Online pre-PA forums contain a wealth of information on preparing for PA school. But, by reading too much into one person's experience, they also can warp your sense of what it takes to get into PA school.
If your background mirrors that of someone who didn't get into PA school, it may leave you feeling as if you don't have a shot at your dream career.
Knowing that, like you, someone else had a mediocre GPA or patient contact hours on the lower end can make you feel like your future PA school application may be unredeemable.
But, sometimes people tell themselves tales to feel better about defeat. They adjust their reality so that when they come up short, they can believe it was due to something out of their control.
Some people do this publicly, and some of these tales make their way onto pre-PA forums.
Reading these tales, even in passing, can plant a seed in your mind for a falsehood to take root. Without meaning to, you may come to believe someone else's distorted viewpoint.
So, let's bust this recent BS before it turns into something you begin to hold true.
There are two ideas behind this statement that are intertwined:
First - That you can't get into PA school with a lower than average GPA.
Second - That an interview does not give you the opportunity to compensate for weaknesses in your application.
These ideas are both false.
First and foremost, PA school faculty members will almost universally tell you that being a well-rounded candidate is more important than simply having a high GPA.
If an applicant has done well in school but has done nothing to learn how to help their community, interact with patients, or function in a professional setting, they aren't great PA school material.
The statement also supposes that there is nothing else you can do (e.g., significantly improve your performance in more recent course credits, ace the GRE, or do well in upper-level science courses) to prove your academic fitness for PA school.
Secondly, if you are offered an interview, your GPA is good enough. So too are your experience, volunteer work, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. An interview offer is a declaration that an applicant, GPA included, meets the standards of a PA program.
If you have a great interview, one where you focus on what you've gained and learned from your experiences (even the less than stellar ones), your GPA and any other shortcomings will be much less relevant.
If a program likes you more than other candidates and you sold them on your ability to perform, regardless of a previous GPA, you'll be one of their top picks.
However, if you have a lackluster interview performance, your other application weaknesses will matter more. Your interview will not be able to salvage any past deficiencies. You'll be unlikely to be offered a spot in a PA program, but it won't only be due to a low GPA.
Crediting a low GPA for failing to get into PA school, especially when you've had interviews, is an escape. It blames a version of you from your past and avoids putting the responsibility on present-day you.
This approach is a coping mechanism, and it's a bit of a cop-out. It's a lot easier to believe something we did long ago is responsible for our failure because we can't change it.
But, the truth is, you always have the opportunity to become a better PA school candidate. There's always something you can do starting now that can move you closer towards your goal.
It might be harder, take longer, or be unpleasant, but it IS possible. You are not stuck with where you are now. But, your dream has to be big enough for you to want to do the work.
Otherwise, you'll be on some pre-PA forum, explaining why you can't possibly get into PA school, making yourself and others believe it's true.
If you have a PA school interview on the horizon, be sure you are taking these three key steps to prepare.