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PA Program Instruction & Scheduling, feedback appreciated!


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Hello current PA students,

I was wondering if some current PA students could answer some questions for me.. I am just trying to get a better idea of how programs are formatted. If you can answer any of the following questions for me (you can give me your state if you want) I would be so so thankful. You can answer some or all, whatever you have time to do.

How many exams do you usually have per week?

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)?

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up?

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough?

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts?

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded?

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program?

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances?

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program?

Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it.

 

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How many exams do you usually have per week? we have 1 exam day about every 2 months. exams are PANCE styled, 300 questions total, spread throughout 4 hrs. 

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)? some days have more lectures scheduled than others. sometimes we have off days (rare). just depends on the organ system we are learning but nothing changes last minute

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up? yes, usually happens when the professor who lectures the content doesn't actually make the exams. unfair quizzes happen all the time, program director usually does a good job of giving us points back if that happens. 

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough? everyone has to supplement, classroom designated time is not enough time to teach medicine. plus, what works for 1 student may not work for another, so some will definitely have to supplemental lectures with other books and youtube for example. 

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts? i would say its neither big picture or detail oriented, but tested in a way that is clinically relevant if that makes sense. they are difficult though, for sure. 

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded? yes, and they are not re-graded, rather points just added back to exams

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program? no, you get what you get unless there was an exam error. failing is a 72 and that is the same grade for dismissal from program.

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances? sometimes we vent to each other about quiz or exam content as compared to what we are tested on. we bring it up with faculty and they are appreciative of our concerns. 

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program? happy to be where i am 

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How many exams do you usually have per week? We averaged 3-4 quizzes/exams per week. Usually 1-2 tests with 1-2 quizzes mixed in.

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)? Our schedule roughly stayed the same but the adjunct professors that would come in for different clinical medicine topics would cause changes in the schedule. 

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up? Yes there can sometimes be a disconnect between the lecture and the exam. We have a process in place for stating your case on certain questions but you had to reasonably back it up with data. They would also compare overall performance on each question.

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough? I almost always used outside resources to supplement. Depending on the course, the classroom/power point may be the majority of what I needed but I still looked up topics on youtube, Osmosis etc.

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts? I felt that many of our exams were challenging. It was a mix of big picture and details of a topic. Focused on clinically relevant questions or questions that mimic PANCE.

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded? Like previous poster above stated , never re-graded more of a second look at a poor performing question or throwing out a question if it had a serious typo or a picture didn't show up properly that was necessary to answer the question.

Are your exams curved?a What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program?  A pass is 70% or above for a course. Exams are not curved. Dismissal may occur with repeated failures but there is an entire process for this in our handbook plus dealt with as a one on one basis.

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances? Yes and yes.

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program? I do not believe that a single program is perfect. I'm happy to be exactly where I'm at because I'm confident that this is the program that I needed to be in.

You can also look into some program websites that may have their class handbook posted online which could answer some of these questions as well in more detail but not all.

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7 hours ago, Kavanaugh said:

Hello current PA students,

I was wondering if some current PA students could answer some questions for me.. I am just trying to get a better idea of how programs are formatted. If you can answer any of the following questions for me (you can give me your state if you want) I would be so so thankful. You can answer some or all, whatever you have time to do.

How many exams do you usually have per week? Every other week, every class has an exam

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)? Always last minute, combination of the fact that faculty are also practicing PAs and our medical courses are mostly taught by rotating guest lecturers

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up? Not specifically our program faculty, but due to the fact that our clinical medicine and patho are taught by rotating guest lecturers and pharmacists not under contract they give good information/intros to the subjects but tend to miss most of the actual course objectives (what we are tested on) and all of the nitty gritty details. The tests are fair though, 99% of the time every question is based on the objectives set on the syllabus, you just have do be self motivated. Whether or not the actual lectures are a waste of time... that might be debatable.

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough? Yes, every subject, always.

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts? Very challenging. The midterm tests every other week are about 40% big picture and 60% nitty gritty where you're given a vignette where you would suspect  to be answering with a Dx or Tx based on a prodrome but the actual question at the end is something oddly specific on far out side effect or something that seemed unimportant, but we are told this is a great practice for the PANCE. The final exams though, tend to be more like 80-90% bigger picture and the vignettes are more what you would expect.

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded? We have a very very strict policy on how we are allowed to review our exams, and not allowed to take down any notes or write any questions (or ever see them again for that matter) so it is hard to really analyze them and they have a very strict policy of never re-grading. Instead they do a statistical analysis of each question (formula is anyone's guess) and decide to drop or credit the ones with "bad results" as it relates to class performance overall. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes it doesn't, but it definitely feels a bit luck-of-the-draw

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program? Q1 see above answer. Failing is below 80%. GPA of 3.0 or below is academic probation leading to dismissal if the GPA does not recover to above 3.0 in the following semester.

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances? Yes, and we take 2 surveys during the final weeks on each course to give feedback. From what I have heard from the cohort above us, they take the surveys very seriously and do not invite any lecturer below a certain threshold to return.

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program? I'm definitely a bit jealous of anyone in a program that is modular or systems based versus the traditional approach and has their courses taught by full time faculty

Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it.

 

 

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Hi I go to Rush University in Chicago!

 

How many exams do you usually have per week?

1-2 exams/week. Sometimes we'll get lucky and not have an exam one week, but there are always things to study for.

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)?

Our program has a rule that any "TBA" time slots have to be filled by 8pm otherwise we do not have to go to them. Our schedule is generally 8am-5pm, but most days we'll start a little later or end a little early.

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up?

I feel that every test I have taken, thus far, has been "fair". We have learning objectives to help guide us with studying, but generally I just study all the slides for lectures and I am good to go. It is a lot of material and very challenging, but they don't try to trick you.

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough?

I feel the slides are enough, but I will read the book or watch a youtube video that a classmate has posted for clarification. Some people like to use outside sources, especially for anatomy because there is a lot of great content out there, but it is not necessary, just supplemental.

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts?

The exams are challenging because there is a lot of material. Like I said, the instructors in my program do not write their questions in a "tricky" way, and if the majority of the class gets the question wrong, then generally they'll throw it out.

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded?

There are no obvious errors in our exams. Sometimes the professor will announce that there's a typo in a question during the test, but other than that, we have not had any exams "re-graded".

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program?

Exams are not curved, but they will throw out "bad" questions. Depending on the class we have to score either a 70 or 80% on every exam, or we have to remediate it. If we score lower than an 80% in the class overall then we have to remediate the entire class during the break. Our program is very supportive. They work with anyone who is struggling and make sure that no one falls behind. I have not heard of anyone being dismissed from our program, because they intervene and help you before that happens. 

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances?

The instructors and the program director encourages an open discourse. Our program faculty is fairly small, as is our class size, so they are able to address any concerns we may have. In general, people complain here and there but we all feel like everything is fair and that we can talk to any of the faculty if we have an issue with something.

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program?

I love my program. I am so happy I am in such a small cohort (only 30 people), I think it makes a huge difference.

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Hi! My program is in Florida

How many exams do you usually have per week?

Usually 1-2 exams/quizzes/clinical skills exams, but some weeks can have up to 4 exams (even on 4 day weeks)

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)?

Our schedule changes pretty frequently. We get at least 1 email a week about a change in the schedule, some of them within 24 or 48 hours. In general, they're minor changes and aren't a huge inconvenience.

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up?

Yes, discrepancies occur when the professor who lectured doesn't write the exam. Sometimes I do feel that tests aren't fair, but we have a system in place to discuss questions on exams that we feel were not taught well or had more than one right answer etc. Also, most professors review the exams for high miss questions or concepts.

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough?

Yes, supplemental resources are great! The classroom is usually fine, but sometimes resources explain things in a way that makes more sense to you. Everyone is stronger in different areas so what clicks with on person, may not with another.

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts?

They're usually fair; they require a lot of studying, attention to detail, and clinical thinking but if you put the time in, then I've found most exams to be fair. "bigger picture" vs detail is usually more based on the professor, and often times we'll get both. We're evaluated a lot, so there's more than enough exam time to cover both.

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded?

Yes, and points are given back based on the professor's review of our concerns and the faculty's concerns with the exam.

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program?

Exams are never curved. A failing test grade is anything below 70%; dismissal results from failing a class, being on academic probation for more than one semester, having a GPA below a 2.5, or missing too many classes (our program is very big on professionalism and accountability).

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances?

Yes. And sort of, we get surveys every few weeks where we can express our concerns regarding professors. As far as grievances about the program, there's no formal method. Mainly just meeting with your advisor and they can bring it up at their faculty meetings.

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program?

I'm sure there are programs that are "better," no program is perfect. But I'm content with being in my program, there are some things I wish were different but all in all, I'm learning what I need to be learning, I know where to get more support if I need it, and am being set up with great clinical rotations.

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  • 4 weeks later...

To clarify how faculty determine if a quiz or test question should be dropped or counted. The biserial correlation is determined, a common statistical measure. Exam software and learning management systems (eg. Canvas) may do this automatically for faculty to review. A simple explanation of biserial correlation is that a good question is one that high scoring students got correct and low scoring students got incorrect. A poor question is one where that correlation is absent, meaning both high and low scoring students either got the question incorrect or correct. There is also poor correlation when all students get a question correct. That could be a weakness of the biserial correlation because why would there not be some questions that all students could answer correctly as a confirmation of general medical knowledge?

George

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  • 2 weeks later...

How many exams do you usually have per week? roughly 3 quizzes per week and 1-3 exams per week. There are weeks here and there when we only have 1-2 quizzes and 1 exam. 

Does your class schedule stay the same or change week to week (sometimes changing last minute)? Stays the same. We have designated clinical medicine times where our guest lecturers can teach. Every once in a while, we'll have to change the schedule to accommodate a guest lecturer. 

Do you ever feel that professors are presenting info one way and testing you in a completely different way? Do you ever feel that tests aren't "fair" and, if so, do you just suck it up? Completely. Our guest lecturers seldom submit questions (but have in certain modules), so the faculty members of the program make the questions and there are many occasions where these questions do not align with what were learned. 

Do you feel the need to look to other resources (books, youtube, articles) to supplement your education? Or is the classroom enough? I am not an auditory learner, so I need other resources. Even auditory learners need supplemental material.

How challenging are your exams? Are you usually tested on "bigger picture" concepts? Very challenging. Typically minute details are tested on rather than big pictures. 

Do professors often make mistakes on exams such that the exams have to often be re-graded? Yes. It's rare to have an exam without mistakes despite a vetting procedure that professors supposedly utilize at our program. 

Are your exams curved? What is a failing grade? What is grounds for dismissal from your program? No exams are curved. A failing grade is <70%, which is the grade you also fail a class at. You must maintain a 3.0 to stay in our program. 

Do your classmates ever express negativity towards the format of your program and, if so, do you have a formal way to submit grievances? There is no formal way to submit grievances. We can talk with faculty.

Do you ever think that other PA programs are better than yours or are you happy to be in your program? I am not happy with my program, and I think most programs are structured in a better fashion than mine.

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