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PA school attrition rate..Is this normal?

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Hi everybody,

 

A friend of mine is going through PA school and it more or less seems like an impossible curriculum. Various people are crying/breakdown every other day some collapsing in tears in the school. So far, 3 months or so into the program's first year and about 10% of the students left, main factor for all of them being stress from program/grades/mental breakdowns.

 

Is that what all of you went through/are going through? Is this normal?

 

Thanks for the insight!

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All I can do is speak from what I'm experiencing currently in the program I'm attending but no that should not be normal. That is why attrition rate is a good factor to look at when applying to programs.

I'm almost complete with my first semester and everyone seems to be doing great. Our averages on exams are usually B's or B+ (we have to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA so that is on target) but there is still always a failing (below 70%) or near failing grade and a top 100% score on basically everything so our spread of scores have been good in my opinion. No one has been crying or freaking out at all. Our advisers are supportive and so are the 2nd year student mentors. 

Every program is different and everyone has a different background but the amount I'm studying isn't that much crazier than what I was doing during my undergrad years. Our schedule and curriculum is challenging no doubt but manageable with time management implemented. I'm in 7 classes but the way our schedule is structured it works.

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Attrition rate is a very important factor when considering a program. You want to look for a place that is going to support you once you are accepted. It sounds like this program may be new and going through some initial growing pains. They also may not have accepted the best applicants. Hard to say. What's clear is that you don't want to be at a program that weeds people out the first six months. That's not a good environment to be in. 

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Either there is something wrong with that program or they do a TERRIBLE job of selecting students, though it is likely the former.

 

This is always something to take into consideration but also something to speak to the program directly about.  Were these students struggling and left voluntarily because they wanted to?  Or did they fall below the 3.0 minimum and the school wouldn't work with them?  Did they decide they didn't want to be PAs?  Did they have extenuating personal/family experiences and will be returning next year?

 

One program I looked at had something like 5-6 students get engaged and plan weddings during one year and thus, they had terrible PANCE pass rates that year (it stood out noticeably) and they were quite forthcoming about WHY that happened.  Out of the programs control, really.  Similar concept can be applied to attrition rate.  Is it bad every year?  Or was there a one-off year where it happened.  If programs have a legit reason (we had X students with family/personal issues) they will tell you.  If they hem and haw or tell you 'they couldn't keep up' be wary that this is program that won't take the time to ensure that all students are succeeding to their best ability.

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Yikes.  My program went way out of their way to make it difficult for us, and we lost 5.3%.  I thought that was pretty high.

 

I suppose we will find more of this as programs continue to pop up on every street corner.  I interviewed at a place that turned out to be in a strip mall, didn't even have their own restrooms, you had to get a key from the receptionist at one of the other businesses.  Obviously they didn't mention this on their website...

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A program's attrition rate is a big deal. No one is going to do the work for you, but I'd recommend that you select a program that you feel will be supportive.

 

Good programs follow their students' progress, work with them well ahead of getting into an academic jam, and constantly reassess its educational techniques when it sees that some lessons are not getting across well.

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I would lay a large part of the blame on grade inflation. Students naively think it is a great thing to coast to a 3.6 to get into PA school. When they arrive at the "real world" in PA school they get their gluteus kicked.

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I would lay a large part of the blame on grade inflation. Students naively think it is a great thing to coast to a 3.6 to get into PA school. When they arrive at the "real world" in PA school they get their gluteus kicked.

Though a PA program differs from undergrad education, your point may not account for the differences in attrition rates at different schools. 

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 naively think it is a great thing to coast to a 3.6 to get into PA school. When they arrive at the "real world" in PA school they get their gluteus kicked.

 

this is a good point - a super high gpa is like a stereotype - it's says what it does for a reason and can be a time saver, but there're exceptions

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My program could potentially lose 5 students of 50 at the conclusion of our first semester that conclude in 3 weeks..all because their grades aren't up to snuff. Start studying from the get go, and you'll be fine. PA school is a ton of work. It's not really difficult, but the amount of information is immense. If you get behind it is really tough to get back on schedule with things. My program has an average of 5 tests a week. Some weeks we only had 3..some we've had 9.

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Hmm.  Of about 75 students, we lost about 17 off the bat during advanced premedical sciences semester (almost all of them were people who were not appropriate or prepared for program etc) , and then only about 8 of remaining 58 during hardcore medical semester (about half rolled back for personal reasons/life events; among the remaining few who rest who totally left the program, most decided PA wasn't what they really wanted;  very few left for actual academic inadequacy). So we lost about 25 of 75, i.e. 33%, but ultimately among those who really were appropriate for the program, we lost very few people for academic reasons.

 

As for the stress issue, well, it can be tough, though we didn't have too many witnessed breakdowns and such (though i'm sure there were many private overload moments, I had them for sure early on!!)...the first few months are a shock to the system, far moreso due to mental intimidation than actual inability to succeed, but everyone reacts differently....by month three a student should already see they can pull through even if they feel overwhelmed, as long as they take it a bite at a time...and the program should be supportive by then...

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I am curious which schools these are.  I have heard rumors about the program I am going to attend losing many students the first semester, but other people say it's not true.  I understand if no one wants to post names on here, but feel free to message me.

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