Being on rotations I've gotten to talk to some of the second years that I haven't really had much interaction with up until now. Two different ones have asked me why I'm going through a PA program when I was grossing before. And I guess, looking at it from the outside, I can understand the question. I do think, though, that they will understand why I made the choice after they have worked out in the industry for a while.
Beyond what I'm learning in classes, I'm getting an opportunity to see a greater variety of specimens than I will ever see again. The thing about Duke is that it is a major medical center and there are surgeries and procedures commonly done there that rarely happen in other places. Just from an intellectual standpoint, it is a great place to be.
Not only that, after graduation I will have my masters and be eligible to sit for the board exam, which makes me much more marketable. Also, before I could only gross specimens that a pathologist had signed off on me for, which doesn't mean as much to a future employer than a solid year of documented rotations and dedicated training. Not to mention that board certified PAs earn significantly more money than a grossing tech, which helps offset the tuition investment.
And... I'm really enjoying the experience. Seriously, even with the horrific test anxiety and stress of being back in school after four years out of it and living apart from my husband, I enjoy it. It has given me a lot of perspective about the specimen types I've worked with and I know that Body and Disease is going to even more applicable. Plus, we're going to have microbiology and it has always been my favorite subject! I have great *classmates (yes, yes, I know I've mentioned it once or twice before, but they are!) and we have med students who have been amazingly inclusive. I walked from the parking garage this morning with one, got hugged by others who spied me in the food court at lunch and was joined for lunch by one of my absolute favorite med students. Our program directors are accessible and responsive, and while I'm not entirely sure how the TBL intensive spring semester will be the idea of it is interesting.
*No seriously, they do amazing things like share outlines they've made, send out information about resources, and are just great to work with in groups and on rotations.