Hey Future PA,
I know it seems like this period of your life will never be over. You spent years taking classes designed to weed you out. You put your time in as the lowest man on the totem pole – whether it was being a CNA and cleaning up patients or working long and hard shifts as an EMT. You gained knowledge. You learned everything you could from the patients you interacted with. You asked questions and went the extra mile. You did everything possible to prepare before CASPA even opened.
And then you spent days or weeks or months figuring out CASPA and making your application the best it possibly could be. You wrote and rewrote – and completely started over – your personal statement. You spent the hours to put in all of your transcripts and made sure they exactly matched the official transcripts. You hounded after your evaluators to make sure that they complicated your letter of recommendations. You finally felt ready and hit submit.
You actually felt like your dream of being a Physician Assistant was in reach.
And now you’re stuck waiting. You’re in this awful limbo as you try to figure out the rest of your life. That moment of happiness and satisfaction when you submitted your applications turns into one of dread as you continue to go weeks without hearing anything. You try to put the worry out of your mind, but its hard because this is the only thing you can think of. You want to be a PA so bad you can actually feel it slipping through your fingers and it’s devastating.
Maybe you have friends who are applying at the same time as you. Or maybe you finally broke down and went on the Physician Assistant Forum. Either way, you now know that there are people out there who are getting interviews and acceptances and you haven’t heard anything. You – the person who felt well qualified and only applied to schools they met all the requirements for – haven’t heard anything, while people who maybe have less PCE hours than you, or a lower GPA, or applied 3 weeks after you did are hearing back. Now you have even more feelings of dread. You’ve written yourself off; you know that you’re not getting into school this year and now you’ve just wasted all that money. All of these thoughts of “Should I have waited a year to apply” or “Did I submit my application too late” or “Why did I write my personal statement about that” are running around in your mind. How could you not be hearing back when others are? What is it about you that’s not good enough?
I wish I could say something to magically make this time better. I wish that I could tell you exactly when you’re going to hear back or what those responses are going to be, but I can’t. The only thing I can tell you is this:
This period makes you stronger. The worry and doubt you feel are only cementing the fact that you know you’re meant to be a PA.
So as hard as this period is, remember that its a challenge you need to rise to. It teaches you to fight for your dreams and never give up when the goings get tough, because PA school will be rough. The amount of information that gets thrown at you in a short period of time is overwhelming. Your classmates come from all walks of life, and some of them may be better than you at the things you used to be the best at. It’s a lesson in humility and compassion, because PA school teaches you so much about yourself, even more than it teaches you about medicine.
And remember to have faith in the application committee. They’re looking for individuals to “fit” into their class, and maybe that’s not you. But that might be a good thing – because as much as they are looking for an individual to fit them, you’re looking for a school that fits you. Those schools that reject you for seemingly no reason? It just means that your home is meant to be somewhere else. Keep that in mind as you continue to go through this experience.
As you read this, maybe you’ve been thinking I’m full of it or I can’t possibly understand what you’re going through right now. But I’ve been in your shoes. I didn’t hear back from schools until September, and even then it was a string of rejections before I heard anything positive. The safety schools I applied to? Yeah I was rejected without even an interview.
And guess what: I went to PA school, I graduated, and I passed the PANCE.
I never forgot what it felt like to be worried that I wouldn’t even make it into PA school, and I used those feelings as a driving force throughout my entire experience.
Just like you will.
Good luck Future PA. I believe in you.