My name is Neesie and I’ll be starting the Emory Physician Assistant Program in the Fall of 2018! Words cannot describe how excited I am about this amazing opportunity. It has taken me a few cycles to get here, but hard work pays off! Please feel free to DM me if you have any questions or need any advice! @neeeesie
Overall GPA: 3.31
Science GPA: 3.11
Total PCE hours: 5,548 (at time of application submission). Hours were earned by working and volunteering as: A Spanish medical interpreter, a CNA, an MA, and a Patient Care Coordinator.
Shadowing hours: 244
Other volunteer hours: 2,833 (at time of application submission)
LORs: 4 total. (1 from a Physician Assistant. 1 from a Nurse Practitioner. 2 from Physicians)
How many times did you apply?: I applied 4 times. BUT I was rushing everything my first two times! The first time I applied, I didn’t even have enough hours. The second time I applied, my science GPA did not make the cut. The third time I only applied to one program (Emory) and got waitlisted. The fourth and last time I applied, I was accepted!
How many programs did you apply to? 6 programs (this cycle)
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?
Only 1 program has interviewed me. The first time that I interviewed, I was waitlisted. The second time I was accepted
Any red flags on your application?
Yes- my GPA. I have a very mediocre GPA as you can see. Nevertheless, there is a great trend in my grades and over the years as I matured and became more disciplined, my grades improved dramatically. I am so thankful that there are programs out there that look at you as a whole and not as a number. Although my GPA is weak, I am very strong in other areas
Anything you found surprising about interviews?
One of the most surprising things about my interview was how welcoming the experience was. I felt very “at home” and the program made it such a delightful experience. In addition, I love that we were able to spend some time to actually sit and talk with the program director!
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?
I would HIGHLY recommend completing your CASPA as early as you can. Lots of schools accept students on a rolling basis. PLUS, it’s good to know early- CASPA opened in April and I submitted everything in May. By July I heard back from the program and had my interview in September. (But I still haven’t heard back from the other 5 schools I applied to)
The CASPA application can be long and tedious, so breaking it down into parts and disciplining yourself to do a little everyday can make all the difference
When inserting your experiences, whether it be patient care or non patient care, make sure to explicitly describe in detail what your experience entails of so that the admissions committee can gain a clear understanding of your experiences. Many programs evaluate your CASPA based on a point system, and you want as many points as possible to move on to the next step!
I would recommend joining the Physician Assistant Forum as well! https://www.physicianassistantforum.com/ A lot of your questions can be answered here, especially specific questions about CASPA, Personal statements, programs, interviews. This forum helped me out in SO many ways
I would recommend buying “How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant School Interview” by Andrew Rodican.
Also, I would recommend reading the emails sent to you by the PA Platform!
I would Practice Practice and Practice!!!! Mock interviews are great, even if it is done with someone who has no idea about PA school. Make a list of questions for someone to read from and ask you. Just talking it out and finding your weaknesses is so helpful
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
Don’t give up!
Honestly, no one ever told me that getting into PA school is this competitive. First thing I would do is keep in mind that it’s not going to be an easy process, but it is totally worth it. If being a PA is what your heart truly desires, don’t ever give up! Don’t let rejection letters bring you down.
Envision your DREAM
Do you have a “dream” program? My dream school has always been Emory, even though my GPA is not competitive at all. Don’t give up on your dreams. Whatever that dream program is, envision it. Read what their mission and values are and live that out through your experiences. Is your dream program big on underserved communities? Primary Care? Base your experiences on that. Learn about the program. Visit the program. Find ways to get involved with the program. Envision your Dream!
Don’t be like I was, rushing through the process. Apply when you have a competitive application. You are competing against people with years of experience!
I am sure you’ve heard this before, but your personal statement is so important. Don’t be cliché. Don’t be boring. Be unique and make it interesting- tell a story. Your story. A story about why you want to be a PA, not a story about why you want to work in healthcare.
Letters of Recommendation
If you are still in school and you are applying for a program that asks for recommendation letters from a professor, begin building that relationship NOW. Go to those office hours, sit in the front row, make small talk! When you decide to ask for that letter, make sure the professor has a copy of your personal statement and resume to work from.
For non-academic recommendation letters, make sure the person writing it for you knows you well. Pick your candidates wisely. Something I learned from experience- If it takes your recommender more than 2 weeks to write you a letter, it is not going to be a good letter. This is the rule of thumb that I go by, and learned from experience!
Join societies, groups, or forums to help guide you through this process. You are not alone!
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc)
Instagram: @neeeesie Facebook: Neesie Arias