Happy New Year!! New Year, New Me! Everyone is making New Years resolutions, “I’ll go to the gym four times a week!” “I will pack my lunch every day!” “More salads, less junk food!” We’ve heard it all. At the end of the day - err, rather at the end of the year, it depends on you on which goals you stick to. If you aspire to attend PA school (which I assume is why you are reading this), then you know it’s no easy task and you must stick to your goals in order to achieve that dream. Here are a few New Year’s resolutions that will help you get to your goals.
Whether you’re applying this application cycle or the next, get organized! There are a lot of moving parts to the PA school application. It’s easy to lose track of all the aspects. If you’re applying this cycle, make an excel sheet to keep track of the programs you are applying to, the deadlines of each program, the CASPA application, LORs, personal statement, transcripts, extracurricular and the cost of the application. If you’re applying in a future cycle, make an excel sheet to keep track of your prerequisites, HCE hours, PCE hours, your personal statement and gathering connections for LORs. Check out this article on how to prepare for CASPA
Gather your extracurriculars
Take time to gather your HCE/PCE hours. Whether you are in your first year of undergrad, you’re gathering all your ducks in a row to apply or you have already applied and are waiting to hear back, working on your HCE/PCE will only boost your application. If you’ve already been accepted, way to go! Continuing your HCE/PCE hours will increase your experience prior to PA school. Check out this article on the low-down on extracurricular activities
Letter of recommendations are the only part of the application process that you don’t have 100% control over. It takes significantly longer to have the letters submitted than you think! Start early by making connections who you may be able to ask for a recommendation from. By getting to know the PA/MD/DO/PhD early, you increase the chances of A) getting the recommendation and B) a rapport to encourage early submission. Check out this article on how to ask for a recommendation letter
Attend a conference or pick up a research project
As you can see from this article, admissions to PA school is getting harder over time. I understand that there is constant pressure for Pre-PAs to do ‘more things’ in order to stay competitive and it’s true. You must. Become involved in a research project and get some experience underneath your belt. Personally speaking, I had 3 years of research experience on my resume and only 250 hours of HCE. Despite that, I had more than 10 interviews lined up. I’m not here to boast about myself, but my point is to diversify your resume to become a well rounded applicant. Research will develop your critical thinking skills, patience and if you’re good, you’ll be a lucky few to become published in a science journal. This will stick out on your application, trust me.
We all learn from our mistakes. My mistake was that I never attended a conference prior to PA school. It’s a different atmosphere knowing that everyone who loves medicine is under one roof. It’s inspiring. The sheer amount of knowledge you can gain at a conference is incredible. Even if you know nothing about medicine, you can attend lectures from 8am to 8pm (if you please), and you will come out knowing a thing or two. Best of all, like I mentioned above, it gives you an opportunity to make connections. Talk to your peers, talk to PA students, talk to PAs, some of them who may interview you in the future.
It doesn’t matter how many New Year’s resolutions you have. It matters on how many you keep! Focus on starting small and work your way up, and no matter what, don’t quit! Personally, my New Year’s resolution is to continue to publish quality content on this blog and continue to help students get into PA school. We’ve helped quite a few students this last application cycle and I’ve never been happier. The actual fulfillment and gratification of helping people achieve their dream is what keeps me going. Happy New Year’s everyone!
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