Accepted: Maddy - Northeastern University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: Villanova University, B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

Overall GPA: 3.67

Science GPA: 3.46

GRE: 158 Verbal, 153 Quantitative, 5.0 Written

Total HCE hours: 104

Total PCE hours: ~1,400

Shadowing hours: 35

Other volunteer hours: ~200

LORs: 4 Total (1 from a professor, 1 from a PA, 1 from an NP, and 1 Health Professions Advising Committee Letter)

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 23

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 12

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I interviewed at 4 schools (6 invites, declined 2) and I was accepted at 2 and waitlisted at 2.

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) My top choice, Northeastern University!!!

Any red flags on your application? My quantitative score on the GRE was low (51st percentile) and I had a B- on my transcript. Otherwise, I don't think there were any red flags.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? An interview at a "top school" may disappoint you and an interview at a smaller, lesser known school might really impress you! So, keep an open mind!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I used How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview by Andrew Rodican. I used Magoosh for the GRE and followed blogs like The PA Platform and other blogging resources.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Keep an open mind and say yes to any opportunity that presents itself. You never know what lessons you could learn or people you could meet from different experiences. Also, be kind to yourself. This is a hard path but it is worth it. Keep working!!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc): My instagram is the.pa.diaries!


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Bethany - University of Mount Union Future PA

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Undergraduate education: BS in Public Health at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Overall GPA: 3.89

Science GPA: 3.46

GRE: Verbal 149, Quantitative 143, Analytical Writing 3.0

Total HCE hours: 2,955 (Medical Scribe, Oncology Volunteer)

Total PCE hours: 0

Shadowing hours: 91 (Emergency Department, Dermatology, Surgical Oncology, ENT)

Other volunteer hours: 342 (volunteering with people with disabilities at a horse barn, pet therapy at a nursing home facility, Exceptional Adventures volunteer)

LORs: Physician I work as a medical scribe for, Volunteer Coordinator for Volunteer Program I participated in for 3 years, Anatomy and Physiology professor.

How many times did you apply? 2

Age: 24

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 9

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?

I was invited for 4 interviews but only interviewed at 1. It was my number 1 choice and the first one I received an interview invitation for. I will be attending the University of Mount Union starting in May!!

Any red flags on your application?

No patient care experience, low GRE scores, re-took A&P II because I had received a C.

Anything you found surprising about interviews?

My interview experience was phenomenal. It was very laid back and I felt like I was able to connect with several people. Rather than it feeling like the other interviewees and I were competitors, it felt like we were trying to make friends. In addition, one of my interviews was with the director of the PA program. Most of our conversation was her answering my questions about the program and PA profession. I loved this part because it felt like I was given the chance to interview them a little about their program.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?

Helpful books: Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs (2018)  (affiliate link) and The Ultimate Guide to Getting into Physician Assistant School by Andrew J. Rodican (affiliate link).

For personal statement review and interview prep I used the PA Platform and it was the best decision I ever made. If I could recommend one thing to an applicant that would be it. It was so helpful working through my personal statement with a PA and receiving their feedback. After reading the same thing so many times it can be difficult to see where changes need to be made, but they know exactly what to look for.

For the mock interview, I was able to work with a PA who has been an instagram role model to me, s/o @thepa_life. She completely calmed my nerves and made me feel confident going into my first interview.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

If you are a re-applicant this is for you! I felt very discouraged when I knew I did not get into PA school the first time I applied. However, I knew that I had two choices: I could go a different route and pursue a different career, or do absolutely everything I could to make sure I was chosen the next time. I worked very hard through out college to make this dream my reality, but I never worked harder than I did the 6-8 months between applying the first time and applying the second time. If you’re going through the same thing, I encourage you to work hard to gain experience, improve your grades or GRE scores, make connections with people and job shadow, and continue to learn about the PA profession. Not only will this enhance your application, but it will also allow you to grow as a future PA. Believe in yourself. You can do this!

Where can we find you?  Instagram: @bethany_mart1n (Feel free to DM me with any questions!)



If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Josh - Nova Southeastern University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: Florida State University

Overall GPA: 3.63

Science GPA: 3.62

GRE: 304

Total HCE hours:   1500

Total PCE hours: 480

Shadowing hours: 270

Other volunteer hours: 1000

LORs: 3 letters- PA, MD, Past instructor

How many times did you apply?:  1 cycle

Age: 23

Gender: Male

How many programs did you apply to? 7

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 3 interviews, 3 acceptances

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Nova Southeastern University Ft Lauderdale

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The amount of personal questions I received.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? How to ace the physician assistant school interview (affiliate link)

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?  Be confident!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) Instagram: gin_andjosh


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Rebecca - Northeastern University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: Gordon College Class of 2018 Biology Major with a Concentration in Pre-Physician Assistant Studies

Overall GPA: 3.81

Science GPA: 3.77

GRE:

Verbal:157/170 - 76th percentile

Quantitative: 157/170 - 65th percentile

Analytical Writing: 5.0/6.0 - 92nd percentile

Total HCE/PCE hours:

Approx. 1500 at the time that I applied

700 as a CNA at 2 different SNF nursing homes

500 as a CNA at a LTAC hospital on a cardiopulmonary/ventilator floor (still active)

200 as an EMT doing both transfers and 911 (still active)

LORs:

  • 1 Professor/advisor/teacher that I was a teaching assistant for

  • 1 Nurse with decades of experience in hospital medicine that commonly works as charge nurse for my floor

  • 1 Doctor that knew me on both a professional and personal level

How many times did you apply?: This was my first year applying!

 Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 5

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? Interviewed with and accepted by one - my top choice!

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Northeastern University

Any red flags on your application? I had zero hours of shadowing experience, 1500 PCE hours (for a school that recommended 2000), and my undergraduate degree was done at a small college that (almost) no one has ever heard of.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? Northeastern organized their interviews in a two day process. The first was time spent with professors and current students to familiarize yourself with the program even more. The second day was a set of 3 interviews for each candidate. I pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie between candidates and current students, which I believed would be a much more competitive atmosphere. This only made me more excited to join the class of 2021!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? The websites for schools’ PA programs were invaluable. Making sure that all of the pre-reqs were covered regardless of where I was applying was a must. Then, during the application process, making sure that I looked at what mattered most to each school and including my take on those opinions helped formulate my responses to additional essay questions, and even guided my personal statement on a certain level.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? If you are a decent test taker and come from a smaller undergraduate program, take the GRE! I had an interviewer ask me my response to his dilemma of comparing an A student at a small school (like myself) to a B student at an ivy league. As soon as he saw my GRE scores, that put his mind to rest.

Definitely an advantage to helping yourself stand out academically.

Find out what makes you stand out as a health care provider. I was able to connect with another interviewer over my belief that true empathy is a core trait to strive for in medicine and that we can easily get away from caring for the patient themselves if this is not done. Based on stories I told of patients that I had taken care of in the past, this interviewer was able to pinpoint this characteristic pretty quickly. It was also something that I elaborated on in my personal statement as well. Find a way to make yourself stand out!

Do what you love!! This applies to both academics and PCE hours. I loved taking extra science classes that were not pre-reqs such as nutrition, immunology, biomedical technology, science and literature, and botany. This was in addition to the classes that were pre-reqs for some schools but not others including biochemistry and microbiology. I loved them all and they were easy to talk about with any of the interviewers. Same with my work as a CNA. Not everyone has the fortune of finding a hospital/clinic/ambulance company/nursing home that they fall in love with, but I have greatly enjoyed my time on the cardiopulmonary ventilator floor that I currently work on and was able to talk about that throughout the application and interview process as well.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) IG: @rebecca.the.pa


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Matthew - Drexel University

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Undergraduate education: B.S. in Biology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona

Overall GPA: 3.60 

Science GPA: 3.59

Graduate Education: Masters in Health Care Administration from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona

Overall Graduate GPA: 3.75 

Science Graduate GPA: 4.0

GRE: 306 Verbal: 152, Quantitative: 154, Writing: 4

Total HCE hours: 1170 as a medical scribe in the 6th busiest Emergency Department in the country. Our hospital was also a trauma center in which we were responsible to scribe trauma shifts as well.

Total PCE hours: 0

Shadowing hours: 276, accumulated through the Emergency Department, Behavioral Health, Pediatrics and Cardiothoracic Surgery. I think shadowing is some of the most valuable hours you can obtain, giving you countless experiences to highlight during your interviews.

Other volunteer hours: Leadership:1280 Teaching:4680 Volunteer:435 (Place value in all your experience.)

LORs: 2 PA, 2 Physicians, 1 Previous Instructor

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 30

How many programs did you apply to? 21… I am well aware the average applicant applies to 6-8 programs but I truly devalued my application and struggled with a lot of self-doubt. My main focus was becoming a physician assistant. Not staying close to home, or attending my alma mater. I wanted to attend the strongest program available to me and a program that truly was a good fit for me. Looking back I think applying to around 15 programs would have been a really good amount.

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I was invited to 14 interviews and managed to attend 8. Of those 8 interviews I was rejected from 1, placed on 2 waitlists, accepted to 4 and have one remaining decision in progress.

Where will you be attending? I could not be more excited to join the prestigious program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Any red flags on your application? I was somewhat of a nontraditional applicant. I completed my graduate degree in 2013 and following, pursued some entrepreneurial opportunities away from healthcare and education. I was concerned coming back 5 years later would be a red flag. Additionally, I had two withdrawal fails and a few grades that I was prompted about at a number of interviews. We are not perfect, and programs do not expect you to be.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was initially surprised by how little many of the programs knew about me or my application. I anticipated very personal, penetrating questions about my application but was pleasantly surprised by the casual nature of much of the interview process. The programs and interviews that I favored took the time to get to know me. They were intentional with their questioning and truly wanted to know my story and how it led me to their interview.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I read Andrew J. Rodican’s “How to Ace the PA interview” (Affiliate link) twice as well as ‘PA School Interview Guide’ by Savanna Perry to familiarize myself with all things interview. I found both books incredibly useful at preparing me for the various interview styles I encountered. When initially applying I used ‘The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs’ for a quick overview of the programs I was planning on applying to. Don’t be scared of social media, there great influencers sharing their PA School journey through Instagram and Youtube that offer tons of useful content that can help you prepare for your cycle. Lastly, for all those nervous about GRE prep I know my score wasn’t the strongest part of my application but I found ‘Magoosh’ online test prep incredibly helpful for organizing study schedules, material and practice testing.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? At the end of the day you have to get to a place where you believe in yourself, your application and your story. Don’t get lost on the forums where statistics and scores seem totally unattainable. Start the process early, don’t wait getting your letters of recommendation in progress and your application ready heading into the cycle. Give yourself an advantage by applying early. For me the best advice I can offer is to write a compelling personal statement. Give committees and programs something to read that will force them to meet you, it’s one document where you get to narrate the story, don’t miss out on that opportunity!

Where can we find you? Instagram: @grungymatt


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 


Accepted: Zeena - Lincoln Memorial University DCOM Future PA

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Undergraduate education: B.S. in Interdisciplinary Health, Minor in Chemistry, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Overall GPA: 3.3

Science GPA: 3.5

GRE: 298, 4.5 writing

Total HCE hours: 304

Total PCE hours:  1,160 (CNA at Nursing home and hospital)

Shadowing hours: 124 (Orthopedic and ENT PA)

Other volunteer hours: 640 (Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, Delta Phi Omega Sorority, Incorporated, Crisis Nursery, Mission Trip to Peru)

LORs: 5 (1 professor, 1 Director of Nursing, 1 research professor, 2 PAs)

How many times did you apply?:  once

Age: 25

Gender: F

How many programs did you apply to? 25 (only because I saved up JUST to apply for schools and wanted to have a better chance at getting accepted my first try)

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 8 interviews, 3 accepted, 1 waitlist, 3 waiting to hear interview results

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Lincoln Memorial University DCOM PA program in Harrogate, TN

Any red flags on your application? My Overall GPA, my GRE and I noticed a HUGE mistake on my personal statement after I submitted

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised at how comfortable staff and faculty made students feel during the interviews. I learned not only were schools interviewing me, but I was interviewing them as well. Throughout the 8 interviews, I was able to experience every interview style and found that MMI-style interviews were my favorite. It gave me a chance to breathe and reset between each mini interview and I enjoyed seeing a new face in each room.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I am big on using social media to find random people to ask questions. You will be surprised how helpful social media can be. I also used the ‘Physician Assitant School Interview guide’ by Savanna Perry, ‘How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant School Interview’ (affiliate link) and ‘Getting into Physician Assistant School’ by Andrew J. Rodican (affiliate link). In addition, I watched hundreds of youtube videos and listened to all of Savanna Perry’s podcasts. I used social media to ask random people if they can interview me as well and was able to have 14 mock interviews because interviewing was my weakness.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? BE CONFIDENT! Do not let your weaknesses and fears take over. Work on bettering yourself and your application in any way you can. If this is truly your passion, you will do whatever it takes to overcome any obstacles life decides to put in your path. Remember, it will only make you stronger! Do not be scared to ask for help! Reach out and use the internet and social media to your advantage. Practice, practice, practice before interviews. I recommend having strangers interview you instead of family and friends. Being nervous at an interview is normal and your interviewers are aware of this as they were in your position at one point in time. They want to make sure you are a human being capable of empathetically and compassionately take care of others.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) instagram @zee9193. Please reach out to me if you have ANY questions or need help with anything. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Haley - Barry University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: I majored in Health Sciences, Pre-Clinical and got my Bachelor of Science at the University of Central Florida

Overall GPA: 3.42

Science GPA: 3.35

GRE: 301

Total PCE hours: 4,599

Shadowing hours: 3,668

Other volunteer hours: 60

LORs: I had 5 LORs:  1 from a PA, 1 from an RN, 1 from a professor, and 2 from physicians.

How many times did you apply?:  3

Age: 24

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? Over the course of three years, I applied to about 25 programs

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?I received one interview invite the first cycle and one interview invite the second cycle, and I was waitlisted both times.  The third cycle I received two interviews and was accepted at my number one program so I declined to interview at the other.

Where will you be attending? Barry University (The St. Petersburg Campus)

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The other applicants at each interview were always SO nice!  It didn't feel like we were all competing, everyone was nervous and giving each other pep talks and we were total strangers!  It really is a community and I loved how supportive everyone was.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I actually retook a couple of courses to boost my GPA and I found Doane University to be very helpful because they offered a ton of pre-req classes online, even Anatomy and Physiology with lab, and that was really helpful because I really wanted to be able to work and gain PCE as much as possible.  Also, the book How to "Ace" the Physician Assistant School Interview by Andrew J. Rodican (affiliate link) is super helpful!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?  If being a PA is something you really want to do and you are truly passionate, do not give up.  It wasn't easy reapplying multiple times and getting waitlisted two years in a row... but everything happens for a reason and it was all worth it in the end :)


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Haley - St. Ambrose University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: Coe College- Cedar Rapids, IA. I majored in biology and neuroscience and minored in chemistry.

Overall GPA: 3.72

Science GPA: 3.53

GRE: 151v/151q/4.5w

Total HCE hours: 215- I worked as an administrative assistant in a dental office and volunteered in the ER and rehabilitation unit at the nearby hospital. 

Total PCE hours: 1200- I have worked as an Emergency Room Technician for a year.

Shadowing hours: 210- 36 hrs (family practice PA), 144 hours (dentist and dental specialties), 30 (physicians such as ophthalmologists, cardiologists, ER physicians)

Other volunteer hours: 50

LORs: I had 5 letters of recommendation- biology professor, public speaking professor, tennis coach, family practice PA, and work supervisor

How many times did you apply?: 1

Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 6

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 5 interviews (2 acceptances, 2 waitlists, and 1 rejection)

Where will you be attending? I will be attending St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA.

Any red flags on your application? I received a C+ in Organic Chemistry I and a C in Organic Chemistry II. Luckily, I received A’s in most of my other science courses to strengthen my GPA, but organic chemistry was definitely a challenge for me. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised at how welcoming and friendly the interview environments were. I enjoyed talking to other applicants about the PA admissions process, as it was nice to relate to others going through the same ups and downs as myself.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? Khan Academy and Chegg were helpful resources used for my prerequisite courses. To prepare for the GRE, I used the “5 lb Book of GRE Practice Problems” by Manhattan Prep (affiliate link) as well as a vocabulary app. For interview preparation, I used the “Physician Assistant School Interview Guide” by Savanna Perry, PA-C and YouTube for sample MMI questions. I referenced many websites including the AAPA website, paplatform.com, and thepalife.com. Throughout the interview process, I went on physicianassistantforum.com to get additional knowledge on the application process for other students in my same position. However, I may have become too addicted to checking the forum in anticipation for interviews/acceptance from schools. Use the forum wisely if you choose to

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? My advice is to get started on the application process early, and be organized! There is so much that goes into CASPA while also having to study for the GRE and getting your patient contact hours in. It was useful for me to create a spreadsheet with all of the prerequisites and deadlines, so I could ensure I would not overlook any part of their requirements. Also, try your hardest to be patient throughout the process! I drove myself crazy by checking my email and the forums, so try to dive into other activities to keep yourself busy.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) @hmresnick


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Victoria - University of the Pacific PA Student

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Undergraduate education: Nutrition/Dietetics at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL

Overall GPA: 3.65

Science GPA: 3.54

GRE: Verbal - 145, Quantitative - 151, Writing - 2.5

I took the GRE multiple and my scores fluctuated in all sections every time I took the test.

Total HCE hours: 5,500 (ER scribe and scribe for a pulmonologist)

Shadowing hours: 1,680

Other volunteer hours: 40

LORs: 3 (2 MD, 1 PA)

How many times did you apply?:

I had started my 4th cycle but was accepted in to a program that I was waitlisted at during my 3rd cycle.

Age: 26

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to?

1st cycle - 6

2nd cycle - 12

3rd cycle - 12

4th cycle -6

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?

Throughout the entire process I interviewed at 6 programs. During my second cycle I interviewed with four programs and was waitlisted at all four. I actually got pulled from the waitlist and was offered a seat at one of the programs but they ended up not getting there initial accreditation (was a blessing in disguise). My third cycle I interviewed at two programs, one was a no and the other I was waitlisted at.

Where will you be attending?

I started on January 3, 2019 at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento, CA. I was waitlisted at this program in March 2018 after my interview but was offered a seat on December 11, 2018. Best day of my life

Any red flags on your application?

Low GRE score. Only a few of the programs I interviewed at questioned this but I assured them that this was not indication of my test taking skills. I also did not work in the healthcare field for an entire year. This did not get brought up formally during my interview but I think it hurt me at one interview because I didn’t get a chance to explain why.

Anything you found surprising about interviews?

The faculty and staff really wanted to get to know me. There was only one interview where I felt that I was being interrogated.

I felt that I was interviewing the school as well. Were they a good fit for me? Could I see myself thriving in this atmosphere?

Majority of the schools I interviewed at made me feel welcome but also made it clear that there was high expectations from students, faculty and staff.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?

 Khan academy was a lifesaver during majority of my prerequisite courses.

Powerprep tools on ETS and Kaplan quizzes to study for the GRE.

 I googled common interview questions for PA school, made a long list and would practice in the mirror or have family or friends ask me questions.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

Sometimes things may not work out right away or how you imagined. It is easy to feel discouraged and that is okay! Remember that this is a tough process. Stay focused and continue to work toward your goals. When it’s meant to happen, it will. Feel free to message me with any questions.

Instagram @victoria_blair


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Emily - Trine University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: B.S in Allied Health, A.A.S in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI.


Overall GPA: 3.46

Science GPA: 3.39

GRE: 299-Verbal: 150, Quantitative: 149, Writing 4.5

Total HCE hours: I didn't put any on my application, although I feel the amount of PCE hours I have counts for HCE hours as well.

Total PCE hours: I've worked direct patient care (as an Ultrasound Technologist) for just over six years now. Going radiology first is a great way to get experience hours, and I never would have learned about the PA world without it!

Shadowing hours: Again, I didn't put any on my application but I mentioned in my interview that I worked directly with PAs and learned a lot from them. I do wish I would have shadowed PAs in different departments to learn the broader spectrum of physician assistant care but I don't think it will impact how I do in school.

Other volunteer hours: I mentioned that i've volunteered in an Alternative Spring Break and other non-healthcare related activites however, if I had been on a PA track since undergrad, I would've used more opportunities to get health care related volunteer experience! I think it not only looks good on an application, but you can learn so much from getting out and seeing what health care in different communities looks like!

LORs: Four! I had two of my PAs I work with, as well as two radiologists I worked with submit letters. Since I applied twice, I used the first two PAs again, but I had a different radiologist submit a new letter just in case schools frowned upon repeats

How many times did you apply?: Twice!

Age: 27 - 28 when I start school. ((I initially thought this was too old to start the PA process but through the PA instagram world, I learned its never too late to go after your dreams and make it happen! Its a risk, but the reward will be so worth it!))

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? Two.

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I only interviewed with one school. My goal was to stay close to my current city because I bought a house and didn't want to have to sell it. If I wasn't accepted I would have applied outside the state/other areas. The school I interviewed with initially waitlisted me and recommended I go for a higher GRE score. They said if I got a higher GRE, then I would be admitted for the next cycle without another interview (just a quick phone interview) and so I did! I was accepted five days after I took the test!

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised how casual everything was! The instructors made me feel so relaxed and at ease during the whole process. They gave us a lot of information about the school and were so open with answers to our multiple questions. They did a group interview style and some scenario activities for us to do. It was actually fun!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? The PA platform website was so beneficial with the application process and any questions leading up to that. I used the free printouts for help leading up to my interview and it was so nice to have that! I also have found an amazing and generous community on instagram with PA students and PA-Cs willing and ready to answer any and all questions. @lorae_the_pa and @lifeasapa have been my go-to PA/all around badass women inspo. :)


Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Don't give up! The application process is long and frustrating but keep going! Reach out to any and all PAs you know for help and advice. I haven't ran into any of them that were unwilling to help. Also, remember to relax and not stress (easier said than done of course!). PA school will have us stressing like crazy. Don't get too worked up before you even begin!


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Stefanie - Clarkson University Future PA

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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

Gender: Female

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!


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Kelsie - University of Charleston in West Virginia Future PA

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Undergraduate education: BS in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of Utah

Overall GPA: 3.36

Science GPA: 3.21

GRE: 306, Analytical Writing 4.0

Total PCE hours: 10,170 as a phlebotomist, blood gas technician, and exercise specialist

Shadowing hours: 117 (MD's and PA's)

Other volunteer hours: 96 (Leadership), 234 (Service)

LORs: 3 (PA, professor, and supervisor at work)

How many times did you apply?:  3

Age: 25

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 8

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2 - one rejection, one waitlist to acceptance!

Where will you be attending? University of Charleston in West Virginia

Any red flags on your application? Low GPA (I tried to offset this with my high PCE and solid volunteering.)

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I didn't expect to feel as welcome as I was. At the two programs I interviewed at, one was very student focused and showed it in how the interview was conducted. The other one said they were student focused, but I didn't feel as comfortable there. I was also surprised at the different lengths of the interviews. One program had an orientation night to help us feel more relaxed and answer questions, then the next day we interviewed for about 2 hours. The other had us show up early and kept us there for almost 9 hours. I also definitely feel like I built the interviews up to be much more nerve-racking than they actually were. Admissions committees truly just want to get to know who you are and see what you're like outside of your application.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? Physician Assistant Interview Guide by Savanna Perry, How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview (affiliate link) and The Ultimate Guide to Getting into Physician Assistant School by Andrew Rodican, and The PA Platform Blog & Podcasts.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Don't give up! It took me three application cycles to figure everything out, and I think it would've taken me less time and frustration had I not been so stubborn and asked for help earlier. I was a classic case of trying to do everything on my own but I found success this year by using all of my resources. Talk to advisors, PAs, PA students, other health care professionals, people you trust to give you unbiased feedback, etc. While incorporating all these resources, it is also important to believe in yourself and go with your gut. Keep trying to improve a little bit every day... You can do this!

Where can we find you? @_kelsiemarie_ on Instagram


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Alissa - Dominican University of California PA Student

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Undergraduate Education: University of California, Irvine — B.S. Biological Sciences

Overall GPA: 3.36

Science GPA: 3.25

GRE: 304 (V 150, Q 154, W 5.0)

Total HCE hours: 572 hours — volunteering at a hospital, ED, and in hospice

Total PCE hours: 4320 at time of application — ED scribe, medical assistant at a dermatology clinic

Shadowing hours: 112 hours — 2 different internal medicine PAs

Other volunteer hours: ~400 hours through sorority philanthropies

LORs: dermatologist (my boss), physiology professor (I got an A in this class), and my previous supervisor who I worked for 6 years as a lifeguard

How many times did you apply?: 2 times

Age: 26

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to?: 12 programs

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?: 5 interview invites, attended 3 interviews, 2 acceptances, and 1 rejection

I am currently attending Dominican University of California's MSPAS Program, class of 2020!

Any red flags on your application?: Cs in general and organic chemistry, an F in molecular biology (which I retook and got a B)

Anything you found surprising about interviews? Interview days were super long and each one lasted from about 8am to 2pm. I quickly learned that it was important to maintain my energy levels throughout the day because the faculty had all sorts of activities planned for us (a tour, breakfast/lunch, group activities, writing assignments, meeting current students, and the actual interview itself). One of my interviewers yawned during my afternoon interview, so be prepared to stay upbeat for the entire day (bring some snacks, stay hydrated, whatever works for you)!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?

How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview  (affiliate link) by Andrew J. Rodican helped me to formulate answers general interview questions, asking current PA students about their past interview experiences, and emailing schools directly about prerequisites. Also, it's really helpful to do mock interviews, especially if you have interview nerves like I do. I practiced with my boss, my coworkers, a PA that I shadowed, my best friends, my mom — practice makes perfect! On that note, don't memorize your answers, because you don't want to sound rehearsed.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

If you failed a class or have a lower GPA, you can still get into PA school! Retaking courses that you got low grades in and taking additional science courses not only shows admissions your academic improvement, but it will also help you solidify your foundational science knowledge. I'm so glad I retook classes because now as a current PA-S1, I am doing well and I understand concepts better than I did before! Good luck :)

Where can we find you?

Instagram: @alissalaura_ (DM me with any questions you have!)


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Kristen - Grand Valley State University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: Grand Valley State University, Major: Allied Health Science with an emphasis on Pre-Physician Assistant Studies

Overall GPA: 3.9

Science GPA: 3.79

GRE: 304 (147 quan - yikes! 157 qual), 5.5 writing

Total HCE hours: ~100 as a home health aide for the elderly, ~150 as a nanny for a young child with a disability

Total PCE hours: 2500 total. For 500 of these hours I worked as a CNA in an assisted living/memory care. After about 8 months I was able to get into a local hospital as a "floating" nurse technician - I got to work everywhere from med/surg to mother/baby to the cardiothoracic ICU. I later transferred to my current position as a nurse technician in a pediatric hospital on a unit that specializes in epilepsy monitoring.

Shadowing hours: 30! Shadowed an adolescent medicine PA, cardiovascular surgery PA, and pediatric nephrology PA. Use your networking skills - the hardest person to find is the first one you shadow. Each PA I shadowed thereafter was a referral from someone  else I previously shadowed. Once I got the first PA to say yes (after many, many emails to other PAs) it was much easier from then on.

Other volunteer hours: 100 on alternative spring break trips (50 of these hours I lead my own trip), 20 hours as a medical assistant in a walk in free clinic, ~100 hours as academic chairwoman of my sorority

LORs: 1 from adolescent medicine PA (an alumni from the school I am attending), 1 from my public health professor, 1 from my manager at the hospital, and 1 from my anatomy lecture and physiology lab professor

How many times did you apply?:  1 :)

Age: 21

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 4, all in Michigan

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 3 interviews, waitlisted at 1, accepted to 2!

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Grand Valley State University!

Any red flags on your application? Most definitely my GRE score. I almost retook the GRE and paid for a very expensive GRE prep course. I have always really struggled with math and that clearly shows in my score. However, after speaking with my academic advisor I decided to go ahead and apply with this score. I think my academic record and work experience shows a lot more about who I am that one simple score on math I haven't done in years!

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The importance of being relaxed and prepared. I generally knew what I would say for (most) answers, which really calmed my nerves once I got to my second and third interviews. Most of the schools wanted to know why I wanted to go to that school in particular. This was a common theme everywhere I went. Also, all the students at my interviews were so nice and helpful. They definitely remember what it's like to be in our shoes and sometimes gave quick tips before we went into the actual interview part.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? physicianassistantforum.com and of course, Savanna's book! (The Physician Assistant School Interview Guide) I highlighted in the book and scribbled some thoughts in the margin. I also kept an excel sheet of my own to keep track of the required prerequisite courses for each individual school and if I had heard back from them yet. This just organized my thoughts and calmed my nerves. For difficult science classes I always turned to Khan academy or Quizlet!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Keep the faith and don't give up. I had so many doubts and could never stop comparing myself to others, but in the end I was the only person standing in my way! Do your best and know that there will always be someone who is doing more, and that's okay! Also, get to know your professors early on in college and try to retake a different class with them if you find a professor you click with. That's how I secured solid LOR since my professors really knew who I was as a person. I also did not know any PAs personally so I had to cold email many to even get a response. I used my work email at the hospital and our website to find PAs - so basically network, network, network! I think it is very important to have a LOR from a PA specifically.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) @kristencody1 IG


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Megan - Bethel University Future PA

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Undergraduate education: University of Minnesota Duluth

Overall GPA: 3.77 at time of application (doesn’t include senior year)

Science GPA: 3.66 at time of application (doesn’t include senior year)

GRE: Verbal: 149, Quantitative: 156, Writing: 4.0

Total HCE hours: 50

Total PCE hours: 1,200

Shadowing hours: 6

Other volunteer hours: ~500; I volunteered a lot! I went on a 3-week mission trip to France, a therapeutic horse riding center, and a pony camp as well as spent a lot of time in leadership volunteer positions such as leading music ministry at church, leading bible studies, being a part of my church’s leadership team, and helping to lead retreats.

LORs: I had three LORs: one professor that I was a TA for, one RN who has known me my whole life, and one from my priest on campus

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 3 programs

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?

I only interviewed at one school: Bethel University, and I got accepted and that is where I will be enrolling. One of the other schools I applied to does not do interviews and I have yet to hear back from them, and the third school I did not receive an invite to interview at. I honestly wasn’t expecting to get accepted my first time, I basically applied to schools around my area to get comfortable with the system!

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing)

Bethel University in Minnesota, Class of 2021

Any red flags on your application?

I had a “W” my first semester of college in Calculus II because I was taking a lot of credits and I changed my major, but I was never asked about it.

Anything you found surprising about interviews?

My biggest shock was how young I was compared to the other interviewees! Many of them had a couple years post-undergrad where they gained a lot of experience which was a little nerve-wracking for me. Also, the group interview portion was a little awkward because you had to read the room really well in order to stand out without being rude or disruptive!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?

I listened to the PA Platform podcast a LOT! It helped me feel so confident going into interviews because it was really informative about everything from PA programs to interview processes to the life of a PA. I also got the e-book for “PA School Interview Guide” and that was super helpful too!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

Start everything as early as possible! Start your personal statement (even if it is just a sentence), get familiar with CASPA, research programs and plan your pre-reqs, do whatever you can to shadow PAs, MDs, and NPs, & get those patient care hours!! Also, stalk PAs on social media! YouTube, podcasts, & Instagram are all great resources and will not only keep you motivated but will also educate you on everything you need to be successful in getting into PA school!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc)

Instagram: @meganroseberger


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Katherine - Dominican University of California Future PA

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Undergraduate education: UC Santa Barbara, Biology major

Overall GPA: 3.65

Science GPA: 3.8

GRE: I chose to not take the GRE 

Total HCE hours: ~1300 hours 

Total PCE hours: ~3100 hours at time of application - back office MA in a Dermatology office

Shadowing hours: 100 

Other volunteer hours: 100 (Junior League of Santa Barbara, Loma Linda Hospital, Beach Clean Ups, Homeless shelter)

LORs: 1 PA (I work with at my office), 2 MDs (owner of practice/supervisors), 1 Profressor and 

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 23

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 7

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? Invited to 3, Interviewed at 2, 1 acceptance and 1 wait list.

Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Dominican University of California 

Any red flags on your application? I did not have as many extracurricular hours as many students tend to have and I also chose not to take the GRE. While I did understand that would limit my choices during applications, it was a personal decision I made based on timeline, stress and my current workload at the time. Luckily I was never asked about either of these things during interviews but I was nervous that programs would not see me as "well-rounded" as other applicants who had far more volunteer/shadowing hours.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? People are so friendly- fellow interviewees, faculty and current students! At both interviews I attended, the students and faculty truly made a huge effort in trying to settle our nerves and make us feel more comfortable during the process. I even made friends with a few people at both interviews and have stayed in touch during the process. You need to go into the interview open minded and try your best to relax!

I also had two completely different interviews at each program. One had 3 tests (3!!) that we had to take prior to our group interview which was followed by an individual interview. The other school had a 2-on-2 interview, group activity and an active research assignment we had to complete. The days were long! I spent 7.5 hours at the first school and about 4 hours at the second. 

Tip #1: Bring comfortable walking shoes for campus tours. Your feet will thank you

Tip #2: Wear a smile throughout the day! Your interview starts the moment you set foot on campus and won't end until you're on your way home. Everyone is watching you, so put your best foot forward, portray confidence with a smile and be friendly to others that are interviewing. It will make you less nervous!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? 

When preparing for interviews, I LOVED Savanna's book the Physician Assistant School Interview Guide. I bought it the same day I learned of my first interview invite and read it cover to cover probably 3 times! The questions were helpful and gave me a better idea of how I should formulate my answers. 

PAEA directory for researching programs. 

Various blogs and Instagram profiles (Life as a PA, With Ashley Kay, Page the PA, Fresh Prince of Healthcare) were a great reminder to push through the tough times and keep working towards your goal!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

Don't compare yourself to others! Remember you are just as deserving as everyone else who is applying during your cycle or at your interview, you just need to show admissions just how awesome YOU are! I will be the first to admit I often found myself looking at people's "stats" on the PA forum and would think I wasn't good enough or wouldn't get in my first time, but I learned quickly that you can't do that! It's not healthy and it won't do you any good. Focus on your positives and what makes you unique, write them down even so they're at the forefront of your mind (this will help you during interviews too). The process is slow and nerve-wracking but everything happens for a reason and if you keep working hard, you'll one day get to be a PA!!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) 

Instagram: Kat_thepa 

Blog: kat-thepa.weebly.com 


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Sarah - MCPHS in Boston Future PA

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Undergraduate education:  University of Connecticut, my degree was in Allied Health Science

Overall GPA: 3.88

Science GPA: 3.89

GRE: Verbal-155 Quantitative-152 Analytical Writing-4.5

Total HCE hours: over 2000

Total PCE hours: 1600

Shadowing hours: 24

Other volunteer hours: 2000+

LORs: 4

How many times did you apply?: one time! my first time!

Age: 24

Gender: Female 

How many programs did you apply to? 10

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?

I received 7 interview invites and ended up interviewing at 5 programs. I turned down the other 2 interviews, as I had already committed to a program. I was accepted at 2 programs, and wait listed at the remaining 3 programs

Where will you be attending? I am thrilled to be committed to MCPHS in Boston. For as long as I wanted to be a PA, my dream was to attend this program. I am so excited to begin in the Fall of 2019!! 

Any red flags on your application? My GRE scores were not as strong as I had hoped. I struggled with the GREs, and ended up taking them twice to improve my scores. It was not my strong suit, but I knew I had other areas of my application to be proud of.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? As nerve-wracking as they were, I loved my interviews! For the most part, I loved getting to know the program, faculty, and students. However, my first interview was an MMI style, and I was completely thrown off as it was SUPER challenging. I definitely learned a lot from that first interview and am ultimately grateful that it challenged me to prepare even harder for the next interview. 

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I utilized your book (PA School Interview Guide), along with the book "How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview" by Andrew Rodican (affiliate link). I seriously think that both of these books were the key to my successes, along with practicing out loud in front of a mirror and to my family and friends. I was lucky to also have contacts through Instagram and PAs I shadowed to help me during my application and interview process.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? My best advice would be to start preparing to apply early. Allow enough time to shadow, study for the GREs, gain patient care hours, and strengthen your application through volunteer work. Prepare your personal statement before the application opens in April as well. I found that this really allowed me to have adequate time to make sure my application was as strong as it could be, and left enough time to prepare for interviews. I also would say to take interviews as seriously as possible, preparing for them intently and thoroughly. I believe that because I was prepared for my interviews, I felt confident and could be myself without letting nerves take over. I hope this helps!!

Where can we find you? On instagram! @sarahconnors_7 

Message me with any questions or concerns, or email me at sarah7connors@gmail.com .


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

Accepted: Evan - Baylor College of Medicine Future PA

Undergraduate education: B.S. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Georgia

Overall GPA: 3.87

Science GPA: 3.64

GRE: 314 (Verbal – 160 Quantitative – 154 Writing – 5.0)

Total HCE hours: 52 (Medical Spanish Study Abroad Trip)

Total PCE hours: 420 (Worked at camp for kids with Type 1 diabetes)

Shadowing hours: 100 (Cardiothoracic Surgery PA)

Other volunteer hours: 450

LORs: 4 – 1 PA, 1 Professor, 1 Clinical Director of a volunteer organization, 1 Club advisor

How many times did you apply?: 

Age: 21

Gender: Female 

How many programs did you apply to? 3

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?

I interviewed at all 3. I was accepted to 2. Then I was waitlisted and denied to 1.

Where will you be attending? Baylor College of Medicine

Any red flags on your application? I didn’t have a lot of patient care hours, which limited the schools that I could apply to. However, I had a wide range and depth of volunteer experience that made my application stand out.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? Two of the three interviews that I went to were nothing like the cookie cutter interview questions I had prepared for. They were very personable. A lot of the questions they asked were about my application and my specific experiences.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? 1. The best advice I received for the interview process was know 3 reasons why you want to go to that school, 3 reasons that school should pick you, and have 3 questions about the program. 2. If you are still in undergrad, try to take your Anatomy I&II classes your senior year. It has been really helpful in PA school so far that I remember so much from that time. 3. Use Magoosh (affiliate link) and the Official GRE books to study for the GRE. It helped me a lot! 4. If you have a pre-PA organization at your school, get involved! If you don’t, start one!  

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Take all the advice you are receiving with a grain of salt. I was told that I wouldn’t get accepted straight out of undergrad, that I would burn out, and that I didn’t have enough patient care hours. I was even told that I wouldn’t be accepted because I wore a dress to my interview. And I got in!

Where can we find you? No social media. Email: esimonejohnson@gmail.com


If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to savanna@thepaplatform.com 

How to Make PA School Applications Cheaper and More Affordable

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Applying to physician assistant school is expensive. There’s no denying that. It takes many sacrifices of time and money to fulfill the requirements and steps necessary to become a PA. Jamie (@jamienicole_pa on Instagram) previously wrote a guest post on the unexpected expenses of applying to PA school, but today we’ll get into ways to make the process cheaper.

First of all, there are reasons the process is set up the way it is. The requirement of a bachelor’s degree and the hours of patient care experience, shadowing, and volunteering are what separates becoming a PA from nursing and medical school. You have to put in the time and money up front to get the benefit of a shorter training program. Being married to a medical resident, the amount of money required for medical school and the time and lack of adequate salary for residency is a huge sacrifice as well. For nursing, you would finish sooner, but not make the salary or have the responsibilities of a PA. If the time and requirements were all the same, there wouldn’t be as much differentiation between the various career paths.

For some background on myself, I don’t come from a medical family. My parents were both teachers. They worked extremely hard to give me great experiences growing up and encouraged my education. I’m very thankful for that. I worked hard in high school to earn a state scholarship that paid for the majority of my undergrad education at a public school and my parents helped me with living expenses. When it came time for PA school, there was no way they could afford to pay for it. I took out loans like the majority of my classmates. I come from a financially stable background (at least, that’s what my parents portrayed, but now that I know how much things cost in the real world, I know they made huge sacrifices), but it wasn’t always easy. To complete all of the requirements during undergrad, I sacrificed my time. During undergrad, I went to a CNA program every Saturday for 3 months that was an hour away and did my clinicals during spring break. I actually never went downtown to party, I was too busy studying. I worked full time in the summer while taking classes to graduate early and save my parents the expenses of an extra semester. Looking back, I might would change some of those things, but I achieved my goals and I’m happy with where I ended up.

PAs are known for being resourceful and go-getters. You must have a good amount of self-motivation as a PA because there’s a lot of learning to be done on the job. When it comes to finding time to shadow and volunteer, you’ve got to make it happen. This can be tough as an undergrad having to work multiple jobs or as someone with a family to support. Sometimes the answer may be taking a little bit longer and spreading things out to reach your goals. There tends to be a rat race with pressure to get to the finish line as soon as possible, and while sacrifices will certainly be required, it’s okay if it takes you longer than you would prefer. Make sure you meet all of the requirements of a program before you apply so you don’t waste your time or money. I’ve seen way too many applicants applying with GPAs or grades below the requirements, and the schools will never see your application with that method.

Even if you have small chunks of time, use them wisely. Find something you enjoy doing as volunteer work so it doesn’t just feel like you’re checking a box. Finding shadowing hours is difficult, but eventually someone will say yes if you keep trying. Ask your neighbor’s cousin who works with a nurse if they have any connections and you may be surprised. You’ll never know until you ask. Cold call offices like I did, and even if only one calls you back, it’s a start. Instead of getting bogged down by the many requirements and your lack of time, take it one step at a time and realize that if you’re doing the best you can, that’s all you can do!

Sometimes becoming a PA may mean taking a pay cut to get patient care hours. Many entry level jobs don’t pay that well or even much more than minimum wage. Being frugal for a few years may have benefits in the end. Put the numbers down on paper. Look at everything you spend money on, and see if you can make it happen. Most of us have a good bit of stuff, and I know I’ve personally raided my closet and put things on eBay to reach financial goals at times.

Look for waivers and scholarships. One of my biggest regrets from undergrad was not applying for more scholarships. A simple Google search will bring up many options, and a lot of them are geared toward healthcare students. You never know if you don’t apply, and it doesn’t take that long to fill out a form and write a short essay. Go to your financial aid office and see what’s available from your school. The GRE and CASPA both offer income based waivers to help cover the costs associated with applying. CASPA’s fee waiver covers the first application fee of $179, and is given on a first come, first serve basis so you need to have everything organized before it’s time to apply. The GRE costs $205 and the waiver covers 50% of one testing. On test day, you can send your score to 4 programs for free. Make sure you have a CASPA account set up to take advantage of this. Plan ahead and know the expenses that are to come so you can start saving even if it’s just a little bit along the way.

When it comes time to interview, start thinking about it ahead of time. Pay for everything possible with a credit card that will earn you points for travel, and try to pay it off in time. My bills, tithe, and everything go on my card and those points add up. The Southwest card by Chase is a popular option that helps with flights. Look for cheaper hotels or find someone else to share a room or Airbnb with. Start looking for your suit early so you can get in on a deal. Check out the thrift stores nearby, or ask a friend to borrow theirs. Mine came from the Banana Republic Factory Store clearance rack.

Put in an effort to look for resources because they are out there. If you go back and read through the blog posts on The PA Platform, listen to The Pre-PA Club podcast, watch the videos on YouTube, join the Facebook group, and read previous Instagram posts, I can guarantee you’ll find most of the answers you’re looking for and get great advice. And it will all be free. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, go to Google, And if you STILL don’t find the answer, email me and I’ll get you one. You’d be amazed at the number of messages and emails The PA Platform receives daily. While we can’t evaluate everyone’s individual application completely, we can point you in the right direction. We continue to put out content in an effort to make this entire process easier for everyone. And I’ll be honest, it takes a ton of time.

Instead of just complaining about the issues, let’s try to figure out ways to do something about it. That’s the point of The PA Platform being a resource offering information to make the application process easier.

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Accepted!: Madison- Indiana University

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Undergraduate education: Purdue University 

Overall GPA: 3.54

Science GPA: 3.43

GRE: 309 (151 Verbal, 153 Quantitative, 5.0 Analytical Writing) 

Total HCE hours: 100 Scribing at an Urgent Care

Total PCE hours: 2000 as a medical assistant at the same Urgent Care

Shadowing hours: 60 (30 with a dermatology PA and 30 with a functional medicine PA). This is one part of my application I wish I had spent more time on. I also had hours shadowing a nurse practitioner which was helpful as well. 

Other volunteer hours: 200 at the Indiana Veterans Home, a nursing home for veterans

LORs: 3--One from the MD I worked with, one from a NP I worked with, and one from the dermatology PA I shadowed. If you work in a medical setting, I highly recommend creating relationships with the providers. It made it so easy for me to ask for LORs, and they were more than willing because they had spent so much time with me and knew my work ethic. I think these helped offset my lower GPA. 

How many times did you apply?: 1

Age: 23

Gender: F

How many programs did you apply to? 12 schools; originally it was only 9, but as time went on and I hadn't heard from some of the schools at all I panicked a bit (Try not to freak out like me and spend more money!!) 

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I received 3 interview invites, and I attended two: one at the University of South Carolina and one at Indiana University. I got waitlisted at South Carolina and luckily, I got accepted to Indiana University--my dream school! 

Where will you be attending?  Indiana University. Go Hoosiers! 

Any red flags on your application? I think the two weakest parts of my application were my science GPA and my shadowing hours. If I could go back, I would retake a few of those science courses I struggled in, and I would find a PA I could shadow for a longer period of time. This is why it's so important to create those meaningful relationships with providers you work with or encounter. I wish I would have taken shadowing as seriously as I did getting patient care hours. It's just as important, if not more, because you get to see how different the daily duties of PAs in different fields are. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised at how quick some of the interviews were. In one of mine, the actual interview with faculty was only 20 minutes. The pressure was on! I had 20 minutes to convince them that I was a good candidate, and it was a bit stressful. Make sure you prepare exactly what it is you want them to remember/know about you because you may not get that much time. Other than that, I was surprised at how comfortable they made everyone feel; in the end it's just a conversation. If you can remember this, it's a lot less daunting and you're more likely to be yourself! 

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? The PA Platform was my go to all the way! Guys, Savanna provides so many resources; at first I only used the Facebook page and then her interview book. But, I started listening to the podcast the nights leading up to my interview, and it got me in such a wonderful mindset. Use all of the fantastic educational materials she provides. I also used the Physician Assistant Forum, and believe it or not, I used social media. Instagram and Facebook are great ways to connect with PAs and Pre-PA students. I had remembered that one of my peers at Purdue had gone to PA school and was working in Illinois, so I messaged her about the interview process and CASPA, and she was more than willing to give advice. The PA community is so supportive of each other, so use that to your advantage. 

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? While I was applying, I struggled the most with comparison. I would always seek out other students' stats, their GRE scores, what HCE they had, etc. As a result, I would start to doubt myself and question whether or not I would actually succeed at being accepted. The wonderful thing about the process is that everyone has their strengths. Use them! Stay in your lane and focus on all the fantastic things you're accomplishing. The process is tough, but if it were easy wouldn't everyone become a PA? Be kind to yourself and remember that your timeline and the ways in which you get to that white coat are your own, no one else's. You got this friends. Keep hustling! 

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) You can find me on IG @practicingpoise. I also started a blog with some Pre-PA tips www.http://www.practicingpoise.com, or you can email me at bakermadison13@gmail.com. My program doesn't start until May, and I need something to fill up the time, so feel free to reach out! I am more than willing to help in any way I can, or if you just need a good vent session I am always around. Never give up and good luck!