As some of you may know, I applied to PA school straight from undergraduate school and DID NOT get in on my first try. Although I knew it was a big possibility after reading all the forums, blog posts, and hearing about different peoples experiences along the way, I was obviously disappointed. I remember consciously giving myself a couple of days off from the entire process, but then immediately diving back into grind by thinking of ways to elevate my application to the next level. So that brings me to my first tip:
1. Give yourself a break, then turn the motivation back on but up a notch
Being rejected in any format does not feel great. Being rejected in the one thing that you’ve been working hard for years for definitely does not feel great! I’m a big believer of giving yourself the smallest of pity parties. Whether that be treating yourself to something you normally wouldn’t do like getting your nails done, a full body massage, a night in with zero responsibilities, whatever it is just do it for your own sanity.
After you’ve spent some time on yourself, it’s time to kick it back into high gear because life waits for no one. Remind yourself that you are blessed to be where you are, wherever you are. Remind yourself that you are capable!
2. Find a way to even slightly improve EVERY aspect of your application
This has to be my biggest piece of advise to those applying a second time around, and it was the piece of advice given to me from a PA-C working in academia. The best way to improve your chances of getting into PA school after not getting in the first time around is to somehow improve every single aspect of your application. That means improving: personal statement, patient care hours, volunteering, GPA, supplemental applications, shadowing, and GRE. After I received this advice, it all really did click for me. These schools have to see that you’ve given extra effort to stand out during the year that you’ve been waiting for the next cycle, so go for it!
Possible ways to enhance every facet of your application:
- Editing your personal statement to better encompass who you are and who you want to be as a PA
- Increasing your amount of patient care hours
- CHANGING the way you’re obtaining patient care hours (EMT, CNA, Scribe, MA)
- Volunteer with a program/company that you’re GENUINELY interested in and stick with the same place to show your long-term commitment
- Retake a few of your lowest scoring classes from undergraduate school. If you received two C’s, retake them and shoot for two B’s.
- Use Kaplan, Magoosh, or other GRE preparatory books and programs to improve your GRE score
- Shadow every single chance you get to show your curiosity and commitment to the PA profession and medicine in general
3. Reach out to those that have gone through this
I never would’ve known where to begin without the PA-C in academia giving me advice for what to do. The entire process of applying to any professional school can be extremely overwhelming at times. All of the comparison is especially stressful. Make it a point to reach out to some schools that you applied to and see if they offer any personalized application reviews. If they do not, I would then reach out to PA’s that you’ve previously shadowed or have connections with for them to review your application and offer up their advice for any improvements.