Career Moves: Work to stand out as a physician assistant studies applicant pays off
After graduation in May, Hannah Winchell will begin a physician assistant studies program at Chatham University, and attributes her success to the advice offered by professionals who work in the Student Professional Development Center.
Elon University senior Hannah Winchell, public health studies and biology major, was once too intimidated to use the services provided by the Student Professional Development Center. But when she was selected for an interview, she realized that the Student Professional Development Center had the tools she needed to practice for the types of questions she would be asked.
It was a move that paid off as she successfully navigated the application process to a physician assistant studies program she will begin after she graduates in May.
Winchell is being featured series of E-net profiles on the recent experiences of students and alumni who use the Student Professional Development Center to not only find job and internship openings but to prepare for opportunities to achieve their goals and fit their passions and skill set.
She recently answered questions from the SPDC about her experience.
Please tell me about your experience being accepted into the physician assistant studies program at Chatham University.
I started getting the required amount of patient contact hours, shadowing and volunteer experience to help me stand out as a PA school applicant following my first year of college.
With help from Associate Professor of Biology Matthew Clark, I wrote a personal statement about why I want to be a physician assistant making sure that it represented me adequately, a concept that is somewhat hard to put into 500 words.
This past April I started the very long and time-consuming process of applying to Chatham and many other programs. By July I had all my applications submitted, which was a relief. In August, I heard from Chatham that I was selected for an interview.
Before the interview that took place in September, I had a few mock interviews at the SPDC that immensely prepared me for the types of questions, what to expect, and how to act professionally yet be myself.
I got a phone call right after fall break welcoming me to Chatham University's Physician Assistant Class of 2020.
Who did you work with Student Professional Development Center, and what help did you receive?
I attribute a lot of my interview success to the advice and assistance that René Jackson, associate director of career services for graduate school, offered me.
I had two mock interviews with her in the weeks leading up to my interview. She calmed my nerves and prepared me for what I would encounter at my interview. Beyond asking me questions that I might face, she advised me on professionalism, ways to answer questions, and shared some tips based on previous student's interviews. I felt entirely prepared walking into the interview and knew that she had helped me prepare to the best of my ability.
What recommendations would you share with students about the Student Professional Development Center?
I think I was too intimidated to use the SPDC in my early years at Elon, yet once I tapped into their expertise, I realized that feeling was unfounded. Use the SPDC! It is a fantastic resource, and I wish that I used it sooner.
Regardless of your major or career goals, an experienced staff member can help you prepare for whatever you need. They are there to help and genuinely want the best for you and all Elon students.
What do you hope to gain from experience?
I am beyond excited to continue my education and work towards becoming a physician assistant. Since elementary school, it has been a dream of mine to go into medicine. Since high school, I've known I wanted to be a physician assistant.
It’s still unbelievable. I am so thankful for Elon, the Biology department, and the SPDC for all the confidence and help they have given me. I'm excited about what's to come after Elon.
Which faculty members did you work with to prepare and what help did you receive?
I worked a lot with Dr. Matthew Clark and Dr. Yuko Miyamoto in the Biology Department. Dr. Clark helped me with preparing my statement, an essential component of your physician assistant school (or any health care professional school) application. Without his help, this would have been a much more overwhelming process. My statement would not have turned out as unique and representative of me without his support.
Dr. Miyamoto helped me with talking through my goals and understanding how to achieve them. She is a great mentor and the person that I spoke with when I was stressed out. Dr. Miyamoto also taught my favorite class, Immunology, which helped with my decision to work in medicine. These fantastic professors also wrote recommendation letters on my behalf, for which I can't thank them enough.