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Hey guys, 

This application cycle did not go well for me and even though it’s not over, yet, I’m expecting that it will be soon. With this in mind, I need honest advice about what to improve for two cycles from now (I don’t have enough time to improve between now and April). Here are my stats for this cycle: 

GPA: 3.40 

SCIENCE GPA: 3.22 

GRE: 308 

HCE: 4800 hours as chief medical scribe (emergency room)

PA Shadowing: 80 hours (ER, ortho, primary care) 

LOR: 5; 2 physician’s, 1 Medical director, 1 PA, 1 senior organic chemistry professor.

I have a plan to obtain CNA licensure and work as a CNA until next Application; retake any science intensive courses that I got a B- or less in; volunteer with disadvantaged patients. Does anyone have additional advice?

Does a CNA give you more solid experience vs something like a Medical assistant? 

Does anyone know if they take personal downfalls into account (both parents passed away in college and high school)?

Does post bacc have to be at a university? (Asking because of cost).

Any advice would be appreciated, thank you so much. 

 

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I've worked as a nursing assistant and also as a medical assistant. I learned far more in regards to medications, patient presentations, immunization, and skills (injections, suture removal, suturing techniques, specimen collection, etc) more as a MA. MAs in outpatient clinics that do not employ RNs are very heavy on obtaining new skills. 

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28 minutes ago, Diggy said:

I've worked as a nursing assistant and also as a medical assistant. I learned far more in regards to medications, patient presentations, immunization, and skills (injections, suture removal, suturing techniques, specimen collection, etc) more as a MA. MAs in outpatient clinics that do not employ RNs are very heavy on obtaining new skills. 

Diggy,  

Would you say that CNA on a PA application is essentially a waste of time then? Just really trying to balance money here and I can get an MA job and make money or I can go through 6 months of CNA and spend 2G. 

 

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I would assume it varies by state and what you want to do but I took a 1 week CNA course for $600 in FL. If your only option is 6 months for CNA I would say go with MA.

Your GRE seems adequate, if balanced, e.g. 154 V and 154 Q. If either is below 150 it might be worth working on that subject to bring it up. 

Your GPA seems weak from what I've seen and talked to with other applicants, retaking those courses as you described makes sense, but I would shoot for all A's this time. I would assume that your GPA is the culprit if you aren't getting interviews. I did speak with one student though, who had a 3.2, he told me that the first question/statement made during his interview was "you know, we don't usually interview people with your GPA." He was accepted, so it isn't an exclusion, but an obstacle that you will have to overcome. You can also address your extenuating life circumstances in your personal statement but I wouldn't dwell on it.

Your HCE seems more than sufficient, so anything you choose between now and then is icing on the cake. Continuing to volunteer is also good.

For letters of recommendation, choose wisely, a generic letter doesn't carry much weight, but one written by someone who knows you and cares about you who makes a personal and passionate argument does. If you have to keep asking, or they seem reluctant, try to find someone else. 

Apply again next cycle! If you aren't getting interviews, you might be just barely missing them. I'm under the impression that programs look favorably on re-applicants if you've shown some improvement since, even if it is only 1 or 2 classes.

As for post bacc "non-degree seeking" classes are still held to the same standard as prereqs and your undergrad courses, the better the institution, the better for you. Additionally, online classes are generally frowned upon (but still better than nothing). 

Best of luck to you and keep your chin up, I'm a second cycle acceptee after not being granted any interviews my first cycle. 

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I would say that you need some good hands on experience. Scribing is good but not accepted at some schools and is generally seen at a lower level than CNA, EMT or MA. Try and find a job working hands on with patients. On the taking a year off thing, this isn’t the best plan. You have five months or so that is easily enough time to take two or three classes and gain 600-1000 hours of experience. Both of these boost your application, I wouldn’t stop there though. I would have a plan to continue academic improvements and HCE over 2018, that way if you don’t get in next cycle you will have significant improvement for the following cycle.

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If you are going to continue taking science classes try taking some new ones that will be weighed more since they are not retakes, if you can, and of course get A's.  With re-takes remember they will be averaged out and won't impact your GPA as much as taking a "fresh" science course.

I had a 309 with a 4.0 writing on my GRE. With 3.2's all around, so you are better off then me when it comes to GPA's.  I do know for sure my personal statement and LOR's were wayyyyyy better than my first round.

I feel your pain, I had no interviews my first cycle, and got accepted my 2nd cycle.  Don't give up, and always work on strengthening that application.

PS - I did my post-baccs at a community college and one of them online through the CC. I did not get any questions or concerns about them during any of my interviews, and on top of that it saves you a ton of money as compared to tuition costs at a university.  I was going to take biochem online from one of those online universities as a last resort due to scheduling and location, but with an early acceptance I did not need to, PHEWF!

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You and I actually had pretty similar stats! The biggest difference probably was that I worked as an EMT throughout school on an ambulance. Scribing is great experience from what I've heard, but some schools struggle in pairing it with direct patient contact. I did not receive any interviews my first application cycle (I applied super late and had a few outstanding prerequisites). However, the next cycle, I applied early and received 6 interviews so far. I got accepted on my first interview, so miracles do happen! Don't give up hope on this cycle, but remember it's completely normal to not get in your first go around. 

Definitely take any post bacc courses through community college if you can, because it's cheaper. Most schools really don't care, but obviously check to ensure the schools accept cc credit. 

I think CNA's would probably have more hands-on patient care, MA is more taking information and standard vitals. But anything is better than nothing! Both would show you are still trying to improve your application, which every school will appreciate. :) Goodluck!

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1 hour ago, KPayne said:

You and I actually had pretty similar stats! The biggest difference probably was that I worked as an EMT throughout school on an ambulance. Scribing is great experience from what I've heard, but some schools struggle in pairing it with direct patient contact. I did not receive any interviews my first application cycle (I applied super late and had a few outstanding prerequisites). However, the next cycle, I applied early and received 6 interviews so far. I got accepted on my first interview, so miracles do happen! Don't give up hope on this cycle, but remember it's completely normal to not get in your first go around. 

Definitely take any post bacc courses through community college if you can, because it's cheaper. Most schools really don't care, but obviously check to ensure the schools accept cc credit. 

I think CNA's would probably have more hands-on patient care, MA is more taking information and standard vitals. But anything is better than nothing! Both would show you are still trying to improve your application, which every school will appreciate. :) Goodluck!

Its comforting to hear that someone with similar stats has gotten in. Unfortunately, I had my entire CASPA app completed, verified and submitted to 13 schools within 10 days of it opening. So even though I applied super early, I dont think it was advantageous for me. Did you improve your GPA with any post bacc or did you retake any classes that you didn't perform well in?I've had one interview where I am waitlisted and I am waiting to hear back from three more schools. I've been struggling to determine a plan because of all the options available to me to improve things and the cost of those improvements. Thank you so much for your advice! 

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12 hours ago, Anachronist said:

I would assume it varies by state and what you want to do but I took a 1 week CNA course for $600 in FL. If your only option is 6 months for CNA I would say go with MA.

Your GRE seems adequate, if balanced, e.g. 154 V and 154 Q. If either is below 150 it might be worth working on that subject to bring it up. 

Your GPA seems weak from what I've seen and talked to with other applicants, retaking those courses as you described makes sense, but I would shoot for all A's this time. I would assume that your GPA is the culprit if you aren't getting interviews. I did speak with one student though, who had a 3.2, he told me that the first question/statement made during his interview was "you know, we don't usually interview people with your GPA." He was accepted, so it isn't an exclusion, but an obstacle that you will have to overcome. You can also address your extenuating life circumstances in your personal statement but I wouldn't dwell on it.

Your HCE seems more than sufficient, so anything you choose between now and then is icing on the cake. Continuing to volunteer is also good.

For letters of recommendation, choose wisely, a generic letter doesn't carry much weight, but one written by someone who knows you and cares about you who makes a personal and passionate argument does. If you have to keep asking, or they seem reluctant, try to find someone else. 

Apply again next cycle! If you aren't getting interviews, you might be just barely missing them. I'm under the impression that programs look favorably on re-applicants if you've shown some improvement since, even if it is only 1 or 2 classes.

As for post bacc "non-degree seeking" classes are still held to the same standard as prereqs and your undergrad courses, the better the institution, the better for you. Additionally, online classes are generally frowned upon (but still better than nothing). 

Best of luck to you and keep your chin up, I'm a second cycle acceptee after not being granted any interviews my first cycle. 

Unfortunately, where I am located in Oregon they only offer the course through the community college and it takes you two terms to complete the CNA certificate which totals out to 6 months of time and 2,000 dollars. It's pretty frustrating, but does not seem to change across different cities in this state. 

GRE is balanced, 154, 154 and 4.5. 

I appreciate the reality you have attached to my GPA. I think the science GPA is the culprit. Unfortunately during the time I took these courses I experienced my personal hardships, so without that hindering me, I should be able to excel and get only A's in these courses. Do you recommend that I take all courses less than an A, or could I get away with just retaking B's and less? (I have nothing less than a C+) The cost is the issue here since I have to work full time to support myself and additional classes are very expensive here. 

Thank you for your support and advice on this forum, I have really needed another person to help me sort some stuff out. 

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1 hour ago, nmb123 said:

Its comforting to hear that someone with similar stats has gotten in. Unfortunately, I had my entire CASPA app completed, verified and submitted to 13 schools within 10 days of it opening. So even though I applied super early, I dont think it was advantageous for me. Did you improve your GPA with any post bacc or did you retake any classes that you didn't perform well in?I've had one interview where I am waitlisted and I am waiting to hear back from three more schools. I've been struggling to determine a plan because of all the options available to me to improve things and the cost of those improvements. Thank you so much for your advice! 

Yes, I did improve my GPA with some more courses post bacc. However, my first interview was during my summer courses I began taking after graduation so those grades weren't even posted yet. Lol I did retake a chemistry course and then made an A in ochem. I steadily continued improving all of my science grades throughout undergraduate. But yes, I would definitely recommend taking courses that you made a C in or below. Schools love to see that you are continuously trying to improve and by applying a second time, it shows you are committed. But yes, school is expensive. I would only take courses at a university if there was absolutely no way around it. Unless your parents are offering up the $, stick with cc. 

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1 hour ago, nmb123 said:

Unfortunately, where I am located in Oregon they only offer the course through the community college and it takes you two terms to complete the CNA certificate which totals out to 6 months of time and 2,000 dollars. It's pretty frustrating, but does not seem to change across different cities in this state. 

GRE is balanced, 154, 154 and 4.5. 

I appreciate the reality you have attached to my GPA. I think the science GPA is the culprit. Unfortunately during the time I took these courses I experienced my personal hardships, so without that hindering me, I should be able to excel and get only A's in these courses. Do you recommend that I take all courses less than an A, or could I get away with just retaking B's and less? (I have nothing less than a C+) The cost is the issue here since I have to work full time to support myself and additional classes are very expensive here. 

Thank you for your support and advice on this forum, I have really needed another person to help me sort some stuff out. 

GRE looks fine then, you are at or above the mean for most published PA applicant classes and meet the minimums for a few science PhD programs that I know of. From what I've come to understand, GRE is a minimum benchmark, used to cull the herd of applicants for lack of a simpler/better process. If you meet the minimums (that surely you have), they really don't care by how much. For instance, my GRE 151Q 160V, 4.5W (so only a 3pt difference in total); but my GPA is a 3.94. So they can't really equate GRE to academic performance. Maybe if you 170 170 and 6 -ed the GRE it would turn heads, but that is a gargantuan accomplishment.

I would suggest starting with the worst offenders on your GPA, i.e. retake the worst science classes first. Community college is fine, I have some of those on my transcript too. What I would avoid are online classes (but if it is the only option, it is better than nothing) and completely avoid any for-profit colleges or online only colleges/universities. We all know that 80/90% of the material and what you get out of it if you're a diligent student is the same taking an online course, but 20/10% is not, and you are competing with people with no online classes. 

Again, I'm sure it varies considerably from state to state, but at least in FL, CNA isn't great practical experience. Here, it is basically nursing home care, changing bedpans, bathing patients, moving patients, etc. I didn't learn much medically relevant, other than develop a profound appreciation for the maintenance work CNAs do, and how poorly compensated they are for it. I chose to do it because I could take a 1 week course and start right away, but if it was 6 months I would have passed on it. EMS and scribing were by far my most significant learning experiences as far as treatment and patient management go. You may also consider phlebotomy tech. Every program I've seen counts it as full 1:1 patient contact hours. 

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On 11/27/2017 at 10:54 PM, nmb123 said:

Diggy,  

Would you say that CNA on a PA application is essentially a waste of time then? Just really trying to balance money here and I can get an MA job and make money or I can go through 6 months of CNA and spend 2G. 

 

My apologies, it's been a rough week with multiple exams and skill lab competencies....

I would not say it's a waste because you get out what you put in. I essentially wanted to learn more about each patient's diagnoses but because I had so many patients (up to 13) needing my attention the entire shift, I found it hard to deviate out of my responsibilities as a nursing assistant and really scrutinize their medical record. However, as a MA I was more active in their treatment plans. I was responsible for triaging/screening as they walked in, getting them prep'd for the provider, starting point of care testing, documenting, then alerting the provider that the patient is ready to be seen, and even then, I would be with the provider and the patient learning about suturing techniques or any other cool procedures being done. I was actively learning.

Me personally would never spend 2K on a CNA training...my EMT training was less than that. 

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