Undergraduate education: Saint Mary’s University, Minnesota
Overall GPA: 3.6
Total HCE hours: 4,696
Total PCE hours: 4,436 – I worked as a CNA in a long-term care facility with assisted-living and memory-care units. I then began doing medication administration to residents in this same care facility. Next, I transferred to Mayo Clinic as a PCA in our pre- and post-op surgical units. I really learned so much from being exposed to such a variety of patient care settings.
Shadowing hours: 200—Always stay professional and be an active learner during shadowing opportunities. Often times, the medical professionals you shadow will turn into references, future contacts, or colleagues. It’s important to start building those professional relationships early on, and to really take advantage of the opportunity to learn as possible during your time shadowing.
Other volunteer hours: 165 – I volunteered with pediatric inpatients at our children’s hospital wing at Mayo Clinic. Additionally, I volunteered throughout high school and college as a mentor for a young girl through the program Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Volunteering isn’t a second job and doesn’t require extensive hours, find opportunities in your community and spend just a couple hours when your schedule permits—it makes a world of difference!
How many times did you apply?: 3 application cycles
How many programs did you apply to? 5, 11, 19 each cycle, respectively
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I interviewed with 4 programs, and was either accepted or listed as an alternate.
Where will you be attending? I will be attending St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. The PA program at SAU is relatively new but graduates highly sought after PAs in our Midwestern area. The new health sciences graduate center and small class sizes were most appealing to me when considering where to further my education.
Any red flags on your application? My junior year GPA took a hit and brought my overall GPA down due to significant time away from classes because of ankle reconstruction surgery. My coursework during this year was my toughest and missing class because of surgery affected my academic performance. I made sure to address this topic in any interview, and highlighted my active involvement on campus and in the community hoping to show how I gave extended efforts to be involved in many aspects as a student, student-athlete, volunteer, employee, and community member.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? What surprised me about interviews was actually how laid-back and informal each was. I expected my interviews to be very direct, one-sided, and specific, but each time I interviewed I felt very at-ease and comfortable. The interviews were more of an engaging conversation; the program faculty is trying to get to know you, as well as sell their program to you. When you get an interview, you’re already good enough on paper—be excited about that! Take the interview opportunity to actively communicate with faculty and current students, ask questions, and be interested! Interviewing for me was a surprisingly pleasant experience.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? No, I didn’t use any outside resources as far as materials are concerned. What I found most helpful was reaching out to PAs I’ve shadowed for advice during interviews or wording on applications, or current student whom I knew for previous interview questions and information regarding specific programs.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Take every opportunity to be involved! I was active in the classroom, research opportunities, honor societies, athletics, working part-time, and volunteering at our Mayo children’s hospital as well as with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. A classroom “field trip” or project seeming so irrelevant has the potential to have an impact, and you can use each opportunity to take a leadership role and highlight that involvement on your application. Additionally, make as many connections in health care as possible; the more people you meet and build a professional relationship with will only add to your success towards acceptance and further down the road in your career. I’m happy to answer any further questions and help when able!
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) Instagram: @raelynnn_mae