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Sunday, November 1, 2015

The PA School Interview Guide

The PA School Interview Guide
Updated: 10/27/2015

Knowing how to prepare for a PA school interview is as easy as...oh, wait. It’s not at all easy. In fact, easy is probably the last word that comes to mind when you think about your upcoming interview at any PA program. Considering how competitive PA school is and how increasingly competitive acceptance is becoming, you’ll want to read this article to ensure you are fully equipped with the right information before walking through the door.

Numerous PA hopefuls comment on my blog daily, including students who have been offered interviews and are curious about how to prepare; others who have been through interviews and are simply looking for ways to improve. You’ll find the majority of PA school Interview Questions, Essays, and Scenarios on this blog post. The following is an updated guide for the types of questions programs are asking now, topics you’ll need to know, and questions you should be asking.

5 STEPS FOR PA INTERVIEW PREP
  1. The first step to be successful in the PA school interview is to CHECK OUT THE PA SCHOOL INTERVIEW GUIDE - this guide will give you the “in’s and out’s” of each program with information about the interview you will not always find on the program’s sites. In fact, you’ll want to know what other applicants already know to avoid the disadvantage of competing against others who know what to expect. The information in this guide has been collected exclusively by licensed PAs working on the side of the interviewer, and better yet, some of the information has come from current students, alumni, and faculty. This is one step you do not want to miss out on as it could be the difference between acceptance and another year before reapplying. Make sure that you prepare yourself early, especially since interviews are right around the corner & can go until late March. Always utilize resources like this to your own advantage and never be left behind when it comes to applying for PA school. Know the programs you are applying to and know when their interview dates are. Know when to expect to hear back and know when to contact them if you do not hear anything back. This interview guide has it all and you don’t want to skimp out here.
  2. Next, you’ll want to brush up on CURRENT ISSUES IN HEALTHCARE. This is definitely a hot and trending topic in PA school interviews, especially the obesity epidemic and the great vaccination debate in the U.S. There are also some other really great topics below that you’d better invest a little bit of time researching before your interview as they are also topics you are expected to know about and have an opinion on. In my opinion, there isn’t a right or wrong answer you can give, but understanding why you support your decision and keeping in mind that we leave our own personal beliefs at the door & use evidence-based medicine in our practice is crucial for your interview & real world. Take a look at the following interview topics and make sure that you are prepared to ace your PA school interview. Knowing about these issues speaks not only of your personal medical experience, but also delivers the message that you are a well-rounded student, that you are an active participant in your community, and knowledgeable about current health affairs. This is the type of student an admissions committee wants to interview; this is the type of student an admissions committee likes to welcome onto their team of PA students.
    1. OBESITY EPIDEMIC
    2. THE VACCINE DEBATE
    3. SMOKING CESSATION APPROACHES
    4. THE IMPORTANCE OF PA EDUCATION RESEARCH
    5. THE PA NAME CHANGE
    6. RAPIDLY INCREASING PA PROFESSION GROWTH
    7. ONLINE PA PROGRAMS
    8. PRESCRIBING ABILITIES, DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY, RATIO OF PHYSICIAN TO PA, ETC. IN YOUR STATE
    9. TRANSGENDER ISSUES
    10. ICD-10 IMPLEMENTATION & TRANSITION TO EHR/EMR
    11. THE NEW PA RE-CERTIFICATION PROCESS AND CME REQUIREMENTS
    12. MASTER’S DEGREE REQUIREMENTS IN 2020
    13. THE CLINICAL DOCTORATE FOR PAs
  3. Know about HEALTHCARE REFORM - What about healthcare reform? What is healthcare reform? How does it affect PAs and your patient population? Ever heard of Obamacare (yes, this is the same as the Affordable Care Act)? If you haven’t heard of it or do not feel adequately prepared to talk about it with a colleague, then you’d better refresh your memory. This is one of the largest topics of discussion in interviews today because admissions committees want to know if your healthcare experienced has fully immersed you - giving you the tools to understand America’s healthcare system adequately and thoughtfully. Make sure that you know enough about the ACA that you can carry a conversation. You might also look into your state’s laws on Medicaid and Medicare and see how they differ from other states. Know about the different types of insurance available (HMO, PPO) etc. and how they operate.
  4. Understand THE SHORTAGE IN PRIMARY CARE (doctor shortage) - Do you know why there is a doctor or physician (MD/DO) shortage today? Understanding the basics can mean the difference between landing the interview and landing a seat in the program. Read about the shortage of physicians, especially with respect to their difference in training and the shortage of residencies available to medical students. Do you know what organization sponsors medical residencies, who applies for them, or how many medical students go without them each year? Do you know how many medical schools and students there are applying for schools? Do you know the differences in training of a PA, NP, and MD/DO? Do you know how many physicians choose to go into primary care each year? How many patients have accessed health insurance in your state, but are unable to utilize it readily due to a shortage of providers in their area? Do you know why PAs are being utilized more every year in primary care settings? Do you know about scholarship or loan repayment programs available for PAs who choose to go into primary care? Do you know what primary care is and how to describe it in your own words? Now that you have answered these questions - why is there a shortage in primary care? Put bullet point #3 together with bullet point #4 and try to figure this out for yourself.
  5. Know who is interviewing you! Get to know your interviewers. Most likely this will be a committee consisting of the director, professors, current students and alumni. You can’t possibly know everyone interviewing you, but it would be helpful to know the basics about the director and the professors. Who is the medical director? Which professors teach pharmacology and which teach clinical medicine? What is/are each professor's specialties and do they align with your own interests? These are conversation starters you can look forward to in your interview when you might have downtime. Research the program you are interested in and learn about the on-campus activities, volunteer opportunities, and leadership positions. If you can’t find any information, this would be a great opportunity to open discussion with a student or faculty member. Think about living arrangements and consider transportation options - another great topic for discussion.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Paul!

    I have the opportunity to get my Masters of OT at a really great University. I've taken all my OT pre-reqs, am actively conducting research with a PT, and work as a PCA. I graduate with my Bachelors in Health Sciences (on the Pre-OT track) this May and would potentially immediately continue on to masters coursework in the summer. I've felt pulled towards PA for awhile now, but I've been unsure about pursuing it because I've been committed to OT for so long. The more I think about PA, the more convinced I am that I want to practice medicine. I don't really feel any remorse about potentially leaving OT behind, but I'm just so unsure of what to do! I really feel passionate and called to PA, but I'm so apprehensive to leave behind an acceptance to a great MOT program to take a year or two off to work towards PA school. I'm such a planner, and the idea of taking two years off to work as a CNA and take my PA prereqs rather than going to grad school for OT just seems terrifying, even though I know its what I want.

    PLEASE HELP! Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think if its truly what you want and you feel the call to the profession, take the time off, get the experience, and SHADOW! Shadowing a PA can really help you make the decision of whether its right for you. Explain to the PA your dilemma and maybe they can offer you advice or steer you in the right direction before you commit yourself to 2 years of being a CNA.

      Delete
  2. Hey Paul,
    Would you know how most schools give out interviews? From what I've heard from the one source I've been able to talk to about it, it's entirely dependent upon the GPA. They look at your overall, science, and pre-requisite GPA's, take the lowest, rank you on that, and go on down the line until their have met their "quota" of interviewees.

    Is this the case for most schools?

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.doseofpa.blogspot.com/2014/12/am-i-competitive-physician-assistant-pa.html

      I think this blog post will answer most of your questions. I think GPA plays a large factor, but I can't speak to how any specific program determines who gets interviews. I think that's a pretty broad based question that no one has answers to unless you work on an admissions committee.

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  3. Hi Paul!

    I am interviewing for UTSW's Class of 2019 this October. I've been in committee interviews before and am familiar with the type of questions asked, but Southwestern uses the multiple-mini interview format (8 minutes per station for 10 total stations) which I am not familiar with. Can you give me some advice so I can fine-tune my preparation? I do know about the cowbell. :)

    Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Helena,

      Thanks for inquiring! From what I've heard, they've changed that process up quite a bit since I interviewed, so I'm not sure I can give you any advice, really. Essentially you just need to be yourself. They're not looking for any type of 'right' answer to questions. It's more about how you handle yourself, and your reasoning behind what you say or do, rather that what you actually say or do. It's a way for them to learn about what type of person you are (type A, type B), etc. so just be yourself and the pieces will fall into place. There isn't a way to prepare and there is really no need to. Enjoy the day and get some rest the night before :)

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  4. hi,
    learnt a lot from this post on your blog about how to prepare for the PA interview,,,,and aced my interview yesterday,thank you for giving tips and recommendations.

    ReplyDelete