Undergraduate education: Nutrition and Food Science; Health Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.80
Science GPA: 3.62
GRE: 154 (Verbal) 145 (Qualitative) 5.0 (Analytical) I didn't score well with qualitative but scored in the 93rd percentile for the analytical part of the exam.
Total HCE hours: 1000+
Total PCE hours: 1000+
Shadowing hours: 40 hours (of an ER and urgent care physician)
Other volunteer hours: I have thousands of hours in community service/volunteering because it is a deep passion of mine. It is not directly related to health. I work in the realm of youth empowerment and organizing in schools and communities.
LORs: I had one letter of recommendation from a PA who I've worked with in the realm of community organizing. I had another from my mentor who is a physician I shadowed. My last LOR was from an orthopedic spine surgeon from the clinic I received my patient and healthcare hours through.
How many times did you apply?: Once
How many programs did you apply to? 10
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I was offered three interviews, I accepted two. I was accepted at both schools I'd interviewed at.
Where will you be attending? I will be attending the University of Detroit Mercy PA program in the fall!
Any red flags on your application? YES! I received a C+ in Organic Chem II. I deeply considered retaking it and decided that I would if I didn't get into PA school. I also included 40 hours of CNA work that happened over the course of 2 weeks because I ended up quitting that quickly. I took a gamble putting it on there but wanted to be honest about my experiences. I feared that the application committee would see me C+ as an inability to handle rigorous work. I was afraid that they'd view my short stint as a CNA to exemplify a lack of grit.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? No! It was very much what I expected. It was a balanced experience where I interacted with students in the program. The interviewers for both interviews were a mix of serious faces and openly kind faces. In my first interview, we went on a tour of the school and sat in a lobby watching students walk into rooms to interview. My personality tends to be pretty calm but I could feel the anxiety in the lobby. You were staring your competition in the face. In my other interview, you did not know who else was interviewing so your focus could be entirely on mental preparation for the interview.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? Yes! This long list from the doseofPA blog was exceptionally helpful! I also appreciated the following Podcast for the process of answering ethical questions. I took notes and then searched the web for ethical questions to test my thinking. Dave The PA Coach (aka the OG PA coach) has been the ultimate confidence booster for not just interview prep but all throughout. I've been watching him since I was in high school! For application help, talking to someone who has gone through CASPA is SUPER helpful, anything else was just confusing for me. Khan Academy is a must for pre-requisite courses.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
Pre-requisites: Be mindful of balancing your pre-requisites throughout your schooling. It demonstrates a mindfulness and can really help mitigate the stress that comes with overloading on science courses. If costs are a concern, take your pre-requisites at a community college! Take Anatomy and Physiology I and II instead of a single A&P course. I did the latter and so many schools refused it as a prereq! I had to take A&P I and II after graduating during my gap year!
Building connections: Ask any healthcare worker you know if they know and can connect you to a PA, you'd be surprised at who knows who. I also recommend joining OR starting a pre-PA club at your university/college. It is a great resource hub and they often do mock interviews and bring in PAs as speakers or representatives of PA programs to discuss the application process.
Patient Care hours: If you are struggling immensely with finding a patient care focused job and unable to, as a last resort, try to get a job as axillary staff in a PRIVATE PRACTICE (receptionist for example) and then ask for on the job training. You can explain what your intentions are and that you still plan to get all your other job duties completed. Private practices are more flexible with cross-training staff versus a hospital or long-term care facility.
Just make sure to accurately document your PCE versus HCE!
Finding schools to apply to: I sat down for a few nights during my senior year of college and looked at EVERY SINGLE PA PROGRAM in the US to evaluate where I could apply. I tried to be realistic about where to apply and how much I could put towards the cost of applications. I never took biochemistry, physics or genetics so that eliminated a huge chunk. Email programs or call if you're unsure about the pre-requisites. For example, some schools accepted my nutrition courses as fulfilling a secondary biology requirement. My advice is to really study each school and their website. If they offer to mail information, take that offer up. Email the advisor about their stats. When it comes to interviewing, it really shows how well you read up on each individual program and it can work to your great advantage to know the program, the hospital systems they work with and what makes their program unique.
Interview Prep: It is ESSENTIAL. Please don't skimp on this if you're able to get an interview. It is the difference between good and great. I watched students fold under the pressure and felt so bad. What I did for interview prep included watching Dave The PA Coach's videos for some confidence boosting and other youtube videos on PA interview prep. I had an interview session with a best friend at the mall. We walked around, she asked me questions and I answered. My main focuses during this session were -eliminate the phrase "ummm" from ALL my answers -be comfortable with taking time to think without apologizing for it -answering the question that was asked without tangents. I then asked another close friend to have a more serious interview session. I emailed her my resume, CASPA application, behavioral/personal/ethical questions and had her GRILL me. She had me shaking because of how great she was. She picked up on my nervous tic (speaking fast) and made me conscious of it so I was able to avoid it at my interviews. I've slacked during some pre-requisites and honestly even during my CASPA app process, but the interview prep was given 100% of my energy and it was well worth it.
Where can we find you? @Hana.FuturePA on instagram (or just look up Hana Alasry if my username ever changes)! Feel free to reach out, I answer all my DMs and am more than happy to help without judgement.
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.