JORGE MUNIZ, PA-C, President at Medcomic.com
Congratulations! The moment you receive news that you’ve landed an interview for PA school is an exciting time. The next step is to prepare and practice the types of questions you’ll most likely encounter during the interview process.
If you’re currently a Pre-PA student, you may have done some research and found a list of popular questions to review prior to your interview. However, have you really given thought to how your answers will differentiate you from the other candidates?
Before we talk about specific questions, I think it’s important to make a note on the delivery of your responses. Keep your answers succinct, don’t go off on tangents, and remember to smile!
With over a thousand qualifying candidates applying each cycle, getting into PA school is becoming more and more competitive each year. Here are three questions I believe you should put at the top of your list as you prepare for your PA school interview.
1. How do you think you’ll be able to handle the workload?
A common analogy used for the amount of new information we consume in PA school is that it’s “like drinking water from a firehose”. How will you convince your interviewers that you can handle this daunting task? I like to turn this question upside down by eliminating the burden from the proposed workload.
Remember that medicine is your passion. Passion is work that you enjoy doing so it doesn’t feel like work. This makes accomplishing the task easier because you don’t mind putting in the time and effort to complete it. For instance, learning to play guitar isn’t easy. It takes weeks to build the callouses to eliminate finger pain. For most, it takes months or even years to become proficient with the instrument. These people push through each day because the process of practicing their passion doesn’t feel like a burden.
Similarly, you can tell your interviewers that the workload in PA school is something you welcome as part of the process to practice your passion. You’re already an avid reader and you love learning. Be confident, tell them to give you a second firehouse.
2. Why are you interested in our PA program?
Just as you should be mindful of differentiating yourself from other candidates, don’t forget to identify the the characteristics that makes one PA program unique from another. This will support any reasons you give for being a good fit for their program. Some PA programs may have a focus on recruiting local students that want to practice medicine in rural areas, while others may place more value on a student’s ambitions to have their research published in journals. Always take a look at their curriculum and mission statement to get a better idea if one particular PA program over another is a better fit for you. Be ready to give your concise answer.
3. What is your favorite hobby?
I like this question because it’s more informal and gives you the opportunity to showcase your interpersonal skills. Your hobbies and extracurricular activities can give the interviewer a good idea of the type of person you are. It’s also a good time to provide an answer that demonstrates balance in your life, something that is essential during PA school.
The PA school interview is a big deal. In my opinion, it’s the most important part of the application process. Not everyone with a 4.0 GPA that gets interviewed makes it into PA school. Remember to be confident in your answers. When possible, choose responses that are unique to you. You’ll be interviewing with the top qualifying candidates, why should they choose you?
One final recommendation. Before getting into PA school, I read a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Despite the odd title, it’s a great read that made me more aware of how important interpersonal skills are in business and in life. Pick it up and give it a try.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32217894@N03/6122032240
About the Author: Jorge Muniz is a board-certified Physician Assistant from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a Master's in Medical Science in 2013. Jorge is also a self-taught cartoonist and the founder of Medcomic, an educational series of illustrations that makes studying medicine entertaining and fun. To view his work visit http://www.medcomic.com