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I have gathered this information from attending past PA school info sessions in person, and asking during the Q&A. As always, check with the official PA programs (or look for updates on the “Waitlist” sub-topic in our Canadian Pre-PA Facebook Group, which is free to join).
You got waitlisted… what next?
Keep in mind there are TWO types of waitlists when applying to PA school:
The Pre-Interview Waitlist
The Post-Interview Waitlist
The Pre-Interview Waitlist is after you’ve submitted your transcripts, supplemental application (or letter of intent), and supporting documentation (will vary by school). This is when you are waiting to obtain an invite to the MMI – or Multi-Mini Interview.
The Post-Interview Waitlist means you have already completed your PA school interview, and have not received an “Acceptance” with the first wave of successful applicants. Those applicants still need to respond to their letter of acceptance/offer for PA School. There is usually a few that say “no” and those unfilled spots will then go to individuals on the waitlist.
Keep reading to learn more about being on the waitlist and what you can do for each type of waitlist.
Type 1: The Pre-Interview Waitlist
The Pre-Interview Waitlist is the waitlist to be invited to the MMI.
The Multi-Mini Interviews (or “PA school interviews”) have not yet taken place, and being on the waitlist means you are on “standby” in case an invitee drops out of the interview.
You will be taking their spot and need to be ready to jump in.
Should I still prepare for interviews if I’m on the waitlist?
Yes!! You should be preparing for PA school interviews as if you DID get an interview invite.
Regardless of whether or not you actually get invited to the interview – the preparation this time around will help hone your communication skills and confidence overall.
How much notice will I receive if I get called to the MMI after being on the waitlist?
Keep in mind that the PA program does provide information to you when they email you to notify you’ve been added to the waitlist. If a candidate drops out of the MMI early on, you could get several days or several weeks notice. In some instances, you could be called by the PA program the night before or the morning of.
What if I didn’t even make it onto the waitlist for an MMI Invite?
Remember that PA programs (and health care programs) in Canada are COMPETITIVE. Competitiveness changes year to year as it depends on the qualities and stats of the applicants who apply each cycle.
PA programs DO NOT PROVIDE INDIVIDUALIZED FEEDBACK about your performance or what you can do differently. So you can’t find out from the program directly what the weakest parts of your application are.
It can be very discouraging, and you have to make a decision about whether or not you will try to apply again for next cycle. If you didn’t get an interview invite or waitlist, don’t commit to “submitting the same application”. Use the time between NOW and the next admission cycle to boost your application:
When I learn a candidate didn’t get an MMI invite or waitlist to invite for the MMI, I know they have to examine all materials submitted before this stage: “was it GPA? Quality of Supplemental application performance? References? (if applicable)? Clinical Experience Hours (UofT only)? Did you submit all of your documents and didn’t miss anything? Did you submit everything on time?”
For example: If you applied to McMaster and had a high or competitive GPA range, then the area you probably need to improve is your Supplemental Application performance.
For UofT: If you have a competitive GPA, and strong clinical experience hours in different settings, very strong references, then the “weakest link” may be your submission of your Written Supplemental Application.
Look for ways to improve in all aspects of your application, but try to identify the weakest link and try to be resourceful on improving that aspect.
Getting feed back from a peer, mentor or student advisor can be helpful. Reach out to your network or contact Student Services at your University Program for support.
Type 2: The Post-Interview Waitlist
Congratulations! PA admissions deemed you competitive enough to be interviewed in the MMI, and also competitive enough to be on the waitlist to get into PA school!
How does the Post-Interview Waitlist work?
There are three potential outcomes for PA School Admissions: 1) Accepted, 2) Rejected, and 3) Waitlisted.
If you receive an “Acceptance”, this means that the PA admissions committee has sent you a letter of offer. Candidates at this stage will either accept or reject the acceptance offer by a certain deadline.
Why does a waitlist exist for PA Admissions?
When the first wave of candidates have given PA admissions their answer, there will be some candidates who decide NOT to accept the offer.
So the spot goes to the candidate who is on the “waitlist”, a list of qualified applicants who can take the spot of candidates who ‘declined’ their acceptance.
How big is the waitlist?
This part of admissions is confidential. If you are waitlisted they will notify you by email. There is no telling “where your spot” is on the waitlist.
How long will PA admissions keep people on the waitlist?
When I applied to PA school, I had one classmate who was on the waitlist, and someone dropped out of the program TWO WEEKS before PA school began in the September semester. They began with the rest of us, and we had no idea and the student revealed it late into 1st year.
Does my acceptance mean “less” if I received an acceptance while on a waitlist?
No, an acceptance is an acceptance – whether that acceptance was obtained in first round of acceptance offers, or your acceptance came in the form of a waitlist. Some STELLAR PAs that are working now in Canada were waitlisted for PA school, but you would never be able to tell. It does not affect how you perform in PA school, or your ability to obtain a job.
If you have more questions, be sure to check out the “Waitlist” Topics in our Pre-PA Facebook Group. Otherwise leave a comment or question below!