Central Application for PAs, CAPSA: recommendations

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The CAPSA application process evolved after several years of discussions and surveys with PA programs, applicants and students. The CAPSA committee, Under the board of directors of the Association of PA Programs (APAP), the CAPSA committee, made up of experienced PA educators, led this effort.

After extensive discussions, the committee decided on a two part reference composed of the CAPSA reference form plus a letter of reference. Both focus on the applicant's suitabilty for the PA profession specifically.

The REFERENCE FORM guides evaluators through a number of qualities important for PAs and asks them to rate each one.

The LETTER OF REFERENCE goes hand-in-glove with the form and takes it another step. It asks for a NARRATIVE assessment of the applicant, taking into account several specified factors.

The intent is that applicants each present THREE references that concentrate on their suitabilty to be PAs. Both the STRUCTURED FORM and the FOCUSSED LETTER together are essential.

The committee consdiered how to handle university file recommendations. Despite the fact that several PA programs did not accept them at all before CAPSA, the committee settled on a middle ground. FILE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION are acceptable if they are ACCOMPANIED BY A COMPLETED CAPSA RECOMMENDATION FORM FROM THE EVALUATOR.

In this way, applicants choosing to use college recommendation files will be able to have a complete CAPSA reference--form and letter--like all the other applicants. All applicants will have comparable records so as not to weaken one group compared to their competition.

If logistics make it impractical to track down evalautors in order to turn a file recommendation into a complete CAPSA reference, advising centers could consider sending their materials directly to the PA programs the applicant has designated. Many programs welcome additional information and may use it in addition to the completed CAPSA references.

Review the on-line application at


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