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How to strengthen physician associate msc application?

I’m hoping to apply for September 2024 intake therefore the deadline is fast approaching…I don’t have much healthcare experience at all apart from lab but I’ll be volunteering in a hospital abroad next month for 4 weeks so I’m hoping that’ll be enough. I also just finished my bsc in medical science

I’m applying for the funded places at Swansea and Bangor and I’ve heard they’re quite competitive so just hoping for some advice on other things I can do to strengthen my application?!
(edited 7 months ago)
Reply 1
Original post by Rahila98
I’m hoping to apply for September 2024 intake therefore the deadline is fast approaching…I don’t have much healthcare experience at all apart from lab but I’ll be volunteering in a hospital abroad next month for 4 weeks so I’m hoping that’ll be enough. I also just finished my bsc in medical science

I’m applying for the funded places at Swansea and Bangor and I’ve heard they’re quite competitive so just hoping for some advice on other things I can do to strengthen my application?!

What are you doing right now - working as a health-care assistant in a hospital, working as a care assitant in a care home? You have 10 more months until Sep '24, so why not work in healthcare? If I was on an interview panel, I would be asking why that's not what you're doing already if you know you want to be a PA and you've just left uni so you have had freedom to pick whatever jobtype you want.
Original post by Li Eng
What are you doing right now - working as a health-care assistant in a hospital, working as a care assitant in a care home? You have 10 more months until Sep '24, so why not work in healthcare? If I was on an interview panel, I would be asking why that's not what you're doing already if you know you want to be a PA and you've just left uni so you have had freedom to pick whatever jobtype you want.

I’m definitely looking to get a healthcare job (Dec-Sept’24) once I’m back from my volunteering placement next month. The only issue is I have to send my application by the end of January so they won’t see that I’ve been working in that role for very long
Reply 3
Original post by Rahila98
I’m definitely looking to get a healthcare job (Dec-Sept’24) once I’m back from my volunteering placement next month. The only issue is I have to send my application by the end of January so they won’t see that I’ve been working in that role for very long


How long until you leave? you could approach some in-home care agency providers, and start as a care assitant pretty much straight away, you'll be trained on the job (maybe an online course to do alongside), many/most will not require any experience at all. There is so much demand that taking time out for a month and then coming back to the same agency as you perhaps look for a hospital HCA role shouldn't be too difficult - and this experience will also help you get a hospital HCA job if that's what you want. If you are prepared to not be too fussy you should be able to make pretty much an immediate start as a care assitant anyway either before or as soon as you get back.

Or, you could just write in your personal statement that's what you plan to do, by the time interviews come around you sould be in the job and have plenty to talk about.

What have you been doing though since your exams must have finished in June or July? That's at least 4 months, have you not vounteered at a GPs or hospital as a meet & greet person or similar? Any voluntary work at all in any sector? If you've even been in a public facing role, ie retail, you can talk about communication skills, resolving complaints etc.
Original post by Li Eng
How long until you leave? you could approach some in-home care agency providers, and start as a care assitant pretty much straight away, you'll be trained on the job (maybe an online course to do alongside), many/most will not require any experience at all. There is so much demand that taking time out for a month and then coming back to the same agency as you perhaps look for a hospital HCA role shouldn't be too difficult - and this experience will also help you get a hospital HCA job if that's what you want. If you are prepared to not be too fussy you should be able to make pretty much an immediate start as a care assitant anyway either before or as soon as you get back.

Or, you could just write in your personal statement that's what you plan to do, by the time interviews come around you sould be in the job and have plenty to talk about.

What have you been doing though since your exams must have finished in June or July? That's at least 4 months, have you not vounteered at a GPs or hospital as a meet & greet person or similar? Any voluntary work at all in any sector? If you've even been in a public facing role, ie retail, you can talk about communication skills, resolving complaints etc.


Wow I had no idea it was that easy to get a care assistant job, I’ll deffo look into it from now thank you so much!! I have 2 weeks until I leave.

I deferred my dissertation project and an exam so I was working on that for majority of the summer (July-aug). I then had my dissertation submitted for an international conference which got accepted so I was preparing for that for most of September and I just presented it last week so I’ve been occupied with that, not sure if that will be useful for my application though
Reply 5
Original post by Rahila98
Wow I had no idea it was that easy to get a care assistant job, I’ll deffo look into it from now thank you so much!! I have 2 weeks until I leave.

I deferred my dissertation project and an exam so I was working on that for majority of the summer (July-aug). I then had my dissertation submitted for an international conference which got accepted so I was preparing for that for most of September and I just presented it last week so I’ve been occupied with that, not sure if that will be useful for my application though


If it was me, I would talk about the conference for sure - it's research = a post-graduate study skill, public speaking/presenting = communication skills both written and oral, and explains the gap, and if it's at all related to healthcare even a sentence along the lines of (made up example): 'The conference offered many opportunities to learn about the latest developements in cell and gene therapy, I particularly appreciated the chance to speak to Prof B about how how armoured CAR-T cells are increasing treatment options for solid tumours." (try and find an example that links to the PA matrix conditions if you can - you are demonstrating interest in science, research and application to health)

The end dates of your degree will be covered in the UCAS form so you can probably leave explanations to the interview - except people normally finish later than the norm if they fail and need to retake, so on second thoughts you might want a sentence of explanation if you just defered?

If there is something you can reflect on from the deferal you could consider using that too if you are conformtable doing so: "I defered due to a death in the family, this helped me appreciate the importance of end of life care / the emotional impact death has on families", "I defered as my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she is now in remission, and this helped me understand [add something about the care provided by the oncology MDT]", "I defered due to mental health problems, these are now resolved/under control but it helped me appreciate the difficulties in accessing support / complexities of the mental health system. As the pressure mental health services are under is likely to continue to increase [quote some recent stats (it was in the news the other day > demonstrating interest in current affairs related to health)], my personal experiences will help me better understand and empathise with patients with mental health conditions."

Remember UCAS uses a plagerism checker on personal statements so make sure you write in your own words.

Applying for care jobs:
A good way to get some good quality care agencies to approach is to call your GP receptionist and say you are looking at getting an at-home care worker for someone in your family and does the practice have any recommendations. Or if anyone you know knows any GPs, or primary care practice nurses etc, it's a good question to ask your network.

Care agencies are variable in quality, do phone around, meet them, read the reviews, etc. Resist those that want you to pay for a course before you start imo. Do think in advance about the questions you want to ask the agency - what sort of patients do they look after - is there an opportunity to work with patients with dementia, parkinsons or those that have had a stroke for example - more challenging patients will give you more to talk about in your statement. You could ask what geographical area does the agency cover, do they do hour-long visits / half-days / full-days or a mix? Think about if you'd be willing to do overnight work or not (and as you want patient experience you are not going to want overnight work with a patient that maybe needs help getting up and going to the loo twice in the night and nothing else for 10 hours). Ask them how much work they think they'll be able to get you (you'll probably be on a zero hour contract). I'd also let them know you'd want to work with a variety of patients to get as much range of experience as possible, not just work full-time for 1 patient.

If you are going to do this when you get back from your trip abroad, then I'd probably try both at-home care agencies and actual care-homes (again, you want to visit and see what they are like as care homes are highly variable in patient populations, atmosphere etc). A care-home will have much sicker patients, as well as staff like nurses and visiting Drs you will be able to talk to over time, so again, might be better overall experience and insight. The best care homes will probably want experience, but not all will. If you are in a fairly big town or city there should be lots and lots of options, you could reasonably do some googling and make a short-list and get your cover note and CV ready before you go abroad. You might want to try and group your shifts into a 4 day pattern and then spend a day volunteering too.

Care work applications:
Don't get discouraged if they aren't advertising vaccancies, drop them a cover-letter email that explains what you're looking for and attach a short CV (1 page) - they are going to be as interested in soft-skills than in a list of all the modules you did at uni
E.g. -
"Organised a fund-raiser for my university, this included keeping meticulous and accurate records, and liasing with many different departments"
- or - a section on your CV called Relevant Skills (look up a care-worker job description and then think about anything in your past that is relevant) - this can even be that you are confident in cleaning and cooking - if you come from a multi-ethnic background you can say, Confident cooking both English and Bengali meals, for example.
You could include a hobbies section and, if you can do them, include things that are offered at many care homes: art, knitting, singing, gardening, play the piano, etc

The only exception is if you did a module in something like public health, so then:
2020-2023. B.Sc. Biomedical Science (2:1). Included modules on public health and disease pathology (or anatomy, cancer etc).
2020: 3 A levels: Biology (A), Chemistry (B), Maths (B).
2018: 10 GCSEs including English (B) and Maths (A).
Languages: 1st language is English. Seak fluent Spanish, and conversational Portuguese (languages are useful especially if yours match any that have large populations in your area).

Your cover letter to a care agency/care home can touch on areas you might not have experience in but showing awareness could help, e.g. "I have a good understanding of the importance and challenges involved in care work, including the need to carefully manage eldery skin, for patience and the ability to explain things simply, x and y..." etc (read up and include some relevant examples).

I just looked at the top 4 rated care homes near me (should appear in search on google maps), and there are things like: £500 starting bonus, blue light card, fast-track progression to advanced care practioners for suitable candidates, flexible shifts - choice of FT/PT/contracted hours/bank shifts, opportunity to take QFC modules in health and social care, free DBS check, no experience necessary comprehensive training available free of charge, etc.

A hospital HCA role is likely to have a longer start timetable - you wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork it takes to onboard to an NHS job the first time you go into the system.

Good luck!
Original post by Li Eng
If it was me, I would talk about the conference for sure - it's research = a post-graduate study skill, public speaking/presenting = communication skills both written and oral, and explains the gap, and if it's at all related to healthcare even a sentence along the lines of (made up example): 'The conference offered many opportunities to learn about the latest developements in cell and gene therapy, I particularly appreciated the chance to speak to Prof B about how how armoured CAR-T cells are increasing treatment options for solid tumours." (try and find an example that links to the PA matrix conditions if you can - you are demonstrating interest in science, research and application to health)

The end dates of your degree will be covered in the UCAS form so you can probably leave explanations to the interview - except people normally finish later than the norm if they fail and need to retake, so on second thoughts you might want a sentence of explanation if you just defered?

If there is something you can reflect on from the deferal you could consider using that too if you are conformtable doing so: "I defered due to a death in the family, this helped me appreciate the importance of end of life care / the emotional impact death has on families", "I defered as my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she is now in remission, and this helped me understand [add something about the care provided by the oncology MDT]", "I defered due to mental health problems, these are now resolved/under control but it helped me appreciate the difficulties in accessing support / complexities of the mental health system. As the pressure mental health services are under is likely to continue to increase
, my personal experiences will help me better understand and empathise with patients with mental health conditions."

Remember UCAS uses a plagerism checker on personal statements so make sure you write in your own words.

Applying for care jobs:
A good way to get some good quality care agencies to approach is to call your GP receptionist and say you are looking at getting an at-home care worker for someone in your family and does the practice have any recommendations. Or if anyone you know knows any GPs, or primary care practice nurses etc, it's a good question to ask your network.

Care agencies are variable in quality, do phone around, meet them, read the reviews, etc. Resist those that want you to pay for a course before you start imo. Do think in advance about the questions you want to ask the agency - what sort of patients do they look after - is there an opportunity to work with patients with dementia, parkinsons or those that have had a stroke for example - more challenging patients will give you more to talk about in your statement. You could ask what geographical area does the agency cover, do they do hour-long visits / half-days / full-days or a mix? Think about if you'd be willing to do overnight work or not (and as you want patient experience you are not going to want overnight work with a patient that maybe needs help getting up and going to the loo twice in the night and nothing else for 10 hours). Ask them how much work they think they'll be able to get you (you'll probably be on a zero hour contract). I'd also let them know you'd want to work with a variety of patients to get as much range of experience as possible, not just work full-time for 1 patient.

If you are going to do this when you get back from your trip abroad, then I'd probably try both at-home care agencies and actual care-homes (again, you want to visit and see what they are like as care homes are highly variable in patient populations, atmosphere etc). A care-home will have much sicker patients, as well as staff like nurses and visiting Drs you will be able to talk to over time, so again, might be better overall experience and insight. The best care homes will probably want experience, but not all will. If you are in a fairly big town or city there should be lots and lots of options, you could reasonably do some googling and make a short-list and get your cover note and CV ready before you go abroad. You might want to try and group your shifts into a 4 day pattern and then spend a day volunteering too.

Care work applications:
Don't get discouraged if they aren't advertising vaccancies, drop them a cover-letter email that explains what you're looking for and attach a short CV (1 page) - they are going to be as interested in soft-skills than in a list of all the modules you did at uni
E.g. -
"Organised a fund-raiser for my university, this included keeping meticulous and accurate records, and liasing with many different departments"
- or - a section on your CV called Relevant Skills (look up a care-worker job description and then think about anything in your past that is relevant) - this can even be that you are confident in cleaning and cooking - if you come from a multi-ethnic background you can say, Confident cooking both English and Bengali meals, for example.
You could include a hobbies section and, if you can do them, include things that are offered at many care homes: art, knitting, singing, gardening, play the piano, etc

The only exception is if you did a module in something like public health, so then:
2020-2023. B.Sc. Biomedical Science (2:1). Included modules on public health and disease pathology (or anatomy, cancer etc).
2020: 3 A levels: Biology (A), Chemistry (B), Maths (B).
2018: 10 GCSEs including English (B) and Maths (A).
Languages: 1st language is English. Seak fluent Spanish, and conversational Portuguese (languages are useful especially if yours match any that have large populations in your area).

Your cover letter to a care agency/care home can touch on areas you might not have experience in but showing awareness could help, e.g. "I have a good understanding of the importance and challenges involved in care work, including the need to carefully manage eldery skin, for patience and the ability to explain things simply, x and y..." etc (read up and include some relevant examples).

I just looked at the top 4 rated care homes near me (should appear in search on google maps), and there are things like: £500 starting bonus, blue light card, fast-track progression to advanced care practioners for suitable candidates, flexible shifts - choice of FT/PT/contracted hours/bank shifts, opportunity to take QFC modules in health and social care, free DBS check, no experience necessary comprehensive training available free of charge, etc.

A hospital HCA role is likely to have a longer start timetable - you wouldn't believe the amount of paperwork it takes to onboard to an NHS job the first time you go into the system.

Good luck!


Li Eng, I can’t thank you enough for all this useful information, it will help me so much and I feel a lot less lost about how to go about all of this now!! I had no idea I could link my experience at the conference with skills required of a PA like that, I’ll definitely mention it in my application it does sound like it could be useful!!

I also considered mentioning the deferral but I wasn’t sure because I was worried it might weaken my application compared to other applicants who didn’t have any deferrals, but it does sound like it could be informative to at least include 1 or 2 sentences on it just for clarification so I definitely will.

thank you for the information re care assistant jobs, I am already looking for some now and will take your advice and get my cv and cover letter ready now before I leave to make everything a lot easier!

I just had 1 question, I see on your page you have gotten some interviews for PA (congrats!!) I wanted to ask if you paid for any external services for help with your PA application? I’ve seen some PA’s offer personal statement checking but charge £50 for it which is quite a lot and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it or not. I haven’t wrote a personal statement since before my undergrad which was 3 years ago so I guess I’m just worried my personal statement won’t be good enough especially because I’m sure they are expecting a high standard of English
(edited 7 months ago)
Reply 7
Original post by smallcatbigmeow
Li Eng, I can’t thank you enough for all this useful information, it will help me so much and I feel a lot less lost about how to go about all of this now!! I had no idea I could link my experience at the conference with skills required of a PA like that, I’ll definitely mention it in my application it does sound like it could be useful!!

I also considered mentioning the deferral but I wasn’t sure because I was worried it might weaken my application compared to other applicants who didn’t have any deferrals, but it does sound like it could be informative to at least include 1 or 2 sentences on it just for clarification so I definitely will.

thank you for the information re care assistant jobs, I am already looking for some now and will take your advice and get my cv and cover letter ready now before I leave to make everything a lot easier!

I just had 1 question, I see on your page you have gotten some interviews for PA (congrats!!) I wanted to ask if you paid for any external services for help with your PA application? I’ve seen some PA’s offer personal statement checking but charge £50 for it which is quite a lot and I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it or not. I haven’t wrote a personal statement since before my undergrad which was 3 years ago so I guess I’m just worried my personal statement won’t be good enough especially because I’m sure they are expecting a high standard of English



There's some useful advice from Leeds Uni on writing a PA personal statement (automatic pdf download) - I thought it was quite helpful.
https://medicinehealth.leeds.ac.uk/download/downloads/id/308/the_msc_physician_associate_admissions_guidance.pdf

I didn't use any service for personal statements. I did use the Leeds doc linked above.

UCAS has a free personal statement builder, you could try that? (as it's designed for school leavers you may need to adjust to suit post-grad) and the points the Leeds guide linked above suggests you hit.

What about your University Careers Service - there is normally career support for about a year or so after leaving uni in many unis and/or alumni services may offer similar. I'd try the Careers Service first and see if they offer someone to review a post-grad application statement - a human eye is worth it if you don't have to pay/

Microsoft Word has a free Editor built in which will do a grammar, spelling and style check ie conciseness. It's really useful, I use for work and any professional reason.
Grammerly is similar - you can use the free version, no need to pay a subscription.
I would use both of these before having any human take a look to tidying up obvious errors.

Who's going to be your referee? Your personal tutor or dissertation supervisor? It may also be worth having one or both of them read it (if they have time/you have a good relationship with them), if only for style.

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