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PA-C-to-be

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  1. Improvement is important but no one on here is going to be able to tell you how exactly getting a C in this second attempt will affect you. You're not going to become an organic chemist, schools know that, but this is a weed out course for PA and med schools to help see you've got the chops to get through the hard sciences that still lay ahead. I will share that I felt similarly about my own prospects with a C in orgo 1, a C in a gen Chem class before that, and a D in genetics (retook it and got an A). I didn't retake any of the Cs, but followed the C in orgo with a B in orgo 2 and A in biochemistry and it didn't seem to hold me back at all. It's stressful for sure, I wish you the best!
  2. Advice you didn't ask for but might need to hear: Don't put too much on your plate trying to rush and get everything done. I did it, and it was unbearable dealing with that kind of stress and I wouldn't wish that on someone who just came out of 4+ years of college: take some time to relax and handle a few of these things at a time. You seem to have a good start, but just meeting minimum requirements doesn't do much to help you stand out as an applicant and for many of us it takes some extra time to get those experiences to help us accomplish just that. Don't sweat if you end up pushing your application back a year or two. It's expensive to apply so I'd wait until you are absolutely confident you can impress schools and not just check the boxes they ask for because 99% of applicants can also check those boxes. I always thought I'd go in straight out of undergrad or just 1 year after, but it took 3 years to get here and I am so glad I took that time. Go above and beyond, take time to breathe, and work on getting it all done. You'll get there, Good luck!
  3. The applicant pool may also just be flooded with more Caucasian applicants than other types of educational programs, which likely contributes to a perceived underrepresentation of minorities in programs. Also consider that the pool is already noticeably over-saturated with female applicants, so that shapes the profiles for each class as well being usually somewhere between 70-90% female on average. I even heard from one school that their program was told at a conference that they were considered very diverse just because they had more male students than most. There were minorities represented at every interview I attended and they were equally competitive with everyone else IMO. I'd be surprised if any preferential treatment would have been given to any applicant just solely based on race (and would be so very disappointed if programs turned students away due to race). Diversity is valued, but there is so much else that is used to evaluate an applicant's fit for a program that is internal and bears much more weight than a program being able to say they have a student of X race and a few of Y race in their class.
  4. If your schools don't specify who to have for the third letter and you're in the position where someone from an HCE job is close enough to help with this, my next thought would be that you'd want someone who can strongly attest to your people skills. Whether that be a supervisor/coworker from another job you've had outside of medicine with regular interactions with customers/clients or people you've volunteered with, it would make sense to have the third letter be someone who knows how you interact with others and can help paint that picture of your bedside manner as a future PA.
  5. It can be pretty common. For many people this process takes more than one CASPA cycle and that is O-K! There is much to be said for perseverance and continuing to improve your application. If you get interviews but no acceptances, you are able to check off the big things on paper (GPA minimums, GRE, HCE, etc) that they're looking for but perhaps your interview skills could use some work. Maybe your interviews were fine and it just wasn't a good fit or there was someone else who was just more appealing to that school at that time, it's hard to know for sure. But if you make it to the interview stage, that's an accomplishment by itself so don't get discouraged! Speaking broadly just about the 'odds' of getting into a PA program: many schools receive at least 1000 applications per cycle if not more, will maybe interview 150-300ish people from that pool and then might have a class size somewhere in the 50-100 range. That's a less than 10% acceptance rate and generally only the top 15-30% of applicants will even get to the interview stage. Also consider that you're competing against a lot of smart cookies out there not just average students, so being selected for an interview is that much more of a big deal. I met many people at interviews who were not only in their second or third CASPA cycle but were attending their second or third interview with the same school and sometimes it just takes a second or third impression to bump you into that top 10 (or less) percent. I also met current students who said the same exact thing because it happened to them.
  6. GRE scores rarely improve by much when the test is retaken, for my second attempt both my quant and writing were slightly lower the second time but I retook the test solely to improve my verbal score and I did by 5 points. I doubt it will hurt you to submit your newer scores, it's pretty comparable to your first one but even slight improvements can bump you up in the percentile rankings quite a bit as you showed in your post. If this was my application though, I'd definitely submit the second set of scores. You already spent the money to take the test, you're mostly on target for the 50% goal, and you didn't score lower on the second attempt. I don't see why you wouldn't do this!
  7. Rolling admissions can stretch across several months. I submitted my CASPA almost exactly a year ago now to the day which is still considered early and was in the first interview for one school, second interview for another, the last interview for another school, and heard back from the other schools at random times during the cycle. I went several months without hearing from several programs after receiving the "application received/under review" notification and some of those schools invited me to interview seemingly out of the blue after that long of a wait. I also met many other people at interviews with similar experiences here. It's hard to do, but be patient! You might get only early interviews, you might have them nicely spaced out throughout the cycle, it really just depends
  8. I can't comment specifically on hospital setting shadowing since all of mine was in a family practice office, but I did spend several months shadowing multiple PAs and the NP they had there as well. Since it was standard primary care office visits, I felt it wasn't appropriate to be taking notes while in front of patients, as that might have raised some red flags in their mind about me as the silent student in the corner just watching and writing things down. I tended to follow the rule with patients of 'only speak when spoken to'. I did take note of things in my head while shadowing and kept a list on my computer at work of things I learned that I would update each day after I left the office. That list also included things like meds/tests/conditions I wanted to look up and learn more about, advice I was given, etc. I dressed business casual just like the providers did at this office, but I absolutely asked my contact person first about attire and expectations before my first day and would recommend all students ask these questions up front. I tended to save questions for the times the providers were charting (the obvious downtime), since appointment slots are quite short and that time belongs to the patient and not me, and they would share their thoughts on those appointments, reasons for their decision-making (why they chose this drug, this test, this course of action for this patient, stuff like that). I of course got to know these providers pretty well, so we'd talk about more personal things after some time had passed, but just read the PA and find those times where asking questions are most appropriate. If they're swamped, clearly don't bug them with questions unless they're open to it, they have their job to do first and mentoring you as a student is secondary. There was no active participation for me as a student which I expected, but the providers did start to ask me questions about cases and quiz me a little which was fun! Enjoy it though, you're going to learn a lot really fast!
  9. Haha MT2PA's advice^^ I had classmates peeking at my work in high school and I did not hesitate to call them out loudly in the middle of tests while they did it and they were disciplined and had their tests taken away for a score of 0. Not something that should be done in a graduate program though in my opinion and you shouldn't have to worry about things like this at this level!! Such an immature thing for her to be doing and unprofessional behavior for a future PA... Sorry to hear how much you're struggling through all of this though, there's hopefully a diplomatic solution to be reached here and UGoLong's advice is pretty solid. Wishing you the best!
  10. You don't HAVE to include every job you've ever worked. I am one of those people who always has multiple jobs and one of my part time jobs was only for like 7 weeks before I moved cities. I don't put that job on resumes and definitely didn't bother putting it on my CASPA. It's good to put all HCE jobs and any jobs that you've been at for a good length of time though (I'd say probably >6months if not HCE-related but this is up to you) even if they're not medically related. It helps show other areas of interest or experiences that make you unique as an applicant and can demonstrate you ability to juggle multiple commitments at once.
  11. Before my applications were submitted, I had some questions about pre-reqs for a few of my schools and I copy/pasted the course catalog descriptions for the courses in question (and included links to where they could access this information on the universitys' websites) and emailed the programs directly to see if they would meet their requirements. The admissions counselors who responded were pretty quick to provide definitive answers on this
  12. I've had to get LOR for jobs and this process of applying to schools and some of the references from professors I used for my CASPA have helped me multiple times in this regard. Yeah, you feel like you're nagging them but if you have a good relationship with them and send appropriate thank yous afterward, it never hurts to ask. My references never hesitated to continue to help me move forward in life and I would hope yours would be willing to grant you the same favor. I'd recommend giving them a call and catching up a little first if you can to help break the ice, then explain your situation (maybe leaving out some of the more personal details you listed above) and your change of heart and see if they're open to doing it again. Plus, a lot of professors write lots of these so if they're smart then they hopefully kept your previous letters and can just make some quick edits.
  13. Microbiology is a good example of a course that is often different for nursing students from the students taking it in the biology department. Most nursing programs won't go into organic chemistry/biochemistry either from the curriculums I've looked over at nursing schools in my state, so just keep in mind if you choose the nursing path you may have to take some courses outside of your major to meet PA school pre-reqs (a lot of us have to do that anyway though). At my university, nursing students took the same general chemistry, general bio, and A & P courses as everyone else and then split off into their department only for the higher level sciences. Just look around at PA schools you'd want to apply to and consider which options at your univeristy may fulfill those pre-reqs, it's also not a bad idea to inquire directly with the PA programs to get their thoughts on if those courses will satisfy their requirements.
  14. You're really juggling a lot and I commend you on your dedication! If the schools you're applying to don't do rolling admissions and you can get all of this done and are satisfied with what you'll be sending your schools within that time frame, I don't see why you shouldn't apply especially if you don't want to wait another year. It won't be easy only applying to 2 schools, but I totally understand how having a family and some roots planted already can play a big part in that decision. If you decide that it will work for your family to expand your options to other states, I know we have several programs developing here in NC and there are at least 2 schools here that I know for sure do a January start (I believe that's Elon and Lenoir-Rhyne, there may be more too) so if you decide to delay your application until the next cycle, going to a January start school may help you at least start PA school a little sooner than waiting until the following summer. Good luck!
  15. I submitted 5 since I had two PAs I was shadowing at the time and needed to submit at least 4 (only needed 1 from a PA/MD/DO/NP) to meet all the requirements for all my programs. Some schools told me they'd read everything I sent even though they only required 3 so I gave them everything I could. Meet your minimums but whatever extra good words you can get on your application are always a good idea in my opinion.
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