Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Getting into PA School – Once I found out it existed :)

I realized I haven’t mentioned how I was able to qualify and apply for the Physician Assistant Program. Here it is! I apologize for the length :)

Before I knew about the PA program I was pursuing medicine. After deciding my personality did not fit with medicine I started looking at physiotherapy but then discovered the PA profession in August 2011. I was lucky that I had taken all of the prerequisites and eligible to apply for the September 2012 intake. Having had medicine in mind, I had a lot of volunteer and extracurricular on hand. At that point I had volunteered twice at the folk festival. I had previously volunteered at a hospital. I volunteered at a shelter for youth and I was in the process of becoming a mentor. Aside from volunteering I had worked in my undergrad with a kids program for 3 years. This is where I found my first reference. During my free time I was part of the University Dance Team for 3 years, a hip hop dance group for 1 year and worked at a hot yoga studio at various times. I was also taking adult musical theatre classes and at one time was taking jazz and ballet classes as well.

When I was looking at the prerequisites I realized that I had taken most of them in my first and second year which was 6-7 years ago! At that point I was “living out my youth”. After going through the International Baccalaureate Program in high school university seemed simple except for one problem, I forgot that you still have to study. :P

Because I had intended to do my prerequisites for the Physiotherapy Masters Program at U of M I was registered at the U of M as a continuing student. I was debating whether I should retake anatomy & psychology. After talking to my husband and having a tight budget I decided not to. My husband said if you have all the prerequisites and get in then it would be a waste of money retaking those courses. So I spent the year working at a laboratory. I have already worked in the lab for about 2 years as a student and as a casual. When my casual term ended I was rehired to work another term. Working in the laboratory, I gained experience in research and diagnostic testing. This is where I found great references.

Then it was the point of writing the personal essay. It took about 2 weeks of writing and re-writing and getting my husband (history major, English minor teacher) to edit and re-edit. He was dreading each draft and even wanted to write it for me. Of course I said no, I wanted the letter to come from me and it was a great way to learn how to write properly. I added my CV, transcripts, along with my 3 references and a section on volunteer and academic experiences. Application sent.


A few months later someone told me that the PA program was really competitive and to think about applying to nursing instead. I respect nurses, but I remembered when I took the class Intro to Nursing, I dropped it. The nursing profession does not fit with me. At this point I felt defeated. I decided to retake the MCAT and apply to the McMaster Physician Assistant Bachelor Program in Hamilton, Ontario.

The prerequisites for the McMaster PA program was 2 years of undergraduate university. The application process was much different compared to U of M. It required you to send them your transcript and fill out an online form that had 5 questions about yourself such as what your weaknesses are and how will it affect you as a PA etc. This application didn’t end well. I was not invited for an interview. (Luckily this all happened after I found out I was accepted to my top choice at U of M.)

At this point my term at the lab was ending. I felt I had no future and that my micro degree was a waste. My former supervisor offered me a masters position in his laboratory which would lead to a Masters in Medical Microbiology. I heavily contemplated about taking it but I knew that I could not do research for the rest of my life and so I declined. I had also finished an application to the Midwifery Program at the University of the North but they weren't taking applications at the time.


Then on Feb 10th I received an e-mail

I was offered an interview for March 9th. I was dancing in my lab all morning. I could not believe that I had an interview. I was happy, excited and nervous. (Read the “interview (MMI) section on how I prepared)

Some point afterwards I was extended at work for a year. "Whew! This news allowed me to relax a little. I had a good job as a backup in case I needed to reapply.

On March 20th I was recommended for a position in the PA program to the Faculty of Grad Studies (they determine if you have the prerequisites to do a Masters). I also cancelled my MCAT that day :P.

Then on April 23rd it was official, I was approved by the Faculty of Grad Studies. :D :D :D  More of my happy dance! There were over 100 applicants for 12 spots.  

1 comment:

  1. I am glad I stumbled across your page. Great to know that there is a Canadian equivalent of Paul! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts. Continue to inspire!