May 2017 Webinar: Healthcare + Patient Care Experience for Physician Assistant School

Hey guys!  I wanted to remind you that the May webinar will go live today at 8 PM EST.  In this month's talk, I'm covering everything associated with the healthcare and patient care experience needed for PA school.  We'll talk about why it's important to get experience, what types of opportunities are available and where to find them, how to track this information for CASPA, and I'll be answering all of your questions too!  You can check back at this link at 8 PM to tune in to the session on The PA Platform, or you can watch on Youtube here where you can also submit questions to the chat.  Looking forward to seeing you there! 

Med Couture Scrub Review - Activate Collection

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Scrubs are a big part of my life.  I spend at least 50% of my life wearing scrubs since I work as a dermatology PA.  It's really important to me that my scrubs are super comfy, long-lasting, and I like for them to look nice too. 

Scrubs can be hit or miss.  While I've found some great pairs at Wal-Mart, I've also ordered some pretty terrible ones from Amazon or scrub stores.  

I was really pumped to get the chance to try out a type of scrubs that I've never worn before by Med Couture.  This company prides itself on being both fashionable and high-quality.  They have a few different collections of scrubs, including Activate, MC2, and Med Couture.  They offer scrubs for men and women, and also have maternity scrubs, petite and tall, underscrub, jackets, lab coats, and even scrub dresses.  (I don't know that I'll ever need the dresses one, but good to know!)

The scrubs I was sent to try are part of the new Activate line, which advertises 4-way stretch for an active lifestyle.  (These scrubs were provided to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own!  I only want to share things with you guys that I support, and I want you to have all the info before deciding if you want to buy!) The top I'm wearing is the Med Couture Activate In-Motion V-Neck Top and the pants are Med Couture Activate Transformer Cargo Pants.  For reference, I'm 5'1'' and I weigh 115 and I am wearing an XS in the top and XS Petite in the pants. 

Let's start with the things I love!  First of all, these scrubs feel awesome right out of the package.  I would describe the fabric as silky with a good bit of stretch.  I'm constantly bending down to took at the bottom of patient's feet or to make sure there aren't any funny moles hiding, so I need my scrubs to move and stretch with me. These scrubs are also very light and super comfy, which is awesome for our hot Georgia summers.  The style and fit is spot on - really flattering without being too tight or boxy.  There is an abundance of pockets, and even some with zippers and snaps.  I've been loving using the front pocket as a dedicated spot for pens, and the zipper pockets are nice when I'm running out for lunch and don't want to take my usually massive purse with me.  

The color is also definitely a true navy.  I typically wear navy scrubs at work, and I don't want them to be too light or more of a black navy, and these are perfect.  They have some cool lime green accents too on the drawstring and some of the pockets, which I appreciate! The other thing to note is the cost of these scrubs is awesome.  They range from around $20-30 per piece, which isn't bad at all for scrubs that are durable and have a good fit.  

My only complaints, which aren't really a big deal, is that the petite pants are almost too short.  Like maybe they needed a 1/2 inch more.  The inseam on the petite pants for this particular type is 28.5 inches.  That being said, I would rather have scrubs almost too short instead of a foot too long that I would have to get hemmed.  I alternate between wearing Danskos or my Nikes, and for this pair of scrubs, I'll stick to my tennis shoes because they're a tad too short with Danskos.  

I think I would also size up on the top personally.  I have what could be called an hourglass shape (AKA - I do have hips.) so the top was slightly tighter around the hip area, but not enough that it would prevent me from wearing these scrubs or even enough that I would want to exchange them.  

If you're interested in purchasing any Med Couture scrubs, you can check out their online scrub shop or order them on Amazon to use that awesome Prime free 2-day shipping.  Also make sure to follow @medcouture on Instagram so you don't miss out on any promotions! Comment with your favorite scrubs so I'll know what kind to try next! 

**This post does contain some affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I get a few cents to keep my site running!  

Guest Post from Lorae the PA - The Do's and Don'ts of Writing Your Personal Statement

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I'm so excited to share a post with you from Lorae Schafer, a PA student who is killing it on Instagram (@Lorae.the.pa) and Youtube.  If you want to be encouraged and get some great tips, make sure you're following her on social media. 


The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Your Personal Statement

Your personal statement is the ultimate balancing act. In 5,000 characters or less, you are asked to showcase who you are, highlight your strengths, elaborate on your experiences, and showcase why you would make a great PA. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to emphasize what makes you unique and explain why programs should want to turn you into a PA. The prompt seems so simple – yet navigating your response can be a challenging and overwhelming task.

As an applicant, I felt I had to create a strong, memorable personal statement to compensate for an otherwise lackluster application. My GPA was average. My patient care/healthcare experience barely met the minimum, and I wasn’t 100% confident in my letters of recommendation. Heck, my prerequisites weren’t even complete by the time I submitted my application. Overall, I felt like a total work in progress! My saving grace was my ability to write about what I felt made me worthy of PA school. 

The personal statement is a powerful tool for communicating your individuality to admissions committees. That’s probably why there is so much pressure to make it perfect. But here’s the thing – you don’t have to be the greatest writer in the world to create a killer essay. All you need to know are the do’s and don’ts to create a solid framework for your personal statement. You can always build up from there!

DO…

Consider using a theme. Admissions committees read hundreds to thousands of personal statements every year. A theme allows you to tie your personal statement together by giving you something to bring all your thoughts back to. Even better, it gives your reader something to remember your essay by. Incorporating a positive theme can help increase your memorability as an applicant.

Draw in the reader. If your first paragraph is off to a slow start, you are setting the tone for an uninteresting essay and a blasé reader. Perhaps the most common way of creating a hook is with an interesting (and relevant) story. Whatever you decide – make the reader want to keep reading.

Be honest and transparent. Writing your personal statement isn’t about what you think the admissions committees want to hear; it’s about staying true to who you are. So, before you answer the prompt, make a simple list of the reasons why YOU want to be a PA – not things you found on the internet or heard from your mentor. Then draw on your own meaningful experiences to back up those reasons. By being honest, your personality should naturally start to shine through.

Edit, edit, edit. Continually revise your essay. Nothing ever comes out perfectly the first time around. Then ask your friends, family, colleagues, and/or mentors to look over your personal statement as well. This is useful in ensuring you have no grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes. It is also a great way to validate that your essay is genuine. The more eyes, the better!

(myPAresource is a fantastic site that uses certified PAs as editors. You may consider submitting your essay to them for revision after a few drafts.)

DON’T…

Define what a PA is. The admissions committees are reading your personal statement to learn something about you, so don’t waste precious time and space explaining something they already know. Instead, ask yourself how you know you could fulfill those same duties – and why you want to.

Restate your resume. Again, this will not contribute to your application. This is what CASPA is for! Use your essay to explain the “how” and “why” behind your resume. Why did working as a CNA confirm that the PA profession was right for you? How does your experience as an EMT substantiate your capabilities as a future PA?

Detail your life story. Yes, the admissions committees want to know you – but primarily the parts of you that are relevant to PA school. Instead of walking the admissions committees through your path to applying step-by-step, focus on specific experiences. Keep personal details and family struggles to a minimum unless they contribute strongly to why you would make a fantastic PA. Even then, focus the majority of your writing around your non-familial life.

Dwell on mistakes. It is tempting to fill up space justifying a failing grade. You are better off briefly touching on issues like these in no more than a couple sentences. Don’t let yourself be distracted from the task at hand. Stay focused on responding to the prompt, painting a picture of your strengths, and maintaining a positive emphasis. Academic hiccups or other potential red flags in your application can be left to a more thorough discussion at your interview.

Remember – you CAN do this! Just think back on how far you’ve come to be able to apply to PA school. This is just one more challenge along the way.


Lorae graduated from the University of San Diego in 2015 with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience. She worked as a medical scribe in women's health for two years and is currently a first year PA student at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Guest Post from Brittany at PA Fanatic - My Top 5 CASPA Tips

I'm so excited to bring you a guest post today from Brittany at PA Fanatic.  I first got into contact with Brittany on Instagram, and she did an amazing job with sharing some tips.  If you want more advice from Brittany, and to follow along as she starts PA school shortly, check out her website or follow on Instagram @PAfanatic.  I did a post on Brittany's site with 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting PA School, so make sure you read that one too! 


Every pre-pa needs to know these CASPA hacks. 

If you’re applying to CASPA right now, you already know how time consuming this process can be, but I promise it’s worth it! All the effort you’ve put into your application will be worth it once you get your first interview invite! I had my fair share of struggles with CASPA so I came up with 5 tips to help when applying to CASPA!

  1. Since I know you’re all busy little bees and have been volunteering, working, trying to have a social life, all while tying to get good grades, life can get hectic pretty quick and it’s easy to get disorganized. That’s why one of the most important things you can do for yourself when applying is to create an excel spreadsheet to help you organize all your activities! I found myself frequently changing my experience description up until I submitted my application. I found it way easier to work in excel than to keep changing things in CASPA until I submitted. I recommend finalizing everything in excel before plugging and chugging it all into CASPA.  
Example of Excel Sheet to Record CASPA Information
  • I made a tab for each category in CASPA
  • I made a table with columns for each piece of information needed to add an experience in CASPA

2. Keep track of all of your school deadlines! This is harder than it seems since so many schoolshave varying deadlines ranging from August all the way to December or even January! I found it helpful to write down each school’s deadline in my planner as well as having a post it note with each school’s deadline kept on my desk. It’s really important to pay attention to the deadline because some schools require you to be “completed” by the deadline, meaning your application (and supplemental if required) has been submitted and considered complete, while other schools require you to be “verified” by the deadline, meaning that you application not only has to be considered complete, but also reviewed by CASPA. The verification process can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks depending on when you submit so keep this in mind when deciding on when to submit your application!

3. Don’t underestimate the power of your supplementals! It’s easy to get burnt out completing your CASPA application and personal statement, but it’s still important to put a lot of effort into your supplementals. With the thousands of applications that each school receives, it’s hard to stand out on paper. Supplementals allow you to personalize your application a little more and if done right, could be the difference in you getting an interview spot over someone else. When I filled out my supplementals, I tried to treat each one like my personal statement. I periodically tweaked it and had 3+ people read them all over to ensure I had no grammatical mistakes. 

4. Always remember to update your application! As someone who applied my junior year of college (I was personally aiming to not take a gap year), it was important for me to continually send colleges my updated transcripts so that they could see what upper level science courses I was taking (schools love this btw). It’s also important to do this if you’ve accrued volunteering hours, or have continued to rack up PCE hours at your job! It shows that not only are you gaining more experience, but you also care to specifically update the program. If it were to come down to deciding between two similar applicants for who should get an interview spot, I think admissions would go with the applicant still gaining patient experience. I took the opportunity to reiterate why I was excited about a certain program when emailing them updates on my application. 

5. Set a deadline for yourself on when you want to submit your application! For me, I set the deadline as my birthday because I didn’t want to have to worry about CASPA on my birthday or the days following. Personally, I think this was extremely helpful because it was a solid date that I had to hold myself accountable for to finish my application by. If you’re anything like me, you’re a little type A and either 1) want to finish your app as fast as possible and rush through it or 2) will keep tweaking it forever. Setting a deadline helps you decide how many hours a week to devote to CASPA without getting overwhelmed and gives you a cutoff for when you just need to stop critiquing your app and have to just trust yourself! 

Lastly, but most importantly, have faith in yourself. If you’re not confident in yourself, how can you expect someone else to be? If you’ve gotten to this point, you’ve worked extremely hard so hats off to you! During this arduous process it’s important to remain positive, you’ve got this!


Brittany recently graduated from Drexel University and will be attending Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine for PA school this June! She originally thought she wanted to be a PT, but after more exposure in healthcare, she knew PA was for her and is excited to see where this journey takes her!  For more of Brittany's posts, check out PA Fanatic. 

My Thoughts on CASPA's Changes to Healthcare and Patient Care Definitions

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First of all, take a deep breath.  It will all be alright.  

This past week right before CASPA reopened for the 2017 cycle, there was a lot of buzz around some recent changes to the recommendations on how to classify experience on applications, and whether it should be categorized as healthcare experience (HCE) or patient care experience (PCE).  In the past, HCE was defined as working in a medical setting, but without directly interacting with patients in a way that involved their care (receptionist, billing, transport, etc.).  PCE was defined as any job in which there is direct patient interaction and care, such as nursing, EMT, paramedic, CNA, MA, etc.  These were more of roles where you were performing skills and had more responsibility.  Scribe has always fallen somewhere in between.  

Moving on to the new definitions. Here is a screenshot from the site, but you can see more here. 

CASPA's Healthcare and Patient Care Experience Definitions  

CASPA's Healthcare and Patient Care Experience Definitions  

This made a lot of people angry.  CASPA basically changed it so that CNA and MA are categorized as HCE instead of PCE, according to their guidelines.  The idea is proposed that a role is only PCE if you are more responsible for a patient's care and contributing to decisions about a patient's care.  CASPA also stated that these changes were made based on feedback from PA programs.  Obviously, this has many people who have worked hard for their hours feeling like they've wasted their time.  

I get it.  I worked as a CNA, and it's no joke.  I work with MAs all day long, and there is no denying that they are very involved in patient care.  But this may not be the case for all positions deemed CNA or MA, and I think that has been part of the problem.  If you work as an MA, but you're usually in the front office answering phones or working on prior authorizations and paperwork, that is more accurately HCE.  If you're taking vitals, performing venipuncture, and counseling patients, that's more PCE.  

Let's talk about why this will all be ok.  The final decision is up to each program, and unless they decide to change requirements last minute, all of the experience you've accrued should be fine.  CASPA gives you some discretion with statements like these: 

  • "Please review the definitions below, consider the duties which you performed during your experience, and use your best judgment to determine which category your experience falls into."
  • "CASPA advises applicants who have prerequisite requirements to confer with their individual programs if they are unsure how these programs will consider their experience."
  • "If you have any questions in regards to your experiences fulfilling an individual school’s requirements, you should inquire with that school directly."

Ultimately, you can decide where you feel like the experience should.  If it were me, I would list the experience where it was recommended based on CASPA's preferences.  But I would be very thorough in describing what my experience entailed and what my responsibilities included.  Make it clear to the programs how involved you are in patient care, but as always, be honest.  

If you're unsure about how a program will categorize your experience, the first step is to check the website and see if it's listed.  If you are unable to find an answer, consider contacting your top few programs to clarify.  Just keep in mind that they are probably getting a lot of these calls right now, so be patient.  

I hope this gives you some clarity, and if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer or find an answer. CASPA is complicated (and confusing) at times, and I do my best to keep up, but I am not the final say!  It's also convenient that I planned for the May webinar to cover HCE and PCE (before CASPA even changed anything!).  Make sure to mark May 24th at 8 PM on your calendar so you don't miss out.  Comment below with your questions! 

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.