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Online Program Versus In Person

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Hello all! I am currently trying to decide between two schools and I need some assistance as I am very conflicted. One program is in person and it is 26 months and starts in July, but I would have to move out of state to attend and would graduate in May 2021. The other program is Yale's newer online program and would start in January and I would graduate a year later in May 2022 but I would be able to stay in state and not move at all since the didactic year is online. The actual cost for the programs is almost exactly the same, the only real difference is the graduation dates, location, and the fact that one is online versus in person. How does everyone feel about a program being online in the didactic year? I am pretty conflicted about it but I would very much like to avoid moving out of state if I do not have to but I am worried that I will miss out on in person interactions at the other program. I am really conflicted on what to do here and any thoughts or opinions would be very helpful. Thanks so much!  

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My personal opinion is that online programs can't offer the same level of training as an in-person program can. I'm sure there might be others with differing opinions. Looking back, I can't fathom learning what I learned in PA school if it was done in an online format. You need in-person, hands-on training for so many of the skills you'll learn during didactic year, ie proper otoscope technique, proper exam, auscultation techniques/methods, procedures like suturing, casting/splinting, intubation (if your program trains on that), having a partner to practice other exam techniques on over and over until you're sick of it, and numerous others. It's one thing to read/listen to lectures online, but that will only get you so far. 

I think you'll look back and be glad you moved for an in-person program. 

Just my two cents. I'm sure you'll get lots of other pearls of wisdom. Good luck. 

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I considered online when I was applying, the only reason I didn't was because at the time my state wasn't on the list. I'm in didactic now (obviously at an in-person program). I did a lot of my prereqs in hybrid format (lectures online, labs in person) and in PA school I have essentially been teaching myself a lot of the content, just as I did for prereqs. Our lectures are mandatory but a LOT of them are a waste of time. I agree that there are some skills you'll miss out on, but from my experience (so far), not much. We do practice a LOT of physical and focus exams, which is definitely helpful (especially in getting you comfortable with working with "patients"), but if you're self-motivated, you can practice almost everything on friends/family members. If I remember correctly Yale online does have some times you have to be on campus for skills training. The skills like using your medical equipment and learning to cast/splint etc can be learned quickly. I don't really like studying or practicing much with my classmates, so I honestly feel like I could be doing just as well (if not better) if my program were online. And I know that not all programs are like this, but our program is VERY strict about not missing ANY classes, regardless of the situation, which can be extremely frustrating. Also, I don't feel like I'd miss much in regards to building relationships with professors/faculty. So many of our lectures are taught by guest lecturers that a lot of communication regarding course content is done over email anyway. Hope that helps! 

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A year of lost income as a PA (i.e graduating a year later) is likely much higher than the cost of moving and living in a new state. FWIW.

Also I'm of the camp that you miss out on a lot in on online program.  PA education is about more than just learning the material.

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9 hours ago, brooks23 said:

My personal opinion is that online programs can't offer the same level of training as an in-person program can. I'm sure there might be others with differing opinions. Looking back, I can't fathom learning what I learned in PA school if it was done in an online format. You need in-person, hands-on training for so many of the skills you'll learn during didactic year, ie proper otoscope technique, proper exam, auscultation techniques/methods, procedures like suturing, casting/splinting, intubation (if your program trains on that), having a partner to practice other exam techniques on over and over until you're sick of it, and numerous others. It's one thing to read/listen to lectures online, but that will only get you so far. 

 I think you'll look back and be glad you moved for an in-person program. 

Just my two cents. I'm sure you'll get lots of other pearls of wisdom. Good luck. 

I was definitely very skeptical about not getting any hands on experience for an entire year but I recently found out the program has what they call the "Clinical Experience in Early Didactic" where after about two months in to the didactic year you spend 4-6 hours each week at an approved healthcare facility with a provider interacting hands on with patients. Do you think you would still be able to learn these things through this type of environment? Since I have not started PA school yet I wasnt sure what kind of patient interaction you get during didactic year

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5 hours ago, BaxLN said:

I considered online when I was applying, the only reason I didn't was because at the time my state wasn't on the list. I'm in didactic now (obviously at an in-person program). I did a lot of my prereqs in hybrid format (lectures online, labs in person) and in PA school I have essentially been teaching myself a lot of the content, just as I did for prereqs. Our lectures are mandatory but a LOT of them are a waste of time. I agree that there are some skills you'll miss out on, but from my experience (so far), not much. We do practice a LOT of physical and focus exams, which is definitely helpful (especially in getting you comfortable with working with "patients"), but if you're self-motivated, you can practice almost everything on friends/family members. If I remember correctly Yale online does have some times you have to be on campus for skills training. The skills like using your medical equipment and learning to cast/splint etc can be learned quickly. I don't really like studying or practicing much with my classmates, so I honestly feel like I could be doing just as well (if not better) if my program were online. And I know that not all programs are like this, but our program is VERY strict about not missing ANY classes, regardless of the situation, which can be extremely frustrating. Also, I don't feel like I'd miss much in regards to building relationships with professors/faculty. So many of our lectures are taught by guest lecturers that a lot of communication regarding course content is done over email anyway. Hope that helps! 

I also took a lot of pre-reqs in hybrid type classes so I think I can relate to a lot of what you are saying here. If you had the choice between the online program and an in-person program but you would graduate a year earlier from the in-person program what would you do? I think thats one of the biggest conflicts for me as of right now

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It may be a generational thing but, to me, PA school was enhanced by being in-person. True, some lectures are easy to do remotely, assuming you can ask questions. But many experiences involve physical and interpersonal skills. And depending on one local preceptor doesn’t seem all that robust to me.

Not sure what PA school would be like without skills labs, the chance to ask a lecturer a question, that brief interaction with a classmate that clears things up for you, tabletop and SimLab cases, or even a beer now and then with classmates.


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4 hours ago, UGoLong said:

It may be a generational thing but, to me, PA school was enhanced by being in-person. True, some lectures are easy to do remotely, assuming you can ask questions. But many experiences involve physical and interpersonal skills. And depending on one local preceptor doesn’t seem all that robust to me.

Not sure what PA school would be like without skills labs, the chance to ask a lecturer a question, that brief interaction with a classmate that clears things up for you, tabletop and SimLab cases, or even a beer now and then with classmates.


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This. PA school is about more than listening to lectures. It is about the daily interactions with your instructors and fellow students. It is about practicing a neuro exam on someone other than your spouse who actually knows what you are doing. And yes, a beer after a final with colleagues is important. I can't imagine PA school online. We had multiple hands on labs, sections, and skills stations each week that you could not cram into a few weekends on campus. We spent a week just on the neuro exam in the physical diagnosis course. hands on practice. for a week. for one exam. 

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I really enjoyed my first year(in person)  but the whole in-person learning thing is overrated and in my opinion, outdated. We always look up to the med school curriculum and most med schools I know attendance isn't required, so only about 10% of students attend classes and these are big name schools. So, most learning is done online. I can't imagine how convenient it would be to listen to lectures on your on time, own pace, etc. Sure you might miss out on some opportunities to ask questions, but if you can't find your answer online then chances are you're asking a very specific question.

I was skeptical about Yale's online program at first but it seems like they got it figured it with placing students in Clinical experience in didactic and having occasional on-site "Immersions" for a week or so to learn more clinical skills and do some anatomy. Opportunity to ask faculty questions, work with classmates online, I must say I'm impressed by it. Plus it's not some mom and pop shop school, it's Yale. 

Another big factor to consider is where do you want to work after you graduate. If Yale offers clinical sites in your hometown then personally it's a no brainer. 

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