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Decision between two schools

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Hi there friends! I have blessed to receive offers of admission from my top two schools. I know this is a great problem to have, but I am having a difficult time deciding. I would appreciate any thoughts or input 🙂


School 1:

- Cheaper option- about $75,000 total in-state tuition/fees for whole program

- About 2 hours from home in a major city in which I have always wanted to live

- About 5 hospitals within walking distance, affiliated with teaching hospitals/well-established medical school with a great reputation 

- Relatively new; first class graduated in 2015. Accredited-Continued at this point

-PANCE rate 97% over last 5 years. Class of 2020 = 100%

-Has a cadaver lab and anatomy with medical students. More traditional curriculum

-Begins in May with a 27-month curriculum

-Class of 45 students

- I had a family friend of a friend who is an alum and I got to talk to her. She had great things to say about the program and the faculty.


School 2:

Just received an offer here an am so very excited! Absolutely loved the interview process and everyone I interacted with during that process.

-About $96,000 total tuition and fees for whole program

-Also about 2 hours from home in a major city in which I have always wanted to live.

-Very established. Oldest program in my state with lots of alumni that become preceptors and faculty

-No medical school but do have a pharmacy school as well as an online DMS program. I would love to pursue this path to further my practice down the road

-PANCE rate 98% over last 5 years

-Does not utilize a cadaver lab. Anatomage online for gross anatomy and perform clinical skills on fresh tissue cadavers as I understand

-Begins in May with a 24-month curriculum (graduate 3 months sooner)

-Class of 75 students but with 10 full-time faculty members

-Overall, I was very impressed by the alumni network and quality of clinical rotations at this school. In my understanding, the vast majority of preceptors are alums. I also just felt like the faculty were so down to earth, competent, and dedicated to the program.


I know that many say to pursue the cheaper school. However, at school 2 I would graduate 3 months sooner than school 1. I think 3 months of PA pay would pretty much offset the difference in price point between the two. Honestly, I would gladly attend either school, but want to make a fiscally responsible and informed decision. Any input is appreciated 🙂

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This does sound like a bit of a tough decision. Is there much of a cost of living difference between the 2 cities and/or does either program have housing nearby for students? What are the clinical rotations like in terms of electives and time at each site? If you have a lot of away/distant rotations for the second school, that's just going to further increase the cost differential. I usually shy away from newer programs but it sounds like they're pretty plugged into the hospital systems and they have good PANCE rates, so that doesn't really make a difference - has COVID affected their ability to place students at clinical sites (especially if the cohorts are backlogged) because in that case, the larger alumni network of program 2 is a huge advantage.

I know a lot of people have more enjoyed the 27 months program with having a little bit more breathing room between tests and an extra few days between semesters, but that's personal preference. 

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Thank you for the responses, Dwebb97 and GAprospect!

To answer your questions Dwebb97,  there is no difference in cost of living as both schools are actually in the same city. As far as rotations, both schools have said that they attempt to make all rotations within a 2-hour radius of campus unless one wants to set up their own distant rotations. Additionally, school 1 has 12 rotations that are four-weeks each, including 2 3-week electives and 1 4-week subspecialty elective. School 2 has 7 core rotations- one four-week elective, four four-week rotations, and 3 eight-week rotations (2 different setting for four-weeks each in emergency med, family med, and internal med). As far as COVID, school 1 has been able to keep its students on track for rotations through its relationships in their own hospital network. School 2 adapted and did some virtual rotations and also heavily relied on their alumni network and has been able to keep everyone on track as well. In didactic year, school 2 has been able to continue in-person classes by holding them in a huge lecture hall. School 1 has been online/in-person labs.

Honestly, I guess there's probably not a right/wrong choice here. Just want to set myself up well my career.

GAprospect- You're right, the length of program likely will not matter to me in 10 years. Just thought it might be relevant more immediately as I could enter the workforce sooner.

Thanks again for the input!

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School 1. The no cadaver lab for A&P is a deal breaker. You must learn on and dissect cadavers. Suturing, placing catheters and chest tubes on cadavers is overrated. Also the longer, or alternatively more rotations you have the better. Appears you don’t get over 4 weeks at either school. 6 wks is optimal. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/30/2020 at 3:16 PM, ANESMCR said:

School 1. The no cadaver lab for A&P is a deal breaker. You must learn on and dissect cadavers. Suturing, placing catheters and chest tubes on cadavers is overrated. Also the longer, or alternatively more rotations you have the better. Appears you don’t get over 4 weeks at either school. 6 wks is optimal. 


I got into my safety school relatively early on in the cycle (January start) and so when I got those interview invites (1 for November, 3 of last week) I researched the school 1. to help me with my interviews 2. So I could make a decision as quick as possible due to the time crunch. 

I second everything @ANESMCR said

1. Cadaver lab. It became a running joke with my friends and family that I wanted to go to a school where there was dead people

2. Shorter does not always mean better because typically none of the shorter schools shorten didactic if anything they shorten your rotations and I would calculate it by weeks. Some schools have more rotation for only 4 weeks each others have less for only 6 weeks

3. I would add one more, make sure it's not completely virtual (both didactic and clinical wise due to COVID-19). It is definitely to learn how to practice medicine in person. 


Other factors: 

1. Cohort size 

2. Interprofessional Education 

3. Location

4. Cost

5. Health insurance provided or not. 

Honestly, at the end of the day it may not too much of a difference where you go. You have to do what feels right for you. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

1. PANCE pass rate-->Both programs have acceptable numbers.

2. Total debt burden-->School 1 saves you $20k.

3. Assumption that you'll have a job right after graduation-->You have no way of guaranteeing immediate job placement; being a good student on rotations while networking w/ preceptors is better than relying on an alumni network who only know you as a student of their alma mater.

The mode of lecture delivery during didactic phase is a toss-up. I enjoyed some of the virtual lectures during COVID b/c I could watch at my own pace and get through materials faster than how they were given in the classroom. Same goes for A&P; I've had some practicing PAs who emphasized the value of cadaver lab, and others who say that the lack of it didn't affect their practice or knowledge base.

Choose to go where you are most comfortable, but don't project hypothetical scenarios into ways of how one certain program matches or exceeds another.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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