My PA Acceptance Letter
I did not know I wanted to become a PA until I stumbled on the profession.
I had always been passionate about health and finding opportunities to volunteer and work towards helping others achieve wellness in their community.
I didn’t feel as ‘naturally smart’ as many of my other peers, however I worked hard to maintain my competitive GPA while rounding out my experiences and soft skills with extra-curriculars and work within a health care/research setting.
I was able to achieve this through persistence, goal setting, time management, overcoming procrastination, resourcefulness and relentless intentional action. My approach to finding the right career was no different.
I had explored a multitude of career options and my first choice, initially, was going to medical school – like many of my peers in undergrad.
Other careers I was considering included: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, dentistry, naturopath, etc.
I attended multiple career info sessions, spoke with health care professions, went to career fairs speaking with program reps, researching program websites and scouring forums for information.
To rule in and out different careers, I learned about the philosophies of different health care careers. I also looked into education, practice approach, work with patients.
After much research and self-reflection, I determined that the main health care profession that aligned with my values and goals involved practicing medicine. However, I wasn’t sure if the traditional route to practicing medicine was for me.
I spoke with my guidance counselor who mentioned that McMaster was starting a Physician Assistant program and that I should look into it.
Further research led me to PhysicianAssistantForum.com – one of the oldest and largest open forums for Physician Assistants and Pre-PAs in the United States. Back then there were little no resources available about PAs in Canada apart from the national association website and PA program websites. I ended up spending a lot of time perusing the Pre-PA General Discussion section of the forum to find students like myself looking to apply to PA program.
Back in 2009, Canada had not graduated their own PAs yet (except for in the military), and there were only a handful of PAs recruited from the US and IMGs to work in pilot projects. I didn’t have the network or contacts to speak with a PA or PA student.
However, through my guidance counselor I learned that one of my former undergraduate classmates had applied and gotten into the McMaster PA program and was already making her way through her 1st year of PA school.
I sat down for coffee on campus with the PA student, started asking her questions about PA and the PA program. I learned about her Pre-PA Experience, her journey and decision making process. This conversation was very eye-opening, sharing her insights, and this solidified my decision to pursue PA.
The possibility of helping to pioneer a new career in Canada was very exciting too, and inspired me to pursue becoming a Physician Assistant.