Undergraduate education: B.S. in Biology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona
Overall GPA: 3.60
Science GPA: 3.59
Graduate Education: Masters in Health Care Administration from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona
Overall Graduate GPA: 3.75
Science Graduate GPA: 4.0
GRE: 306 Verbal: 152, Quantitative: 154, Writing: 4
Total HCE hours: 1170 as a medical scribe in the 6th busiest Emergency Department in the country. Our hospital was also a trauma center in which we were responsible to scribe trauma shifts as well.
Total PCE hours: 0
Shadowing hours: 276, accumulated through the Emergency Department, Behavioral Health, Pediatrics and Cardiothoracic Surgery. I think shadowing is some of the most valuable hours you can obtain, giving you countless experiences to highlight during your interviews.
Other volunteer hours: Leadership:1280 Teaching:4680 Volunteer:435 (Place value in all your experience.)
LORs: 2 PA, 2 Physicians, 1 Previous Instructor
How many times did you apply?: 1
How many programs did you apply to? 21… I am well aware the average applicant applies to 6-8 programs but I truly devalued my application and struggled with a lot of self-doubt. My main focus was becoming a physician assistant. Not staying close to home, or attending my alma mater. I wanted to attend the strongest program available to me and a program that truly was a good fit for me. Looking back I think applying to around 15 programs would have been a really good amount.
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I was invited to 14 interviews and managed to attend 8. Of those 8 interviews I was rejected from 1, placed on 2 waitlists, accepted to 4 and have one remaining decision in progress.
Where will you be attending? I could not be more excited to join the prestigious program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Any red flags on your application? I was somewhat of a nontraditional applicant. I completed my graduate degree in 2013 and following, pursued some entrepreneurial opportunities away from healthcare and education. I was concerned coming back 5 years later would be a red flag. Additionally, I had two withdrawal fails and a few grades that I was prompted about at a number of interviews. We are not perfect, and programs do not expect you to be.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was initially surprised by how little many of the programs knew about me or my application. I anticipated very personal, penetrating questions about my application but was pleasantly surprised by the casual nature of much of the interview process. The programs and interviews that I favored took the time to get to know me. They were intentional with their questioning and truly wanted to know my story and how it led me to their interview.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I read Andrew J. Rodican’s “How to Ace the PA interview” (Affiliate link) twice as well as ‘PA School Interview Guide’ by Savanna Perry to familiarize myself with all things interview. I found both books incredibly useful at preparing me for the various interview styles I encountered. When initially applying I used ‘The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs’ for a quick overview of the programs I was planning on applying to. Don’t be scared of social media, there great influencers sharing their PA School journey through Instagram and Youtube that offer tons of useful content that can help you prepare for your cycle. Lastly, for all those nervous about GRE prep I know my score wasn’t the strongest part of my application but I found ‘Magoosh’ online test prep incredibly helpful for organizing study schedules, material and practice testing.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? At the end of the day you have to get to a place where you believe in yourself, your application and your story. Don’t get lost on the forums where statistics and scores seem totally unattainable. Start the process early, don’t wait getting your letters of recommendation in progress and your application ready heading into the cycle. Give yourself an advantage by applying early. For me the best advice I can offer is to write a compelling personal statement. Give committees and programs something to read that will force them to meet you, it’s one document where you get to narrate the story, don’t miss out on that opportunity!
Where can we find you? Instagram: @grungymatt
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