selection of some of the most common questions asked during the interview for physician assistant school.

Before attending your interview for PA school, you need to realize that you will be asked questions that there are not necessarily right answers to.  Questions like "why do you want to become a PA?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" are almost guaranteed to be asked, so it's probably a good idea to have an answer prepared.  Other questions like "What was your biggest struggle in undergrad?" or "why do you want to come to our program, specifically?" are also common, so be prepared to have answers ready.

It is extremely important to know about the program you are interviewing for.  Our panel members have asked numerous students specific questions like how much the PA program costs, the previous year's PANCE pass rates for the institution, the length of the program, and what a candidate thinks of our mission statement.  Obviously there are right and wrong answers to these questions, and while answering these questions wrong won't necessarily make-or-break the interview, a correct answer will sufficiently increase your favorability with any program.  Each of these questions can easily be researched on the main page of any PA program's website.  It's worth spending 5-10 minutes reviewing this information prior to your interview, even if it's the morning-of.  In a situation the latter questions aren't asked, making your knowledge of a program's mission statement or details of the PA school itself could impress your interviewers.

While canned answers are nice, sound natural.  Your panel will know when you have an answer prepared and will try to throw you off your rhythm to see how you react under pressure.  Don't be surprised to catch some off-the-wall questions during your interview.  Again, there are no wrong answers, but a large reason for the interview itself is to witness your demeanor, character, and intelligence.  Think about it: once you are invited for an interview, they know your GPA and test scores from your transcripts, your work history from your CV, and your background from your personal statement.  The interview allows for a "test-drive" of potential students to make sure you aren't "too good to be true."  

The most important thing during the interview is just to relax.  Remember, it's only your future ;)

Take this quiz before your interview to refresh your knowledge on the PA profession!

http://goo.gl/WshxW5

If you have any comments or additions, feel free to comment below!