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Been accepted to two schools and CAN'T DECIDE...HELP ME! (need decision by Feb 27th!)


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In a nutshell, high-ranking school #1 is far away (across the country) from my family and my boyfriend of three years, but when I visited it I loved it there and felt like the students were truly happy and getting a quality education. This school trains PAs for work in any field.

 

Lower-ranking school #2 is close to my beautiful apartment I share with my boyfriend, as well as to my supportive and awesome family. Unfortunately, I kind of got a negative vibe when I visited--students there didn't love the program, and it seemed disorganized and unprioritized compared to the DO program (example: the director said the PA students "get to observe" the cadaver lab of the DO students for eight hours TOTAL over the course of two semesters). This school also aims to train primary care PAs, and I don't know for sure if primary care is what I want to do. (If I had to pick right now, I'd say emergency medicine, but who knows?)

 

The schools COST THE SAME amount of money and have very similar test pass rates (both 95%+). Also, take into consideration that I definitely want to get a job after schooling near family/boyfriend!

 

SO....1) Where should I go and why?

2) How important is it to have clinical rotations where I plan to live and work long-term?

3) What happens if you go to a primary care-focus school but decide you don't want to do primary care? Will my options be limited?

 

Thanks infinitely for your help. I have to make this decision by February 27th! It's the hardest decision I can ever remember making...

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Make a list of pros and cons...Do what feels best for you personally, not upon the ranking of others. What has the most weight for you? In the end, it is a personal journey of your future...not only professional but of your life. I will add, any education, regardless of ranking is what a person makes of it. I have seen HC professionals with fancy diplomas on their wall, but are the worst in the profession. Seems they relied on the name of institution to get the job, yet forgot their training. As in all things, one has to keep the total bigger picture in perspective. Best Wishes on your journey...:)

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There are a few misconceptions here that once debunked will probably make your choice a lot easier.

 

Rank is useless and really doesn't tell you anything about the quality of a program. Your intuition (the fact that you felt really good about program #1), means much more than its rank.

 

Everyone I know that's in PA school wants a job after they graduate, preferably close to where they are from. The beauty of being a PA is that you are employable almost anywhere, no matter what school you graduated from.

 

Every school trains PA students to be generalists. To my knowledge there are only two programs that focus more on surgery. Therefore ALL PA programs train you to work in pretty much any field besides the sub-specialties.

 

It sounds like you are pleading a case for program #1 under the wrong assumptions. Yes, it mas be difficult to leave your family behind but it can be done. I did it! When it comes to clinical rotations, your program will most likely place you where they want you. Because I wanted to experience how medicine was practiced in different parts of the country, I traveled a lot during clinical year. I have no regrets and I recommend this to any student who is able to do so. You will be a better provider for it!

 

Only you can decide which program is best for you (it sounds like you already have your mind made up), but be sure to make that choice with the correct information. You will get generalist training wherever you go. PA school is what YOU make it; you decide for the most part if your education will be a quality education based on how hard you work. You're in a great position to have two schools to choose from. Good luck!

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I am still pre-PA but every Doc and PA I know (I work directly for a PA) states that the best programs are ones that offer the most variety and quality of clinical rotations. Your goal (mine anyhow) is to get into a school that will give you the best clinical experience. The more the better.

 

At the end of the day, the didactics of most programs are pretty similar. Take a look at the curriculums and you will see a definate pattern. The quality of instruction may vary from school to school, but the material is pretty much the same. Things like cadaver labs are great, but I would pick a school with better clinical time over a cadaver lab. Thats just me.

 

As far as personal stuff....only you can figure that out. It's only a little over two years. Being away is tough on a famly/relationship, but at the end of the day it is worth it if you really want to persue your goals in the best way.

 

I have vast experience with this. It is tough and it takes a strong relationship for it to work. I am routinely away from home 180-200 days a year....every year. My wife doesn't like it, but at the end of the day she supports it because it is part of who I am and what I do.

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I have a very similar situation to you and actually think my #1 and your #1 are the same school based on deadlines and a few things you said. I also HAD the same dilemma (except the boyfriend issue as my significant other of 3 years and I ended things recently so that is an EXTRA reason for me TO move farther away.....with that being said, I am still going back and forth between schools because of my family and my life back home.......Thankfully, I'm pretty sure I made my final decision. I was told this by a 1st year at school #1.....she said the best thing she did was moved away from her boyfriend and her family because school is very intense the first year and sometimes those people (family and friends) can be a distraction on a daily basis....and she reiterated that a boyfriend/significant other etc. will be there for support when you need it and if it is "the one" will still be there when the year/2 years are complete......good luck deciding.....either way, do what is best for you in the end and the rest will fall into place

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the above comment is really right. i know moving might be hard, but the less distraction, the better. I was lucky enough that my BF is super low maintenance, and a long distance worked out perfect for us really. I saw him every 2-3 weeks for a weekend, and we talked almost daily, and i cant imagine having ever been productive if he was near enough to see daily. now we live together, i have a great job, and its nice being able to do nice things for him to show him how thankful i am for him and how great he was while i was in school. If he's the right guy, he will recognize that you are doing something to better your future for the both of you, and give you a real career. the same goes for friends. some may not understand that you cant be around a lot, and you will lose some of them. you will miss everything important for two years whether you live around the corner, or 5 hours away. I missed one of my oldest friends wedding, the birth of my only niece, i didn't even meet my niece until she was 6 months, a ton of birthdays (including my own), and countless other things, because of studying, being on call, etc.

plus if you have the opportunity to move somewhere new you might never live in otherwise and experience a new place if only for 2 years, and you felt that it was the better fit - do it.

oh, and the comment about primary/surg is correct. I actually went to a program that is "primary training" but 4 of our 9 rotations were surgical, and we shared about 75% of the exact same professors/powerpoints/tests with one of the top surgical PA programs in the country, and we did a few of the same rotations. and I work with some of them (urgent care/emergency med). and until you have scrubbed in for a case that should have been 2 hours and turned into 9 hours, you cant be positive you want to be surgical. keep an open mind.

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Dear All,

 

Thank you so much for all your words of wisdom. I made a list of non-negotiables that I care about, and came up with a toss-up between a great school near my loved ones along with opportunities for rotations in and around where I hope to work, and the other great school across the country with four months more of clinical rotations. Though it was a tough choice, I visualized my life at the end of the two years and realized that the reasons I need to stay are more important to me than the reasons I need to leave. Thanks again for all your help!

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