Monday, November 7, 2011

The Absolute Best Pathologists' Assistant Program!

Is any one PA program better than any other? Well yes and no... They are all going to qualify you to sit for the certification exam and they're all held to the same standards by NAACLS. So in that sense they are all good programs and will allow you to be a pathologists' assistant (which, conceivably, is your goal, right?). 

Each school has its advantages and disadvantages. The cost of tuition is not insignificant regardless of where you go, but if you're lucky you will be a resident in one of the states where being a resident can save you tens of thousands of dollars. However, tuition isn't the only cost since a big part of your loans will be allotted for living costs. The city you live in will make a big difference. The Durham area, for instance, is really quite affordable so for $600 you can get a two bedroom apartment and have a roommate.

Location matters, not just for cost of living, but for lifestyle reasons since Philadelphia is a very different city from Durham which is very different from Detroit, etc. Weather might also matter for some people, so if you don't like snow I would advise against going to school in Connecticut for instance. Plus, if you're close to your family and they live in Indiana then you probably wouldn't want to go to school here in North Carolina but would be thrilled with getting accepted into IUPUI.

There are differences in the programs to consider as well. How big do you want your class to be? Class sizes range from four to thirty three. How the classes are taught varies as well, we take all of ours with the Duke medical students which concentrates their didactic curriculum into a single year. In other schools you might have some classes with nursing students, some with dental students, some with physicians' assistants, while in the programs with larger enrollment numbers you might have PA only classes.

Rotations vary as well. We stay fairly localized for ours, while other programs send their students to other states, and even other regions of the country. That was actually a huge factor for me since I was bringing my kids along, I wanted them to be able to stay in the same school/state/environment for the two years I would be in graduate school and not have to worry about being sent to Texas or UCLA (of course if you're from a western state and would like to be closer to home, then one of those programs would be great!).

There are a lot of other factors. Each program is different and you can't look at one or the other and say in every instance, for ever case, there is one superior one. Apply to every program you think you could live with going to, because ultimate the best program--the absolute best one--is the one that accepts you as a student.


  1. HI
    I just found out your blog!
    Which schools would send you out of state?
    I'm not applying anytime soon but I also would like to stay put for my 2 hrs of education instead of going everywhere.

  2. Hello :-) Probably the easiest way to find out which schools send students out of state is to look at the program page at ( Located here) and click on the program. Each page should list the program's affiliations, and those are the clinics where students are sent for clinical rotations. You could also try emailing the program directors for ones you are unsure of since they might be able to tell you more how their rotations are handled (like maybe a location is out of state but within commuting distance, etc).

    Hope that helps!


  3. Yes this definitely helps!
    Thanks a lot :]

  4. Hello there! I happened to come across your blog and thought maybe you could help me out(I understand if you don't, it's kind of random, haha)? I live in Texas and I am extremely interested in becoming a Pathologists' Assistant, currently in community college about to transfer to a 4 year university. I know that there is a limited list of programs and where to find them. Problem is, my counselors have no idea about my intended career path and really don't know what to tell me(booo). I've even contacted the American Association of Pathlogists' Assistants numerous times over the past year. Nothing. My plan is to get my bachelors in medical technology then proceed to a Path A program in another state. Do you know if I'm on the right path? Thanks in advance!

  5. Hey there! I am assuming from your post that you went to Duke? If not, where did you go? What did you compare or look for the most that made one program better than the other?

    I know there are only a handful of schools in the country that offer the PA MS program, so for me personally I would be happy getting in to any one of them. I read that Duke has a really low acceptance rate compared to the others...around 11%, where WV was something like 84% accepted! How does one really manage to get in to somewhere as prestigious as Duke? Of course I'd love to go there but I don't know how good my chances are. Let me know what you have found in your time researching these schools.

    Also if you have any tips on interviewing? Last time I did an interview for a program I bombed completely and froze. I nearly cried! It was bad.

    Any help you could give would be great!!