PA school: And now, the rest of the story

In mid-September, I wrote this post, in which I debated applying to Physician Assistant (PA) school.  And then, radio silence . . . .

I decided to go ahead and apply, despite knowing that applying late in the game would work against me.  Since I didn’t know what the outcome would be, I wanted to keep my options open.  Writing more about applying to PA school in a publicly-viewable space, while continuing to explore other career options, seemed like a bad plan, hence the silence here.

I submitted my application one week before the November 1 deadline.  I was not expecting to hear anything until January (maaaaybe December), so I did my best to submit it and forget it.  I was one of over 700 applicants for Saint Louis University’s 34-seat program.  While well-qualified in some ways, I felt even getting an interview was a long shot.

Then, on January 16th, I received an email inviting me for a February interview with SLU’s PA program (they interview 80 people for those 34 seats).  It was both exciting and nerve-wracking.  The invite came right as G was sick with [his first bout of] pneumonia.  My flexible, part-time work schedule made it fairly easy to care for him, but I couldn’t imagine what we would do in that scenario if I was going to school full-time (in a very intense program).

Anyhow, I swallowed my fears and accepted the invitation, then realized that if I might actually be accepted, I needed to get my butt in gear and knock out a medical terminology course, the one outstanding prerequisite on my list.  That took a bit of doing — the official registration deadline at the community college had already passed, but I managed to wrangle my way into a course (thankfully, an online course).  Then I started researching “questions in a PA school interview.”

Interview day was ushered in by a snowstorm (that big snow we got in mid-February).  Most of the local schools were already closed for President’s Day, but those that weren’t, cancelled.  Interviews were ON, though I debated whether getting to the interview was worth risking life, limb, and car (which raised red flags about my commitment level).

I arrived without incident, though I did have a minor “this is not my regular bag so I don’t have a tampon and ALL (yes, I checked the bathrooms on all four floors) of the feminine hygiene vending machines are empty/broken” crisis.  After that panic-inducing start, the interview day, which included a Q&A session with current students, as well as three one-on-one interviews with various faculty members, proceeded without incident.

I was part of the fourth round of interviews.  At that point, they had already interviewed 48 other candidates, and awarded some unknown number of the 34 seats.  Having made it to the interview stage, my guess was that my odds were a bit lower than 50-50 of being accepted.  I had quite a few questions/doubts about embarking on this path (i.e., a very intense, full-time, 27-month commitment while also being a mother), but I had pretty much talked myself into accepting, and damn the torpedoes, if they offered me a spot.

Two weeks later, I was notified that I was consigned to the wait list.  I was disappointed, but also a bit relieved.  While my interviews did not go badly, I would also not say they were great.  In retrospect, my heart was not in it, at least not all of my heart.  I can interview well, when it’s something I really want, but I’m not great at faking it.

I decided that I needed to take some time to evaluate what I really wanted for my life, and what made sense for me, not just something that sounded good, that I could do.  I set up an appointment with a career counselor at SLU (free service for alumni).  After our initial meeting, I checked out the latest edition of What Color is Your Parachute? and started working through some of the exercises (more on that in an upcoming post).

In early April, I was notified of my position on the wait list — number 25, i.e., “Better luck next time.”  I’m not exactly sure what my next step is, but I will not be reapplying to PA school this year (and likely not ever, but you never know).  At this point, I just don’t want it enough, or for the right reasons.  Now, to figure out what I do want . . . .


  1. Jennifer says:

    Re: figuring out what you want to do – it’s tough, lady!! 🙂 And it seems many of us 7A girls are going through it right now – probably like a lot of other people our age!! Congrats on getting through so far in the grad school application process, and take heart in the wait-listing… I think sometimes figuring out the right path is a combination of taking action yourself as well as “listening” to the signs the world is giving us. Good luck!!

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Thanks, Jen!

  2. gayle says:

    What a journey! It takes guts to explore the self and figure out life priorities. Good on you for facing it. I’m sure you’ll end up in a great spot suited just for you and your unique talents.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Thanks, Gayle!

  3. Sydney says:

    Kudos to you for making the decisions you’ve had to make. I, too, have struggled with this decision! I actually have an upcoming interview at SLU.
    Given it’s been over 2 years ago, you may not remember, but do you have any feedback regarding the campus or questions asked? I’m trying to prepare as much as possible!

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