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Do grades matter?


Wouldn’t it be nice if I gave you a clear answer to put your mind at ease? Of course it would, but that would be easy. And, as you’ve probably learned by now, we’re not in the easy game.

So, the answer is: Yes it matters but not really.

Let me explain.

For the PA or NP, it really depends on what you want to do after school. If you’re a medical student it matters because you have to match for residency. Sorry medical students, but you have to play the game.

For the midlevels, grades don’t matter all that much so long as you pass. So much of successful test taking (scoring in the 90s) has nothing to do to with medical knowledge. Instead, it has to do with knowing how to play the game.

Conversely, you might only know the information superficially – but because you are well versed in test taking strategy – you’ll pass.

Really, the focus should be on learning concepts and having the ability to apply them clinically. 


If you understand concepts and know the material, then you shouldn’t have any problems passing. Want to get the 90? Then, it’s less about the material and more on learning how to answer questions. But, that’s a topic for another day.

Now, if you plan on attending a residency or a post graduate program, then you’ll need your transcript.  The majority will require at least a 3.0, but many require a higher GPA.  Obviously, the higher the GPA, the more competitive you will be. 

Very rarely do institutions (i.e hospitals) have GPA minimums for possible employment.  If there is a minimum, then this is almost always for the new graduate.  This is not the norm and is the exception to the rule. 

Certainly, after your first job, it is more about your experience vs your test taking abilities.  Employers don’t really care where you went to school or what your GPA was once you have the experience (PAs and NPs).

In the end, it’s really about what you plan on doing – grades are only a small slice of the whole pie. Ultimately, intent is what matters. Giving it your all is what you should be focused on – because so long as you leave it all on the table – you won’t have regret.

Had you only read a couple hours more – maybe you wouldn’t have misdiagnosed that patient who had to get admitted the next day – or you could have caught the MI sooner – or you wouldn’t have missed the SA.

I think you get my point. Focus on bettering yourself, your knowledge base, and don’t let ego be your driver. Do not study for the 90, as this is the wrong reason.

Those who do it for the wrong reasons tend to give up and/or resent their work. Regret and resentment are tough burdens to bear.

I wish you nothing but success my friends. Keep grinding.