Name: Hannah Thompson
Accepted to: Mayo Clinic Physician Assistant Program
Major: Child Psychology
Undergrad University: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Work at ACR (length of time, experience gained): Almost 4 years at Barclay –I was a shift supervisor and mentor for over half of my time there!
Total PCE hours: ~2000 at ACR and ~1000 working with children with disabilities in a similar setting to ACR
Total HCE hours: 1200 as a medical scribe at Emergency Care Consultants (some schools count scribing as PCE, but most don’t)
Shadowing hours: ~80 hours (mostly with PAs, but also some hours with physicians and NPs)
Other volunteer hours: 400 (Ronald McDonald House, local food bank, Fairview emergency department)
Extra: ~150 hours of research experience
How many programs did you apply to? 26
How many programs did you interview with? 5 and still waiting to hear from some programs
Anything you found surprising about interviews? Interviews are much more laid back than I thought they would be! The people interviewing just want to get to know you to see if you’d be a good fit for their program.
Were there any helpful resources you used to get through the application and interview process? When deciding what schools to apply to, I used the The Applicant’s Manual of Physician Assistant Programs which is available at J Arthurs – super handy (thanks ACR)! I also read Savannah Perry’s Physician Assistant School Interview Guide, and I did a mock interview through her website, The PA Platform. A PA who wrote a recommendation letter for me helped me edit my personal statement, and she was SUPER helpful. If you can get a PA to lay eyes on your personal statement, do it!
Any other advice for other pre-PA students?
1. Don’t give up!! I was a re-applicant and after my first cycle applying without any interviews, I was extremely discouraged. But I retook some classes, took new classes, shadowed more, volunteered more, and gained more patient care hours, so my application looked much better the second time I applied. If you know there is a part of your application that is lacking, try and improve it. For example, my science GPA was not very strong, so I took 21 credits during my gap year to boost it. Programs love to see growth!
2. Apply as early as possible. A lot of schools are rolling and look at applications as they come in!
3. Talk about ACR in your personal statement and at interviews. Admission’s committees love it when you have real life examples to answer questions with. Working at ACR gave me so many different experiences to talk about (leadership, relationships with residents, healthcare situations, stressful situations, etc.)
4. Keep a list of experiences throughout undergrad. Keep track of everything from volunteering to research to PCE. Also make notes about things that stand out to you that could be talking points at interviews. For example, after every shadowing experience I listed a quick thing that stood out to me about the experience. This will definitely be helpful as you fill out CASPA.
5. Going off of point 4, start filling out CASPA way before it opens. Get Letters of Recommendation lined up and start your personal statement very early.
6. Meet with admission’s representatives if possible and attend information sessions.
7. Research schools to see if you’d be a good fit! And make sure you meet their requirements. If you don’t meet minimum requirements, you could be automatically denied from programs.
8. Volunteer and gain other experiences outside of healthcare! Programs love to see diversity, and it’ll give you things to talk about in your personal statement or interviews.
9. Take advantage of the fact that you work at ACR. They offer so many wonderful pre-health resources and opportunities. Attend appointments with your residents, shadow or talk to alumni, do an internship, join the Facebook group of your desired program, participate in the pre-health book club, become a supervisor or mentor, and go on the Mayo trip. Any experience you can add to your list will help you learn and grow!