Undergraduate education: Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Overall GPA: 3.34
Science GPA: 2.95
GRE: 309 - V 157, Q 148, W 4.0
Total PCE hours: 2,560 - working as a physical therapy aide in college
Shadowing hours: 15 - shadowing 3 local PA’s briefly during breaks from school
Other volunteer hours: Teach for America corps member on Chicago’s west side 2014-16, which adds up to about 1,600 hours. I then continued teaching HS science as a TFA alumnus until the end of the 2018 school year.
LORs: Physical therapist (former employer), Physical therapist/Athletic trainer (mentor), and School Principal (current employer)
How many times did you apply?: 3
How many programs did you apply to? 18 total, first cycle: 4, second cycle: 7, third cycle: 7
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? 2, 1 left me on the waitlist, and the other I was accepted after.
Where will you be attending? Bryant University (Smithfield, RI)
Any red flags on your application? Low (low, low) science GPA and quantitative GRE score
Anything you found surprising about interviews? Honestly, I was surprised at how friendly and kind all of the other interviewing candidates were. Despite being direct competitors, all nervously corralled into rooms waiting to make our best possible impressions, at both interviews I attended I met really interesting, fabulous people. This was a refreshing surprise and made the days far more pleasant than I was expecting.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? I read Savanna’s Physician Assistant School Interview Guide cover to cover, completed mock interviews with the PA Life, and listened to the Pre-PA Club podcast on my way to work. I also did something a little unorthodox. I was unsure if I’d get accepted at a school that started in January, June, or September, or simply be rejected all over again so I started applying for jobs. I landed several interviews for positions as a medical assistant and a medical scribe. And even though it was clear to me that I was not interested in working at some of these places, I took the interviews anyways. I was determined to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, so forcing myself into interviewing regularly helped me to practice my answers to common questions and be less nervous in this setting.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? “Never, ever, ever, ever give up.” Seriously, look at my science GPA. It is abysmal. But I have experiences and skills that are unique and unlike many other candidates’. This is something I made a point of emphasizing at every possible opportunity during my interviews. I used the shortcomings of my past to paint a picture of growth and newfound drive, as well as sharing what positives about my background could be useful tools as a PA student and as a provider.
This is the best advice I can give to pre-PA students. Whether you have glaring red-flags academically as I do, or a low number of patient care hours, etc. Don’t ignore it, address it and show the interviewers how it has shaped you positively. Moreso than that, it is very important to impress upon your interviewers what other assets you have to offer the program and the profession, despite these weaknesses. What specifically sets you apart from the next PA- hopeful who walks into their office? Why should they overlook the flaws on your application and dial your number when making acceptance calls? That is where your focus needs to be when preparing for interviews battle. Good luck!
Where can we find you? @lilyboyle or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you've been accepted to PA school and would like to share your story in an Accepted! post, send an email to savanna@thePAplatform.com or use this link to contact us at The PA Platform