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Hello Everyone! 
Thank you for taking the time to read my post.  I’m new to the PA Forum, but I desperately need some advice! I am fortunate enough to have been accepted to the dual PA/MPH (Master’s of Public Health) program at Yale and the PA program (MPH is pending) at Emory.  However, I’m having a very difficult time deciding between the two so if you have any advice, have gone to either school, or have even been in this position before, I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Brief summary:  My goal is to be a PA, but my interests are currently in infectious disease and the prevention of such, education of underserved populations, the effects of a booming population on healthcare, and global health.  I am extremely interested in working for the CDC or WHO and love international medicine. Eventually, I may get into health policy.  I love travel, have lived in a sunny, dry state with lots of things to do outdoors, and enjoy smart, successful, but REAL people. 


Here are my impressions of the schools (please correct me if I'm mistaken!)
Yale (New Haven, CT):

•    The prestigious name – it’s not everything, but it certainly gives me a sense of pride, make my family proud, and it could unlock a lot of doors for me in my future. 
•    Yale has a “Master’s of Public Health: Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases” program that has a large laboratory component – this is exactly what I want.  I love being in the lab and this is my exact interest in public health.
•    Medical Spanish – Yale offers its students this class as a supplemental learning experience for PAs. Awesome, as I used to be fluent in Spanish and would love to travel internationally.
•    Global Health Concentration – this is a great bonus and would help me expand my global experience/education. 
•    Amenities – Yale boasts great museums and coffee shops that are sprinkled through New Haven, it’s also a plus that you can walk around the entire town in a matter of hours. 
•    Downs Fellowship – this funds a 6 week international work/research experience over the summer.  If I play my cards right, this could count for my thesis and summer practicum. 
•    Networking – it’s Yale, correct me if I’m mistaken by assuming that I would meet some of the best and brightest people in their fields. 
•    Clinical rotations seem limited – I don’t believe you have a say in anywhere you go and I didn’t get the impression that the school affiliations were too wide-spread. I don’t want to do all of my rotations at the same hospital. They do, however, offer an international rotation, which is super cool. 

•    Safety – I’ve heard that the area has a decent amount of crime and, being a petite female, this is a big concern on mine. 
•    Campus – while the undergraduate campus is beautiful, the medical campus seems removed and a bit undesirable.  To be fair, it was snowing the day that I went for my interview, so I probably didn’t get to see as much as I could’ve. 
•     The atmosphere – the few people I met there (like less than 10) didn’t seem very happy to be there.  In fact, I got the feeling that many of them where there for the name.  That’s fine and all, but I like to have a supportive community of REAL people who are smart but also care about things other than school. 
•    Cost – It’s about $15,000 more expensive than Emory. 
•    Weather – I hear it’s gloomy and cold up there.  I’m not sure how humid it gets though.  I have lived my entire life in a sunny, dry place and NEED sunshine. 
•    There aren’t a lot of volunteer/student involvement opportunities there (besides the Free Clinic).

Emory (Atlanta, Georgia):
•    Close proximity to the CDC – As someone who would really love to work for the CDC, the fact that the CDC Headquarters is on Emory campus is HUGE.  Not only would it allow me internship and networking opportunities, but many of my public health classes would be taught by CDC employees. 

•    Farm Worker’s Project – A two week medical trip where students and faculty bring medical care to Southern farm workers.  I did a trip to Ecuador like this a few years back and loved it.  So rewarding. 
•    The enclosed campus – while the campus itself is open to the public, when you are on campus, you are ON CAMPUS.  The buildings are beautiful and the area feel clean and welcoming. 
•    The people – the people I met seemed genuinely happy to be there and were more easy-going.
•    Opportunities – While Emory is not in downtown Atlanta (another plus), the area boasts great clinical rotations, restaurants, and social activities. 
•    Great hospital affiliations – this makes for great rotation opportunities. 
•    Humidity – I’m not a fan. But it might be just as humid in Connecticut? 
•    It’s not as widely known – Again, the name isn’t the biggest deal, but it certainly makes things easier!
•    No concentration in infectious disease – I would be going for Global Epidemiology, but would have to use electives (I would probably only have time for 3 or so?) that are based on infectious diseases to make my “concentration”.  This is a huge negative for me.

  • Technically, they still haven’t accepted me (although, I’m not too concerned).  Yale was willing to expedite review of the public health portion of my application so that I knew whether or not I was accepted to both programs within ONE WEEK. I submitted my public health application to Emory nearly 3 months ago now (and have also known that I was accepted to the PA program for 3 months as well). The Emory lag just makes me feel a bit like they don’t care. 


**These are just a few of the things that I have considered. I actually looked at 77 total characteristics of each, but the schools ended up being very similar in the end. If I am wrong about ANYTHING I have said above, PLEASE let me know!  These are just the impressions I have gotten and would love to hear the opinions of real students or teachers!



Thank you so much for reading this all!  

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This is a difficult decision, but you are choosing between two good options! I cannot speak to either program as I am not affiliated with either, but I can assure you that safety in New Haven will not be a problem if you are aware of your surroundings and don't exhibit wealth (e.g. carrying an expensive purse, walking while texting on your new iPhone). I have lived in several "dangerous" cities without issue.


From reading your pros/cons list I would say that your top priorities are sunny weather, working for the CDC/WHO, and interacting with REAL people. These would seem to indicate that Emory would be more suitable as the program meets these priorities. I think Emory's lack of concentration in infectious disease should not disqualify it and will not have a huge negative impact on your education or future career. Though Yale seems to meet many of your criteria academically, your "not so good" list demonstrates that you might not be fulfilled there in terms of atmosphere.


I hope my thoughts have been slightly helpful in summarizing your decision. Again, you are making a choice between two good options! Good luck!

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Bottom line - it all comes down to personal preferences and how much you weigh certain aspects.  No one can make this decision for you.


A lot of things on your list may not warrant being on someone else's list or may be a pro to your con or vice versa.  Buckle down and decide what aspects are most important to YOU.

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A couple notes about Emory to add to your consideration list; 

-  Look at the GHI program.  There will be opportunities for fully funded work/ research abroad for 6 weeks in the summer of your MPH year, or possibly making it into a rotation during your PA clinical year

- While I don't know about the MPH side of the program, there is a large focus on infectious disease within the PA didactic curriculum, and at some of the local hospitals, due to location (CDC + downtown Atlanta population).   In my internal medicine rotation we ended up managing many patients with ID components.  


Feel free to PM me if you have any more specific questions! 

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As a recent alum from yale's pa program I can tel you that you definitely do have say in where you go for your rotations, and that in conecticut alone there are affiliations with almost every hospital along the coast and in hartford. Most students do some rotations outside of CT as well, though this isnt required at all. You will be exposed to many different hospitals and practice environments on your rotations. You also get 4 electives so you can pick and choose what specialty and where you'd like to go. There are also lots of extracurricular and volunteer opportunities. Most are sanctioned through the Medical school not the PA program itself. They also have 50-100 clubs and special interest groups you can join within the school of medicine.

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Sounds like you're leaning towards Emory.  Both are great programs and you'll be well-prepared once you graduate either way!

Regarding academics vs atmosphere: both board pass rates are pretty similar, so academics are somewhat of a wash, if that's the measure of academics you are focusing on.  Atmosphere can have an effect on your ability to decompress, especially if you are close to family and friends.  But like I said before, both are great programs!

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How much does the name of a school really matter?


@optomistic3 If I don't get into the MPH program at Emory, it'll be Yale for sure!

In the general scheme of things, it really doesn't.  It may help a bit when applying for a job in the area, but ultimately there won't be too much of a difference between the two schools.  Although with Yale moving towards an online-based program, you may be greeted with some reluctance.  But from a knowledge-base standpoint, as long as you pass your boards it probably won't matter.  Whatever you are happy with!

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