July 2021 PAEA Virtual Fair Recap

On July 20, 2021, PAEA hosted its Summer Virtual Fair for member programs. We partner with CareerEco, a virtual recruiting platform, to help grow programs’ national recruitment pipeline by gaining access to available registered student and advisor information and engage prospective students from anywhere. Our goal is to allow prospective students to interact with as many programs as possible without the barriers of travel cost and scheduling difficulties so that students can match with the right program. 

In all, 87 PA programs chose to participate, with two of those programs serving as event sponsors, Yale Physician Assistant Online Program and Arcadia University Hybrid PA Program, and three website sponsors, Case Western Reserve University PA Program, Marist College, and Touro University California. PAEA provided the National Association of Advisors of the Health Professions (NAAHP), a complimentary booth, so experienced health professions advisors could answer questions about different health careers and provide advising services to students who don’t currently have access to an advisor. 

Registration and Attendance 

On July 20, we saw a total of 4,751 registrants, with 1,962 attendees entering the event. Typically, most of the registrants have already started a CASPA application or have already submitted their application for the current cycle. However, an entirely new audience of students attended the July virtual fair: 54% of all registrants had not yet initiated a CASPA application, while only 12% had submitted a CASPA application this cycle.  

Of the 4,751 Virtual Fair registrants, 2,553 had a touchpoint or interaction with our recruitment team and input some information into our pre-PA CRM. Through this interaction, PAEA gathered basic Race/Ethnicity information for the 1,118 students who entered it into the system.  

We’ve ensured this information is included in the candidate registration process next year, and PAEA will provide it to our participating PA programs in aggregate post-event. 


Tactics used to notify prospective students: 

  • CRM Contacts, which included CASPA Applicants, previous fair/event attendees, and prospective students who registered online to receive more information 
  • Advisor email blasts 
  • Social Media 

Post-Event Attendee Survey 

A total of 4,752 registrants were sent the survey with a 1.39% response rate. 96.9% of respondents rated the fair as excellent, very good, and good, while a very small number rated it as fair or poor. 

70% of respondents learned of the fair through an email from PAEA’s pre-PA CRM or the website, 11% heard about the fair from a PA program, and the rest make up around 20% total. 

We strongly encouraged our participating programs to reach out to students through as many channels as possible. Many registrants heard about the fair from PA program emails, their on-campus pre-PA club/organization, or from a faculty member or advisor they are close to. Ensuring the fair information is distributed widely across your campus community can yield great results.  

For PA Programs (if an idea was mentioned more than once, an asterisk will follow the tip): 

  • Incorporate more microphone and camera usage* 
  • Be sure scheduled room times are accurate and room staff are on-time and show up* 
  • Consider adding presentations for students who don’t have much knowledge about program prior to event 
  • Add individual breakout rooms for further questions 

Quote from Attendee: 

  • “I appreciate you all so much. You’re amazing. Thank you for answering these questions for me.” 

Attendee Feedback for PAEA:

  • Try to have more programs participate
  • It would be helpful to get a chat transcript after the event* 
  • Have a more interactive experience* 
  • Consider having a multi-day fair* 

Attendee Feedback for Vendor:  

  • Make it easier to scroll back up in the chat. 
  • Increase font size for chat text  
  • Allow options to record presentations so they can be downloaded later 
  • Increase number of chat windows that can be open at one time 
  • Make chat text more prominent / allow programs to upload school colors and banners or photos to make the chat more lively 
  • Indicate zones/regions of programs