Most of the time the biggest obstacle is ourselves. The excuses that we create to avoid doing the things that matter most. This is true in life, and often is a roadblock on our journey to PA school.
Please write down this quote and paste it on your bathroom mirror right now:
“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do."
1. Getting Started by Setting Goals
Grab a piece of paper and write down your goal. In this case:
Goal = I want to be a physician assistant… and here’s why I want to be a physician assistant.
2. Define Your Path to Reaching Your Goal
Let's start with the application requirements for applying to PA school.
The application requirements vary from school to school, but I have put together a quick getting started guide.
I am a big fan of what I like to call the MED. This is the "Minimum Effective Dose." We use it a lot in medicine, and I think it works well here. What it the MED for a good PA school applicant?
You must perform a detailed reconnaissance of the top 3-5 PA schools you wish to apply to. You can rank them based on their list of exact requirements. Create a list of requirements and then cross compare.
The school with the least overall requirements will be your MED.
You can apply when you reach this MED, but I would highly encourage you to go beyond the MED. Remember you are competing against many other very qualified applicants. A substantial list of qualifications that extends well beyond what the program is asking for combined with passion, drive, and integrity is a formula for success.
Below your goal create a list of things you need to do to apply for PA school. It will usually look like this:
- Clinical Experience
- Often two years (2,000 hours) of direct patient care experience.
- Academic prerequisites
- Research your school(s) of choice and make a checklist of what you have and what you need.
- Knowledge of the PA profession
- This is not always a requirement, but it often is, so I would recommend taking it and getting it over with!
Here is a simple five-step process:
3. Create a Reasonable Timeline for Reaching Your Goals. Organize your finances.
Now that you know what to do start today. It is this simple!
- Create a reasonable PA school application timeline that allows you to obtain the necessary PA school prerequisites.
- Organize your finances, work requirements, family life to make the timeline achievable.
- Define your goal.
- Clearly, define your path and find the "MED."
- Create a reasonable timeline and organize your finances (look for PA-specific scholarships and loans).
If you are stuck, just ask yourself what are you most afraid of. Then do that!