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Schools with different specialties


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Hi all!  I'm so glad I've found this form, gotten tons of info so far

 

I've been researching PA schools, and from what I've seen, and whats been posted here, it seems as though most of them  focus on family practice/ primary care, and want a student who wants to go into that field.   What are the schools out there with different focuses?  So far I've seen

Cornell: Surgery

UC Denver: Pediatrics

 

I'm primarily interested in emergency medicine, pediatrics, or international medicine, but I figure if we can get a post together with schools specialties, it can help other students with different interests in mind

 

 

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By ARC-PA standards, any PA curriculum is designed to train a general practitioner. Almost any PA program might declare itself "primary-care focused" but I can swear to death that not that many people in your class will go to that when they graduate (pay isn't as competitive and picking are slim in some areas). Plenty of students of course say at the interview that they "want" primary care and/or working in underserved areas and all that, but the numbers don't lie. We PAs tend to follow physician trends of specialization in lucrative specialties.

 

UAB and Cornell, both SPA programs, have the same basic general practice coursework everyone else does, with some added material on surgical skills and knowledge. It's nice to have for sure. But with 1/3 (some say 1/2) of PAs working quite well in surgery, it's easy to see that the school's specialization does not have that much bearing in what specialties their graduates are best for or are likely to get.

 

We're not quite like med schools yet, with each program having specific focuses (research, primary care, etc), and even then it's how good your board scores/stats are that determine where you can match for a specialty residency. Also, the PANCE is based on general practice after all, so your PA program will still make to it a point that you get this knowledge base. If you're that interested in a specialty, it might be more helpful to know what most of your program's recent graduates end up doing, to give you an indication of the school's reputation for certain specialties. Interestingly, while my current PA program at Salus is primary-care focused, more than half of the recent class ended up successfully getting jobs at surgical subspecialties.

 

TL;DR. A school's so-called "specialty" doesn't really prepare you that much better for any specific medical specialty you want to work at in practice. Worry about getting to PA school first, then passing the board exam. I can assure you that getting accepted to any program is challenging enough, that thinking about a school's specialty is simply premature. A residency might be more up your alley if you want EM/Peds/International Medicine that much. 

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The only school I'd add to your list is University of Alabama - Birmingham (UAB), it's the original surgical PA school.  Otherwise, what you are going to find is that the mission statement of a school may aim their students in a certain direction and MAY figure in more rotations in that area. However, all schools have to meet the ARC-PA standards, so even the most specialized have to have a certain amount of general training so their students can pass the PANCE. 

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Thank you for the reply! I likely would consider a residency after graduation, although as you mentioned that is putting the cart way before the horse.  

 

Perhaps I should rephrase my motivations behind finding different specialties, so it doesn't seem as premature.  There are over 100 PA schools out there, all with different prerequisites.  I have done research into some of these schools, primarily ones in areas which I know.  However I was hoping that there may be a school out there I haven't looked at which has those specialties, in which case I would ensure I complete the prerequisites to apply to that school also.  

 

From what I've read, people advise that when you talk to PA programs, you indicate your desire to become a primary care PA, as that is what the programs are looking for.  I was hoping there were programs out there that don't necessarily look for that type of student.  I'm sure I could "stretch the truth" and say that that is my interest, however I think I would be a much better candidate if I can find a school where my passion for emergency medicine will be appreciated.

 

I guess I am not as concerned with the educational focus of the schools as much as their mission statement and goals, of what type of PAs they want to emerge from their programs.  

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While I appreciate your desire for honesty during the admissions interview, you also have to consider that you haven't been exposed to that much of medicine yet to really think of committing to a specialty. Lateral mobility is one amazing thing PAs have and the only reason we can do it, unlike NPs who cannot, is that we're trained to be generalists. We might obtain knowledge and skills of a specialty, but we always retain our roots, which allow us to adapt quickly to a new specialty if we so choose. We're not locked into a specialist's mindset.

 

As for finding a program that would consider your interest in EM an asset, the best I can suggest is to read mission statements and state in your interview how your love for EM fits in with that school's philosophy. Who knows, it might impress the adcoms well enough to grant your acceptance if you make a good case.

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