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I am working on a secondary school application and one of the questions is "What are your career plans in the event that you are not accepted to the physician assistant program this year?" I have been thinking about this question and I know how I want to answer it, but I would like some advice please. I am only applying to one school because I have no option of relocation. I would like to answer this question by saying that I would continue to teach and accumulate health care hours as a CNA. I would also finish my masters in education (I have 12 credits left) to keep my learning skills sharpened. But if I am not accepted, I would also broaden my application to include other schools that have a distance component so that I can still complete clinicals in my home community. I would also make it very clear that this career change is going to happen whether it is next year, the year after, or so on. I do not want to come off as arrogant, but I also think that I would be a great match for this specific program. Any help I can get with this question would be great. My stats are below:


cGPA:  3.61

sGPA:  3.44

pre-req: 3.65


All credits (45) taken since I got my B.S., I have gotten a 4.0.


Direct Patient Care Experience hours:  ~1000 as a CNA (working over night shifts on top of my full time teaching job)


Other Health Care Experience hours:  ~250 hours as a first responder in a rural community


3 strong letters of recc, 1 from the superintendent of the school I have taught at for 5 years, 1 from the DON where I work as a CNA, and 1 from my microbiology professor


~100 hours of shadowing PA, NP, MD, and DO


~very strong personal statement

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"What will you do if we don't accept you this year" is a standard question. The answer I've heard a lot is that I will keep getting more HCE and make my application even stronger next year. I'm not sure what the upside is as far as telling a school that you would apply more broadly next year.


The average applicant applies to about 6 schools, if memory serves from the last set of CASPA data. So schools expect that. 


Your grades are good, your HCE is OK, depending on your school's requirements. If your personal statement is good and so are your references, you will likely get an interview. After that, it's all in how you come off in interviews. Even though you are only applying to the one school, don't get tense or sound desperate. Life is a set of alternate paths and finishing up your other degree isn't a bad option. You might end up as a PA educator at some point, for example. 


Good luck!

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I've been asked this question in my interviews and my response is to "try again next cycle,  because I am 100% confident that the PA job is what I want to do in the future"...the adcom seemed happy with that answer. What you said above seems like a very well thought out plan, and I see no problem with that answer!


You can also elaborate that due to geographic reasons, that school that you are applying to is the only viable option for you...I recommend KNOWing the school forward and backward. You want to be well-versed with the program goals, mission statement, unique factors that makes it stand out from other schools, especially during your interview when they will ask "why this school?"...It's a question that I've been asked in all my interviews

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Thank you ohsnapPA! I am extremely familiar with the program that I am applying to and their goals and mission statement. I will definitely study up on their program more before I (hopefully) interview this coming fall. I appreciate your input and advice!

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