**Below is a guest blog post from one of my former students, Kristy Fogle, PA-S. Read and Enjoy!
Hello PA school applicants for the 2011 cycle!! Some of you may be new applicants and some may be reapplicants. As many of you know, applying to PA school takes a lot of time and preparation. When gathering references, try and use some from school experience and some from work (preferably healthcare related) experience.
The schools you are applying to can easily look at your grades on the transcript, but they also want to know how you work in groups. Are you a leader? Are you a follower? Are you someone that works well in a team? I say this because a large majority of PA school is working in groups and readying yourself to work as part of the “healthcare team.” You are being primed from day one of PA school for this goal. If possible, it would be great to have someone who has been part of the “healthcare team” write you a reference i.e. PA or MD. This shows the school that someone who works in the healthcare team and learned within the medical model approves of your style of interaction.
I think one of the biggest things that I tried to sell to schools when I was applying is that I am a team player. Meaning, I know when to listen, but I also know when to stand up and lead. This was the underlying theme of my references, application essay, and interview.
The first time that I applied to PA school I did not get in. I wasn’t finished my pre-requisites, but I remember feeling like I lost a lot of confidence. For the second year, I reminded myself that this year is a new year. I continued to gain patient care hours, obtained brand new references (this is very important), and rewrote my essay. My essay had the same general concepts, but this time I discussed how I had amplified my experiences and knowledge. I wanted the programs to see that I had learned and grown in that year and that, now, I was even more ready to be a PA.
Whether you are applying for the first or second time, you want the programs to see that you are competent, a team player (I cannot stress this enough!!), and an empathetic person. Try and write about how your experience makes you a unique applicant that they cannot afford to pass by! No matter what the essay topic is for that particular year, you should try and add these things to your essay. Remember, these schools get tons and tons of applications (mine received 800 last year) so you want to stand out and not be generic. Once you peak their interests with the good grades, references, and essay you will receive an interview and the preparation continues…
Some people think they can go to the interview and, because they have an amazing background, they can just wing it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You need to prepare. There are many books out there on how to apply and interview for PA school. I read one of them religiously. Research state and federal laws for PAs. Visit your state’s medical board website.
Have the answers to basic questions: “Why do you want to be a PA” “What is your understanding of what a PA does?” “Why would you be an asset to this program?” I also contacted PAs and asked them questions about their profession and how they deal with certain obstacles within the profession. Remember, the more you prepare, the less nervous you will be on interview day. I was still very nervous on interview day, but David DuBose, PA (The PA Coach) gave me some great advice: “Take a deep breath before you answer each question and remember, they are trying to impress you too.” He was right, it wasn’t one sided.
At both of my interviews (which I will write about later in greater length) I felt that my interviewers were doing this. With that said, practice, practice, practice the interview. I had friends and family read me interview questions from a book that I would respond to so that when the big day came, I was more than ready. Most of you have at least a month to prepare and research. This should be plenty of time. Relax and remember: Competent, team member, empathetic!!
Kristy Fogle, PA-S1
Anne Arundel Community College/ Saint Francis University
Class of 2013
***I hope that you enjoyed this post. I am honored to have Kristy write this guest post for us. We will hear more from her in the near future.
Please comment below as well as share on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks
“The PA Coach”