How to Answer the Most Common PA School Interview Question

“Why do you want to become a physician assistant?” If you’re not sure, you may have some work ahead of you because this question will undoubtedly be asked at your PA school interview. So how do you come up with an outstanding answer to this question without seeming trite or boring?

Like many questions asked during your interview, your answer should be as specific as possible. Think about the wording- they didn’t ask why you wanted to work in healthcare, they asked why you specifically want to be a PA. It’s of the utmost importance that your answer isn’t over generalized. For example, you absolutely do not want to use any of the following answers:

  • Working in healthcare is rewarding
  • I love helping people
  • I have always had a fascination for medicine

These answers say nothing about you or the physician assistant profession, so don’t bother using them. The answer to this question should come from inside you. Don’t try to rely on the “official definition” of a physician assistant to answer the question because it will come off as insincere. Read through the official definition from the AAPA below and you’ll see why:

PAs are health professionals licensed or, in the case of those employed by the federal government, credentialed to practice medicine in association with designated collaborating physicians. Within the physician-PA relationship, PAs provide patient-centered medical care services as a member of a health care team. PAs practice with defined levels of autonomy and exercise independent medical decision making within their scope of practice.

For one, this doesn’t answer the question. Apart from that, incorporating this official definition into your own original answer may be fine, but you’ll want to base your answer heavily on your own personal experiences otherwise your interview panel won’t learn anything about you.

When preparing your answer to this question, take into account the following questions:

  • Why do I want to be a physician assistant rather than any other occupation?
  • Why do I not want to be a physician?
  • Why do I not want to be a nurse?
  • Why do I not want to be a nurse practitioner?

Being able to answer these questions will make it much easier to explain why you want to become a PA. After all, understanding what you don’t want can help shed light on what you do want. When coming up with your answer, you can also turn to your hands-on patient experience (you do have direct patient contact hours, right?) to reflect on the aspects of the job that you found most rewarding.

Once you have your answer down, take as much time as you need to internalize it until it becomes second nature. By the time your interview rolls around, you should be able to answer “why do you want to become a physician assistant” as effortlessly as “when is your birthday?”