How to Prepare Your Application for PA School
Posted By: Brooke Chaplan on November 13, 2019 |
Applying to PA school is a bit different than applying to other types of college programs. Not only is it quite competitive, but there are specialized requirements that you don’t find in other fields. Many looking to become a PA can get stressed and confused by the requirements and admissions process, so don’t feel that you are alone in this. Below are four things you need to do to prepare your application for a PA program.
Get Your Hours In
Before you apply to school, you’ll need to do some work in the field. Ideally, this will start with shadowing a PA—most colleges would like you to spend at least eight hours shadowing, preferably in more than one area of specialty. In addition to shadowing a PA, you’ll also be expected to work as many hours as possible in a healthcare field before you apply. While every school differs in the number of healthcare experience hours they prefer, a good rule of thumb is to work as many as you can. Review the requirements of your top schools to know exactly how many they are looking for.
You also need to do some research on schools while you get your hours done. It can help to use a PA school finder to figure not only which schools you can reasonably apply to given your grades and experience, but also what the application requirements for those schools might be.
You’ll want to look at schools that have programs that interest you as well as those that might make financial sense for your current situation. There are over 260 PA programs in the United States alone, so it’s important to narrow your application pool to the ones best for your situation.
Take an Entrance Exam
Once you figure out where you want to go, it’s time to take an entrance exam. The vast majority of schools are going to require you to take the GRE, but some other schools may actually require the MCAT. Note that it’s generally recommended to study much longer for the MCAT (up to six months) than the GRE, so you may want to prioritize schools that accept GRE scores if you’re pressed for time or if you feel less confident about taking the MCAT.
Gather the Paperwork
Finally, you’ll want to gather your paperwork for submission. You will need official transcripts for every college you’ve attended, even if you only attended the school for a single semester. You will also need letters of recommendation—again, this is something that varies by school, but you’ll generally need around three letters from PAs that you have shadowed or individuals who supervised you during your healthcare experience hours.
Above all else, make sure to give yourself time to apply. Make sure to carefully research schools so you know how much experience you need and what kind of test you’ll need for admission. If you can follow the guidelines, you stand a much better chance of being admitted.
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