Undergraduate education: Bachelor degree in Clinical Physiology
Overall GPA: 3.96
Science GPA: 3.99
GRE: I did not submit my GRE to the PA programs because it wasn't that good, haha. I graduated from my undergraduate degree in June of 2015, and immediately began an intensive one year Masters in Medical Sciences program from 2015-2016 so when I applied for PA school, I had both an undergrad and a graduate level degree, therefore eliminating the need for submission of my GRE. I did not do the Master's program solely to replace the GRE, but knew it would increase the strength of my application while also demonstrating my commitment to the healthcare, since I worked full-nights in an emergency department while completing the Master's degree.
Quant - 155
Qual - 152
Total HCE hours: 4,000
Total PCE hours: 2,500
Shadowing hours: 300 with MDs in an ER, PA in an ER, PA in an urgent care clinic
Other volunteer hours: 500 at a nursing home over 5 years, doing manicures and game days.
LORs: 5 (2 professors, 3 MDs/PAs)
How many times did you apply?: Once
How many programs did you apply to? 2
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? Interviewed at both, accepted to both
Where will you be attending? University of Washington MEDEX, Tacoma cohort
Any red flags on your application? I had substantially less patient care hours than the 'competitive applicant' (UW considers a competitive applicant to have upwards of 10,000 hours of PCE)
Anything you found surprising about interviews? They were surprisingly really, really fun. Completely exhausting, but if you can relax and try to make a few fast friends, it makes a world of difference to make your more personable and more outgoing, even with the nerves. I was also surprised to find that I truly am a worthy and competitive applicant. I think the majority of us go in to these things and think "oh my gosh, am I really good enough, qualified enough, competent enough compared to all of these other people?" Once the day gets going and you realize, hey, I actually am ready for this! and can accept that you were chosen out of thousands of applicants, it is so encouraging, and to see that the other amazing people you are interviewing with have a lot in common with you (work background, education background, similar personalities). Allow yourself to be open to accepting that you are a qualified, competent, competitive applicant!
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? A fellow PA I worked with gave me a copy of How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview (affiliate link) by Andrew J. Rodican and that was so helpful to even begin to fathom what the day would be like. My undergraduate university (Central Washington University) offered mock interviews tailored for whatever the need was, and I took full advantage of that. I think I did two mock interviews at CWU, and those were oddly nerve wracking and even more intense than what the real interview day was. But it made the interview process day of feel familiar and subsided my nerves immensely. I knew what I was going to say, I knew somewhat what questions might be posed, I learned how to reign in my excessive hand gestures, but to still show enthusiasm and fine tune my body language.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Don't compare your chapter of life with someone else's chapter of life. Being unique, totally your own, and your own timeline has INCREDIBLE value. Someone else's story and specific chapter in life are totally their own, but yours and theirs are equal in valuable. Mock interviews are invaluable. You cannot prepare for the interview day enough, and mock interviews eliminate a huge source of nerves. PA school is becoming more and more competitive, and even though interviews are where you sell yourself as a competent, compassionate and capable PA student, the GPA and personal statement are what gets you noticed in stacks and stacks of applications. Spend time on your personal statement. Don't have more than 4 or 5 people review it as to not overwhelm you, but I spent the better part of 12 months working on it to make it as perfect and concise and a "story" as possible. Getting through the initial review process is critical, and making the strongest application on CASPA will get you to that interview!
Where can we find you?
@amanda_rae_the_PA or @amandababy1292