Name: Aliyah Stephens
Accepted to: College of St. Scholastica PA Program
Major: Biology Minor: Science and Theology
Undergrad University: University of Northwestern St. Paul
Work at ACR: I began working at ACR three years ago. I was hired as a full-time staff at Jennifer Court after graduating from Northwestern. After my background working at an assisted living, I was blown away by the amount of one-on-one care that I could give my residents at ACR. I loved the healthcare skills I acquired such as my interaction with specialized medical equipment, various therapies, appointment experience, and hospital visits. After one year, I began splitting my time between Fulham and Jen Ct and became the live-in at Fulham. I was RC for a short period, then accepted the RS position at Fulham. Being an RS for the past year and a half has shown me what it means to be part of a care team involving frequent communication with staff, nurses, physicians, guardians, case managers, etc. My time at ACR has taught me the meaning of intrinsic value and how to advocate for others, knowledge that I will carry with me as a future PA.
Total HCE hours: 1,900 (ACR RS/RC)
Total PCE hours: 3,600 (ACR DCP, senior living work from high school/college)
Shadowing hours: 54 (46 shadowing PAs and 8 from other healthcare professionals)
Other volunteer hours: 1,200 (tutoring, activities volunteer at assisted living, Feed My Starving Children, church volunteer opportunities, etc.)
Additional Involvements: I included additional activity involvement I had throughout college including research projects, TriBeta officer, TA work, and my job at the disability office. I also completed the Leadership Development Program at UNW and received a certificate of leadership.
How many programs did you apply to? 3
Anything you found surprising about interviews? I did not interview this application cycle, but I did in a previous cycle. I remember being extremely nervous beforehand but found that talking with the other applicants made me feel more comfortable. I suggest practicing by setting up mock interviews with family or friends.
Were there any helpful resources you used to get through the application and interview process? I highly recommend The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs. (*Tip! There are some at J. Arthur’s for staff to look at if you don’t want to buy it!) It lists out PA school requirements so that you don’t have to spend hours on end searching each individual school’s website for information. I also recommend The PA Platform. They have a ton of blog posts for pre-pa students or if you are into podcasts, The Pre-PA Club is great.
Any other advice for other pre-PA students? Where are my re-applicants?? I was one! I suggest looking at your whole application to see where you can make improvements in each area. Every shift you pick up at ACR adds to your hours! I believe my progression from DCP to RS was a major factor that showed growth in my healthcare experience. Even becoming an ACR mentor or shift supervisor enhances your application. More consistent shadowing and volunteering is always helpful; don’t feel like you have to volunteer in only healthcare related fields, even a non-medical setting can show your commitment to helping diverse or underserved populations. If you have a class or two on your application with a lower grade, consider re-taking it to show improvement. Finally, one of the biggest pieces is your personal statement because it is the school’s way of getting to know your personality and story. You can start this even before CASPA opens! I decided to completely re-write my personal statement this past cycle to best reflect my most recent experiences. By doing this, I was able to keep the topics focused on my growth and readiness to become a PA as compared to the previous application cycle.