Kristine’s Pre-PA Stats
- McMaster PA Education Program
- Dip. Fitness & Health Promotion, St. Lawrence College – Kingston
- (In Progress upon Acceptance) BHSc Health Sciences, Queen’s University
- 3.63 out of 4.0 on OMSAS scale
Health Care Experience Hours:
- < 400 hours
During my 2-year college program we had 2 200 hour mandatory placements of our choosing. I have always been interested in the functionality of the human body, inspired by my mom’s influence as a physiotherapist, piqued by a high school exercise science course, and encouraged as I navigated the fitness industry. As a result, I was keen to intern at the Royal Military College as a Student Athletic Therapist. Within this role I practiced taping before and after play, ensuring that athletes were prepared, and injuries were managed. We also acted as emergency first responders at practice and games and had extensive training to handle emergencies if they arose. Where possible I also shadowed and assisted any manual procedures my supervisor performed, within their scope and military regulations. Due to the ongoing nature of this placement, I accumulated slightly over our required hours, finishing with roughly 250 hours.
I also had less recent (and less involved) healthcare experience in a physiotherapy clinic in my hometown. Here I accumulated 100 volunteer hours performing basic clinic duties (sanitation, escorting patients to clinic rooms, laundry, etc), as well as minor treatment modalities such as soft tissue ultrasound and muscle stimulation with exercises. Despite these roles, I would describe this as more of a “hands-off” experience as I had no formal training or experience, and it was relatively short-term
Reflecting on these experiences I can appreciate that they did not make me a strong contender for PA Consortium (in terms of HCE) considering most applicants have well over the pre-Covid HCE hours (910+), thus having the learned experience to excel in this mostly online healthcare program. Taking the time to acknowledge this helped to soften the blow of rejection from UofT. That being said, HCE is only required at UofT and I know I demonstrated other qualities that made me desirable to McMaster PAEP.
Note: McMaster’s PA program does not require or review health care experience hours.
I have been training/”competing” in CrossFit for the last 7 years, working sporadically for the last 6 years and consistently for the last 18 months (prior to summer’21). The discipline and perseverance to train at a competitive level helped me immensely beyond the gym, and I am confident that the people skills developed during this employment
Other Notable Activities:
- Teaching Assistant at Queen’s University
- Peer Health Educator for Student Wellness Services at Queen’s University
- Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach – Kingston Jr. Ice Wolves
- Member of Exercise is Medicine Canada – St Lawrence College Chapter
Why I decided to pursue the PA profession
My lengthy journey through undergrad gave me a LOT of time to reflect. My initial desire to pursue MD was driven by external motivation and ego. It took me a long time to understand this and then even longer to accept it. This was part of the reason I gave up on school and became very confused about my future. There were still a lot of aspects of medicine that inspired and excited me and I knew I wanted to continue to learn. When I did finally come across PA, I knew this was the career for me.
From childhood and into my early post-secondary education, I always dreamed of going to medical school. I excelled in class but also showed a great passion for learning, which is why I imagine many people encouraged this career path.
However, after an emotionally exhausting first year of university I not only gave up on the med school dream but gave up on school altogether. I dropped my enrolment and took some time to find where my passions lie. Turns out a passion project takes longer than a year; more like 3 years, another attempt at university, and then a college diploma until I started to find my groove. This journey speaks to the diversity, change, and challenges that I strive for which made it very difficult to settle on a specific career path when there are SO many exciting options out there.
Point #1 in favour of PA: being able to explore different areas of medicine is of huge importance to me and makes me feel less “locked-in”, creating less anxiety and more work-life flexibility within this career path.
I went to college for fitness and health promotion with an emphasis on the fitness portion. The end goal was to become a strength and conditioning coach; I wanted to expand my knowledge of programming as I was already confident in my physiology and anatomy knowledge. While studying and working within the fitness industry, I was overwhelmed by the health inequities and lack of health knowledge in many populations. This redirected my passion from fitness to health access and promotion.
Point #2: the average doctor’s visit is 15 minutes and beyond the patients’ chief complaints there is so much information for so little time. The role of a PA excites me as it introduces opportunity to talk about health beyond the clinic and emphasizing the importance of physical activity for health (where appropriate). I could talk for hours about the perceived and real exclusivity of the fitness industry and helping individuals overcome this fear would make my heart so happy.
Finally, my most recent education venture has been Health Sciences at Queen’s. They have done a phenomenal job at creating a multi-disciplinary program that encompasses the many layers of healthcare. In addition to the more science-focused courses, we also explored the social aspects of health and healthcare which offered an informed look at Canadian healthcare and where we still experience shortcomings. Point #3: Canadian healthcare still faces many inequities and the introduction of PAs into regular practice offers a unique opportunity to change the landscape of healthcare and create better health access.
What I think helped me stand out on PA Admissions
“Why I stood out on PA Admissions?” is very tough question to answer, and I know I am not alone in underselling myself. It is challenging to recognize our accomplishments and efforts when it is so much easier to dwell on failures and shortcomings. Introspection and reflection were so important for embarking on this journey, and I believe creating a story for how my life ran in parallel with the PA profession not only gave me confidence but helped me to be genuine on my application.
“Introspection and reflection were so important for embarking on this journey, and I believe creating a story for how my life ran in parallel with the PA profession not only gave me confidence but helped me to be genuine on my application.”
As you can see above, I have created a lengthy narrative for why PA is important to me, and I think this was very apparent throughout the application process.
More specifically, I have a lot of experience in a person-focused environment as a CrossFit Trainer. Being able to attend to 10+ athletes at a time in varying capacities gave me the confidence that I can rise to any challenge, handle adversity, and constantly improve myself. I think it is also unique in that it is not a healthcare field but there were so many important life lessons and skills I learned that shaped me into the person I am today.”
“I think it is also unique in that it is not a healthcare field but there were so many important life lessons and skills I learned that shaped me into the person I am today.”
A very special shoutout to my Queen Street family in Kingston who carried me physically and emotionally through my volatile undergraduate experience and helped me discover the best version of myself, I am forever grateful for my time there.
My tips for Canadian Pre-PA Applicants
Advice: ASK FOR HELP. There are SO many people out there who want to see you win, and so many of us who want to see the PA profession grow! 🙂
Being informed of the PA profession is an important jumping off point and there are so many resources available to help you gain a better understanding of this route.
The Canadian PA Blog is an invaluable tool for starting your application process, but asking your peers, mentors, colleagues, professors, etc will all help you on your path to success. It is important to note that none of us went through this journey on our own, and you should not have to, either!
Encouragement: Good things take time. I have gotten so caught up in the amount of time it has taken me to find my path that sometimes I forget to stop and appreciate everything I accomplished along the way. If you are still struggling to find your direction or you are facing rejection from PA take a deep breath and welcome the extra year of growth you and just been granted.
“If you are still struggling to find your direction or you are facing rejection from PA take a deep breath and welcome the extra year of growth you and just been granted.”
There is so much to be gained from taking your time and if it is still something you are passionate about, your perseverance will show.
Best of luck to everyone beginning their 2022 applications!
Now its your turn!
Thank you Kristine for sharing your incredible journey to gaining acceptance into PA School!
Have questions? Leave it in the comments below.
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