Applying to a Canadian PA School after 2 Years of Undergraduate Study
When you decide to apply to PA school is a decision entirely up to you (whether after 2 years, 3 years, or 4 years of undergrad, or even after a Master’s or work experience).
The Ontario PA programs (McMaster and UofT) has accepted candidates after 2 years of study. Whereas Manitoba’s Master of PA studies accepts students only when they have obtained their 4 year Bachelor’s degree:
Applying Now vs. After Finishing Your Degree
Q: I was wondering if it is too ambitious to apply in second year and if it hurts my chances for future years if I get rejected. I know many people who apply are even grad students. Or is it advantageous to apply early to have a high GPA?
If you are mid-way through your 2nd year without previous health care experience, then the only program you may qualify to apply to is McMaster’s Physician Assistant Program. There are a couple of considerations for why you would want to apply in your 2nd year or why you would want to wait. First and foremost, you CAN apply as long as you meet the minimum admission requirements.
It is not too ambitious to apply while you are in your second year of undergraduate studies. There’s a wide demographic of students that get into the PA program each year, during my year, the average age was approximately 27, and anecdotally each year that average age gets lower and lower. Many of the classes have students who have gotten into the program after completing 2 years of university and have done just as well as other students.
What if my GPA is low?
As long as you make the cut-off of 3.0 out of 4.0 GPA on the OMSAS scale for undergraduate studies completed so far, you can still apply. If your GPA does not meet the requirements, your application will not be considered. If your GPA is below 3.0, it may be worth waiting so that you can take courses to upgrade your GPA to meet the minimum requirements.
However, waiting for your GPA to go from a 3.3 to a 3.7 GPA doesn’t make you “any less qualified” to apply, in both instances you still meet the requirements and I would strongly encourage you to apply!
Keep in mind there are other aspects of the admissions process – the supplementary application and Multi-Mini Interview where you can use your soft skills/CanMEDS-PA competencies (communication, critical thinking, advocate, collaborator, leader, etc.) to stand out as a PA candidate.
What if I didn’t get in because I wasn’t ‘competitive enough’?
Sometimes it takes several attempts/admission cycles into the PA program. One advantage of going through the process is that you’ve had an opportunity this year to go through the admissions process, whether that’s only as getting as far as the supplementary process or making it all the way through to the interview round.
Remember that when McMaster sends out its offers, you may get waitlisted and SOME successful candidates actually decline the offer for admission into the program. This opens up a spot for those on the waitlist, and the waitlist moves.
Each failure is a learning experience and an opportunity to be improved upon. You are now familiar with the supplementary application (Kira Talent for McMaster’s PA Supplemental Application Process, UofT PA Supp App Mini-Essay Questions, and Manitoba’s PA Statement of Intent) and MMI process, from which you can practice more. You now have some time to do research about the PA profession, do some shadowing, or speak with some PAs about their career.
Age is just a number
Just like other facets of life, age is just a number and having the characteristics that make you a good candidate for the program is not determined by age.
There are some things you can’t teach, such as attitude, an eagerness to learn, passion for learning and patient care, empathy, working well with others, and willingness to take initiative.
Use the time between now and when you apply to seek out enriching experiences and opportunities (whether through extracurriculars, volunteer work, mentorship, shadowing or part-time work) to develop the skills that will help you succeed in whatever you choose to do.
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