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I wanted to put my (shortened) story out there and stats to see what everyone's opinion or feedback might be for reapplying the 2nd time. Last cycle I applied to 7 programs in California, Oregon and Washington which have all rejected me, no interviews. It obviously left me feeling a little hopeless and wondering if I should pick a different healthcare path. However, like many of you I'm sure, I realized that nothing worth having comes without a fight and that becoming a PA is undeniably my life goal. 

My overall GPA is 3.07, just grazing the minimum for most programs. It's the weakest point of my application, I'm sure. 

My post bac science GPA is 3.43, which I'm proud of and reflects the upward trend of my grades after not taking my undergraduate seriously at times. 

GRE scores are 155 quant, 159 verbal, and 4.5 analytical. I had previously taken the GRE and received a 144 in quant, I'm hoping admissions will see that I was able to improve my quant score significantly and that it will speak to my academic abilities and perseverance. 

I have 4000 hours of PCE working as a PT aide, and have recently switched to a medical scribe job at a Stanford Health Care affiliated Pediatrics clinic. My healthcare related volunteer hours are limited. 

3 LOR's from my microbiology professor, a physical therapist I worked closely with, and a PA that I shadowed. 

Another note: I submitted my applications at the end of September for all programs

My game plan and questions for you guys: 

1. The medical scribe job - I'm not sure if I should keep this job or switch to something more hands on such as a CNA, MA or even a patient care technician job at a dialysis center. I feel that my ability to learn new things and face challenges is beginning to plateau as a scribe, however since I have 4000 hours of PCE as a PT Aide would it be strategically smart to invest time and money into CNA or MA training?

2. Medical mission trip - Since I have a low GPA, I know it's crucial to make other areas of my application shine like a star. I'm thinking a 2 week trip to an underserved country would bolster my volunteer hours and also serve inspiration for my personal statement. It's also something I'm able to arrange and do in a short amount of time, which leads me to my next point...

3. APPLY EARLY - I plan to have applications submitted by late May. Does anyone think this is too early, or is there any other guidance on best times to submit applications? 

4. Revamping my personal statement - I reached out to an online editing service specifically for PA programs and received truly useful feedback and suggestions. I plan to make edits and add in sections reflecting my time as a scribe and my determination as a re-applicant. 

5. Updating some LORs - Hoping to receive a letter from the doctor I scribe for. I also plan to write a cover letter to recap my prior experiences and relationships with the LOR writers, as well as adding updated information as a re-applicant.

With such a low cumulative GPA I'm terrified that perhaps PA school just won't work out for me. I'm hoping, however, that AdComs will really see how much I want this as reflected in my PCE, volunteer hours, personal statement and LOR's. 

Thanks so much for lending the time to read this, I am grateful for ANY insight/advice/comments anyone has :) 

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1 hour ago, HopefulPA0004 said:

I wanted to put my (shortened) story out there and stats to see what everyone's opinion or feedback might be for reapplying the 2nd time. Last cycle I applied to 7 programs in California, Oregon and Washington which have all rejected me, no interviews. It obviously left me feeling a little hopeless and wondering if I should pick a different healthcare path. However, like many of you I'm sure, I realized that nothing worth having comes without a fight and that becoming a PA is undeniably my life goal. 

My overall GPA is 3.07, just grazing the minimum for most programs. It's the weakest point of my application, I'm sure. 

My post bac science GPA is 3.43, which I'm proud of and reflects the upward trend of my grades after not taking my undergraduate seriously at times. 

GRE scores are 155 quant, 159 verbal, and 4.5 analytical. I had previously taken the GRE and received a 144 in quant, I'm hoping admissions will see that I was able to improve my quant score significantly and that it will speak to my academic abilities and perseverance. 

I have 4000 hours of PCE working as a PT aide, and have recently switched to a medical scribe job at a Stanford Health Care affiliated Pediatrics clinic. My healthcare related volunteer hours are limited. 

3 LOR's from my microbiology professor, a physical therapist I worked closely with, and a PA that I shadowed. 

Another note: I submitted my applications at the end of September for all programs

My game plan and questions for you guys: 

1. The medical scribe job - I'm not sure if I should keep this job or switch to something more hands on such as a CNA, MA or even a patient care technician job at a dialysis center. I feel that my ability to learn new things and face challenges is beginning to plateau as a scribe, however since I have 4000 hours of PCE as a PT Aide would it be strategically smart to invest time and money into CNA or MA training?

2. Medical mission trip - Since I have a low GPA, I know it's crucial to make other areas of my application shine like a star. I'm thinking a 2 week trip to an underserved country would bolster my volunteer hours and also serve inspiration for my personal statement. It's also something I'm able to arrange and do in a short amount of time, which leads me to my next point...

3. APPLY EARLY - I plan to have applications submitted by late May. Does anyone think this is too early, or is there any other guidance on best times to submit applications? 

4. Revamping my personal statement - I reached out to an online editing service specifically for PA programs and received truly useful feedback and suggestions. I plan to make edits and add in sections reflecting my time as a scribe and my determination as a re-applicant. 

5. Updating some LORs - Hoping to receive a letter from the doctor I scribe for. I also plan to write a cover letter to recap my prior experiences and relationships with the LOR writers, as well as adding updated information as a re-applicant.

With such a low cumulative GPA I'm terrified that perhaps PA school just won't work out for me. I'm hoping, however, that AdComs will really see how much I want this as reflected in my PCE, volunteer hours, personal statement and LOR's. 

Thanks so much for lending the time to read this, I am grateful for ANY insight/advice/comments anyone has :) 

In my experience, every program is different and prioritizes different attributes.  If I were you, I would call each program from which you got rejected and explain how you're still motivated but ask for advice on how each program thinks you ought to improve.  You are planning a medical mission.  Does your dream school value that?  You are proud of your post-bac sGPA.  Is that adequate for the school you want to attend?  I think your plan above looks very strong.  I also think schools take a second look at applicants who hang in there for a second cycle, admiring the dedication.  And, finally, above all, I think that if your application is weak in one area, it really needs to be exceptionally strong in another area.  I say this as a guy who graduated undergrad with a 2.99.  I ended up with something like a 3.3 or 3.4 cGPA and 3.7 sGPA 10 years later.  None of that is mind-blowingly impressive, but I did get a masters degree and practice Chinese medicine for a while.  Suddenly interview offers are coming out of the woodwork with, what was ultimately, a lackluster GPA.  It IS possible!  But you have got to call the admissions director of each school, really connect with that person in a genuine way over time, and find out what your key schools are looking for.  You mentioned Oregon.  Definitely take a close look at Pacific Uni.  I interviewed out there and was VERY impressed by their program (and that they, more than others, really seem to value grad trends over cumulative GPA).  I ended up heading out east but would have been happy to attend PU.   Good luck, and let us know how it goes.  Stick with it.  This lackluster undergrad finished PA school in May!  It can be done! 

 

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There are plenty of programs that are much more interested in your PCE than GPA. MEDEX is one of those. However, I know some programs also do not accept (or consider it of lower value) PT aide or scribing as PCE. So I'd give serious consideration to pursuing one of the other routes that you mentioned, though if you apply in late May you would probably have very few hours by that point. On another note, I live in Seattle and I know that MEDEX really loves reapplicants, assuming you've continued to improve your application. 

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3 hours ago, HopefulPA0004 said:

or even a patient care technician job at a dialysis center.

I was a CCHT, still am for 18 more work days before my PA program starts.  Before I worked as a CCHT an MA told me she would never work as a CCHT because people can die under your care.  True story, people can, but that is the responsibility that you may want anyway (and it really isn't that bad if you pay attention well).  It is a lot more stressful than being an MA, not as much BS paper work and calls to make that MAs have to deal with, which is a plus.  As far as CNA work goes, you will be doing that as a CCHT.  All the former CNAs I work with at the dialysis units hate having to do CNA work at the clinics because it is not the "scope of practice."  But if someone craps themselves because they become hypotensive, you are cleaning that chair, cleaning them in the bath room, helping them to the bathroom, feed them if they can't do it themselves, help lift them up blah blah blah.  In my opinion, a CCHT is a MA/CNA that start IVs and actually make some medical decisions.  Id do it again and it sure as heck beats scribe experience (former scribe here).

Also, has your cGPA been increasing much?  How many classes have you taken?  You also want your Post-bacc GPA to be high to pull lower GPA up.  I am taking 4.0.  Getting only A's.  I went from 2.91 sGPA to 3.15 sGPA in a year getting only As in 11 science courses (cGPA from 3.21 to 3.27 (likely higher than this now, 13 credits not added).  Doing this will help you than getting high Bs....As, As, As.  

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3 hours ago, HopefulPA0004 said:

I wanted to put my (shortened) story out there and stats to see what everyone's opinion or feedback might be for reapplying the 2nd time. Last cycle I applied to 7 programs in California, Oregon and Washington which have all rejected me, no interviews. It obviously left me feeling a little hopeless and wondering if I should pick a different healthcare path. However, like many of you I'm sure, I realized that nothing worth having comes without a fight and that becoming a PA is undeniably my life goal. 

My overall GPA is 3.07, just grazing the minimum for most programs. It's the weakest point of my application, I'm sure. 

My post bac science GPA is 3.43, which I'm proud of and reflects the upward trend of my grades after not taking my undergraduate seriously at times. 

GRE scores are 155 quant, 159 verbal, and 4.5 analytical. I had previously taken the GRE and received a 144 in quant, I'm hoping admissions will see that I was able to improve my quant score significantly and that it will speak to my academic abilities and perseverance. 

I have 4000 hours of PCE working as a PT aide, and have recently switched to a medical scribe job at a Stanford Health Care affiliated Pediatrics clinic. My healthcare related volunteer hours are limited. 

3 LOR's from my microbiology professor, a physical therapist I worked closely with, and a PA that I shadowed. 

Another note: I submitted my applications at the end of September for all programs

My game plan and questions for you guys: 

1. The medical scribe job - I'm not sure if I should keep this job or switch to something more hands on such as a CNA, MA or even a patient care technician job at a dialysis center. I feel that my ability to learn new things and face challenges is beginning to plateau as a scribe, however since I have 4000 hours of PCE as a PT Aide would it be strategically smart to invest time and money into CNA or MA training?

2. Medical mission trip - Since I have a low GPA, I know it's crucial to make other areas of my application shine like a star. I'm thinking a 2 week trip to an underserved country would bolster my volunteer hours and also serve inspiration for my personal statement. It's also something I'm able to arrange and do in a short amount of time, which leads me to my next point...

3. APPLY EARLY - I plan to have applications submitted by late May. Does anyone think this is too early, or is there any other guidance on best times to submit applications? 

4. Revamping my personal statement - I reached out to an online editing service specifically for PA programs and received truly useful feedback and suggestions. I plan to make edits and add in sections reflecting my time as a scribe and my determination as a re-applicant. 

5. Updating some LORs - Hoping to receive a letter from the doctor I scribe for. I also plan to write a cover letter to recap my prior experiences and relationships with the LOR writers, as well as adding updated information as a re-applicant.

With such a low cumulative GPA I'm terrified that perhaps PA school just won't work out for me. I'm hoping, however, that AdComs will really see how much I want this as reflected in my PCE, volunteer hours, personal statement and LOR's. 

Thanks so much for lending the time to read this, I am grateful for ANY insight/advice/comments anyone has :) 

I wanted to reach out to you because I am in a similar position with similar stats. I applied to 14 schools last year, interviewed at 2, and was not accepted. I applied with a 3.49 cGPA, 3.12 sGPA, over 2,000 HCE, and about 50 hours of shadowing. 

I knew my gpa's weren't exceptional, but I had quality volunteering experiences, which included a medical mission trip. So, I definitely think you should go for the mission trip, it makes you stand out as an applicant without a doubt. Utilizing revision services for your personal statement is also a great idea, I am actually doing that too for this upcoming cycle so hopefully it helps! Also, I think applying early is very crucial, especially if you know that you fall short on some areas of the application. The sooner your application gets into AdComs hands before others, the higher a chance you have of getting an interview invite. Last year I submitted my application in early July, this year I plan on submitting late May or early June. 

Lastly, I would definitely try to increase your volunteering hours. Even with a medical mission trip, a broad range of volunteering experiences look great on an application, it shows that you are interested in more than just healthcare/medicine, and that you are skilled and experienced in other areas as well. In addition to more shadowing, more HCE, and a slightly higher gpa, i also have a new volunteering experience that I will be adding to my application this year, so I encourage you to do that same! 

I hope what I had to say helps even a little. Like I said, I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. Hopefully this year will be our year (: good luck to you 

 

 

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I don't have much to add that others haven't already said, but if you plan on increasing your volunteering, I think it is more helpful to find something you are passionate about and enjoy doing, and volunteer there on a continuing basis. I have no problem with medical mission trips, but while they can be a great personal experience, they don't show a continuing commitment to serving others like volunteering somewhere every week for months or years; worse yet, some people view them as "voluntourism", which obviously has a negative connotation. They are also much more common than they used to be, so they don't necessarily make you stand out as much as they may have at one time. Please don't get me wrong, I think they have value, but I don't think they will help an application as much as continued commitment to something you are passionate about (whether medically related or not). If you can afford to do a medical mission trip, go for it, but you should also try to find a local organization you can donate your time to as well. (I understand this may not help the OP much due to timing, but I wanted to say that for others who may be thinking about medical missions vs long term volunteering). 

Aside from that, you will have to be very selective in the schools you apply to, looking specifically for schools that take your patient care experience, and also that view applicants holistically and look at upward trends in grades. Apply as early as is feasible, and revamp (or rewrite altogether) your personal statement, since these are things that can significantly increase your odds of getting interviews.  

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zoopeda - Congratulations on finishing PA school and thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I did apply to PU last round and plan to apply again. I have sent emails to each program asking for feedback and outlining my plan for strengthening my application but have only heard back from one program. Maybe a good old fashioned phone call will be necessary :)

KaBax - thanks for the advice! I applied to MEDEX last round and plan to apply again. I think MEDEX is definitely one of my target schools this time around and after reviewing their preferred PCE, I'm planning on switching to CNA or MA work. Hopefully I'll be joining you over there in Seattle next year! 

Ket131 - did you complete a certification program to become a CCHT? or were you trained on the job? In response to your question, I haven't taken any classes the past semester. While increasing my GPA would be great, I'm unable to take biology or chemistry courses outside of a community college so I'm a bit limited in the electives I can take that aren't absurdly lower division. Do you think it's still worth it to take easy classes to pump up my GPA?

emily1016 - we are definitely in similar situations! Out of curiosity what kind of HCE did you do?  Also let me know if you are looking for recommendations for revision services :)

ProSpectre - such good advice! I'm glad you brought up the 'voluntourism', I think that's a valid point to consider. I've reached out to several local organizations to volunteer instead. Programs that value HCE/PCE and aren't so driven by numbers are definitely my main focus this round. Do you have any advice for identifying these programs from the rest?

 

 

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28 minutes ago, HopefulPA0004 said:

Ket131 - did you complete a certification program to become a CCHT?

Nope, on the job training.  I applied to Fresenius Medical Care, was accepted as a PCT I.  I did on the job training for a few weeks, then starting taking care of my own patients.  Each PCT/CCHT runs a Mod of 4 patients.  After 6 months you are trained on how to handle CVCs and then are free to float to other clinics per the company policy.  At the six month point you can also take the CCHT exam (easy peezy, got a 97% with 1 hour of review) which is paid for by the company per your request.  Your pay rate jumps after your pass, then you can get critical pay at other clinics that are down in staff.  Five to seven more bucks (critical pay), bam bam, what was a crappy 14.00$ per hour job is now at least 17.00$ hr at home clinic and running into 21-23 at critical needs clinics.  You will learn a ton as a dialysis tech, most importantly how to respond to a crisis (codes, stroke, exsanguination (this one rare, but messed up, seen it come from a CVC without a clamp) and PE etc).

28 minutes ago, HopefulPA0004 said:

Do you think it's still worth it to take easy classes to pump up my GPA?

I took classes like Nutrition, Pathology, Men and Women Biology and Lifespan Psychology to bump up my sGPA/cGPA, all which I had never taken before.  Some of those, like Nutrition and Lifespan Psychology are sometimes asked for as "additional" courses in CASPA depending on the school and so I felt it was useful to take them.  I retook a couple of courses, Organic Chemistry I&II, and also retook General Chemistry I.  If you have not taken Anatomy and Physiology I and II, I thought those were pretty easy with the right amount of studying and they are needed.  I found all this to be very helpful for me getting accepted.  I also worked the whole time while taking these classes so perhaps the school thought that was important too, but I am unsure.  It was sure worth it for me...cGPA is harder to raise than sGPA something to keep in mind. 

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