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Hi guys, I am hoping ya'll could give me some feedback as to where I stand as a PA school applicant. I haven't taken the GRE yet, but plan to 1-2 years from now (depending on the quality of my app). 

- currently a junior, recently switched majors from bio to healthcare studies
- started research first semester of freshman year (have accumulated 2 years work so far but will hopefully have 3-4 yrs upon application to PA school)
- rough time in sciences, especially ochem. current cgpa : ~3.6 and sgpa: ~3.2 . Am hopeful that sgpa will increase next year, but where do I currently stand with these stats?
- I have quite a bit of hospital volunteering, have done 200 hours thus far and 50 hours shadowing, will probably have these doubled before I apply.
- I have worked in a clinical research site as a data coordinator, so i think I could make that seem applicable to healthcare, and am now working as a pharmacy technician trainee (to start accumulating clinical hours). I may take a gap year to maximize clinical experience before I apply - not sure.
- Working on leadership; I had a couple minor officer positions last year, and I am extremely involved in campus orgs. Im trying to narrow down my involvement and focus on quality rather than quantity if that makes sense. Right now I am an officer for a pre-health club that is pretty new so I think I have a good chance of contributing a lot through that. I want to be at least a VP in an org I care about before I graduate.
 

So, assuming I improve upon several of these factors, what are my chances? My grades have me worried. I feel like I'm studying and working hard, yet yielding little results where my grades are concerned . I'm trying to stay positive, and continue working towards my goal. Any input you guys have would be greatly appreciate, thank you!!!

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This is just me talking:

- Don't kill yourself with volunteer activities. Some are nice; more just get in the way of doing what you need to do.

- Don't kill yourself with leadership positions unless you really want to do them and they don't cause you to mess up your grades. Same deal as my caution on not getting derailed with volunteer activities.

- Your science grades now are a bit borderline; try to bring them up. Consider some advanced classes (patho, genetics, etc)

- Your research coordinator job probably won't count as healthcare experience for many schools. Do something hands-on with people who aren't at their best. And you'll need more hours, which is a function of the schools you'll be applying to. This is where a gap year might help you out; you wouldn't be the first.

- Take your GREs during your senior year. There are ideas for studying at the GRE website. You can take the exam multiple times, if needed. You'll need something at or about the 50%ile in many cases.

- Shadow some PAs. A few in different areas of medicine. Something on the order to 40 hours or so.

- Line up some good references. A professor, someone who knows your work in the healthcare field (who you probably haven't met yet), and hopefully a doc or PA. Some programs have rules of who they want. The big thing is for it to be people who know you well enough to write something other than a vanilla letter of recommendation.

You've got time to get this done. Best wishes!

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Try to get your GPA as high as possible. Don't let your GPA take a hit due to extracurricular activities. I think it's EMEDPA who always said that GPA averages and HCE accumulates. 

You have HCE but you really lack PCE. Some schools won't count your current HCE as PCE. Best way to not worry about HCE vs PCE is just to get direct PCE. PCE would be EMT, CNA, RN, RT, PT aide, imaging tech aide. 

Leadership is a bonus but I don't think it really matters for application purposes. I dont even recall a leadership section in CASPA. Keep doing leadership stuff if you want but don't let it affect your grades. 

Top 3 things that matter (IMO): GPA, PCE, GRE. Everything else is just extra really. 
 

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An abundance of good information above. Some of my quick thoughts:

  • Your data coordinator position likely won't count as clinical experience. Nor will your upcoming pharmacy tech hours. You'll need to find a gig with actual hands on experience (MA, EMT, phlebotomist, etc).
  • Cumulative GPA looks good. Biggest thing for you is making sure your science GPA goes no lower than it is (and ideally goes up during your senior year). Hands on hours are pretty easily acquired, bringing up a GPA when you've already taken a lot of science classes can be quite a bugger (search for really good posts on this through the forum).
  • Consider hiring a tutor for upcoming science courses. This can pay off in dividends if you think of it as an upfront cost now ($20-30/hr or whatever the going rate is) to save you from having to retake classes in the future ($thousands) plus missed income from not getting into PA school the first go around ($100,000+)
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52 minutes ago, MyNameWasUsed said:

Try to get your GPA as high as possible. Don't let your GPA take a hit due to extracurricular activities. I think it's EMEDPA who always said that GPA averages and HCE accumulates. 

You have HCE but you really lack PCE. Some schools won't count your current HCE as PCE. Best way to not worry about HCE vs PCE is just to get direct PCE. PCE would be EMT, CNA, RN, RT, PT aide, imaging tech aide. 

Leadership is a bonus but I don't think it really matters for application purposes. I dont even recall a leadership section in CASPA. Keep doing leadership stuff if you want but don't let it affect your grades. 

Top 3 things that matter (IMO): GPA, PCE, GRE. Everything else is just extra really. 
 

Just wanted to quickly say that there are actually programs that do explicitly state that they value leadership. And there is a leadership section on CASPA.

OP, I'll also add that your personal statement really matters. It can give you the opportunity to compel the admissions committee to look a little beyond your shortcomings and want to meet you up close and personal.

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Eh, I agree with most of what's above but would argue GPA is shifting to become the main focus by the majority of programs. While there are cases that deviate from that rule, having gone through applications, it's pretty plain that most programs want high GPA first and foremost as they believe it to be predictive of future success. Keep your grades up, start accumulating DIRECT patient care (not research, not leadership, not extracurriculars) and you'll be fine. 

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Something I always advocate for is pursuing a certificate in something medically related that interests you. For example, I took a CNA course at my community college (6 credits) which went towards my sGPA and allowed me to pass the certification test and land a PCE job at the hospital. Additionally, it would have allowed me to consider the nursing role and NP if PA didn't pan out, as well as the vast variety of healthcare positions in a medical system. 

I think your cGPA is pretty good because you have above a 3.5 which some people really strive to have! 

 I don't think your job will hold you back too much, but just start to think if it contributes to you being a good provider. Are there things you are learning from it that will help you in your future career or could you be using your time more wisely?

During my the summer between my junior and senior year, I took a summer class for a PCE certificate and then after graduation I took a gap year to pursue PCE and accumulated 2000+ working full-time 36/hrs 12x3/week. During this time I was able to focus on working, letters of rec, gre, and personal statement all the while saving up money to have a good enough amount to cover some living expenses or make payments towards my "accumulated loan interest" while in PA school that way I could try to prepare for the inevitable future of large student loan burdens. I feel that if I hadn't taken a gap year, I wouldn't feel nearly as prepared had I just jumped straight in. I like to think that I am going to be a PA for the rest of my life once I get started so I don't mind taking a little extra time to get my personal life/financial life/self a little more in shape for this upcoming opportunity.   

PS: Its really great you are considering all of these factors early on! I think you will be ahead of the game once your time rolls around if you make changes suggested above.

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On 9/14/2017 at 1:56 PM, MyNameWasUsed said:

 I think it's EMEDPA who always said that GPA averages and HCE accumulates.

Pretty sure that's me, actually, but 1) it's a core concept, no one has it trademarked, and 2) I'm flattered to be mistaken for EMEDPA.

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On 9/16/2017 at 3:16 PM, rev ronin said:

Pretty sure that's me, actually, but 1) it's a core concept, no one has it trademarked, and 2) I'm flattered to be mistaken for EMEDPA.

oh right, it was you haha

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Thank you everyone for all the feedback! I really appreciate it!! :) I will definitely be taking your suggestions seriously & considering other areas of improvement. I feel too often people focus on the competitiveness (not wanting to help others) and ignore the team effort involved in the PA career. I love that this community exists where we can all help each other

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