Physician Assistant–3 Mistakes to Avoid with CASPA

CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants) is a valuable service that is offered through the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) to streamline the application process. The organization allows you to fill out one application and have your information forwarded to as many as 139 different accredited participating programs.

Please don’t forget to check in detail with the schools to which you are applying, many programs will require a supplemental application beyond what is offered by CASPA.

The application fee is discounted $40 until 12:00am Eastern Daylight Time on September 1, 2010 and is based on the number of programs to which you apply. Please apply early in order to receive this savings.

As you assemble your application packet, you should confirm the application deadlines for each program that interests you and for which you are academically qualified. These deadlines are not flexible and CASPA will not forward your information until your application is complete, all supporting documentation is in place and your fees have been paid in full.

All information should be in place at least six weeks prior to the earliest deadline. In addition, if there is a supplemental application required for the program of your choice; make sure that you complete those requirements as well before the application period has ended. Please be sure to allow two weeks for the time it takes for your documentation to be delivered by US Mail.

So for best assurance that everything is in place to move forward with the process you should mail all documentation at least eight weeks prior to your earliest deadline to ensure that it arrives on time. As an added protection, we recommend that you send the information with a return receipt requested.

If documentation is lost in the mail, this may give you time to resend your information before it is too late. When you request references, please make sure they are aware of your deadline and provide them with a stamped pre-addressed envelope.

There is a great deal of documentation that is required in addition to the application itself. Please make certain that you submit all materials requested. The first step is to create an account on the CASPA portal. Once the account is created, you can monitor the status of your application.

You will need to request official transcripts be forwarded to CASPA from all colleges and universities that you have attended. In addition, you should request an official copy of your transcripts for your own records, so that you can use them as a reference when filling out the application. Your application must be e-submitted.

All application fees must be paid in full to CASPA, please note if sending a check by mail, allow 7-10 days for it to arrive. Finally, for your packet to be complete at least two of the three required references must arrive at the CASPA offices.

Once CASPA filters your application for completeness it will be forwarded all selected schools at the same time. It is important to make sure that your application correctly reflects your academic qualifications as well as your clinical experience. By far though, the best way to make your application stand out even in a pool of highly qualified candidates is to make sure that your narrative is clear and reflects your reasons for wanting to become a PA.

This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself as an individual with goals and an intense desire to serve in the medical community. An important note to consider as you are writing your narrative is that there is a 5000 character limit (including spaces and formatting) this is approximately 625 words.

To make sure you are able to satisfy the character count both we and CASPA recommend that you type your narrative in notepad since it most closely resembles the filter program used by CASPA. Any characters beyond the 5000 character limit will not be saved by their system, so please be mindful of your character count as you write.

The narrative is the piece that makes you more than just a collection of credits and qualifications. We cannot emphasize enough how important the narrative is to getting you noticed and selected to move forward to the interview process.

As you write remember that those reading your narrative may read thousands of these narratives in the initial screening process, so a poorly crafted statement in the first paragraph could be all that is read. Make sure that it is well written meaning it should be free of basic spelling and grammatical errors. The first and last paragraph should be strong and give a solid impression of you as a professional Physician Assistant.

Good luck on the submission process and in your future career as a Physician Assistant! Here is the link to the CASPA portal, let’s get started on the process.

3 thoughts on “Physician Assistant–3 Mistakes to Avoid with CASPA

  1. @Tina—Every school has a deadline. Check the website of the school(s) in which you want to attend for their application deadlines.

  2. I did not give myself 8 weeks before applying to my programs. What are the other problems I may encounter. 2 of the 3 references has not sent in their reference. Will my school still accept my application?

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