It's More Than Just Grades
What are you truly passionate about? Not just about being a PA, a passion motivating you to make a difference in the world. This passion should be turned into a project, more than just volunteering, one you can add to your application, which will not only help define you, but showcase your characteristics as a person.
Health Care Experiences
What better way to make sure you want to be a PA than by shadowing actual PAs? Through shadowing, you'll gain experiences and possible future references. Consistent and committed shadowing will go a long way in not only making you a mature applicant, but making sure others see you as prepared.
The University of South Alabama's program specifically asks for shadowing PAs and direct patient care. They define patient care as having hands-on care with patients, which means you will need to obtain some certification or job to work with patients as you cannot work with patients hands on during observation and shadowing. Such options to consider may be something like a Certified Nurse Assistant through training with the Red Cross or an EMT.
Community Service and Volunteering
Working as a physicians assistant means wanting to serve others. This means wanting to give back, in medical and non-medical ways. Find something you enjoy doing, something truly warming your heart, and go forth! Put as much time as you can towards those types of areas. Don't volunteer because you think it's a checkbox, do it because you care.
Keeping a Journal
Keeping a journal can be helpful for some through the process of preparing for a health career. Use it to record thoughts on your experiences, you may find you get more out of activities if you spend some time reflecting about them. Topics to consider writing about may include experiences starting your interest in wanting to be a PA or those you had while observing or volunteering clarifying for you this is the career for you. This journal will be very helpful when it comes to writing your personal statement, interviews, and other parts of the process.
Research experience can provide you with the opportunity to work closely with faculty, learn skills beyond the classroom, use research methods, engage in critical analysis, and problem solving skills. Our faculty work on a variety of research projects, which observation or participation in, will allow a better understanding between theory and practice using innovative and creative thinking.
Getting into PA school is not about accomplishing the perfect checklist. It's about truly desiring to be a better person and better future PA. It's a complex process and sometimes, even with the best application, students will not get in.