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Applying to PA School During the Covid Crisis



Applying to PA School During the Covid Crisis

As if applying to PA school wasn’t stressful enough, let’s throw a pandemic into the mix. With patient care jobs, shadowing opportunities and standardized tests being cancelled, the level of anxiety entering into the 2020 CASPA cycle just intensified by one thousand. Every pre-PA has a different circumstance and some of you may still be able to apply this cycle, while others may be considering deferring to the next cycle. I have been speaking with a lot of pre-PAs one on one in my counseling sessions to help determine what the right choice is for YOU. I wanted to put together this post to go over a few things that may help you make that decision, but also provide helpful tips on what you can be doing at home while social distancing.

covid crisis

1) The Covid-19 Essay

This year CASPA is including an optional Covid-19 essay where you can describe how this pandemic has affected your pathway to PA school.  For example, did your classes all go online, change to Pass/Fail? Were your shadowing/PCE affected, did you lose your job or a volunteer opportunity, etc.  The character limit is 2500 for this space but a great place to talk about how Covid-19 has changed your application and your journey.

2) The Pass/Fail Problem

A lot of universities have changed their grading system to pass/fail when converting to online. It will be up to the PA schools whether or not they will accept these for prerequisites or not. The best place to find that information is on the programs websites, however, they may not have updated yet.  In CASPA, the policy has always been that pass/fail courses are not calculated into your GPA, and that will remain the same. I advise that you enter your pass/fail courses in your transcripts and let the schools decide, unless they specifically say they do not accept them on their website.

3) The GRE and PA-CAT

Both the GRE and PA-CAT are now offering at home options.  Right now the GRE is more widely used and ETS is allowing this to be done at home if you meet the specific requirements. One of those requirements is having a PC, so Mac users, you’ll have to borrow one.  Some schools are loosening their GRE requirements for this cycle, so again, check the websites for information.  The PA-CAT is also being offered remotely through Prometric. Unless your school currently requires this exam, I would not be inclined to take it for this cycle.

4) Shadowing

It will be highly unlikely to find a shadowing opportunity right now. Providers are overwhelmed and your safety is our first priority.  While this may affect your hours in applying, this is not the best or right time to be pushing for shadowing opportunities. I would recommend waiting to reach out until restrictions have loosened and discuss this in the Covid essay if it affects your application.  If you had a planned shadowing opportunity that was cancelled, I would keep in touch with that PA and see when it is feasible to reschedule.

5) Volunteer Work

With travel restrictions in full force, many mission trips and volunteer efforts have been cancelled. But, not to worry there are some volunteer opportunities you can do from home during quarantine!  One great place to look is They have a list of volunteer organizations you can work with remotely like Chemo Angels and the CrisisText Hotline.  Be sure to check them out as this is a great opportunity to give back.

covid crisis

Even though it may feel like it right now, not all hope is lost. We will make it through this, we are strong. I know this is a difficult time not only for pre-PAs but everyone. Before you give up or let self-doubt consume you, know that I am here to guide you through this process.

Stay strong, stay focused. Let’s do this.

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