My name is Sarah and I’ll be starting PA school in just a few weeks at Western Michigan University! I’m SO excited to finally be able to learn and practice medicine. I love all things make up and enjoy mentoring and guiding pre-PA students along their journeys, so please send me a DM if you’ve got questions! You can find me on Instagram at @sarahandherstethoscope
Overall GPA: 3.41
Science GPA: 3.45
GRE: I received a 291 combined score (yikes!). Quantitative: 142, Verbal: 149, Analytical: 5.5
Total HCE hours: ~6,000 hours as an urgent care medical assistant. ~50 hours as a clinical volunteer leader at the HUDA Clinic which is a free clinic located in Detroit, MI
Shadowing hours: ~50 hours shadowing urgent care and internal medicine PAs
Other volunteer hours: ~30 hours volunteering through pre-PA society, ~100 hours volunteering at the HUDA Clinic as a clinical volunteer leader and outreach coordinator, 35 hours volunteering as an ESL tutor, 4 years as a youth camp counselor
LORs: Microbiology professor, PA, and MD
How many times did you apply?: Once!
Age: 23 at the time I applied and I’m 24 now
How many programs did you apply to? Six. WMich, EMich, Toledo, Marquette, Rush, and Northwestern.
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I only interviewed with WMich. I unfortunately got rejected elsewhere. I thought my interview at WMich went well! I was thrown for a loop when I found out they started holding MMI style interviews and I had been practicing for a traditional interview the entire time. Luckily, I had a friend who interviewed at several medical schools and she told me about her MMI experiences and I think that definitely helped shape my answers to the scenarios they gave at my interview!
Any red flags on your application? The only red flag I can think of is that I was placed on academic probation for a semester back in sophomore year of undergrad. I don’t think that was the reason I was rejected at the majority of the schools I applied to, however. My rejections mostly came from my subpar GRE score. But, yes, you can still get into PA school with bad grades! You just have to be able to explain what you learned from your mistakes and how you plan on doing better!
Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised that PA schools were starting to hop on the MMI bandwagon. I thought only medical schools interviewed students this way! I really enjoyed the MMI style interview because I had to think on my feet and because of that, I think my answers were a lot more genuine.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? When I studied for the GRE, I made sure to go back to the basics because I’m really bad at math. So, I used CliffNotes Math Review. (Amazon Affiliate link) It gives you step-by-step instructions on how to solve easy, medium and hard math problems that you’ll find on standardized tests. I also used the Magoosh flashcard app to practice for the verbal section. When I applied, I used the Getting Into the Physician Assistant School of Your Choice book by Andrew Rodican and it helped to show me what a well-rounded application should look like. For interviews, I used the How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview book by Andrew Rodican. It gives you three different answers to frequently asked interview questions and it explains which are good answers and which are bad answers. I wrote my answers down to each question in my copy. Also, shout out to mypatraining.com for having an ultimate PA school checklist! It helped to keep me organized before and after I applied!
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? I would highly recommend getting involved with underserved communities, especially medically. Working at a free clinic humbles you and gives you the opportunity to connect with people you are different from in every aspect. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, keeps you grounded, and you’ll develop great bedside manner! Also, it’s important to not to beat yourself up over your stats. Your experiences are unique and they’ve shaped you to be the person you are today. Not every school will accept you, but it only takes that one interview and one acceptance to make it!
If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your stats and advice, please email me at savanna@thePAplatform.com to be featured.