Undergraduate education: Grand Valley State University, Major: Allied Health Science with an emphasis on Pre-Physician Assistant Studies
Overall GPA: 3.9
Science GPA: 3.79
GRE: 304 (147 quan - yikes! 157 qual), 5.5 writing
Total HCE hours: ~100 as a home health aide for the elderly, ~150 as a nanny for a young child with a disability
Total PCE hours: 2500 total. For 500 of these hours I worked as a CNA in an assisted living/memory care. After about 8 months I was able to get into a local hospital as a "floating" nurse technician - I got to work everywhere from med/surg to mother/baby to the cardiothoracic ICU. I later transferred to my current position as a nurse technician in a pediatric hospital on a unit that specializes in epilepsy monitoring.
Shadowing hours: 30! Shadowed an adolescent medicine PA, cardiovascular surgery PA, and pediatric nephrology PA. Use your networking skills - the hardest person to find is the first one you shadow. Each PA I shadowed thereafter was a referral from someone else I previously shadowed. Once I got the first PA to say yes (after many, many emails to other PAs) it was much easier from then on.
Other volunteer hours: 100 on alternative spring break trips (50 of these hours I lead my own trip), 20 hours as a medical assistant in a walk in free clinic, ~100 hours as academic chairwoman of my sorority
LORs: 1 from adolescent medicine PA (an alumni from the school I am attending), 1 from my public health professor, 1 from my manager at the hospital, and 1 from my anatomy lecture and physiology lab professor
How many times did you apply?: 1 :)
How many programs did you apply to? 4, all in Michigan
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 3 interviews, waitlisted at 1, accepted to 2!
Where will you be attending? (if you're comfortable sharing) Grand Valley State University!
Any red flags on your application? Most definitely my GRE score. I almost retook the GRE and paid for a very expensive GRE prep course. I have always really struggled with math and that clearly shows in my score. However, after speaking with my academic advisor I decided to go ahead and apply with this score. I think my academic record and work experience shows a lot more about who I am that one simple score on math I haven't done in years!
Anything you found surprising about interviews? The importance of being relaxed and prepared. I generally knew what I would say for (most) answers, which really calmed my nerves once I got to my second and third interviews. Most of the schools wanted to know why I wanted to go to that school in particular. This was a common theme everywhere I went. Also, all the students at my interviews were so nice and helpful. They definitely remember what it's like to be in our shoes and sometimes gave quick tips before we went into the actual interview part.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? physicianassistantforum.com and of course, Savanna's book! (The Physician Assistant School Interview Guide) I highlighted in the book and scribbled some thoughts in the margin. I also kept an excel sheet of my own to keep track of the required prerequisite courses for each individual school and if I had heard back from them yet. This just organized my thoughts and calmed my nerves. For difficult science classes I always turned to Khan academy or Quizlet!
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Keep the faith and don't give up. I had so many doubts and could never stop comparing myself to others, but in the end I was the only person standing in my way! Do your best and know that there will always be someone who is doing more, and that's okay! Also, get to know your professors early on in college and try to retake a different class with them if you find a professor you click with. That's how I secured solid LOR since my professors really knew who I was as a person. I also did not know any PAs personally so I had to cold email many to even get a response. I used my work email at the hospital and our website to find PAs - so basically network, network, network! I think it is very important to have a LOR from a PA specifically.
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) @kristencody1 IG
If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to email@example.com