Ever wanted to know what a mock PA school interview looks like?
Thanks to Taylor Hill and ten other remarkable Pre-PAs just like him you are about to find out.
Welcome to the first video of our Mock PA school Interview Series. Ten blog posts featuring ten amazing Pre-PAs who have graciously shared their recorded mock PA school interviews with one singular intention: To help you achieve success on your path to PA school.
Today's interview is with Tailor Hill, a 28-year old Pre-PA and a third-time applicant whose journey to PA school is nothing short of inspiring. Below are the video and transcript of our entire 60-minute interview including our per-question commentary.
I hope you enjoy this mock interview with Taylor as much as we loved recording it.
Interested in having your own recorded mock PA school interview? Click here
Mock PA School Interview With Taylor Hill
Questions asked in this interview:
- Tell me a little bit more about yourself and why you'd like to be a PA?
- Modification of Q1 with an emphasis on Personal Background
- What do you think will make you an ideal candidate for PA school?
- Can you tell me about one of your weaknesses?
- Tell me what your least favorite class in college was and why?
- There's a push right now to change the title from physician assistant to physician associate. What are your thoughts on that?
- Tell me one thing about you that I won't find anywhere in your application?
- Tell me what you think is going to be your biggest challenge in PA school?
- How do you feel you would adjust to seeing a patient lose their life?
- What would you do if a patient refused to be seen by you because you are a PA and not the physician?
- Can you tell me what patient population you least like working with?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work with a supervisor that you had a disagreement or differences with?
- Tell me if you would why you feel that program's right for you and why you're the right fit for the program?
- If you're not accepted into this program what do you think the reason would be?
- How do you think the PA profession will change in the next 10 years?
- Tell me about one time that you surprised yourselves?
Tell me a little bit more about yourself and why you'd like to be a PA?
Response by Interviewee: So a little bit about myself, I've now been working in health care for about six years. I've accrued over 10,000 hours of paid healthcare experience. I'm pretty well-rounded, I worked as a phlebotomist for three years, two of those years I was a phlebotomy preceptor where I was training new hires. Following that, I started working as a medical assistant for a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon in surgical dermatology, so I was with her I was assisting with a lot of surgical assisting Mohs map preparation, wound care, all sorts of hands-on procedures.
And then from there, I transitioned to working in orthopedic surgery, so I've been working as a lead medical assistant for an orthopedic surgeon for the past eight months now. So I've gained quite a bit of experience. In all of that experience, I've picked up quite a bit ... learned a lot about myself, I've learned that patient care is probably one of the best things that I've experienced. I love working with the public. I love helping, I love basically being involved in the help and the care of patients and kind of seeing their reward and satisfaction at the end of their treatment.
Let's see, it pretty much snowballed to me becoming a PA, to wanting to become a PA from all of my experience in healthcare. I've shadowed plenty of doctors and nurse practitioners, physician assistants and picked and chose the kind of the qualities of each of their lines of work that have really fit and matched with my personality. And it was during the two years of being a medical assistant at the dermatology practice that I worked very closely and intimately with a PA, Lucy, there who was kind of my mentor. I worked almost as her shadow for two years. I got to learn her roles and responsibilities or capabilities of a PA, how she works with the physician, and pretty much got to see amazing qualities of her profession as a PA.
She's very family-oriented; she has plenty of time to spend with her kids, her husband. She makes a great salary, her patients love her, and she gets to perform surgeries and assess patients. So here I am today interested in becoming a physician assistant as the end result of my six years of experience in the healthcare field.
Commentary: Awesome, you did a really nice job on that. I think this is a great way to explain your experience and how it’s evolved, I especially love that you put in leadership roles in each of your positions which was great. You emphasized some really nice points in terms of what you liked about the work that you do, that’s not something that people always remember to include in their answers, and that’s a really strong point. Particularly you emphasize working with the public which is a great aspect to bring up because keeping the patient central to all of the reasons that you’d like to become a PA is really important during these interviews.
Discussing that you worked closely with a PA and that she was your mentor, it’s a really nice thing to show that for two years you’ve worked very closely with a PA and you know what their responsibilities are, you understand the job. Reiterating I think what you liked about her role and how she was able to balance her personal and professional responsibilities were awesome.
The only thing I can think maybe that you might want to emphasize more is your personal background. There a whole lot of information about you outside of your work and what you’d like to do as a PA, that’s not a terrible thing, but you could give them a couple more details on where you come from and what your background is, just in order to cement yourself in their mind and give them some details to hang on to.
Response by Interviewee: Yeah, it was an interesting question that you asked because that was kind of two questions that I’ve prepared for mixed into one. Tell me a little bit about yourself, but you’re like tell me a little bit about yourself and why you want to be a PA. So I overshot and didn’t do the about myself, but I mean, I can do that briefly if you like.
Response by Interviewer: It’s up to you if you want to practice it, sure.
Tell me a little bit more about yourself with an emphasis on personal background
Response by Interviewee: I just turned 28, I currently live in Hollywood, California and I've been here for about six months now. It's pretty interesting living in the big city. Before that I lived in Santa Barbara for almost seven years, living and working in Santa Barbara. And then before that where I'm from is up in Chico in Northern California where my parents and my sisters still live. Chico's a very small town; it has a college, Chico State, famous for being a party school. So some people know about Chico State, but anyways, Chico's really small, really friendly, very nature-y, lots of trees, so I'm a pretty avid outdoor-adventurer. I like to go backpacking and camping, and kind of risk my life on the weekend sometimes with my friends.
So I've done all sorts of crazy excursions, but that's pretty much that. And then I've been with my girlfriend for three years, it's going amazing. And I just look forward to kind of the next step of both of our lives, hopefully into getting into PA school and kind of moving on with my career.
Commentary: Great, yeah, that’s nice. I think I like that touch of humor in there too about risking your life, it’s nice. I’m glad that you mentioned that you live in Hollywood I was like, “Man, I bet that’s an interesting experience.” And you immediately were like, “It’s a little bit great. It’s good to have that craziness,” because I imagine you see a lot of interesting things there. So that’s very good. And I had forgotten that you’re from Chico, I think we had talked about that because my husband’s from Fresno and he has family there. So yeah, I’m glad you reminded me.
Cool, I think you didn’t really nicely. So I know I kind of phrase that question like that to throw candidates for a loop because usually they have practiced and memorized their answers a little bit, so but you did well, you did nicely with both. So good job.
Question by Interviewer:
What do you think will make you an ideal candidate for PA school?
Response by Interviewee: Let's see so I would say that my personal qualities make me a great candidate for PA school and for becoming a PA. I am a fairly empathetic person, I can put myself in other people's shoes almost a little too well. So when the patients come in, they tell me what their issues are, because I do a lot of patient intake for my past medical jobs. And I really feel for them and I really want the best care that they can have, and luckily I've worked for two incredible surgeons who are both actually renowned for their abilities.
So I would say that it's my compassion, my empathy, my passion for medicine, for science, also my other passion for patient care, I've been in patient care for six years and I couldn't really imagine working in a different field. And other personal qualities, I'm a pretty logical person I'm very good at complex problem solving which I think would apply nicely to the didactic and clinical portions of the PA program.
I'm interested in science. As you can see I actually worked in a genetics research lab at UCSB, so I kind of have, I believe the intellect that it would require for your program, because its rigorous and difficult nature. But really it really does come down to just the fact that I am very passionate about patient care, and that and just kind of the endless learning that I would have as a physician assistant, being able to switch from specialty to specialty which I've done already in my experience as a medical assistant and phlebotomist. So I mean, the PA profession has really kind of drawn me to it because of how well it meshes with my personality type.
Commentary: The only thing I would add to this is discussing your personal qualities is really nice, and I do want to actually touch on what I think you did that was outstanding in this part, as you mentioned that you may almost even be too empathetic with patients. I think that’s a really beautiful thing to say and it shows a lot about you. Be prepared to get a follow-up question for how you handle that if you get so emotionally invested in patients. I’m not going to follow up with it, but you might just be prepared with that.
The other thing that you might want to address is your academic ability. You touched on it but not very much, so since we’re talking about PA school you might just mention how your experience in the medical field will tie into helping you as a PA student. You might also mention something about working in a group, how you feel about working in a team so that you can start supporting your fellow students, that kind of thing, supporting each other. Those are just things that I usually think are nice to mention for a question that involves PA school as well as being a PA. Make sense?
Can you tell me about one of your weaknesses?
Response by Interviewee: Yeah, in preparing for this interview I realized that thinking back one of my weaknesses is learning to rely on someone. I find that whenever I'm in a team-based setting and I'm working with a new teammate where I haven't quite seen or they haven't proven their abilities yet to where I can trust them, what ultimately happens is I actually kind of pick up their slack and add their work to my workload instead of asking for them to help. But things that I've done to kind of counteract this is in my preceptorships where I'm training new staff that I'm constantly bettering training protocols and making things more efficient for them to be able to get up to speed quicker. But then of course once somebody's up to speed it's kind of an exponential growth as far as teamwork goes, and you can work almost as a mirror image with somebody who's on the same page as you.
Commentary: Awesome, that was a really, really strong answer. I was concerned at first because learning to rely on others as a broad statement might be a problem, like a red flag for the PA profession. But the way you narrowed it down to people that you’re not used to working with, newer employees I guess, people you maybe haven’t experienced working with, you don’t know their style, that’s a great way of putting that, because it’s a very specific situation that will have an endpoint probably.
And I think that you explained it really well in terms of how you’ve dealt with it in the past in your leadership roles, it just reminds us you have had leadership roles, you’ve had experience, you are aware of doing this, and you’ve taken steps to correct it. And it’s not even hypothetical; it’s that you’ve actually done it. So that’s a very, very good response.
It was a great time length too, you did really well.
Tell me what your least favorite class in college was and why?
Response by Interviewee: Oh, gosh. I would say that my least favorite class, of course, is something that didn't really involve science or medicine or biology, and I would say that it was my history class during my freshman year of college. History wasn't always interesting to me, but once I became interested in science, biology, anatomy, physiology, all that, everything else kind of lost a lot more of my focus. So the history class when I finally picked up into sciences was really kind of like grinding nails on the chalkboard for what I wanted to learn. It was just not something I was interested in. That, and the professor was not as enthusiastic as I would like in a class that I'm not that interested in the first place.
Commentary: Makes sense. So I think the answer was great up until the part with the professor. You probably want to leave that out, just because this question and most questions they’re asking you about your least favorite this or that are really asking “do you approach a situation positively or negatively.” So you really did a nice job of focusing that on yourself and you gave good reasons for why it wasn’t as riveting I guess as some of the other things or the other courses you were taking. Those all made perfect sense.
I’m sure you’re right about the professor. I had professors like that too, but it’s probably best not to mention it and just stick with about you and how you handle it.
Question by Interviewer:
There's a push right now to change the title from physician assistant to physician associate. What are your thoughts on that?
Response by Interviewee: Well, I do believe that it is something that would make a lot of people happier and more content with their jobs. There are a lot of other things about the PA profession that I think could use change. But what I have learned in my personal experience is that the word assistant actually does occasionally lead a patient to kind of undermining the role of a PA, both their abilities, their training, and their role in the healthcare field.
The word associate is so similar but it doesn't quite have that same stigma, so I would say that it's a harmless transition from assistant to associate. Now, I don't really understand why there is opposition to it other than certain other professions feeling threatened by somewhat of an upgrade of a title. But other than that I think that it's ... It'd be cool, it would definitely be a great change for the profession.
Commentary: Okay, so I think that’s good. It’s a good start. I was a little thrown in the beginning because you said you thought that there were other things to be more focused on, but then you went right into why you think it’s a great idea. It felt a little desperate to me, it’s not in a bad way, just a little jarring I guess. On the other hand, though I think you make a good case for why it’s a good change to make. You might want to show a little more understanding of the opposite point of view, maybe destabilizing the perfection, people already aren’t quite certain what a physician assistant is so if you change the profession’s name are you going to be upsetting that even more, those kinds of things. So build a little more understanding of that, and then I think it’s fine if you choose a side. In my opinion, I know some people will advise you not to, but I think you’re probably safe unless the school you’re interviewing with has a specific standpoint on it.
Question by Interviewer:
Tell me one thing about you that I won't find anywhere in your application?
Response by Interviewee: I'm glad you asked because it is something kind of cool about where I work right now, so the orthopedic surgeon that I work for he's kind of a high profile surgeon, where he treats VIPs, celebrities, politicians, athletes. Pretty much anybody you'd see on a billboard or Super Bowl game or NBA Championship, people like that. And I actually kind of ... I'm on call, so I can get a call at like 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning from my doctor and he'll say, "Hey, we got to go see Prince so-and-so out at the so-and-so hotel." And I'd pack up my bags, get my scrubs on, and get out there and we'll do an assessment and from there depending on what he needs I will then kind of need to assemble medical teams or technicians, ultrasound tech's, whoever it may be that we kind of do concierge, facilitative care. So he's an orthopedic surgeon but he also works almost like an internist.
Commentary: Nice, that’s a really good response to that question because it’s super interesting, very different, hardly anyone is going to answer in that way. So nice, that’s a good response to that. I also thought it was wonderful that you said, “I’m glad you asked,” because no one has ever said that to me. So that’s nice.
Response by Interviewee: Well, it’s … Yeah, because it is a very unique, weird thing that I do for this doctor, and there are clients that we see it’s not kind of an everyday thing. And it’s not really appropriate anywhere else in my application to include that information.
Response by Interviewer: Okay, no, it’s really neat, that’s very cool. Those kind of answers that are really specific to you, unique to you, I think they’re great to include when you can because it’s going to ground your application in the interviewers’ minds just a little bit more and link them directly to you and who you are, which I think is always good.
Question by Interviewer:
Tell me what you think is going to be your biggest challenge in PA school?
Response by Interviewee: I would say that my biggest challenge would likely be just dealing with the rigorous didactic and clinical portions of the program. It's definitely a very serious program, it's stressed almost anywhere you read about PA school that it's two years of a pretty hardcore regimen of education. So I do know that from my training, not training but my education at UCSB, a very top-notch school with a very rigorous curriculum, that I would likely be very well prepared for what's to come in the PA program. Maybe that, and during clinicals, dealing with patients, like patients actually losing their lives or really kind of going through the first experiences of the real world of medicine as a provider. I'd say those two things would probably be the hardest for me.
Commentary: Good. I think that’s a really nice response. I love how you came back from talking about the rigor of the program; you were automatically able to say you went through a very rigorous undergraduate program. So I think that is a nice way of saying you feel prepared for that. I can’t think of anything to add to that really, I think you did well.
Question by Interviewer:
How do you feel you would adjust to seeing a patient lose their life?
Response by Interviewee: Well, I have actually witnessed a patient die before. But it was very, very gentle and he kind of just died almost right in front of us, almost as if he was asleep. So that was definitely a shock when I learned that he had passed. In this setting, I'm imagining somewhat of like an emergency room situation which I've actually done a lot of shadowing in. I haven't seen anyone die yet, but I would say that it would definitely be an adjustment, something that I would have to kind of reconcile with afterward. But it is also something that I'm completely aware of I'll be experiencing in my work. So I would be affected by it at first, but I would definitely be able to overcome and realize that it's a learning experience each time that something like that happens.
Response by Interviewee: A little tip that I learned from Al the PA from the admissions board, he said anytime that there is kind of a follow-up question it’s typically a good thing unless they’re asking for clarification. He says that it’s kind of like it opens a door to a conversation, and you want to try and drag that conversation out as much as you can because it really shows you as a person and kind of gives you that dialogue that you would not normally otherwise get to display. So would you say that after your follow-up question I would say like do you find that you have any students who struggle with that aspect of your program, and then I can ask a question after they asked me a question?
Response by Interviewer: I think it’d be great, yeah. Go ahead.
Response by Interviewee: Read their response, if they seem engaged with your question then, yeah, I’d go forward with that as much as you can. If they seem put off by it then pull back, but if it seems awesome to me. I think that’s a great tip he gave you.
Question by Interviewer:
What would you do if a patient refused to be seen by you because you are a PA and not the physician?
Response by Interviewee: I mean, I've seen this countless times, kind of goes with the profession. You just simply say, "Oh, I completely understand, let me see what I can do to have the physician come in. If the physician is not able to then, of course, we'd be happy to reschedule you so that you can come back and get the evaluation that you need. And for future reference, we can always clarify that your visits will be with the physician and not with a PA. And just very nonchalant, well, I mean it's just such a common to occurrence; I've seen it so many times. It's just you're like, "Okay, no problem." Just go see the doctor. You're not going to ... I'm not going to get offended.
Commentary: Yeah, nice. I think that’s great. Your emphasis on rescheduling for the patient and even following up and saying for future reference we’ll make sure to note that you see the physician, I think that’s an excellent approach. You might throw in the word respect for the patient’s wishes, it’s ultimately their choice, you could throw those words in there specifically, but I think you did a great job. Some people talk about maybe gently educating the patient about your qualifications. I think it’s up to you, you could if you want.
Response by Interviewee: Yeah, I guess, you could read, at that point, you read the patients if they’re really opposed to seeing you and they’re like, “I don’t want to see …” I mean, it comes from my experience just the majority of patients who asked to see the doctor you’re pretty much not going to talk them out of it.
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
Analysis: You spoke with confidence and authority, you knew what you were saying when you answered that question so to me your experience came through very well on that question. Yeah, nice job.
Question by Interviewer:
Can you tell me what patient population you least like working with?
Response by Interviewee: That's a great question. Patient population, I would say that there's not really a specific population that I dislike working with. I would say that there's more of a type of patient that I would dislike working with then of course that's going to be the uncooperative, disgruntled, upset patient. But one of my strengths about me as a person and me in the medical field is that I'm likely able to kind of diffuse those types of patients, I can ... somehow I can get them down to back to kind of a fresh start and sympathize with them and kind of clean up all the mess that was going on, the reason why they're upset, and then kind of then facilitate how can we help you.
So yeah, I couldn't say that there's a specific type of ... There's not a specific population that I don't like, because I've seen everyone. Everybody's a person, I don't know like I wouldn't say that I could discriminate like that.
Commentary: Good job. I think that’s a great response. I like how you worded that. And then talking about people who are just more difficult to deal with, there are individuals like that in every group, right? So that’s a perfect way of phrasing that in my mind. And I think throwing in that you’re good at diffusing those types of tense situations is a great approach as well.
Question by Interviewer:
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a supervisor that you had a disagreement or differences with?
Response by Interviewee: Oh, boy, well, when I was a phlebotomist I worked at a large private lab, and my supervisor, she was a little abrasive not just to me but just kind of to the staff in general. But I mean, you're going to experience people like this in all parts of life, and especially when you're working with someone who's not only your coworker but your boss, you just need to be professional. And with her I just ... I did my job, I did everything that was asked of me. I kept interactions to a minimum just to not instigate any issues. And eventually at the end of it, I kind of in a good way killed her with kindness, kind of won her over at the end just because I never really fed into any negativity that was there.
Commentary: Great. I think that’s a great approach. It’s not a very specific answer, but I think that it’s fine, because it’s sort of an ongoing situation. You’re really reacting to a personality trait rather than an actual specific event, right? To me, it seems fine. The aspect of not feeding into the negativity and killing her with kindness is a nice … it’s a nice way of showing your approach to difficult patients, and it aligns well with your patient population answer as well, how you are good at defusing tensions like that, so makes sense.
Response by Interviewee: What would you say my answer wasn’t specific enough?
Response by Interviewer: Oh, no, I don’t think it’s not specific enough. You’re talking really about a personality trait, so it’s not something that’s one specific incident, it’s something that’s an ongoing situation. So if you had talked about a time when your boss criticized you for something in particular… you could explain a situation directly like that and get into a little bit more detail in terms of how you would handle that type of conflict, so if you had a situation like that you could maybe offer a little bit more detail. But your answer was okay, there was nothing wrong with it at all.
Response by Interviewee: Okay, for less impactful questions like this one, pretty much just like don’t blow the answer and that’s fine. I mean, it’s going to be rare to be able to like really make an amazing stance on a question like that, is that right?
Response by Interviewer: It just depends. I had an example where someone’s physician was asking him to bill a patient for something that they hadn’t actually done. So that’s an ethical dilemma. So those kinds of responses are actually pretty impactful.
Response by Interviewee: Okay, ethical dilemma.
Response by Interviewer: Yes things like that. But you have the right approach for your response, if you wanted to take it a step further you could think about maybe specific situations.
Question by Interviewer:
Tell me if you would why you feel that program's right for you and why you're the right fit for the program?
Response by Interviewee: Well, after doing plenty of research on your program I've learned that your mission statement and my goals as a PA are pretty much aligned. You are trying to train exceptional PAs that can give back to underserved communities, but you're also trying to train PAs that will also give back to the PA profession. I mean, since I've been involved with community service I've been involved with the Greeks for Kids organization, kind of a charity where we, my friend Karl, actually started it up. And we raised thousands of dollars for Boys’ and Girls' Club, for small preschools around the Santa Barbara County.
And then also I've been involved with the Greater West Hollywood Soup Coalition where me and my girlfriend have been doing dinner service. So I love community service, and it's just it's almost selfish for me because of how much I enjoy doing it. It's like you kind of take credit for giving people things. I don't know, it's just like I really enjoy it, so it's kind of a guilty pleasure. So giving back to the community would be awesome.
And then as giving back to the PA profession, I would say that my long history of teaching and preceptorship, when I was younger I taught ballroom dancing to kids, I taught yo-yo lessons believe it or not at one of my old jobs, at Saturdays I teach them yo-yo tricks. And I was also a varsity assistant coach for the women's varsity team at my high school. So I have in all of my preceptorships at my previous medical jobs I just kind of have this knack for teaching, mentorship. So I would say that once I'm a well-established physician assistant, comfortable in my practice and my trade that I could eventually start giving back, either mentoring or assuming some sort of leadership position, just like you guys are now. You guys are teaching at a PA school which would be a pretty cool experience.
I could definitely; I always thought that actually if I were to not get into medicine that I could always be a teacher. So for your program, there's that. Also what I really like about your program I like the interdisciplinary learning model where you actually have your optometry students, your PA students, and your pharmacy students work together collaboratively on case studies, which teaches each other ... it teaches each other how to utilize each discipline to create a better health care plan for the patient.
I've heard plenty of times from PAs and physicians in my shadowing experience that they wish they wish they had that type of experience during their training where doctors come out of med school not really knowing how to utilize PAs, PAs coming out of PA school not really knowing how to utilize pharmacists or other disciplines. So I think that that would really give me an advantage as a PA to work more effectively as a healthcare team.
Those are two pretty strong ones. And then, of course, the last one is that your first attempt board certification pass rate is 100%, and has been ever since you started your program. So I would be coming out of your program feeling pretty confident that I'm not only going to pass my boards but that I would be very well prepared for the real world of being a PA.
Commentary: Fantastic, really specific, nice job. Great details in terms of what you know about the program, that comes through really well. So yeah, I think that’s great. You could probably add a little bit more detail on how you might be a good fit for that particular program. If there are organizations on campus, things like that that you might be able to be a part of, you could meld that in and talk about after you finish school, trying to involve yourself in the program and continue as a source of support in some way. So I think there’s some opportunity there for you to show that you’re willing to continue to invest yourself in the program specifically.
Question by Interviewer:
If you're not accepted into this program what do you think the reason would be?
Response by Interviewee: I would say that most likely the reason I didn't get accepted is because I met most of the requirements but simply someone was just more qualified than I was. I have been interested in the PA profession since day one, so if I were to have more time to prepare for a pre-PA, to apply to your program then I would be able to have more volunteer hours, a higher GPA and just overall breadth of experience shadowing other PAs more experience in different fields of healthcare. So I would say that I'm a pretty strong applicant, but of course, there may always be someone stronger.
Commentary: Good. I think you answered that really well. But I think you could tack on to the end of that statement something about how you’re always building your skills and your qualifications, and so you’ll apply again.
Response by Interviewee: Yeah, I’ll be a stronger applicant next cycle. I haven’t heard that question, so that was difficult.
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, it’s the worst question. I hate asking it because we’ve had this nice interview up till now and I feel like it’s just a big buzz kill.
Response by Interviewee: It’s definitely a buzzkill, it definitely kind of like weights down on you because you visualize not getting in.
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, and I really want you too. I think it’s so much better if I’m the buzz kill than if they’re the buzz kill. So now you can envision my happy face apologizing for it and maybe it won’t be so bad if you get that question in reality.
Response by Interviewee: I’m sure they hate asking that question too.
Question by Interviewer:
How do you think the PA profession will change in the next 10 years?
Response by Interviewee: Well, the way that the PA profession has been trending I mean it's pretty much had an exponential growth, not only by public awareness of the profession but also the need for PAs, not just PA but MPAs, mid-levels, as health care reform continues to reduce compensation for health care systems, the PA has been tried and tested as a very cost-effective resource, so I would expect that pretty much no matter what the PA profession is just going to keep booming. There's a projection that I've read that from 2010 to 2020 there's expected to be about a 58% increase in PAs in the country, which of course is not going to nearly match that of the demand for providers in this already large deficit of primary care providers.
They expect there to be I believe ... Gosh, what was it? I think it's like a 36% increase in demand because of the aging population and the increase in population, so pretty much all around there's going to be a greater need for PAs. So I think as a profession we're going nowhere but up.
Commentary: Awesome, good job, really great job. You can add a few more details if you wanted to but I think you summarized it well. You had some statistics in there too which is always a nice touch. You could also discuss things like the number of schools growing as well, more institutions popping up. I don’t know if it’s necessary though, I think your answer was nice and strong.
Question by Interviewer:
All right, the last question - tell me about one time that you surprised yourselves?
Response by Interviewee: Oh, gosh. Well, I definitely surprised myself last summer. I was up against quite a few crazy, crazy transitions. So last summer my girlfriend graduated from UCSB, and was moving back to her parent's house. We'd been together for two years so I didn't really want to do a long-distance at that point, so my lease ended around the same time. So I decided to move to LA to be closer to her, and what that entailed was me quitting my job, becoming homeless, finding a new job, finding a new house, and at the same time, I enrolled in an online anatomy class and also an online community development class.
I was crashing on my friend's couch, and the first job that I applied to is my current job now. I was contacted 30 minutes later, I had an interview 12 hours later, I got hired right on the spot. At that point I was still homeless, so then I was commuting to Beverly Hills from North Hollywood, which was not a fun drive. My third day of work I got in an almost nearly fatal car accident. I had a head-on collision, totaling both cars. So I am now homeless, I have a brand-new job, I don't have a car, and I was also enrolled in school.
I had to rent a car, I had to start picking up my responsibilities as the lead medical assistant at my new job while juggling this complete swirl of responsibilities, having to find a new house. So then I found a new apartment and moved in and just in the span of like two weeks I came out on top. I have an amazing job working for a very well-known surgeon, with a very high quality of patient care that has opened up quite a few crazy experiences so far. I've landed an amazing apartment which is only about a 15-minute drive from my work. I got an A-plus in my anatomy class, and I got an A in my human development class.
So in the midst of chaos, I was still able to get everything done that needed to be done. And here I am today, and during the whole time, I was also working on my PA school application too. So I definitely surprised myself with that. I didn't just drop everything after all that.
Commentary: I think you did a great job. I think you overall throughout the entire interview you’re a good strong communicator, you don’t seem nervous, you come across as very confident and very qualified. I think you have really done a great job.
Response by Interviewee: Wow. Thank you very much, that’s huge. So yeah, I mean, I luckily do have a lot of real-world experience to pull from, so I think that’s kind of where a lot of my freeform answers came from. But also I’ve been preparing, I have a packet of 20 pages of dense answers. So even though I haven’t formulated them into a conversation I guess it just came out right now, so it’s only going to get better, but I’m glad that you said that I did well, because I wasn’t actually expecting to do as well as I did just now speaking with you for the first time.
Response by Interviewer: You did a really nice job.
Response by Interviewee: So how would you say I compared to others that you’ve interviewed?
Response by Interviewer: I think you’re at the top of the group for sure, especially in terms of how poised you are. Your experience comes across very well. You have a lot of background experience, right? And so where some people might be nervous about talking about their experience or they may not have quite as much to back up their qualifications, you do have a lot to draw from and I think more than anything it seems like it comes across as just a very self-assured position, not cocky, and not like you know everything but just that you know what you know. And it’s a very strong position to be in. So the fact that you really don’t seem nervous at all, you seem like you’re ready to talk and you know what you want to say and you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that’s I think that’s a really huge thing in an interview.
Response by Interviewee: I do tend to have kind of like a serious face, and I know that PA programs are kind of looking for the applicant who’s smiley and everything. So I tried to throw in as much small little tidbits of humor when I can. Did that kind of come across as like I’m actually kind of like a fun person at all?
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, I think so. It definitely wasn’t overshadowing or overpowering the rest of your conversation, but yeah, you didn’t come across as like stiff or too serious to me.
Response by Interviewee: Oh, great. Okay, that’s what I want to avoid.
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, no, I don’t think so. And you did a nice job of smiling in between times, so throw that in. When it occurs to you and when it’s appropriate drop it in, but I think you’re doing just fine. And you had some good funny moments in there too about risking your life on the weekend and that kind of stuff. It shouldn’t really be that funny, but you know what I mean? It was funny the way you said.
Response by Interviewee: I do have three questions, just the questions because they’re going to ask do you have any questions. Let’s see, so the three questions – the number one is … So I’m really attracted to your program because of the interdisciplinary learning model that you have where your PA and pharmacists and optometry students work together. I’ve heard from providers that they wish they had this kind of experience, have you heard any feedback from any of your alumni of any one of these three programs that they feel that they have somewhat of an advantage in the field knowing how to better work with other disciplines or even the same disciplines that they worked with in their program? That’s one.
Response by Interviewer: That’s a great question. I like that. You might phrase that in terms of what feedback have you gotten from alumni, just to instead of leading them down the like how have they told you it’s been helpful, you could ask them like what’s the feedback been.
Response by Interviewee: What kind of feedback have you received?
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, that opens the door a little bit more for them. They’ll probably still tell you why it’s helped, but …
Response by Interviewee: Okay, awesome. That’s really good advice. The second question was – I noticed that your first matriculating class was 27 students, and if I were to get into this upcoming matriculating class it says the class size of 40 students. What prompted the increase in class size? Are you trying to give back to … Are you trying to feed into the provider deficit? I’m trying to … I’m also still trying to formulate that question. Do you think that’s even a good way to get in? Because it’s a program specific question, but I don’t know if it’s strong. I’m not sure.
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, I don’t know either. I wouldn’t tack on the are you trying to do this or that. Although that does soften the question in case they were to feel defensive about it, because you don’t want it to come across as sort of like a judgemental type of smaller class sizes are better type of thing. So I’m not sure about that question. I think maybe …
Response by Interviewee: It doesn’t sound it resonates with you very well.
Response by Interviewer: No, I think it could be misinterpreted.
Response by Interviewee: And then the other question – what sets your program apart from other programs?
Response by Interviewer: Yeah, I think that’s a good one.
Response by Interviewee: Okay, I’ll try and come up with one other question. I was told that three is pretty much the max amount of questions that you would want to ask during that time, so maybe just keep it down to two.
Thank you, Taylor!
I hope this interview with Taylor Hill will help you as you prepare for your very own PA school interview. Thank you, Taylor, for sharing your interview with all of us here at The PA Life community!
If you are interested in your very own mock PA school interview we are here to help. We offer 60 minute recorded live interviews, just like this one. Complete with feedback and suggestions for improvement, unlimited discounted follow-up interviews, and a privately recorded video of your interview that you can use to fine-tune your responses.
Don't wait until interview day to face those tough and difficult to answer questions. We'll help guide you every step of the way so that come interview day, you know you are 100% prepared for whatever the admissions committee throws at you!
If you have an feedback for Taylor please let us know in the comments section below.
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