accepted

Accepted!: Claire - Low GPA to Case Western PA Program

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Undergraduate education: I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Spanish.

Overall GPA: 3.2

Science GPA: 3.0

GRE: 310

Total HCE hours: 160—I spent one summer volunteering at the Children’s Hospital back home in Pittsburgh, PA and one college semester working as a medical assistant for a cardiologist practicing in Novi, MI.

Total PCE hours: 3,400—After graduation, I spent two years working as a patient care technician (PCT) on a medical/surgical hospital floor.

Shadowing hours: 45—I shadowed a PA who worked for the University Health Clinic, an internal medicine/gastroenterology PA who worked at the University of Michigan Hospital, and a dermatology PA who worked in a private practice. I also shadowed several surgical PAs during open-heart/valve replacement surgeries! It was great to shadow in a variety of settings—surgery, office setting, hospital (inpatient), and a clinic (outpatient).

Other volunteer hours: 350—PA schools absolutely LOVE to see volunteer hours! One of the best decisions I made was to go on a mission trip to Costa Rica with a group of pre-med students, where we spent a week working in a free health and dental clinic, recording patient histories, documenting symptoms, and dispensing vitamins and the over the counter medications from a makeshift pharmacy. It was so much fun to utilize both of my college majors in one setting! I loved it so much that I later became the club’s trip coordinator. Once I moved back home after graduation, I wanted to keep speaking Spanish in a healthcare setting so I became involved with a pediatric bilingual primary care clinic, providing medical services for locally underserved Hispanic families. Outside of healthcare, I also spent time tutoring high school students in AP Biology, Spanish, and Algebra and I was an assistant coach for my high school’s distance track team this past spring!

LORs: Total of five—one from my college microbiology professor, one from an MD, one from a PA (who was also the director of the Michigan Pre-PA Club at the time), one from the club sponsor of my Costa Rica trip, and one from my hospital unit director.

How many times did you apply?: I applied once during the 2017-2018 cycle.

Age: 23

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 17!

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? Case Western was the only school I interviewed with as well as the only school that offered me an acceptance. Proof that it only takes one!

Where will you be attending? I started at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH this past May.

Any red flags on your application? My red flags were my grades. I overloaded myself with classes and extracurricular activities during my college career and I struggled in some of my upper level Biology courses. I ended up retaking Genetics and Organic Chemistry II for a better grade and I took Anatomy & Physiology I and II after graduation so I could really slow down and focus on those courses. I think A&P is central to our understanding of disease since it’s applicable to everything! So far in PA school, Anatomy has been the course that has demanded most of my time and attention, so I’m happy that I took the time to build a solid foundation first. I think PA schools recognized that and will always appreciate any effort taken to improve an application.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? Interviews are nerve-wracking, but they are totally doable! I spent a lot of time preparing for my Case interview beforehand. I made a Word document with sample questions and I wrote out my responses and practiced answering questions with family members and friends in casual settings. I also got dressed up for a mock interview, printed out my CV, and met with a family friend downtown to go through a series of questions just to get comfortable with the entire process! As it turned out on interview day, there was a lot I wasn’t actually prepared for. My day consisted of meeting with the program director, sitting through a detailed program overview presentation, eating lunch with current students, and then going through my round of interviews. To start, I had two one-on-one interviews, which felt comfortable and natural. My last interview, however, was a two-on-one with two PAs who worked in the area, who asked me a series of ethical scenarios. I remember feeling slightly caught off guard because, of course, controversial topics are tough to talk about, especially in an interview setting. Truth of the matter is, future providers always have to be prepared to talk about tough topics. I later realized that the point of those questions in my PA interview was to demonstrate a proper and logical thought process. A logical construct can serve as the “how” that gets you to your position and you can show your interviewer how you maintain composure and can think critically on your feet. They are tricky questions, but they are extremely important!

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? My most helpful resources were all of the people that helped me prepare for PA school along the way! Prior to deciding to I wanted to become a PA, two friends of mine gave me a great deal of insight about their PA school experiences and encouraged me to pursue it. I joined the Pre-PA club while I was at Michigan, and I was immediately granted access to so many resources—shadowing opportunities, patient care opportunities, mock interview practice, personal statement editing workshops, presentations from visiting PA programs, and so much more. I took advantage of those resources and kept up with it even after graduation. I reached out to PAs in the Pittsburgh area, became more active on the social media platform in regards to networking, and I used Magoosh GRE prep to take practice tests, answer sample test questions, and to make flash cards (referral link). While I was also working, I took the time to go visit some programs that I really loved! I emailed program directors, scheduled advising sessions, and sat in on classes to get a feel for how class time was spent. During the process, I got to meet so many current PA students who were thrilled to talk about their programs and why they chose to become PAs! It was so encouraging to become part of a group of people who are so passionate about the profession and it instilled a huge motivation in me to keep working hard and to go after it too!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? PA school has been one of the most challenging points in my life so far, but it has been worth every minute of hard work I’ve put in. My advice would be to stay focused and to make PA school your top priority, because with the right mindset, you will get there no matter what. If you are having difficulties with the application process, take the initiative to call the programs you want to apply to, and set up meetings. Put yourself out there and show others you WANT this. The rest will fall into place!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) @clairekintner is my Instagram handle and is the best way to reach me ☺ 

Accepted!: Alexis - James Madison University

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Hello everyone, my name is Alexis. I am super excited to share my acceptance story and some of my pre-PA advice. Hopefully, you pre-PA peeps find this information helpful. Also remember every applicant is unique, so try not to get too caught up in the numbers.

Undergraduate education: B.S. in Biological Sciences with minors in Chemistry and Psychology at Florida State University (Go Noles!)

Overall GPA: 3.72

Science GPA: 3.79

GRE: 317 (Verbal = 159, Quantitative = 158, and Written = 4)

Total HCE hours: ~270

Total PCE hours: 266 at application (over 2,000 hours currently)

Shadowing hours: ~40 

Other hours: I performed research in a neuroscience lab for a year to complete my Honors Thesis project and, afterwards, I worked in my neuroscience lab as a researcher/vivarium manager/lab manager for another year. So I had ~3500 research hours. 

LORs: My neuroscience lab PI (also an assistant professor), my nursing director, and the ER PA I shadowed.

How many times did you apply?: 1

Age: 23

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 10

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I received 6 interview invites and 4 rejections. Out of the 6 interview invites, I only attended 3 interviews and I was accepted into all 3 programs.

Where will you be attending? James Madison University

Any red flags on your application? My PCE hours were the biggest problem with my application. I truly did not think I was going to be accepted with PCE hours that low as a CNA. Also I received a D in Calc 2 during my first semester at FSU. To compensate for my low PCE hours, I put a lot of time and effort into making a strong personal statement that showed the diversity of my experiences and the importance of my experience in the neuroscience lab. I also worked really hard while at FSU to compensate for my one bad grade, so I practically only got straight A's after my first semester (plus 3 B's sprinkled over 2 years).

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The vast differences between each program's interview process. Some programs will provide you with a reassuring "application received" or "application under review" email after you submit CASPA, while other programs will leave you completely in the dark. Some programs will invite you for an interview 4 months in advance, while other will give you 4 days notice. The programs may have one-on-one interviews, three-on-one interviews, group interviews, or multiple mini interviews (MMI). So the point is to be prepared! I bought my suit, bought the "How to Ace the PA School Interview" by Andrew Rodican (affiliate link), wrote out answers to interview questions, thought of applicable patient care stories, practiced out scenarios, saved my money, and made friends at work (so they would be willing to switch days with me) BEFORE I was even invited for a single interview. There is absolutely no harm in preparing early, only benefits! 

The most surprising part of the interview experience was the fact that I just knew when the program was right for me! Going into the interviews, I was planning on choosing a program based solely on their resources and cost. However, I ended up choosing JMU off of my gut. I got this amazing feeling from the faculty and current students that I would not only learn a lot and feel supported, but I would also have fun doing it. Obviously, JMU has an excellent PA program with great resources, but it was the most expensive school with which I interviewed. So I was very surprised at how little cost mattered and how important the program made me feel was for making my final decision.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? Well my main resource for studying during undergrad was quizlet.com, flashcards are amazing! For the application and interview process, I read a lot of blogs to help prepare me as much as possible: thepaplatform.comlifeasapa.comdoseofpa.blogpspot.compajourney.comapthepa.blogpot.com. I also utilized thepalife.com's personal statement revision service to help ensure my personal statement was top-notch. As mentioned earlier, I used Andrew Rodican's interview book, but Savanna also has a PA school interview guide recently made available. I definitely suggest picking up one of those helpful interview books. I would not have felt so comfortable or performed so well in my interviews without thoroughly preparing beforehand. Side note- don't prepare by memorizing answers, just get an idea of the points you want to get across and a handful of experiences you may want to use.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? 

Don't let one weakness in your application prevent you from applying! Practically every applicant has a weakness in their application (GPA, PCE, GRE, etc), but they compensate for that weakness with strengths in other areas of their application. After reading all the accepted student stats on multiple PA programs' websites, I genuinely thought that I was going to get rejected from all 10 programs because I had very low PCE as a CNA. However, my application was very strong in every other way to compensate for my one weakness and I was invited to interview with 6 PA programs! So my advice is if you have a low GPA, then take some extra upper level courses during the application cycle to boost your GPA. And if you have low PCE, then work full-time during the application cycle to increase your hours. By working on your hours and grades even after submitting your application, you will be able to show the committee your improvements at the interview or, worst comes to worst, have a stronger application for the next cycle.

Be yourself! I think a lot of people try to alter their application or their interview answers to create this alternate persona that they believe the program's committee wants to see, but in reality they want to know about YOU! The committee genuinely wants to know who you are and to see your true passion for the PA profession. 

Get involved in things you are actually passionate about. Again, a lot of applicants feel the need to show that they are "the perfect applicant" by volunteering for things in which they are not genuinely interested. Not only will you be unwilling to repeatedly commit your leisure time to something you are uninterested in, but also the people you are volunteering with will recognize your disinterest. If you get involved in a passion project (mine was my neuroscience research, some people play sports), then you will be excited to dedicate your nights and even weekends. Plus it will be an interesting topic of discussion for your interview that will allow the committee to see who you are and what your interests are. 

My biggest piece of interview advice is to try to relax and enjoy yourself. You have already prepared for the interview, the work has been put in. Now is the time to socialize with your possible future peers and ask the current students all your burning questions (studying, housing, clinical experiences, etc). Also don't be scared to interview the program as well! Deciding which PA program to attend is a big decision. If you want to know how they compensate for not having a live cadaver lab or why their PANCE pass rates are lower than average, then don't be afraid to ask! You are investing your time and money into this program, so make sure they can take you across the finish line and help you pass your PANCE!

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) If you want to read more of my pre-PA advice or follow along as I stumble my way through PA school, then check out my blog www.alexisleighpa.com and follow my instagram account @alexisleigh.pa_s. If you have any questions about my stats, the CASPA application, or the application process, please feel free to message me on instagram or email me at alexisleighpa@gmail.com. Thanks for reading my acceptance story!


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform.

Accepted!: Anna - Rocky Vista University PA Program

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Overall GPA: 3.0 - My lowest semester was a 1.5 and I was placed on academic probation. By the time I graduated, I made Dean's List Honors and my last 60 c.h. was 3.56.

Science GPA: 3.1

GRE: 313.5 (162 quantitative, 147 verbal, 4.5 analytical writing)

Total HCE hours: 3,456 hrs - mostly from working in an oncology research lab conducting animal research.

Total PCE hours: 1,520 hrs - mostly from working as a research coordinator for lung cancer clinical trials' patients.

Shadowing hours: 171 hrs. - I shadowed a variety of PAs, MDs, NPs, and RNs to better understand the different roles.

Other volunteer hours: 36 hrs. - I volunteered as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and also as a member for an advisory council collaborating with Colorado's Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to improve access to Medicaid.

LORs: 4 - 1 from academic professor/PI, 1 from mentor/pre-health pipeline program (MD), 1 from PI of oncology research lab (MD), and 1 from mentor (PA).

How many times did you apply?:  I applied 3 times.

Age: 26 yrs.

Gender: F

How many programs did you apply to? A total of 31 programs over 3 years. The first time: 3, second time: 12, third time: 15.

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I received one interview invitation, and they accepted me! :) I am so grateful!

Where will you be attending?  Rocky Vista University - I will be in their inaugural class of 2020. 

Any red flags on your application? Definitely my GPA, and the fact that "academic probation" was stamped on my transcript. I think it's important to demonstrate growth (both academically and personally). I didn't retake many of my classes; instead, I took higher level classes that were similar (e.g. physiology AND mechanisms of human pathology, chemistry AND organic chemistry 1 and 2 AND biochemistry, etc.) and excelled in them. During my interview, I had the opportunity to explain this and how this turned out to be a huge learning opportunity that brought me to where I am today. Also, most of my healthcare and patient care experience was through research, so I had to really explain well how those skills would translate. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The most surprising thing was how peaceful I felt after the interview. There was so much pressure leading up to it -- I mean, this was my 3rd application cycle and my ONLY interview invite thus far... But I left feeling like, "OK, I did my best. WOW, everyone that I interviewed with was amazing. If I don't get in, it's completely fair, because every. single. person applying is seriously, really amazing and that's just how competitive PA school is right now." Knowing and understanding that really helped me find peace in all of it, and kind of gave me the strength that I needed to prepare for my 4th round of applications if I didn't get in. :)     

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? There are so many! The social media platform that PAs and other PA students are using have been so helpful, including blogs, YouTube videos, Podcasts, snapchats, and IG accounts. Books: How to get into PA School by Andrew Rodican, How to Ace the PA School Interview also by Andrew Rodican, So You Want to be a Physician Assistant: Your Guide to a New Career by Beth Grivett, and The Applicant's Manual of Physician Assistant Programs by Mark Volpe and Brittany Hogan. (Affiliate Links)

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Good luck and don't give up. Don't make any assumptions (e.g. I made the mistake of assuming that people know that a research coordinator is direct patient care experience, without explaining the capacity of how closely I worked with patients to manage their care). BE YOURSELF and be able to articulate why you care on a PERSONAL level - the most helpful thing for me was just being able to talk to people about it! It's hard and puts you in a really vulnerable position, but it's good practice because that's exactly what you'll be doing for your personal statement and also for your interview. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, and don't lose your voice in your application by framing your answers around what you think people want to hear. Most importantly, rejection is likely but it's NOT personal, as everyone else applying is a really great applicant... But guess what? SO ARE YOU! Try to enjoy the process as much as you can -- you really learn so much just by going through the process of applying and getting into PA school. And remember that it's not IF you get in, it's WHEN. :) 

Where can we find you? IG: @anna_the_pa, feel free to email me if you have questions too! annatn15@gmail.com


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now. 

Accepted!: Tyler - Future Rutgers PA Student

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A huge thank you to Tyler for sharing his stats, and some advice regarding getting into PA school. Tyler has a great instagram account you can follow along with as he starts school at Rutgers in the fall - @tyler.fernandes - so definitely check that out!


Undergraduate education: Spent 1 year at Suffolk University as a theater major, transferred to the University of Massachusetts- Amherst and got a BS in public health and a minor in education in 3 years

Overall GPA: 3.68

Science GPA: 3.55

GRE: 313 (verbal: 155 quant: 158 writing: 5)

Total HCE hours:  64 (medical scribe in a prison)

Total PCE hours: 1,262 (CNA in nursing home and in hospital ICU)

Shadowing hours: 48 (ER, Internal Medicine, and Urgent Care)

Other volunteer hours: < 50

LORs: 3 (1 PA, 1 nurse, and my Anatomy professor that I TA’d for)

How many times did you apply?  1

Age: 23

Gender: male

How many programs did you apply to? 11 programs

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

  • Rutgers University- accepted
  • MCPHS Boston- accepted
  • Drexel University- declined interview invitation
  • University of Iowa- interview hold list, denied
  • Cornell University- second application invite, denied
  • Duke University- denied
  • George Washington- denied
  • Yale University- denied
  • Northwestern University- denied
  • Stanford University- denied
  • Hofstra: N/A, heard they filled their class

Any red flags on your application? 

My science grades were pretty much B’s or B-‘s, but I was able to raise my GPA with public health courses, which I found more interesting and I was able to perform well in them. Also since I got my degree in 3 years, I had overloaded on difficult sciences courses each semester so I think schools took that into consideration.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? 

Both interviews I attended were very relaxed. I felt pretty nervous for the first one but the second one felt like a breeze because I already had a feel for what interviews were like. Something that was surprising was that one of the schools had us do a basic anatomy quiz that I was not really prepared for, but I don’t think anyone else thought to prepare for that either!

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

Thepaplatform.com, medtakeovers and premedtakeovers on snapchat, physicianassistantforum.com, The Ultimate Guide to Getting Into Physician Assistant School (third edition), How To “Ace” The Physician Assistant School Interview. (Amazon Affiliate links)

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

  • Only do things that you feel passionate about!!! Don’t volunteer for something simply because you want to have more hours for your application. Find something you genuinely enjoy, that you will dedicate time to, and will be proud to talk about during an interview.

  • Don’t compare every nitty gritty detail of someone’s journey/application to yours. Every aspect of your life, even if its non-healthcare related, will play a part in the type of PA you become. For example, I’m proud of the skills I gained through theater and I think its made me a better communicator and team player.

  • Prepare for the interview but don’t over think it. You were invited for a reason and the biggest thing is that they want to see that you are human. Smile, have fun, dress well, meet your future classmates and be yourself. Have candid answers to the basic questions (Savanna has an excellent guide on here), do a few mock interviews, and let the pieces fall where they may :)


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now. 

Accepted!: Marian - Low GPA to PA Student

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The majority of emails we get at The PA Platform are about how to get into PA school with a low GPA. Once your GPA drops, it can be very difficult to overcome, but Marian is an amazing example of how it CAN be done. It wasn't easy, but Marian kept working hard and didn't give up, and now she's going to be a PA! And she rocked her mock interview, so I wasn't at all surprised to hear of her acceptance. 


Undergraduate education:

  • Undergrad - University of California Riverside - BS Biological Sciences 
  • Graduate - Chatham University - MS Biology 

GPAs: 

  • Overall GPA: 2.85 
  • Science GPA: 2.76
  • Post Bacc GPA: 3.34
  • Graduate GPA: 3.89

GRE: 301 

Total HCE hours: 6,280

Total PCE hours: 10,396

Shadowing hours: 1,560

Other volunteer hours: 1,134

LORs: 1 PA, 2 Science Professors 

How many times did you apply?:  2

Age: 28 

Gender: Female 

How many programs did you apply to? 15

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 1 interview invite, 1 acceptance, waiting to hear back from 6 programs. 

Any red flags on your application?  My undergraduate GPA was the biggest red flag in my application. I did everything in my power to compensate for that by completing a post bacc, a masters and having lots of patient care and volunteer hours. I also excelled in getting my Masters in Biology, which I felt I had to pursue to she admission committees that I could handle the rigor of PA school.  

Anything you found surprising about interviews?  I found it comforting that when I interviewed I felt so relaxed. The faculty and staff made Interview day fun and i really felt at home with the program. 

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?  I basically studied everything on the PA Platform! Lol. From the webinars, the Top 100 interview questions, to the practice Mock interview I wanted to be prepared as possible. I also read the book "How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview" by Andrew Rodican (Amazon affiliate link). 

Any other advice for pre-PA students? 

As a student with a lower undergraduate GPA, I never thought I would see the day I got accepted. The first time I applied, I thought I did everything the right way but I made so many mistakes. So here are my tips.

1. Apply Early!!! Submitting your Application in April or May is key especially for schools that utilize rolling admissions. 

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2. Research the programs you're applying to. I only applied to programs that had a holistic view on my application, due to my lower GPA. Therefore I applied to schools that had "recommended" GPA requirements or would put heavier emphasis on the last 90 units of my coursework. I also applied to schools based on the mission statement. 

3. Don't Give up! No matter how hard reality may seem, just hold on to your dream! It's never too late! Don't let anything or anyone stop you from fulfilling your destiny! Sure, It may take longer..but if you don't give up on yourself, stay focused, and trust that you can do it...YOU REALLY CAN! All it takes is one interview and one acceptance letter and I am a living testament to that! 

Where can we find you?  Instagram: @_mae0711


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now. 

Accepted!: Katie - Future Temple PA Student

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Katie was one of the initial members of The Pre-PA Club Facebook group, and she does an awesome job of answering questions that other members have. I was SO excited when I heard she got her acceptance to PA school at Temple because I know that she's put in the work and really deserves it. Here are her tips and tricks! 


Undergraduate education: University of Pittsburgh, BAs in English Writing and Anthropology

Overall GPA: 3.5 (at time of application)

Science GPA: 3.25 (at time of application) 3.5 now that I've finished with pre-reqs. Yes, I applied with 6 outstanding pre-reqs! 

GRE: 309 - 163 verbal 146 quantitative 5.5 writing (second attempt) 

Total HCE hours: ~100

Total PCE hours: ~1600 (Patient Care Technician, Dental Assistant)

Shadowing hours: 128 (3 PAs, 2 MDs, 1 PT)

Other volunteer hours: ~100

LORs: 1 PA, 1 organic chemistry professor, 1 MD, 1 biology professor, 1 writing professor

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 25

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 15. Still waiting to hear from 5, but have gone with Temple as it is my first choice!

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2 - waitlisted at Chatham, accepted at Temple

Any red flags on your application? Low initial GPA, low quantitative GRE. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? Group interviews were surprisingly frustrating as it didn't give the interviewers a chance to ask more personal, specific questions. 

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

I highly recommend using the PA Platform's 100 interview questions to prep for interviews and the site in general for preparing your application, Varsity Tutors for GRE prep, and the Princeton Review's book for prepping for the GRE on your own (affiliate link). 

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Any other advice for other pre-PA students? If your GPA is on the lower end, make sure to build your PCH and shadowing hours as much as you can, have KILLER LORS (befriend your professors) and write a compelling personal statement. I would also suggest making sure to clearly explain (in your personal statement and interviews) the story behind your lower GPA (for me it was one singular F in Gen Chem 1 my freshman year) and demonstrate how you've grown since then (I made sure to explain the F and that now, I've clearly grown and mastered the sciences while maintaining a 4.0 post-bacc GPA while working 3 jobs and taking 2-3 classes at a time.) Also, utilize your community colleges and take that gap year after college to grow as a person and adult! Never be afraid to major in something non-science during undergrad. It will help diversify you as a candidate, you'll bring something new and interesting to the program, and can help expand your mind, your experiences, and how you interact with people as a whole. Don't ever, ever give up -- if you get rejected make sure to set up an appointment with an admissions coordinator to go over your application and get insight into where you can improve for next year! 

Where can we find you? Instagram @katieemartin04 :)


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now. 

Accepted!: Sarah - Future Duke PA Student

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Everyone wants to go to Duke, right? Well, Sarah is doing it! Huge thanks to Sarah for being willing to share her experience and tips that she's picked up while applying to PA school. 


Undergraduate education: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Overall GPA: 3.67

Science GPA: 3.76

GRE: 309, Analytical Writing 4.0

Total HCE hours: 600

Total PCE hours: 2,754

Shadowing hours: 30

Other volunteer hours: 288

LORs: 3-RN supervisor, Associate Medical Director MD, and a professor

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 27

Gender: female

How many programs did you apply to? 4

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I luckily interviewed at all four schools. I received 1 rejection, 2 admittance letters, and am still waiting on the fourth response.

Any red flags on your application? I had a few withdrawals on my transcript.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was given a 1 month notice for two of the interviews, a week notice for another, and a two day notice for the last interview! Always be ready! It was a bit tricky getting work off for the last interview. I also found that each school has their own individual vibe. Pay attention to that! Wherever you are most comfortable is likely a good fit.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, it apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? After my first rejection letter, I read The Physician Assistant School Interview: Essential Strategies to Blow ‘Em Away and Claim Your Seat in Class by Paul Kubin, PA-C. He has great advice for practicing without sounding rehearsed and providing authentic answers. You're going to stand out if you just tell them who you are and what you have to offer, because you are unique!

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

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  • Don't let rejection get you down! Sometimes a school decides not to select you simply because they thought you weren't a good fit for their program, NOT because you won't be a great PA.
  • Use failure constructively! My second interview at Elon went terribly! I froze, my mind went blank, and the examples I gave weren't representative of what I wanted to say. After feeling like I surely ruined my chances of getting in this cycle, my fiance told me not to worry because my feelings were subjective! I have no true idea of what they thought of me. Also, to use this experience as motivation to knock the next opportunity out of the park. Strangely enough, the following day I received another invite to my reach school, Duke. Due to that awful interview, I was able to pull off my best interview yet at the school of my dreams! A week later, I found out that I was actually accepted to Elon even though I thought I had crashed and burned! You truly never know!
  • Don’t compare yourself to others! You will be surrounded by super accomplished individuals. Their experiences and merits are great, but in no way diminish YOUR value and what you have to offer! Show them what you got!
  • Exercise methods to stave off nerves. I realized that I had let my anxiety get the best of me at the Elon interview. At the Duke interview, I practiced deep breathing and thoughts of positive reinforcement when the nerves bubbled up. It worked! I was able to be genuine and thoughtful in every answer I gave. You can prepare all you want, but you ARE going to get questions on which you didn’t premeditate. A clear head is needed to successfully maneuver those questions!
  • Practice builds confidence! Give yourself plenty of practice, BUT don't memorize an answer. Make sure that you practice using different verbiage so that you don't sound robotic. They are looking for originality. They know how to sift out cookie-cutter responses. Take advantage of your work relationships and have a PA or MD give you a mock interview! Practicing answering questions while being nervous is invaluable and something you won't get when practicing with a friend or spouse.
  • Write down all of your patient experience stories and brainstorm different ways you can use them. For instance, yada yada yada experience can show teamwork, stress, an ethical dilemma, etc. It's important to realize what you have in your goody bag and how you can utilize those stories. You can always get more than one lesson out of an experience. That way when they ask you, “Describe a time when you had to rely on teamwork” or “Tell me about a stressful experience and how you dealt with that” you have a multitude of examples ready to go!

Where can we find you? - Instagram @saracha821


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.

Accepted!: Ajia - Future Tufts PA Student

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Huge thanks to Ajia for sharing her tips that she has learned on her journey to getting into PA school. I think she shares some of the fears many applicants face when going into the application cycle, and I appreciate her honesty. Best of luck at Tufts, Ajia! 


Undergraduate education: BS in Biology from Suffolk University in Boston, MA.

Overall GPA: 3.64

Science GPA: 3.63

GRE: V153/Q154/W4.0

Total HCE hours: ~100

Total PCE hours: ~3,000

Shadowing hours: ~40

Other volunteer hours: ~4,500, (I did a lot of volunteer work with my sorority in college, and worked for a nonprofit as a volunteer 3 days a week once I graduated)

LORs: My microbiology professor who was also the advisor for my academic research, my anatomy/evolution professor who was also my college advisor, my current manager, the cardiovascular PA I shadowed, and a fellow I worked closely with in the OR.

How many times did you apply? :  Once

Age: 23

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 8

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?  I was offered 7 interviews (Tufts University, George Washington University, Rush University, Boston University, Northeastern, MCPHS, & MGH College of Health Professionals), and I accepted 5 (All but MGH and MCPHS). I was accepted at Tufts, GW and BU, and waitlisted at Rush and Northeastern. I have chosen to continue my education with Tufts!

Any red flags on your application? I think the biggest things I worried about were my GPA and my patient care hours. My GPA wasn’t bad, but looking at some of the high GPA’s of other applicants made me worried that mine wasn’t good enough. I also worked as an anesthesia technician to get my clinical hours, and I was nervous that I wasn’t getting the right type of patient care hours that PA schools were looking for.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? 

Well first of all, I was surprised I even got one at all! People told me not to get my hopes up because so many people get rejected the first time around, that I really had no intention of even getting an interview. I think the most surprising thing once I started going on interviews, was how different every school does it. Each of my 5 interviews was a totally unique experience, but they were all also a very good experience. It was not as scary as I expected it to be.

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

For my prerequisite courses I did a lot of group studying, especially trying to help the students who were struggling in class. I know that sounds weird, but if you know the material well enough to teach it to someone else, and answer all of their questions then you have truly mastered it.

To help with the application process I followed a lot of instagram/facebook/blog pages like @thePAplatform, read all of their articles and watched all their videos. They were extremely helpful as a new applicant. Especially, when I sat staring at my computer for months trying to write a personal statement. Reading tips from current students finally got me past that writer’s block.  For the GRE, I downloaded some apps on my phone to study vocabulary when I commuted to work, and I went through one basic prep book, but honestly, I didn’t spend a lot of time studying for the GRE. I thought that it wasn’t an accurate depiction of me as a student, so any school that focused on that part of my application wasn’t the school for me.

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For the interview process I sat down with my friend’s aunt who had worked in HR for a very long time. She coached me on the biggest questions that schools/employers ask and helped me to come up with stories to answer them. The big 7 were: What is your biggest strength? Biggest weakness? Why our school? Tell me about a conflict you had? Tell me about something youre proud of? Why PA? What is the biggest mistake youve ever made and how did you learn from it? The questions they ask might not be these exact questions, but they are always similar to at least one. The best advice she gave me was to make sure you tell a story. If you tell a story to answer their questions then the interviewer will see your communication skills and be able to add to the conversation.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

You will get in. I feel like not enough people tell you that. If you work hard to be a competitive applicant, and put your heart into everything you do, schools will notice and want you.

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

My instagram is @ajialynnzim, and anyone can feel free to reach out to me via email (ajiazimmermann@gmail.com) with any questions at all!


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.

Accepted!: Katie from @wenzel_k - Future Rutgers PA Student

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Katie is a great example of someone who did everything right the first time! If you're looking for application goals, this is it. Even with an amazing application, she still had some discrepancies to overcome, like a C+ in General Chemistry. Thanks for sharing your story and tips Katie! 


Undergraduate education: Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Spanish minor- The Ohio State University

Overall GPA: 3.90

Science GPA: 3.77

GRE: 307 combined. Verbal Reasoning: 157. Quantitative Reasoning: 150 Analytical Writing: 4.5 

Total HCE hours: 1,200

Total PCE hours: ~1,000

Shadowing hours: 40

Other volunteer hours: 200

LORs: 4 total. 1 physician, 1 PA, 1 from undergrad academic adviser, 1 academic (public health) professor. 

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? 6 interview invites (I chose to attend them all), 6 acceptances and I will be attending Rutgers University in the fall. 

Any red flags on your application? My math GRE score was below the 50th percentile (around the 40th), which I was nervous about, so I applied to programs that did not require the GRE, and to some others that did. Out of the 4 I have been accepted to, two programs did require the GRE, and two did not... so don't let a lower GRE score stop you from applying to programs requiring it

I also had a C+ in general chemistry 1. A few of the interviewers brought it up, and it was a great chance for me to share with them how much I have grown from that experience as a student and also on a personal level. I spoke candidly about the anxiety I experienced attending my first science course in college and how I grew to overcome that anxiety and prove to myself that I had what it takes to succeed. It also was a great opportunity to highlight that I continued on in the series and received A's in every other science class I took. I think the interviewers appreciated my openness and my response showed them what I have learned and how I have incorporated what I learned then to my school work now. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? How laid back most of them were! I was pleasantly relieved that at 5 of the 6 interviews I attended, I felt that the faculty was truly trying to get to know me. That sounds almost cliche, but it's true. I can't stress enough how important it is to take a deep breath the morning of your interview and just let them see the real you. They already know you'd be a great PA student on paper (that's why you got the interview), but now show them your awesome personality; what makes you, you. It'll be different than the other people you're interviewing with, and that's a good thing. Keep that in mind if you wake up on the morning of interview day and want to just crawl back in bed.

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Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I used "The Applicants Manual of Physician Assistant Programs 2017" by Mark Volpe and Brittany Hogan religiously (affiliate link). It outlines every accredited program in the US and gives a sort of "quick stats" 1 page overview of each program, categorized by state. It gives stats over things like program pre-reqs, application deadline, contact info for that specific program, unique program characteristics, GRE requirements, and much more. It's a quick way to quickly recognize and organize all the programs you might be interested in. It even has appendices that will list all of the programs requiring the GRE, and one for those that do not. I can't stress how helpful it was for me, as before I stumbled upon this on Amazon I was making excel spreadsheets trying to compare programs to one another. This made it so much easier! 

Any other advice for pre-PA students? When I was applying to PA school, I felt like I'd never get to the other side. There always seemed to be another obstacle blocking my application from being complete. It can be a long process, but I am here (finally) on the other side of it and I can promise you that your hard work WILL pay off. Keep pushing toward your goal, and you will end up where you are supposed to be. Don't let a failed class or a bad GRE score keep you down. Re-take the class, or study for the GRE again (as I had to do), or whatever it is for you that you seem to think is an obstacle toward you obtaining your goal. Because I can promise you that in the end, it IS worth it, and you'll be so proud of yourself for sticking with it. 

Where can we find you? Instagram: @wenzel_k  


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.

Accepted!: Kate from @kate.pa_s

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Undergraduate education: I received my B.A. in Journalism with a minor in creative writing from UNC-Chapel Hill eight years ago. Since then, I’ve worked at various media outlets. Unfortunately, there isn’t much job stability in journalism, and I was on the hunt for a new career that I could be passionate about that had better job prospects. I decided in 2015 that I wanted to go to PA school, and started working on prereqs. I also applied to a Surgical Technology program – it was something I was interested in and the program was only 9 months, so it was a quick(ish) way for me to start working toward clinical experience.

Overall GPA: 3.45

Science GPA: 3.69

Post-Bacc GPA (100 semester credit hours): 3.89

GRE: 155/155/5.0

Total HCE hours: 100+ hours volunteering in PACU and the OR at Level I Trauma Center

Total PCE hours: 500 hours as a Surgical Tech (at time of submission)

Shadowing hours: PA: 20 in Primary Care, 20 in Plastics/Burns Inpatient Surgery; MD: 16 in Emergency Medicine

Other volunteer hours: Summer camps, Children’s Museum

LORs: With my LORs and personal statement, I wanted to make sure to really drive home why I was a uniquely qualified applicant even though I come from such a different background. Over the past few years, I have kept in close touch with both a former boss and a former manager (from two different jobs), so by the time I asked them for LORs, they really understood what I was doing and my reasons behind it. They wrote to my strengths that translated from working in journalism in to working in healthcare, which I think was vital for my application. My other two LORs were from a Surgical Tech preceptor, and from an MD who I shadowed, and who has known me for most of my life.

How many times did you apply?: Once

Age: 30 (I was 28 when I started taking prereqs)

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 12

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I only went to two interviews, and they were in the same week. I really didn’t click well with the first one – neither the location nor the program, but it was great practice. The interview later in the week was for one of my top schools, and I felt very confident going in to it. I loved everything: the city, the students, the staff, the program. They told me at the end of the day that I was in! It was an incredible day. At this point, I’ve received three other interview invites, which I’ve declined.

Any red flags on your application? Not having enough PCE/HCE. Because I was a little older going in to this, and I knew it would take two years to get my prereqs done and start working as a Surgical Tech, I really focused on getting in on the first cycle. Every program I applied to emphasized a holistic look at applicants. I expect to have 1000+ PCE hours by the time I start PA school, but I knew it would be seen as a weak point on my application not having a lot of hours when I submitted.

Also, my undergrad overall GPA was a 3.1 and I had several low grades (one D and a few Cs). They were in courses like Law and Economics – so I really didn’t stress about programs caring about those grades (and none of them mentioned them). Because I took SO many credit hours post-Bacc, that GPA came up significantly, and I don’t think my GPAs were any kind of red flag.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The parts that I thought I would be most nervous about – the actual interviews – turned out to be the most comfortable. What really made me nervous was waiting around! At my second interview, I waited for more than an hour to get called into the group interview and several hours again for my individual interview. I was a mess - I think we all were. I tried to get to know the other interviewees while we waited and just chatted about anything/everything just to take our minds off of being so nervous waiting.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? At my interviews, the staff really just wanted to get to know you. When preparing for interviews, definitely be ready to talk about why you want to be a PA, and why you like their program. But apart from that, just be able to comfortably talk about yourself and your own strengths and interests. I’d say the very best practice you can have is to have those conversations with your family and friends over and over – literally practice this for months. Get used to talking easily about why you want to be a PA, and practice talking about yourself in a non-egotistical way. If it feels comfortable to talk about those things casually with your friends, you’ll come across as confident (but not cocky) during your interview.  

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?With my background in writing, I want to take a moment to talk about personal statements. I realize this goes against a lot of the advice that’s out there (and of course, this is just my opinion and I don't claim to be an expert). It seems that the trend has been to start off personal statements with a dramatic story or hook. Things like: “It was a cold and rainy night and the lights from the ambulance were all I could see…”. I really do not think that is necessary. You need to show why you are going to be a great PA student and practicing PA. If you’ve got a good story, and that story plays a huge part of why you want to be a PA, go for it. But eliminate the drama and the adjectives. Cut to the chase. The admissions committees don't care if you can write a good story, they care if you’re going to be a strong student and have what it takes to become a PA. I’m not saying you should just write out a list of reasons you want to be a PA and call it a day. You should be able to write well about why you’re passionate about becoming a physician assistant. Write it in your own voice and avoid clichés. 

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The personal statement plays a huge part in getting that interview invite, and the schools just want to get a better understanding of who you are aside from your grades and experiences. It’s your personality that should jump off the paper, not your ability to write a good story. My opener on my personal statement was: "I have always had an interest in medicine, but I didn't know until just a few years ago that it was a path I would pursue myself." Then I spent the rest of it talking about my path and how I realized becoming a PA was right for me. Straight to the point of addressing what makes me a unique applicant.  

Where can we find you? I have an Instagram account that I hope to expand with pre-PA tips over the next year, and then document my time in PA school when I start next fall. You can follow along at @kate.pa_s


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.

Accepted!: Neesie - Future Emory PA Student

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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

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Overall GPA: 3.31

Science GPA: 3.11

GRE: 297

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!

Age: 26

Gender: F

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? 

  • The application

    • 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! 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

  • Interview Process

    • I would recommend buying “How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant School Interview” by Andrew Rodican. (Amazon affiliate link)

    • Also, I would recommend reading the emails sent to you by the PA Platform! Sign up at this link!

    • 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 Rush!

    • 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!

  • Personal Statement

    • 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!

  • Support

    • 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


Accepted - Sara from @theadventurouspa

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Undergraduate education: Stony Brook University - Double Major: Biology & Psychology

Overall GPA: 3.6

Science GPA: 3.7 

GRE: 313

Total HCE hours: 3000

Shadowing hours: 200 (Orthopedic PA), 220 (Neurological Surgery Research Assistant)

Other volunteer hours: 320 (Veterinary Hospitals), 107 (Animal Care/Rehabilitation Assistant), 85 (CHOICE Peer Health Educator), 60 (Health Psychology Teaching Assistant), 40 (Undergrad TA for Transfer Students)

LORs: Health Educator, Residence Hall Director, Orthopedic PA

How many times did you apply?: 1

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 5

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2 interviews (1 acceptance, 1 waitlist), 3 rejections

Any red flags on your application? Right after high school, I went to med school in Poland for a year to see if I would be interested in the medical field. Lacking a background in medicine that many of my classmates had (most were college graduates), I performed poorly in 2 classes. I believe that may have deterred programs from accepting me. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? At the interview at Baylor College of Medicine, I was thrown off by a couple of questions in regards to what the definition of certain words were. 

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

DoseofPA, thepalife

I thoroughly researched the school websites in order to get a better understanding of their mission statement and what made them stand out from other programs. This was helpful for both supplemental applications and interview preparation. I also compiled a list of questions to ask the faculty because not only are they interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them. You want to see if the school is a good fit for you as well. 

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

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Don't lose sight of why you want to become a PA. No matter what other people tell you or what you may think, do not be discouraged. I know that I doubted myself for the longest time, but I knew I'd regret it even more if I didn't apply. You'll always wonder, "What if.." I was comfortable where I was in life, working as an Embryologist, but I wanted more patient interaction. Since I was afraid of being rejected, I almost didn't apply. After talking to friends and family members, I tried my best to make up for short-comings in my application, I applied, and expected nothing in return. Seek help from PA students. Have confidence in yourself and try your best. Feel free to reach out to me as well if you have any questions! We're here to help. You got this!! (:

Where can we find you? 

Instagram: @theadventurouspa 


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted!: Breanne from Life With Me - PA Bre

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Breanne reached out to share her Accepted story, and she has some great advice to share. She's also recently started a blog as she begins PA school to show you what life is really like as a PA student!  You can find her at Life With Me - PA Bre. 


Undergraduate education: Seattle Pacific University, major: Applied Human Biology 

Overall GPA: 3.45

Overall Non-science GPA: 3.67

Science GPA: 3.29

GRE: verbal: 148, quantitative: 159, analytical writing: 4.5

Total HCE hours: 2328

Total PCE hours: In CASPA, scribing hours are counted as HCE hours rather than PCE hours. 

Shadowing hours: 96 - I spent my weekends shadowing mainly a pediatric orthopedic PA and an emergency department PA. However, I have also shadowed a neurosurgery PA, orthopedic surgeon MD, and registered dietitian RD. 

Other volunteer hours: 174

LORs: 5 total: I received letters of recommendation from a primary care MD (who I scribe for), emergency department PA (who I shadowed), one adviser/professor, collegiate volleyball coach, and the head of Bailey Boushay HIV/AIDS House (where I volunteered ).

How many times did you apply?:  one

Age: 23

Gender: Female 

How many programs did you apply to? 12

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2, declined one interview, accepted to other 

Any red flags on your application? A downfall for me was that I took AP stats in high school. Most PA schools now require statistics as a pre-req and some of the programs that I applied to did not accept AP stats. I took an online stats course the summer and so the transcripts for this class were pending during my applications. I was also always concerned that my GPA was too low. My career path was not decided during my freshman year and so I did not put as much effort into my classes which ended up lowering my GPA. After talking to my adviser he told me not to be concerned about my GPA and work on excelling in my current classes and on other areas of my application. 

Anything you found surprising about interviews? My interview was designed as MMIs (multiple mini interviews). I was nervous for this experience as I was told that there was no good way to prepare for this as there are standard interview questions, role play, and ethical questions. However, I really enjoyed this interview style. There was a total of 5 MMIs then a group interview. In each MMI, I got to interview with a different member of the PA Program's staff. It was reassuring because if I felt I didn't excel with one interviewer, then I could make up for it with the next interviewer. My greatest advice for interviews is to prepare a few stories about your healthcare of life experiences that have shaped and impacted you.

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

When Breath Becomes Air-Paul Kalanithi

The Applicant's Manual of Physician Assistant Programs-Mark Volpe, PA-C; Brittany Hogan, PA-C

aapa.org

multiple PA instagrams and blogs :) 

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

1. Don't get discouraged if you run into a bump in the road! The journey can be difficult and stressful at times, but it is so worth it. Keep your head up and keep pushing and you will eventually get to your destination. 

2. Show your qualities rather than tell. By this I mean when you are writing your personal statement tell stories about how you portrayed compassion, teamwork, etc. instead of just saying "I'm compassionate". Also, with personal statement have multiple eyes review it! 

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3. Maintain relationships! Whether this means relationships with providers you shadow or advisers, it is great to have people on your team. This becomes important for letters of recommendation and maybe eventually a job!

4. Lastly, be yourself! :) 

Where can we find you? 

Instagram: lifewithme_pabre

website: lifewithmepabre.blogspot.com

youtube:lifewithmepabre


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted!: Hailey from @haileyblunt

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Undergraduate education: BSHS in Physiology from the University of Arizona

Overall GPA: 3.28 (yikes)

Science GPA:3.10 (double yikes)

GRE: 318

Total HCE hours: Roughly 500 hours as an EMT Program Director.

Total PCE hours: 3600 with experience as an EMT.

Shadowing hours: 60 (Ortho, Emergency, Dermatology)

Other volunteer hours: 1500 hours as a volunteer EMT.

LORs: Two from doctors I worked with and one from a physiology professor.

How many times did you apply?:  Once!

Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 14 (my bank account did NOT like this)

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2 interviews, 2 acceptances, and still waiting for initial responses from a few schools!

Any red flags on your application? My GPA! It was so low that I thought I would need to retake classes and apply multiple times. I even had a D on my transcript! However, I've pointed it out as a weakness at both of my interviews and the faculty didn't seem concerned. One interviewer even laughed and pointed out that she had been through the process herself with a lower than average GPA. Don't use this as an excuse to slack off on your grades though! My low GPA was balanced out with a higher GRE, a unique background in healthcare, and the fact that my degree program was incredibly difficult.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised at how calm I was once the process began. I was so nervous going in and thought I would be nervous every second of the interview, but the faculty really went out of their way to make all the applicants feel comfortable and all of the applicants were super supportive of each other.

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Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I loved the book "How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview" (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Don't be afraid to be yourself! You are a real person and the faculty interviewing you are also real people! You are very likely to have something in common with faculty aside from your interest in medicine. Look for ways to form real bonds and stick out from the crowd. One of the most memorable parts of my first interview was bonding with a member of faculty over our mutual love of Express clothing, we even had the exact same suit! Those little anecdotes will help the faculty remember you and will make the whole process feel more comfortable. Once you have a good rapport, it feels more natural to talk about your interest in PA school.

Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) @haileyblunt on Instagram


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted: Amanda from @thisPAadventure

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Meet Amanda. She reached out to share her story of how she was accepted into PA school this year with a low GPA. This is such a common concern with Pre-PA students, and it can be done! You still have to meet the minimums and make sure your application shines in as many ways as possible, but a few bad grades (or a lot) won't completely disqualify you. 

Make sure to follow Amanda as she starts PA school on Instagram by following @thisPAadventure


Undergraduate education: Central Washington University, BS: Paramedicine

Overall GPA: 3.17

Science GPA: 3.38

GRE: 309 (Verbal:157 Quantitative: 152 Writing:5)

Total HCE hours: 520 hours

Total PCE hours: 8,000+ hours (Paramedic, EMT, ER Tech)

Shadowing hours: 30 hours (Emergency and family practice)

Other volunteer hours: 215 hours (Homeless and at-risk youth)

LORs: Chief of Emergency MD, Emergency PA, Paramedic preceptor

How many times did you apply?:  First time

Age: 27

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 17

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2 interview offers, accepted after my first interview and declined the other interview. Withdrew all my other applications.

Any red flags on your application? Low GPA, academically disqualified from my first University, 7 F’s and a few W’s

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The school that I interviewed at, and was accepted to, was incredibly welcoming and made an effort to put the candidates feel at ease. I practiced hundreds of potential questions; but, when it came time for the interview, I didn’t use my rehearsed answers and just went with genuine gut feeling answers.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? The PA Platform, YouTube, Physician Assistant Forum, Facebook groups: The Pre-PA Club and pre-pa rockstars. Book: How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant Interview, by: Andrew Rodican. (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Don’t be discouraged if you have a LOW GPA or some bad grades. Make your application shine in other ways with stellar patient care hours or an amazing personal statement. Be true to yourself and show your passion. Remember, it only takes one!

Where can we find you? Instagram @thisPAadventure


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted!: Daniela from @d_nicopike

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Daniela is a true example of not giving up and how persistence pays off. She has a really unique story of how she gained acceptance to PA school, and while it may not work for everyone, creativity can work in your favor. Here is Daniela's story, followed by her stats:

I applied for the first time last year and did not get any interviews. I was only waitlisted for interviews to later be removed from that list as well. I gave myself a "deadline hope" until mid spring because one of the schools I had applied to had interviews from about March to April. I followed the that school's thread on physicianassistantforum.com and some time in April people were saying they were the last interview group, so I knew that opportunity had also gone right out the window for me.

I went through my grieving process and eventually accepted the fact that I would be out of school for another two years since I didn't want to apply for this year's cycle because I hadn't done anything to improve my application, so I'd be applying next cycle. One day, early May I received an email from Pace notifying me they were opening a PA program at their Pleasantville campus that would be starting this Fall. I gave it a shot and applied and a few weeks later I landed an interview. I felt I had done pretty well on my interview and was told I'd hear back in 7-10 days. Days passed and I didn't hear anything from them and I began getting so discouraged. I thought, what was the point of this opportunity knocking at my door after I had accepted my fate to only be turned down again?

I discussed my situation with the doctor and PA I worked with and they both encouraged me to be persistent with Pace, to call and tell them how very interested I was in the program, why I was a good choice for them, and to consider me if any spots opened. The PA also called them and argued my case and put in a good word for me. I planned on going to Pace in person to try to speak with one of the admissions people to put a face to my name while I promoted myself for the program. However, the week I intended to do that, I received a call from the program offering me a spot.


Undergraduate education: Queens College    

Overall GPA: 3.6

Science GPA: 3.2

GRE: N/A

Total HCE hours: 3,870

Total PCE hours: 1,470

Shadowing hours: 840

Other volunteer hours: 994

LORs: Internal medicine doctor, dermatology doctor, dermatology PA, orthopedic PA, chemistry professor

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 25

Gender: Fermale

How many programs did you apply to? 15

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 1. Accepted

Any red flags on your application? Low science GPA and C+ in chemistry II

Anything you found surprising about interviews? The admissions committee were all extremely nice which eased my nerves. They clearly wanted to make the interviewees more relaxed and feel accomplished that we had made it to that interview.

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 by Andrew J. Rodican (Amazon Affiliate Link), The PA Platform Mock Interviewphysicianassistantforum.com, So You Want To Be A Physician Assistant by Beth Grivett

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Be more persistent than you have ever before. I learned that persistence is a wisdom and it will also lead you to learn that it's not over until it's over. I did not lose faith on being invited to an interview until I found out the last interview group had been selected for the latest interviewing program I had applied to. Then, after not hearing back from my only interview, I persisted and had the PA I worked with call the program and put in a good word for me. I also planned on going in personally to speak with an admissions committee to argue my case and put a face to my name in case a spot opened up. 

Where can we find you? @d_nicopike (instagram)


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted! - Jenna from @jennagipperich

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Any college athletes out there? Jenna is a great example of how to incorporate different interests into your admissions process for PA school. I also love her advice about taking the vibe you get at interviews into your consideration when choosing a program. 


Undergraduate education: Mercer University in Macon, GA

Overall GPA: 3.52

Science GPA: 3.24

GRE: 309 (I took this test 2 times. I got a 299 first try, and then studied harder and took it again.)

Total HCE hours: 30 (Macon Volunteer Clinic)

Total PCE hours: 2,000+ (Worked as a Patient Care Assistant on the Ortho/Neuro PCU floor for 7 months, and then 1 year on the Stroke ICU)

Shadowing hours: 50 (Orthopedics and Family) It was super difficult to find PA’s to shadow in my city of Louisville, KY because it is a NP heavy area.

Other volunteer hours: 170 (President of Student Athlete Association Committee at Mercer University, Macon Volunteer Clinic, University of Louisville Hospital)

LORs: Nurse Manager on the ICU where I was a PCA, Organic Chemistry professor, Family PA I shadowed

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 24

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 6 programs

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? So far, I have heard back from 2 programs. 1 waitlist, 1 acceptance. Happy to say I got accepted to my #1 choice, University of Kentucky! GO CATS!

Any red flags on your application? GPA, but I believe PA schools took my D1 running schedule into consideration with my difficult classes.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? At one interview I noticed that the questions given to me were mostly “challenge” questions. The 2 interviewers asked why my science GPA was low (my running schedule) and why I think I could handle their program. It caught me off guard because I felt like they didn’t believe in me. I didn’t end up accepting their waitlist offer because I didn’t feel like they had an encouraging and friendly atmosphere.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? Any other advice for other pre-PA students? 

My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help! If I was struggling in a prerequisite class I always went to the professor or other students and discovered ways to help me succeed. Whether that was tutoring, studying with students in the class who excelled, or looking online for tips. For example, I found Khan Academy super helpful for Organic Chemistry.

For the interview process I practiced common interview questions in my head and got a general answer for each. I practiced these with family and friends. I remember I was so nervous for my first interview, but my second interview I knew what to expect and was so much more comfortable! My biggest advice for interviews is to be confident in yourself and all the work you’ve done to get to this point.

Throughout the application process I followed @thepaplatform and blog. Savanna is great about discussing common pre-PA topics and questions. The blog is full of information for the whole process from start to finish!

Where can we find you? Follow my upcoming PA journey on Instagram @jennagipperich

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If you've been accepted to PA school, and would like to share your stats and advice with other students, shoot me an email at savanna@thePAplatform.com 


Accepted!: Nicole from @NicoleRuttke

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Big thank you to Nicole for sharing her stats today! She's had a very successful first application cycle, and she also shares some great advice for interviews. Nicole does a great job of answering questions in our The Pre-PA Club Facebook group, so make sure you're a member too. 


Undergraduate education: Biological Sciences degree- Arizona State University

Overall GPA: 3.79

Science GPA: 3.85

GRE: 307

Total HCE hours: 2,000

Total PCE hours: 700

Other volunteer hours: 100

LORs: 4: 2 PAs, 1 science professor, 1 employer

How many times did you apply?:  1

Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 9

How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 5 interview invites- 3 interviews- 1 acceptance, waiting to hear back from other 2 programs 

Any red flags on your application? I fell in the lower range of PCE, but didn't let that stop me from applying and putting my stuff out there!  

Anything you found surprising about interviews? One program invited me to interview 5 days prior to the scheduled interview date! Faculty members at one program were extremely relaxed and personable, while faculty at the second program were extremely stoic and non-receptive of my responses. I figured out quickly which program would be the best fit for me.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I used PA forums and spoke with PAs I worked with daily to get the best idea of what to expect for interviews and how to prepare.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students? BE YOURSELF DURING INTERVIEWS. You will hear (and see) it time and time again, but it couldn't be more true. This is the time to figure out if you are a good fit for the program and vice versa. Relax, breathe, and give yourself time to answer the questions to avoid rambling. Also, don't forget to smile throughout this whole process :) The entire process can be a bit exhausting and daunting at times, but in the end it is all worth the sweat and tears. Don't give up! 

Where can we find you?  Instagram: @NicoleRuttke


If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform now.


Accepted! - Emily from @emilylynstreet

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A huge thank you to Emily from @emilylynstreet on Instagram for sharing her stats and experience with getting into PA school today! I think her story is a great example of just going for it and applying, and also shows that people still get accepted on the first attempt. Enjoy! 


Undergraduate education: Indiana University-Bloomington

Overall GPA: 3.8

Science GPA: 3.9

GRE: 307, 5 writing score

Total PCE hours: ~1500. I have been a CNA since my sophomore year of college at a long term care and rehab facility.

Shadowing hours: Right around 80 hours (shadowing 2 orthopedic PAs, and 1 Family Medicine PA)

Other volunteer hours: 50 hours- I attended a medical brigade in Nicaragua this past summer. 

LORs: I submitted my application with 3 LORS- one from a Family Medicine PA, a Chemistry Professor, and a RN

How many times did you apply?:  This is my first time applying

Age: 22

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 12 programs

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

I am currently an applicant in the 2017-2018 CASPA cycle, so thus far I have gotten 1 acceptance, 4 interview invitations, and 1 interview waitlist spot

Any red flags on your application? As a younger applicant and a full-time student the past four years, I would have liked to have more time for patient care related experiences at the time of my application. I would not call this a red flag per se, just something I will continue acquiring during my time off before beginning PA school next May.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? 

The applicant pool really is as diverse as you think. I interviewed with people who were athletic trainers, NICU nurses, and even someone who was a doctor previously in India. Despite the variety of healthcare experience among us, we bonded over our love of the profession. Everyone was so encouraging and non-competitive, which helped with my nerves. After joking about making it through organic chemistry, we all wished each other luck and hoped we’d see each other next May. It was surprisingly refreshing to be reminded we were all in the same boat so to speak.

Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I recommend getting to know both your science professors and your Pre-PA advisors. They are only there to help you! My advisors were there to help me brainstorm ideas for my personal statement, as well as do mock interviews with me when I received my first interview invitation. Of course, I also love reading current PA and PA-S blogs and hearing their experiences.

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

Don’t get discouraged with the average amount of patient care hours you see on PA program websites! I remember looking at those stats and feeling like I was not competitive just because I had 1000 hours less than the average admitted applicant. I almost did not even apply to the PA program I was accepted to because of this. While patient care hours are SO important, just keep doing your best to get as many hours that you possibly can. If you are a full-time student, even working 10 hours a week adds up. Everyone has something different to offer to the PA profession so just keep grinding and remember you won’t be Pre-PA forever!


If you would like to share your stats and story of acceptance to PA school, please shoot me an email at savanna@thepaplatform.com 


Accepted - Annie from Student/Survivor

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Undergraduate education: Grand Canyon University

Overall GPA: 3.66

Science GPA: 3.57

GRE: 311 and 4.5 written

Total HCE hours: --------

Total PCE hours: 1000 (as a CNA on a med-surg floor of a hospital)

Shadowing hours: 50 (Pediatrics, ED/Trauma, Orthopedic Surgery)

Certifications: CNA and EKG Technician

Volunteer hours: 240 (Medical Mission, Hospital Volunteer, etc.)

LORs: 3 (one from a professor, one from my RN manager at the hospital, one from a PA I shadowed)

How many times did you apply?: Once 

Age: 22 at the time of application

Gender: Female

How many programs did you apply to? 8

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

  • Program #1: This was my first interview. I had recently been told that there was a 95% chance of my having cancer, and because of the anxiety I was facing from that, I almost cancelled my interview. I was waitlisted for this program.
  • Program #2 (Midwestern-AZ): The day of this interview was the day they were supposed to call with my biopsy results. Again, I almost didn’t show up to the interview because I felt awful and nervous. I was placed on the “Alternate” list, and was later accepted to the program at the beginning of May 2017! This is where I will be attending in 2018 after a one-year deferral as I finish treatment.
  • Program #3: This interview was the day before my first round of chemotherapy. Again I was nervous beyond belief, but managed to put forth a good interview effort. I was waitlisted at this program.
  • Program #4: I had completed chemotherapy at the time of this interview and was awaiting the surgery that would change my life—physically and emotionally. I was bald and sick, so there was no way to hide the fact that I was undergoing treatment. But the faculty was so kind and in the interview offered me a year’s deferral. I was immediately accepted into the program, but declined admission for a couple reasons: 1. I didn’t want to move away from my wonderful doctors in Arizona, and 2. I wasn’t a huge fan of the program after visiting the campus (they didn’t have cadaver labs, etc.)

Any red flags on your application? 

  • In all honesty, I had not one, but TWO C+s on my application. One was in Physics 1 and the other was in a freshman year Intro to Sociology class that I had bombed (I lacked motivation as a freshman). I ended up re-taking the Sociology class my junior year and received a much higher grade. The Physics grade I could do nothing about, except work as hard as I possibly could to raise my grade for Physics 2. I wanted to show initiative and that I could learn from my mistakes.

Anything you found surprising about interviews? 

  • I was surprised in the group interviews by some of the activities we were asked to do. One program asked us to create a TV commercial that would be aired during the Superbowl. We were given no direction as to what it was supposed to be about. It was not something I was prepared for, and required a lot of teamwork from the 4 of us interviewees. 

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

Any other advice for other pre-PA students?

  • If you’re going through something difficult during your application cycle (like my being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer) don’t just give up! Talk to your programs about a possible one-year deferral. Or if you have to reschedule an interview, be honest about that something major that’s happening in your life and see if they’ll work with you. (Note: One-year deferrals require some major, legitimate excuse to be approved. I had to write a letter and provide a note from my oncologist.)
  • During undergrad, really make the effort to build good relationships with your professors. Later on when it’s time to apply, you’ll feel comfortable asking them for a letter of rec and they will feel prepared to write a detailed, personalized letter. One of my favorite professors became my mentor throughout undergrad, wrote me a strong letter of rec, and helped motivate me to keep going through the tough and discouraging moments. I truly feel I would not have been accepted to PA school without their guidance!
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If you want to follow Annie and learn more about her story and follow her journey, you can follow her on Instagram @anns.binnans and check out her website Student/Survivor. 

If you would like to share your stats and story of acceptance to PA school, please shoot me an email at savanna@thepaplatform.com