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High Academics, Low HCE -- Chances at these schools?


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Hello, all!

Original Bachelor's from a top 10 university in Economics/Theatre -- GPA: 3.4

Then spent several years as an actor & decided I needed to do something more tangible, so age at time of application this round will be 27/28.

Currently finishing second year of science pre-reqs (Bio, Chem, Orgo, Cell Bio, Organic Chem, Biochem, A&P, Microbio, Genetics) -- GPA: 3.97 (A's in everything except a lab or two)

GRE Verbal: 169 (99%)
GRE Quant: 162 (82%)
AW: 4.5 (82%)

Here comes the problem...
HC-related experience: 1800 hours as radiology department admin for a hospital
Volunteer: Patient Transport/other - 100 hours 
Paid, Hands-on Patient care experience: currently 0 hours, but planning to gain FT employment as either a CNA or scribe beginning in June/July. I would estimate that I would accrue ~500 hours by September, the application deadline of many schools.
Shadowing: I am having trouble finding a PA to shadow in CNY, but plan to do so ASAP.

Considering the following schools:
U. Colorado, Baylor COM, UNTHSC-Fort Worth, UT-Southwestern, Idaho State, University of Florida, Yale (dual MPH!), Midwestern University in AZ, & University of Boston

I'd appreciate any general advice and am specifically interested in knowing about any programs that may prefer high academic achievement and overlook low HCE. Will high GRE help offset this low HCE? 

TY in advance!

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Guest HanSolo

I would say this probably will depend on how well you convey your knowledge of the profession, commitment to healthcare, and desire to be a PA in your personal statement. Drive home that you are making an informed decision despite having zero PCE hours. 

 

Make sure these programs don't have rolling admissions. Applying at the deadline would be risky. 

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The HCE is important to a lot of those schools. Also applying in September is not a good plan as many of those schools have a rolling admission. Take University of CO for example they only have four interview sessions generally and they start interviewing in August I believe.

Maybe take this year to get your shadowing done, get your EMT or CNA and get hands on experience and plan on applying for the 2018/19 cycle. Alternatively look at schools that have zero to no experience required.

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I appreciate your replies! 

 

Miles, I looked specifically at schools that state no HCE or only recommend it, but your post makes me think I've missed something. Are there schools that are generally more well-known (to those more in-the-loop than myself) to accept low HCE applicants? I'm open to schools anywhere in the country -- I am just so ready to get started & move forward!

 

Han, I will definitely make my case for proper understanding of the profession, as well as attempt to get as many hours of shadowing/hands on experience as possible by the time I apply.

 

When you all mention applying early in the cycle, do you mean you'd recommend finishing applications completely by April/May when CASPA opens? I am afraid I'd be pretty screwed in that case, since I won't have built up any more hours by that time...

 

Also, I noticed that Florida counts scribing, though I was thinking of e-mailing the others to see what they think. CNA is a possibility; I'm just nervous since it would be significantly more wearing job. I'm sure it would be better prep though... 

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I have a somewhat similar situation to yours: high academics, atypical/low HCE. I applied to the three Texas schools you listed and received interviews at UNTHSC and Baylor, but rejection from UTSW. I have not received acceptance yet from either interview however and understand my lack of PCE to contribute to that. Take what you will from my outcome. The interview experiences have been beneficial for reapplication if I'm not pulled off a waitlist this year...though emotionally draining.

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runridePA, 

 

I have a somewhat similar situation to yours: high academics, atypical/low HCE. I applied to the three Texas schools you listed and received interviews at UNTHSC and Baylor, but rejection from UTSW. I have not received acceptance yet from either interview however and understand my lack of PCE to contribute to that. Take what you will from my outcome. The interview experiences have been beneficial for reapplication if I'm not pulled off a waitlist this year...though emotionally draining.

 

TY for sharing your experience -- it helps me put my next year (or potentially two) into perspective. Hoping you hear good outcomes from one of the two outstanding schools soon. 

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As for the University of Florida, scribing counts, but you're going to have to hit it out of the park in the essay and eventual interview. Really understanding what a PA does, how you fit into the position, your motivations, etc. will make a difference there, otherwise your relatively low HCE will hold you back. Also, UF will project HCE as if you were to continue working up until the day you begin at the same rate, so you should apply as early as you can there, because things get much more competitive as the cycle goes on. 

 

All this being said, if you don't get in anywhere on the first round, you'll be a competitive candidate on the second round of interviews, so definitely reapply. UF likes to see year-over-year improvements and views them favorably when considering reapplicants.

 

All the best!

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See thread:

 

http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/index.php?/topic/41612-for-those-of-you-applying-with-high-gpalow-hce/

 

Be advised, it is very likely UF will reject you if you don't clear the 1000 hours direct PCE; I forget whether scribing counts, but they did not even consider me for an interivew because I did not have that many hours.

 

This is true. However, scribing is a very well represented form of HCE in their classes. In this case, the GPA would likely weigh very heavily. 

 

I missed the undergrad GPA. While a very respectable GPA, I doubt the few science classes have swung the overall GPA much. It's probably on the low end to swing an ADCOM at a school that has relatively high HCE averages in their classes to interview someone with low HCE. 

 

With this in mind, I'd wait a year, get your HCE on board, and then apply. You'll have many, many more schools to choose from. I know this treads into the HCE vs no HCE debate. However, I had wait a year to clear a couple more classes, am very happy I how things have turned out. 

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I appreciate your replies! 

 

Miles, I looked specifically at schools that state no HCE or only recommend it, but your post makes me think I've missed something. Are there schools that are generally more well-known (to those more in-the-loop than myself) to accept low HCE applicants? I'm open to schools anywhere in the country -- I am just so ready to get started & move forward!

 

Han, I will definitely make my case for proper understanding of the profession, as well as attempt to get as many hours of shadowing/hands on experience as possible by the time I apply.

 

When you all mention applying early in the cycle, do you mean you'd recommend finishing applications completely by April/May when CASPA opens? I am afraid I'd be pretty screwed in that case, since I won't have built up any more hours by that time...

 

Also, I noticed that Florida counts scribing, though I was thinking of e-mailing the others to see what they think. CNA is a possibility; I'm just nervous since it would be significantly more wearing job. I'm sure it would be better prep though... 

I don't think it is necessary to submit your app in April right when the cycle opens but Sept is a bit on the later side. I submitted by June and was verified in July.

Have you considered applying next cycle (2018)?

 

As far as better prep it depends on the perspective. I was a CNA and a scribe, without getting long winded I'd say both confer benefits

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oooooh thanks for saying that -- undergrad GPA was a 3.4, not 3.3 -- will edit above. Still not stellar, but with my 2 years of FT schooling since that bachelor's my total should end up ~ 3.5x with a 3.9x for all prerequisite courses. 

 

These replies are making me nervous about applying this year - perhaps I should wait until the following cycle. 

 

Other opinions still welcome and appreciated! 

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I appreciate your replies! 

 

Miles, I looked specifically at schools that state no HCE or only recommend it, but your post makes me think I've missed something. Are there schools that are generally more well-known (to those more in-the-loop than myself) to accept low HCE applicants? I'm open to schools anywhere in the country -- I am just so ready to get started & move forward!

 

Han, I will definitely make my case for proper understanding of the profession, as well as attempt to get as many hours of shadowing/hands on experience as possible by the time I apply.

 

When you all mention applying early in the cycle, do you mean you'd recommend finishing applications completely by April/May when CASPA opens? I am afraid I'd be pretty screwed in that case, since I won't have built up any more hours by that time...

 

Also, I noticed that Florida counts scribing, though I was thinking of e-mailing the others to see what they think. CNA is a possibility; I'm just nervous since it would be significantly more wearing job. I'm sure it would be better prep though... 

 

Just because a school doesn't require HCE/PCE doesn't mean you won't be up against applicants with thousands (upon thousands) of hours.  It puts you at a disadvantage.

 

You can certainly TRY to apply this cycle but don't be surprised if you don't get interviews/acceptances.  If you are short on money I'd say put it off till next year and be able to apply with a full year of FT PCE.

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oooooh thanks for saying that -- undergrad GPA was a 3.4, not 3.3 -- will edit above. Still not stellar, but with my 2 years of FT schooling since that bachelor's my total should end up ~ 3.5x with a 3.9x for all prerequisite courses. 

 

These replies are making me nervous about applying this year - perhaps I should wait until the following cycle. 

 

Other opinions still welcome and appreciated! 

 

Your GPA will definitely get you into good schools, if paired with solid HCE. If you don't mind where you go and apply very broadly, including programs that do not require HCE, you'll likely get some bites. It really depends on where you want to go and what their class profiles look like. You'll have about 500-1000 hours by the time you start, which isn't bad. It's that programs are getting multiple applicants with your GPA with thousands of hours and it will be difficult to compete against them.

 

All the best!

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I appreciate your replies!

 

Miles, I looked specifically at schools that state no HCE or only recommend it, but your post makes me think I've missed something. Are there schools that are generally more well-known (to those more in-the-loop than myself) to accept low HCE applicants? I'm open to schools anywhere in the country -- I am just so ready to get started & move forward!

 

Han, I will definitely make my case for proper understanding of the profession, as well as attempt to get as many hours of shadowing/hands on experience as possible by the time I apply.

 

When you all mention applying early in the cycle, do you mean you'd recommend finishing applications completely by April/May when CASPA opens? I am afraid I'd be pretty screwed in that case, since I won't have built up any more hours by that time...

 

Also, I noticed that Florida counts scribing, though I was thinking of e-mailing the others to see what they think. CNA is a possibility; I'm just nervous since it would be significantly more wearing job. I'm sure it would be better prep though...

As has already been mentioned although a school may not require HCE doesn't mean they don't value it. Looking at a schools acerage accepted student stats can be helpful, most schools will have them on their website somewhere.

Applying with little to no HCE is not impossible but it does reduce your chances, applying late it also another disadvantage. Schools receive hundreds if not thousands of apps of qualified applicants, a lot of those folks also have outstanding academics like yourself.

I am not trying to talk you out of applying but it sounds as though you will have a better shot if you wait a year and concentrate on HCE.

When I mention applying early I mean before mid June, this lets you be eligible for concideration for all interview slots and class seats not the maybe 50% of interview slots left if you apply in September as you mentioned.

Hope that helps.

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To be honest, I am fearful of CNA work, though it is certainly the quickest route into paid, quality HCE. What do you, collective forum, think of taking an extra year of schooling to go the medical assistant route or LPN route prior to PA school? I think I would enjoy working those jobs significantly more, though I'd probably not be able to attend PA school until fall of 2020 (versus 2018 or 2019 as a CNA). Has anyone done MA or LPN and have thoughts on the professions? I am 27 y.o. right now and feeling a bit of pressure regarding time, but want to enjoy myself, as well!

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To be honest, I am fearful of CNA work, though it is certainly the quickest route into paid, quality HCE. What do you, collective forum, think of taking an extra year of schooling to go the medical assistant route or LPN route prior to PA school? I think I would enjoy working those jobs significantly more, though I'd probably not be able to attend PA school until fall of 2020 (versus 2018 or 2019 as a CNA). Has anyone done MA or LPN and have thoughts on the professions? I am 27 y.o. right now and feeling a bit of pressure regarding time, but want to enjoy myself, as well!

 

Why are you fearful? It's pretty 'shitty' at times (pun intended), but you get to learn a lot from the nurses, NP's, PA's, MD/DO's, and every person you come into contact with. I personally would get your CNA and start working ASAP. Going to school to become a MA doesn't sound ideal since you will do the same thing what many clinics teach their MA's to do (who did not go to trade school). LPN is another year in debt, another year not in school, and another year without experiance. Never apply late... EVER unless the school doesn't view application until a certain date, for example, EVMS waits until March 1st. 

 

What brought you to these schools? Would you consider other schools? Like the person said before, look at the average stats and judge by that. Your GRE score what I wish I could score, and your cGPA may average to be around 3.6-7 depending how many credits you have overall. Your sGPA should and will look fantastic as well. 

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Another vote here for applying in the 2018 - 2019 cycle. I am a huge proponent of applying EARLY and by that I mean April, May, or June. If you have money to burn and letters of rec ready, you can apply this upcoming 2017 - 2018 cycle but it will not be your strongest application. One year of PCH and an early application will help tremendously. With such low PCH, I would even apply to more schools than you have listed and "lesser known" schools like some of the many private PA schools.

 

I worked as a CNA and yes, it was rough both physically and mentally but I sucked it up for a year and it got me accepted. Having said that, I've met some people at my interviews who had much better CNA experiences than I did so it really varies of course. I've also met people who did things like a clinical research assistant and got accepted with that. It will always depend on the school what PCH they will accept so always check their website for details or email them if you can't find any. I do not recommend the LVN route. Some places will train you on the job for an MA position so you could look into that (I've seen many on craigslist). 

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Do not forget about EMT, it is the same schooling time as CNA essentially and often times has a better scope of practice. It also teaches you the basics of history taking and figuring out sick or not sick patients. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an EMT and continued to learn a ton everyday at work.

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Do not forget about EMT, it is the same schooling time as CNA essentially and often times has a better scope of practice. It also teaches you the basics of history taking and figuring out sick or not sick patients. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an EMT and continued to learn a ton everyday at work.

 

I second this! I loved my EMT course! I worked as a medical scribe while completing my EMT certification and then used the connections I made to get a job as an ED Tech. Though many programs do not count scribing as HCE, I think it was a worthwhile experience that expanded my understanding of medical decision making and the different professions in medicine. I think MA is not a good option since the certification is significantly longer and thus puts you farther from your goal of gaining HCE.

 

In terms of when to apply... Do you have a strong preference about what school you attend? Or are you willing to go anywhere as long as you become a PA? If you are willing to go through a grueling application cycle, you could try applying this cycle with low HCE, but your chances of acceptance are substantially lower. Alternatively you could wait a year and apply as your best self with both high GPA and higher HCE. 

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I suspect I will be in a similar situation next spring when I can think about applying for school.  For those of you who recommended waiting a year to apply, is that recommendation based purely on not wasting money in applying this cycle or does it look bad to apply multiple cycles?  My thoughts are that it couldn't hurt to go ahead and apply, and if the OP doesn't get in this cycle, then he/she should apply again next year with more HCE.

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I think the better question is whether waiting a year will put you in better position for the schools that #1 you want to go to and/or #2 are more established, have better scores, etc. Also, money should be a factor, since it can be quite expensive to cast the wide net necessary to get in with lower stats. 

 

I don't know about every school, but I would think that applying multiple years would look favorable, since you have made a point that you want to go to a certain school. For example, at UF, if you contact the school after the first round to see where you can improve, and do your best to follow their suggestions, it is seen favorably. Of course, YMMV.

 

All the best!

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Guest HanSolo

I suspect I will be in a similar situation next spring when I can think about applying for school.  For those of you who recommended waiting a year to apply, is that recommendation based purely on not wasting money in applying this cycle or does it look bad to apply multiple cycles?  My thoughts are that it couldn't hurt to go ahead and apply, and if the OP doesn't get in this cycle, then he/she should apply again next year with more HCE.

 

It's basically that you would, theoretically, have more options if you applied the second cycle with that whole year of HCE. However, nobody knows if you would get in that cycle either. It opens up more programs in which you can apply to, but that also comes with an even more competitive group of applicants. It doesn't look bad to apply multiple cycles. Many successful applicants have. If anything, it shows commitment. 

 

I'm with you in that it doesn't hurt to apply. It's just an expensive process. 

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