Undergraduate education: Purdue University
Overall GPA: 3.54
Science GPA: 3.43
GRE: 309 (151 Verbal, 153 Quantitative, 5.0 Analytical Writing)
Total HCE hours: 100 Scribing at an Urgent Care
Total PCE hours: 2000 as a medical assistant at the same Urgent Care
Shadowing hours: 60 (30 with a dermatology PA and 30 with a functional medicine PA). This is one part of my application I wish I had spent more time on. I also had hours shadowing a nurse practitioner which was helpful as well.
Other volunteer hours: 200 at the Indiana Veterans Home, a nursing home for veterans
LORs: 3--One from the MD I worked with, one from a NP I worked with, and one from the dermatology PA I shadowed. If you work in a medical setting, I highly recommend creating relationships with the providers. It made it so easy for me to ask for LORs, and they were more than willing because they had spent so much time with me and knew my work ethic. I think these helped offset my lower GPA.
How many times did you apply?: 1
How many programs did you apply to? 12 schools; originally it was only 9, but as time went on and I hadn't heard from some of the schools at all I panicked a bit (Try not to freak out like me and spend more money!!)
How many programs did you interview with and what were the outcomes? I received 3 interview invites, and I attended two: one at the University of South Carolina and one at Indiana University. I got waitlisted at South Carolina and luckily, I got accepted to Indiana University--my dream school!
Where will you be attending? Indiana University. Go Hoosiers!
Any red flags on your application? I think the two weakest parts of my application were my science GPA and my shadowing hours. If I could go back, I would retake a few of those science courses I struggled in, and I would find a PA I could shadow for a longer period of time. This is why it's so important to create those meaningful relationships with providers you work with or encounter. I wish I would have taken shadowing as seriously as I did getting patient care hours. It's just as important, if not more, because you get to see how different the daily duties of PAs in different fields are.
Anything you found surprising about interviews? I was surprised at how quick some of the interviews were. In one of mine, the actual interview with faculty was only 20 minutes. The pressure was on! I had 20 minutes to convince them that I was a good candidate, and it was a bit stressful. Make sure you prepare exactly what it is you want them to remember/know about you because you may not get that much time. Other than that, I was surprised at how comfortable they made everyone feel; in the end it's just a conversation. If you can remember this, it's a lot less daunting and you're more likely to be yourself!
Were there any helpful resources (books, websites, apps) you used to get through prerequisite courses, the application or interview process? The PA Platform was my go to all the way! Guys, Savanna provides so many resources; at first I only used the Facebook page and then her interview book. But, I started listening to the podcast the nights leading up to my interview, and it got me in such a wonderful mindset. Use all of the fantastic educational materials she provides. I also used the Physician Assistant Forum, and believe it or not, I used social media. Instagram and Facebook are great ways to connect with PAs and Pre-PA students. I had remembered that one of my peers at Purdue had gone to PA school and was working in Illinois, so I messaged her about the interview process and CASPA, and she was more than willing to give advice. The PA community is so supportive of each other, so use that to your advantage.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? While I was applying, I struggled the most with comparison. I would always seek out other students' stats, their GRE scores, what HCE they had, etc. As a result, I would start to doubt myself and question whether or not I would actually succeed at being accepted. The wonderful thing about the process is that everyone has their strengths. Use them! Stay in your lane and focus on all the fantastic things you're accomplishing. The process is tough, but if it were easy wouldn't everyone become a PA? Be kind to yourself and remember that your timeline and the ways in which you get to that white coat are your own, no one else's. You got this friends. Keep hustling!
Where can we find you? (website, instagram, etc) You can find me on IG @practicingpoise. I also started a blog with some Pre-PA tips www.http://www.practicingpoise.com, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My program doesn't start until May, and I need something to fill up the time, so feel free to reach out! I am more than willing to help in any way I can, or if you just need a good vent session I am always around. Never give up and good luck!