Essays That Will Get You Into Physician Assistant School 

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All New - 4th EditionThe Ultimate Guide to Getting Into Physician Assistant School

​​​Your PAth to Success!

Applying to Physician Assistant School?

“Don’t fear the competition, become the competition!”

How to Ace The Physician

Assistant School Interview

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The Perfect Application: Phase II

Getting into PA school is such a competitive process, and if you are lucky enough to make it to the interview, you’ll certainly want to stand out from the crowd when it’s your time to stand tall. To do this, you must be able to separate yourself from everyone else that day, by gaining specific knowledge about the program, and knowing the questions and answers to the toughest interview questions before you interview. In this section, I’m going to teach you how to do just that.

 The Perfect Applicant

The Perfect Applicant concept includes twp phases:

Phase I:    Explore and Identify
Phase II:   Compile and Create

 Phase #1: Explore and Identify

In this section we will focus on the Explore and Identify phase.

If you remember one phrase when you prepare for your interview, remember this one: It’s not about you, it’s about them. The admissions committee’s job is to select those applicants who best meet their needs and criteria for gaining acceptance into their program. The committee is looking to see if you the qualities and skills they’re looking for. The more you can demonstrate that you have these qualities, the more attractive you’ll be as an applicant.

 In my years of coaching PA school applicants, and after doing thousands of mock interviews, I realized there are two types of interviewees:

1. Those who “wing” it

2. Those who prepare for the interview equations and answers via:

  • Online
  • Journals
  • Physician Assistants in the community
  • The American Academy of Physician Assistants

Those interviewees in category number 2 will do better than those who wing it; however, the answers you will find online will be a compilation of carbon copy answers, not specific to any given program.

So, how do I separate myself from everyone else?

How Are the Perfect Applicants Different?

 The Perfect Applicant:

  • Tailors each interview to each school she interviews at.
  • Uses a system to present herself to the admissions committee
  • Supercharges her interview with the power of qualities and multipliers

Everyone Else:

  • Wings it with carbon copy answers
  • Prepares haphazardly and without focus
  • Gives away her power by letting the interview be controlled by the interviewer

 Formula for becoming the Perfect Applicant


PA stands for the “Perfect Applicant.”

“A” stands for the answers to the questions that are being asked, based on your own experiences (most applicants start and finish here, but not Perfect Applicants

 “Q” stands for the skills and abilities that the program values most. These qualities make up the perfect applicant. Here is a list of the qualities PA programs look for in strong applicants:

Example of Qualities:

  • Accountability 
  • Adaptability 
  • Ability to handle stress                           
  • Assertiveness
  • Academic ability   
  • Analytical thinking                   
  • Attention to detail    
  • Balance
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Confidence
  • Compassion
  • Caring
  • Discipline
  • Diversity         
  • Empathy
  • Energy
  • Ethical
  • Friendly
  • Humility
  • Hard-working
  • Knows when to ask for help
  • Leadership
  • Life-long learner
  • Listener
  • Mature
  • Proactive
  • Problem solver
  • Service oriented
  • Strong interpersonal skills

(If you infuse your answers to interview questions with examples of these qualities, you will blow away your competition!)

 “m” stands for multipliers, or inside details that you can bring up in your interview that they are not expecting you to know. This “ace up your sleeve” is the single biggest way to supercharge your interview performance exponentially. Examples of multipliers include: events, programs, news, and even qualities.

 Let’s now take a look at an example interview question and answer using the “Q” part of the formula using the Explore and Identify method:

Q: What is your biggest weakness?

I’d say one thing I have a hard time with is that I get frustrated with coworkers that don’t like working with others or who prefer a more isolated work experience. I’m a big believer that as a PA, a collaborative approach is needed to succeed and it frustrates me when coworkers can’t buy into that.

There’s an example of how to infuse your answer with the collaboration quality you uncovered.
( Do not try to memorize these answers, use your own examples and make them natural.)

Now we’re going to add a Multiplier to our Quality infused answer to really amp things up!

I’d say one thing I have a hard time with is that I get frustrated with coworkers that don’t like working with others or who prefer a more isolated work experience. I’m a big believer that working as a physician assistant, a collaborative approach is needed for success and it frustrates me when coworkers can’t buy into that. I love the fact that this program uses small learning groups (problem based learning) to encourage the sharing of ideas between students.

 The above example uses a multiplier (from program’s blog) in the answer to really blow your interviewer’s mind.

 The Power of Qualities and Multipliers (recap)

  •  Your competitors won’t be using them. The competitors are not going to be able to use this one-two punch.
  • This is how you rewire the interviewer’s brain to only see you as the Perfect Candidate! People in the interview before you and after you literally won’t stand a chance.
  • Once you know your Qualities and Multipliers it makes it easy to come up with the perfect answer to any interview question--because you have a structure to go off of.

 (Example: What if I asked you to write me a country song, you’d say “uhh,uhh” and you wouldn’t know what to do. However, what if I said, write me a country song about a woman who left her lover and is now back in town to make him jealous.) There’s structure there and it makes the task a bit easier.

What if you go into the interview room and they ask, what’s your biggest weakness? But what if you go into the interview room and they ask what’s your biggest weakness, and here’s the quality I’m looking for, and here’s another thing if you brought up it would blow my mind.

 So keep these things in mind when preparing for your interview answers.