How To Get Into PA School
If you’re considering becoming a PA, you’re entering the field at a time where PA’s are increasingly in demand.
Career opportunities for Physician’s Assistants are growing, with a predicted 30% job growth rate through 2024. But first, students will need to focus on getting into PA school and take advantage of this burgeoning medical career.
There is no magic formula that will land you a spot in the school of your choice. However, these eight tips on how to get into PA school can help you achieve your career goals and prepare you for an impactful future:
#1 – Research PA Schools and Their Requirements
Not all PA schools have the same requirements for admission. If you’re planning on attending a PA school, you’ll want to look at your chosen school’s requirements prior to your senior year to ensure you will meet the minimum expectations in terms of GPA, standardized test scores and clinical hours. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself not being competitive and wasting both time and money on an unsuccessful application cycle.
#2 – Go Above and Beyond Minimum Requirements
Though you will need to meet all minimum requirements, you don’t have to stop short of the minimum. As you explore the various requirements for PA school, find opportunities to go above and beyond to make your application stand out.
For example, if you’re expected to have a minimum GPA, study hard so you can exceed that standard.
Doing more than what’s expected will always play in your favor. It proves you have a strong work ethic and desire to succeed as a PA, which can help tilt the scales in your direction.
#3 – Grades Aren’t Everything, But They’re Something
While grades are never a substitute for experience and knowledge, they also shouldn’t be overlooked.
Getting good grades is more than just numbers on a report card. They’re living proof that you knew the material being taught in class. And put forth the effort to excel, and care about the job you’re doing in class.
Though grades alone aren’t enough to land you a spot in PA school, they can contribute to your chances of getting into the school of your choice.
#4 – Take Advantage of Physician Assistant Internships
There are numerous internships available for aspiring PAs that can help you get an up-close look at the field. These opportunities can also improve your application to PA school.
International Medical Aid provides programs for pre-physician assistant students that lets you study abroad and gain exposure to a variety of medical disciplines. These internships provide assistance where medical help is most needed, including in East Africa.
International Medical Aid’s Pre-PA Internships offer you an opportunity to gain clinical shadowing and volunteer hours, learn more about healthcare delivery abroad and increase your cultural competency. All of these efforts will help you to boost your chances of getting into PA school, as well as help you build a professional network and gain deeper insight into the field.
#5 – Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
Though some PA schools only require an Associate’s degree, a Bachelor’s degree can increase your chances of a successful PA school application. This is another way to go beyond the minimum expectations and prove your work ethic and determination.
Generally, you can major in anything you like, as long as you also meet basic pre-requisites like biology, chemistry, and sociology.
#6 – Get Real Medical Experience
Many PA programs require a certain number of hours performing patient care. You can get real medical experience to satisfy this requirement by becoming an EMT, nursing aide, CNA or medical assistant. Each of these can serve as valuable stepping stones in your career path and don’t take long to achieve the basic requirements.
Volunteer experience can also count toward this requirement, but having additional paid experience may give you an advantage over other applicants.
#7 – Build Your Professional Network
Who you know can be just as beneficial as what you know. It’s important to build a network of doctors, professors, and PAs that can either write you a letter of recommendation or hire you once you graduate!
Even if it means volunteering at a hospital or working for low wages for a while, it’s worth it to make important connections and gain valuable experience that will help you achieve your career goals.
#8 – Submit Your Application Early
Applying to PA school isn’t a quick and easy process. Along with a traditional application form, you’ll also need to collect transcripts and letters of recommendation, write a personal essay, and complete other requirements. In addition, every application may go under a review process before going to the school for which you’re applying. The entire application process can take weeks or longer!
Don’t put off your application until the last minute. Check your chosen schools’ deadline, then submit your application as early as possible, but at least one month prior.
Getting into the Right PA School
Remember, not all PA schools are created equal. While you want to choose a school that you can feasibly get into, you also want to attend a school that will help you succeed in your career. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” and compare various programs and requirements. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us today for admissions consulting so you can find the best path to PA school and start your dream career.