Guest Post: How to be successful as a Pre-PA and PA-S - Jazmine Kwong

Jazmine Kwong, PA-S2 | The Humerus PA


Currently, I’m on a one-month break from PA school. We just finished our didactic year and we’ll be starting our clinical rotations in September! I recently went to Las Vegas for my friend’s bachelorette weekend and just came back from a Bali, Indonesia trip. For these next two weeks, I’ll be in Los Angeles working on social media content and preparing for rotations (paperwork and whatnot). Later on this month, I’ll be traveling to Chicago to meet my boyfriend’s niece!

In PA school, you learn that the saying is completely true. “The first year of PA school is like trying to drink water through a firehose”. There is so much content covered, not necessarily difficult material but it’s just heaps of information all at once. It was quite a shock in the first month of school but somehow I became numb to the feeling of being overwhelmed. You just get used to it in a way. My classmates feel the exact same way and that makes it all the more bearable! You can’t do PA school alone!

Over time I practiced Academic Triage. I prioritized certain classes over others based on exam dates and made sure to schedule in mental and physical breaks. I also realized that my brain reaches its learning capacity after 5 hours of studying per day. To study more efficiently I practiced the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes studying, 5 minutes break) through the Forest App. I also  made use of my Google Calendar and reminded myself to ‘Treat Yo Self’ every day after studying. This meant going to pole, kickboxing, and dance classes, watching Netflix and having dinner with family and friends.

Let’s rewind and answer a question I get frequently ~ Why did it take you 3 times to get into PA school?

Yes, it took me three attempts to get accepted into PA school and what a journey it has been! In retrospect, it all happened for a reason. Here are the reasons why I didn’t make it in:

Why I didn’t get into PA school cycle #1: I didn’t read the directions and requirements.

Why I didn’t get into PA school cycle #2: My grades and hours weren’t competitive.

Third time’s the charm: Make your comeback stronger than your setback!

My third cycle, I increased all my hours in shadowing, patient care experience, and volunteering. I retook all my Cs and made them As. I attended PA conferences to comprehend current issues affecting PAs in California. I reached out to current PA students and medical students and coordinated many mock interviews. I audited PA classes in the area and attended more info sessions. I was SEASONED and well-versed this THIRD time around.
To read more about my journey applying, go here.

Here are my tips for pre-PAs:

  • Accrue as many PCE hours as you can!

  • Read all the directions for each program you are applying for!

  • Create an Excel sheet or use Google Sheets to keep everything organized! I used these to keep track of all my hours for PCE, volunteering, shadowing and for all program requirements!

  • Keep all your academic transcripts and CASPA documents in one place! I love Google Drive for this!

  • Volunteer as much as you can, medical and non-medical.

  • Start asking for LORs as soon as you can.

  • Write a powerful Personal Statement and have others review it!

  • Be mindful of deadlines! Check and double-check the deadlines and make them visible on your Excel sheet or Google Sheets!

  • Put time into your Secondary applications as much as your primary CASPA application.

  • Do Mock Interviews for interview preparation!

  • Lastly, if you're strapped for cash, apply for CASPA fee waivers at the very beginning of the cycle! You can find it in the menu options when you create your account.  They have a limited amount of waivers each cycle so apply early!


My tips for PA students:

  • Be adaptive and be open to different learning styles and methods

  • Ask for help from your classmates, faculty and mentor

  • Utilize academic triage and your Google Calendar

  • Practice self-care (mind, body, and soul) a couple times per week

  • Sleep, just sleep

  • Utilize all your resources (Learning center at your program, faculty, YouTube, Apps, Quizlet)

  • Take out loans and apply for scholarships

  • Spend time with family, friends and classmates when you can!

  • Volunteer during the weekends and apply your skills!

  • Do something fun with your classmates at least once a semester!

  • And if you have time for it, do something for you, something you enjoy (Mine is social media outreach!)


You can always reach out through social media~ @jazminek_pa on Instagram and my website!