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What are my chances of getting into PA program on the first try?

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Hi guys, I know this is very specific but I just wanted to get all your input on my chances of getting into a PA program. I am a post-grad currently I hold a Bachelors in Health Administration with a 3.2 GPA. I have a 3.7 GPA in my science prerequisite courses. I have over 200 hours of volunteer work with a local nonprofit organization. I have also been a CNA for a little over 2 years. I recently just accepted a job offer to become a scribe in ER (havent started yet but very excited). I have not taken the GRE or TEAS but plan on it! If I don't get into PA school I was also considering becoming an NP. Being a CNA I've seen the work nurses do, and while I respect it and know I can do it, I think my heart and my passion leans more towards the medical side of healthcare. So my options for PA school are UC Davis, Stanford, Loma Linda, USC, and Touro at the moment. I just want to know my chances in getting in. Thank you for your time!

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Overall GPA is on the lower end, but your pre-req GPA provided somewhat of a buffer. What's your science GPA? 

PCE/HCE is way below average and will definitely work against you based on how competitive PA programs are. How many hours have you completed as a CNA over those 2 years? 

Being a CNA and seeing how RNs work is way different than the scope of a NP. So you're comparing apples to oranges.

Based on what you're providing at this moment of time (and not saying impossible) but your chances are slim to zilch.


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When compared to other applicants from across the country, your overall gpa is low/average. Your science gpa is slightly above average. With that said you need to assume that the other applicants that are applying have 4.0 for both overall and science gpa. As for your work experience, most people I encountered during my interviews had somewhere between 5-8 years on average. But as long as if you have the minimum, you're a potential candidate. There are multiple people in my class (currently) that have less than 5 yrs work experience.

You should really work hard on: Finding providers that will write you REALLY GOOD letters of recommendation, writing a really good personal statement, having good responses to all the university specific questions on the CASPA application, and answering what mgriffiths mentioned :know WHY you want to be a PA. This is the one question that will be asked in ALL of your interviews, and if you answer with something along the lines of "Because I want to help people" or "Because I've always had a fascination for Medicine" consider yourself denied. If your serious about PA school, start getting ready for the interviews NOW. Look up interview questions and start answering them and ingraining them in your mind so come H-Hour you'll be more confident in your answers.

Also if you're so motivated to to get into PA school your first try and the funds allow, apply out-of-state too. It may be pricey but sometimes playing the numbers game can help.

I hope this helped. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. I wish you the best of luck on your journey



Edited by BLM8867
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I got accepted to PA school this cycle, which also happens to be the first time I applied. I’ve also received three interview invites, 2 of which I decided to attend. My gpa isn’t nearly as high as others in my class, (3.6). My gre also is deplorable, (294.)I applied to schools where I knew I would stand out, and where they put an emphasis on other things besides  the two categories that I was weakest in. I found programs that I fit in best. Perhaps you should do some research on programs where you think you’d fit in best. Why this program, and not this one? What stands out to you about this school over the other. It’s cumbersome, but it’ll help you in the end, especially when you interview. 
Please don’t take this the wrong way, but if you have any doubts what so ever and are considering a different career path if you do not get accepted into PA school, the ADCOMS will almost immediately pick up on that. The question I was asked at both interviews was why PA, not “MD/NP?” It’s totally okay to change your mind on what you want to do, however make sure that this is truly what your heart is set on. I think that a majority of the people who apply are granted an interview based off of what they write on paper, and all the interview is for is to validate that the paper version matches the in person version of you. if you don’t have a strong aspiration on becoming a PA, and know that this may not be what you want to do, it’s perfectly ok to do the NP route. Also, rather than talk about what you’ve learned to overcome in your personal statement, talk about WHY you want to be a PA. What have you learned, and done that have lead you to where you are now and how it’s inspired you to become a PA. 

feel free to message me, if you want some advice or someone to look over your PS! The application process is stressful, and I’d love to help someone else who’s currently in the position I was! 

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I agree with BLM and Diggy's comments. Getting in as a first cycle applicant can be quite challenging (although it can be done, I did it this year), especially if you have pieces of your application that are holding you back (i.e. lower GPA, low amount of PCE/low quality PCE, etc). Based on what you've described, you are an average applicant. However, with most competitive schools receiving well over 1600 applications, you need to do something else to set yourself apart. Based on the schools you are considering, you are shooting for the moon. As BLM mentioned, you will need to work hard to have your application stand out.

And to your point about nursing- nursing is one of the most versatile, lucrative, and overall high quality careers of any field, IMO. There is so much upward mobility in nursing- NP, management, research, foreign service, doctoral opportunities,  etc. And that's coming from a future PA!

Best of luck!

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19 hours ago, minnesotaprepa said:

The advice of others here is solid! I will add - you will greatly increase your chances if you apply not only strategically but also to MORE than 5 schools. With your profile, I would suggest 12 as a starting point. Good luck! 

Cosign. Do this if you want to increase your chances. Apply to more schools. Playing the numbers game will help (that is if the funds allow). Good luck.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think if you have a kickass personal statement and really good letters of rec you’ll be okay. I had a very good GPA (3.9 cum, 3.9 science) but not many PCE. I only had 800 hours as an ER tech when I applied and didn’t think I would get in because of this. But I decided to apply anyway to 9 schools. I received 7 interviews so far, attended 6 and have received 2 waitlists and 1 acceptance. Still waiting to hear back from 2 interviews. I think what really helped me (since part of my stats weren’t great) was my personal statement and letters of rec! Don’t worry it can be done just work really hard on your personal statement, have people review it and ask a PA who really knows you for a letter. The letters of rec from PAs hold the most value. 

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