Erica

What was your major in undergrad?

Biochemistry with minors in chemistry and philosophy

What do you think the strongest and weakest part of your application was? 

Strongest things were my research publication which I did 1st author in undergraduate, personal statement/ writing skills, and community service experiences (I had about 2000 hours that I did in City Year before joining). My weakest area was definitely my lack of clinical experience. That actually precluded me from applying to some other schools in TX. I didn’t have any work experiences and had only about 100 hours of volunteering/ shadowing experiences in undergraduate (both in ED and NICU).

Why did you think your research publication was the strongest part of your application?

I think the aforementioned things helped me stand out from the average applicant by being a little different. Since they get so many great applications, sometimes having something different can help a lot. People are afraid to major in something non traditional (like English, Poli Sci or philosophy), but I think it’s best to follow your own passions and interests. That will show that you are true to yourself, and are not just trying to do what you think you are ‘supposed’ to do.

What was hardest about applying? 

For me the hardest thing about applying was the cost. I was living in NYC at the time (I’m from TX but was living up there when applying) and had to pay for the flight down to Texas, hotels and figuring out how to get around. I only applied to three schools total, and the cost of about $500 just to apply was a lot for me at the time. I was lucky to be able to combine two interviews into one trip, which did help to offset some travel costs.

Any last tips for applicants and those interested in PA school?

Know what you are getting into before you come to PA school. I was not mentally prepared for the amount of dedication that it would take to be a PA student, and it took me about 2-3 months to truly grasp how much my life was going to revolve around studying. Once you get accepted, stop trying to ‘better yourself’ academically or otherwise– and just relax and enjoy yourself, as much as logistically and financially possible. If you can take a vacation beforehand or some time off, definitely do- you will be so glad later. Do not try to study before hand, it honestly won’t help and you’ll be more stressed and tired before even starting. The number one priority should be getting your mind in the right place, and making sure that your close family and loved one (spouse, kids, etc) know what this journey is going to entail for all of you.

Also, make efforts to stay balanced while in school. So many people seem to put everything aside for their grades- mental health, relationships, exercise, sleep– but those things are necessary to be successful. You can’t burn the candle from both ends.

That being said, becoming a PA is an incredible journey and something that I am so glad I am doing! I have grown so much personally in my two years of PA school so far, and I know that this is the right career for me. Email me at e_muse@yahoo.com for any questions or to talk! Good luck.

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