You have probably scanned through all of the internet, asked friends and professionals, taken aptitude tests and what not to finally reach the conclusion that you want to be a PA. You might have even figured out the road to success. But do you know how to select a good physician assistant school? When it comes to medical schools you need to factor in several things before choosing which one to go with. Here are a few tips to help you choose your future PA school.
- Annual fees – Medical fields take up a lot of your money in tuition fees, and being a PA is no exception. Being a PA earns quite a respectable amount. But this depends on experience and specialization. Though 6 figure salaries are quite common, they are not guaranteed. Choose a program that doesn’t charge too much. A state program is likely to charge less than a private one.
- Reputation – The reputation of medical schools means a lot to them. Try and go for one which has already existed more than 10 years. They will have no hiccups in administration and will also have a longer track record for you to judge. They are also more likely to have more experienced teachers.
- Length – The length of the course is extremely important. Most of the courses range from 24 to 36 months. Now, a longer course means more clinical rounds which are a huge benefit when it comes to applying for a job. It will also sharpen your skills that much more. However, going for a shorter course can help you pursue other interests and attain more certifications in the same amount of time.
- Match the prerequisites – Always try and match the subjects that you learn in high school and in college to the ones available in the program. If the program requires you to learn subjects like parasitology, pharmacology and other things that you have already learned while studying for your bachelor’s degree, go for this program since it will be easier to ace. Alternatively, you can select a program that teaches you new things.
- PANCE success rate – If they call you in for an interview, try and find out their success rate in PANCE. It is important to see the success rate of students who are giving it for the first time and not for the second time around. This determines how efficient their teaching system is. Also, many colleges may have a 100% PANCE success rate. But this holds no merit if more than half of the students were thrown out due to bad academic performances.
- Clinical opportunities – Experience in the clinic is one of the main things that provides you employment in this field. Thus, it is extremely important to try and find a program that has ties with several other medical institutions that might let you intern. It’s also great if the program itself gives you more clinical opportunities to hone your skills.
- Laboratory equipment – Many old programs may not have updated equipment used in real world scenarios. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing, since they will teach you the universal methods to treat certain diseases. Bad thing, since either the physician will have to train you for these new machines, or you will be a complete mess in the ER. Depending on what kind of an education you want to receive, look at the kind of equipment the program offers. A video tour of the campus is great for such purposes.
- Timings – You should have also firmly decided what kind of timings you would like. Most of the universities offer full-time education. However, if you like you can opt for a part-time one in some select universities (Drexel University, Rutgers University, and the University of Detroit Mercy). This is useful for anyone who is interested in working part time to pay for the student loans.
Aside from the above-mentioned categories, you should also consider a few other things like the distance from your house, the infrastructure provided to you, national rankings and so on. One of the most important things to ensure is that the program is accredited to ARC-PA. Do not choose any program which isn’t. Choose a program that ticks most of the above checkboxes. Remember that this is the foundation of your career and accordingly choose well.