Here's the rundown on "my programs ," aka the schools where I've applied to join the PA training dealio. I won't use their real names here, because I'm superstitious, paranoid, and like making up names.
1) The Best School Evah. This one is affiliated with a nationally-- no wait, internationally-- known four-year medical school and hospital/clinic system. BSE's PA program takes exactly 24 months, with 12 months in classrooms (here's where the 'affiliated' comes in, because it's about 80 miles from the four-year med school) and 12 months on the wards doing clinical training. Let's just say that these clinical sites are niiiiiiiice. Think of the place you'd go if you had all your local docs stumped. Or if you're the ruler of a country. That's the place.
This school is so prestigious, the admissions guy at another school wasn't the slightest bit offended when I said it was my top choice. If I had ego issues of a certain kind, and cared about validation from strangers, I'd want to be an MD, not a PA. But I'll admit, the idea that my dorky short white coat might have this place's patch on it is a sweet one. The name stands for excellence, innovation, and compassionate care... it also serves to shut people up in the "so where did you train?" arms race.
2) Chipotle University. This is a small school in the Southwestern US, mostly known for their nursing program. They make the US News list of "best" schools, so there's a lot to reccommend them. The PA program is sort of new, though, and there's a state school with a med school AND a PA program in the same town, so they snatch up the "best" training sites for clinicals.
However, this was one of the first schools I investigated, and it made my first cut of "places where I already have all the pre-reqs done" when I got into it last winter. And the admissions guy was so great about answering questions and taking time that I got a little drawn in. I had thought the process was supposed to be cutthroat and elbowy; instead, it feels sort of like I'm being head-hunted. This guy sent me an email when my GRE score came through, to say "you did very, very well."
Chipotle invited me to interview. The interview was early in October. I didn't go. They are one of the schools that start up in January, and that was too early for me. Having been away for a year, and then back six months, I couldn't run off for another two years. I missed friends and family too much. I immediately let them know, and asked if I could be considered for January 2008 rather than 2007.
It would be unfair to call them a fall-back or a safety school. I would love to live and train in a warm part of the country, and if things work out so that this becomes the place, I'd be very happy. It is cool that if the summer 2007 schools don't work out, I have half a year rather than a full year to work on the next launch window, but it's not like that was my plan all along. ...or was it?
3) Respected Chicago University of Medicine and Whatnot. This is a North-Side institution not quite 100 years old, with a strong PA program. One of my letter-writers went there. (Oddly, after a few years as a PA, she decided to go for the extra responsibility and pain of full-on doctorhood, and she's now at BSE's four-year school. Funny, eh?) I like everything I know about them, except that I need to take another Chem course to get in, but they seem to like me too. A recent email told me as much.
So, I am about to buy a ticket to Chicago and set up my first interview. That's two for three, for those of you following along at home. And the BSE will be informing all applicants about interviews sometime before the end of the month. Could it be a sweep? Stay tuned...