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Seeking advice from fellow veterans


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This last semester I wrote a thesis discussing the downward trend of veteran enrollment into PA schools (down to 4% of matriculants in the 2012 cycle), and some of the barriers faced by veterans getting into PA school.  My professor had just completed a fellowship in DC working in Senator Blumenthal's office (who sits on the Senate Veteran Affairs committee). She liked my paper and presentation.  So much so that I am slated to discuss my paper with Senator Blumenthal's staff in June.

 

While this is a great opportunity, I don't believe in giving a presentation like this without offering solutions.  I don't like just "bitching sessions".  As such, I am asking for input from any fellow vets, current PAs, PA students and PA faculty that read this.  What solutions can be implemented to help increase veteran matriculation into PA programs?

 

Some things to consider: over 89% of PA schools now require a Bachelor's degree to get in, so veterans may expend all their GI Bill funds just to meet the prerequisites.  There was a grant fund for expanding Primary Care for PA schools that gave extra points to programs that could show active recruitment/ mentoring of veterans.  This grant, as of 2014, has been rolled into 5 other grant programs, and the veteran advantage portion has disappeared for future grant seekers. The "vet 2 PA" initiative from a few years ago has been silent.  The veteran section of the PA focus from PAEA has been unchanged for almost two years now.  The white house blog on veteran transition has been silent since 2013.

 

This is a career that came from veterans; the PA school model is even based off a world war 2 medical school model.  However, the age of applicants and the amount of experience they have is decreasing annually.  What can be done to incentivize PA schools to increase veteran enrollment, and ensure veterans are competitive for that enrollment?

 

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciative.  This may be an opportunity to introduce change, and I don't want to let it pass without soliciting the opinions of others.  Thanks.

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The VA is trying to expand recruitment of PAs amongst others to fill gaps and improve access.

First, loan repayment in some form to jumpstart that process.

2nd, VA sponsored fellowships in IM and FP along with general surgery.

But what would entice those vets is a similar program that active duty does, pay tuition for PA school in exchange for service.

And here is the kicker. Most VAMC are teaching hospitals also. Instead of relying upon a program to place the student in rotations the program has access to, those students are placed in rotations in the VA system either at the local VAMC near the program or at one chosen and provide the student with housing.

Good luck with your presentation.

GB PA-C

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The VA is trying to expand recruitment of PAs amongst others to fill gaps and improve access.

First, loan repayment in some form to jumpstart that process.

2nd, VA sponsored fellowships in IM and FP along with general surgery.

But what would entice those vets is a similar program that active duty does, pay tuition for PA school in exchange for service.

And here is the kicker. Most VAMC are teaching hospitals also. Instead of relying upon a program to place the student in rotations the program has access to, those students are placed in rotations in the VA system either at the local VAMC near the program or at one chosen and provide the student with housing.

Good luck with your presentation.

GB PA-C

 

http://www.va.gov/vaforms/medical/pdf/vha-10-0491f-fill.pdf

 

Found this when I googled "VA HPSP". Interesting.

 

ETA:

 

Also found this: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/is-the-va-hpsp-scholarship-even-real.1123082/

 

Apparently, it's been discontinued.

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Not sure how much insight I can give but we do have to recognize new trends... First, 97% of PA schools are now masters degrees. Like you said,  most veterans will use all of their GI Bill on undergrad/prereqs. I think the decrease in recruitment could be because of this (this is not a stand alone point). PA school is increasingly becoming harder to get into each year. Usually less than 10% acceptance makes it hard on anyone to get in. I feel for the most part, vets are represented in most programs. I am one of five in my program of 44 students. At other interviews, I felt there was a good number of vets that got in. I feel that many vets finish school close to where they got out which is where you will find a spike in vet applicants. States with little or no military presence probably have the least amount of vet applicants. Last point I would like to make is that while military experience is great (few civilian experiences compare), it is NOT a substitute for poor academics and/or poor interpersonal skills (interviews). However, if you are straight on those issues, you are most likely a "shoe in" in my opinion..... 

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Not a veteran, but let's work backwards from one other aspect of the problem...

 

How are PA schools ranked and rewarded? Two ways: first time PANCE pass rates, and US News' popularity contest.

 

Schools select for students with stellar academic records because those students are likely to pass PANCE on first try--or so they think.  Veterans, who are often juggling school with many other things that traditional age college students don't have to worry about, are at a GPA disadvantage.

 

Fix this for veterans, and you fix the same problem for mid-career nurses and paramedics, too.

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"We" must ask ourselves as a profession why and how "the system" managed to squeeze out/alienate it's base or origin.I know and will always feel the incestuous relationship behind the "cash cow " for universities the profession has become and the never ending academic self flagilation of good must always be better........Certificate must be bettered by an Associate Degree which is truly not as good as the Baccalaureate and everyone knows the Masters is only good until the Doctorate is the conferred degree.  Any study will show the inadequate and sub par care provided by non Masters level PAs and the poor  NCCPA board scores those w/o MS degrees .

I'll just go back to snoozing while this self inflicted bit of circular logic selfperpetuates......under the guise of actually being a question that "needs more study" to be answered , and BTW another advanced degree gong can be hung around someone's academically well appointed neck!

 

The $.02 observation and thoughts of one of those former Grunt Medics ,who probably isn't good enough to join the ranks of the academic elite, and  who is approaching the end of a 30 year  PA career, praying those I've cared for aren't  angry or disappointed that I lacked a Masters Degree.

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The programs are going to have to want to do it. If this is what they feel strongly about they can make it happen. The easiest way to do that is to make it the number one priority for all future HRSA PA training grants. Programs that can demonstrate a good track record matriculating vets get the money. Just a thought...

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Not sure how much insight I can give but we do have to recognize new trends... First, 97% of PA schools are now masters degrees. Like you said,  most veterans will use all of their GI Bill on undergrad/prereqs. I think the decrease in recruitment could be because of this (this is not a stand alone point). PA school is increasingly becoming harder to get into each year. Usually less than 10% acceptance makes it hard on anyone to get in. I feel for the most part, vets are represented in most programs. I am one of five in my program of 44 students. At other interviews, I felt there was a good number of vets that got in. I feel that many vets finish school close to where they got out which is where you will find a spike in vet applicants. States with little or no military presence probably have the least amount of vet applicants. Last point I would like to make is that while military experience is great (few civilian experiences compare), it is NOT a substitute for poor academics and/or poor interpersonal skills (interviews). However, if you are straight on those issues, you are most likely a "shoe in" in my opinion..... 

The financial aid issue is a big factor without a doubt, but the use of CLEP and the old DANTES (if the program/institution will accept them) can be a great help reducing the number of lower divisional prereqs needed to knock out.  Having admissions counselors that understand the JST transcripts would also be helpful. If more programs/institutions recognized the yellow ribbon program that may also may make it more manageable, but that requires matching funds so I suspect that is something that may or may not work in some places. The VA HPSP program was very helpful and did help with workforce needs of the VA back in the day. Maybe the good Senator would like to check into the progress actually reinstating that program and not using it as a VA sound bite about how they plan to fix things...just saying. Still, the VA is a strange bird at times and it seems like their manning efforts have shifted toward recruiting more NPs.

 

I don't necessarily agree that vets are represented in most programs. Programs like the University of Utah (which was I believe was one of the original MEDEX model programs) have had a long history of recruiting and matriculating vets. They have always (at least in this AARP PA's opinion) been a strong program with a great mission. I think we all agree that being a corpsman, medic, IDC, or IDMT is not a substitute for poor academics. It would be nice though if the skills, talents, and experience those individuals bring to the table could better utilized in the civilian workforce. Sorry for the pseudo rant. Fire for effect...

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Good point about the CLEP/YRP. No worries on the rant. I would also like to point out that there are a few more scholarship opportunities that vets can take advantage of like the NHSC scholarship/repayment and Navy HSCP if anyone is planning on coming back in... Both are really great! Also I'd like to piggyback on point you made. Use IPAP for an example which is the the active duty PA program. In this program, applicants are only required to have 60 semester hours which includes their prereqs (which is less than many civilian programs prereq speaking). For the last two years their PANCE rates have been 100%...That tells you something right there about the caliber of military applicants.... Still, if you apply to civilian programs you have to play by their rules of application. Maybe if the programs could see the IPAP success rate, they would be more willing to work with vets in that way. Unfortunately, I doubt it. Like I said before, if you are a strong applicant being a vet is the icing on the cake!

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Mr. Ronin brings up an interesting point, although I am unclear how this particular example is any different from any other non-traditional student pursuing anything other than a art or liberal studies degree.

 

Veterans overall are really no different from peers of similar age.  The problem is not some hypothetical home life that a veteran might have, the problem is that some veterans just don't want to be a PA bad enough to either 1) get grades necessary or 2) follow through with an application.  Many vets are happy with their bachelors, some don't even go that far before realizing that postsecondary education isn't for them.

 

What we're doing here is lumping all veterans in with those who have the experiences necessary to apply for PA school...not every veteran was a medic/Corpsman.  Veterans who are potentially eligible to apply to PA school make up a small percentage of the population, and those who have a medical background is logically an even smaller subset of that population.

 

Overall, we're talking about a very small pool of applicants.

 

 

In order to get more veterans into PA school, it is a matter of getting more veterans interested in healthcare on the level of a licensed provider.  For those with no prior HCE, this means exposing vets to hospitals, clinics, etc.  The process tends to weed out those who can't make the cut, and there isn't much that can be done about that.

 

The military now required attendance of course upon discharge which teaches soon to be veterans about job opportunities, the GI Bill, resume building, etc.  If you could find a way to get a few words about going to PA school during that discharge class (Transition Assistance Program for the Navy and Marines), you would plant seeds in the minds of bright young folks who otherwise might think they wanted to do something like nursing or MD (which is what happened with me).

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The military now required attendance of course upon discharge which teaches soon to be veterans about job opportunities, the GI Bill, resume building, etc.  If you could find a way to get a few words about going to PA school during that discharge class (Transition Assistance Program for the Navy and Marines), you would plant seeds in the minds of bright young folks who otherwise might think they wanted to do something like nursing or MD (which is what happened with me).

Who on base is responsible for this course? Where would I go to talk to someone about "planting that seed". I have been actively pursing local college Veterans Resource Centers with mixed results. Any additional information would be helpful. Thank you in advance. 

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Excellent question.  You might start by inquiring here:

 

www.mccsp.com/transition

 

This is specific to the Marine Corps, however.    Each base would have a coordinator/outreach which puts together the class which is comprised of many individuals from the VA, transition, local veteran's organizations, and those stationed on base.  Who this coordinator is can be difficult to find...anything on base can be difficult to find unless you are asking in person.  You might start with the division/air wing/ship admin office and see if someone there can point you in the right direction.  Numbers for officers of the day are hard to come by and the butter bar (junior officer) who answers the phone won't be able to tell you anything useful, if they're even awake.  Same with the Sergeant Major's office.

 

It will be a wild goose chase, and persistence is the only way to get any answers.

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Hope this isn't too late I am a Coast Guard Veteran that got out last year and am starting PA School next week. For me it was a bit of a struggle to find the right program because there were different requirements for all of them, which can make it hard because the applicant has to narrow their options down to a specific program. I had to do this and after jumping through some hoops I am now where I am today. I think however more consideration should be placed on experience rather than a grade in a class that one doesn't use as a PA like organic chemistry. i am pretty sure the first PA's that were coming from duke were not studying organic chemistry. Anyways I think that there should be more emphasis based on medical/clinical experience as well as stronger emphasis on recommendation letters from military personnel in the chain of command at the veterans last unit. That being said the veteran should be motivated and be proactive in getting there education and really be able to show the reasons why their service makes them qualified to be a PA. I think that there could be a program similar to troops to teachers where it can be troops to PA or something similar I know I would have applied and would apply to a program where my GI Bill won't be completely burned. As far as applicant pool i know that in the Coast Guard the majority of corpsman were working on pre requisites for the IPAP program. There are enough people that want to advance their careers and have the desire there just needs to be the right avenue. Another thing that could help is have a certain number of seats for a class be dedicated to veterans or schools can develop tracks for veterans to follow for their programs. Hope this helps I know that I am probably ranting haven't put all of my ideas out there the best way I could, but I saw this and felt that I could offer some suggestions if anyone has any questions PM me or post here I will try to look at this often thanks

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In the 90's we had the TAP (Transition Assistance Program) that glazed over benefits with the VA, GI bill etc. It was a couple days of classes IIRC. This was Navy. Not sure if they still call it that but would be surprised if they don't have it anymore.

 

Sent from my S5 Active...Like you care...

 

 

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In the 90's we had the TAP (Transition Assistance Program) that glazed over benefits with the VA, GI bill etc. It was a couple days of classes IIRC. This was Navy. Not sure if they still call it that but would be surprised if they don't have it anymore.

 

Sent from my S5 Active...Like you care...

I just went through TAP.

 

It was an entire week and it is now congressionally mandated. The first day is mostly about VA benefits and GI Bill. Second day is about planning financially. Third, fourth, and fifth days are about building a successful resume, mock interviews, resources for finding a job, etc. Very helpful and informative, in my opinion.

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I wanted to follow up with this thread. I met with Senate staffers last Friday and it went really well. I've been asked to do a little follow up research for one of the Senator's staff who I on the Veteran Affairs committee.  The consensus is that a two prong approach is really needed: money for the veterans who burn through their GI Bill just to get in and money to entice programs to want to bring in veterans.

 

One interesting side note that came up was that ACE credits either may not be accepted, or may be granted a lower grade for GPA calculations (two programs I know of assign ACE credits a 'C', which, when considering a 'B' average is needed, is somewhat punishing the veteran).  One staffer was taken aback that veterans were trained in something (like medical terminology) but then had to use GI Bill funds to take the course over for a grade and a check in the box.

 

Thanks to everyone who provided their input.  Maverick, your topic on the VAs HSPS went over well and it may be brought back in the future.  Thanks all.

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CoptoPA - Strong work.

 

I think the highest barrier is being overlooked here, and that is the intense cultural difference between academia and military.  Academic types, especially academic administrators, are almost universally liberal and have an overwhelmingly anti-military bias.  

Scottcrestline - Semper Paratus mate!

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SO WHAT their G.I. bill will be used up getting the Bachelors degree.

 

Great... !!! 

 

Now they only have to pay for 24 months of school... instead of 72.

I'm just not sure why some think "Veterans" shouldn't have to bear the responsibilities of DEBT as other veterans have.

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