A HELPFUL ARTICLE
What every Pre-PA & PA Student should be doing NOW!
Happy New Year! You have finally made it through the holidays, like with a few extra pounds, but you should be well rested and ready to conquer the months ahead. Forget resolutions, you need to set benchmarks that will get you to your ultimate goal whether that be getting into PA school or making it to graduation.
But where to start? The very thought of it make seem so overwhelming you start to sweat. To make it a little easier, I have compiled a list of what you should be doing RIGHT NOW in your journey as a Pre-PA and PA student.
If you are a Pre-PA:
1. Finalize your list of schools including EVERY detail about deadlines, requirements, what is accepted for patient hours, etc. I recommend a top 10. It can be more or less, but make a detailed excel spreadsheet or grid for you to be able to mark off each item completed. Be sure to do your research about each program to make sure you are applying to schools you have the highest chance of being accepted to.
2. Look at the application fees for each school and plan a budget. If you plan to apply for a fee waiver, carefully review the requirements to see if you will qualify. These are only valid for 14 days so do NOT apply now. You do this right before you are ready to submit so if you are approved, you can submit and use the waiver within 14 days.
3. Ask your colleges to send you official transcripts you will need to enter in your coursework information, so that it will match exactly what they see when they receive your transcript. CASPA verifies all of this data, so it needs to be accurate on both sides.
4. Start to enter your colleges in the Colleges Attended section of the CASPA application. This will make you feel good about actually starting the process and is fairly straight forward to do.
5. Identify and contact your references. Let them know early and what steps they will need to take in the upcoming months to submit them on time.
6. Begin drafting your personal statement. It will take multiple edits and attempts to make it the best it can be, so there is no reason NOT to start now. If you need some editing..be sure to contact me!
7. Download the transcript request form for each school you have attended to prepare to contact each school . You will need to contact the registrar from every school and provide them with the transcript request for along with any required information. You DO NOT need to send them now, but download the form and get prepared.
Remember..it is important to apply early, but absolutely critical that your application is complete and accurate. Some of the members of The PA Posse that I have given counseling sessions to, the main reason they were rejected and are now re-applying is because their application was not what it should be! I am very happy that I have been able to help fix the issue and some have been accepted!!
For the 1st year PA student:
1. This is the perfect time to reflect on what worked and what did not work during the first half of the didactic year. What can you do to improve your study habits?
2. Begin to get out in the field if at all possible. Ask to shadow a PA for a half day in a specialty of your choice or ask one of your faculty. Why? Because you have been literally sitting on your ass for months learning. It is always refreshing to take what you learn outside the classroom for a few hours and focus on how you will translate the information to real patients.
3. Start preparing yourself for clinical rotations. Talk to students currently on rotation and see what the pros/cons are of each one.
4. Plan for the possibility of travel and budget for clinical rotations. Be sure to ask your program what fees are associated and if housing is arranged at off site locations if they have not informed you already.
5. It may seem like this phase will never end, but it will, you are getting there! Find time in your day for some enjoyment, relaxation with classmates, a workout, anything that will keep you focused and strong for the rest of didactic.
For the second year PA student:
1. You have been on rotations now for a little while. Start thinking about what specialty, if any, you might see yourself in. You DO NOT have to choose now, I didn’t until a few years after graduation. Where do you want to practice, what type of practice? Start exploring and asking your preceptors what are some of the pros and cons of different work environments.
2. Join state PA chapters and start perusing the job market. If you know where you want to live and work, these organization often have a lot of job postings. You can explore what the market it is like in your desired area. You do NOT have to apply now, but its nice to get an idea of what is out there.
3. PANCE Prep. You have been doing this all along, but in the next few months you will want to start doing some questions on your own. Looking at different options for question banks, books, etc will help.
4. Start preparing your resume. It is never to early to work on this. You want it to be ready when you start applying for jobs in the upcoming months.
5. Network your ass off. Every rotation is an opportunity to make a contact they may turn into a job opportunity later. Be sure to get contact information from anyone you connect with, you never know when you may need them!