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@questnyc Thank you for your questions. When reviewing an application we are able to see your post-bacc work. If an applicant had poor grades from several years ago, but has made an effort to go back and take relevant courses to prepare them for PA school, it is something we consider strongly. I would recommend at least 35-60 hours of coursework to demonstrate to the committee that you're capable of handling the coursework. This will also include you taking as many courses as you can at one time, rather than a course here or there, and I would recommend as many of those courses, particularly in the sciences, to be taken at a 4 year institution. That also demonstrates your ability to handle the curriculum. I hope this is helpful and best wishes!

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Hi,

 

About a year ago, I was a junior in college and asked you for advice on whether I should apply that upcoming cycle or to wait a year. I took your advice and decided to wait! By December, I will have 500 hrs as a CNA, and ~ 500 hrs volunteering in various hospitals. I have shadowed several PA's (which was essential in confirming my decision that PA school was right for me) ~ 30 hrs, and am studying art in Florence, Italy in the spring! My plan is to come back, graduate, and continue working as schools are processing my application.

 

I wanted to say thanks for your invaluable advice, and to give a brief update. I would appreciate any advice you might have for me as to where I stand and how to decide on which schools to apply to.

GPA: 3.93, B.S. in Biological Sciences

Work experience:

Summer with Artworks program, public murals project.

Health Sciences program at the university (336 hrs), participant with stipend

Tutoring services through the university (one semester)

Lab Assistant for Chemistry dept. (1.5 yrs)

Supplemental instructor for health and nutrition course (one semester)

 

Other:

Biology Club (VP)

Multicultural Association of Premed Students

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

Research on sea turtle leeches in the chemistry dept. (2 semesters)

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Hi PA Admissions Director! Thanks for such an awesome thread. I was hoping you could give your opinion on my stats like you've done for so many others. Out of all of this, I think my biggest weakness is the fact that I have a degree in Psychology rather than something like Biology. Mainly because I did not decide I wanted to pursue PA until my last semester of undergrad. Therefore I have the all the science prerequisites, but not really much beyond that. Seems like some schools really want you to have a lot more science than what is just on their prerequisite list. Also wondering if I have enough HCE. I have barely been graduated from college for 6 months so I haven't had much time to get a lot of hours but I'm doing my best with 2 healthcare jobs! Here's the basics:

 

Overall GPA: 3.56

Science GPA: 3.8

(ALL courses taken at major 4-year university)

 

GRE: Verbal: 161; Quantitative: 148 (309 total); Writing: 4.5

 

HCE:

As an ER Tech (current part-time job of 4 months): 250 hours

As a Medical Scribe/Medical Assistant (current full-time job, just started): 200

As an Occupational Therapy Tech (college job): 200

 

Volunteer/Shadowing:

PA Shadowing: 40 hours

Other Clinical Shadowing (MD & PT): 160 hours

Hospital BHU Volunteer: 40 hours

Hospital ER Volunteer: 20 hours

Special-Needs Camp Counselor: 1200 hours

 

Any insight you could give me would be great! I feel like I have enough to at least get an interview at 1 or 2 prospective schools, but I want to be able to convey to them that I will be able to handle the coursework once I get into school. By getting an A in nearly every science class I've taken I think I have a good start. But like I said, those sciences are the bare minimum (only around 30 hours). However the other classes I do have are not just easy pass classes. Lots of 4000 level psyc classes like neuropsyc, developmental psyc, etc.

 

Thank you in advance for your time!

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Hi! I was wondering if I could get some advice as well. This is my second time applying, last year I did not get any interviews and I applied to 6 schools. I just graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign-- my major was Kinesiology. Last year I applied with a 3.3 overall and a 3.0 science, but I got a D in biochem last fall and I didn't have many credit hours left to take, so my current is a 3.1/2.8. I am in the process of retaking biochem now, and taking some more sciences classes to improve my GPA. Here are the rest of my stats.

 

HCE:

500 Hours as a home-health aide to students with physical disabilities at the University of Illinois

950 Hours as a rehab/physical therapy technician

350 Hours as a student athletic trainer

 

Volunteer:

A week abroad in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on a medical relief trip

50 hours of health care surveying in underserved communities/University of Illinois

50 hours working as an OR Delivery Clerk at a hospital in Champaign, IL

 

Shadowing:

125 hours of PA shadowing

10 hours of Surgical shadowing

 

GRE: 306 (157 Quant, 149 Verbal, 3.5 Writing)

 

Vice President of the University of Illinois Pre-Physician Assistant Club 2012-2013

Alpha Sigma Nu Kinesiology Honors Society Member

 

I am worried that my grades will completely ruin any chance I have of getting an interview at one of the ten schools I applied to this cycle. If there is any insight you could provide me with or if you could PM me I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!

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I am writing in regards to my wife and her interest in getting into a PA program. She is very smart, she has an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a 3.88 gpa and a 4.0 gpa in all required PA program science courses (Chemistry, Biology, etc.). She also made those grades while working part-time and playing soccer full-time for her University. By the time she applies for the PA program (at Bridgeport University) she will have around 2500 hours of direct patient care as a home health aid (I know that is not the most noteworthy), around 100 hours as a neurofeedback technician, and around 100 hours interning with a Pediatrician (with quite a bit of hands on experience).

 

I would really appreciate some honest feedback.

 

Where do you think she will stand in the application process?

 

(Side note: she is very proactive and highly motivated with PA stuff, but I am just writing to help a little on the side.)

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Hi paadmissions,

 

First off, thanks so much for offering your time and experience to us inquiring (and stressed) pre-PAs. I'm a 31 year old career-changer, aiming to be a surgical PA, and hoping to apply 2014. I'm nearing the end of a post-bac for my pre-reqs, and I have a couple questions regarding courses.

 

Many programs require Stats, and I took Elementary Statistics (3 sem. units) at a community college, earning a B; the problem is that that was wayyy back in 2002. I have the opportunity of taking Statistical Methods in Biology (4 qtr. units) this Fall, through my program at a California State University. I've heard that retaking courses with B or greater is frowned upon, but should I take this course given the added relevancy of its focus on biology, it being at a university, and that the elementary course would be 12 years old by the time I apply? I just finished 3 quarters of Intro Physics (displaying math aptitude), but don't remember anything from stats. Would my time be better used taking additional science courses (see next question) or gaining more healthcare experience?

 

In a month, I'll have completed the intro series for Bio, Chem, and Physics, as well as 10 quarter units of Anatomy & Physiology. I'll definitely be taking Microbiology, and planning to work as much as I can as an EMT starting this Fall (taking classes now). How many more science courses should I take? And which courses would you recommend? Some courses I have available are Genetics, Immunology, Epidemiology, Medical Physiology, Neurobio, Biomedical Parasitology, and Molecular Cell Biology. I've decided against Organic Chem since it's my weaker subject and not required for many PA programs.

 

Thanks so much for your help!

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Pa Admissions,

 

What do you feel is the biggest reason(s) canidates that are selected to interview end up not getting selected for a spot in the program after the interview?

 

Thank you.

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@jennifer4293 I'm happy to hear that waiting may have been the best option for you! It sounds like you've been able to gain valuable experience both personally and professionally. I would encourage you to stay on track as you have planned. The more time you spend in the medical field will help you become more comfortable with the team, patients and with your decision to pursue PA school. I wish you the best!

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@agallione Thank you for your question. Be selective about the sciences courses you're retaking and maybe even consider delaying your application for this cycle to be able to show improvement within the past year. One thing that tends to be a little frustrating to me form an admissions standpoint, is to see applicants rush to apply immediately when the next cycle opens and they're only in-progress of retaking courses-meaning no final grades are ready for the application when they submit it. I tend to look favorably upon applicants who have taken a year off to retake as many courses as they can to show that improvement on the application when they submit it. Also, make sure you're retaking courses that are relevant to the programs you're applying to...you want to make sure they are prerequisites and not just taking courses that have nothing to do with PA school.

Regarding your hours, make sure that the hours you've completed will be sufficient for the programs you're applying to. You may find that some of the hours would count and some may not. Remember it's a marathon, not a sprint ;)

I hope this helps!

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@jth5gj Thank you for your question. On paper she seems like a viable candidate for many programs. I would double check to see if the the program(s) she wants to apply to require the GRE. That may be the "missing piece" to determine her all around competitiveness with the applicant pool. I can't speak for other programs, but I think her grades and clinical experience are exceeding what most programs are looking for. Remember, her interview, if granted, is just as important as her application. She should prepare for that just as much. Hope this helps!

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@enguyen03 Thank you for your questions. I personally don't see anything wrong with you retaking the stats course. Other programs may frown upon retaking the course, but I don't hear too much chatter about retaking a math course being detrimental to your application. I think it can only help you.

Depending on the programs you're considering, it will depend on what you need to focus on the most: clinical experience or coursework. The first question that popped in my head when reading your post was: how many hours of clinical experience, at the time of application, do the program(s) require or prefer to see? If they require you to have some or be complete with those hours, and you're just now going through EMT courses, I would go as far as recommending you delay your application IF these are the only hours of clinical experience you have and that would count. If programs require hours it's important that you've at least accumulated some, if not all and more of them, at the time of application. Our program does not accept student training hours so that's one thing to consider.

In regards to coursework, you must also demonstrate the academic will power to be successful in PA school. As a career changer and someone who is getting back in the classroom, I think taking a few courses like: Genetics, Medical Physiology, Molecular Bio, and maybe (I said maybe) an Org. I will strengthen your application and preparedness to enter PA school.

These are tips to consider for the future and to make you a better all around student for many programs. I hope it helps!

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@prerun209 Thank you for your question. 2 things pop into my head for that question...1- Applicants are meeting, not exceeding, minimum requirements or recommendations for GPA, possibly GRE scores and hours. Not all selections are perfect, but most of the time, those who have exceeded selection factors rarely have academic struggles in the program. That being said, I've seen those who are right at the minimum, sometimes below, who do better than the perfect student...but the majority of the time it's the other way around.

2- Sometimes there just aren't enough spaces and time to interview every single person who qualifies for the program. That's the down side of my job is turning away qualified applicants knowing that if we had more seats we would have viable candidates for our program.

I hope this helps!

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@jth5gj Thank you for your question. On paper she seems like a viable candidate for many programs. I would double check to see if the the program(s) she wants to apply to require the GRE. That may be the "missing piece" to determine her all around competitiveness with the applicant pool. I can't speak for other programs, but I think her grades and clinical experience are exceeding what most programs are looking for. Remember, her interview, if granted, is just as important as her application. She should prepare for that just as much. Hope this helps!

 

Thank you! I really appreciate your help.

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Hi, I wanted to know how to deal with grades that are all over the place in an interview. In undergrad college I was confused as to what I wanted to major in, but did well in the courses that I liked. I was also depressed in undergrad which didn't help. I know my GPA could have been ALOT better. Once I found out that I love science I started getting better grades but they were still rocky. I became a Biology and Chemistry teacher for 6 years in very prestigious schools. Now that I know how competitve PA school is and it is my passion and dream, I got a 3.7. In addition, I am taking Pathophysiology and Pharmacology to prove that I can handle these courses with an A. How do I explain my inconsistent grades in an interview? I got my Masters while working as teacher. My last classes A and P I , I got an A-, Microbiology A-, A and P II B+, B+ in Orgo, A- in Chem I, but c+ in Chem II. Bio I and II I got B's and I know I can get A's now. Basically I want to prove on the interviews that I know I can handle the courses now since its my dream and passion and I know I am capable. I just had some hard times in the past.

 

Thanks.

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@rwww Thank you for your question. if granted an interview and if asked the question about the inconsistency of your grades, be honest. I think a lot of applicants think the committee members want to hear certain explanations, but it's best to be transparent about your undergrad performance and note what you've done to improve yourself. If you feel like you realize your previous study habits and motivation are not keys to success in PA school and after noting your previous weaknesses, you feel like a better prepared student..be sure to elaborate on those topics. Keep your explanation succinct and to the point...rambling on can be perceived as an excuse.

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Thank you for your honest feedback! i have one more question regarding personal statements:

 

I dropped out of optometry school and I address this in my narrative. Do you think it is better, though, to entwine it within the essay itself or should i put a "caveat" paragraph at the end of the essay explaining it?

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Thank you for answering my question. So, it is not horrible to explain that at age 18,19 I really had no clue what I wanted to major in or study career wise. I am 33 now and found my true passion (PA school) about two years ago, but with all the pre reqs and shadowing hours, I am now ready to go. Since I am in a better position now and more mature my GPA has drastically improved.....go in this direction, with the interview question?

Thanks for your help

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Hi PA Admissions Director! Thanks for such an awesome thread. I was hoping you could give your opinion on my stats like you've done for so many others. Out of all of this, I think my biggest weakness is the fact that I have a degree in Psychology rather than something like Biology. Mainly because I did not decide I wanted to pursue PA until my last semester of undergrad. Therefore I have the all the science prerequisites, but not really much beyond that. Seems like some schools really want you to have a lot more science than what is just on their prerequisite list. Also wondering if I have enough HCE. I have barely been graduated from college for 6 months so I haven't had much time to get a lot of hours but I'm doing my best with 2 healthcare jobs! Here's the basics:

 

Overall GPA: 3.56

Science GPA: 3.8

(ALL courses taken at major 4-year university)

 

GRE: Verbal: 161; Quantitative: 148 (309 total); Writing: 4.5

 

HCE:

As an ER Tech (current part-time job of 4 months): 250 hours

As a Medical Scribe/Medical Assistant (current full-time job, just started): 200

As an Occupational Therapy Tech (college job): 200

 

Volunteer/Shadowing:

PA Shadowing: 40 hours

Other Clinical Shadowing (MD & PT): 160 hours

Hospital BHU Volunteer: 40 hours

Hospital ER Volunteer: 20 hours

Special-Needs Camp Counselor: 1200 hours

 

Any insight you could give me would be great! I feel like I have enough to at least get an interview at 1 or 2 prospective schools, but I want to be able to convey to them that I will be able to handle the coursework once I get into school. By getting an A in nearly every science class I've taken I think I have a good start. But like I said, those sciences are the bare minimum (only around 30 hours). However the other classes I do have are not just easy pass classes. Lots of 4000 level psyc classes like neuropsyc, developmental psyc, etc.

 

Thank you in advance for your time!

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@hkb1 Sorry for the delay, I tend to be a "to the point" type of person and would rather see the explanation in one paragraph than incorporated throughout the statement. I hope this helps!

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@rwww Yes, I think it is the more honest approach to answering that type of question. As I stated in my previous post, direct and to the point is sometimes the best approach in my opinion. Being able to communicate that your focus has changed and how it has prepared you to handle a demanding curriculum is very important. You obviously understand the changes you have to make to demonstrate that you're a better student so be able to talk about that in a clear and concise manner. Hope this helps!

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@kroupr1 Thank you for your questions. Our program, and several other programs I'm sure, don't have a degree requirement for the program. Our program does not hold it against an applicant that he/she majored in something other than a science field. I do think it is beneficial for your preparation to consider taking above and beyond the prerequisites required for most schools. It wouldn't hurt to reach out to the programs that you're interested in to see if they can do an unofficial evaluation of your transcripts to see if there is anything they can recommend to make you a more competitive applicant. You may find taking just the prerequisites may be enough. Sometimes it is enough, especially for our program because we require close to 35 hours of biology and chemistry coursework. It all depends on the program. All of this said, I do think on paper you have the GPA and GRE scores probably to be competitive with the applicant pool. Your hours will depend on the program you're applying to. I hope this helps!

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Hi paadmissions - Thanks in advance for your reply. My question is about the personal statement. I am a little bit non-traditional. I graduated in 1993 with a B.A. in Molecular Biology, spent 4 years as a clinical lab tech in bone marrow transplant lab at Georgetown, then went back to school and completed a M.S. Microbiology at University of Michigan in 1999. I turned away from bench research after my degree, and took a job as a pharmaceutical rep in HIV sales. I spent a lot of time as a rep not only talking to doctors and nurses in clinic, but also with patients, holding testing days and helping patients get counseling, healthcare and housing. Outside of work I volunteered as an HIV prevention counselor and taught compliance classes to my doctor’s patients. I quit work in 2005 due to a difficult pregnancy and the fact that I was pretty disgusted with big pharma, and have been a stay at home mom since then.

My GPA as an undergrad was 3.25, in graduate school I had a 4.0 and I have completed 5 pre-reqs with a 4.0 average, and will finish the rest this fall.

The school I am applying to will accept the pharma, volunteer and lab tech hours, and I have set up a shadowing situation where I will be able to get about 50 hours from one PA, as well as 30 hours from 2 other PAs. I will be applying next June for admission in 2015.

I'm not sure what to focus on with my personal statement. I have read a lot of personal statements that people post online, and they all seem to sound the same. I don't have any major "red flags" that I feel the need to explain. My grades were always pretty good, although I did have C- in O. Chem, but it was 22 years ago and I have since retaken it (got an A).

I don't want to get lost in the shuffle of a pile of personal statements that all sound the same. I would prefer to tell a story of an interaction I had with a particular patient when I did HIV counseling, and use that story to show the admissions my reasons for being a PA.

In your opinion, would I be better off with a different, very focused story about one patient, or should I use the traditional, “highlight-my-career” essay and use it to justify why my path has not been direct? I would think they will have a whole file on me and where I worked and went to school, so I wouldn’t need to waste space in my personal statement reiterating this information. What would you rather read?

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This is an amazing board! So helpful. I want to get an honest opinion as to what my chances are with getting into a PA program. I am currently 25 years old and the primary Registered Dietitian at a specialty hospital. The HCE I have gained here has been wonderful, and hands on. I work very closely with 3 MDs and 2 PAs and they seek to involve me in many aspects of patient care. Most of them are aware of my desire to now go to PA school and seem to think I would be an excellent candidate. They have been great in helping me to gain lots of experience. I received my undergraduate in 2011 in Nutrition and Dietetics in which I took mostly all of my prerequisites for PA school. I took my chemistry classes when I was 18-19 years old and did not do well in them. At the time I had the typical college outlook and was more concerned with getting by than making "A's". I have matured ten-fold since then. I was able to graduate with a 3.2 GPA. As part of my post-graduate dietetic internship I was required to take several graduate level classes in which I have a 4.0. I am retaking the courses in which I did not perform well in at a local community college, and the courses meet the requirements of the college transfer equivalents. I am also in the process of taking the GRE in which I know I can do well on by studying appropriately. My concern is that those chemistry courses that I did not do well in will come back to haunt me. I feel as if I am driven and motivated by my call to become a PA and my health care experience highlights that. I am successful in my work and have many leadership roles one in which I am a chair for a local dietetic professionals group. My HCE drove me to want to challenge myself to become a PA. As long as I show that I CAN do well in the courses in which I did not do well previously, are my chances overall good?

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Hello paadmissions. Thank you in advance for your time and suggestions. I am preparing for an upcoming interview and I was wondered if you had any advice to aid me in my preparations? I know what a PA is and why I want to be one. I'm also aware of how the field was started in general and details of how this PA program was started. I'm trying to understand how the Affordable Care Act affects PAs as well as this new policy from the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare that restricts PAs from admitting patients (current events). If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

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