Undergraduate education: Austin College (Richland College for post-bacc)
Overall GPA: 3.35
Science GPA: 3.11
GRE: 155V 153Q 4.0A
Total HCE hours: 360
Total PCE hours: 1860
Shadowing hours: 153 (2 MDs and 1 PA)
Other volunteer hours: 146
LORs: 1 from my Bio/Genetics post-bacc professor, 1 from my A&P II/Microbio post-bacc professor, and one from a PA I shadowed
How many times did you apply?: 1
Age: 23 at the time that I applied
Why PA? So, so, so many reasons. I love everything about the PA profession, from the history based on diminishing the healthcare disparity, to the faster schooling with no required residency, the lateral mobility between specialties which reduces burnout, the projected growth, the generally-better work/life balance, the lower cost of attendance (compared to medical school), the team-based approach towards medicine, and I could go on and on. I’ve always wanted to practice medicine in underserved communities, and it was never about the title for me—just the work. The PA profession completely cuts out every apprehension I had toward medical school and I honestly couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
How many programs did you apply to? 14
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I interviewed with 3 programs. My first interview was a bit of a nightmare because I definitely over-rehearsed and I wasn’t surprised at all to be rejected. Lol. But it was a great practice run for the remaining 2 schools that were my top choices. I got accepted into both! (I also applied to a dual PA/MPH program that rejected me from their PA program, but accepted me at their MPH program, which I thought was nice and a great possible option in case things didn’t work out)
Where will you be attending? I’m currently finishing up my first year at Rutgers!
Any red flags on your application? Definitely yes. My lower-end GPA.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? My first interview was honestly a bit of a toxic environment. The other applicants were pretty cold and seemed to only talk with each other because we were being watched. The 3 interviewers were also pretty cold/rude and I left the interview somewhat thankful for the eye-opening experience. I already had it set in my mind that I would not attend if I had any other choice in the matter and I chalked up the bad experience to a teachable moment.
My next two interviews, I was totally myself and unrehearsed. The second school had an MMI format and I was surprised by how much fun it was and how I thrived in that format. The faculty were so kind and welcoming and I felt so much more confident afterward. A few days later, I had another interview at my third school and it was also an incredible experience. The questions were all specific to my application, which led to a more authentic interaction. It totally surprised me to see the stark contrast between these 2 interviews and my first interview. All schools are definitely not created equal.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I totally lived on the Physician Assistant Forum website and also found the Physician Assistant Life website and the Trust Me, I’m a PA blog to be extremely helpful.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? DEFINITELY. It is so, so, so important to build up your application around your weak spots as much as possible and to be a polished, but authentic version of yourself at the interview. My GPA was pretty low, so I made it my goal to make everything else as perfect as possible. I did great in my 9 post-bacc classes while balancing 3 jobs; I was super involved on campus in various leadership, volunteering, and teaching roles; I worked on my personal statement for 6 months and got it professionally revised; I had phenomenal LOR writers; and I really tried to own up to my mistakes and demonstrate my maturity and motivation in my PS and supplementals. I also applied very early (at the end of May). After getting interview invites, I took note of mistakes to be modified on and focused on just being myself. I prepared for my remaining 2 interviews by re-reading my PS (to remind myself of who I was) and by reading every page of the PA programs’ websites to have a very good idea of the programs and know what questions I wanted to ask that weren’t already on the websites. I didn’t rehearse answers the second and third times—I just kept myself grounded in knowledge about the schools and self-awareness. So basically, as cliche as it sounds, be prepared but BE YOURSELF. Seriously. There’s a reason why people say it—it’s actually true.
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) Instagram: nomadicniko_pa