The “what are your goals as a PA?” interview question is one of the many PA school interview questions prospective physician’s assistants are asked. They are asked this question during the entrance interview for the same reasons it is asked of anyone entering the health care profession. It is supposed to gauge the level of your commitment and whether your goals are commensurate with those of this integral health care provider role. Along with a PA school cover letter, you will be expected to undergo an in-person interview that gives you a chance to demonstrate why you are qualified to take up this career. This article will go over the ways to properly formulate your answer so you can impress your interviewers. 

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Article Contents
9 min read

Behind the "What are your goals as a PA?” Interview Question Understanding Your Goals What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample Responses Conclusion FAQs

Behind the "What are your goals as a PA?” Interview Question 

The “what are your goals as a PA?” question should be a familiar one to anyone who has had to interview for a job or a place in a graduate school program, and PA schools in the US are no different. There is no hidden conceit to the query like with a personality test question that measures your response based on a specific prompt.

It is a simple invitation to describe what you want to achieve by entering this career path. You should approach crafting your response calmly and think of it as a way to reinforce your passion to treat patients and provide medical care. Unlike with other parts of your application, like the PA school interview essay, there are no hard rules to follow when thinking of your answer. You can tie elements of your response to personal details or opt for more concrete examples that have to do with your career and education. You can also choose to include things not tied to the profession at all, showing interviewers that you are well-rounded and have a life outside of work.

The open-ended nature of the question, however, like the dreaded “tell me about yourself” medical school interview question, may catch some applicants off guard. Some people would rather be asked a technical question with a concrete response than being asked to ponder the unknown. But interviewers know that anyone serious about becoming a PA has imagined their future and what they plan to achieve. If you draw a blank on this answer, it will imply disinterest, as this is a question you can prepare for.

In contrast, if you respond with tact and clearly state what your goals are, how you plan to achieve them, and what challenges you may face, regardless of what they might be, you will demonstrate a great amount of readiness and seriousness.

Understanding Your Goals

Short-term Goals 

With PA school acceptance rates being so competitive, applying requires a lot of effort and know-how, and there is nothing wrong with mentioning up-front that one of your immediate goals is to gain entrance to the program. Obviously, this is a given, and the interviewers already know that about you, but stating it at the outset can break the ice and show that what comes to mind immediately for you is your hope of attending the school for which you are interviewing.

Talking about your goals, in general, requires a two-sided response, meaning that adept candidates will not only state their goals, but the steps they plan to take to achieve them. They will also mention challenges they foresee at the beginning of their career and how they think they will overcome them.

Even though this question is asking about your goals after graduating from PA school, decision makers will always want to know how attending their particular school will set you up and further those short- and long-term objectives. You may therefore want to allude to what contribution you can make to the PA profession and program, and how your training there will be perfect for your academic and professional future. You might point to a specific course or subject matter tied to being a PA that you think will get you to the next level. Keep in mind, however, that the main point of this question is to talk about your career, so take most of your two minutes for that. There will be other questions that allow you to focus on why the school appeals to you. 

As mentioned, it’s a good idea to note any challenges you may face by considering them in your response, albeit briefly. You could list a few aspects of your studies or the work you find difficult and how you plan to address them (seek professional physician assistant application help, hire a tutor). If you have other responsibilities – partner, children, parents – in your life, you can say how you will manage your school–life balance and what advantages having such responsibilities gives you (organized, disciplined, etc.)

Long-term Goals 

The long-term goals part of your answer can include a mix of professional and personal goals that you have for your life and career. Long-term goals are important because being a PA is a lifetime role, and you should show that you understand the main tasks and responsibilities, along with the demands of the job.

A physician’s assistant is a frontline medical worker who often takes on the responsibilities of a medical doctor with a few exceptions. They can examine and diagnose patients, prescribe treatments, and provide medical advice. It’s a position that requires the utmost commitment from prospective candidates. However, you should also understand that being a PA is not being a physician and does not involve training to become a physician. While you will always have more training and learning to do during your career, you will stay in the role of PA, although it is not unheard of for people to go from PAs to MDs later on in their lives.

There is no specific timeframe for what “long-term” means, so you can divide your answer between different periods. Set goals for two years into your career, five years, and ten years so that you have more to research about what the possibilities are for PAs in the long term.

Remember that your goals may change over the course of your career, both in school and when you start working as a PA, so you can be a little more abstract when talking about long-term goals. You can give your interviewers a general idea of what you want to achieve, but leave it open-ended to avoid giving the impression that you are interested in something other than being a PA.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample Responses 

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #1

My long-term goals as a PA include expanding the reach of PAs into areas that lack adequate health care. Advocating for greater, more equitable access to health care is one of the reasons I wanted to become a physician’s assistant in the first place, so I would like to combine my professional work with public outreach, whenever possible.

I would also like to build networks between different health care providers in different regions, so that we can better coordinate care, again, for people who do not have ready access to doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, and other health care professionals. In the short term, I would like to find a paid placement as a ward clerk in a hospital to have more direct experience with patients.

Volunteer work also interests me, and I would like to pursue more of it whenever I can. I was fond of spending summers in assisted living communities, where I interacted with residents daily and learned how valuable a kind and caring presence can be for people.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #2 

One of my short-term goals as a PA would be to do my rotations within a rural community health care network specializing in addiction medicine, treatment, and mental health, to gain hands-on experience.

Large population centers have the programs and resources to provide care for people with mental illnesses, addictions, or those who have dual diagnoses. However, rural areas are continually lacking in the resources needed to properly address substance abuse and mental health, even as the need expands. I would like to bridge that gap by bringing in more PAs and other health care professionals, so that people can have access to clinicians who provide comprehensive, overall care.

In the long term, I see myself continuing to look for coverage gaps in health care by working with clinics and local patient groups across the city. I would like to also create more PA associations to bolster our numbers, so that all areas of health care are covered from addictions and mental health to vaccinations, regular check-ups, and dentistry.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #3 

I think in the long term, I would like to learn more about respirology and thoracic medicine, while in the short term, I would also like to spend a few years in the emergency room of a busy downtown medical center. I feel like PAs need to be constantly on their feet, literally and figuratively, and I think the best way to adapt to a hectic, chaotic environment would be to dive into the ins and outs of emergency medicine.

An emergency room is also where you can encounter many different types of cases, from walk-ins complaining of chest pain to emergency psychiatric admissions, all of which means expanding your knowledge and skills base. I am keen to be in an environment where I am constantly learning and having to think on my feet.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #4 

I think the role of a PA is so versatile and flexible that there are many things I would like to achieve in my career. I have some background as a medical secretary, and while I was still an undergrad, I became interested in the administration side of health care. The health administration courses in your program would be an excellent way to prepare for my future job hunt, by making me a valuable asset to any clinic or health network that hired me.

I also want to be able to graduate to a larger administration role in the future. I believe the patient-side experience I glean from my clinical work will help me better understand how to optimize delivery models throughout a specific network. That first-hand knowledge of effective care models will be the impetus for me to find ways to improve delivery of care throughout an entire health care system.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #5 

Family medicine has always been my main area of interest and motivation for becoming a PA. In the long term, I would like to work closely with on-call physicians to treat everyday injuries, major or minor, that a typical family doctor sees all the time. While family medicine appeals to me, I would also like to focus on short-term goals like taking electives in cardiology and radiology to broaden my knowledge of specialized medicine.

My father died suddenly of a heart attack and the experience has always motivated me to learn as much as I can about cardiology and heart-related diseases in general – the reason being that prevention plays a key role in heart health. I envision myself acting within a preventative care health model, which I hope to create and develop with my colleagues.

What Are Your Goals as a PA Sample #6 

I had taken many different routes to finding my dream career, and after a few misfires, I met someone who was studying to be a military PA, and they told me all about the profession. Even though health care always appealed to me, I thought medical school would be too hard and time-consuming.

But the more I researched, the more convinced I was that becoming a PA was a realizable goal; so that would be my short-term goal, to enter this program. Down the line, I want to work directly with patients, as part of a clinical team in a hospital, ideally, while also learning more about health care policy, in general.

I’ve always been interested in preventative care and health promotion, but I’m also curious how a potential medical practitioner would fit into a policymaking role, which is why I think I would like to transition to public health, after pursuing a Master’s in Health Administration or Public Policy.


PA school requirements differ between institutions, but the interview section is almost universal. According to many who have taken the multiple mini-interviews and who now offer professional physician assistant application help, they are designed to test your mental acuity and see how you respond to specific situations and problems. With this in mind, answering “what are your goals as a PA?” should be the easy part.

If you want to answer this question correctly, divide it into short-term and long-term goals to give a more comprehensive response. You should think ahead in increments – two years, five years, ten years, etc. – and assign goals to those specific goal posts. You can find out the requirements of different PA specialties and set about making a plan on how to learn all about them during your time at PA school.


1. How can I answer “what are your goals as a PA?”

You can answer this question by visualizing both short- and long-term goals for your career and education. Think about your education in the short term but leave the door open on your long-term goals so you’re not tied down. 

2. Why do interviewers ask, “what are your goals as a PA?”

The question is meant to reveal a potential candidate's suitability for the PA profession based on their knowledge, curiosity, and critical thinking skills. You can reveal a little of everything about yourself, from your professional goals to personal goals. 

3. How can I prepare to answer, “what are your goals as a PA?”

The best way to prepare to answer this question is to explore your true goals and research the possibilities open to PA graduates. On top of seeking grad school application help, you can rehearse your answer, but try not to memorize any lines, so your answer comes out naturally. 

4. Is “what are your goals as a PA?” an important question?

The entire PA application process is important, and you should try to focus on every aspect, from answering “what are your goals as a PA?” to writing your supplemental essays. 

5. What are the admission requirements for PA school?

The admission requirements vary between the schools that have a PA program, but some basic requirements include at least two years of undergrad study, a GPA of 3.0, and at least 300 hours of some kind of clinical work* (*does not apply to all programs). 

6. What is the difference between a PA and an MD?

A physician’s assistant is an extension of a physician, but a physician has more responsibilities and authority over patients and acts as an independent practitioner. A PA can only work under the supervision of a physician and cannot act independently to treat patients. 

7. What is the difference between a PA and a nurse?

The differences between a PA and a nurse or nurse practitioner are few, but important. Nurses, like MDs, are independent and can work on their own in various fields, or one based on their specialty. PAs work under the supervision of a physician or a larger health care provider team and pursue a different degree than nurse practitioners. 

8. What else do I have to do to apply to PA school?

Depending on the program, you have to include a supplemental essay and submit to MMI, or multiple mini-interviews. Along with your transcripts and grades, you may also be asked to submit references or letters of recommendation from verified sources. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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