Prof. Brian Merkel passed along this advice from alumni trying to get into graduate school. The following was shared by Halee Berens, who is working to become a physicians assistant through Concordia University.
Anything you think UW-Green Bay students should know?
Have confidence in yourself, you’ve come so far, you will make it! A trick to get shadowing hours: If you repeatedly get denied hours through the hospital shadowing service. Ask your grandparents or other relatives if they see a PA and have them ask if they would be willing to allow you to shadow. It worked for me twice! Get involved on campus! Serve in a leadership position of a club or participate in a research study. Volunteer. Make yourself a well rounded applicant. Start accumulating patient care experience hours early. CNA, EMT, ER tech, Lab tech are all popular ways to obtain hours. Healthcare experience is necessary and is very competitive when applying to schools. Scribe hours DO NOT count as patient care experience hours, however many of my classmates were scribes and they are very knowledgeable.
Ever since high school you have been competing to be the best-of-the-best in order to be accepted into the next step of your education. Once you are accepted into a PA program, that fierce competition ends. Grades will no longer define who you are, you just have to pass the exam and the class in order to be successful. Once you graduate from the program and pass the PANCE no one cares about your grades. Your PA class will be like your family. We all help each other out in order to succeed by sharing ideas, making study guides, and answering questions. Being a PA is about being a member of a team, so you all work together to achieve the same goal.
The following electives taken during my time at UW-Green Bay have proven to be beneficial for me in succeeding in my current classes:
Human Anatomy (cadaver) Lab
My #1 piece of advice:
To those of you debating whether to apply to school as a junior or wait until after you graduate: Take the gap year. You never know what opportunities may come to you your senior year. You may take a new class that sparks your interest, participate in research and present at symposiums, become nominated for a university award, or achieve that honor roll status upon graduation that you have worked so hard to obtain. If you wait to apply until after graduation, all of your achievements from senior year will be included and can make you stand out compared to other candidates.
Take your time, obtain experience, make some additional money to pay for school, and relax for awhile, because once you begin the program, it is about 26 months of accelerated nonstop education. The youngest students in my class are 23 and our oldest is 40. There is no set time you need to apply. Do it when you are truly ready.