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7 Things to Consider When Choosing Physician Assistant Programs

One of the most daunting parts of the PA school application process is weeding through all of the programs to find the ones that fit your needs. You should be on the lookout for schools that fit your checklist of “must-haves” while simultaneously compiling a list of schools where you’d be a good candidate.

When searching for programs, ask yourself the following questions about each school.  By doing this, you’ll know exactly what each program has to offer and if it’s worth your time to apply. Read more »

How to Write a Compelling Personal Narrative for PA School

When preparing to write your personal narrative, always keep your main thesis in mind. You’ll find this question in your CASPA application:

“What is your motivation to becoming a physician assistant?”

Whatever your thesis may be, you want to build a path leading the reader to discover that unique something that compels you to become a PA. Expanding on the main ideas of your thesis will essentially amount to an autobiographical story that focuses on your desire to become a PA. Your story should be meaningful to you, inspirational to others, and compelling. It should be so entertaining that it captures the imagination of the reader and convinces them that this person should absolutely become a PA! Read more »

Set Yourself Apart with Unique Hands-On Patient Experience

During the EXCELL Pre Physician Clerkship Program, you’ll undergo a PA mentorship that includes both mentoring and shadowing experience. Not only does the program provide you with insight into the PA profession, you also get first-hand experience observing how PAs interact with patients, collaborate with physicians, and generally operate in their medical practice. In addition, you get to administer a Quality of Life Patient Survey and present a Plan of Action to your facility administration, giving you a sense on contribution to the quality of service for current and future patients.

If you think this unique, hands-on experience isn’t valuable, take a look at a past student’s recollections of their time in the program.  Read more »

How Well Do You Know Your Physician Assistant History?

How well do you know your Physician Assistant history? You may know enough of the bullet points to get through your interview, but will that may not be enough to get a good understanding of the profession.

To be able to effectively convey your reasons for wanting to become a physician assistant, it’s important to understand what a physician assistant does. If you don’t have a solid knowledge of where the profession came from, how it was founded, and how it grew to the point it is today, you’ll have a difficult time justifying why you want to become a physician assistant rather than a doctor or nurse practitioner. Read more »

The Top 3 Criteria PA Programs Use to Judge Candidates

You’ve completed your personal narrative, submitted your application, and may have even completed your interview. You know that, based on your experiences, grades, and demeanor that you’d be a great pick for any PA program. You may think you’ve got this in the bag, but do you really know what PA programs look for when judging their potential students?

Knowing what each program looks for in their applicants and how they’ll be assessing both your interview performance and application materials is crucial for determining your success.  Think of it this way- it’s much easier to do well on a test if you know how you’re being scored.  The same concept rings true for your acceptance into a PA program. Read more »

How to Identify and Handle Inappropriate Interview Questions

When you’re in the interview room, the last thing you want to do is lose your focus. It’s easy to lose your focus if you’re unprepared, but you can be thrown off if you’re asked a question that’s out of bounds or inappropriate, even if you’ve spent the past year preparing for your interviews.

Questions should be about your qualifications to become a physician assistant, not about your personal information. If you find yourself facing an uncomfortable or seemingly inappropriate line of questioning, know your rights as an applicant. You do not have to answer out-of-place, unrelated, or illegal questions directly and can choose to either defer your answer or address the questions as inappropriate.

Here are some examples of questions that should not be posed during your interview. Read more »

Eight Tips to Make a Stellar First Impression at your PA School Interview

You never get a second chance at making a first impression. Just like judging a book by its cover or a restaurant by its pictures on Yelp, people often judge each other immediately upon meeting.  If we apply this to the PA school application process, this means you’ll be judged as an applicant the moment you walk into the interview room.  To help maximize your first impression, you first need to identify what aspects people focus on when forming an opinion about a person they don’t know.

The following items comprise the Eight Stages of Approach, a foolproof list of attributes we use as the criteria for evaluating another person. To ensure you make a memorable first impression on interview day, you’ll want to focus on each of these items individually before interview day.

Read more »

10 Important Things to Consider Before Starting PA School

Picture this; you’ve been accepted to your top PA program. Your application and interviews are a distant memory, you’ve celebrated your acceptance, and the reality of starting school is starting to kick in.

Regardless of your previous academic or personal experiences, Physician Assistant school will be a new type of challenge you likely have not faced.  If you want to maximize your PA program experience, familiarize yourself with what you’ll be getting into (just like you did when you were preparing for your interviews). You probably already know you’ll be spending a lot of time studying, but there’s much more to doing well in PA school than hitting the books.

We’ve compiled the top 10 things pre-PA students should consider before starting their PA school journey. Read more »

Pre-PA Shadowing Tips

If you’re considering becoming a PA, you’ll often find that many programs require a certain amount of patient contact or shadowing experience. Patient contact experience comes from shadowing working Physician Assistants, so the most important step is finding and securing a shadowing opportunity.

As you may know, PAs can be very busy people when on the job, but the overwhelming majority love talking about their profession and answering questions- you just need to find a time when they can talk!

So how does one go about finding a PA to shadow? Read more »

Elements to Gather Before You Start Writing Your Personal Narrative

The largest and most intimidating part of the PA school application is the personal narrative. Writing a compelling narrative about your experiences is a daunting task in and of itself.  When that narrative also has to sell your merits to an admissions panel, it can seem almost impossible to accomplish.

Before you start writing your personal narrative or even drafting an outline, take some time to ruminate on the following topics. All of these elements are important pieces of your narrative, and having one lackluster component can mean the difference between being invited for an interview and being passed up.  By taking time to gather this information on yourself, you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from when planning your narrative roadmap which will make the writing process much easier. Read more »

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