Undergraduate education: Grand Canyon University
Overall GPA: 3.66
Science GPA: 3.57
GRE: 311 and 4.5 written
Total HCE hours: --------
Total PCE hours: 1000 (as a CNA on a med-surg floor of a hospital)
Shadowing hours: 50 (Pediatrics, ED/Trauma, Orthopedic Surgery)
Certifications: CNA and EKG Technician
Volunteer hours: 240 (Medical Mission, Hospital Volunteer, etc.)
LORs: 3 (one from a professor, one from my RN manager at the hospital, one from a PA I shadowed)
How many times did you apply?: Once
Age: 22 at the time of application
How many programs did you apply to? 8
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes?
- Program #1: This was my first interview. I had recently been told that there was a 95% chance of my having cancer, and because of the anxiety I was facing from that, I almost cancelled my interview. I was waitlisted for this program.
- Program #2 (Midwestern-AZ): The day of this interview was the day they were supposed to call with my biopsy results. Again, I almost didn’t show up to the interview because I felt awful and nervous. I was placed on the “Alternate” list, and was later accepted to the program at the beginning of May 2017! This is where I will be attending in 2018 after a one-year deferral as I finish treatment.
- Program #3: This interview was the day before my first round of chemotherapy. Again I was nervous beyond belief, but managed to put forth a good interview effort. I was waitlisted at this program.
- Program #4: I had completed chemotherapy at the time of this interview and was awaiting the surgery that would change my life—physically and emotionally. I was bald and sick, so there was no way to hide the fact that I was undergoing treatment. But the faculty was so kind and in the interview offered me a year’s deferral. I was immediately accepted into the program, but declined admission for a couple reasons: 1. I didn’t want to move away from my wonderful doctors in Arizona, and 2. I wasn’t a huge fan of the program after visiting the campus (they didn’t have cadaver labs, etc.)
Any red flags on your application?
- In all honesty, I had not one, but TWO C+s on my application. One was in Physics 1 and the other was in a freshman year Intro to Sociology class that I had bombed (I lacked motivation as a freshman). I ended up re-taking the Sociology class my junior year and received a much higher grade. The Physics grade I could do nothing about, except work as hard as I possibly could to raise my grade for Physics 2. I wanted to show initiative and that I could learn from my mistakes.
Anything you found surprising about interviews?
- I was surprised in the group interviews by some of the activities we were asked to do. One program asked us to create a TV commercial that would be aired during the Superbowl. We were given no direction as to what it was supposed to be about. It was not something I was prepared for, and required a lot of teamwork from the 4 of us interviewees.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?
- Andrew Rodican, PA-C’s book “How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview” was the best interview preparation tool! (Amazon affiliate link) It gave great examples of questions and strong, mediocre, and poor responses to each question.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
- If you’re going through something difficult during your application cycle (like my being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer) don’t just give up! Talk to your programs about a possible one-year deferral. Or if you have to reschedule an interview, be honest about that something major that’s happening in your life and see if they’ll work with you. (Note: One-year deferrals require some major, legitimate excuse to be approved. I had to write a letter and provide a note from my oncologist.)
- During undergrad, really make the effort to build good relationships with your professors. Later on when it’s time to apply, you’ll feel comfortable asking them for a letter of rec and they will feel prepared to write a detailed, personalized letter. One of my favorite professors became my mentor throughout undergrad, wrote me a strong letter of rec, and helped motivate me to keep going through the tough and discouraging moments. I truly feel I would not have been accepted to PA school without their guidance!
If you want to follow Annie and learn more about her story and follow her journey, you can follow her on Instagram @anns.binnans and check out her website Student/Survivor.
If you would like to share your stats and story of acceptance to PA school, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org