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“How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant School Interview” by Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C

October 24, 2011 in PA Pals, Prospective PAs

You can hardly believe your eyes. You are holding a letter with the words: "We are pleased to invite you to an interview with our physician assistant program. Please notify..." You can barely read the rest of the letter because you are so excited! You've been invited to an interview! You know you stand a good chance of making it into the program of your choice... or do you? Your excitement slowly churns into anxiety. Only top notch candidates are left, and it's likely that their passion burns as bright as your own. How could you possibly compare to the others? Let alone outshine the others?

Perhaps the author, Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C, could answer these questions among others in his latest book, How to "Ace" the Physician Assistant School Interview. He has interviewed countless PA hopefuls as a former member of the Yale University School of Medicine Physician Associate Program Admission Committee.

I was given the opportunity to review this book... and I definitely had a reason to give the material a real hard look. As a prospective physician assistant myself with my own letter of invitation, I stand in that very position of nervous excitement- anxiously awaiting, yet dreading, Judgment Day.

As I held his book in my hands, I contemplated what knowledge and tid-bits of information was needed to make-or-break a candidate at his or her interview. Would this book help a candidate:

Know what to expect at the interview?

Help the candidate feel more at ease and confident during the interview?

Make the candidate stand out from the crowd?

Know what type of questions the candidate will be asked?

And teach the candidate how to answer these questions?

1) What to expect: I felt that some of the anxiety of "not knowing" was taken away after reading. (Of course they do say that ignorance is bliss....)

  • He listed the different types of interviews (personal, group, and student) and how to approach each.
  • The top 5 mistakes of interviewees and how to avoid these pitfalls.

2) Be at ease and gain confidence: This was one of my biggest concerns that was addressed. In past interviews for job positions I have become so nervous that I have literally frozen up. I could feel my brain shut down as panic took over. Did Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C teach me how to avoid this? Yes, yes he did.

  • A very important tip was given on how to stop the panic attack dead in its tracks and how to quickly regain composure. (This one little piece of information is a true gem.)
  • Learn how to silence the inner critic.
  • What to do the 24 hours before your interview. (No, it's not frantically pacing back and forth in your hotel room until you have worn a hole in the carpet.)

3) Stand out from the crowd: In a sea of candidates claiming, "I want to be a PA," the author gives good advice on how to draw the eyes of the admissions committee to you.

  • Develop your own unique selling proposition- what do you have to offer that other candidates don't?
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the PA profession.
  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the institution's PA program.
  • Demonstrate 'soft' skills besides 'hard' skills.

4) Types of questions: So here is the meat of the book. We all know that we will be asked questions at the multiple interviews we will be attending. We will be asked LOTS of questions. Well, this book asks 100 questions of its own! Each question in the book has 3 possible answers and the reader is to select the BEST answer. Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C then provides the explanation as to why a particular answer is the best. There are 5 types of questions addressed:

  • Traditional Questions
  • Behavioral Questions
  • Situational Questions
  • Ethical Questions
  • Illegal Questions

5) How to answer: Rodican states in his book, "The number one reason cited in my research for not recommending a candidate for a PA program is that he or she did not answer the interview questions effectively." He then teaches the reader how to avoid this trap.

  • Explains the seperate components that should be evident in your answers.
  • Avoid being too wordy or going off on a long tangent.
  • Be sure to answer what the question asks.

Now that I have written how helpful the book has been, I have to admit that I had one little concern. There are two example questions asked about the nurse practitioner versus the physician assistant. The answer to one of the questions stated that the nurse practitioner was unable to prescribe medications. The answer to the other question stated that the physician assistant was higher in "hierarchy" to the nurse practitioner. After doing some investigation, it appears that this may just be an assumption as the nurse practitioner is able to prescribe medications; and only certain circles believe the physician assistant is higher than the nurse practitioner, while others believe that the nurse practitioner is higher than the physician assistant, while even others believe there is no hierarchy between the two at all.

My overall conclusion of the book, "How to "Ace" the Physician Assistant School Interview" is that it is a must-have for any candidate who has been invited to a school interview. The resource is a valuable tool to those willing to utilize it!

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3 responses to “How to “Ace” the Physician Assistant School Interview” by Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C

  1. Thanks for taking the time to review this book for the rest of us. It sounds like a great resource, one full of original information. Your review has certainly piqued my interest for this book.

  2. @kds423 Have you interviewed yet? I’m wondering if you could do a post-interview(s) review of what you thought was the most useful and what is missing that you realize would have been helpful.

  3. Merrit, I like your idea. I have had my interview, and I was going to post about my experience. I will be sure to write about how much the book helped and where it may have been lacking.

    I will tell you right now that this book prepared me immensely. I felt very confident going into the interview and I felt just as good coming out. There were no surprise questions for me since this book basically exposed every type of question out there. I think an area where the book may be lacking is informing the reader about the typical day of a PA- what is it really like in the real world? Hopefully though, candidates’ hands-on patient care experience will have helped expose them to the realities of patient care.

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