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@allylovesu 1. Personally, I think it's good that you've spent time with a NP, but would encourage you to continue shadowing PAs especially since you have the connections. The reason I think it's good to spend time with NPs and MDs is because you get to see their perspective, a difference in their training and the importance of their roles within the medical team. It's important applicants know the difference in the fields, their training, and responsibility. So no, I don't think it's a bad thing, but continue to shadow PAs as much as you can so you can wrap your head around the profession even more.

 

2. I have recommended to applicants who have a low GPA to consider a master's program like a MPH. In my opinion, if you are able to demonstrate your ability to do well in a master's level program you sometimes can put yourself into a different category than other applicants. That being said, master's level work will not always overshadow or substitute prerequisite requirements for programs. If you feel the need to go back and retake prerequisite courses, especially if the programs you're applying to have a time limit on requirements, consider doing that. I would assume many programs require at least 40 semester hours of coursework prior to entering so if you're able to do well in all of those classes in addition to a masters degree you've made tremendous strides to improve your application.

 

Keep in mind things aren't always a guarantee so you may always want to consider speaking with the programs that interest you to see if your plan would worth your time, energy and money. Hopefully, they will be honest about your chances of being competitive should you have this plan in place.

 

I hope this helps and best wishes!

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@RC36 Thank you for your question and also your military service! I don't think your GRE scores and HCE will always overshadow GPAs. My reasoning behind that is you must demonstrate your ability to be successful in the classroom in addition to being capable of doing well on a test. If you're not able to show the committee that you can master the classroom work, being successful on tests in PA school will be difficult no matter how well you've done on the GRE. I hear this all the time from our students, PA school is like drinking water out of a fire hose, so you must show your capability in the classroom to handle the amount of material thrown at you for 2 years.

 

Since your grades improved in the latter half of your undergraduate career that is certainly a plus, but I would encourage you to go back and retake prerequisite coursework to demonstrate that your focus is a lot different than it was several years ago. I think you doing that will help support your strong motivation that you want to display to the admissions committee. I hope this helps!!

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@ghostnineone No, I don't think programs are picky about majors. As long as you are taking the prerequisites required for your program you should be fine. That being said, I always recommend to applicants to go above and beyond the prerequisites to better prepare yourself for PA school. Sometimes, not always, taking more than what is required can make you a more competitive applicant. The most important piece of advice is to make sure you do as much work at a 4 year institution rather than the community college. The more work you do at a 4 year school looks better all around and you'll be better prepared to handle the rigors of PA school. Hopefully this answers your question. Best wishes!

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Thank you so much for the advice! I'll cross my fingers this round, but now I will definitely sign up to redo some classes if I don't get in this time. Thanks again!!!

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@paadmissions: THANK YOU SO MUCH for answering all of my questions! Yes, I think more course of action will be dependent on what schools say when I call them. I've already talked to 2 or 3 that had said that I really need to weigh the factors of time and money.

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Thank you so much for answering my previous question! I ended up emailing the schools and offering my explanation for choosing to not waive my right to view my LOR's, and I got really nice responses back from all of them.

 

I have another question now.............I just received an interview invitation to a school that was my second choice (which I'm very excited about!) and was given the option of two different dates. From talking to past accepted students, this school generally sends out acceptance notices within two weeks of the interview. I want to have a chance to interview with the school that is my first choice though, so I was wanting to try to pick a date that would coincide the best with giving me an opportunity at my preferred school (whom I have not yet heard from).

 

Would it be rude or pushy to call the school that is my first choice and ask what their interview dates are for this fall so I can better decide which interview date to accept from the other school?

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What a great thread and resource for all of us hopeful PAs! :) Thank you so much for your time!

 

I'm on the road with two interviews (And hopefully counting!) and I'm preparing mostly by going over common interview questions and could use your insight.

 

The first, the ubiquitous 'Tell me about yourself' question. As other answers, would you recommend this to stay under 60 seconds or does the breadth allow for more time? Do I give a quick synopsis of me from college on or try to stay more current? Do I focus on academic/professional me? Elaborate what's on my resume/application? Or give them a glipse of what's beyond the paper? Basically: is there something they're actually looking for?

 

Second: Do I bring a resume/CV without having been asked?

 

Third: These two programs are my top choices because of international clinical rotation sites. I have a strong desire to pursue medicine outside of the U.S.. My best scenario would be practicing in an underserved community with the flexibility to take sabbaticals to travel to international locations. Would PA Schools look down on spending the time/money/effort to train someone to have them not work within their community much less the United States? Would my 'best case scenario' be considered naive and unlikely to attain?

 

Thanks so much for your help!

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What does your school consider a "good" GRE score vs. a "great" GRE score?

 

How much do you care about analytical writing? I scored the highest on the AW section--but I've been hearing most schools don't even care about it. :saddd:

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Here is my situation and question: I am 41 years old. I have a BA in General Studies. My overall GPA is 3.014, science GPA 2.45, non-science and Math GPA 3.83. I was an ER Tech from 1989 to 1993 (about 6300 direct patient care experience). At the time I was an ER Tech, I wanted to be an OT. However, I decided to go into the financial industry. I worked at Fidelity Investments from 1994-2003. I made it to VP of 401k investing. I left Fidelity to go work for a company called Mercer HR as President of Global Compensation. I retired in 2011 and now I want to become a PA. I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and work with people from different cultures. I currently have 653 hours of PA Shadowing (mental health, orth, urgent care and family practice). I also have 81 hours of volunteer experience in a free clinic. I've been taking science classes (Anat, Physio, Bio) and I have rec'd A's in those classes but my science GPA is not moving up very much. I estimate that it would take several years of A's to get my science GPA up to a competitive level.

 

My question: Am I wasting my time trying to become a PA since my science GPA is so low? Or, are there schools that will only look at the Pre-Req GPA? I thank you in advanced for any guidance to my situation.

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@chaelabob I'm glad you received a positive response from the programs about your letters. I would definitely accept one of the interviews with your 2nd choice school. To avoid being pushy, it's best to approach your first choice school with the following inquiries: when do the interviews start, how often do they have them and what is the timeline that you'll be contacted (i.e. 3-4 weeks out). I usually don't give out specific dates that we're interviewing to applicants, just when they start and how far in advance we'll contact you if you're chosen for an interview. But definitely do not delay with accepting an interview at your 2nd choice-I've found that many people don't think that 2nd choice school will stack up against their first choice school, but come to find the 2nd choice school is sometimes better if you have an open mind. Congrats on your interview and remember to prepare for it just as much as you did your application!!

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@awad1204 Thank you for your question. If you were to submit an application today you would not be a competitive applicant. Although your overall and non-science GPA are solid, your science GPA which is a 2.45 would not be competitive with any applicant pool, regardless of health care experience and GRE scores. To even be competitive with most applicant pools the science or prerequisite GPA needs to be close to 3.2 or higher.

 

If being a PA is your ultimate goal, I would recommend you find the programs that interest you and consider going back and retaking their prerequisite requirements to boost your medical core GPA. Looking at program specific requirements will guide you on which science courses to retake. To demonstrate your ability to master the sciences, it would be best to consider taking at least 40-50 hours of coursework. Even if the programs of choice don't require Organics and Biochemistry, these are difficult upper level chemistries that can speak a lot about your ability to handle a rigorous curriculum..remember a 4 year institution is always the best route to go.

 

If you go back and retake a lot of courses your CASPA application may still display a low science GPA because they count all science courses. At least for our program, we extract our requirements and total a medical core or prerequisite GPA, which in most cases tends to be higher than the CASPA listed science GPA (for those applicants who have gone back to retake a lot of prerequisites). It's important to ask your programs if they do it the same way. If they do and you go back to retake courses and perform well in them (As and Bs), this should boost your competitiveness. Keep in mind an interview is not always a guarantee, so you need to get a feel for the programs that interest you to see if it's worth it. I hope this helps and best of luck!

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@labmouse Thank you for your questions and congrats on your interviews. I would recommend keeping the "you" talk brief and kind of like a skeleton overview of your CV...meaning touch on where you went to school, your healthcare, leadership, work, and volunteer experience. Most committee members will have your GRE, GPAs and healthcare experience in front of them so I don't think you'll need to elaborate on much of your numbers. I'm sure the committee members would ask you what has attracted you to the PA profession and to the school in which your interviewing, but you can consider throwing that in there as well...just keep it brief and practice it before you get there. Like doing a presentation, the more you practice and say out loud your talking points the less you'll ramble and fumble over your words. Don't get discouraged, but there will be some questions you just won't be able to prepare for.

 

You can bring your CV/resume with you if you want. We have applicants who do that and have it available if a committee members wants one, but they have your CASPA application and typically everything they need to know about you. Keep it handy, but in most instances its just going to be filed away.

 

The desire for international work isn't a bad thing, it's just going to be about how you present that to the committee members. Something to consider is that you have an obvious desire to practice in primary care medicine. It's my hope primary care is a strong focus with the programs your applying to. That being said, if you're able to be exposed to the needs of the underserved areas around your school it will hopefully help you to be successful on your international rotations (i.e. lack of medications you can prescribe, the lack of resources your community has [transportation, education, etc], lack of medical equipment to help diagnosis). It's best to see how that program can prepare you to not only serve your community, but how the program and the community can help reach your desire to practice internationally.

 

I hope this makes sense and best of luck on your interviews...be confident, but most importantly be yourself!

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@suzpa Thanks for your questions! We consider a good GRE score to be a verbal and quantitative combo of 297 or higher (that's equivalent to 1050 or higher for GREs taken before 8/1/2011). Usually, I would say most programs are probably looking for near the upper 47-50 percentile (149-150 in each section) to be competitive...that will bring the score closer to 300. You are correct in assuming most of us don't pay attention to the analytical part.

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PAadmissions: thank you for your reply. I have a list of 10 schools and I am learning their admissions process. For example, Pitt is of interest to me. They first look at the CASPA overall GPA. If that GPA is 3.0 or higher than you move on to the next step. Step two is to extract the Pre-Req science GPA and if that is over 3.0 then you move on to the 3rd step. The process goes on until you get an interview or not. I am targeting schools that look at the Pre-Req GPA only. I think that is whats best for me.

 

As for my goal, I want to open a series or free clinics in rural areas across Ohio, Kentucky and Tenn. I already have the funding, I just need the degree.

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Hello, and thanks for making this thread.

 

I transferred from a CC and graudated with a B.S. in General Chemistry from UCLA this past Spring. I will apply to PA school next year since I have yet to take A&P and MicroBio and some other courses.

 

I am worried about my GPA and whether or not I should retake some of the courses to boost my GPA.

 

I got A's in my General Chemistry courses (at CC).

I got B- and B + in regular and advanced Inorganic Chemistry, respectively.

 

BioChem 1 B-; Biochem 2 B+, Biochem Lab B

 

Ochem 1- B (with lab); Ochem 2 Lec.- C+; Ochem 3 Lec.- B+; Ochem 3 Lab - C; Upper Div Ochem lab- A

 

So my question is: Will PA admissions look at ALL of my science classes, or just the perquisites that they require? And my guess is that I should retake lower division Ochem for two reasons. One being that I don't want to forget my Ochem and it will be a refresher. Second, it may look favorably with admissions?

 

I know my immediate goal should be to get straight A's in A&P and Micro and psychology.

FYI, I did not slack off when I got those C's. The professor was known for failing students. And all those B's well, I'm more of an average student than outstanding.

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@suzpa Thanks for your questions! We consider a good GRE score to be a verbal and quantitative combo of 297 or higher (that's equivalent to 1050 or higher for GREs taken before 8/1/2011). Usually, I would say most programs are probably looking for near the upper 47-50 percentile (149-150 in each section) to be competitive...that will bring the score closer to 300. You are correct in assuming most of us don't pay attention to the analytical part.

 

Thanks for your reply. I scored a 301 and was debating on retaking it. I'll probably still retake it.

My GPA is 3.42, science GPA 3.3

4000 hrs of HCE (assistant to LPN for patients with spinal chord injuries, post stroke and dementia is about 3500) and 500 as Physical Therapy Tech. My total HCE should be about 5000 upon matriculation..

 

200 shadowing hours with PA's and Physicians

 

And very involved undergraduate extracurricular activities including a 4 year full scholarship at a divsion 1 university in Track and Field

 

I have already applied with my current GRE, but since it's one of the quickest things I can improve at this point I will give it another shot

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@nostraadms Thank you for your questions. My advice would be to focus on the prerequisites that you'll need to retake. Our program looks at how you've performed in all sciences, but obviously we put more focus and emphasis on the prereqs as those are the classes we feel will prepare you most for the PA curriculum. If I were you and since you don't want to forget your Org. chemistry, I would consider retaking probably Org II just because you received a C. Although Org II usually does not emphasize many things that would prepare for medical information, it is a difficult course and to show success (A or B) in both Orgs is always a plus. Hope this helps and best of luck!!

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@neesy Thank you for your question. Our program does not discriminate someone due to age, nor should any other program. Although the age of most of our students is around 26-27 we have a good mix of non-traditional students and ones straight out of college. They both bring different views to the table...one not always better than the other. Hope this helps!

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@suzpa I would not recommend you retake the GRE. At least on paper, I think your academic and personal profile are a good fit for many programs. To be sure, check with your schools of interest. If you're within their average I wouldn't worry with it. Thanks!

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@suzpa I would not recommend you retake the GRE. At least on paper, I think your academic and personal profile are a good fit for many programs. To be sure, check with your schools of interest. If you're within their average I wouldn't worry with it. Thanks!

 

To hear that from a member of a PA Admissions committee is SO enouraging! I have met people with amazing stats that still didn't think they were competititive. Goes to say we all need to have a little more confidence in ourselves! :-) Have a wonderful day!:smile:

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Hello,

 

Wanted to get a quick opinion on my credentials:

 

I graduated with a degree in Finance and have been working full-time in the field since 2008. I've always loved medicine and healthcare, but was unsure on a path. Was introduced to PA profession by Doctor about 3 years ago. Began to research the field as well as set up shadowing opportunities. I fell in love immediately and have been trying to accumulate hours ever since. I am still working in Finance so that I can save up and not take out as much in loans (if I get in). Over the past 2.5 years, I have been using my vacation days, weekends, and nights to shadow a PA and a Surgeon to accumulate close to 1000 hours (I haven't slept much). I have been completing my prereqs at night and on weekends as well. Just wanted to see what you think since I don't have any HCE, but have put in a large number of shadowing hours where I witnessed countless surgeries, patient interaction, as well as helping out with vitals and sutures. More stats below:

 

Undergrad: DePaul, Finance Post: Community College

Overall GPA: 3.3

Science GPA: 3.9

GRE: 154 Verb 156 Quant 4 Writing

Shadowing: 926 hours (still shadowing, so should be higher if granted an interview)

 

 

Any feedback, whether harsh or positive, is welcome.

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I apologize, I was able to go back and read earlier posts. My questions and concerns have already been touched on. Thank you very much for starting this thread, it is appreciated!

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@nostraadms Thank you for your questions. My advice would be to focus on the prerequisites that you'll need to retake. Our program looks at how you've performed in all sciences, but obviously we put more focus and emphasis on the prereqs as those are the classes we feel will prepare you most for the PA curriculum. If I were you and since you don't want to forget your Org. chemistry, I would consider retaking probably Org II just because you received a C. Although Org II usually does not emphasize many things that would prepare for medical information, it is a difficult course and to show success (A or B) in both Orgs is always a plus. Hope this helps and best of luck!!

 

And the Science GPA that is reported includes all science classes that I have taken over the years, correct?

 

Some programs like USC Keck Medical School do not have the organic chemistry requirement (to my surprise), so would my reported Science GPA vary depending which school I apply to? Should my science GPA include the OChem classes, even though they are not part of the prerequisite courses (concerning USC)? Also, would schools see it as an advantage if a student has taken several upper division biochemistry and inorganic chemistry classes that are not part of the prerequisites? \

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I'm new to this forum; I just decided that I want to apply to PA school. I started working as a surgical technologist in 2002, and decided to go back to school full-time as a pre-med in 2006. Since many allopathic schools require pre-requisites to be taken within five years of applying, I repeated the basics and put myself through four years of undergrad. I graduated with a 3.75 in Pharmacology, but chose not to apply to medical school right away; I was too financially burdened to face the expensive application process. I did four years of undergraduate research, presented at national ACS conferences, worked on a lead drug molecule, and volunteered in my school's hospital blood bank for two years. Upon graduating, I couldn't find a job that utilized my degree, and ended up back in the operating room. I also decided that I wasn't up for four years of medical school, followed by a residency I wouldn't finish until I was over 40.

 

It seems to me that the PA profession has changed significantly since I entered the medical field ten years ago. I knew I needed a graduate education, and considered biomedical engineering, but my passion is clinical medicine. The PAs that assisted surgeons a decade ago (in NYC) seemed to do mostly scut work, and some openly expressed dissatisfaction with their careers, and encouraged me to go to medical school. In the ambulatory surgery center where I work now, the PA does most of the surgery. He works with over a dozen orthopedic surgeons, and they book their cases based upon his availability. Some will start after another surgeon finishes just to ensure they have him there. It's amazing, because many of these doctors trained at Mass General and HSS in the city, but they rely on the PA to show them newer and better techniques. Often, if they're actually doing a repair, the PA will basically push them out of the way and take over. He's been in the profession for eight years. My close friend who finished school last year also works for an orthopedic practice, and though he was very intimidated at first, he now does at least 75% of even big cases.

 

When I planned on medical school, I was interested in anesthesiology/critical care, not surgery, because the training is so much longer and more rigorous than non-surgical specialties. It seems like the opportunities for PAs are limitless. I'm sorry for the long background, but this leads to a few questions. If I apply to PA school next year to begin in 2014, is it likely that residency will be the norm by the time I graduate in 2017? My friend said he encountered many PA residents during certain rotations, and they made significantly less the MD/DO residents, with a greater workload, since they're not covered under the same protective laws (at least in NY) as physicians, in terms of shift limits. And what role do PAs play in critical care? I've never seen a PA who has anything to do with anesthesia, and aside from a summer of clinical research and volunteering in a busy emergency department, I don't have much experience in anything other than surgery. The PA at my center strongly encouraged me to go the PA route, and said he'd happily hire me when I finish; he has his own group, evidently. I think it's the best career option for me.

 

Last question: I moved to NJ, and UMDNJ is the only school in NYC or NJ that has the same pre-requisites as medical schools. Some schools require A&P (I took Human Physiology with the PA students and Physiology Master's students at Stony Brook, but not gross anatomy). Some require statistics, but I took Calculus I-III. I also took a year of Biochemistry, Pharmacology with lab, and a number of other upper-level chemistry and biology courses. Every school is different, and in order to satisfy all the pre-req requirements for a number of schools (other than UMDNJ) and cast a wide net, I'd probably have to work part-time while taking a nearly full-time course load for the next year or two. How unwise it of me to limit myself to UMDNJ and maybe one or two other schools that have additional requirements beyond the pre-med ones? With my work and volunteer experience (I also went on several medical/surgical missions to South America), a high GPA in a rigorous major, and recommendations from my former chemistry chair and a number of physicians, nurses, and a PA available, could I be a strong enough applicant to limit the number of schools I apply to? I know pre-meds often apply to a dozen schools these days, and it sounds like PA school may be more competitive now than allopathic medical schools.

 

Sorry for the long explanation, but I'm trying to plan my path now so that by the time I apply next year, I have everything I need to be a competitive applicant. Ideally, I'd like to stay in my geographical area, and fortunately, there are so many schools in this region that I know I can. But if I can avoid the extra expense and time required to take all the classes different programs require, I'd like to do so. I hope that someday PA schools will agree upon suitable pre-reqs and standardize it the way medical schools have. Aside from a few that require Biochem or Genetics, most medical schools ask for a year each of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Organic Chem, and English. It makes it much easier to cast a wide net!

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