My offer of admission into the Physician Assistant Education Program at McMaster came four weeks after my interview. Along came with a list of documents I need to provide to the university by a deadline. I think most health-related programs would require similar documents and so students may benefit from knowing what to do when it is their turn to hand these documents in. In this post, I will discuss what was required and how I went about obtaining documents such as a police check, immunizations, CPR certification, and official transcripts.
Deadlines are important! Take out a calendar and mark down all the important dates! After working so hard to get into the program, now it is time to make sure you stay in the program, or at least make it to the first day of class.
Accepting Your Offer
I was given less than two weeks to accept the offer. To accept my offer, I had to:
- Mail* in a signed reply form indicating whether I accept or decline the offer of admission into the program
- Accept the offer formally on Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC). OUAC updates offers once every day, so it may take a few days to show up under “Program/Offer”. My offer took around two days after receiving the initial email to appear.
- Cost: $10.00 (UW) Processing Time: 5 business days
My offer was conditional upon the receipt of my official university transcript from the University of Waterloo, indicating successful completion of all my courses and that my degree was granted.
At the University of Waterloo, we can order our transcript by mailing in a form and including a payment of $10.00. It takes 2-3 business days for the mail to get to UW and 5 business days to process. The whole wait time for my transcript to get back to me was two weeks.
IMPORTANT: If you indicated to have your transcript mailed to you instead of directly to the university, MAKE SURE NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE! There is a seal on the back that reads “Do not accept if seal is broken”. I have a habit of opening envelopes by cutting the short end. When I received mine, I cut the short end without looking at the back of the envelope. It did not even occur to me that I am not suppose to open it! Oh well…now I have my own copy of my university report card. I still have to reorder a new one for the university 😦
For McMaster University, I am to submit a New Student Form, Registration form, and Payment Agreement Form. Take note of the deadline!
- New Student Form – Required along with a passport photo for a new snazzy Student Card!
- Registration Form – PA students have all their required courses selected for them, so they do not use SOLAR/MUGSI to select courses. Students only need to fill in the form with their personal information. There is a sample registration form that comes in the package to use as a guideline.
- Payment Agreement Form – This is in regards to how to pay tuition. At McMaster University, students are to pay for their full tuition by September 1. There are payment plan options available but interest is charged per month and a $35 administration fee for each term the balance is carried over.
Police Check with Vulnerable Sector Screening
- Cost: $15.00 (Student Price) Processing Time: 3-4 weeks
If you are ever working with the vulnerable sector (which is always the case in health care), then you will need to get your background checked. It costs $$$ and at your own expense to get a police check. The processing time is around 3-4 weeks. The police check should be the first thing you do due to the long processing time!
I have gotten a police check once before doing a second one for the PA program:
- WATERLOO: The first time I had to do a police check was when I was preparing to volunteer at Grand River Hospital in Waterloo. Volunteers get a discount on the police check if they bring in a letter from the hospital stating that you are a volunteer and need a background check for this position. In Waterloo, I just walked into the police station, handed in the letter, the payment in cash, and two pieces of ID. The police check was ready for pick up in a month.
- TORONTO: If you check the Toronto Police Services website, they will tell you that you cannot walk in and request a police check with vulnerable sector screening. It must be done through the organization who requested it (in my case, McMaster University). I had to take a trip to Hamilton to complete the form from the PA program office. The form also had McMaster University’s seal on it. The PA program office was nice enough to give me a printed envelope with the Toronto Police office address! So all I had to do was mail it. BUT WAIT! What about payment? I paid with money order, which I inserted into the envelope to be mailed with the police check form.
- Money Order is cash in a cheque form. When person A cashes in a personal cheque from person B and if person B’s bank account has $0, then the cheque will be bounced and the bank will charge person A a fee for that bounced cheque (sucks!). Money order eliminates that problem for the police station. You can pay for a money order at your bank or at a Canada Post Office.
Immunizations are important when working in a health care setting because it protects YOU from contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. There is a health screening package provided by the PA program office that tells you what you need to show immunity to. If you are missing a vaccine, you may have to pay out of your own pocket if you are not covered by insurance.
- 2 Step Tuberculosis (TB) Skin test
- Cost: 1st Test $35.00/2nd Test $15.00; May be free at your family clinic
- Processing Time: Two weeks
- This test is to check if you have developed immunity to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (lung disease). In a two step TB test, your health care provider will inject a small amount of the tuberculosis bacterium under your skin (epidermal shot) which will be checked 48 hours later to see if caused a reaction. The second TB test will be done a week after the first TB test check to make sure the first test result is accurate. If the place where the injection was taken place swells over 6mm, you will be advised to get a chest x-ray to check your lungs.
- Hepatitis B
- This is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. People infected usually do not show any symptoms until the liver is severely damaged. It is transmittable by blood or bodily fluid of an infected person.
- This virus is important to take caution of because you may risk exposure to hepatitis B through unprotected sex, tattoos/piercings, sharing personal hygiene items with an infected person (e.g. razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers) or providing emergency first aid in which you come in contact with blood or other body fluids.
- For myself, I was vaccinated for Hep B when I was younger. However, in my current blood work, my antibody levels were less than 10 U/L (no immunity). I had to purchase a booster shot from the pharmacy ($30 but my parent’s insurance covered 75% of it). After receiving the shot, I have to wait a month to do another blood work to see if the antibodies are present.
- Varicella (Chicken Pox)
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
- This is a three-in-one vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. You should have been given this after your first birthday and a second dose at 18 months of age. If not, talk to your family doctor to see what steps to take next
- Pertusis (Whooping Cough)
There are several ways to check what vaccinations you have received already:
- The handy-dandy yellow immunization card – Ask your mom for it and bring it to your family doctor or health care professional (HCP) to read it
- Toronto Public Health Immunizations – If your immunization card is not up to date, you can call Public Health and ask them to send you a record of your immunizations. Takes 3-5 days for it to arrive to you by mail.
- Blood Work – You might have to end up doing this anyway. Your HCP may get you do blood work to test for Hep B and Varicella immunity.
CPR-HCP with AED
For the PA program, we are required to be certified for Basic Cardiac Life Support (a.k.a Cardiopulmonary Resusication – CPR) at the Health Care Provider level with AED. This is a specific course and no standard first aid is required! It expires in 3 years. The course is about 5-6 hours long. Below are some organizations you can do it through and the prices if I know it.
- Life Saving Society – CPR-HCP ($51)
- Canadian Red Cross – Healthcare Provider CPR/AED ($65)
- Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation – BLS for Healthcare Provider (C) ($85)
*Sending in Important Documents
The best way to hand in important documents is obviously driving in to the office and giving it in person. This ensures that the organization received the documents. However, sometimes the university is not in the city we reside in, so we will have to resort to mailing it in via Canada Post.
- Regular Mail – 3-9 business days. I personally get a bit paranoid when I mail important documents by regular mail. I keep wondering whether or not they received it!
- XPressmail – Around $10 and arrives to address in 1-2 business day with tracking code. I usually pick this option. I can ease my mind knowing it got to its destination by paying a bit more money…
- Priority – This option arrives to address by the next business day and is very similar to XPressmail except you get the person who receives it to sign. A signature is not really necessary for our purposes and not worth the extra money you have to pay for it.