Jump to content

PA Programs with optional sites for clinical year

Recommended Posts

Hi! I'm looking into PA schools to apply for in the next year. Having the option to choose where I want to go during the clinical year is very important, however I can't find a list of schools that offers this option. I realize there are schools that have more flexibility on their clinical year than others. What are some programs, or does somebody know a site that has a list, that offer their students to travel to different areas of the country during their clinical year, upon approval of a program? Thank you!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know, but I will say that it's fairly rare to have more than just one or two optional choices, and usually you're just picking from a couple.  A lot of programs actually tell you this, and two years later, it turns out to not be the case.  This happened to us, but of course my program had all kinds of other problems.  A few of my classmates got some choice, most did not. 

I have heard of PROMISES of great flexibility at other programs, which turned out to be untrue.  Now I'm curious and I hope someone comes by and verifies that they actually did this. 

Getting a preceptor and/or site approved is not a quick or easy process like everyone thinks it is.  It is very involved with legal and liability issues, and takes several weeks to several months.  A lot of people think that since their relative or family friend is a MD, that they can just fill out a form and it's a done deal.  Far from true. 

Anyway, interesting question...anyone?

Link to post
Share on other sites

In my program we were allowed to set up 2 rotations on our own. I set up one and several of my classmates set up 1-2. This was especially helpful to those students that knew they were moving "back home" after the finishing the program. We also had a great variety of established sites. Specifically IM and surgical specialties.

I think there is a balance. You probably don't want to be responsible for setting up most of your sites as it can be a lot of work. But if you already know what field you're interested in, it would be nice to tailor your rotations to that interest. 

I will also say that there is usually a beneficial to go to the established sites/preceptors. They are used to having students and most likely the preceptor enjoys teaching, otherwise why would they continue to do so. 

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Most programs are probably willing to try to help you set up a rotation at a distant site, but it can be a very complex process. 

First up, you usually need to have someone on the inside that will tell the site they are willing to serve as a preceptor. If you or your school calls from the outside with no contact or advocate, your chance is usually pretty small. Your school will generally be told by the site that the site is committeed to students from other schools. 

If the site seems promising, your school needs to ensure that they can provide a quality rotation. This may be a little tricker than it sounds, especially with differences in PA practice laws between states. Your school will need to discuss patient load, types of patients, procedures, rotation goals/objectives, etc. If the site has a history of being a teaching site for PA or med students, that is usually reassuring.

After there is a go-ahead to prceed, a contract/affiliation agreement needs to be established. How complex this will be depends on the site. If it is a solo practitioner office it can go very quickly ( a few months). If it is a big healthcare system, there will be a lot of back and forth with lawyers that can easily take 12+ months and might not ever be successful due to circummstances beyond your school's control. I tried to set up an out of state rotation for a student and it took 18 months to get approved - unfortunately about 6 months after she had graduated.

Be sure to factor in the expense of travel and housing for your destination - it can add up quickly.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

You can likely find a program that will allow you this flexibility. However I can tell you (as a clinical coordinator with 2.5 years of experience) that unless you have very strong personal connections (ie you’ve worked in a single healthcare system for 5 years and have a wide range of contacts) and/or multiple family members within a healthcare system who are willing to go to bat for you, the chances of getting all your rotations outside of the program’s primary sites are slim. It also is very dependent on that states you are looking to go. Certain states make it almost impossible to place out of state students due to unrealistic regulations or HUGE fees. Also worth checking out if the sites you are interested in are even taking new affiliation agreements. This is a common issue at sites in larger cities that are saturated already.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/30/2017 at 5:52 PM, amwillaert said:

You can likely find a program that will allow you this flexibility. However I can tell you (as a clinical coordinator with 2.5 years of experience) that unless you have very strong personal connections (ie you’ve worked in a single healthcare system for 5 years and have a wide range of contacts) and/or multiple family members within a healthcare system who are willing to go to bat for you, the chances of getting all your rotations outside of the program’s primary sites are slim. It also is very dependent on that states you are looking to go. Certain states make it almost impossible to place out of state students due to unrealistic regulations or HUGE fees. Also worth checking out if the sites you are interested in are even taking new affiliation agreements. This is a common issue at sites in larger cities that are saturated already.

If you find a program that will depend upon this for some/all your clinical rotations then they have set you and them up with a thin margin of success and have increased the workload logistically for you, support and clinical staff. This means more site visits to be done, more contracts and paperwork to corral, more orientations and computer training prior to actually starting a clinical experience. As a student, regardless of what you think you want, what you need are each and every clinical experience to leverage you closer to becoming a entry level PA. Concurrently, if a program has easy access to multiple specialty clinical experiences in a system a student would already be rotating with, then that is an easy choice to make. But the OP made it sound like there were specific geographic regions that clinical experiences were desired in. If that is the case, attend one of the PA programs that serve those geographic areas. Using the clinical year as a chance to travel to regions one may wish to relocate to in the future is fallacy on many levels. Essentially, the student is asking the clinical training staff and faculty to act as a travel agency. Savvy clinical faculty and coordinators will shoot that down quickly, all it does is add another to do on an already overwhelming list. 


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi George - I agree with you on most points. As our program is located within 30 miles of a state border we naturally have many students who comes from both states. So “out of state” for us is relative. I agree that if you choose to go to PA school (for example) on the east coast that to expect a program to set up all of your rotations in California is unrealistic. I also make them choose one geographic region- no traveling around the country :) This is one of those situations though that I think requires a frank conversation with the student upfront- both to set expectations and to ascertain their level of connectedness in their geographic area of choice. If it’s an area I’m interested in developing more sites (i.e rural location in a neighboring state) then I’m willingly to work a bit harder because this will benefit students in the future as well. If they want every rotation located in a metropolis where we aren’t located - hard stop! I typically run into this situation when the student applied to schools in their geographic region of choice but for whatever reason didn’t get accepted. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Programs need the ability to travel to the site, to ensure it is legitimate, and possibly to support the student in the event problems arise.  My program also did a site visit to my primary care rotation.  Having to travel to these sites presents a logistical challenge, which is only complicated if students are allowed to go to any area of the country.  You're likely to experience difficulties for this reason.

Also, there is something to be said about letting the program choose your sites for you.  You run into experiences that you might not have picked on your own.  I spent time in Wenatchee, Washington -- a community I might not have considered on my own.  I came to love it, and considered getting a job there.  I told my closest friend in my class, he was hired, and he is happy.  Good things come out of these unexpected placements.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By Gilyprepa
      Hey everyone, there are still tickets available for those who are interested in the Loma Linda PA program. We have changed our event from zoom to being ON CAMPUS. There will be prizes raffled off. Due to some restrictions still being in place, the tickets that are being sold will only allow one person per ticket. More info on the flyer and event bright website. Thank you so much! Hope to see you there. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/llus-3rd-annual-pre-pa-conference-tickets-145958073527
      prePA conference final draft flyer On CAMPUS.pdf
    • By alv2019
      Hi everyone!
      I am currently in my third semester of didactic year and will be starting clinical rotations in the fall. My family is moving to Tampa and I was hoping to get a rotation set up in the area. I am looking for a preceptor in family or internal medicine, pediatrics, behavioral, women's health, or emergency medicine.
      If you know any contacts or other forums I could reach out to please let me know, thank you!
    • By PAApplicant22
      Hi I’m a first time applicant and would anyone be interested in looking at my personal statement and seeing what needs to be revised? Here is the link down below 
      Personal Statement copy.docx
    • By vjaniceb
      Hi there, my name is Vanessa and I just graduated with my bachelor's in February. I am looking to pursue into a PA program but not quite sure where to start. I am currently studying for the GRE and have about 250 internship hours done at an ENT clinic with an audiologist. I'm not sure in what I am doing and need any guidance or suggestion in what to do. 
    • By surgblumm
      Sage Advice for New Graduates
      Robert M. Blumm, PA-C Emeritus, DFAAPA
      Congratulations! Many of you will be graduating from your PA & NP programs in the coming months. You are about to set out on a clinical career journey that could be as long as forty years. A few years ago, my wife and I planned a trip to Italy where we would visit all of the sights of Rome and Florence. Twelve days in Europe was a gift to ourselves - for me after many years of practice and for her, a lifetime of teaching Humanities to high school students. Our journey started six months before when she, as my task master, gave me several books earmarked with all of the relevant sights we were to experience. This homework was an invaluable crash-course on the art, architecture, poetry and history of all of the places we were to visit. Had she not crafted our course of study, I would have been like a child awakening on Christmas morning to twenty gifts which I could not open, let alone understand. 
      You have just completed an arduous course of study which has demanded a lot of sacrifice: study, financial cost, neglected friendships and delayed marriage plans. The initial goal was just to graduate; now you are required to take a certification examination to determine if all of your hard work was fruitful. When the large envelope arrives with your certification you are then ready to start. Correct? No! Now you will now need to make more decisions that determine your future. And these decisions are just as complex as your clinical training. Just like our trip to Italy, you will need to weigh many options and choices whose decisions will impact your success as a new PA or NP. My graduation present to you is this article which has the potential to better prepare you for your new journey as a professional clinician. It’s advice from me and my colleagues in business, administration and professional practice and will likely make your career journey safer and more satisfying. Like any advice, you can heed or disregard it – but hopefully, it will be a helpful component of your career blueprint for success.
      These suggestions come from a variety of sources such as well-known PAs, like EMEDPA, a senior moderator on PhysicianAssistantForum.com, many of your PA Colleagues, myself included, Personal Liability Experts such as those from the AAPA endorsed provider and years of observing the pains and rewards of those who have provided healthcare to our nation in their professional capacity.
      Ø  Your first job is about learning your clinical skills, not about money.
      Ø  If you can afford to do a residency in your field of choice, do it! see #1 above. 
      Ø  As a new grad you can have two of the following, three if you are lucky: location, specialty, salary. Choose wisely. 
      Ø  Read your contracts thoroughly before signing them. Look for hidden details, such as mention of a non-compete clause. [A non-compete clause is a legally binding contract whereby the employee agrees not to work with a rival company or start a similar trade or profession for a specified period of time after leaving his current employer.]
      Ø  Choose a favorite maxim and then try to live by it. Mine remains: “Tis far better to show what you know than to say what you know”. Equally important: “Say, rather than show, what you don’t know.”
      Ø  Join your professional organizations and support them so that you will be empowered to make changes that the first fifty years of PAs were unable to accomplish.
      Ø  Don't take the first job you are offered unless it's ideal. Don't settle for mediocrity, ever.
      Ø  Don't accept a position in a specialty that you detest just because “it’s a job”. You will be miserable in a job that you dislike and you will never achieve excellence.
      Ø  Don’t accept a position that does not offer CME and vacation time that is adequate for you and your family. Do not accept call without pay, weekends without pay and no more than two weekends monthly.
      Ø  Do not work in a critical care setting immediately out of school. Hospitalist, ICU, CCU, pediatrics are all specialties for experienced providers. Spend at least two years of non-critical care clinical work so that transitions to other specialties can be accomplished more effortlessly. 
      Ø  Don't work in a very narrow field right out of school unless it is your dream job and you never intend to leave the specialty. I know lots of folks stuck in jobs they hate who can't leave them. 
      Ø  If you are getting burned out, consider the following: work fewer hrs./mo., see fewer pts/shift, switch specialty, switch location. Find something new where you are appreciated. 
      Ø  An essential lesson that I learned which I discovered after working too hard for others. Your husband/wife/significant other and children should be your first priority, yourself your second, your practice third, and professional politics last. No one will ever care for you like your family. Jobs expire, positions fail to exist beyond their time limits and then you will be forgotten. You can never recoup the time you have lost working for others. I have served this profession as a leader for about thirty years. But I paid a price: my kids placed a photo of me at the dinner table at a certain time in our life. Sad commentary.
      Ø   Don't take a job where your clinical supervisor is an RN or office manager. We are not medical assistants.
      Ø  Don't refer to yourself as Dr Smith's PA. They don't own you. Say instead, “I'm John Doe, one of the PAs here." Or "I'm John Doe, I work with Dr Smith on the surgical service.” Words matter. Don't let yourself be treated like an assistant. Don't regularly take out trash, take your own vitals, room patients, etc. unless the docs in the group do so, too. I can see this in a small office, but there is no excuse for it elsewhere. 
      Well, we have covered many of the rules and suggestions but now let me conclude and write about the most important task on your new medical journey. Remember my trip to Italy which I spoke about earlier? Your excitement as you begin your career is comparable to the thrill and anticipation one feels as they set off to explore the Renaissance. But unforeseen events can destroy that cherished vacation: robbery, an injury to you, a crisis at home. So, as your journey begins, a critically important item to secure is a professional liability insurance policy, better known as a malpractice policy, and it is never more affordable than when you first graduate. The AAPA, your professional organization, has endorsed an excellent provider and secured special rates for you, the new PA. 
      Every PA should carry personal liability insurance for all time periods during which they have practiced. A malpractice suit can be brought against you at any time after seeing a patient (days, weeks, months or even years). And a malpractice suit can jeopardize your professional reputation and impact your credentials with the potential of losing your license by suspension or revocation. Your malpractice history is a matter of public record and your NPI number creates a profile of your lifetime practice. Your ability to secure employment will be decided partly upon this information. New graduates have a one-time opportunity for securing discounted insurance premiums for five years which offers comprehensive protection.  Congratulations on your graduation and best of luck!
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More