Physician Assistants (PAs) are highly skilled health care professionals educated in the medical model who practice medicine. PAs can work in any clinic setting to extend physician services, complement existing services and aid in improving patient access to health care. (CMA Toolkit) Learn more →
Jill is an incoming McMaster PA Student. You can follow her journey at @pa.my.way.
Jill’s Pre-PA Stats
Jill was accepted both into:
McMaster PA Education Program (will be attending)
University of Toronto BScPA Program
First-time applicant, accepted on the first attempt.
Queen’s University, Honours Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
3.9 out of 4.0 on the OMSAS scale
Health Care Experience Hours:
Family Medicine Internship (4th year University) – 150 hours, unpaid
In my family medicine internship I worked directly with a nurse practitioner and saw all of her daily patients with her. I was able to learn all about clinic life from the perspective of a provider, as well as how to converse with patients to get a detailed history. I also had the opportunity to perform many procedures such as: fetal ultrasounds, SOAP note charting in EMR, taking vitals, cryotherapy & much more (All under supervision!!) .
ER Screener – Working in a rural hospital ER – 1350 hours, paid
In this position I helped to screen patients coming into ER triage for COVID symptoms, ran errands for all ER staff, directed patients & helped transport patients to imaging. I also learned an immense amount about how a hospital runs, interprovider communication & how the social determinants of health truly impact lives .
Nursing assistant / Patient Care Assistant – Working in a major city ER (*Not included in my application as I started this position in April) ~900 hours, paid
This position is my current job & I love it. Even though this experience was not on my application, I wanted to let Pre-PAs know that experiences like this do exist! In this position I work in the ER directly with nurses, doctors, PAs, RTs, OTs, PTs and help to support them in all of their patient interactions. I often help retrieve supplies, position patients, monitor patients via. telemetry, and participate in procedures such as: casting, conscious/ unconscious fracture reduction, foley catheter insertion, IV insertion, wound care, etc.
Note: Jill got acceptances into University of Toronto and McMaster’s PA program. However, keep in mind that McMaster does not require or review health care experience hours.
Fun Facts about Jill:
I am the first person in my family to pursue a career in medicine, which means I’ve had to figure out most of this journey by myself. This is one of the major reasons I started my Insta page – to help provide information to other pre-PAs who may be in my position!
I was accepted to both McMaster and University of Toronto PA programs this year!
I am a rural applicant – from Northumberland, Ontario & I would love to return to my hometown to increase the access to quality healthcare there
Why I decided to pursue the PA profession
I realized quite late that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine – at the end of my second year of undergrad. I knew very little about a career in medicine or what career choices were even available to me. Early into my google searches I actually came across the “Canadian PA” website, read every single page & honestly fell in love with the profession.
The top reasons that I chose PA were:
The amount of knowledge & the position of autonomy, yet partnership that the profession holds.
the profession’s emphasis on patient advocacy, education & preventative medicine; missions that I am incredibly passionate about due to my rural upbringing & Kinesiology degree
The ability of the profession to be directly involved in patient diagnosis & care, while also being in a position to comfortably acknowledge limitations & continually further learning
I found that the principles of the profession directly aligned with my values & goals:
a passion for teamwork
increasing access to quality care
being a strong advocate for patients
I knew that these factors, combined with the profession’s work-life balance, would result in my ability to obtain ongoing career satisfaction & minimize burnout
(Most of this information was copied from my University of Toronto “WHY PA” application essay – Please do not copy this work as your own – it will get flagged as plagiarism – as the program uses turnitin.com to check for plagirism)
What I think helped me stand out on PA Admissions
I believe the strongest part of my application stemmed from my HCE and my lived experiences of growing up in a small rural community. Both of these experiences enabled me to understand the realities of SDH, the need for increased care in rural/ northern/ underserved areas & to identify WHY I wanted to work in medicine as a PA.
I also made sure to have a really strong presentation of my application. I spent weeks writing & rewriting my UoT essays and practiced answering MMI questions every evening for ~2 months leading up to the Mac supplementary application.
I believe that all of this work allowed me to clearly articulate my goals, intentions & experiences to the admissions committees!
My tips for Canadian Pre-PA Applicants
Begin thinking about your application as early as possible! By this, I don’t mean that you need to start writing essays long before you apply, but rather work to identify areas that you believe make you a strong applicant and elaborate on why these areas are strong. For example, I work in a busy emergency room as an ER Tech / Nursing support. This experience sounds neat, but what skills did I learn? How has this experience shaped me? How did this experience help me decide to become a PA? Beginning to think in this mindset will help SO much when it comes time to actually write / speak about your experiences
It is also important to identify areas that you may not be as strong in. This can be challenging, but will truly help your application & allow you to grow. As I began to think about my application in my third year of university, I realized that I seriously lacked hands-on HCE. Based on this information, I applied to my school’s internship program and was able to secure a placement in a family medicine clinic. This information also helped me to realize that taking a gap year would be beneficial!
Finally, look at your application as a whole – not just as multiple pieces that you have to check off. I believe that admission committees want to see the individual, their story and proof as to why you want to pursue a career as a PA. Be yourself & advocate for yourself by talking up your experiences and skills! (think of it as practice to advocate for your future patients!) ❤️
Hi! I’m Anne, a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant working in Orthopaedic Surgery.
I’ve been writing about my PA experience since starting my PA journey and I’m excited to share CanadianPA.ca as a resource to help you learn about the role and impact of Physician Assistants in Canada.
This blog is my way of helping you, the way others have helped me, discover the PA profession and pursue a career that I love.