Up and Coming: Florida Gulf Coast University

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Location:  Fort Myers, FL

Number of students: 20

Application Cycle:  CASPA, this year was open January-March 1, but this may change once the school is accredited with the FGCU Graduate School application

Interview dates: Late winter and spring 

Start date: August 2017 (if approved)

Length of Program: 27 months 

Public/Private: Public (significantly cheaper tuition for Florida residents)

PCE/HCE: Minimum 250 hours PCE - most competitive if requiring certification and paid 

GPA: Minimum 3.0 for last 60 credits of Bachelor's degree and minimum 3.0 for Biology/Chemistry/Physics

Shadowing: 20 hours strongly encouraged 

The Good Stuff:

  • Minimum of a C in prerequisites
  • Prerequisites must be done within 7 years
  • GRE required
  • Required letter of recommendation from a PA 
  • No out of state rotations allowed - all will be in Florida

Program Link: Florida Gulf Coast University PA Program Website

Physician Assistant Virtual Fair - April 2017

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Attention all Pre-PA students!  This is something really cool that you need to know about.  PAEA is the organization that is over physician assistant education, and occasionally they do virtual fairs.  This wasn’t around when I was in undergrad, or if it was then I was clueless, but it’s a great opportunity for you.  And the best part is that it is FREE! 

The dates for the upcoming fair are April 19-20, 2017.  All you have to do is visit this link to register.  On the days of the event you’ll be able to sign on and interact directly with the PA schools you are interested in.  There is a chat option, and video as well.  Start compiling your questions so you can finalize the list of where you’ll be applying.  This is perfect timing with CASPA about to open for the 2017-2018 cycle.  

If you can’t make it to this event, it looks like there will be another one in July, but I’ve heard great things about these virtual fairs.  It’s something you don’t want to miss. If you’ve attended one before, comment below to let me know how it was and if you have any tips for other Pre-PA students who are interested in attending.  

And don't forget about the CASPA/Applying to PA School Webinar on April 19th at 8 PM EST!

April Webinar: All About CASPA- How to Apply to Physician Assistant School

Welcome!  This webinar will be live at 8 PM Eastern on April 19, 2017.  If you're tuning in live, you can comment with questions here or jump over to Youtube to live chat.  If you're watching this as a replay, feel free to comment with any questions!   

If you would like reminders about upcoming webinars, enter your email to the left! 

Personal Statement 101: Editing

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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.  

Personal Statement 101: Getting Started

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After you've taken some time to brainstorm what content you want to include in your personal statement, it's time to actually start writing!  There's no denying this can be difficult.  My advice is to just start writing.  You can always go back and edit your essay later, but just get some words down on paper.  

It's okay if you don't initially write your thoughts out in the order you'll use them in your essay, but take the subjects that you brainstormed and spend some time writing about them.  Try to avoid lists, but describe your experience or story.  Expand on what you've learned through that example, and how it will impact you as a PA student or as a future PA.  

Once you have some rough thoughts on paper, try to put them in order.  It's important that your essay has a good flow, and so think about the order of your story.  How did you come to the decision of becoming a PA? If your essay is choppy or out of order, it will be confusing to your reader, and you will risk losing your reader.  Usually, your most interesting or meaningful story will be your best bet for an introduction.  

Try to make sure there are no unanswered questions.  Even if you aren't able to go into as much detail as you would like to due to the 5,000 character limit, keep in mind that you may be able to explain further in supplemental essays or during an interview.  If your essay makes questions come up, that might also make your reader lose interest.  

So here's your challenge - turn off your phone, set a timer for 30 minutes, sit down and write one full page about why you want to be a PA!  Just let your words pour out, and see where it takes you.  

March Webinar - Crafting a Personal Statement for Your Application to Physician Assistant School

Welcome!  This webinar will be live at 5 PM Eastern on March 26, 2017.  If you're tuning in live, you can comment with questions here or jump over to Youtube to live chat.  If you're watching this as a replay, feel free to comment with any questions!  

To find the free personal statement workshop mentioned in the webinar, visit myPAresource.  

If you would like reminders about upcoming webinars, enter your email below! 

Personal Statement 101: Content

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Please explain why you are interested in being a Physician Assistant.  

This is an example of the type of prompt that is given for your CASPA essay.  An open-ended request for you to explain how you've come to the decision of your future career in 5,000 characters or less (including spaces and punctuation), which is basically one page.  

At this point you start to question what in the world you should write about.  How do you start?  Should you use a story?  Or a quote?  How do you convey that out of thousands of other applicants, you are most deserving of a spot?  All valid and tough questions.  I hope to give you some direction on coming up with exactly what you need to put into your personal statement.  

The purpose of your CASPA essay is to show who you are as a person.  From looking at your grades, achievements, and volunteer experience, an admissions committee can tell whether you have the potential to do well in a PA program academically.  They cannot tell if you are a compassionate person who truly understands the role of a PA and wants to serve others through medicine.  They also do not know what experiences you may have gone through to get to the point of applying to PA school.  

Some applicants overcome a lot of hardships on their journey to becoming a PA, while others haven't had those intense circumstances.  That's ok.  You don't need to feel inadequate in either situation, but embrace what you have done personally and use that to your advantage.  

Before trying to figure out how to start your essay or finish it, you need to take some time to evaluate what exactly you want to put in there and what you want to portray.  Your goals are to show: 

  • What exactly made you decide to become a PA? - Any specific experiences you've had?  How did you learn about the profession?  Who was the first PA you met?  
  • Why after deciding to become a PA, do you want to pursue it, and why does it fit you? - What have you seen while shadowing?  What good or bad examples of PAs or other healthcare professionals have impacted your decisions? 

I've created some worksheets to help you work through brainstorming for your personal statement.  You can enter your e-mail address below to download the worksheets for free!  

If you need more help with your personal statement, check out myPAresource to have your essay edited by a PA!  And you can use the code "thePAPlatform" for a discount!  

Pre-Physician Assistant Webinar!

I have something really exciting coming to the site this month!  I'm going to be holding live monthly webinars on various topics.  I recently did one for a couple of Pre-PA clubs, and here is the replay if you want to check it out.  If you have a Pre-PA club that is interested in arranging a session, please e-mail me at savanna@thepaplatform.com

The upcoming sessions will be posted at this link.  If you have any questions you want answered or any ideas of topics, please let me know!  

Physician Assistant FAQ: What is "lateral mobility?"

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When pre-PA students are asked about why they want to become physician assistants, there is a term that gets thrown around a lot - "lateral mobility."  I want to explain what this mean and what it actually looks like for working PAs.  

The idea behind lateral mobility is basically a flexibility in choosing specialties, and the ability to move between specialties if desired.  For example, I work in dermatology currently, but if I ever decided that I wanted a change (not happening FYI), I could potentially move to any other area of medicine if I could find someone to hire me.  So I could go to primary care, urgent care, or even cardiology.  Because PAs are trained on a general model, the knowledge base provided in school and tested on boards is over a little bit of everything.  And even if a PA works in a certain area, we are expected to stay up to date with the other areas of medicine because the current model for recertification includes all areas of medicine.  This is not beneficial for PAs like me because dermatology only makes up 4% of the PANCE or PANRE (boards).  

This differs from physicians because at the end of their 4 years of training in medical school, they must make a choice of a specialty to pursue in order to get further training.  This includes testing, research, and a match process to find where they will train for an additional 3+ years during residency.  Some fields even require further training in fellowships that are an additional 1-3+ years.  After all of this training and time, it can be extremely difficult and time-consuming to change specialties.  

During interviews, many students will discuss this ability to change areas as the reason they want to become a physician assistant, which is fine.  In the real world, most PAs tend to choose an area and stay there, so it's not like PAs are moving around all the time.  That would require additional on the job training, and it is more ideal to gain experience and then continue in that field.  If this is a reason that you are interested in becoming a PA, it's great to mention that in your interview or personal statement, but think beyond this one factor.  Try to focus on what the profession actually entails on a daily basis and why it would be something that you enjoy on a daily basis.  

If you're a PA who has changed specialties, I would love to hear your opinion on PA flexibility.  

Program Spotlight: Florida International University Herbert Werthelm College of Medicine

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Location: Miami, FL

Number of students: 45

Application Cycle:  CASPA and supplemental June - January; for early consideration, submit by October 7th 

Interview dates: One week in November and one week in February

Start date:  August

Length of Program:  27 months

Public/Private: Public

HCE:  Not required, but strongly recommended

GPA: Minimum last 60 hrs, overall and science GPA of 3.0

Shadowing: Highly recommended, and "extra points" given if greater than 800 shadowing hours

The Good Stuff:

  • Pre-entrance exam to determine whether or not you receive an interview
  • GRE required
  • Open houses are available to learn more about the program 
  • Goal of 50% students from Florida (tuition is less for in-state students since it is a public program)

Program Link: Florida International University PA Program Website

1 Thousand Instagram Followers = Giveaways!

I made a promise a while back on Instagram that if @thePAplatform hit 1 thousand followers, we would do some giveaways over this weekend and next week.  And you guys did it!  It actually happened while I was in Africa, but now's the time!  I'll be posting most of the giveaways on Instagram, so make sure you're following me there.  Next Thursday I'm heading to the big AAD dermatology conference so I'll be sharing a lot of pictures while I'm there next weekend!

Leave a comment with what you'd like to win in this giveaway or others in the future!  

To make sure you don't miss out on any giveaways or updates, follow me on Instagram: 

@thePAplatform

My trip to Kenya!

Last month I had the privilege of going on a 10 day trip to Kenya!  It was through the ME to WE organization, and I cannot say enough about how amazing it was.  The purpose of the trip was to provide dermatological care to people of the local tribes.  We also got to participate in some unique cultural immersion activities, like visiting local homes and the local market.  I'm going to share some pictures from my trip today, and I have a lot of posts that will be coming up so I can tell you all about my experience.  I would encourage you to take any opportunity you may have to go on a mission trip!  

I'll be sharing more in the coming weeks, but if you want to see a video of me kissing a giraffe, check out my Instagram - @thePAplatform 

Program Spotlight: Hofstra University

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Location: Hempstead, NY

Number of students: 50 students

Application Cycle: CASPA by October 1st 

Interview dates: October - February

Start date: Fall 

Length of Program: 28 months

Public/Private: Private

HCE: 50 hours

GPA: Minimum cumulative and science GPA of 3.2

Shadowing: No specific requirement

The Good Stuff:

  • A&P, microbiology, biochemistry or organic chemistry must be taken within the past 5 years 
  • General biology and general chemistry may be waived if more advanced courses have been passed with a grade of B+ or better 
  • Prerequisites preferred for science majors and at a 4-year college or university
  • Option for Freshman Direct Entry BS/MS in PA Studies - 3 years of prerequisites, followed by PA school 
  • Cadaver lab

Program Link: Hofstra University PA Program Website

Up and Coming: Florida State University

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Location:  Tallahassee, Florida

Number of students:  40 

Application Cycle:  CASPA by October 1st, and a supplemental application

Interview dates:   For 2017, starting January

Start date: Pending start date in August 2017 (will be evaluated for provisional status in March 2017)

Length of Program:  27 months

Public/Private: Public (In-state tuition for Florida residents)

HCE:  Minimum 500 hours of direct patient care (scribe does not count)

GPA:   Minimum overall of 3.0 and minimum math/science of 3.0

Shadowing:  No specific requirement

The Good Stuff:

  • GPA exception - If you have completed a graduate program with at least 30 hours and your graduate GPA is higher than your undergraduate GPA, you can write to ask for consideration of your graduate GPA.  
  • GRE required in the last 3 years.  No listed minimum
  • HCE exception - If you do not have the required 500 hours, you can take a course at FSU called "Introduction to the PA Profession" that waives this requirement.  They would still like for you to have some patient experience.  
  • Preference is given to Florida residents, South Georgia and South Alabama residents of counties with borders on the Florida line, and veterans

Program Link:  Florida State University PA Program Website

What is my CASPA GPA?

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There's no way to get around the fact that your GPA is extremely important for gaining acceptance to PA school.  When it comes to calculating your overall or science GPA, it is much more involved than taking a simple average of all of your grades.  In this post, I'm going to explain how your GPA is calculated for CASPA since that is what the schools will be looking at.  Nothing stinks more than to do the wrong calculations, think you have a 3.2, and then CASPA calculates at a 2.9.  That completely alters the plan of where you'll be able to apply!  The reason CASPA does these extensive calculations is to standardize GPAs across all colleges and universities is so PA programs can compare students as fairly as possible. 

CASPA takes into account how many hours each course was, as well as the grade.  This is called "Quality Points."  These points are calculated by multiplying the amount of credit hours by the grade you received.  For example, if you took a 4 hr course, and made a B, this would count as 12 quality points (4 x 3.0 = 12).  To calculate your overall GPA, you divide the total amount of quality points by the total amount of credits.  If you have 50 quality points, and 20 credits, that would result in a 2.5 GPA.  All calculations are done based on the semester system.  If you have quarter hours these will convert at 1 quarter hour = 0.667 semester hours.  

There are multiple categories that are calculated separately.  Each year is separated (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, post-baccalaureate, and graduate) and then there is science and non-science.  The subjects in the science GPA include Biology/Zoology, Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Other Sciences.  You will choose what category courses fit into when you enter your courses, but these may be changed during the verification process if it appears that a course was entered incorrectly. 

CASPA includes all grades in it's calculations, including courses that have been repeated.  When some undergraduate programs calculate GPAs on transcripts, they will sometimes only include the grade from after the course has been repeated, which will result in an inaccurate number.  Withdrawals are not included in the CASPA calculations unless they are "WF," which will count as an F.  Pass/fail and AP credits are counted similarly to the W, and just as credits without associated grades.  On the website with information pertaining to GPAs, CASPA has some great charts pertaining to how they count different letter grades and how grades are converted in both the US and Canada.  

PA programs use these calculated GPAs differently.  Some will take exactly what is calculated by CASPA with no modifications.  Other programs will recalculate the GPA based on the highest grade after retaking courses or based solely on the last 45 or 60 hours of coursework.  They may still look at the overall CASPA numbers, but they will place different weight on these calculations if they do their own.  

If you want to try your hand at calculating your own GPA, this link to this GPA calculator is the best I've found, and calculates the same way CASPA does.  

For any questions I haven't answered, check out the CASPA FAQ page on GPAs.  

 

Guest Post: 10 Tips to be the Best Medical Assistant (MA)

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Taylor's back guys!  I have to admit that Taylor is the best MA I have ever worked with because she does all of these things she's listed and more.  I know it can be a busy and exhausting job, but if your goal is to become a PA, you want to make the best impression possible and secure that amazing letter of recommendation.  If you missed Taylor's first post about why she's decided to go back to school to become a PA, then check it out here.  


  1. Know your provider. - I have worked with the same PA for over two years, and with that time comes a knowledge of how she practices. I can quote verbatim the side effects of many drugs and know which medications she likes to prescribe and how she likes the flow of her schedule to run. While this takes time to learn, I have found it is very helpful for staying on schedule and running a smooth clinic
     
  2. Always be willing to pitch in - In the practice where I work, each provider only has one medical assistant assigned to them. During down times when the PA does not have patients, I am asked to help other providers out when I can. I always try to do this with a smile on my face because teamwork makes the dream work.
     
  3. Time Management - I like to make the most of my quiet mornings before patients get in, as well as my lunch break, to keep up with my PA’s schedule and check and make sure that patients are scheduled correctly and that our exam rooms are fully stocked.
     
  4. Take advantage of learning opportunities  - At the practice where I work, we have been given the opportunity to train in many different procedures such as laser and photodynamic therapy, as well as chemical peels. Any chance to learn more, go for it (and actually pay attention). I love going to drug rep dinners with the PA I work with and getting to learn exactly how the medications we prescribed work. You are never too old to learn!
     
  5. Don’t think that you are above or below any task- When I was first starting off in the medical field, I thought some tasks I was given were pretty mundane and menial. I have come to learn this is not a reflection of my intelligence, but is necessary. The simplest task I have at work is to assemble shave biopsy kits, which any fifth grader could do. But without these kits, the providers would be unable to do one of the most important procedures that allow for the diagnosis of skin cancer. These shave kits could potentially be saving someone’s life!
     
  6. Don’t let one patient ruin your entire day - One of the most exciting things about working in the medical field, as well as one of the most stressful, is that you can never predict exactly how the day will go. There is always the one complicated patient that takes a little longer then you have allotted, and needs a little more TLC or hand holding than others. This can often throw off your schedule and can at time cause tempers to rise. Always remember to take a deep breath and take your day one patient at a time.
     
  7. Be Organized - Any type of career in the medical field requires some degree of organization. It is difficult to manage around 30 patients a day, as well as answering phone calls, and keeping up with pathology, without having a system. I do not like to leave things undone, so the best feeling for me is leaving work at the end of the day with an empty inbox. The combination of organization and time management can be the most helpful in running a smooth clinic.
     
  8. Evaluate Often - If something is not working, never be afraid to ask why and be willing to seek out ways to make your practice and office better. Savanna and I have had several conversations after certain crazy days to evaluate what is working and what is not working.
     
  9. Always Be Attentive - One of the most valuable assets to being a great MA is the ability to be one step ahead of your provider. Being able to predict what they might need for a procedure or what samples a patient would benefit from keeps your schedule running smoothly. I feel like I am the biggest help to my provider when they don’t even have to ask me for things that they might need.     
     
  10. Have a good attitude. - This may sound simple and obvious, but makes the biggest difference in your work environment. Just a simple smile and a willingness to serve others can brighten someone’s day and allow for unity and less drama in the workplace. 

These tips can translate to many other healthcare positions besides medical assistants.  I hope they've been good reminders that you can take with you into work.  I love Taylor's positivity and commitment to the patients we see.  I can't even pick a favorite because I like all of her tips so much.  What tips would you add for being the best medical assistant? 

Up and Coming: Dominican University of California

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Location:  San Rafael, California

Number of students: 24

Application Cycle: June 15 - March 1 through CASPA

Interview dates: November - May

Start date: August

Length of Program: 28 months

Public/Private: Private

HCE: Minimum 500 hours (preference given to those with EMT certification)

GPA: Minimum 3.0 GPA with minimum B- in prerequisite courses

Shadowing: No specific requirement

The Good Stuff:

  •  Anatomy and Physiology must be taken in the last 5 years
  • GRE NOT required
  • All prerequisites must be completed before applying
  • Expected provisional accreditation in March 2017

Program Link: Dominican University of California PA Program Website

Interview FAQ: Thank You Notes?

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A question that commonly comes up in regards to appropriate etiquette following the interview is what now? Should I send thank you notes? An email? Who should I send them to?  Will it look bad if I don't send them? 

No matter how you look at it, it’s always nice to get a handwritten note. If you are wanting to send something to the program to say thank you, sending an actual written card in the mail is a great option. If that's not your cup of tea, it's alright because we live in a technology era where email has become the norm. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing! An email is a quicker option to send your thanks to your interviewers. If you are planning on sending a note of thanks, it doesn’t matter which you choose, so go with whichever option you feel more comfortable with.

To know who or where to send your note or email can be a hurdle to actually being able to give your thanks. Try to get this information at your interview, whether it’s provided on a handout or by asking the program coordinator. If you forget (probably due to nerves, which is completely reasonable), contact the program coordinator after the interview, and see if they can provide the mailing address or emails that you need. If you don’t recall your interviewer’s name(s), then you may be out of luck with getting this information at a later date.

You can keep your note short and sweet because you want to be respectful of your recipient’s time. Thank your interviewer for taking the time to interview you and the opportunity to learn more about their program. If there’s anything memorable or specific that you discussed during your time with the interviewer, you can refer to that in your note to help your interviewer recall you more.

While thank you notes are a nice gesture, you don’t need to feel like they are an absolute necessity. At the end of the day, it’s a courtesy, and not a factor that will have an impact on your acceptance to PA school. So don’t let the idea of getting names and addresses and writing thank you notes stress you out. If it’s too much to handle right now, that’s ok!  To be perfectly honest, I did not send thank you notes.  When I went on my interviews, I was in the middle of finals and actually had to reschedule some of them, so that was my priority at the time.  And I was still accepted!  

Leave any advice/questions you about thank you notes in the comments below!

Guest Post: Why I Decided to Go Back to School

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Hey Everyone!  I'm so excited to bring you a guest post from someone I spend more time with than my husband, and who keeps me sane - the medical assistant I love the most, Taylor.  I'm really lucky to work with someone who is also one of my best friends, and we have SO much fun.  She also is one of the most positive people I've ever met, and she puts up with my (occasional) stress and negativity so well.  I'm so proud (and sad) that she's decided to pursue becoming a PA, and I think you'll gain a ton of knowledge by following her journey here!  


This one time we dressed the same for the Christmas party completely on accident!

This one time we dressed the same for the Christmas party completely on accident!

    Hey there! My name is Taylor and I work with Savanna. I have been working in the medical field for almost six years now, and as a Medical Assistant for four years. If you were to ask me in high school what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always the next Katie Couric. Friends actually signed my senior yearbook with “Can’t wait to see you on The Today Show!”  I come from a family with zero medical backgrounds, and honestly I was never interested in medicine. Flash forward to my senior year of college in 2010, and realized I really don’t see myself having a career in PR. I was one semester away from graduating and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. 

    I moved to a new city and started to look for PR jobs with non-profits. After several months on the job search, and a quick stent at my favorite quick-service restaurant (let’s just say ‘my pleasure’ is forever engrained in my head), I came home to my roommate telling me I had a job interview with a local dermatologist. This is just one example of one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned post-college - networking is everything. This roommate worked at a hair salon where my new boss had her hair done, and mentioned that she was looking for a new hire since her receptionist just got into PA school. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to network! 

    I asked my roommate what the job entailed, and she had no idea. All I knew is it sounded somewhat interesting, and I knew I wanted a change of scenery. I went into the interview, and the first question they asked was “Are you okay with blood?” I responded with a cautious “Sure?”  The office manager proceeded to tell me the different responsibilities of the job, and the tasks I would be doing. I started off mostly as a front desk receptionist, and worked with the physician one morning a week so her medical assistant had time to do paperwork and catch up on other tasks. After a few months on the job, I could see that being in back with patients, interacting with them, and learning about dermatology, was the most enjoyable part of my job. 

    A few years later, we hired a Physician Assistant and I became her full time medical assistant. This was as far as I could move up the ‘totem pole’ at my job, and for several months was satisfied with where I was. For someone who had no experience in the medical field, I found it very intriguing and could see why people would want this career. When I first started this job, I knew being an MA was not something I could see myself doing my entire life. For several years I thought about possibly going back to school, but to be honest, it scared me, and I thought it would be too much. One of my greatest weaknesses is my love of comfort. I was comfortable with where I was. I knew what was expected of me and knew my job and could do it well. 

    This year, I finally decided it was time. I never wanted to look back in five years, and regret the fact that I wasn’t willing to take a leap into the unknown. I am single, don’t have children, and thankfully did not have student loans, so what was I waiting for? I was quite nervous when I first decided to go back to school. I have been out of college for six years, the only science classes I took were 10 years ago, and I am working full time. How was I going to juggle all this?! One step at a time, that’s how. So in September, I began. I am two classes down of the eight I need to apply for PA school, and guess what? I’m still alive! It has taken a lot of time management (Hello Kate Spade Planner for the win), saying no to dinners with friends and weekends away, and knowing that “This too shall pass.” 

    For all of you college students out there wanting to go to PA school straight after graduation, I am kind of jealous. I have thought recently how nice it would have been to graduate with a degree and know exactly what you wanted to do for a career. But do I have any regrets about waiting? No.  I have learned some valuable lessons in my twenties. I have learned what it means to live on my own, that the real world is not as easy at it seems, that time management is very important, and that it really is never too late to chase a dream. All it takes is one little step, and that first step is usually the hardest, but is always worth it. I do not know where this road the Lord has me on is headed, but I am going to trust that “there are far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.”


If you're struggling with deciding if this is something you can do, i hope Taylor's story and insights have provided some encouragement to keep pursuing your dreams!  Leave any comments or questions for Taylor below!  And if there's anything else you would like to hear her perspective on, leave a comment! 

Personal Statements: Tips from a Reapplicant

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I'm so excited to bring you guys an awesome guest post by Meghan from the PA blog, Meghan in Medicine!  Enjoy!

Ah, the dreaded personal statement talk. Personal statements can be uncomfortable, strange, and odd to write. Writing or talking about myself has never been my strong suit, and always makes me feel awkward. There is a thin line between coming off confident, well balanced, and self-aware opposed to cocky, conceited, and arrogant in person, and this line is even thinner on paper.

I was a second time applicant to PA school when I got acceptance offers. I altered my personal statement in between application cycles to really encompass who I am, what I've been through that would make me stand out as an applicant, and who I want to be as a Physician Assistant. These are such vague ideas but they helped steer me in the right direction. I was not 100% happy with my first personal statement and am glad that I reached out to get opinions on revising it.

I was fortunate enough to visit with a PA-C who was formally on an admissions committee board for a PA school about my application during my off time. She told me some harsh words about my first personal statement. She told me to nix the dramatic introduction - something I've been told to include since undergraduate workshops, and really focus on 1. what makes me stand out as an applicant 2. what I can bring to a PA class in terms of diversity, and 3. what I will bring to the table as a Physician Assistant.

To help those that are needing some direction I am going to share some major points I made in my personal statement that corresponds with the advice I was given.

  1. What I think helped me stand out as an applicant is that I am an African American woman in a health care field that is 3% African American. I touched on that in my introduction and I gave background on why I wanted to be in the healthcare field. 
     
  2. I bring diversity first in my ethnicity and second in my experiences. I have taken two Medical Service Trips that I am so proud of and am thankful for. The second one made the most impact to me due to an interaction with a citizen who said he'd "rather die" than receive help from the public hospitals around him. This trip was a moment where I realized I wanted to dedicate myself to serving the underserved in medicine and in my community one day.
     
  3. This section was at the end and it included my goals as an aspiring Physician Assistant. Touch on the patient care you want to provide, the kind of provider you want to be recognized as, patient advocacy, health education, etc. 

I really do hope this will help someone reading this because I know how awkward it is to write an essay about yourself. Try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. Do not include things that aren't genuine because they will notice and will take note. Remember, these admissions committees read upwards of 2,000 personal statements per application cycle, and they know what they are looking for.

Make sure to check out Meghan's website, Meghan in Medicine, for more awesome Pre-PA advice, and you can e-mail her directly at Meghan.ross12@yahoo.com if you have any questions!  I'm excited to hear more of her advice once school starts, and I hope you guys will show her some love in the comments.  And if you're looking for the best personal statement editors that are specifically for PA school, check out myPAresource, and make sure to use the code "thePAPlatform" for a discount on your revision!.  What are your tips for personal statements as a reapplicant?