Friday, September 16, 2011

PA Application Process (CASPA, Supplemental Applications)

Applying to PA programs has been like running a really long marathon! I started my CASPA application in April and spent many hours entering course work, writing and re-writing my personal statement, and entering in all the volunteer and work experience I have done.  After feeling accomplished that I had turned in my CASPA application relatively early (July),  I felt another wave of pressure from supplemental applications. While at the time I felt like I was getting draged through the mud of applications, in the end I am glad I had to fill out the supplemental application. I feel it allowed me to show the different programs how I fit their style/mission/objectives.  (I don't really like the fact that schools can make so much money from the supplemental application but I do understand with large numbers of applicants you have to find a way to efficiently weed out applicants and this takes time and money for people to go through all those applications.) By the end you will feel tired of staring at your computer screen and writing and re-writing essay questions. BUT don't give up, keep pushing and you will only be a better candidate by then end of it all!  (Oh and get ready for the fun part.. interviews!!!) 

Be ready for a marathon, you will never write as fast as you would like, and time doesn't slow down for you to get your brillant ideas from your brain to the page to answer that essay question.  So start know, you can get the personal statement question NOW off of CASPA's website and start working on it little be little. It will help!  Because when it comes time for you to actually turn it in, you will hopefully feel like you have explored all your ideas.

-Good luck, and your journey to PA school has already started! So get to work!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Orthopedic PA

On March 10, myself and the MAPS Pre-PA group at CSULB had a great time meeting the creator of a new website called  He discussed his journey from CSULB undergrad, through the PA application process, interviews and PA school. He now practices in a successful orthopedic practice here in Long Beach, CA. In the meeting he showed us the basics of suturing and knot tying. We got to practice on bananas with some old sutures I had gotten from a friend. Overall the meeting went great and the opportunity to become familiar with a critical skill like suturing early on in our careers is priceless.
I encourage everyone to check out  Whether they are just to figure out if becoming a physician assistant is right for you or if you have been practicing for years.  It is also a great reference for orthopedic questions you may have. The site is still growing so be sure to come back often and see the progress.
Picture of students observing a suturing demonstration


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Western U Preview Day

This past Saturday (March 5) I got a chance to see what Western University of Health Science's PA program is all about. Here is a break down of how the day went:
  • Registration, Resource Fair, and Breakfast food
  • Welcome presentation and video about the school and some of its history.  
    • We also heard John Tegezs a professor form the veterinary school talk about the schools Interprofessional curriculum, which brings students from all the various colleges together to discuss cases, and to learn from each other. (This is something I feel is very unique and is not seen in other PA programs)  
    • We also heard from the schools president Dr. Pumerantz, who gave us all a great reminder of humanism.
  • Everyone went to the respective breakout sessions. I of course went to the PA one. Now I am not going to tell you everything Roy Guizado MS, PA-C (chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Education) went over but I will give you some of the tips he gave us. You should have some kind of community service and something that shows consistency is very good. PREPARE for the interview: know the major organizations (CAPA, AAPA, PAEA) related to the profession and what they do.  Know why you want to be a PA.  Know what a PA does.  At Western they have a lot of people to interview, and you will not be able to spend all morning with the interviewers. So be prepared, be ready to go and dress appropriately!  You get points for dressing professionally so get all the points you can (it is something you have control over).  
  • We finished with being able to ask questions to first year PAs and then got a tour of the campus from the students. 

Hope you all find this somewhat helpful.
If you are interested in any of the programs Western U offers, I encourage you to go to one of there Preview days.  You can go here form more information:

Enjoy and keep working hard to achieve your goal!  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Get Good Health Care Experience!

     Every PA school has their own unique requirements, and you should research each school individually! Yes this takes a lot time but its work it in the end!  It like the necessary growing pains you go through growing up.  By taking the time to research each school carefully you can gain a very good feeling of whether the school would be a good fit for you or not.
     Regardless of what school(s) you like each is going to require that you have some patient care experience whether they say it or not. (Think about it would apply to do something you know nothing about?) There are many ways to gain good quality experience, and you should always be out on the look for these experiences.  Some examples of good clinical experience are: volunteering in your local hospital, ask your own doctor if you can volunteer in their clinical, get a job as an emt, phlebotomist, er tech, physical therapy aide, anything that will get you in a good setting, and in contact with patients.   
Once you start working/volunteering, ask yourself (be critical) do you like what your doing? Do you want to me able to do more?  Can you handle the sight of blood, puke, poop, pee, people on their way out of life, and on their way in.  There are a lot of not so pretty pictures, but there is more opportunities to make a difference, then there are negative images.  

Here are some of things  I have done to gain hands on experience:
Worked as a physical therapy aide
Volunteer in the Clinical Care Extender Program (CCE)
Volunteer at LAC+USC in the department of Emergency Medicine
Volunteered, planned, and will be running a health fair (in the city of Bell), this is through the student group I am involved with at school (check out, and watch the video of our past health fair)

Get out there!  Challenge yourself! See what the real world is like!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Making the best first impression

So your first impression with anyone you come across on your way to becoming a PA is going to be important!!  You may be out with your friends talking about something and a PA in plain clothes, recognizes you as one of the hospital volunteers.  (This person should be a potential writer for a letter of recommendation.) Your first impression as a citizen out side the hospital is going to be key in this situation!  Ask your self: Do look appropriate for the setting? (Did you just wake up? Are you wearing sweats to mall?) Remember dress to impress!

Another first impression that will be critical will be the one on your first day of volunteering/shadowing. BE PROACTIVE!!! Introduce your self, let them know how long you are going to be there, and if they have any interesting case and would like to share, please let me know.  Also when volunteering consistence is key! Don't be a flake! This is practice for when you are older as a PA student and as a PA-C.   Would you want to hire the person that shows up late constantly or is always changing their hours around?  
This is the same for your first day of rotations as a PA student.  You have a limited amount of time in each situation, make the most of it!  Don't expect them to include you in on everything, you need to show intrest and desire to learn everything!  

Being PROACTIVE is the word for the day!
What have you done today, to reach your goal of becoming a PA?  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Semester New Beginning

So I am back to a new semester.  We are three weeks in and I have been doing much better compared to last semester. I have been organized and on top of my schedule and school work. (Yes, it feels good).  I have finished last semester with all Bs and one A not bad given the rough start, I have become co-chair for MAPS (Minority Focused Alliance of Pre-Health Students) health fair (in addition to the Pre-PA co-chair).   I have decided to keep this blog related to me and my journey to Physician Assistant School!  If any one actually follows this one day, I will be more then happy to try and answer any of the questions they may have.  I have mainly focused on PA schools in CA that are granting masters degrees. But I have also looked into several big name schools across the country (Yale, Duke, etc)