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If a student fails, learns something from the experience, passes the second time around, and then passes the PANCE on the first attempt, who the $#@! cares?

Everyone has an off day from time to time. If it becomes a regular issue, however, then there are larger problems.

 

The first-time mastery of the minutia is hardly relevant in comparison to clinical competency...

Except from an academic standpoint first time mastery of the minutia is exactly how students are evaluated. There is too much volume to give a student multiple chances to master the material. If the material isn't mastered the first time then the student has fallen behind. There is just no time for this in graduate school.

 

Schools prepare students to meet minimum standards of competency. Part of that, by design, comes from mastering the minutia the first time. (As an aside, what kind of material do you think comprises a good number of questions on PANCE?) Additional clinical competency is developed after graduation and once the now-former-student-turned-PA starts working. If you thought the learning curve in school is tough (well, when you get to school) wait until you start working.

 

And don't think for a second that after graduation an attending is going to tolerate someone who can't pick up the material the first time.

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Accredited in '96 (first class accepted in '94, graduated in '96).  I don't see the value in comparing graduates of OHSU's first class and your experience at Drexel 20 years ago.  I'm a prospective student trying to find the best program for me in 2014...

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I wish attrition rates for all the schools were readily apparent, like PANCE scores, so we could have hard numbers to be comparing, rather than just speculation and opinions.   There are going to be happy and disgruntled students with any program, thats why it's about finding the right fit for you.  

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the reality is that PA school is largely self taught. a great student will do well at any program and a bad student will do poorly at a great program.

what sets programs apart is the quality of the rotation sites and the facilities and faculty available during the didactic year. I think pance rates is a poor marker of competence ever since they took away practical exams on pance. I know plenty of PAs who passed pance( and docs who passed usmle) who can't find their butts with both hands. you can study to the test and probably pass pance without ever going to PA school if you have some medical background and attend a few cert courses and do hippo PA.

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the reality is that PA school is largely self taught. a great student will do well at any program and a bad student will do poorly at a great program.

what sets programs apart is the quality of the rotation sites and the facilities and faculty available during the didactic year. I think pance rates is a poor marker of competence ever since they took away practical exams on pance. I know plenty of PAs who passed pance( and docs who passed usmle) who can't find their butts with both hands. you can study to the test and probably pass pance without ever going to PA school if you have some medical background and attend a few cert courses and do hippo PA.

Is that why you're posting arbitrary rankings and niggling over a program's 20-year-old start date?  This thread is kaput.  

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Is that why you're posting arbitrary rankings and niggling over a program's 20-year-old start date?  This thread is kaput.  

my point is that any program will work for any student. you just need to get in. if you apply yourself you will do fine.

no reason to get snippy.

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my point is that any program will work for any student. you just need to get in. if you apply yourself you will do fine.

no reason to get snippy.

 

Sorry, just feeling frustrated by the direction of this thread.  

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Everyone has an off day from time to time. If it becomes a regular issue, however, then there are larger problems.

 

 

Except from an academic standpoint first time mastery of the minutia is exactly how students are evaluated. There is too much volume to give a student multiple chances to master the material. If the material isn't mastered the first time then the student has fallen behind. There is just no time for this in graduate school.

 

Schools prepare students to meet minimum standards of competency. Part of that, by design, comes from mastering the minutia the first time. (As an aside, what kind of material do you think comprises a good number of questions on PANCE?) Additional clinical competency is developed after graduation and once the now-former-student-turned-PA starts working. If you thought the learning curve in school is tough (well, when you get to school) wait until you start working.

 

And don't think for a second that after graduation an attending is going to tolerate someone who can't pick up the material the first time.

 

To be clear, the two schools I mentioned that employ this more lenient method do not have a 70 or 75% bar (compared to a typical 80% at other schools).  The distinction is that they seem to acknowledge students can have a bad test day more than once in their PA school career and that as long as they don't miss the mark by more than a few points and do so more than a few times, such schools are willing to give the student a chance to attain competency.  To quote the OHSU director, "This policy is not in place to simply enable students to limp along through the program, but rather to work with otherwise excellent students to overcome a bad day or an area of weakness."  

 

The point of all of this is not to talk about OHSU.  It's just to share a different philosophy of teaching that's becoming more prevalent among PA programs.  For better or for worse, students today are different than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and I think all the team-based learning, PBL, and overall shift in educational philosophy is occurring in direct response to this fact.  I'd agree with FakingP that attrition is a really important indicator of program success.  I'm not trying to snipe at Drexel as much as try to uncover the reality of their attrition and the role of the 3-year program as a safety net for those who fail the first time.  (Of course this wouldn't include those who start on the 3-year or switch for other reasons.)  In the process, hopefully we'll all dig up some better facts and learn more about each program--here, specifically, Drexel and DeSales.  

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Everyone has an off day from time to time. If it becomes a regular issue, however, then there are larger problems.

 

 

Except from an academic standpoint first time mastery of the minutia is exactly how students are evaluated. There is too much volume to give a student multiple chances to master the material. If the material isn't mastered the first time then the student has fallen behind. There is just no time for this in graduate school.

 

From what knowledge base or educational theory are you deriving your statements about what grad school is or isn't?

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  I'm not trying to snipe at Drexel as much as try to uncover the reality of their attrition and the role of the 3-year program as a safety net for those who fail the first time.  (Of course this wouldn't include those who start on the 3-year or switch for other reasons.)  In the process, hopefully we'll all dig up some better facts and learn more about each program--here, specifically, Drexel and DeSales.  

I know some folks at Drexel. I will email them and see if I can get a firm attrition rate and post it here.

I am a big PBL fan. when I was there it was an important part of the program. I think PBL is highly relevant to the actual practice of medicine and both fun to teach and participate in as a student.

when done with my current graduate program, my goal is to start doing some teaching a few days a month by leading PBL sections or clinical medicine sections at a local program.

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Zoopeda you said this." Whisperings from several current students indicate several (and perhaps "many") students are forced to switch to the 3-year track after failing (typically) anatomy". 

 

​To clarify this if a student fails they can come back in a year and repeat that class.  Depending when the student started as a full time or part time student will determine what classes they take next for the next qrt. If you started full time you will do the full time track and if you did the part time you will do the part time track.  You are never be forced into the 3-track option if you are meaning part-time track.  Yes the student might fail and be forced doing 3 years total with the fail because they are a full time student and if they are part time and failed or something happened like medical can take up to 4 years total.  I only know 1 person in the program offered to switch from full time to part-time and that was because they had proof that they have a learning disability that was just discovered after failing the fall qrt.

 

To pass with a B at Drexel you will need a 71.5 to 87.4 and maintain a 71.5 avg or above in the written component to pass.  Note that in the PE you must score a 80% or above. B+= 87.5 - 89.4, A-= 89.5 - 91.4, A=91.5.  I don't remember what a A+ is.  At Drexel an A- is worth a 3.67 to your gpa and not a 3.7.

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To pass with a B at Drexel you will need a 71.5 to 87.4 and maintain a 71.5 avg or above in the written component to pass.  Note that in the PE you must score a 80% or above. B+= 87.5 - 89.4, A-= 89.5 - 91.4, A=91.5.  I don't remember what a A+ is.  At Drexel an A- is worth a 3.67 to your gpa and not a 3.7.

yup, on one rotation exam my final score 89.45 and that was a B. No rounding.

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That happened to me in PMS 3.  I missed a B+ by missing 1 question to much.  Just 1 question.  There is no rounding.  They are pretty straight forward and tell you what their expectations are on the syllabus. I love the program and staff.  Very easy to get a hold of and talk to.  They only thing I hate about the school is that Lecture Hall A is always cold.  But beggars can't be choosers. The building is old.  

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That happened to me in PMS 3.  I missed a B+ by missing 1 question to much.  Just 1 question.  There is no rounding.  They are pretty straight forward and tell you what their expectations are on the syllabus. I love the program and staff.  Very easy to get a hold of and talk to.  They only thing I hate about the school is that Lecture Hall A is always cold.  But beggars can't be choosers. The building is old.  

and it's in Philadelphia....Loved the program, but gotta be honest, philly is not my kind of town. I'm not a big city kid.

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Zoopeda you said this." Whisperings from several current students indicate several (and perhaps "many") students are forced to switch to the 3-year track after failing (typically) anatomy".

 

​To clarify this if a student fails they can come back in a year and repeat that class. Depending when the student started as a full time or part time student will determine what classes they take next for the next qrt. If you started full time you will do the full time track and if you did the part time you will do the part time track. You are never be forced into the 3-track option if you are meaning part-time track. Yes the student might fail and be forced doing 3 years total with the fail because they are a full time student and if they are part time and failed or something happened like medical can take up to 4 years total. I only know 1 person in the program offered to switch from full time to part-time and that was because they had proof that they have a learning disability that was just discovered after failing the fall qrt.

 

To pass with a B at Drexel you will need a 71.5 to 87.4 and maintain a 71.5 avg or above in the written component to pass. Note that in the PE you must score a 80% or above. B+= 87.5 - 89.4, A-= 89.5 - 91.4, A=91.5. I don't remember what a A+ is. At Drexel an A- is worth a 3.67 to your gpa and not a 3.7.

Great insights! Thank you. So the $64,000 question remains: what % of students who begin the 27 month program are forced to take an extra year to finish the degree (or simply leave the program entirely) due to academic reasons?

 

An extra year is expensive. Not only tuition cost but cost of living (plus interest on the extra loans needed to fund it). Then the whopper: one less year in practice means a cost of one years salary as a PA. This year comes off the end (highest earning) portion of the career, meaning an added cost of over $100,000 (esp 30 years from now).

 

I loved the DeSales interview experience for the following reason. At the interview, the director read us the school's recent 5 year attrition rates--split into academic dismissals vs non academic withdrawals and temporary (ie took an extra year) vs permanent. He then presented the pance outcomes, and had us sign a document showing we understood the outcomes after he fielded tons of additional questions. Super clear. And the outcomes, in case you are wondering, are an annual average of 1 or 2 academic dismissals (out of 45 students) per year and a 5-year pance of 100%. Impressive. I'm sure there are other equally impressive stats out there for other programs. I just wish the real numbers were more readily accessible.

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just spoke with a friend on the teaching staff there. they researched the #s for attrition at Drexel and said in a class of 80

" we lose about 1-2 students per year. Typically due to academic or professional issues"

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Hi

 

I am currently in this position, deciding between Drexel and DeSales. anyone in this previous position could you share your pros and cons and how you made a final decision between the two. Also, could anyone in the DeSales PA program shed some light on why chris, the previous director, left the program when it increased from 40 to 80 students? has this negatively influenced the PANCE pass rate scores?

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She left to head the Penn state program, probably because they give her more funding and leeway etc.  I would say the loss of the key staff members and drastic increase in class size "could" have an impact on the program quality but the design is probably still in place overall.

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I'm a big fan of the Drexel program. graduated from there 20 years ago. the current director is a friend of mine. great rotation sites and resources for students. I know nothing about desales for comparison purposes.

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Hi

 

I am currently in this position, deciding between Drexel and DeSales. anyone in this previous position could you share your pros and cons and how you made a final decision between the two. Also, could anyone in the DeSales PA program shed some light on why chris, the previous director, left the program when it increased from 40 to 80 students? has this negatively influenced the PANCE pass rate scores?

 

There's a whole thread on "Where did Chris go?" in the DeSales forum.  Long story short, she left to start the Penn State program.  I'm in my first year at Penn State and will be part of her second class to graduate.  Chris is a FORCE anywhere she goes, and any program suffers to lose her and is psyched to have her.  I'm not sure enough time has passed to see the long-term effect on the DeSales PANCE score, but I do know that DeSales also used to win the challenge bowl (basically medical trivia competition) every year--something they are no longer known for.  I also know that Chris' real claim to fame is not only the highest consistent (i.e. 12-year 100%) PANCE pass rate in the country (at DeSales) but ALSO her consistent near-zero academic-attrition rate during that time.  One very sneaky way some schools keep their attrition rates down is by asking students to withdraw--a move that mutually benefits the student's and school's records.  (i.e., a school could be on the brink of "failing out" 10 students in a class of 50, ask them all to either repeat the year (thus keeping them in the program) or to withdraw (thus not reported as failing out).  Fail-out rate remains zero, and the school doesn't risk their PANCE pass rates by putting their weakest students up to the test.)  For this reason, you really can't trust the attrition rates a school puts in front of you on interview day.  I have no idea is either of the two schools you're considering are guilty of these types of tactics, but I did learn about such games from Chris directly.  She prides herself on hardly ever failing a student out yet maintaining 100% pass rates.  

 

I literally cancelled my Drexel interview because when I grilled them on the "how many students are forced into the 3-year track or fail out per year" they became very evasive and eventually refused to give me those numbers.  Also, last I checked, their PA program was within the school of nursing, which seemed weird, professionally.  Likewise, after my DeSales interview, I learned of several students in the last class who left suddenly or dropped to a slower track.  I have not followed up with them, and perhaps they're back in their seats and completing the program.  All I can say is at least apply to Penn State to see how all three schools compare.  PSU is actively reviewing apps and interviewing through winter (late schedule for them).  Call the admissions director to confirm this, and feel free to message me for details.  They are three very different schools.  One of them will call to you.  Drexel is very well established with an impressive inner city rotation network.  DeSales sits on a massive hospital network and foundation Chris built for them, as does Penn State at the Hershey Med Center.  There are pros and cons to every school.  Figure out what you want in a school and which schools offer that.  Ask very specific questions of current students once you're accepted.  You certainly are fortunate to have a choice; good luck!!

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She left to head the Penn state program, probably because they give her more funding and leeway etc.  I would say the loss of the key staff members and drastic increase in class size "could" have an impact on the program quality but the design is probably still in place overall.

 

It's true that Chris took her admissions director and most senior faculty (i.e. nine credits of Clinical Medicine and 2 credits of anatomy every semester) with her to Penn State when she left DeSales.  I would imagine being told your program was going to at least double in 2 years could have an impact on the way you run your program.  Seems reasonable to think that could affect the decision to leave.  Perhaps a question to ask her directly, if it comes to it.

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I'm a current Drexel student, and I can say first hand that yes, Anatomy is known as our "weedout" course. I was told at interview that 3 or 4 people (out of 80) typically fail anatomy their first quarter. However, everyone of these students is offered the chance to a) complete the rest of that quarters classes, and B) return the following fall to retake anatomy. People talk about this as if it's a bad thing, but I disagree.

 

What this says to me is that I belong to a program that understands anyone can have a bad test. Because of the way the tests in anatomy are weighted, if you have ONE really rough test, it can kill your grade. But the faculty here know that one bad test doesn't reflect on your overall academic ability, nor your potential to be a great PA. They have shown dedication to us, and offering us the chance to retake a class is so much better than giving us the boot over one bad test.

 

Also, in regards to the B = 71.5, there is a really good reason for that. The graduate school requires all students to maintain a 3.0 GPA. When the PA program set the line at 71.5, they based it on the past several years of cohorts average grade, who had a successful first time PANCE. So they mean it when they tell us that "passing these courses will prepare you for the real world," and they have the stats to back it up.

 

Drexel is an amazing program, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Yes, anatomy is rough (its tought by a PHD, not a PA) but it's manageable if you put in the hours.

 

Bottom line: most every school has attrition of some kind. Life happens. PANCE rates and the overall fit of the school should be your most important deciding factor, not the thought of "what if I fail?" Even if you do, remember why you wanted to be a PA, accept the challenge, and keep moving forward.

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These are really good points.  Anatomy from a PhD and anatomy from a clinician (PA or MD) will be two different experiences.  One will be academically focused, and the other with a clinical focus (with overlap, of course).  I actually primarily take anatomy with a PA teacher who is amazing.  (And we have certain modules with a PhD anatomist who is very much into lecturing at length on the anatomical minutia.)  A big part of our primary clinical anatomy class includes imaging and clinical cases in addition to the cadaver dissection.  It's really helpful if you know how you learn and know which focus you are looking for.  

 

Educational philosophy will also vary from program to program.  This insight from Drexel indicates that 5% of each class will fail (and potentially repeat) anatomy.  Other schools have a lower fail rate for anatomy.  Are students at those schools learning less or becoming lower quality practitioners once they're licensed?  Good question; I'm not sure I have the answer.  I do know that anatomy plays a very small role in the PANCE exam, and appears almost exclusively as clinical application questions, surgical scenarios, ortho tests, etc.  I also know it's very stressful to fail a class in PA school and potentially very very expensive.  If we can assume both types of program put out comparable clinicians, I think the choice is a no-brainer.  But others will certainly have a different take.  

Personally, given the insane acceptance rates into PA school, I like to think the application process IS the weed out process and that 99.9% of those who make it through all those hoops are clearly smart enough to learn medicine with the right teaching.  If a student makes it into a competitive program, works his or her butt off, completes all assignments, is in regular contact with faculty and classmates, and still fails to learn the material well enough to pass the final exam, in my opinion, the school has failed that student.  On the other hand, you will definitely meet those of another opinion who feel the pressure of a "weed out" course in PA school is an excellent motivator that gets students working harder and learning more.  Ultimately, if you are in the fortunate position to make a choice, you should weigh all of these factors in the context of your learning style and strengths as a student who obviously has a proven track record of success.  No one on this forum can make the decision for you, of course.  We can only voice differing opinions that might help you think it through. 

 

Good luck.  Given your options, you already have a very good chance of becoming a PA-C!!

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