Friday, December 30, 2011

Institutional Responsiveness

Duke has been interesting in that they are constantly concerned with how their students feel about their courses. Beyond the ready availability of the course directors, we are given access to anonymous student surveys on a regular basis where we rate our professors on many key areas and have the option to write additional comments. And things actually change based on student feedback, which is good to know.

I was really impressed by the responsiveness of the instructors to the students. One of my classmates was really concerned about the timeline for getting grades back for our physiology final and emailed the course director. She had the tests graded and our scores entered online days before we were expecting them (unlike the rest of our exams this one was taken on paper and had a short answer portion so grading was more involved). A med student wanted to put together practice practicals for Gross Anatomy so the course director organized it and arranged for the lab to be staffed during them so if students had questions there was someone to help them. Someone didn't like that a particular microanatomy lab instructor didn't do presentations before diving right into slides, so even though he was a big proponent of active learning (ie: learning by doing/finding stuff yourself) he started giving introductions/additional handouts (still not as involved as some of the other lab instructors but in response to last year's students the powerpoint presentations given by other lab instructors were made available online). I know that there is at least one very vocal opponent to the number of mandatory class sessions in the Body and Disease course we will have in the spring. I'm not sure what the outcome was, but I know that he had a meeting scheduled with key personnel in the school of medicine to discuss it during exam week. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

It is good to know that students have a voice and that the administration listens.


  1. That is really good to know. Although I'm not near the application process (still working on my undergrad) my top choices are Duke, University of Maryland and Drexel. Have you heard anything about the program at the Univ. of Maryland and Drexel?

    Thanks :]

  2. I can tell you a little bit about the Drexel program, Nadja. I went for the interview there in October, and I'm set to begin classes in May. If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to address them :)

    By the way, I just noticed that you're in a Fashion Design program. Is that your undergraduate major currently? I'm just wondering how you plan to apply to P.A. school with that particular major. Are you taking classes elsewhere, or are you going to go for a second bachelor's? The reason I'm asking is that P.A. schools require a specific set of science courses before applying, and with your non-science background, I'd love to hear your strategy for applying. Anything is possible!! :)

  3. Hi Dr. D. thanks for the response :]

    I'm actually working on the prerequisite classes to get into the Medical Laboratory Science program. Fashion Design was an Associates Degree. I still have long ways before I apply to graduate school but I kinda like to plan ahead or at least to have a better idea of things (it must be anxiety issues :)

    From what I'm seeing the prerequisites for Pathologist Assistant will be taken care of with my MLS degree except that I'm a bit confused with Organic Chemistry; do I have to take both classes Org. Chemistry I and II? with labs? Org. Ch. I is part of my program w/o lab and if I have to take the 2nd class and w/ labs I would have to figure how I could fit those in my schedule quite soon.

    Anyways in regards to schools somebody in a forum told me that it doesn't matter where you graduated from, employers won't look at it since there is more demand for jobs than supply. Do you think this is correct?

    I would like to find a school where it actually cares about its students, good program without getting into a lot of debt, cost of living is also important and hopefully somewhere not too boring (I get enough of it living in Utah) lol

    Anyways I will be following your blog as well so I see how your experience with Drexel is going to be.

    Because I'm still working on my undergrad I don't have specific questions at this time, except for the organic chemistry question :]



  4. Well Nadja, I must say that it looks like you have a lot on your plate...and it's all good things! If this is exactly what you want to do, then you're making a very good decision to go through with it. You'll get there in time, I'm sure :)

    As far as prerequisites go, Organic Chemistry is a required course for P.A. programs, and you do have to take a lab. As far as taking both Org. I and II, that I don't know. You may have to call up or email the programs and find out.

    With me, as far as chemistry was concerned, I took a sequence of 3 courses. They were entitled "Intro. to General and Organic Chemistry I, II, and III" with labs for each. Then I took a 4-credit Biopharmaceutical Chemistry course. I guess all that was acceptable since I got admitted. If you were applying to medical school, however, I would actually have to take Organic Chemistry II with labs (since my course sequence above isn't acceptable).

    And yes, the demand for P.A. jobs is greater than the supply. As long as you graduated from a Master's-level P.A. program with ASCP certification, then it's true that it really doesn't matter which college you graduated from. I don't think the name of the college matters that much at all. If you have the proper certification and you're good at what you do, what else could possibly matter? :)

  5. P.S. I'm glad that Duke, Drexel, and Maryland are your top choices. You may also want to consider applying to Rosalind Franklin in Chicago and West Virginia University as well (for safety schools). I strongly suggest that you don't apply to Quinnipiac, though. They have the highest cost of attendance out of all the P.A. programs, and many of the current students and staff are condescendingly arrogant individuals.

    Also, they're the only P.A. college to have significant wait-listing issues. They're like a year behind with their admissions process...In other words, for example, the people starting in 2012 will be the people who applied in 2010 (not 2011)! What also struck me as very odd was the fact that someone I know just received an interview for the 2013 school year, since the 2012 entry class was already filled. Unless you like to be kept waiting for over a year, don't apply to Quinnipiac. Go with your original top 3 choices :)

  6. Thanks Dr. D once again.
    I emailed the people over a Maryland regarding Organic Chemistry II and the guy said he isn't sure. But I was surprised how fast he replied though :]I think I might just take this class then..

    The problem with Rosalind Franklin and WVU is that you move around on the second year and I'm looking to stay put at 1 place for the duration of the program.

    Why are people so drawn to Quinnipac? I wouldn't want to wait this long!

    Sometimes I do consider medical school but then the age thing gets in the way. I haven't crossed this possibility completely off my list but once again I'm still working on my undergrad, one thing at a time :]

    Thanks again Dr. D and good luck!

  7. You're welcome, Nadja! A couple of other things that you mentioned: About moving around during the second year, usually you have to do a few clinical rotations. Chances are you won't stay at only one clinical site during the second year, but all your sites should be very close to the college campus (I'd say within a 10-mile radius max). As of this writing, Drexel has 23 clinical sites at your disposal (but that's just Drexel...I'm sure other P.A. schools have a somewhat similar selection).

    With Quinnipiac, my best guess as to why people are so drawn to that college is because the GRE isn't required. That could definitely explain the high volume of applcants. For Drexel and Duke, you have to take the GRE (not sure about WVU off the top of my head).

    Also, I'm still considering medical school, and you shouldn't let age be a factor. You can attend med school no matter how old you are. I personally think that a P.A. degree is excellent preparation for it, although for some reason, P.A. schools want people who aren't considering med school. Weird, I know...I mean, you can still make a comfortable living and live a satisfied life as a P.A., but it's still good to know that med school would be a really good option. My plans are to get the Master's, get ASCP certification, and start working asap. While I'm working, I'll then start thinking about med school after 2 years or so on the job as a P.A. I'm thinking of doing it overseas, actually. But like you said, one step at a time :)

  8. Thanks Dr. D. as far as rotation goes I hard some schools have you go out of state for rotations so that's what I'm avoiding.
    It sounds like you have a good plan :]
    It is true I shouldn't let age be a factor to detract me from doing what I want.
    We'll see how things go :]

  9. You're welcome again, Nadja. Yes, it's best to try to avoid having to travel out of state for certain rotations. It is an inconvenience no matter which way you look at it, but sometimes, if that's all that can be done, I guess you just have to do it.

    If you look at Forrest's blog, he has a post about his rotation schedule for the year, and he's alternating between Pittsburg, PA and WV. At one point during the year, he's doing one month in PA, then one month in WV, and back to PA again. For me, that would be a little of a hassle, going back and forth like that (from a moving in and out perspective). I think that would be an inconvenience for me, but if the school is providing relocation assistance, then maybe it's not that bad.

    It's best to address this issue directly with the colleges before you even apply, just to get a clear-cut answer.
    Keep me posted on your future plans! :)

  10. Oh, and another thing. Speaking of relocation, I'm signing a one-year lease for an apartment during my first year. All my courses will be based in one building, so the first year I can rest assure that I'm staying in one place. But for the second year, I have to absolutely certain that my rotations are going to all be done within a reasonable driving distance from my apartment and the medical school. Chances are that will be the case through Drexel, but if not, I'll have to reconsider renewing my lease (or at least see if I can rent monthly or something). But I'll reach that impasse if it even comes up.

  11. Nadja, I am sure people have reasons for choosing QU and some people do get in the first year that they apply. They accept 18 students a year, so even if 60% of the class is filled from the wait list there are still as many open spots as some programs have to begin with :) And if it means being guaranteed a spot, some people are willing to wait to start school. There aren't a lot of open spots for any PA program so it may take an application cycle or two to get in.