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Johns Hopkins MSN or Francis Marion Physician Assistant program

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I need to decide on a graduate school program. I wanted to be a PA out of high school and I graduate this May with a BS in Bio and Minor in Psych and Chem from Seton Hall. I am wait listed for the Seton Hall PA program and would attend if I got in. I got into the Francis Marion PA program in South Carolina starting in the Fall. I also applied to NP programs and my reach school was Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in their direct entry MSN program which is ranked #1 in the country and I was accepted. So now I have to decide to whether to go a new PA program at Francis Marion, which has 1 graduating class so far, or go to a world renowned MSN program and follow that up with a NP certificate after I graduate. 

This is a very difficult decision since I can achieve my goal of becoming a PA or get a top-notch education from Johns Hopkins.

Another note is I have wanted to work in surgery but I have heard perspectives change as you go through your clinical rotations so this is important but not a game changer. 

I know this is a PA forum and I expect it to be biased towards PA but if possible an unbiased opinion would be great help.

What would you do?

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Maybe I am wrong...but you can't just have MSN and then get a "certificate" and practice as an NP.  You would get your MSN, then go to NP school, then get a certificate.  After you get the MSN, if you do, the requirements of John Hopkins to get a " John Hopkins certificate" for either MH/Peds/HIV...Just look at the requirements.  

One line is says you need the "MSN or the doctoral nursing degree" and then in VERY NEXT LINE it says "Students must have licensure as a pediatric primary care nurse practitioner."  That one is for the Peds certificate, Also says work as a Pediatric NP is preferred.  The MH one has something similar more lines down.    And the HIV one requires it to be taken on conjunction within the John Hopkins DNP program (I think?)

So in my unbiased opinion, I would step back and rethink if I knew what I was doing.  Again, maybe I am totally wrong.  I only looked for about 30 seconds.

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Like @Ket131 said, there is a big difference between a direct-entry MSN program and a direct-entry DNP program.

Just quickly looking through the Johns Hopkins MSN FAQ, it states that you can sit for the NCLEX to obtain your RN licensure and then go work as an RN. Or, you can go on to complete another masters level or doctorate program to become an NP. The DNP program that Johns Hopkins offers has a three-year or four-year track at $50k a year for tuition alone. Which means it is the cost of your MSN + another $150k to become a DNP with this route.  

Realistically though, it seems like you are comparing apples to oranges. It isn't PA vs NP that you're considering here, it's PA vs RN.

You should post this question in the nurse practitioner subreddit. I frequently see posts over there from NPs discouraging this kind of path. Even if it were PA vs a direct-entry DNP program, it seems like the recommendation is to work as a nurse for a few years before becoming a nurse practitioner. You do not get the same clinical experience in NP programs that you do in PA programs. Even NPs will tell you that. I think both this forum and other NP focused forums would encourage you to consider the PA program with your current trajectory.

There are lots of threads over there that you should read, but here is an example of one I read just yesterday:

 

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Thanks for the reply. The process is confusing but I have done the research as well as discussed the options with Johns Hopkins students and graduates. 

Johns Hopkins does not offer the NP certificate to MSN graduates any longer and are only a Doctor of Nursing Practice school for advanced practice. However completion of the MSN program allows you to get a nurse practitioner certificate, which I guess you referred to as NP school. Below are some links to programs at Vanderbilt and UMass that offer the post masters certificate (maybe this will help someone else). The UMass program is 21 credits if its your first NP certificate.

https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/postmasters_certificate/index.php

http://www.umassonline.net/degrees/blended-certificate-post-master-nurse-practitioner

So with that in mind, any other comment on declining a Johns Hopkins program to be a PA. In the end I will probably get to the same point in about the same amount of time with the NP route taking a 6-months or so longer.

What would be your choice, achieve my goal of becoming a PA or get the highest quality nursing education from Johns Hopkins? I am thinking having Johns Hopkins on my CV/resume will be invaluable throughout my career but I am not sure how much it matters and I am over-valuing it.

Thanks for any input.

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9 minutes ago, hmtpnw said:

Like @Ket131 said, there is a big difference between a direct-entry MSN program and a direct-entry DNP program.

Just quickly looking through the Johns Hopkins MSN FAQ, it states that you can sit for the NCLEX to obtain your RN licensure and then go work as an RN. Or, you can go on to complete another masters level or doctorate program to become an NP. The DNP program that Johns Hopkins offers has a three-year or four-year track at $50k a year for tuition alone. Which means it is the cost of your MSN + another $150k to become a DNP with this route.  

Realistically though, it seems like you are comparing apples to oranges. It isn't PA vs NP that you're considering here, it's PA vs RN.

You should post this question in the nurse practitioner subreddit. I frequently see posts over there from NPs discouraging this kind of path. Even if it were PA vs a direct-entry DNP program, it seems like the recommendation is to work as a nurse for a few years before becoming a nurse practitioner. You do not get the same clinical experience in NP programs that you do in PA programs. Even NPs will tell you that. I think both this forum and other NP focused forums would encourage you to consider the PA program with your current trajectory.

There are lots of threads over there that you should read, but here is an example of one I read just yesterday:

 

Awesome! Thanks for the advice on the reddit website. Checking it out now.

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6 minutes ago, NpVSPA said:

Awesome! Thanks for the advice on the reddit website. Checking it out now.

Happy to help!

Reading through your comments, it seems like you are very attracted to the prestige of Johns Hopkins. My advice would be to look past that. The consensus on this forum is that prestige of the program you attend doesn't matter. It all makes you a PA. I don't know how this applies to nurses programs, but I can't imagine that attending this program would give you that much of a leg up compared to other well established MSN programs. 

Instead of prestige, consider the type of education you will be receiving. Not just at Johns Hopkins, but beyond that for your post-graduate education. Do you want to get your doctorate and become a DNP? Are you comfortable going straight from RN to FNP by obtaining an online certificate over the course of a year? Will you have to do any additional certifications or get a separate degree to be able to work in surgery if that's what your heart is still set on when you graduate?  

If you want to be an NP, then great, do that. There are a lot of good reasons to consider that route. Just make sure you are doing it for the right ones and ask yourself the important questions.

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20 minutes ago, NpVSPA said:

Thanks for the reply. The process is confusing but I have done the research as well as discussed the options with Johns Hopkins students and graduates. 

Johns Hopkins does not offer the NP certificate to MSN graduates any longer and are only a Doctor of Nursing Practice school for advanced practice. However completion of the MSN program allows you to get a nurse practitioner certificate, which I guess you referred to as NP school. Below are some links to programs at Vanderbilt and UMass that offer the post masters certificate (maybe this will help someone else). The UMass program is 21 credits if its your first NP certificate.

https://nursing.vanderbilt.edu/msn/postmasters_certificate/index.php

http://www.umassonline.net/degrees/blended-certificate-post-master-nurse-practitioner

So with that in mind, any other comment on declining a Johns Hopkins program to be a PA. In the end I will probably get to the same point in about the same amount of time with the NP route taking a 6-months or so longer.

What would be your choice, achieve my goal of becoming a PA or get the highest quality nursing education from Johns Hopkins? I am thinking having Johns Hopkins on my CV/resume will be invaluable throughout my career but I am not sure how much it matters and I am over-valuing it.

Thanks for any input.

No one will care if you graduated from Johns Hopkins except Johns Hopkins. They will charge you a premium to attend and pay very little to work there. I would pick whichever is cheapest. You’ll honestly be better prepared as a PA, especially compared to direct entry NP. I was an RN and even took NP courses from the #11 school in the country at a time, which BTW, is not an objective measure but a popularity contest.

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12 minutes ago, hmtpnw said:

Happy to help!

Reading through your comments, it seems like you are very attracted to the prestige of Johns Hopkins. My advice would be to look past that. The consensus on this forum is that prestige of the program you attend doesn't matter. It all makes you a PA. I don't know how this applies to nurses programs, but I can't imagine that attending this program would give you that much of a leg up compared to other well established MSN programs. 

Instead of prestige, consider the type of education you will be receiving. Not just at Johns Hopkins, but beyond that for your post-graduate education. Do you want to get your doctorate and become a DNP? Are you comfortable going straight from RN to FNP by obtaining an online certificate over the course of a year? Will you have to do any additional certifications or get a separate degree to be able to work in surgery if that's what your heart is still set on when you graduate?  

If you want to be an NP, then great, do that. There are a lot of good reasons to consider that route. Just make sure you are doing it for the right ones and ask yourself the important questions.

Thanks again. I have done some reading about the PA school you attend doesn't matter that much as you mention. I am not sure the same goes for nursing though since other nursing forums indicate the school does matter. There was also a study that showed Johns Hopkins nurses make 15% more than the average nurse. So there is some evidence there is a prestige factor. PA school is so hard to get into with so few seats available I think just getting out is enough. 

I personally have always felt and observed while shadowing and volunteering that PAs are better trained/respected generally. This was part of the reason I went pre-PA and not nursing. I never really saw myself as a nurse but the Johns Hopkins opportunity as well as the experience on accepted students day made me think it might be the way to go. The program there is definitely top-notch with 1100 hours of clinical experience compared to about 600 for other programs. A lot of sim lab days and 6 months of 1:1 experience with a preceptor in the area that I choose, which could be surgery. The costs are about the same before I do the NP certificate. 

Its a very tough decision.

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28 minutes ago, LT_Oneal_PAC said:

No one will care if you graduated from Johns Hopkins except Johns Hopkins. They will charge you a premium to attend and pay very little to work there. I would pick whichever is cheapest. You’ll honestly be better prepared as a PA, especially compared to direct entry NP. I was an RN and even took NP courses from the #11 school in the country at a time, which BTW, is not an objective measure but a popularity contest.

Thanks for the comment. It helps.

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8 hours ago, NpVSPA said:

Thanks again. I have done some reading about the PA school you attend doesn't matter that much as you mention. I am not sure the same goes for nursing though since other nursing forums indicate the school does matter. There was also a study that showed Johns Hopkins nurses make 15% more than the average nurse. So there is some evidence there is a prestige factor. PA school is so hard to get into with so few seats available I think just getting out is enough. 

I personally have always felt and observed while shadowing and volunteering that PAs are better trained/respected generally. This was part of the reason I went pre-PA and not nursing. I never really saw myself as a nurse but the Johns Hopkins opportunity as well as the experience on accepted students day made me think it might be the way to go. The program there is definitely top-notch with 1100 hours of clinical experience compared to about 600 for other programs. A lot of sim lab days and 6 months of 1:1 experience with a preceptor in the area that I choose, which could be surgery. The costs are about the same before I do the NP certificate. 

Its a very tough decision.

I think a key thing to remember here is that your NURSING degree would come from Hopkins.  Not your NP cert.  So sure, if you want to be an RN then maybe having the prestige of Hopkins on your resume is helpful (I have no idea, I'm not a nurse).  Frankly after working with many nurses I think the stats you quote should be looked at with a lot of skepticism.  I've worked in a lot of hospitals and have NEVER seen a matrix that rewarded an employee with a higher salary simply because of where their degree came from.  Maybe Hopkins pays Hopkins educated nurses better than non-Hopkins educated nurses.  

You get 1100 clinical experience hours as a NURSE.  The certificate programs you listed for the NP certificate only require 600 - which is SO much less than 2000+ a PA student completes (and are accepted with far more than 1100 patient care experience hours which is essentially what you are equating your nursing school hours would be).  A masters degree in nursing is still an RN - not an NP who just needs a certificate.

So as someone else already mentioned - comparing the Hopkins MSN program to the PA program is comparing apples and oranges.  You can't compare the Hopkins MSN program to a full fledged NP program either - because it's comparing an RN degree to an NP degree.

The bottom line is that if you go the MSN + NP route you will still have less clinical experience than a PA graduate  - and you can potentially do it with NO real life nursing experience (and it will take you longer to complete!).  If that's what you decide is best for you, that's fine.  It exists and it's not our job to police NP education.

Just make sure you look at the whole picture.  As others have said, I think you are grossly overestimating the benefit of the Hopkins name, especially if your ultimate goal is to work at the APP level (not the nursing level).  I'd rather have an NP who came from a no-name nursing school but has 10 years of nursing experience vs a nurse with no work experience who graduated from a big name school.  Prestige doesn't compensate for experience.

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19 hours ago, NpVSPA said:

 I have to decide to whether to go a new PA program at Francis Marion, which has 1 graduating class so far, or go to a world renowned MSN program

I am a member of that "1 graduating class so far," so obviously I am biased. But if you want to become a PA (and it sounds like that's really the underlying decision to be made here), then you should have no reservations about attending FMU. 

I will reiterate what others have said -- employers don't care one bit where you go to school. Patients don't care where you went to school. Your supervising physician won't care where you went to school. It really doesn't matter one bit. If you want to practice as a clinician out in the community, all that matters is that you are licensed and certified. Everything else (GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, etc.) becomes irrelevant. If you want to teach at the graduate level or become involved with research/publishing, then it MIGHT help you. But it is certainly possible to do those things if you attend a public university. 

People have their doubts about attending a new program; it's natural. I chose FMU for financial reasons. Minimizing my student loan burden was my top priority when choosing a PA program. I was accepted elsewhere but this was the most affordable option. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My clinical rotations were phenomenal, I passed my PANCE with flying colors, and I've been accepted into my top choice EM PA fellowship program. Attending a new program (which wasn't even ranked, by the way) did not stop me from accomplishing any of that. 

On a related note, I did consider attending the Johns Hopkins EM PA residency. I actually flew up to Baltimore during a school break and shadowed a current PA resident. It quickly became apparent to me that the program was not at all for me. Everything about the program and the ED seemed to revolve around research, clinical trials, publications, etc. I've never seen an ED operate with such a lack of urgency. I felt completely out of touch with reality. When I realized that their priorities did not align with my career goals, I withdrew my application. The fellowship I've chosen to attend will take place at a hospital where most people who aren't in the Southeast have probably never heard of....and I'm completely fine with that, because I'm going to get incredible clinical experience, which is all that I'm after. 

It's very easy to become drawn to the allure and prestige of programs like Johns Hopkins, but I'd encourage you to reconsider your priorities and look past that. Figure out which path is most suited for your career goals, regardless of who is offering the degree. 

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4 hours ago, karebear12892 said:

I am a member of that "1 graduating class so far," so obviously I am biased. But if you want to become a PA (and it sounds like that's really the underlying decision to be made here), then you should have no reservations about attending FMU. 

I will reiterate what others have said -- employers don't care one bit where you go to school. Patients don't care where you went to school. Your supervising physician won't care where you went to school. It really doesn't matter one bit. If you want to practice as a clinician out in the community, all that matters is that you are licensed and certified. Everything else (GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, etc.) becomes irrelevant. If you want to teach at the graduate level or become involved with research/publishing, then it MIGHT help you. But it is certainly possible to do those things if you attend a public university. 

People have their doubts about attending a new program; it's natural. I chose FMU for financial reasons. Minimizing my student loan burden was my top priority when choosing a PA program. I was accepted elsewhere but this was the most affordable option. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. My clinical rotations were phenomenal, I passed my PANCE with flying colors, and I've been accepted into my top choice EM PA fellowship program. Attending a new program (which wasn't even ranked, by the way) did not stop me from accomplishing any of that. 

On a related note, I did consider attending the Johns Hopkins EM PA residency. I actually flew up to Baltimore during a school break and shadowed a current PA resident. It quickly became apparent to me that the program was not at all for me. Everything about the program and the ED seemed to revolve around research, clinical trials, publications, etc. I've never seen an ED operate with such a lack of urgency. I felt completely out of touch with reality. When I realized that their priorities did not align with my career goals, I withdrew my application. The fellowship I've chosen to attend will take place at a hospital where most people who aren't in the Southeast have probably never heard of....and I'm completely fine with that, because I'm going to get incredible clinical experience, which is all that I'm after. 

It's very easy to become drawn to the allure and prestige of programs like Johns Hopkins, but I'd encourage you to reconsider your priorities and look past that. Figure out which path is most suited for your career goals, regardless of who is offering the degree. 

Thanks for the great input to everyone. Via this and my forum post on Reddit I have made my decision to go to Francis Marion. This makes the most sense for me and I can't wait to start. 

I agree that Johns Hopkins was very much a research institution. For me that wasn't a negative since my father is a clinical scientist and he indicated it would be a great academic environment to be in. However that is not what I am looking for at this point in my life while becoming a practicing PA is. 

Thanks again to all the input. It was invaluable.

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1 hour ago, NpVSPA said:

Thanks for the great input to everyone. Via this and my forum post on Reddit I have made my decision to go to Francis Marion. This makes the most sense for me and I can't wait to start. 

I agree that Johns Hopkins was very much a research institution. For me that wasn't a negative since my father is a clinical scientist and he indicated it would be a great academic environment to be in. However that is not what I am looking for at this point in my life while becoming a practicing PA is. 

Thanks again to all the input. It was invaluable.

It's definitely a great academic environment for someone who wants to remain in academics/research post-graduation, but most PA's don't go that route. I think you're making a great decision. Congratulations and welcome to the FMUPAP family! 

Edited by karebear12892

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