Hi everyone, my name is Stefanie and I'm excited to share my acceptance story with all of you. I hope my story will encourage you to keep trying and know you will get in with hard work
Undergraduate education: B.S. in Kinesiology from University of North Carolina Greensboro
Overall GPA: 3.25
Science GPA: 3.4
GRE: 309 (Verbal = 156, Quantitative = 153, Writing = 5.0)
Total PCE hours: 1,420 hours - My last two years as a habilitation technician to begin acquiring patient care experience. After graduating, I worked for a year and a half in a nursing home and as an Emergency Room Technician.
Shadowing hours: 40 hours - I shadowed a cardiology PA in an inpatient hospital setting. It was incredibly insightful; I got to watch as she performed ED consults, as well as rounded on her patients that were admitted in the hospital. I also shadowed an ENT surgeon in the OR.
Other hours: ~200 volunteer hours - In college, I was in a sorority and was very involved in volunteering with them. We spent weekends volunteering, as well as volunteered individually. I also volunteered after graduation with a non-profit company that helped provide reliable transportation for underprivileged families for school and work. PA programs absolutely love to see volunteering and being involved in the community so I would definitely recommend finding a cause you're passionate about!
LORs: 4 in total - 1 from a Cardiology MD, 1 from my CNA instructor who is an RN, 1 from my CNA skills instructor who is an RN, and 1 from my boss from when I was a habilitation technician.
How many times did you apply?: 1
Age: 23 at the time of application
How many programs did you apply to? 10
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I had two interview invitations but was unable to attend one due to having a one week notice, and not being able to take off work that quickly. I attended the interview invitation I had with Clarkson University and was accepted that night! It only takes one school to accept you, so don't give up!
Where will you be attending? I will be starting at Clarkson University in 3 weeks (January 2019).
Any red flags on your application? My GPA was definitely a red flag on my application. My first year in college, there was a lot of turmoil in my life. My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my mother was diagnosed with SVT, as well as I became ill and was hospitalized for a couple of weeks. It was difficult to handle my classes during all this, and unfortunately, my grades suffered. I was able to retake the classes I had originally received a low grade in, but since CASPA averages all your classes together, it still affects your GPA negatively. PA programs definitely like to see you retake classes and see maturity, so the upward trend in my GPA was definitely an asset on my application. Putting in the effort to improve your grades and your application definitely get noticed.
Anything that you found surprising about the interviews? I was incredibly nervous leading up to my interview. I researched, practiced, and picked the brains of all the PAs and doctors at work for any advice or questions they thought I might encounter. I printed out a long Word document of practice questions, where I wrote down my answers so I could brainstorm a well thought out answer that included everything I wanted to say. I read through every post on the PA Platform it seemed like. What was most surprising for me, was that despite all the nerves I had leading up to the interview day, once I got there, I felt extremely comfortable and relaxed mingling with the other students interviewing and the current students during the meet-and-greet portion. When we had our one-on-one interview portion with the faculty and staff, they were very relaxed and gracious. They understood how nervous all of us would be, and made every effort to make me feel more at ease. One part of my interview that I loved, was a group interview portion where we had to try and come together and solve a problem as a group to show how we all worked together. Working alongside others in the same situation definitely helped ease my nerves and make me feel more comfortable.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through the prerequisite courses, the application, or interview process? To prepare for my application and the interview process, I scoured the PA Platform for any and all insight and advice possible. I also read through everything on thepalife.com and read How to "Ace" the Physician Assistant School Interview by Andrew J. Rodican , PA-C (affiliate link) cover to cover. The book gave me incredible help in deciding how to construct my answers and make a list of everything I wanted to be sure that I told the faculty and staff about myself. I also asked every PA and doctor I could for advice for the interview, as well as insight into how they would answer some of the more difficult ethical questions. Taking advice from others provided new insight I had never thought of before.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? The best advice I could give others in my shoes would be to stay focused and not be discouraged by red flags that might be on your application. It might take extra time or hard work, but it is possible to get into PA school. Take as much advice as you can, and learn as much as possible from others. Make PA school a top priority and it will happen in time!
Where can we find you? My Instagram account is @stefaniem4 and is the best way to reach me. If you have any questions about my stats, application process, or anything else, feel free to reach out. I hope you enjoyed my acceptance story!