Does becoming an EMT boost your application?
I can only assume that becoming an EMT helped boost up my application, especially because I applied two times to PA school. It shows that I continued to pursue a higher level of patient acuity and took a bigger role of responsibility over being a CNA or a scribe. I think being an EMT is a great direction to go to for accruing direct patient care hours.
What did you do different in your application from first year to second year?
I basically tried to change and improve every single aspect of my application my second go around. I gained more hours in shadowing, and volunteer hours. I obtained an EMT-B license and worked as one for an ambulance service for 6 months. I also gained more work experience as an emergency department scribe. I retook the GRE, and increased my score by 1 point, which is definitely not great, but I did retry. I altered a lot of my personal statement in a way that I felt better described why I wanted to become a physician assistant, how I prepared myself for becoming a physician assistant student, and who I want to become as a future PA-C.
If I could do it again would I choose CNA or EMT route?
If I could do it all over again, I surprisingly probably wouldn’t have chosen either of those Direct Patient Care routes! If I could go back in time, ideally, I would’ve gotten a Medical Assistant certification at the end of high school and would’ve worked part time throughout my college career. I say this because the hours are less 12 hour shift and more more 8-5 so if I scheduled my school days so that all my classes are MWF, I could’ve worked on T/TH or something like that. Or if I found a clinic that operated on weekends, that’s even better!
What can I do to be seen as competitive?
I think the best thing applicants can do to be seen as competitive is to find one or two good things that are unique and pursue them before applying. Whether that’s your direct patient care hours where you were able to care for army veterans, or a mission or service trip in an underserved community, or a leadership role for an organization that is close to your heart. To stand out amongst a sea of applicants you’ve got to have some sort of spark about you. My biggest piece of advice would be to first, don’t be afraid to get involved while in undergrad or within your community, second, push yourself to achieve the highest goal you can set for yourself. I set a goal of obtaining at least 100 shadowing hours, and I was able to do that and more! Don’t sell yourself short, but start early so you aren’t scrambling when crunch time begins.
What advice can you give to high school students interested in becoming a Physician Assistant?
Ahh, high school. For all the high school students out there, my biggest regret was not knowing to get a job that provides direct patient care hours early. I would advise getting a part time job in something that provides direct patient care hours and work from senior year or so til you apply for PA school. Other than that, not much you do in high school will be included on your application.
Do you recommend a Gap year?
This is completely dependent on you and your situation. If you feel drained from 16 years of school straight and know yourself well enough that you’ll still be motivated after said year, I say do it. If you need a years time to get your application ready with extra direct patient care hours, more volunteering and shadowing, taking a mission trip, etc. then do it!
What company did you take your service trip with?
Both of my Service Trips were taken in undergraduate school at the University of Missouri. One was through an organization at the school called Mizzou Alternative Breaks, a spin off of the national organization Alternative Spring Breaks. The organization we partnered with was called Outreach 360. The second one was simply through my school of health professions and the department of health sciences. That organization we partnered with was called WonLife.