Chapman University’s MMS Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program graduated its very first class in December of 2018. There were many academic stars in the program but Katie Cornella was a true stand-out. We recently interviewed Katie about her experience in the program. Here is what she had to say.

Q. What was your educational background before entering Chapman’s Physician Assistant Studies Program?

A. I completed my Undergraduate Degree at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo in Biology with a concentration in Anatomy and Physiology.

Q. How did you decide to apply for Chapman’s inaugural PA program?

A. Growing up in the area, I knew of Chapman’s excellent reputation in the community and had no doubt that they would uphold that reputation with an outstanding PA program. I love the warm weather, beaches, surrounding community and the outstanding hospitals throughout Orange County. After a tour of the state-of-the-art learning facilities and meeting the welcoming, respected professors, I was sold. I knew Chapman was the best choice school for me.

Q. What was the most challenging aspect of the program?

A. The intensity of didactic year. We covered an immense volume of information during didactic year. We relate it to the analogy of drinking from a fire hose. Attempting to retain as much information as possible and being held to 95 exams in one year is definitely a challenge. I coped by having a positive attitude, studying with classmates, and getting stress relief through my favorite activities of horseback riding, surfing and running.


Q. What was preparing for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) like?

A. I was constantly studying throughout both didactic and clinical year knowing that any time I put in to studying would help me for the PANCE. When it came to preparing for the PANCE after clinical year ended, I created a rigorous study schedule. We attended Joe Gillboy’s review sessions for a couple days and I adhered to a study calendar for the 4 weeks leading up to the PANCE which consisted of 40-80 ROSH Review questions per day, reading through PANCE PREP PEARLS, and watching medical board review YouTube videos on topics I needed extra review on.

Q. Do you have any advice for students who may be considering applying for the PA program? 

A. Any medical experience counts. Some of the most valuable experience I saw from my fellow classmates was being a scribe, ER technician, scrub technician or nurse. However, I cannot emphasize how important it is to maintain a solid GPA. If you have to take less classes during the year and one or two over the summer to get a higher GPA, do it! I believe that the well-rounded candidate will always be successful with clinical experience, volunteer, research, sports/hobbies, and leadership. Also, spend a lot of time on your application and personal statement.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Chapman community?

A. Chapman provided a truly outstanding learning environment with supportive staff and classmates, state of the art learning facilities and models. We were able to participate in classes and events with the School of Pharmacy and Physical Therapy which significantly enhanced our learning and inter-professional relationships. The surrounding hospitals we were matched with for clinicals provided incredible experience and excellent doctors and PAs to learn from. One of the best strengths of our program is the amazing specialized MD, PA and PhD lecturers that Chapman brings in for either teaching a full unit or just a single lecture. I am grateful to be a panther!