Completed applications are screened in a three-stage process by the Office of Admissions and by faculty members of the Physician Assistant Program. Stage one, carried out by the Office of Admissions, eliminates from further consideration those applicants that fail to meet the stated minimum course prerequisite, overall GPA, and combined GRE scores or fail to submit required documents by the published deadline. Effective Jan. 1, 2012, the deadline for the submission of all required documents is changed to Sept. 1. During the second stage, PA Program faculty screen and rank all eligible candidates against pre-determined criteria. The ten criteria used for screening applications are reviewed by program faculty on an annual basis with proposed changes discussed during an annual meeting with the Office of Admissions. The final stage involves face-to-face interviews with PA Program faculty.
Admissions Office Screening Criteria – The specific criteria used to eliminate an application from further consideration are set by the PA Program Admissions Committee. Applications are eliminated for the following reasons: failure to submit the CASPA or BCM Supplemental applications by the deadline for applications; aptitude scores and grade point averages that do not reach the required minimums, missing transcripts or letters of recommendation; inability to complete course prerequisites by end of the spring semester of the year of enrollment; and failure to submit the required Supplemental Application Fee.
Faculty Screening Criteria – Each application is graded against ten criteria using an eleven point scale [from zero to ten]. The screening criteria include: communication, critical analysis, commitment to service, teamwork, role awareness, leadership, care provider attributes, intellectual capacity, maturity, and motivation. Evidence for scoring is derived from the applications, letters of recommendation, work, and extra-curricula activities described in the application. The scores assigned result in the Invitation Rank Score. Invitations are extended to those applicants that the admissions committee perceives to be competitive for admissions.
All invitations for interview in January are generated and communicated to qualified applicants through the Office of Admissions. This occurs in writing and via email within two days of generating the Invitation Rank Score. The dates for interviews are decided by the Office of Admissions in collaboration with PA Program representatives to allow for the ongoing activities of multiple campus/program admissions processes. Invitees are required to acknowledge their acceptance of the offer for interview to the Office of Admissions within seven days. A maximum of 120 applicants are interviewed.
The on-campus experience begins the evening before interviews with a social gathering that lasts approximately 90 minutes. The gathering is attended by enrolled students, didactic faculty, core program faculty, and staff for purposes of information sharing and socializing. The following morning of interview day is devoted to an orientation to the interview process, how and when decisions are made, what the didactic and clinical learning experiences are like, and tours of the facilities. The tours are coordinated and conducted by enrolled PA students. The afternoon session involves three one-on-one faculty interviews. The ten criteria used by the faculty interviewers to rate candidates include: communication, critical analysis, commitment to service, teamwork, role awareness, leadership, care provider attributes, intellectual capacity, maturity, and motivation. Each interviewer then completes an Interview Form that generates a mean score that is factored into the Final Acceptance Rank Score.
The accelerated nature of the graduate-level curriculum offered by Baylor College of Medicine for students enrolled in the PA Program requires that applicants seeking admission provide adequate evidence of their ability to undertake an advanced course of study. When evaluating an applicant's readiness to matriculate in the PA Program, members of the admissions committee consider closely all information available with particular attention to the following elements:
- Courses taken in undergraduate school
- Science and overall grade point average
- Scores received on the Graduate Record Examination
- Responses to questions contained in the application
- References from advisors, professors, and employers
- Leadership experience
- Community service experience
- Communication skills
- Interest in the problems of people
- Personal integrity
- Motivation for a career in health care
- Recommendations of faculty interviewers
Each of these qualities is viewed as essential to support the development of a physician assistant.