Welcome to the PA Life Podcast with your host Stephen Pasquini PA-C where I explore everything Physician Assistant. Whether you’re a practicing PA like me, a stressed out PA student or a future PA to be, this podcast has something for everyone. *Warning this podcast is highly addictive and may lead to overwhelming urges to become a physician assistant.
Applying to PA School with a Low GPA: Admissions Directors Answer Your Questions
How to Get Into PA School With a Low GPA
PA school administrators from ten top-ranking PA programs answer your questions on how to get into PA school with a low GPA.
A low GPA is probably the hardest area to improve.
This makes sense – it was years in the making, and can’t be undone without time. It can take about a year in advanced level science courses to bump a high 2.x GPA over 3.0. The lower your GPA, and the more classes you’ve taken, the longer it will take to reflect improvements in your academic record.
What is your CASPA calculated GPA?
Before you do anything it is important that you have this number in hand. You can view your CASPA GPAs once your application has been Verified. You can read about that here on the CASPA website.
When I applied to PA school I had a cumulative GPA of 2.9, a result, probably like many of you reading this, of some early misdirection. I got my act together in the second half of my undergraduate career, finishing on the Dean's list with a 3.8 GPA. But my overall GPA did not fully recover and was lower than the 3.0 minimum of the school where I was accepted.
Indeed this is not the norm, but you should not let a lower than average GPA stop you from finding a path to PA school if this is truly your passion.
Fortunately, you are not alone. Every year PA programs from across the country come together to answer questions posed by aspiring Pre-PA students like yourself. Not surprisingly, questions regarding PA school admissions and low (or lower than average) GPA topped the list.
Below are the answers to these questions.
Admissions Directors Tell All: Your PA School GPA Questions Answered
This post is part one of a two-part series focused on steps you can take to mediate a lower than desired GPA and the first in a multi-part series of posts exploring questions asked by PA school applicants and answers provided by the PA program admissions directors from seven PA programs.
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PRE-PA Questions are in bold
With answers following each question and a reference to the corresponding PA school admissions director who provided the answer.
Q: Do you have any advice for an applicant who has a low GPA to help set them apart and be considered over someone who has a higher GPA?
Q: What do you suggest if my GPA just barely meets the minimum requirement for acceptance?
Q: If I were to retake classes and get better grades but not yet reach a 3.0, would the upward trend in my grades be considered?
Q: I am right at the minimum GPA and healthcare experience I was wondering if it would be more beneficial to do a year master program to increase my GPA or to focus more on HCE?
Q: I know going up against others with a GPA of 4.0 or very close to that. That will make it harder for me to get an interview, right?
Q: If I got a C in an upper-level Organic Chem course would that lessen my chances at getting in?
Q: What is a competitive GPA?
Q: How can one make other parts of their application look competitive if their science GPA is on the lower end? More HCE hours? High GRE score?
Q: I am a recent graduate holding a biological science degree, I am currently volunteering at a lab and working at a dermatology office as a medical assistant. I am working on my extra-curricular activities and building on my resume. Unfortunately, I did not do so well in undergrad. My GPA is very low, so my question to you is,
How NOT to be a PA Sellout: The Physician Assistant Vocation
So many PAs I meet are unsatisfied with their careers.
I have met many a mid-level practitioner who has become entangled in a web of profit driven, incentivized by the numbers healthcare. They have forgotten why they became a PA, to begin with.
We all become PAs with a great desire to help people, but it often doesn't end that way.
PA Jekyll and Mr. Hide
The transformation happens sometime around graduation... Once the salary figures start being tossed around.
People change in ways I cannot even describe. It's all about competition, numbers, salaries and benefits. It is all about me and less about what all your wonderful skills can do to help your patients.
This is why you went into medicine. I challenge you never to forget this.
We can all succumb to social pressures, and after a while when money and profit run dry we are left unsatisfied.
This level of dissatisfaction is measured by the degree to which you have succumbed to another pressure in life:
Social Pressures to Conform
This counterforce can be very powerful, you want to fit into a group. Unconsciously you feel that what makes you different is embarrassing or painful. Your parents often act as a counterforce as well. They may seek to direct you to a career path that is lucrative and comfortable.
If these counterforces become strong enough you can lose complete contact with your uniqueness, the reason you went into medicine, who you really are.
Your inclinations and desires become modeled on those of others. This can set you off on a very dangerous path, you end up choosing a career path that does not really suit you, your desire and interest slowly wane and your work suffers for it.
You come to see pleasure and fulfillment as something that comes from outside of work.
Because you are increasingly less engaged in your career you fail to pay attention to changes going on in the field, you fall behind the times and pay a price for this.
At moments when you must make important decisions you flounder or follow what others are doing because you have no sense of your inner radar or direction to guide you. You have broken contact with your destiny, the one you aspired to when you started PA school.
At all cost, you must avoid such a fate! The process of following your life task all the way to mastery can begin at any point in life.
The hidden force that drove you into a career in medicine, into this career as a physician assistant is always in you and ready to be engaged.
Three Steps to Realign With Your Goals as a Physician Assistant
First: Connect or reconnect with your inclinations.
The first step is inward, search the past for your inner voice, clear away the voices that confuse you such as parents or peers, look for an underlying pattern, a chord to your character that you must understand as deeply as possible.
Second: With this connection established you must look at the career path you are already on or about to begin.
The choice of this path or redirection of it is critical. To help in this stage you will need to enlarge your concept of work itself.
Too often we make a separation of this in our lives. There is work and then there is life outside of work where we find real pleasure and fulfillment. Work is often seen as a means for making money so that we can enjoy that second life that we lead. Even if we derive some satisfaction from our careers we still tend to compartmentalize our lives in this way. This is a depressing attitude because in the end, we spend a substantial part of our waking life at work.