The Dos and Dont’s of your PA School Interview

The interview process for a PA program can be slightly different for each candidate.  As the interview unfolds, the questions being posed and topics being covered will vary wildly depending on your unique experiences and responses.  That being said, there are a few steadfast rules you should follow in the interview room.

Here are a few of the most important do’s and don’ts for your interview.  Keep these in mind when prepping before interview day and try to remember them right you step foot into the interview room. Read more »

Tips for Creating the Perfect PA School Personal Narrative

Your personal narrative is one of the most important parts of the application process. Without a compelling, unique, and well written personal narrative, you might not get a chance to interview with the programs you applied to. Think of your personal narrative as the ultimate sales pitch- you want it to be clear, concise, and really drive home the points that argue why you’d be an exceptional PA.

Writing your personal narrative is a long process and will undergo many stages- it isn’t something you should attempt to write in one pass. It should evolve from a few sentences or a short anecdote to a full blown essay, and will likely go through many revisions along the way. If you’re struggling with your personal narrative or feel like it doesn’t stand out, consider the following tips.  Read more »

How to Choose The Best Undergraduate Major for PA School

When beginning to plan for PA school, many students question which major will help them get into the best PA program possible. Students that are in the process of completing their undergraduate studies or those who have decided to return to school often think that majoring in biology, pre-med, or even a pre-PA program will give them the competitive edge needed to get into a top rated program. While this vein of thinking is completely logical, challenging majors like these aren’t always your best bet. Read more »

Tips & Tricks For Answering Behavioral Questions at your PA School Interview

During your interview process, you’ll be asked behavioral questions. The goal of questions like these is to isolate examples of skills, characteristics, and experiences that directly relate to your value as a prospective PA.   Answering these types of questions well is vital because they give your interviewers clear, concrete examples of who you are as an individual.  You’ll want to make sure your answers are not only full of detail, but clear and concise.

Nothing sets you up for success better than prior preparation. Taking the time to go over the most common behavioral questions asked during an interview is a great way to practice and get comfortable with these types of questions. In addition to practicing common behavioral prompts, you’ll be able to easily answer any behavioral question thrown at you by using the following tricks.

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The 5 Most Important Leadership Qualities for a PA

PAs are in a unique position in that they must act as both leader and team player depending on the situation.  Many PAs will find themselves needing to step up in the moment and lead a team without a second thought while still maintaining a “group effort” mentality.  If you don’t have the ability to work well in both roles, you may find yourself unable to keep up with the professional demands of the job. Read more »

The Top follow-up questions YOU should be asking at your PA school interview

More often than not, your interview panel will ask if you have any questions for them at the end of your interview. Out of all the questions asked during your interview, the last thing you want is to be caught off guard by the very last question!

PA interviews are designed so the program can gauge whether or not you’re a viable and valuable candidate for their program, but they’re also set up so YOU can get a good sense of a program and whether it’s a good fit for you and your goals. By asking some of the following questions as a follow-up, you’ll show that you’re genuinely interested in learning more about that specific program while showing that you’re a competent and observant individual. Here are the top questions you should be asking:

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Working Through Constructive Criticism

Whether it’s been at work, school, or in a personal setting, all of us have received constructive criticism at some point.  Constructive criticism is a type of evaluation that involves both positive and negative feedback.  While this type of feedback is typically used to help improve the recipient and to encourage personal or professional growth, it has the potential to cause a negative reaction.

It’s important for physician assistants to have the ability to receive constructive criticism graciously. You can be sure that a physician assistant will receive plenty of constructive criticism over time, especially in the early part of their career.  In some ways, it’s the nature of the profession, but it can also be the nature of practicing medicine as there’s always more to learn and there will seemingly always be someone more knowledgeable than you.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of constructive criticism, how can you work through it in an affective and tactful way?  Framing your criticism positively is arguably the easiest way because, if you think about it, most constructive criticism already includes at least one “positive” you can focus on.  For example, if you keep making the same mistake but it’s coming from a place of good intentions, reassure yourself that your intentions and motivations are the “positive” but you need to change the actions you’re taking to help improve the “negative”.   This will allow you to focus on the steps needed to correct your actions rather than turning inwards and questioning yourself.

There are two phrases that should never come out of your mouth- “I can’t” and “I know”.  Saying “I can’t” is extremely detrimental psychologically to a person who hopes to pursue a career in medicine.  The rigors of the education alone require an extremely positive attitude to achieve success.  Similarly, saying “I know” makes you seem like a know-it-all while not actually acknowledging the things that may need improvement.  If you respond to every critique with “I know”, you come across as arrogant, disinterested, and closed minded.  If you’re perceived as a closed off person, you could inadvertently lose some important opportunities for growth and personal improvement.

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How to Demonstrate Professional Integrity During Your PA School Interview

During the PA school interview process, you will be asked a handful of ethical questions.  These questions are designed to evaluate your professional and academic integrity, as well as your sense of morality.  These questions are a way to see how you would react in situations that challenge your ethical standards, and generally place you in an uncomfortable scenario.  In these scenarios, you’ll likely have to balance your emotional response, moral code, and understanding of what a PA can and cannot do when providing care.

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How Important is PA Program Length?

It seems like many PA programs are increasing the amount of months it takes to complete their curriculum. The average PA program length has increased to around 26 months, with some spanning 36 months or more.  While some may argue that the quality and depth of PA training will increase with more program time, this approach isn’t necessarily true.

Longer program lengths do allow for additional training and projects, but they also come with some negative consequences. Read more »

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