Strengthening Your Application to Physician Assistant School

One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from Prospective PA Students is, “How can I strengthen my application?” Here at PhysicianAssistantED.com, we’ve put our heads together and generated what we feel are the twelve most important ways to bolster your PA Program application. In a series of blog posts, we bring you a variety of ideas that may be used in your quest for acceptance into a PA program.

Since each program weighs each of these topics a shade differently in evaluating the potential candidate, this list should be considered in tandem with information found in our PA Program Profiles, as well as information obtained from researching the official program website. Using this approach will help you identify those particular programs to which your application will have the strongest appeal.


#1 Healthcare Experience

Excerpt – “Acquiring hands-on patient care experience is a difficult task for a full-time student who has demanding science classes and little free time, or for the fully employed worker who has decided to make a career change. We understand that. However, hands-on patient care experience is critical, because it serves two great functions for you as an applicant…”

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#2 Grade Point Average

Excerpt – “As many of you are well aware (often late in the game unfortunately), it’s very difficult to raise the GPA once you’ve slipped with a handful of courses. If you have a horrible Freshman year for example, it takes an incredible string of A’s to push back up to a high GPA. Fortunately, many PA programs are also willing to look at “trending” — and this is where your opportunity lies.”

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#3 Community Service

Excerpt – “The key is finding something you deeply care about — then elaborating on this in your personal narrative! If you discover some type of service you are passionate about, rather than doing service just because it’s what you’re supposed to do, it will shine through in your narrative, and your chances of being invited for an interview will increase.”

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#4 Retaking Courses

Excerpt – “Too often candidates are myopic. They only see how grades affect their ability to get into a program, and neglect to consider how a lack of mastery in particular content areas, such as anatomy and physiology, can negatively impact their ability to master the difficult material that will be blasted at them like a fire hose during the rigors of a PA curriculum.”

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#5 Elective Courses

Excerpt – “One student may take ballroom dancing, yoga, art literature – this leads me to believe they have multiple interests, and perhaps use their electives to “relax” a little – a trait needed during the rigors of PA school. Another student takes extra sciences like embryology, genetics, medical anthropology – this leads me to believe this student loves the sciences and is markedly focused on learning everything possible to prepare for a medical career.”

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#6 Personal Narrative

Excerpt – “We know it is a pain, but the work you put into your personal narrative serves several purposes for the admissions committee. Your clarity of thought is important—the committee expects to see an ability to convey your message succinctly (note the word limit), clearly, and with appropriate focus. Attention to detail is important as well—committees pay attention to grammar and punctuation (so use spellcheck!). Finally…”

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#7 Entrance Examinations

Excerpt – “I talk to many students who become paralyzed with anxiety about taking the GRE (the Graduate Record Exam), procrastinate until the last minute, and then finally “bite the bullet” and take it in a rush. This leads to a two-part inquiry. First, a student will ask, “Should I retake the GRE to improve my score?” The second question that nearly always follows, is “Should I take a GRE prep course?””

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#8 Exploring the Profession

Excerpt – “Exploring the profession is the best way for you to be able to write your personal statement in such a way to convince the reader that you really understand (or are beginning to understand) what it will take to practice as a PA.

There are many ways to explore the profession…”

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#9 Letters of Recommendation

-Coming Soon


#10 Intangibles

-Coming Soon


#11 Disadvantaged Status

-Coming Soon


#12 Passion & Persistence

-Coming Soon


1 response to Strengthening Your Application to Physician Assistant School

  1. good planning….recommend it to all prospective students before anything.

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