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How to Ace The Physician

Assistant School Interview

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Applying to Physician Assistant School?

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

The Perfect Application: Phase II


​In this next section, I’m going to show you some tricks of leveraging the power of web properties to uncover the qualities and multipliers you need to become the Perfect Applicant.

Evernote


In this section we will discuss Evernote, a great way to gather all of your information for the interview process and store it all in one place.  Evernote really does make the whole interview preparation a lot quicker and more fun in my opinion. In fact, I use Evernote in my job to keep notes on various topics to make my job much easier and review information at a glance.


What exactly is Evernote; it’s basically a software program that makes it super easy to record and remember anything that you want to, using your computer, tablet, or Smartphone. Evernote keeps things in one place in syncs across all of your devices, so you have all of your information at the touch of a button.

Evernote allows you to gather information like web sites, pictures, etc. I recommend using the online version versus the desktop version because you already have your web browser open, so you can keep Evernote open on one tab and you can do your research on another tab. Everything you gather on the internet and add to the desktop program, will also populate your tablet or smart phone.


If you feel uncomfortable using technology, you can simply keep your notes in a dedicated Word document.

The first thing you should do is go to the Evernote homepage and download it: evernote.com

Using Evernote is like using a typical note book or folder where you store hard copies of all of your information on a particular program.

To set up the program after downloading:

1. Create a notebook

2. Change name as you like; Emory Interview

3. Create a new note (click on “New Note”)

          a. Type in general information; interview date, time, and place

          b. Save this information and it will go into your notebook; Emory book, date, time, and place.

To organize your notes, use “tags” and create only three to five of them. Here’s how you create a tag:

1.Click “show details”

2.Click “add tags”

One tag may be labeled “critical info”. The other tabs you will definitely want to make is Multiplier, Qualities, Program Information, and Interview questions. Don’t clutter your notebook with too many tags.

Let’s use Emory’s PA program as an example. You might include this information in the “Critical Info” tag:

Physician Assistant Program
1462 Clifton Rd N.E. Suite 280
Atlanta, GA 30322
Phone: (404) 727-7825 (General Info)
Phone: (404) 727-7857 (Admission

The PA program will be hosting open houses April 1st, April 15th, and July 8. Come hear about the PA profession, review the admission requirements,tour the facilities, meet faculty and students.

Tentative agenda

2 PM – Registration begins in Room B28- 1462 Building

3 PM - Room 230 - 1462 Building, next door to the PA program office- Overview of the program with the Director of Admissions

4 PM - Meet current students and faculty - Questions and Answers

5 PM - Tour the facilities (Optional)

Please RSVP to pa_admissions@emory.edu

Directions: Physician Assistant Program
1462 Clifton Rd N.E. Suite 280
Atlanta, GA 30322

Best parking - Michael Street visitor parking lot

Many of your questions about the Emory PA Program may be answered on this website. Please feel free to contact us if you need more assistance. You can reach our Admissions department at 404-727-7857.

Another important tag is the program information tag;  here’s where you document important details about the program. Here are some things you should document:


  • Accreditation status: Continuing
  • Accreditation Date: September, 1972
  • Mission: Our mission is to recruit, educate and mentor a diverse group of students to become highly regarded, sought after physician assistants providing compassionate health care of the highest quality. To that end we create an educational environment that promotes an understanding of human needs and ethical issues as well as the acquisition and application of patient-oriented clinical knowledge and skill
  • Notable Features: Serving the underserved
  • PANCE results: Ninety-five percent for first time takers over the past five years
  • Facebook page: Facebook.com/EmoryPA
  • Student page: http://med.emory.edu/pa/students/PAclass2015.html
  • Cadaver lab: Yes
  • Ranking: #3 program by US News World Report
  • Degree’s offered: Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Degree(MMSc-PA) Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Degree and Master of Public Health Dual Degree (MMS-c-PA/MPH)
  • Affiliated with Medical School: Yes
  • Experiential Learning Facility
  • History of the PA profession at Emory


You can easily cut and paste this data into Evernote, and have it in one convenient notebook.

You can also download the “Web Clipper” in order to copy the entire website into your Evernote folders:

  • Go to evernote.com
  • Click on products
  • Download web clipper
  • Reload the Evernote page
  • Click on elephant icon, top right corner
  • Sign in
  • Refresh page


Now you can Google a website; Duke’s PA Program; http://paprogram.mc.duke.edu/


  • Click and highlight “Admissions” section or any other section on the page you want to add to your notebook
  • Click on the web clipper icon
  • Click Save
  • Refresh your Evernote page


Now the Admissions page for Duke is in your interview folder. You can also click on a link that will take you back to the original page.

To clip an entire Duke PA Program web page:


  • go to http://paprogram.mc.duke.edu/PA-Program/
  • Click on web clipper icon
  • Select “full page”
  • Click save
  • Go back to Evernote page and refresh


Now the entire website is in your notebook and you can access all of it. Be careful with the number of websites you add, websites takes up a lot of memory.


 PA Program Websites

Your starting point for preparing for your interview should always be the PA program’s website. Don’t underestimate the “About Us” page, especially. I’m going to show you some tricks to uncover hidden ways to find qualities and multipliers—always be on the lookout for these to help you rise above the competition.

 Facebook

Check the program’s website and see if they have a Facebook page. The program’s Facebook page is an opportunity to experience the program’s social presence online. You will learn about the program’s culture and spirit. Facebook pages are goldmines for finding multipliers.

 YouTube

More and more PA programs, and PA students, are using video media. You can hear the qualities and multipliers directly from the faculty and students.


To clip a video (from YouTube):


  • Go to YouTube.com
  • Click on video: an introduction and welcome
  • Click on web clipper icon
  • Type in comments box what part of the video you’re saving and add the time of the video that you want to keep. You can now email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc this video.
  • Click Save URL
  • Go back to Evernote and refresh page

You will now see the YouTube video labeled: “An introduction and welcome”

 PA Forum

 The PA Forum (physicianassistantforum.com) has a Pre-PA section that includes:

  •  Pre-PA general discussion
  •  Physician Assistant Schools
  •  CASPA
  •  Personal Statements
  •  Ask a Program Director


You will benefit from being able to ask questions of other applicants, students, and program faculty. Many applicants do not even know this forum exists.

 Quick Tip

The above is a full bag of tricks, but you don’t have to use them all. Some programs have more social media than others. If you want to blow away the competition, use as many as possible and put them all together to harness the power of your interview.


Phase 2: Compile and Create

This is where everything from phase I, explore and identify, comes together. Here’s where you combine your qualities and multipliers with your own experiences to create the perfect applicant answers.

Perfect Applicant Blueprint

This is the final step in your transformation into the perfect applicant. The blueprint acts as your PA-interview cheat sheet, so that you’re always presenting yourself as the perfect applicant. You won’t have to go into your interview “cold.”

Where do we go from here?

There are two routes to take; the Evernote route (High tech) or the IMS Notepad (low tech) route. Use whichever you feel comfortable with. In my day, I gathered everything into paper notebooks!

The Perfect Applicant Generator

In this section we’re going to talk about the Perfect Applicant generator. We’ll discuss how it works, how to populate the forms, and how to use Evernote data to your advantage.

This is where you will use your research from the program’s website, Facebook page, blog, newsletter, and YouTube videos to find qualities and multipliers to enhance your interview. and prepare for the toughest interview questions. You will learn things most applicants will never know, and you’ll stand out from all of these applicants.

Enter the Perfect Applicant Generator:

Interview Details

Let’s examine the question: Why do you want to attend our program? The first thing to do is highlight your strengths/qualities and tell a story from a past job.

In the example below, I filled in the quality section for this Quinnipiac’s PA Program; excellence, longevity, and diversity. You should always look up the qualities for each program to see what they value in applicants.

One multiplier for Quinnipiac is their New Center for Medicine.

Then come up with a short success story that you can use to answer this question using qualities and multipliers that align you with the qualities the program is seeking.

The following examples demonstrate the perfect Applicant Generator Technique. You can use these forms to write main points, or to write out the entire answer. You can also just write the qualities and multipliers. It’s up to you to decide what level of preparedness you’ll want to have.

You might not have a multiplier for every question, but think about the power of adding multipliers to your answers. And remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them, so be sure that your answers fulfill their needs.

Here are some sample questions and answers using qualities, multipliers, and success stories. Try not to compare, but identify.

PA program:  Quinnipiac                                       Date:   xx/xx/xxxx                                    Time: 8 am

Address: 123 Main Street, Hamden, CT, Ressler Hall, Room B



Question: Why do you want to attend our program?

Quality:  Excellence (Top Ten School in US News & World Report), longevity, diversity

Multiplier: New Center for Medicine

Success Story: Five years experience working with diverse populations; X-ray technician at Harlem Hospital

 PA Answer:

There are some obvious reasons why I want to attend Quinnipiac. Your first-time pass-fail rate on the PANCE is currently ninety-eight percent over the past five years. I know if I attend this program I will be well prepared to pass my boards and become a certified PA. This program is consistently ranked as one of the top-ten PA programs in the country by U.S. News & World Report The program has been accredited since 1995., and I know that if I attend this program I will benefit from a strong curriculum and from well-established clinical rotation sites. Additionally, Quinnipiac University has a new Center for Medicine designed for collaborative learning for students in medicine, nursing, and allied health, with over twenty-four teaching laboratories, including a cadaver lab.

The main reason I went to attend Quinnipiac is that your program’s vision aligns perfectly with why I want to be a PA in the first place; to provide high quality affordable healthcare, accessible to everyone in the community, with an emphasis on working with diverse populations. I know that Quinnipiac is located in a suburb of New Haven, Connecticut, a place where there is plenty of opportunity to accomplish this vision, and my five years of experience working as an X-ray technician at Harlem Hospital will allow me to carry out this vision in a newly enhanced role.



PA program:  Quinnipiac                                       Date:   xx/xx/xxxx                                    Time: 8 am

Address:
123 Main Street, Hamden, CT, Ressler Hall, Room B


Question: Tell me about yourself…

Quality: Problem solver, thinks outside the box

Multiplier: N/A

Success Story: EMT training solution

PA Answer:

I think the best way to do that would be to tell you about a time when I was faced with a pretty serious situation while working as an EMT. In order to keep current on procedures and protocol, we held four-hour training sessions on Saturdays. Because our supervisor was trying to squeeze too many topics into one session, we all felt overwhelmed and anxious because we weren’t able to absorb this much information in that short period of time. Everyone expressed concerns, but nobody came up with a solution. Because training is so important to EMTs, I came up with a solution. I suggested we use our Saturday training sessions to cover one topic at a time. I suggested that we break down the individual topics into three-month blocks of time. Everyone was thrilled with this idea, and we were able to provide an enhanced learning capacity and reduce the stress and anxiety in the squad. I bring this story up because I think it highlights two things I pride myself on; solving problems and thinking outside of the box.



PA program:                                        Date:                                       Time:

Address:

 

Question: How have you stayed current on the PA Profession?

Quality:  Life-long learner, passion for the PA profession  

Multiplier: Joining Forces Campaign, Legislative Days in Tallahassee, Florida, NCCPA’s proposed new                      recertification process.

Success Story: Member of the AAPA, Veteran

PA Answer:

I stay current and informed about the PA profession through my membership with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), through my membership in my state chapter of the AAPA, and by reading the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, JAAPA.

Since I am a veteran, I was pleased to read that the AAPA is a partner with the “Joining Forces Campaign”. The campaign is involved in this important mission to support U.S. service members, veterans, and those who have fallen. The PA profession began with a class of former navy corpsman, and it’s good to see that those military roots are still important today.

In my home state of Florida, PAs participate in Legislative Days in Tallahassee and provide information to state legislators relating the importance of the team approach to health care, and how PAs can assist with increasing access to care for all Floridians. The PAs who attend also discuss the limitations that keep PAs from practicing to their full extent of their education, training, and experience.

In an article I read in the latest edition of JAAPA, I learned that in November, 2015, the NCCPA proposed a new recertification process for the PA profession. The NCCPA has sent out questionnaires to get feedback from practicing PAs about their thoughts and ideas of the proposed, new certification practice. They found that the three most common practice areas were family practice/general practice, surgical subspecialties, and emergency medicine.


I find this information interesting and useful, as I consider myself a life-long learner and I am passionate about joining the PA profession. I now know that I have these great resources to help me keep abreast of current events and issues that are currently in the news.


PA program:                                        Date:                                       Time:

Address


Question:  What are your goals after you graduate?

Quality: Goal oriented                                                 

Multiplier: Ground breaking research done at the program

Success Story: Worked on a lot of research projects in college.

PA Answer:

I have short, medium, and long-range goals once I become a PA. My short term goal is to work, clinically, in the primary care setting working with underserved populations. I wish to build on what I’ve learned in PA school and solidify a strong foundation in medicine that will help me throughout my entire career. My medium-range goal, say five years from now, is to work in research. I worked on a lot of research projects in college and I have a strong desire to continue to do so as a physician assistant. I notice that City College has done some groundbreaking research in areas like PTSD, Alzheimer’s, and developing a new aspirin to fight cancer. I have a particular interest in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. My long-term goal is to tie in my clinical background, along with my research experiences, to one day teach at a PA program. I would like to give back to the profession by helping to educate and motivate students.

 
PA program:                                        Date:                                       Time:

Address:


Question: What is your biggest strength?

Quality: Team player, cooperative style, self-starter                                     

Multiplier: N/A

Success Story: Office manager, large practice

PA Answer:

As an officer manage for a large medical practice, I had to learn all phases of clinical and administrative management, from developing work flow procedures, to supervising medical assistants, and handling billing issues. I have the ability to multi-task and I have a cooperative style. I am also able to delegate tasks effectively and gain the confidence and cooperation of co-workers. I was voted “employee of the year” two years in a row.



PA program:                                        Date:                                       Time:

Address:


Question: What is your biggest weakness?


Quality: Problem solver

Multiplier: N/A


Success Story: Learned to break difficult projects into smaller goals.

PA Answer:


I have a tendency to be a great starter and a poor finisher when it comes to writing papers. I’ve learned a different approach to dealing with this issue. For example, when writing papers in college, I would always leave the most difficult, time consuming research for last, which led to procrastination and anxiety. Now, I’ve learned that I do much better when I tackle the difficult research first, while I have the most energy, and leave the less time-consuming research until the end, so I won’t feel so burdened to complete the paper. I break the project into smaller goals, and set a deadline for achieving each one. I know as a student in this program, there is no time for procrastinating. Students cannot afford to fall behind in class work. I pride myself on being able to examine problems and come up with strategic solution


Now, you try to use this formula to answer the question:

PA program:                                        Date:                                       Time:

Address:

Question: Why do you want to become a PA?

Quality: _____________________________________________                                                     

Multiplier: _____________________________________________

Success Story:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PA Answer:
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


 

Questions to ask at your interview

Asking questions based on qualities and multipliers is a great way for you to take control of the interview. Don’t forget, as competitive as the PA school application process is, you are a consumer and you want them to sell you on why you should choose their program.


Be sure to go to Evernote and try to use at least one multiplier from the program; diversity, research, etc. I recommend asking three questions.

Example:

Since Duke’s Physician Assistant program really emphasizes diversity, what opportunities will I have as a student in this program to actually work with diverse populations? My last job was working in Harlem, New York where I was heavily involved in the treatment of underserved, diverse populations and I would like to continue doing so in a newly enhanced role as a PA.