Thursday, March 20, 2014

Supplemental Applications and Physician Assistant School

Supplemental Applications for Physician Assistant School
Last Updated: 08/03/2015

Supplemental applications should not reflect anything in your CASPA application and are your chance to let admissions know more about you as an applicant. Nothing should be repeated from your personal narrative. If you start to deviate from the question as the paragraph continues, you are not answering the question. Find out what you want to tell admissions because you usually only have 300-500 words to answer, although some may have higher word maximums. Supplemental questions are your last chance to speak to admissions committees so it is important that you put lots of effort into them. Below are example questions from supplemental applications. As you can see, most programs ask similar questions. While these may not be used again, it is suggested that you write specific answers to the prompts you receive from your program’s supplemental application. As you gain experience, you can use these as a guide as to what type of questions you might see when you get ready to apply. It is never too early to draft a supplemental essay or your personal narrative. Jot ideas down in your spare time while shadowing or working. Keep an idea in your mind about what you’ll be asked about in the future.  

For help with your supplemental applications, utilize resources such as The PA Platform, which provides pre-PA assessments, supplemental application reviewing, letter of recommendation reviewing, and mock interviews.

Savanna Perry, PA-C, is the founder of The PA Platform and started PA school at the Medical College of Georgia in May of 2012, now known as Georgia Regents University, graduating in August of 2014.  She has assisted with multiple interviews and knows what it is like to be on both sides of the interview process. She works at a Dermatology office outside of Augusta, GA and has come to love the PA profession even more while learning all of the advantages of becoming a PA. She has always enjoyed helping other people to achieve their dreams, and that is her primary goal with her site!

Please use referral code: DoseOfPA for a special discount on The PA Platform for any service(s).
Physician Assistant Profession Choice
  • Explain how you feel about the role of the Physician Assistant being a dependent practitioner?
  • How have you demonstrated the personality qualities and character that are ideally necessary and sought for in a future physician assistant?
  • Why did you choose to apply to a primary care PA program rather than a nurse practitioner (NP) program or medical school (MD/DO)? Please address both of the other professions.
  • Why have you chosen to enter the PA profession?
  • How would you describe what a physician assistant is to someone?
  • Describe what contribution you can make to the PA profession and to our program.
  • Describe what you have done to this point in time to prepare yourself as an applicant for admission to a PA program and to become a physician assistant.
  • Have you considered or been trained in another health care profession? If your response is yes, what factors influenced your decision to pursue the PA profession versus your initial choice? If your response is no, what attracted you to the PA profession?

Medicine and Experience
  • What experiences and/or relationships have motivated you toward a career in medicine?
  • Discuss briefly any experiences and/or skills that have made you more sensitive or appreciative of other cultures or the human condition.
  • Describe your patient care experience(s) in detail, including direct patient care responsibilities, work status (full-time, part-time, summers, volunteer), and duration in estimated number of hours.
  • List the area (or areas) of medicine that appeals to you and briefly explain.
  • Describe the setting in which you envision conducting your medical career. Also include how and why you think this setting would help fulfill your interests related to the practice of medicine.
  • Describe those experiences you have had working with diverse populations and what you learned from these experiences about yourself.
  • What academic achievements, life experiences, and personal strengths do you see as important to your successful completion of an accelerated, science intensive graduate-level PA program?
  • What life experiences and personal strengths do you see as important to your success as a caring provider within the PA profession?
  • Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application, which have not previously been presented from the personal statement on CASPA or elsewhere within the application.  

  • Do you consider yourself financially disadvantaged? If yes, please explain.
  • Describe any circumstances indicative of some hardship, such as, but not limited to, financial difficulties, personal or family illness, a medical condition, a death in the immediate family or educational disadvantage.

Program or Mission
  • The honor code or mission statement for “school name” is: “enter honor code or mission statement.”
    • Please briefly discuss what activities or personal attributes demonstrate best that you would be a good custodian of our honor code/mission statement.
    • Please explain how you envision fulfilling this mission as a graduate of this program.
  • Provide at least one specific example of how your background or life experiences demonstrate your commitment to our program mission.
  • With over 170 accredited PA programs across the US, why have you chosen to apply to the our program?
  • From what you understand about our PA program, what part of the total learning experience will be most challenging for you?
  • Why have you chosen to apply specifically to our PA program?
  • Explain why you should be selected as a student in our program.
  • Have you applied to other PA programs for admission this year?

Dual Programs
  • By having a Masters in Public Health, what challenges will you be able to address in providing primary care to underserved populations?
  • If you matriculated in a MPH program, where did you receive your training?

  • If you have previously applied to “school name” please address 1) what you learned about yourself since your last application and 2) what you have done to strengthen yourself as a competitive applicant.
  • Have you ever matriculated or been a student in a PA program? If yes, list program and date of application. Why did you leave the program? Explain the reasons for your withdrawal or dismissal.
  • List additional grades, alterations on proposed coursework, graduation date, additions to extracurricular, name change, or anything else.
  • If you are reapplying to our program or any other program, please describe how you have improved your application.

Personal and Miscellaneous
  • What do you like or dislike most about the area you are from; your hometown?
  • Include a statement of purpose with your reasoning for undertaking graduate study at our school. Describe your academic objectives, research interests and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional and community activities and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application form. Clearly indicate your intended primary and supporting fields of study and describe your research area.
  • If you have any grades equivalent to C, D or F, or withdrawals or incompletes, please explain why you earned this/these grade(s), and identify what strategies you used to assure that you will be a successful student if admitted to this program.
  • Please explain any withdrawals, failures, or leave of absences on your transcript.

If you haven’t received your supplemental application from a school yet and it’s not posted on their website, chances are you must first meet all minimum standards before being asked to fill out a supplemental application. This is the case with some programs and you should check with them on a case-by-case basis. Often, PA programs have additional deadlines for supplemental applications in addition to their CASPA deadlines. You might also verify these with each program or from CASPA’s participating programs list. Most programs charge supplemental application fees of $30-80, depending on the program. They just want to ensure you’re dedicated in your decision to apply, but some of it is for processing the additional applications. Only send photos of yourself if a supplemental application asks for one. Always type your essays and print on regular white printer paper. If you have to send in your application in printed form, always purchase a large envelope (priority envelope) instead of folding it. Unless the school gives directions not to staple a supplemental application, provide a staple or a paperclip to be safe.

Most programs require receipt of your supplemental application before they’ll review it, but this doesn’t mean you should rush through them immediately after submitting your CASPA. You should take time to carefully review each question and answer the prompt fully. Remember, supplemental applications are equally as important as your CASPA in the interview process. They wouldn’t have one if they weren’t going to look at it. Make sure you look over their entire website - literally click every link you can and read all you can about their program. Learn their mission statement and their values, even if it’s almost the same as other program’s. Check out their Facebook, student blogs, or contact students/alumni of the program and ask what they liked about the program. Use those attributes to talk about in your essay. Try to be specific.

If you’ve been out of school for quite some time and you get a question about listing your experiences since graduation, you don’t have to describe everything you’ve done in great detail. Make sure you highlight the important things like your job titles and the amount of years you worked in each. You might include a summary of what you’ve learned overall, instead of giving an individual account of each job. This will save you time and words. Save it for the interview!


  1. Hi Paul!

    I have been reading your blog for the last hour or so, and I am grateful to have found it! I enjoy how thorough and informative your posts are, not only on the application but the role of a PA in the medicine field. So far I've been more and more overwhelmed by the process of applying and the apparently high competition that it comes with. I visited UTSW last week for an information session and was intrigued by their program. Not to be nosy, but would you mind sharing your stats? Also, are there any non-Texan residents in your class? Do you know if their stats/interviews were particularly outstanding (as in, is the competition upped for those seats?)

    1. Sure, if you e-mail me, I'd be more than happy to talk with you more about it.

  2. Hi Paul,

    I have found your blog very helpful in the process of filling out applications. Seeing your tips for writing the personal statement definitely helped. I am having trouble filling our supplemental application questions, however. In this post you said to not mention anything that has already been stated in the CASPA application or personal statement. Do you have tips on how to answer questions such as "How have you prepared to fulfill our mission statement?" without restating things? Thanks for the help.

  3. What would you consider a better score on a GRE. Do PA schools place high priority on GRE scores?


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