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Hello All, 
This is my first post in this forum and im really pumped! I'm currently a junior right now and will hopefully be applying to PA schools here in the coming future. 
I was wondering if I could get some insights from the people who are ahead of me in the process with how applying goes, and if i have a shot at some higher tier schools. 

So far my cumulative GPA is a 3.77, with a science GPA of about 3.65ish. 
Courses I've taken (Sport and Exercise Science Major/Pre-PA track) are as follows: 

  • Molecular and Cellular Bio: B+ 
  • Gen Chem I and II w/ Labs: B, B+, A-, A- 
  • Bio II: A+, A
  • Animal Physiology w/lab : A-, A-
  • Trigonometry: A
  • Psych Stats: A 
  • **Currently in ** Human Gross Anatomy w/ Cadaver Based lab (Hardest course at my university taught by two former MDs, one being from Yale): B+ (Hopefully) and A 
  • Organic Chemistry I and II (w/ Ochem 1 Lab): A+, A+, B+ (Do not plan on taking Ochem II lab)
  • Nutrition: A+ 
  • Research Methods: A- 
  • Intro Psych, Psych of Human Development and Abnormal Psych: all A+'s 

Currently I still plan to take Biochem, Genetics and Microbiology  along with some other sport and exercise science fluff courses. (Biomechanics, Clinical ex. physio, exercise physio, motor learning and development etc.)

I will be planning to do research this coming spring semester with my advisor will hopefully be presenting it at the ACSM National Conference in Harrisburg, PA.  Im apart of my schools Honor's Program as well as the national honors society Phi Eta Sigma. I will also planing to be joining the National Honors Society of Biology: Beta Beta Beta. Also, outside of honors programs im apart of the Delta Kappa Epslion Fraternity. (So if any brothers are reading this hello!) 

However, i believe my biggest flaw in my application will be my HCE. So far i really dont have any HCE hours besides a couple hours of shadowing and what not. Will this hinder me greatly in applying to PA schools? I plan on taking a CNA course in the summer and hopefully will get a job as a PT tech at a local Sport PT place here in town. 

I have a list of schools that i would like to apply to and then i have some of the other schools i consider top tier (Pitt, Penn State, Yale, PCOMM, Cornell etc.) 

Also, do you have any tips on how to study for GRE's? Or did you just go in there and wing it? 

How do my chances look? 

- Thank you, Z. 

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you have a great set of grades and stats for medschool, but your complete lack of HCE rules you out for the vast majority of PA programs. Seriously consider taking the MCAT and applying to medschool . great grades + research = med school, not PA school. check out the websites for the programs you are interested in. they will all list a typical # of hours required. most schools range 1000 hrs+ . Both local programs near me require a min of 2000 hrs. 

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5 minutes ago, EMEDPA said:

you have a great set of grades and stats for medschool, but your complete lack of HCE rules you out for the vast majority of PA programs. Seriously consider taking the MCAT and applying to medschool . great grades + research = med school, not PA school. check out the websites for the programs you are interested in. they will all list a typical # of hours required. most schools range 1000 hrs+ . Both local programs near me require a min of 2000 hrs. 

Thanks a ton for youre input! I take it to heart.

I thought about the idea of going to medical school, but after weighing out my possibilities it just didnt seem like something i could do full heartedly. I will definitely try to grind out as many hours as possible and maybe if I havent accumulated enough just take some lay time which would be unfortunate. 

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I'm an exercise science major, pre-Pa concentration accepted to 7 schools including GW, Tufts, and Penn State 🙂 You've more than checked the stats box (I'd have paid a million bucks for those GPAs), but obviously (as you know) you need PCE. CNA is decent PCE, PT tech not so much (depends on the school). I'll always advocate for EMT over any other type of PCE but if you can land a hospital CNA job, you should be set.

I think my big piece of advice would be this: don't fear the gap year! Working in PCE full-time for two years makes me *so* confident that I'm ready for PA school. I've made awesome connections (and great friends!), read thousands of H+Ps to learn how PAs think, grown super confident in my assessment skills and clinical abilities, and the list goes on! Even though a year seems so long, I wouldn't have traded these experiences for anything. I can confidently say I'm ready for PA school, which I couldn't have said as a fresh college grad (even with 2.5 years of EMS experience). Take your time, there's no rush! 

As far as the GREs go, I practiced writing a few timed essays just to gauge the limit. I winged the reading section but really studied for the math section using this: www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_math_review.pdf it's free and got my math-phobic self to a 67%ile score, which was definitely good enough.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask! Good luck with everything 🙂

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I would also just take a gap year or 2 to get the necessary clinical experience in order to make your application even more competitive than it already is. In my opinion, its better to do that rather than to apply to programs knowing you don't qualify and just wasting time and money on the application process. I took about 2-3 years off to do exactly that and thankfully I got in on my first try 🙂

On the other hand, some schools, like Western University of Health Sciences in California, do not require (or possibly even care for) any PCE hours and they definitely accept/interview students who have a high gpa, paired with volunteer hours. So you can maybe try applying to a program like that in the mean time as you build on more PCE hours?

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/29/2018 at 8:21 PM, zgotham1 said:

+Hi! I was just reading this and was taken aback because we have very similar stats! I'm also a junior in undergrad with a 3.9 GPA, almost all my prerequisites done, and doing research this spring! I have a couple hundred hours of EMT experience but don't think I will have enough PCE to apply this cycle and will likely apply in April 2020! Lots of people have told me it'd be better to apply to medical school but I also don't think I can enter that full heartedly, and have known I've wanted to be a PA for awhile... hope I'm making the right decision! I'm also looking to apply to cornell, yale, penn state, tufts, GW, etc 🙂 

anyway just wanted to say I am in almost exactly the same boat as you... we've got to try and not fear the idea of a gap year! good luck with everything!


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  • 4 months later...

CNA at a hospital is a great experience. You see a lot, you learn a lot and some hospitals give you specialized technical training like phlebotomy or EKG. It also tests your stamina as you are constantly on your feet and addressing multiple patient concerns.

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