Overall GPA: 3.90
GRE: Did not take it
Total HCE hours: ~2,000- I work in a clinical microbiology lab and had some experience working in a clinical research center at a hospital.
Total PCE hours: I didn’t have any at the time of the application, but before the interview I had just started volunteering in hospice care, so I was able to bring that up in conversation.
Shadowing hours: None. Just work with PAs at my current job.
Other volunteer hours: ~1,700. I was involved in Relay for Life, Catholic Newman Club, Compton Initiative, Pomona Beautification Day, and was a Resident Advisor for three years.
LORs: 3. Two from professors I was close with and one from my supervisor from when I was a Resident Advisor.
How many times did you apply?: Once
How many programs did you apply to? Only Western University. I didn’t quite meet the PCE for other programs just yet, and since Western was always my number one choice, I couldn’t wait to apply!
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I only interviewed with Western and I got in!
Any red flags on your application? I had no PCE at the time and there were a couple misspelled words on my app. Get someone to proofread your personal statement and app before you send it!
Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised how short it was and how detailed the questions were, but I ended up liking it better that way. I was SO nervous leading up to it, but when I got there it was more like having a genuine conversation with the students and faculty rather than an “interview” feel.
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process?
YES! For prerequisites I felt that teaming up with people to study was how I got through them best. I used Khan Academy for certain concepts that were harder to grasp and made fun mnemonics with my friends to help with memorizing some of the material.
For the interview I read How to "Ace" the Physician Assistant School Interview by Andrew Rodican which was very helpful in preparing me for a wide variety of questions (affiliate link). I was/am avidly on “The PA Platform” as well as getting some helpful tips from Jazmine Kwong, a PA student at WesternU who also has an incredible PA blog/instagram (@jazminek_pa). I did mock interviews with my professors and family and made it my goal to talk to ten strangers within my community about their life goals when the opportunity came (work/school/gym). This helped me quickly adapt to different personalities and connect with people I wasn’t very comfortable with. This is also important to practice for the profession itself.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
Ever since I was younger I dreamt of being a PA and as I got older I felt that there were a lot of people, even supervisors, who told me I shouldn’t pursue it because it’s too competitive. This really discouraged me, and I know there may be people (even yourself) that will try and do the same, but just know that if it’s your passion, find the people in your community that will help you reach your goals. I had incredible professors, supervisors, and friends who believed in me and pushed me to this point and it was just a matter of finding those individuals who have your back. So, find your people!
One thing I didn’t know is that there are non-licensed medical assistant jobs out there that are just difficult to find. I think I would have done this if I knew earlier because not only is it an incredible way to get experience, but you also get paid without having to go through the MA certification process.
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc)
My Instagram is @alexgionta and feel free to add me on facebook!
If you've recently been accepted to PA school and would like to be featured in an "Accepted!" post to share your story and advice with other PA hopefuls, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org