Overall GPA: 3.0 - My lowest semester was a 1.5 and I was placed on academic probation. By the time I graduated, I made Dean's List Honors and my last 60 c.h. was 3.56.
Science GPA: 3.1
GRE: 313.5 (162 quantitative, 147 verbal, 4.5 analytical writing)
Total HCE hours: 3,456 hrs - mostly from working in an oncology research lab conducting animal research.
Total PCE hours: 1,520 hrs - mostly from working as a research coordinator for lung cancer clinical trials' patients.
Shadowing hours: 171 hrs. - I shadowed a variety of PAs, MDs, NPs, and RNs to better understand the different roles.
Other volunteer hours: 36 hrs. - I volunteered as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and also as a member for an advisory council collaborating with Colorado's Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to improve access to Medicaid.
LORs: 4 - 1 from academic professor/PI, 1 from mentor/pre-health pipeline program (MD), 1 from PI of oncology research lab (MD), and 1 from mentor (PA).
How many times did you apply?: I applied 3 times.
Age: 26 yrs.
How many programs did you apply to? A total of 31 programs over 3 years. The first time: 3, second time: 12, third time: 15.
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I received one interview invitation, and they accepted me! :) I am so grateful!
Where will you be attending? Rocky Vista University - I will be in their inaugural class of 2020.
Any red flags on your application? Definitely my GPA, and the fact that "academic probation" was stamped on my transcript. I think it's important to demonstrate growth (both academically and personally). I didn't retake many of my classes; instead, I took higher level classes that were similar (e.g. physiology AND mechanisms of human pathology, chemistry AND organic chemistry 1 and 2 AND biochemistry, etc.) and excelled in them. During my interview, I had the opportunity to explain this and how this turned out to be a huge learning opportunity that brought me to where I am today. Also, most of my healthcare and patient care experience was through research, so I had to really explain well how those skills would translate.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? The most surprising thing was how peaceful I felt after the interview. There was so much pressure leading up to it -- I mean, this was my 3rd application cycle and my ONLY interview invite thus far... But I left feeling like, "OK, I did my best. WOW, everyone that I interviewed with was amazing. If I don't get in, it's completely fair, because every. single. person applying is seriously, really amazing and that's just how competitive PA school is right now." Knowing and understanding that really helped me find peace in all of it, and kind of gave me the strength that I needed to prepare for my 4th round of applications if I didn't get in. :)
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? There are so many! The social media platform that PAs and other PA students are using have been so helpful, including blogs, YouTube videos, Podcasts, snapchats, and IG accounts. Books: How to get into PA School by Andrew Rodican, How to Ace the PA School Interview also by Andrew Rodican, So You Want to be a Physician Assistant: Your Guide to a New Career by Beth Grivett, and The Applicant's Manual of Physician Assistant Programs by Mark Volpe and Brittany Hogan. (Affiliate Links)
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Good luck and don't give up. Don't make any assumptions (e.g. I made the mistake of assuming that people know that a research coordinator is direct patient care experience, without explaining the capacity of how closely I worked with patients to manage their care). BE YOURSELF and be able to articulate why you care on a PERSONAL level - the most helpful thing for me was just being able to talk to people about it! It's hard and puts you in a really vulnerable position, but it's good practice because that's exactly what you'll be doing for your personal statement and also for your interview. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, and don't lose your voice in your application by framing your answers around what you think people want to hear. Most importantly, rejection is likely but it's NOT personal, as everyone else applying is a really great applicant... But guess what? SO ARE YOU! Try to enjoy the process as much as you can -- you really learn so much just by going through the process of applying and getting into PA school. And remember that it's not IF you get in, it's WHEN. :)
Where can we find you? IG: @anna_the_pa, feel free to email me if you have questions too! 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 now.