Please check the official McMaster PA Program website (link at bottom of this page) for the current requirements and deadlines.
Applying for a new program can be a daunting task, but have no fear, here are some tips from current and past PA students on how you can excel at your PA program application! These tips are geared towards prospective students applying to the McMaster PA program, but can also apply to other applications.
Application process in general
Think about why you want to be a PA. Why not a physician, nurse, or other healthcare practitioner? Be familiar with the PA profession. There are many forums, blogs, and groups available that are very informative. Scroll down for a list of resources!
Find out as much as you can about the program. Read over the program’s website and attend any information sessions. How long is the program? What is the teaching philosophy? What are the values of the program? Can you see yourself thriving here?
Start the application early and know the deadlines. Get your brain juices flowing early and submit that application on time.
Ask for help/clarification from the program office if needed. They’re very good at responding quickly!
Be organized. It helps to keep track of all your past education, work, and volunteer experiences. By having everything in one place, it helps you to reflect on your experiences and journey as a whole and how they’ve influenced who you are today.
Ensure all your documents are in on time. Request your transcripts early. The McMaster PA program requires only your undergraduate transcript(s).
Carefully answer all questions and submit your application by the deadline. McMaster PA applicants, know that there are two supplementary fees to pay ($85 to OUAC, and $85 to the McMaster PA program when you submit the supplementary application).
Start early and read the questions carefully. Your brain needs time to process the questions.
Look at essay writing guides. Although you won’t be writing a novel, it may give you ideas on how to structure your answers.
Be genuine. Carefully reflect upon your experiences and who you are as a person. Tell them about your journey and captivate them! Don’t just re-list all the activities you’ve ever done. Instead, think about what drew you to these experiences, what you have learned from them, and how they have impacted you/others. Keep your answers genuine and think about how your experiences have prepared you to become not just a great PA candidate, but also an outstanding future PA!
Use examples. Actions speak louder than words, right?
Ask others to proofread your answers. Don’t make silly spelling and grammar mistakes! Ask someone to look over your answers. Do your answers make sense? Do they answer the questions?
Answer the question. Make sure you’ve actually answered the question… this can’t be emphasized enough!
Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
Practice, practice, practice! Practice out loud with family and friends. Read up on medical ethics and keep up with the news. You can find MMI practice questions online and in prep books. Many schools hold mock MMI sessions that are very helpful for practice and feedback. You might also pretend to be the interviewer and have a friend answer the questions. What did you like about their answer? What didn’t you like?
Be in peak mental shape! The night before the interview, do something relaxing and keep your mind off the interview if you can. Try to get enough sleep so you can perform your best.
Be your best self. On interview day, dress and act professionally, but don’t forget to show off your personality! The interview is your chance to shine and show them who you are as a person.
Before entering the room, take a moment if needed. Carefully read over the prompt. You don’t have to enter the room immediately after the bell rings (but be aware that the timer has started). Sometimes, it helps to take a deep breath, strike a power pose, and believe in yourself! Be sure to knock before entering the room.
When answering, show your thought process. Think about the issue from different perspectives. Justify your answers and provide examples when you can. Remember, pausing and reflecting out loud is okay.
Have fun with it! The MMI is meant to be a fun experience (although you might not believe it at the time). You get a fresh start at each station, so put the previous stations behind you and don’t dwell on them. After your interview is done, treat yourself because you’ve earned it! You should be proud of yourself for making it this far.
MMI for the Mind by Kevyn To M.D. – This book has excellent MMI practice questions and advice on structuring your responses.
Doing Right: A Practical Guide to Ethics for Medical Trainees and Physicians by Philip C. Hebert – This book explores various ethical dilemmas faced by healthcare practitioners.
I hope you found these tips helpful! Each application is unique and there are many factors that are taken into account. This shows in the diversity of the PA students here at McMaster. The take-home message? It doesn’t hurt to apply so long as you meet the requirements. You never know what will happen unless you try!
But what if you didn’t make it? Just remember that there are many many qualified candidates and a limited number of spots. It doesn’t mean that you are any less worthy. Take what you’ve learned from this experience and try again. Sometimes, you just need a bit of luck on your side.
That said, good luck to all candidates and hope to see you at McMaster!