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How common is dismissal from PA school for test failure?


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My son was dismissed from Arcadia's PA school in March for failing a standardized exam at the end of a clinical rotation.  The University's policy does not allow retaking of exams or rotations.  Their published attrition rate is only 3%.  I find this difficult to believe with such a strict policy.  Talking to PA friends of mine, they said their schools were supportive of students by offering academic assistance and allowing up to three chances to pass rotations.

I realize that it is students' responsibility to pass exams, but when I finished graduate school 30 years ago, schools were far more invested in getting each student to graduation.  I am just trying to learn if Arcadia's policy is the norm, or is it atypical? Thanks.

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2 did not make it out of 30 in my class, but both restarted with the next class and graduated.  I do not know exactly why they both dropped from our class.  I know they were struggling academically, but weren't failing.

To my knowledge, schools definitely provide a lot of support to students to keep them from failing for two reasons:

1. the department cares at least some about the student and wants to help them succeed...and...

2. it doesn't look good to prospective students to have a high attrition rate.

 

During my PA school there were high stakes exams that had to be passed, and while failing didn't result in immediate dismissal I don't recall the process if it was failed.

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My program’s policy was to allow a certain number of test failures before dismissmal with the option to return after a year; if dismissed from THAT class, there was no option to return. There was no surprise that dismissal would be coming, students would have had several conversations with faculty/admin before then. Often those conversations would involve referral to tutors or even a PCP to see if ADHD or some other disability existed to allow the student accommodations for testing, like extra time or a private room.

Our class of 45 had two students from the class above us - both graduated. Another two from our class were dismissed from our class, joined the class below us, and were ultimately dismissed from that class too, with no option to return.

 You might check to see if Arcadia has some kind of appeals process.

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On 9/23/2022 at 1:25 AM, JTMontana said:

My son was dismissed from Arcadia's PA school in March for failing a standardized exam at the end of a clinical rotation... I am just trying to learn if Arcadia's policy is the norm, or is it atypical? Thanks.

Are you sure you are getting the whole story? A lot of PA programs have tough policies, but dismissal for failure of a single exam is a little extreme. Was his GPA ok?

PA programs are required by accreditation policies to have a remediation process. If your son was in trouble, he should have been formally notified he was on thin ice and had a remediation plan put in place. I've heard of students dismissed for single episodes of unprofessional behavior, but never for isolated exam failure. 

 

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Agree with the above. Sounds…off. I would question the full story. I’ve never heard of a school dismissing a student based on only one failed exam without consistent or prior poor performance elsewhere. Each student is revenue. They lose money if they fail out. 
 

Edit: I just looked at their academic policy. They explicitly state students CAN repeat a failed rotation. So we are definitely not getting the whole story here. 

Edited by ANESMCR
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I thought there had to be more to the story, also.  We spoke to the program director and the dean, who confirmed the details. No exam retakes, no remedial help, no refund of tuition, "you're done, good luck."  I also tried to speak to the University president, but wouldn't talk to me.  That's why I posed the question in this thread; it just seems so unusual and even predatory.

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12 hours ago, JTMontana said:

I thought there had to be more to the story, also.  We spoke to the program director and the dean, who confirmed the details. No exam retakes, no remedial help, no refund of tuition, "you're done, good luck."  I also tried to speak to the University president, but wouldn't talk to me.  That's why I posed the question in this thread; it just seems so unusual and even predatory.

If that’s truly the case. You have the fine print on the academic policy to reference. If they’re breaching their own academic policy (ie your son only failed one component of the rotation without prior poor performance), that’s a problem. It clearly states he should be granted a remedial rotation. Still sounds like you didn’t get the whole story though.

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I have some familiarity with Arcadia's program.  Are you sure that the failed exam was an end of rotation exam and not the summative exam?  The program's summative exam is given in March during the same block of time that the students are back on campus for their end of rotation exams.  From what I have heard from students, if a student fails the summative exam, they are in a remediation program for several weeks and then are given one additional opportunity to pass the exam prior to graduation.  If they fail the second time, they are dismissed from the program.  Maybe this is what happened, rather than an EOR failure.  

Also, Arcadia has allowed some students to repeat the entire program after failures during the clinical year.  I know no one likes to have to start over completely, but perhaps this would be an option.

Also, why are you the one asking and not him?  He should have a greater investment in his own future career than his mom has.

Edited by Photograph51
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  • 3 months later...
On 9/23/2022 at 1:25 AM, JTMontana said:

My son was dismissed from Arcadia's PA school in March for failing a standardized exam at the end of a clinical rotation.  The University's policy does not allow retaking of exams or rotations.  Their published attrition rate is only 3%.  I find this difficult to believe with such a strict policy.  Talking to PA friends of mine, they said their schools were supportive of students by offering academic assistance and allowing up to three chances to pass rotations.

I realize that it is students' responsibility to pass exams, but when I finished graduate school 30 years ago, schools were far more invested in getting each student to graduation.  I am just trying to learn if Arcadia's policy is the norm, or is it atypical? Thanks.

Unfortunately, it appears that to some programs this is the norm, I learned this the hard way... I was in PA school with a 3.2 GPA and was doing well until COVID hit mid clinical year and my program made significant changes including reducing our rotations from 6 weeks to 2 weeks (or "see 50 patients"). Following these changes, I failed a rotation exam but was allowed to retake it because they 'recognized covid made an impact in my failure.' In my program you are allowed to fail one clinical exam. This failure was counted as my one failed exam. Unfortunately I came down with a significant upper respiratory infection prior to my last rotation (likely undiagnosed covid) and I failed my last rotation exam. Don't get me wrong, I take accountability in my failure, but I can't help but think that I would have graduated if it weren't for the pandemic. The most heartbreaking part was that it was my LAST exam, meaning I was academically dismissed just a few days away from graduating the program. I completed 115/125 credit hours, and my GPA was still above a 3.0. My dismissal appeal was denied. I had lawyers who were fighting to let me finish the program but my program will not allow it, instead suggest I "reapply" to program. I have done extensive research and some program don't use your clinical exam score against you and are used simply as practice for your boards, but other programs are very very strict. I'm sorry for your son, I hope he is able to overcome this obstacle, he worked very hard to get where he is. Please tell him he is not alone, and that this "setback" does not define him. He is respected and loved by many. I have faith he will accomplish great things, both personally and professionally.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

If their answer was “re-apply for another cycle,” it sounds like there are academic issues that they think could be overcome. Therefore there was probably more to the “failure of one exam” than it sounds like. Most likely it was the summative exam, which many programs use to test the waters for PANCE performance. 

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