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I recently got accepted to a PA school and during the interview, I really felt I belong there. However, it is a relatively new program and I do have some concerns. I want your opinions about new programs and whether you would go to one. 

 

Pros about the school:

-Innovative curriculum

-Already has strong ties to healthcare facilities due to other preexisting healthcare programs

-Love the area

-Since still new, program has to prove itself and make sure its students become good PAs

 

Cons:

-No alumni support

-Still working on curriculum and rotation sites

-Still figuring out faculty

-No PANCE scores

 

My biggest concern is the rotation sites. Although they have a lot of connections to healthcare facilities, it's hard to say where and how the rotations will be. They choose our rotation sites for us, and stated rotations will be at most 1.5 hours away. When asked about the rotation sites, seems that they are still trying to figure them out. 

 

I really like the school and keep trying to convince myself to go here versus more established programs. I'm not sure if new programs are that bad since you're still going to come out as a PA. Opinions? 

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More knowledgeable people may have other insights, but what I would consider (and did when I interviewed at some new programs) is the program administration.  Where did they come from?  Do they have a track record at another program that gives you some idea how well they know their craft (not just as faculty but in managing a program)?  Keep in mind too, they had to have an acceptable plan for clinical rotations in order to attain their provisional status (the ARC Standards for programs are available for review if you want to see what that entails - yes, I've read them :)  ).  

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I am a student at a brand-new program. We will be the first graduating class. There are pros and cons, but I have absolutely no regrets about coming here. Yes, we are the guinea pigs, but the faculty at my program are SO devoted to ensuring we succeed. All of our professors have taught at other PA programs and our facilities are BRAND new. Overall, I am extremely happy with my choice and cannot imagine taking the time and money to apply elsewhere and postpone school for a year. Feel free to message me if you have any questions. 

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I sure wouldn't turn down an acceptance to a new program to apply to a "safer school" next year. First why you applying to a school if you are not willing to go if accepted? Second, PANCE pass rates are overrated, if not blown out of proportion. Your patients don't care about your PANCE score and there are plenty of poor providers who passed the PANCE, the real question is this program preparing you to find sick people and take care of patients. Third, most schools make students drive crazy distances for clinicals. I know even the Duke's of the world make their students commute long distances, it is just part of the process. 

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I sure wouldn't turn down an acceptance to a new program to apply to a "safer school" next year. First why you applying to a school if you are not willing to go if accepted? Second, PANCE pass rates are overrated, if not blown out of proportion. Your patients don't care about your PANCE score and there are plenty of poor providers who passed the PANCE, the real question is this program preparing you to find sick people and take care of patients. Third, most schools make students drive crazy distances for clinicals. I know even the Duke's of the world make their students commute long distances, it is just part of the process. 

 

I agree with the first part (if you are going to question a new program, don't apply in the first place) but I don't think PANCE scores are overrated.  The minute you see the program with the 85% pass rates when national averages are 93-ish% or something like that you start to wonder WHY.  

 

That said, new programs are motivated to prove themselves and must maintain ARC standards just like every other program.  The one new program I interviewed had a director who had previously been a director at another program and several instructors had previously taught at PA programs - so while the program itself was new, much of the staff and faculty had plenty of experience - which was good enough for me.

 

Many programs consider rotations within 50-60 miles to be 'local'.  Unfortunately with so many students sometimes you have to just branch out a little to make sure everyone gets quality rotations.  It's a bummer but it's part of the process.

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I'm 90% ready to go to this school, but I didn't really consider these questions until after the interview. In my opinion, new schools should be ok, but I wanted other people's opinions to make sure I took everything in consideration. I really like this school but if given the chance, should I go to a more established school. I'm still waiting to hear back from a few schools and am not sure if I should continue waiting and interviewing or to withdraw my applications. 

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I'm 90% ready to go to this school, but I didn't really consider these questions until after the interview. In my opinion, new schools should be ok, but I wanted other people's opinions to make sure I took everything in consideration. I really like this school but if given the chance, should I go to a more established school. I'm still waiting to hear back from a few schools and am not sure if I should continue waiting and interviewing or to withdraw my applications. 

 

Only you can ultimately decide that.  There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a program - whether it's new or not.  Always a personal decision.

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I agree with the first part (if you are going to question a new program, don't apply in the first place) but I don't think PANCE scores are overrated.  The minute you see the program with the 85% pass rates when national averages are 93-ish% or something like that you start to wonder WHY.  

 

That said, new programs are motivated to prove themselves and must maintain ARC standards just like every other program.  The one new program I interviewed had a director who had previously been a director at another program and several instructors had previously taught at PA programs - so while the program itself was new, much of the staff and faculty had plenty of experience - which was good enough for me.

 

Many programs consider rotations within 50-60 miles to be 'local'.  Unfortunately with so many students sometimes you have to just branch out a little to make sure everyone gets quality rotations.  It's a bummer but it's part of the process.

 

 

My point is being able to pass the PANCE doesn't make you a quality provider, it shows me you can take a test, you know the theory of medicine and probably know a lot of word associations burned into you head such as a

 

Hampton's Hump = PE (even though its never there in actually there in real life)

Steeple Sign = Croup (even though 40% of patients without Croup have a Steeple Sign)

 

However to be a quality provider you need a real world medical education. Are you being taught in your didactic year to get an EKG and cardiac enzymes on a diabetic that comes in with "flu like symptoms" or maybe just doesn't feel right? Do you understand the concept of immunocomprised? Again, hopefully you are being taught both, but if you aren't getting the real world medicine from somewhere, it doesn't matter what the PANCE pass rate is, you are getting a sub par education. 

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My point is being able to pass the PANCE doesn't make you a quality provider, it shows me you can take a test, you know the theory of medicine and probably know a lot of word associations burned into you head such as a

 

Hampton's Hump = PE (even though its never there in actually there in real life)

Steeple Sign = Croup (even though 40% of patients without Croup have a Steeple Sign)

 

However to be a quality provider you need a real world medical education. Are you being taught in your didactic year to get an EKG and cardiac enzymes on a diabetic that comes in with "flu like symptoms" or maybe just doesn't feel right? Do you understand the concept of immunocomprised? Again, hopefully you are being taught both, but if you aren't getting the real world medicine from somewhere, it doesn't matter what the PANCE pass rate is, you are getting a sub par education. 

 

That's fair enough.  But I'd venture to say that a program that has a less than average PANCE pass rate likely isn't getting that quality education.  Sure, some programs that have 100% pass rates might not be either.  Specificity and sensitivity and all that - 100% pass rate doesn't mean it's a great education but subpar pass rates probably means it's definitely not up there for a reason.

 

You can be the best provider in the world, but if you can't pass the PANCE, you can't practice.  So programs that prepare you to meet that bare minimum are ideal. As prospective students there aren't a ton of metrics by which to evaluate the system - they get us on GPA, GRE, LORS, interview....we get them on interviews (and how we 'feel' about them) and their proposed curriculum and PANCE pass rates.  Everything else is fairly subjective (location, 'quality' of rotations which we aren't really able to easily evaluate).  If you have to compare 10 programs, you have to use SOME kind of measuring stick.  PANCE pass rates are a fairly objective measure.

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Statistics lie... A few programs that I looked at had 100% pass rate, but had 5-7 people per class attrition rate.

 

It's not a lie.  It's a technicality....but not a lie.  Pass rates are for those first time test takers - if you don't make it the end of the program to take the test it would be inappropriate to include you in the stats.  If you want to look at those that start the program and eventually graduate and pass PANCE - those are different numbers - but not ones that are maintained by anyone except an individual school.  

 

Attrition varies with programs, too.  You have to do separate investigating on that - did people leave voluntarily?  Did they fail out?  Were they forced out because the program thought they would weaken their pass rates?  All very different circumstances.

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Statistics lie... A few programs that I looked at had 100% pass rate, but had 5-7 people per class attrition rate.

 

This is not necessarily a weakness in a program. A program's curriculum should screen out students who will not be able to pass the PANCE (and the sooner, the better.)

 

A separate issue is that the admissions process should generally not admit students who won't survive the curriculum, but even the bests system gets fooled or takes a chance on a soft student every once in a while.

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The point that I was trying to make is that you need to look all of the numbers when evaluating a program. If a school has a class of 35 and 5 do not make it through (85% graduation rate), is that better than a program that has 32 out 35 (85%) pass the PANCE the first time? This is assuming that the other 3 pass the second time around to give the second program a 100% graduation rate and a 100% PANCE pass rate - just not on the first time.

I hate statistics and I hate only looking at 1 metric to evaluate something as important as deciding what PA program to attend.

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