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PENN STATE 2015-2016 application cycle


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Hi, everyone!

 

I am so glad to see that you have started a thread!!  I was applying to PA schools during both the 2013-14 cycle and last cycle and found the forum very helpful for connecting with others who are going through the process, too.  And, as you all know, what a process it is!!  I am SO HAPPY to say that I am now a first year at PSU which was my top choice program!  It was actually the only program I applied to my first cycle!  Good luck to all who are applying!!

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The program is very demanding right out of the gate, but that is to be expected, right? Other than that, this program is already proving to be phenomenal. If you all earn an interview here, you'll see what we mean, because the program we were presented is the exact program we are getting. Of course, we will keep you posted and want to help you with whatever we can.

We wouldn't be here promoting our program if we weren't thrilled with how things are.

For those who are doing serious research, you may want to know that the matriculating class scored well above the national average on their post-didactic testing.

Good luck, everyone!

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How do you like the program so far?

 

I'lll ditto Wilsocam, Kim235, and also say that our program is very team oriented.  There are 30 students in the class and those who are accepted to PSU will DEFINITELY benefit from this approach!  I think I speak for our class when I say that we have already learned SO MUCH these first few weeks and much of that learning has come from collaborating with each other and the faculty (all of which- both students and faculty- are AMAZING!).  Whether formally or informally, you work with all 29 of your classmates on a daily basis- just like we will with other PAs, MDs, RNs, and the patient's entire healthcare team when we graduate!  If you decide to apply, and are fortunate enough to be selected for an interview, you may even get to see this approach "in action".  Although I did not have an opportunity to observe a team session during my interview, I know others in our class did and, of course, only had wonderful things to say about it.  And now that I'm actually a student participating in them, I can say how wonderful the team sessions are, too!!!  

 

Best of luck!!  

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Hi everyone!  I'm also a first year student at Penn State, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to attend this program!  If any prospective students have questions about the program, I'll be more than happy to answer them for you.  Good luck to everyone applying!

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My CASPA was verified this morning, and I received the email link to Penn's supplemental application this afternoon. Should I be as excited as I am about doing more paperwork? :)

 

To the current students who posted here (st@psu, swwyld, wilsocam, and eeb17), thank you for making yourselves known and available. If I may ask:

- What one thing did you wish you knew about PSU's program before you started?

- Do any students sit on the interviews/ admissions committee?

- And, are the faculty as approachable as they seemed at the open house? 

 

Thank you.

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My CASPA was verified this morning, and I received the email link to Penn's supplemental application this afternoon. Should I be as excited as I am about doing more paperwork? :)

 

To the current students who posted here (st@psu, swwyld, wilsocam, and eeb17), thank you for making yourselves known and available. If I may ask:

- What one thing did you wish you knew about PSU's program before you started?

- Do any students sit on the interviews/ admissions committee?

- And, are the faculty as approachable as they seemed at the open house? 

 

Thank you.

 

1) I'm a 2nd year student student who just survived my didactic year at Penn State. One thing I wish I knew before starting was that I should just trust the system fully. Because it's a very ambitious 2 year program, there's a lot of classes and even more information to cram into that one didactic year and thus not as much time for some other activities I wished we did more, like work with more standardized patients or practice running entire cases from diagnosis through treatment. However, at the end of my didactic year, while I was thinking that there was no way I was anywhere near ready for rotations or doing H&Ps on actual patients, just a few days into my rotation I realized that Penn State has actually more than prepared me for handling patients. I'm still learning tons from my preceptor but I actually knew a lot more than I ever thought I did. Moral of the story: there's a million things you would want to know about any program before going in but trust in the program because they know what the heck they're doing. They truly know what works!

 

2) Students don't sit on the interview/admission committee. Lunch is provided for interviewees and current students are invited to attend the lunch and answer any questions that the interviewees may have regarding the program. That lunch is purely for those who are interviewing to get a glimpse into life as a Penn State student and nothing is reported back to the faculty.

 

3) Yes, the faculty is almost always available to sit with a student and very approachable! They truly care about a student's success and are willing to sit down with a student to go back over and explain a test or to address any other concerns students may have. I know for my class, many of my classmates made many treks down to the office to discuss their concerns with the faculty, and they were all able to do so because they knew our teachers would never trivialize our concerns or turn anyone away.

 

Best of luck with your application!

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My CASPA was verified this morning, and I received the email link to Penn's supplemental application this afternoon. Should I be as excited as I am about doing more paperwork? :)

 

To the current students who posted here (st@psu, swwyld, wilsocam, and eeb17), thank you for making yourselves known and available. If I may ask:

- What one thing did you wish you knew about PSU's program before you started?

- Do any students sit on the interviews/ admissions committee?

- And, are the faculty as approachable as they seemed at the open house? 

 

Thank you.

 

Hi cop to pa!  Congrats on finishing your CASPA application - I know how much work that can be!

 

1.  I'm having a hard time coming up with anything I wish I had known about PSU's program before starting because as wilsocam mentioned above, the program presented to you in the open house or interview is exactly what you get.  This isn't necessarily specific to Penn State's program, but I do wish that I had known how valuable it can be to learn and study with a group of people rather than individually.  I've always preferred to study alone, but in just the few short weeks we've been in the program, I've come to realize that in doing so, I was missing out!  Everyone brings a different background and knowledge base to the table and because of that, your classmates can be a fantastic resource.  This is especially evident in our TBL sessions.  In TBL, we are given a reading or lecture to study and then we take an individual quiz on it.  After the individual quiz, we immediately take the exact same quiz in our TBL group (6 people).  During these quizzes, the highest scoring individual almost never outscores the lowest scoring team.  Working together has been infinitely helpful outside of class as well.  We get a TON of information thrown at us every day - a lot of which is new or may be a challenge to understand. Studying with classmates can be great for working through tough topics.  Teamwork is key!

 

2.  I believe this was already answered for you by the 2nd year student above :)

 

3.  The faculty are extremely approachable!  They're there to help you and they want to see you succeed.  This is absolutely not a program that tries to weed people out and the faculty will do whatever they can to assist you in becoming a great clinician - as long as they see that you're putting the work in on your end.  Our small class size also allows us to have a closer relationship with our faculty.  There's not a single one I wouldn't feel comfortable talking to and they never make you feel foolish for speaking up and getting something wrong.  They also go out of their way to make themselves available to us as much as possible.  One of our faculty members even gets online from his house every evening to make himself available to answer any questions we may have had from that day's lecture.  The faculty at Penn State is top notch!

 

Good luck!

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My CASPA was verified this morning, and I received the email link to Penn's supplemental application this afternoon. Should I be as excited as I am about doing more paperwork? :)

 

To the current students who posted here (st@psu, swwyld, wilsocam, and eeb17), thank you for making yourselves known and available. If I may ask:

- What one thing did you wish you knew about PSU's program before you started?

- Do any students sit on the interviews/ admissions committee?

- And, are the faculty as approachable as they seemed at the open house? 

 

Thank you.

 

Current PSU first year here...  I won't repeat what the others have said (beyond agree with pretty much all of it), but here's a few extra pennies, if it's helpful...

 

1)  I wish I already knew how to study for PA school exams.  I bet you'll find students from many other programs who say the same thing.  I've been through a BA and an MS (as well as worked as faculty at a graduate program) prior to matriculation, and I've not experienced an academic environment quite like PA school.  I don't think you can possibly know exactly the best way to study and take in so much information efficiently without actually going through it first.  I've quickly had to learn the significance of Reading for Understanding versus Memorization (a word our core lecturer HATES to hear).  So you'd be hard pressed to find a PA student pretty much anywhere who tells you they didn't have to adapt to the tremendous work load.  Like all the current second years are telling us, the faculty and staff at this program have incredibly vast practice and teaching experience.  Given Chris Bruce's nation-topping, dozen-year 100% PANCE performance as director at her previous institution (and the fact that her core faculty and admissions staff moved to Penn State with her) gives me the utmost confidence that we literally could not be in better hands.  Truth be told, several exams into the program, I'm still adjusting my study methods, but as far as program-specific surprises, there have been none.  

 

Oh, and I also wish I had known the significance of having a PA-C (and a practicing one, at that) as the program director.  Such insight, experience, and leadership she gives to the program.

 

2)  As stated, students don't have input into admissions decisions, but you will be interviewed by a real patient who will give feedback to the committee (in addition to several other faculty and director interviews).  

 

3)  I've been blown away by how committed the core faculty are to the success of their students.  I'm only three weeks in, and I've had countless conversations with core faculty that have lasted long beyond the 5pm end-of-class.  (Yes, they all knew our names on day 1.)  For example, I had a few questions about some difficult concepts during our first exam.  I emailed our instructor--the program director and possibly the busiest person on earth--and she emailed me back within 5 minutes with a list of all the times she'd be immediately free to review those questions.  Beyond academics, I've seen our anatomy lecturer stay 30 minutes late after almost every class fielding questions from academics to study tips to where to find the best laundromat.  Chris set the PANCE bar at 100% (first time, 10 years running--the highest in the nation) at her previous program.  It is abundantly clear that the current faculty are committed to keeping this tradition strong while (and we've heard this a bunch) ensuring that we "shake all 30 hands at graduation."  At the same time, we pretty frequently hear: "don't spend time thinking about your grades," "we often won't give you a class average for exams to prevent competition," and "the only two things that matter are passing your PANCE on the first try and becoming excellent clinicians in the process."  There is tremendous support in the way of exam remediation and extra help for anyone who struggles--not to mention the support of so many incredible classmates in TBL class and other study sessions every day.  

 

When I was applying here and reading this same forum, I couldn't help but wonder "What are they putting in the water over there at Hershey?"  Honestly, no current student has even been asked to come on here and endorse this place.  There's nothing in the water.  You just have to come see this program for yourself.  Good luck!

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My CASPA was verified this morning, and I received the email link to Penn's supplemental application this afternoon. Should I be as excited as I am about doing more paperwork? :)

 

To the current students who posted here (st@psu, swwyld, wilsocam, and eeb17), thank you for making yourselves known and available. If I may ask:

- What one thing did you wish you knew about PSU's program before you started?

- Do any students sit on the interviews/ admissions committee?

- And, are the faculty as approachable as they seemed at the open house? 

 

Thank you.

 

 Hi cop to pa,

 

I don't think there is a THING I can add to what my classmates have so eloquently said already.  I will disclose that I have a bias towards PSU to begin with as I grew up in the area and know how much both the College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are regarded.  Together, they make an excellent academic teaching hospital and are 100% committed to both the care of their patients and the success of their students. 

 

So, YES!!! Be excited about doing the supplemental app!!  And if you are not, then seriously reconsider if this is the program for you.  As someone who applied to PSU twice, I know the supplemental app may seem long and tedious.  However, this is the BEST way the faculty can get to know you!!  Like one of my classmates said, we are a class of 30 students and, as you consider each of us individually, you can see what unique quality we each bring to the table.  Diversity is important to both PSU's program and the institution as a whole.  Should you be invited to campus for an interview, you will learn about how the Humanities program is woven into all other programs.  

 

I will also tell you that the faculty will personally read your application and seem as if they already know you the moment you walk in the door for your interview because...THEY DO!!!  The supplemental is KEY!!  

 

Continued luck to you!

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Hi Kim,

 

The PSU PA program began last year, so the first class has not taken the PANCE yet.  However, while Chris Bruce (our program director) was program director at DeSales, they had 100% first time past rates every year.  I am MORE than confident that we will all be very well prepared for the exam.

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Hi Kim,

 

The PSU PA program began last year, so the first class has not taken the PANCE yet.  However, while Chris Bruce (our program director) was program director at DeSales, they had 100% first time past rates every year.  I am MORE than confident that we will all be very well prepared for the exam.

To add: When Chris Bruce moved to Penn State, she brought her three core teachers (i.e. the academic spine of the program) with her.  We have a fourth core lecturer as well—a PA who previously taught at Drexel and came here, in part, based on Chris’ reputation for having the best PANCE stats in the country.  Even her admissions director came to Penn State.  (I actually discovered Penn State by applying and even accepting admission to DeSales.  Only then did I realize all the changes that led to the new Penn State program.)  In other words, there are some significant reasons (unique to this particular new program) to feel particularly confident about predicted future scores.  You might also note, the current second-years took the PACKRAT (a practice board exam) at the end of FIRST year, and their average score was HIGHER than the national average for program graduates (i.e. at the end of 2 years)--meaning the best indicator suggests the first class was pretty much ready to take and pass their boards being only half way through the program.  Hope that helps.  

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For any prospective student or applicant in the 2015-2015 CASPA cycle, the Penn State program will be hosting a variety of informational events throughout the summer. 

 

These include:

  • On-campus Info Session hosted by Program Director - Tuesday, July 21 at 6pm
  • Online Info Sessions - various dates throughout the summer for those unable to attend an on-campus event

 

Learn more and get registered by visiting the 'Events' tab at http://med.psu.edu/paprogram

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In the CASPA application, it gives an option to upload any extra documents that would supplement our application.  I am just wondering for those who have gotten in, what kind of documents did you attach?  Did you attach any?  

 

Thank you!

 

Hi mncourtney,

 

If this is your first time applying through CASPA (and, if it is, I hope it's the ONLY time you will need to apply to CASPA!), you may not know that the platform on which CASPA is running this cycle is new compared to the most recent previous cycles.  Prior to the current CASPA cycle, documents (such as resumes, curriculum vita, course descriptions, etc) were not able to be uploaded directly through CASPA to the programs.  Consequently, I cannot give you any personal advice about this.  

 

However, I am familiar with the new platform as I was accepted off the waitlist here at PSU and was already applying again when I got the call every waitlister dreams of getting!!  My experience with the new platform is that each program has it's own section within your application once you add them as programs to which you are applying.  Then, within the individual program sections, the programs can specify if they would like you to upload specific documents they may be interested in.  If PSU does not have anything in its section, then there is likely nothing additional that they are requiring outside of what is already included with your CASPA.  If you would like further clarification, I would recommend you refer to our program's website, attend an in person or listen to an online information session about our program, or contact our program directly.  And, of course, stay tuned to this forum as well!!

Based on a previous post in this thread by a current applicant, it does sound like our program is continuing with its procedure to email you the secondary application AFTER they have received your completed CASPA. 

 

If you do not get any clear answers, I do not think it would hurt to upload any documents that might clarify and ambiguous courses (ie I had a graduate level class called "Quantitative and Qualitative Elements" which was statistics but CASPA would not give me stats credit for it) or your resume.  If the program does not want to consider these, then they simple will not look at them.

 

I'm not sure if this is helpful to you but it's the best I can do!  Good luck to you!! 

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In the CASPA application, it gives an option to upload any extra documents that would supplement our application.  I am just wondering for those who have gotten in, what kind of documents did you attach?  Did you attach any?  

 

Thank you!

Hi mncourtney - to clarify, Penn State will provide our secondary application to every CASPA applicant AFTER we receive your verified-CASPA application.

 

As far as the Documents Tab in CASPA, please read the instructions/tips included on that page and utilize this section only if needed. Again, nothing additional is required; hence why we list that it is optional. Select 'I am not adding any documents' if there is nothing additional you need to share. 

 

Rather than emailing documentation to our program directly (which we in turn must upload on the backend), simply use the documents tab to share any additional pertinent information.  

 

Here are common examples of how to use the 'documents' tab:

  • If you need to provide clarification, possibly a course description related to satisfying one of our program specific pre-requisites, you may upload to the documents tab. 
  • If your GRE score is beyond the 5-year limit ETS maintains, and you have maintained a student copy, upload your student copy in the documents tab.
  • If you are submitting a student copy of an accepted alternate exam other than GRE or MCAT, you may do so in the documents tab.

Caveat: Please be aware that nothing can be uploaded to the Program Materials/Documents tab after you submit your CASPA application to Penn State. 

 

Hope this helps provide additional clarification from the program's perspective.

Please do not hesitate to message me directly with additional questions. 

 

Caryn Stopper

Director of Admissions

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