Undergraduate education: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)
Overall GPA: 3.93
Science GPA: 3.92
GRE: 313; 157 Verbal (76%ile), 156 Quant (61%ile), 5.0 Writing (92%ile)
Total HCE hours: 900 hours (400 at primary care corporate internship, ~500 in research at time of application)
Total PCE hours: ~20 hours
Shadowing hours: 130 hours
Other volunteer hours: > 2,000 hours (in addition to many other volunteer opportunities, I worked pro-bono at a summer camp that I lived at for the entire summer)
How many times did you apply?: Only once!
Age: 21 at time of application
How many programs did you apply to? One; due to having so few PCE hours, I opted to only apply to my home program the first year, and then if I was not accepted, I intended to work and gain more PCE and re-apply the next cycle to far more programs.
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I interviewed at one school and was ACCEPTED!
Where will you be attending? I will be attending UAB!
Any red flags on your application? Of course, my abysmally low patient care hour count. I’m thankful for the fact that UAB did not have a hard-and-fast PCE requirement, as that allowed me to supplement my application elsewhere with a variety of HCE and other leadership positions.
Anything you found surprising about interviews?
I was pleasantly surprised at just how low-key the interview was. Of course the stakes were high and there was a lot of preparation that, appropriately, should go in to the interview, but I was very quickly put at ease by the entire body of faculty, staff, and students that helped orchestrate interview day. You could tell that the entire team wanted the applicants to be put at ease, and they truly want their future students to succeed, meaning there weren’t any ridiculous curveballs that were thrown at us. The whole process was truly enjoyable and I feel like I was able to leave with confidence in hand.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?
To be totally honest, other than a few articles on interview etiquette around Google, as well as some really helpful articles on thepalife.com that surveyed PA vs. MD (the other career I was considering early in undergrad), most of my preparation came through on-campus career development resources, my wonderful Biomedical Sciences advisors, and some really insightful professors. One in particular was my former communications professor who graciously gave me audience a week or so before my interview to really coach me through useful things to say. Making friends and building bridges with those who are a few chapters in life ahead of you is so invaluable.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
Aside from the comments I made in the last response about making connections, building bridges, and picking others’ brains, one of the biggest things you can really do to serve yourself well in your journey to PA is to find out what it is that makes you tick, and why becoming a PA is the most fulfilling and appropriate way for you to apply yourself as a professional. In other words, why PA? Why do you want to practice medicine? When a respectable salary and a relatively short schooling lose their luster in yet ANOTHER long and challenging work day, what is going to motivate you in your medical career? For me, it was through my shadowing experiences that I recognized firsthand the kind of impact a PA was able to make while having a wonderfully broad scope of practice. I was enamored with having a career that would allow me to see patients, perform H&Ps, order tests, perform diagnostics, make a diagnosis, deliver or order treatments, and even perform surgery, all while allowing me to do so at a much lower cost in less time than medical school. To really be able to challenge myself every day in a field that I love where I can think critically and analytically about my patients, all while delivering compassionate medical care to those who are relying upon me is truly the most fulfilling career that I, personally, can see for myself.
This is one of the things that, outside of your stats, will do the most to propel you out front in interviews: know yourself well and spend the time discovering and thinking through your motivations. Portray yourself as someone who has carefully thought through their decision, who has shadowed and worked and studied and researched to the point that you can precisely say why a career as a PA is the absolute best decision you can make. That’s an applicant that I would want in my program.
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc): Find me on Instagram with the handle @the.musical.pa, where I will be documenting my journey through PA school and offering a glimpse into what it’s like to evolve into a healthcare professional. You may get a taste of my music career here and there as well. ;)
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.