- Tell me about yourself
Tip: This may go for a few minutes. You may discuss your education, volunteer, shadowing and work experiences, personal background, etc. During the interview, make good eye contact, sit up straight, and look happy to be participating in the interview.
- Why do you want to become a PA?
Tip: Statements involving your interest in helping people are insufficient. You must provide specific examples about ways you have confirmed your interest. For example, do you have a personal experience with a PA that influenced your decision? Did you realize that being a PA fits into your goals better and if so, how? Consider unique roles of PA’s and how these may differ from others such as Nursing, and explain how these unique roles of PA’s have confirmed your interest in pursuing a PA. Display enthusiasm and passion for why you want to be a PA.
- Why PA and not MD/RN/etc?
Tip: Do some research and be aware of the differences between a medical doctor, nurse, PA, and other healthcare professionals. Identify and explain certain roles PA’s play and explain how this interests and fits with your professional and personal goals. It might also be helpful to know some history on the PA profession e.g. when it started, etc.
- Why did you choose this PA program?
Tip: Discuss aspects of the school that interested you such as the programs’ reputation, location, first time pass rate on the boards (i.e. Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)), mission and goals of the school/program, the clinical aspects or emphasis of the program, etc. Make sure you do some research on this. Make sure you give a thoughtful answer, don’t state how you just applied randomly to different schools.
- Why makes you a great applicant for this program?
Tip: This question may be phrased in different ways, such as “why should we accept you and not someone else?” Sell yourself! Discuss how your clinical experiences, education, skills and competencies, etc have prepared you for a career as a PA.
- Tell me about your PA related or healthcare experiences
Tip: Ideal healthcare experiences should put you in direct contact with patients. The experience should involve assessment and treatment of patients e.g. taking patient information, vital signs, collecting data to be used for diagnosis and treatment. The experience may be in a hospital, clinic, or ambulance. Some of the best experiences here may include Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Paramedic, Nursing or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Respiratory Therapy, Radiology/Cardiology Technician, Medical Assistant, etc. You may also discuss some of your shadowing experiences if any.
- Tell me about your volunteer experiences
Tip: Explain what you did, how you did it, what you learnt, and how that has impacted or stimulated you in pursuing a PA.
- Tell me about your leadership skills
- What do you think a PA does and how do you think you fit into this?
Tip: Make sure you know the roles and responsibilities of a PA in great detail e.g. perform procedures, record and analyze patient report/history, perform tests and interpret results, assist in surgery, provide patient counseling, and other duties under the supervision of a physician or surgeon. Explain how this aligns with your interests, skills, goals, etc.
- What do you think about the healthcare reform and the healthcare system in USA?
Tip: It is important to stay up to date on new information in the healthcare field. Questions such as this are open ended so feel free to explain your thoughts. Also, if you feel that certain viewpoints may be too provocative, it may be safe to avoid them. You may consider reading medical journals, publications, newspapers, online news and blogs, etc.
- What qualities do you believe a PA should have?
Tip: What qualities do you believe are most important and why? Ability to work in teams with doctors and other healthcare professionals? Good communication and listening skills? Adapting to stressful situations? Good clinical judgment? etc.
- What do you think are the most important factors between a PA and Physician Supervisor?
- What contributions would you make to our PA program?
Tip: Discuss how you can add value to the school’s PA program. You may discuss how your clinical experiences and goals fit with the PA program’s mission and goals.
- Do your family and friends support your decision in pursuing a PA?
Tip: It would be safe to state how your friends, family, or other support systems support your decision in pursuing a PA. You may consider how your family may support you financially in sponsoring for your PA education. You may discuss how your friends or family encourage and motivate you in pursuing a PA.
- Which other schools did you apply to?
Tip: If you give some information on the schools you applied to, it is important for you to re-iterate how important it is for you to get accepted into the school you currently are interviewing for. You may even state that it is your first choice. You want to show the school that you are highly committed to their PA program.
- Where do you see yourself in the future?
Tip: Make sure you give this much thought. Make sure you provide a logical and reasonable answer that pertains to the being a PA. If you have plans of doing something different after the PA, it may not be to your best interest to state this.
- Tell me about a patient you impacted or a patient or experience that impacted you
- Tell me about current and future issues that may confront PA’s and the healthcare system
Tip: Do some research and be knowledgeable on current issues in healthcare and the PA profession. You may be informed on news via newspapers, online research (e.g. via google), newsletters, publications, etc.
- How have your past experiences prepared you for a PA career?
- What aspects of being a PA would give you the most difficulty and what aspects would you enjoy the most and why?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Tip: Describe strengths that are important for the PA profession. You may state certain weaknesses and explain how you have taken steps in addressing your weaknesses.
- What type of practice or specialty would you be interested in and why?
Tip: Dermatology? Surgery? Urgent Care? Describe which areas interest you and be able to explain why you may want to go into this area(s). You may discuss personal experiences, specific skills to be gained from these areas, etc.
- What would you do if you are not accepted into a PA program?
Tip: This question is really evaluating your commitment to the PA profession. PA programs are looking for students who are highly committed to the PA profession. It will be helpful to explain that you will address areas of your application you believe prevented you from being accepted and then re-apply to be more competitive.
- Why do you have fluctuations in your grade? Why did your grades drop in a particular semester?
Tip: Give reasonable reasons why you may have had some poor grades and what you may have learnt from it, but follow up by explaining how you may have re-taken some courses or how you became more focused and disciplined or reduced your course load to get better grades. If there is a trend of better grades in your transcript, make sure you point that out to show how you have improved over time.
- How do you handle stress?
- How would you handle a dispute with a colleague or a Physician/Surgeon?
Tip: This question is evaluating your maturity in handling conlficts. You may consider how you may invite the colleague somewhere to discuss the situation(s) and address the issue as soon as possible to allow for a productive work environment. If conflict is not resolved, you may consider how you may discuss this with a senior colleague or a physician to help mediate and help solve the conflict.
- A patient makes an appointment with his/her physician. While the patient waits for the physician in the examining room, you enter and explain that you will be meeting with the patient today. The patient refuses to be examined by you, the PA. How would you handle such situation?
- How would you tell a 50 year old female patient that she has breast cancer?
Tip: You may discuss how honest you would be to the patient as well as how you may express empathy to the patient. This question really tests your communication and listening skills, so you may explain how you will convey sad news to a patient or patient’s family in a professional and empathetic manner.
- If you have a patient who does not speak English, how would you overcome the language barrier to assist the patient?
- What would you do if you saw a classmate of yours cheating?
Tip: There is no right or wrong answers. Interviewers want you to acknowledge both sides of the argument. Express your own opinion by displaying understanding and thoughtfulness on the question. You must always remember certain responsibilities as a PA to help guide your answers.
- What are your hobbies?
- Any questions?
Tip: It is important to ask some questions after or during the interview. This shows your interest in the program. Make sure you do not ask questions that can be easily answered by the school’s website.
NOTE: These are very relevant questions that may help in the interview. Questions may be asked in a random fashion. Questions not included on this page may be asked during the interview.