Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Physician Assistant Program
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Class & Student Profiles

First-Year Experience

Arnold, Kelsey

Kelsey Arnold

Kelsey Arnold

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Kinesiology
University of Michigan

Home Health Aide
Physical Therapy Aide

Home State: Michigan

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

What attracted me most to the PA Program was the opportunity to incorporate Problem-Based Learning (PBL) into my methods of learning. I had some experience with prior PBL courses and realized that although it is a lot of work, it helps to integrate the information with a deeper understanding. Now I could not imagine learning medicine any other way. My decision to attend Northwestern was further confirmed when I went to the interview and felt comfortable with the program, the faculty and the students that I met that day. The environment at Northwestern makes coming to class each day enjoyable and productive, which I don’t think can be found at many other programs.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

Prior to starting PA school, I thought that I would have to put my life on hold and say goodbye to my family and friends for two years. I am pleased to say that this is very much not the case. Although there is a lot of work to be done and a lot to learn in a short amount of time, it is very possible in this program to balance life and school. I not only have time to see my family, but also to spend time with my classmates outside of academia.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

My impression about the PA Program curriculum is that the program is designed for success. We are constantly reminded with Northwestern program statistics that we will become professional, competent clinicians just like all that have come before us. The system-based approach is one part of the curriculum that enhances the integration of our learning across our courses and helps us reach that success. Overall, it is important to trust the process of this program because it works. Additionally, since the students here at Northwestern hold themselves to such a high standard, there is no question that we will come to reach our own goals and those set by the curriculum.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

Advice that I would give to those considering the PA Program is that you will not regret it. Any PA program you may choose will be challenging, there is no doubt, but at Northwestern I can say that you will have an enjoyable experience. The faculty and staff here are amazing: each with their own distinct personalities and quirks that make classes interesting and engaging. They also care about your learning and are willing to help in every possible way that they can. Your classmates are also one of the best parts about choosing Northwestern. They are some of the greatest people I know and will keep you smiling even when school becomes challenging. The program itself will give you the tools for success, but what makes Northwestern special is the positivity and team-based mentality that is incorporated on your journey to becoming a professional.

Bai, Kelcy

Kelcy Bai

Kelcy Bai

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BA/BS, Biology
University of Missouri

Patient Care Technician

Home State: Missouri

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The idea of having a smaller class size really attracted me because it allows me to build a strong relationship with both my classmates and the faculty. Rotation sites were also a major factor for me because Northwestern’s urban setting will expose me to a vast variety in practices as well as different populations.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

I am surprised how quickly I learned things. When I attend Grand Rounds, which is full of physicians, medical students and other health professionals, I am impressed with myself that I can follow the medical conversation. Before PA school, I would have no idea what anyone was talking about, but now I am understanding concepts and realizing how they are actually applied in the clinical world.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

I am amazed with the Northwestern PA Program’s ability to integrate all of the classes together into a cohesive unit. Since the curriculum is organ system-based, I can tie the information from one class to another one. For example, in clinical medicine, I learn the signs and symptoms of a condition, then later that week, I will learn how to examine a patient for the same signs and symptoms in Patient Assessment. This helps me learn more efficiently because I am constantly recalling information and applying it in a different way.

Colon, Alina

Alina Colon

Alina Colon

First-Year Student, Class of 2017

BA, Psychology
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

CNA - Inpatient Cardiac Floor

Home State: Minnesota

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I was attracted to Northwestern’s program for many reasons. I liked the school’s location both in terms of a place to live and also as an area where I knew I could work with many different populations during my clinical rotations. I also was attracted by the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. Ultimately, one of the major reasons I chose this program is that knowing it was part of the Feinberg School of Medicine and affiliated with a prestigious healthcare system like Northwestern Medicine allowed me to be confident that choosing Northwestern would provide me the quality of education I need to become the best PA possible.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

I have really enjoyed living in Chicago. I moved to the Lakeview neighborhood, which I love because it is easy to walk to so many different things and you also have multiple options for quick transportation to downtown. Lakeview also provides very easy access to the park along the lakeshore, which is nice because it has lots of paths either for just a walk or bike ride or to get to the beaches or downtown. There is so much to do in Chicago, the only problem is that PA school can make it hard to find the time to do everything.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

One of the more unique aspects of the PA curriculum at Northwestern is the emphasis on PBL. As I was applying to Northwestern, I read a lot about PBL and was pretty convinced that it was a good way to learn medicine. Then on my interview day, they actually took us through a simulated PBL session so that we could make sure the program suited our learning style, and I became even more sure that PBL was right for me. Then, to be honest, in the beginning of the program, I really doubted that decision. PBL can be really hard at first because you feel like you don’t know enough to work your way through the cases, and for me it was hard to adjust to how much information was either self-taught or taught to me by my classmates. However, as each week went by, I became more and more used to the process and now I am so glad I am in a PBL program. Not only is it more interesting than sitting in a lecture all day, but I truly believe that I will be better prepared for my clinical rotations in my second year and for my career after I graduate. I don’t think having just lectures could have given me the same practice in thinking through a differential and then trying to make decisions on which tests are really necessary and what treatment is best suited for that particular patient. Further, apart from practicing clinical decision-making, PBL has taught me how to investigate something I don’t know on my own. It teaches you how to find information, how to decide when it is coming from a source you can trust and how to integrate information from multiple sources to find out what you need to know. I think this will be a skill that I will be able to apply throughout my career since medicine is always changing and I will always have to know how to find information and decide how to interpret it.

Finally, one other aspect of Northwestern’s curriculum that I really like is the way that anatomy and physiology is taught throughout the year and aligns with whatever organ system we are studying in our other courses. In most of the other programs I was considering, anatomy and physiology was taught all at once in the beginning, during the first summer. I think that learning it as we go through the entire first year makes it easier to appreciate and understand the connections that anatomy and physiology have with the different clinical conditions that we are studying.

Eitrheim, Sarah

Sarah Eitrheim

Sarah Eitrheim

First-Year Student, Class of 2017

BA, Biology
Luther College

Nursing Assistant - Oncology and Palliative Care Floor

Home State: Wisconsin

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern was a good fit for me for many reasons. The first is that the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum fit my learning style, and I knew I would learn best in that type of environment in comparison to traditional lecture-only methods. The second reason is that I knew I would have an opportunity to be taught by some of the leaders in the field by many of our guest speakers, and third is that being affiliated with one of the top hospitals in the nation, I knew the clinical experiences we would be placed in would be tough to beat anywhere else.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

Honestly, I have been most surprised by how much our class feels like a family. There is absolutely no way I would still be in this program if it weren’t for my classmates continued support, encouragement and occasional assignment reminder. Everyone brings their own clinical experience (respiratory therapists, dietitians, EMTs, nursing assistants, mental health counselors, athletic trainers), which makes everyone a teacher and a student at some point during our didactic year. It is one of the most collaborative environments I’ve had the privilege of being a part of, and I could not be more thankful for all of them.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

A PBL curriculum isn’t for everyone, and you should interview the school just as much as they are interviewing you. Data shows PBL works (board scores prove it), so come with an open mind about it and you’ll be surprised how much you learn in such a short amount of time.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Prior to enrolling in school, I think what prepared me the most was my time as a nursing assistant. It’s hard to feel as though you’re going to be a good clinician someday when only looking at textbooks in undergrad. But the hospital, having a purpose, connecting with patients and caring for them in their most vulnerable moments, it was there that I knew I found my place. I often think back to those moments during didactic year to remind myself why I’m here.

Elam, Lizzy

Lizzy Elam

Lizzy Elam

First-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Biology
Wake Forest University

Medical Office Assistant - Pediatrics

Home State: New York

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The size, curriculum, opportunities and location of Northwestern University’s PA program checked all the boxes on my wish list. The smaller class size offers individualized attention so that all my questions are answered. The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and organ system approach are two teaching methods that suit my academic personality. As our clinical year approaches, I am looking forward to having four elective rotations that will allow me to experience different areas of medicine. Northwestern University’s PA Program is in downtown Chicago, and as a suburbanite, I have found city life to be exciting and adventurous. I love all that Chicago has to offer, especially the PA Program.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

Our PBL curriculum allows me to learn information in the context of a simulated clinical situation that makes the experience more realistic and lifelike. I often find myself referring to a PBL patient case when recalling a disease process, and this helps me reinforce the information learned. I also enjoy the organ system approach to learning because each class (pharmacology, patient assessment, clinical medicine, etc.) provides a new layer of information about the organ system. This increases the efficiency of the learning process and helps me mentally organize the information. I have developed a richer understanding of the material this way because I rarely need to correlate information learned many months ago to a present learning issue.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

The PBL element of our curriculum revolves around self-teaching and peer-teaching. You need to be able to learn about topics on your own and share your knowledge with others. Both of these skills will be important during your career as a PA, and I am glad I have been able to develop them throughout my educational experience.

Like the medical field, I have found that PA school is a team-based environment. We work together to create study materials, we discuss approaches to clinical problems, and we learn together. Each person in our class offers a different, valuable perspective that has taught me more than I could learn on my own.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Everyone told me that there is no way to prepare for PA school, and they are right. There is no book or class that will prepare you. I found mental preparation to be the most helpful. I took about three weeks before school started to move to Chicago (from Denver), get settled and spend some time with my family. I tried to eliminate all my expectations and look at this experience as an adventure. My advice would be to take a step back from the anticipation and prepare yourself to be fascinated by the human body, its susceptibility to illness and the treatments we have to help our patients.

Hitro, Jamie

Jamie Hitro

Jamie Hitro

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Chemistry
Canisius College

Nurse's Aide
Adult Case Manager

Home State: Class President

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The facets of Northwestern that distinguished it from other PA programs included its small class size, select curriculum elements (such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Medical Spanish), as well as location and affiliation with reputable hospitals. Each of these factors made me feel that I would have an individualized education that would both challenge me and build on my strengths.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

With all the information being thrown at you in PA school, I am surprised at how much sticks. I really believe this is due to the PBL curriculum, which is learning by doing. Prior to school, I did not know how I would adjust to the studying. However, the diversity of the curriculum setup attacks a variety of learning styles: interactive, lecture, student presentation and direct observation through cadaver labs. The variety allows for information to be absorbed more easily.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

I have family and friends in the Chicago area, which made the transition smoother. Nevertheless, it is a new city to me. In the moments when I need a break, there are never-ending opportunities, including free events, to learn about and explore Chicago.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

When you say that you are taking seven to eight classes at once, it can be overwhelming. However, the fact that the curriculum is systems-based and we cover an organ system through all our classes, the crossover allows for reiteration. This is the most helpful for me when I can look at the pathophysiology of a disease, see how it manifests in a patient, how I physically examine the person and how I can treat these individuals all within a few classes in a week.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

PA programs in general rely on molding independent learners; Northwestern may do this more than other programs through its PBL structure. Even if you have not experienced this style before, don’t rule it out for you. To be in the PA profession is to be a constant learner. This program starts this adaption to the professional world from its start.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Everyone comes into this program with their own expertise based on their clinical experience. There is no way to academically prepare for school outside of having the completed prerequisites. I think traveling to visit family and friends, developing a healthy lifestyle routine and reading books off my leisure list helped me to be ready to begin. As school usually is stressful in general, I had set up behaviors I rely on to relieve stress.

Johal, Janine

Janine Johal

Janine Johal

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Psychobiology
University of California - Davis

Emergency Department Scribe

Home State: California

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The fact that Northwestern is a world-renowned teaching hospital attracted me to the PA Program here. I had heard great things about the program and its exceptional PANCE success rates, and the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) format intrigued me. After getting a preview of DXR Clinician and how PBL would work during the interview, I thought that this would be the program for me. I enjoyed the interview process, and all of the faculty and staff were welcoming and have continued to be a source of support throughout the program. I also enjoyed the city of Chicago as a whole and could see myself thriving in such a city.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

Ask me again in a couple of weeks when the weather changes. I moved from California, and will admit that I have never seen the snow. However, so far my relocation has been smooth. I live with another student in the program in Lincoln Park and have found it easy to adjust to city living. I always had a car, so public transportation was foreign to me, but the U-Pass and apps such as Transit Stop have made catching the bus and the "L" easy.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

First, don’t attempt to study before starting the program. You’ll get enough of it, and more, once you start. Second, I think that my experience as an emergency department scribe has helped me feel somewhat prepared for PA school. I didn’t realize how much I actually retained while on the job. Now during lecture, it makes me feel accomplished when I know what a qdrug is for or how to read a certain lab test. I also had been writing HPIs and modified SOAP notes for my providers, and I feel as if being able to tease out what is pertinent (or not) to include in my notes for PBL cases.

Johnson, Kristin

Kristin Johnson

Kristin Johnson

First-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Communicative Disorders
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Line Therapist
Resident Assistant

Home State: Wisconsin

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

There were two main features of the PA Program that put it at the top of my list of dream programs. Its location in downtown Chicago surrounded by some of the most renowned hospitals in the country was ideal because I knew it would provide me with opportunities to work with some of the best healthcare teams in the field throughout my education. I was also drawn to the "big city" because of the chance I would have to interact with and learn to provide care for the diverse group of communities and populations that Chicago encompasses.

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) portion of the curriculum was the second feature that attracted me to the program. Although I had never been one to study in groups, I knew that the PBL structure would help me to develop the teamwork, research, self-directed learning and synthesis skills that I will need to become an effective physician assistant.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

The biggest surprise to me has been how much I have learned from my classmates and the immense amount of knowledge they have shared with me. Before PA school, I was solely an independent studier, but that quickly changed after I started the program. After spending time studying with my peers, I have learned more, retained more and performed better than ever before. Relying on each other and watching our abilities expand as we build on each other’s knowledge has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience here at Northwestern.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

My experience relocating to Chicago has been nothing less than phenomenal. I live in the Lincoln Park area with one of my classmates that I had not met prior to being admitted to Northwestern. She and the rest of my classmates were an incredible support system as I transitioned to the hustle and bustle of city life. I love living near the lake, the busy atmosphere and the incredible views of the skyline that I get to experience on a daily basis.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

My patient contact hours are what most helped me to feel prepared for PA school. Having experience communicating with patients, working within a healthcare team and learning some basic patient care skills were vital in my preparation. In my experience, it was essential to be comfortable with such fundamentals and have a solid foundation built in order to concentrate on refining my abilities in those areas.

Komnick, Alexa

Alexa Komnick

Alexa Komnick

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BA/BS, Molecular Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Medical Assistant, Dermatology

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern is the ideal school for me. Truly, I am spoiled by the location of the program being close to my hometown, family and friends. I am lucky to have these sources of support close by that offer an outlet of the everyday stresses that come with the rigorous PA curriculum. Additionally, I was attracted by the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) format of the program. Although I was not entirely sold on the process prior to enrolling, I was intrigued by the opportunity to be able to engage with my classmates and faculty multiple times a week and work on real-world, applicable cases that would ultimately help shape my future as a clinician.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

Prior to enrolling in the program, I was worried about developing a connection with my fellow classmates as well as having to compete with them in an academic setting. However, all those worries immediately changed after orientation week. I instantly developed friendships with multiple classmates and the comradery had formed surprisingly quickly. Ever since then, we have all been working hard for ourselves, but I think more importantly we all want each other to succeed just as well. 

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

The main attraction of the PA program for me prior to enrolling was the PBL-style curriculum. I was hesitant about this process as I was always someone who preferred to study on my own and take notes from a lecture-style format. I was unsure of what to expect having to learn from my classmates rather than consistently from faculty and guest lecturers. After the first PBL session, I was scared that I would not be able to adapt to the interactive, inquisitive process. At first, I felt completely overwhelmed. However, without knowing it, it started to become a part of me and has since changed the way I approach clinical situations. I find myself applying the learning principles of PBL even outside of school. Being a hands-on learner, this is the ideal learning modality. The opportunity to be immersed in a new patient situation each week is an efficient way of developing clinical questioning skills that I know I will relate back to for the rest of my career.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Prior to enrolling, I would say that my time as a medical assistant helped me prepare prior to starting school. Being able to think back to my personal patient interactions as we are discussing different topics, medications or conditions has helped me connect the textbook topics to real life. Although the amount of clinical exposure was very little to what is to come following graduation, having the initial experience of interacting with patients, using medical terminology and communicating with other providers has been helpful to relate back to during related curriculum topics.

McRae, Annie

Annie McRae

Annie McRae

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Certified Genetic Counselor

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach was the primary reason that I selected the PA Program. As someone who has been tasked with translating a large amount of didactic information in a clinical setting, I am extremely confident that PBL allows you to think critically, synthesize and apply information in a more meaningful way than lecturing alone. Given the short and intensive duration of the program, I felt that for me personally this approach would optimize my time and learning.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

I have been surprised at the amount of self-learning that occurs. The faculty is confident in our abilities to teach ourselves and each other certain portions of the information. It took a little bit longer for us to garner this confidence in ourselves; however, it is happening. While this curriculum design is challenging, it promotes the skills that will ultimately be needed as an autonomous clinician.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

I think that applicants should be cognizant of their own personal learning style and how they would do in a PBL setting with an emphasis on self-study. While I personally find it very helpful, it ultimately may not be right for individuals who don't thrive in this kind of academic setting.

Mergian, Taleen

Taleen Mergian

Taleen Mergian

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Neuroscience
University of Michigan

Certified Nursing Assistant,
Medical Scribe in Ophthalmology

Home State: Michigan

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

There were many factors that really attracted me to the Northwestern PA Program. The first was the use of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in the curriculum. Although PBL is a very different style of learning than I was used to while earning my undergraduate degree, it has been a nice change of pace in comparison to sitting in lecture all day. This style of learning has helped me learn to think critically on my own and also how to work well with a team to properly diagnose and treat very complex patients. Another aspect of the curriculum that I really appreciated was that each month is devoted to a particular organ system, which is covered across all of our courses. It helps to unify the material and I believe has been greatly beneficial to my ability to retain the information. Furthermore, anatomy is continued throughout the year based on the organ system as well, so as I learn the physiology and pathophysiology of the heart I also have the opportunity to examine the heart in the anatomy lab. Many programs finish anatomy within the first month, but I preferred to have anatomy continued throughout the year so that anatomy is always part of my learning process.

Additionally, I feel that the faculty and staff at Northwestern played a significant role in my decision to attend this program. Even from my first encounter with the faculty during my interview, I felt that they were devoted to student learning and our success as a program. Many of the faculty members are also still practicing in clinic, which ensures that the information we are being taught is up-to-date material that reflects new advances made in the medical field. Furthermore, after accepting a seat in the program, I really appreciated the connection that the program maintained with me over the next year through emails, virtual sessions and discussions with current first-year students. It helped me feel confident in my decision and prepared for my future as a member of the Northwestern PA Program.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

I would say the most surprising thing for me has been the workload, but I mean that in a positive way. As an applicant to PA programs, I was told over and over again to prepare myself for the significant workload I would face and that I would never have any free time. Now as a PA student, I can say that we definitely do have a lot of information to learn in a short amount of time, but the workload does not feel as daunting to me because everything we are being taught is useful, practical information that we will use for years to come in clinical practice. As PA students, we all have the desire to master this information to provide the best outcome for our patients, so the workload that I have put on myself has truly been a choice because I want to be the most successful PA that I can be and reach my full potential. I have really felt that it has been up to me to make the most out of my education here, and I appreciate that I have been given that independence. Time has really not been an issue for me as I have been able to divide my time accordingly between my studies, personal time and time with family and friends, which had been a concern for me before starting PA school.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

I have absolutely loved my time in Chicago so far. I moved here from a suburban area, so it has been a fun change living in a large city. It was very easy to adjust to the transportation system here, and I feel safe traveling throughout the city. There are also so many exciting events in the city that my classmates and I have been able to take part in. For example, one weekend we all attended a Chicago Cubs game together. Having the opportunity to explore the museums, concerts and festivals throughout the city really helps to reduce stress and take my mind off of school when I need a break. Also, almost everyone I know has wanted to come visit me here. I have had visitors at least one weekend a month because my family and friends are excited for me to show them around the city. I really can’t say enough positive things about the city of Chicago. It is an exciting place to live, even if only for a two-year program, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

I think my clinical experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant and medical scribe helped me feel most prepared for PA school. Although the classes I took leading up to PA school were useful to develop a good knowledge base, in my opinion having the clinical experience and comfort level working with patients is truly even more important than the classes I took. In hindsight, no matter how much clinical knowledge I had entering the program, being able to be comfortable working with patients and making that personal connection was something that only clinical experience could have taught me. It is a matter of practice, and I felt my clinical experience had really prepared me for this. Otherwise, I don’t think there was ever a point where I felt that I was completely prepared for PA school, but I just knew I was ready to move on to the next step in my education and that I had prepared myself in the best way that I knew how. In the weeks leading up to starting the program, as I started to question how prepared I was, I got the best advice from my Big Sib (student from the year above me). Her advice was to simply relax and spend time with my family and friends before coming to PA school. There was no need to go back and start reviewing all of the information I had learned during my undergraduate career and cause added stress. So instead, I took the time to focus on my personal well-being and be confident in the fact that the Northwestern PA Program would help mold me into a successful PA based on the knowledge and skill that I had already developed through clinical experience. Even if I could go back and do something differently, I wouldn’t. Each person takes a different journey to become a member of this program, making us such a diverse class, and I think it is important to remember that you will bring unique traits to the program based on your experiences and to simply be confident in your experiences as you enter this exciting time in your career.

Ralph, Kellie

Kellie Ralph

Kellie Ralph

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BA/BS, Political Science
University of California - Berkeley

Clinical Assistant & Research Coordinator - Urology,
Health Educator - Reproductive Health

Home State: California

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I liked the urban setting of Northwestern, as well as the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) model. I couldn’t imagine sitting in lecture-style classes for eight hours everyday.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA School, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

The amount of self-learning has been most surprising. I knew Northwestern utilized the PBL model for instruction, which was one of the most attractive attributes of the program. While the faculty are always available for additional instruction or questions, there is just simply no way they can cover all the required material in each unit during class hours. Therefore, it is essential that students are self-motivated and disciplined enough to continue their learning on their own or with partners outside of class.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

Chicago is an incredible city. I relocated from Northern California and found the process relatively simple. I was nervous about finding an apartment without traveling to Chicago to physically look at units. However, I mostly used Craigslist and then real estate agents would send videos of units so I could see them. We got the first unit we applied to and liked, and the whole process was pretty simple. After that, I shipped most of my things from home via Amtrak and bought whatever furniture I needed. The city itself is so lively and friendly, especially during the summer when we moved. It made acclimating very easy and actually enjoyable.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

Do your homework in regards to the PBL instruction model, especially if you have never experienced anything similar. Go to information sessions if possible, watch online videos of instruction or read as much as you can about it. You spend a significant amount of time with this model. It has real-world application and offers so many benefits, but it isn’t for everyone. So do your best to make sure it is a good fit for you.

Sorkin, Mia

Mia Sorkin

Mia Sorkin

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Exercise Science
George Washington University

Clinical Research Assistant & Manager

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern PA Program has a great balance of lecture, self-paced learning and hands-on experience. I was impressed by Northwestern’s Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method, and thought that this would be a great fit for my own learning preferences. I liked the “real-world” approach that PBL uses to guide and challenge students through cases and the method’s emphasis on independent learning within the context of a team. I am also interested in continuing my passion for research as a PA; unlike other programs, Northwestern offers a master’s capstone research project that would allow me to hone these research and analytical skills with a clinician’s perspective.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern advertises a non-competitive and collaborative atmosphere for their students. Initially, I was not sure how 30 motivated personalities in an intense program could foster this type of environment. However, from day 1, our class was eager to work together, share resources and teach one another to ensure that everyone would be successful.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

The curriculum is intense, but manageable. My learning experience has been guided by our weekly PBL cases and reinforced through faculty and guest lectures. As first-year students, we have had several opportunities to interview and assess patients, which will be great preparation for clinical rotations in our second year.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Relax. Knowing that PA school would become my top priority, I took some time off between ending my job and starting the program to travel and visit family and friends. This time gave me the recharge that I needed to hit the ground running in June.  

Weaver, Collin

Collin Weaver

Collin Weaver

First-Year Student, Class of 2018

BS, Physiology
Brigham Young University

Ophthalmic Technician

Home State: California

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I ended up choosing Northwestern mainly because it is a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) program. This was unique to the schools that I applied to. I liked the idea of making the learning process resemble more closely what I will be doing as a PA. In addition to PBL, Northwestern, although a relatively newer program, has had consistently high first-time PANCE pass rates every year. It was also great to know that Northwestern had so many resources provided by the hospitals and clinics that are a part of the medical campus.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

Relocating has not been too difficult. I live a little farther from campus than I had originally wanted, but it is not too bad. It takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to get to campus from my apartment. It is nice because I can get some studying in before and after class. 

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

I would recommend getting to know the PBL curriculum as best as you can because it is such a big part of Northwestern’s program. It is good to get an idea of what your didactic year is going to be like. Personally, I really like PBL because the learning is more tailored to what we will be doing as physician assistants.

Yanta, Helen

Helen Yanta

Helen Yanta

First-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Biochemistry/Molecular Biology; BA, Spanish
University of Richmond

Clinical Research Assistant

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

After college, I joined Teach for America and spent two years teaching high school math in Houston. In order to determine the best method to reach my students, I experimented with the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. I quickly noticed huge improvements in student performance, retention of information, ability to problem solve and think critically. After seeing the impact PBL curriculum had on my students, I knew PBL curriculum was the best option for me in PA school, making Northwestern my top choice.

Chicago is a vibrant city with unlimited options of places to explore and things to do. Northwestern PA Program is located near the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue and I loved the idea of being in the heart of the city every day, surrounded by one of the country’s top medical centers. Northwestern PA Program’s affiliation with Northwestern Medicine also offered many opportunities that I may not have been afforded at other PA programs. In addition, going to school in Chicago would allow me to move back to my home state and be closer to family and friends.

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern University PA Program?

I was always the type of student who put every ounce of effort into a project and did not consider it complete until I believed it was my very best work. The first few weeks of PA school, I felt I was putting in all my effort, but this was not showing through in my performance. I had to reevaluate and determine a new plan for how to approach PA school. In retrospect, I believe it was the support of my classmates that helped me through those first few weeks and encouraged me to feel confident in myself again. The 29 other classmates I sit with every day have gone from being strangers to being a supportive family. The collaboration among classmates is amazing, and every student is willing to help another for the benefit of everyone. I have learned so much from the experiences and knowledge that each individual classmate brings to the table. I feel very honored to be a part of such a supportive, collaborative, intelligent and innovative group of people.

How has your experience been relocating to Chicago?

I grew up in southern Illinois, about 30 minutes across the Mississippi river from St. Louis, Missouri. When I told people I was from Illinois, they assumed that meant I was from Chicago, which was actually about five hours north of my hometown. Eventually, for simplicity, I gave up and just told everyone I was from St. Louis. Fast forward, now I can tell people I’m from Illinois and actually claim that I live in Chicago. I love being close enough but also just far enough from home and my friends and family.

Chicago has proven to be a lively city with so much to offer. Any day of the week you’ll find tons of festivals, concerts, events and programs, so there’s no shortage of things to do when there is a minute away from studying. I also love the public transportation. This makes it so easy to get anywhere in the city, and I can even spend my commute reviewing notes on the way to and from class.

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

Simply put, the Northwestern PA Program curriculum makes sense. The program takes a systems-based approach to its PBL curriculum. That means in every class (anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, clinical medicine, clinical lab medicine, patient assessment, behavioral medicine, etc.) we are focusing on the same body system and learning about it from every different angle. Having the classes align truly helps synthesize knowledge, connects your learning between classes and allows you to apply what you’ve learned in all classes to the overall body system. Each class complements the others and by the end of a unit, we truly have a well-rounded understanding of each system that I believe leads to better retention of information.

Also, I love the PBL curriculum. It took some time to get accustomed to at first because it holds you accountable and forces you to take responsibility for your learning. We are tasked with researching topics that we then present to classmates. I find it very helpful to have a classmate teach me based on their research and understanding, and I believe I remember things better in the long run with this method.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

Evaluate your learning style to determine if Northwestern would be a good fit for you and if you see yourself as an independent learner. The PBL curriculum is unique and requires students to feel comfortable investigating learning issues, collaborating with classmates, making clinical decisions as a group and teaching classmates about various topics. Students learn in different ways, so I would recommend thinking about yourself in a PBL situation and determining if you would feel confident. In addition, the program has a relatively small class size of 30 students so this may be a transition for students coming from larger universities.

Second-Year Experience

Anderson, Ryan

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Second-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Athletic Training
Northern Illinois University

Certified Athletic Trainer

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I chose the Northwestern University PA Program for many reasons, but some of the most important things to me were the outstanding reputation, the location and the unique Problem-Based Learning (PBL) model.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

In my opinion, the transition between didactic and rotation year has been seamless due to the hard work we put in and the high standard we are held to in our first year of the program. I definitely had some doubts about my competence level before starting my rotations, but I quickly learned that the program had provided me with a solid foundation of knowledge that made be more than capable of accomplishing the necessary tasks asked of me at my clinical sites.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

The most valuable skill I took from didactic year was the ability to work through clinical situations in a systematic way. Sometimes I come across a complicated patient encounter on rotations that at first seems overwhelming, but it is always helpful to fall back on the methods taught in PBL, so I can gather and organize the necessary information, which allows me to move forward in providing the patient with the appropriate care.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

I think the most important advice I can give from my experience is to ensure that you have a sincere interest in being a lifelong learner of the field of medicine and having the desire to apply that knowledge for the benefit of the patients you treat. 

Avellana, Russell

Russell Avellana

Russell Avellana

Second-Year Student, Class of 2016

BS, Psychology
Loyola University Chicago

Patient Care Coordinator/Home Health Aid
Child Life Specialist Volunteer

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Growing up in Chicago, Feinberg School of Medicine and the Northwestern hospital affiliates have always been known for their highly credible reputation as a leader in healthcare. Being able to learn from one of the Top 10 hospitals in the United States was what drew me in. Also, I came for the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. I have always been an interactive student, and PBL is certainly structured in that way. Furthermore, being able to stay in Chicago was a huge perk. Maybe I’m biased, but Chicago is the best city in the world. The amount of things to do and places to eat are limitless.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

Coming off the didactic year, at first it took some time to adjust to the rotation year schedule and clinical responsibilities. I was now in situations where I could now practice what I have learned from my first year and apply it to real-life clinical cases. But after completing rotation after rotation, I felt more comfortable with what I was doing and felt confident in my abilities as a provider.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

I feel very strongly about how well PBL had prepared me to work with a healthcare team to rule in or rule out differential diagnoses and discuss appropriate care plans for patients. There were several patient encounters during my rotational year that were similar to some of our simulated patients in our first year that I knew what to look out for, what diagnostic tests to run and what evidence-based treatments would be optimal.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

I think I am surprised by how much I really enjoyed each of my rotations. I had some initial thoughts that I wasn’t going to really like certain rotations, but I ended up loving every opportunity that I have encountered thus far.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

Before applying, consider a few things: Are you an interactive student and willing to learn from your peers in small groups? Are you someone who can learn material on your own from credible sources? Are you mentally ready for an accelerated and challenging, but very rewarding experience? If so, Northwestern is the school for you. 

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

I have been working full-time since graduating undergrad in 2009. The work and volunteer experiences in healthcare settings certainly helped me understand a lot about the healthcare system. Having been part of the interdisciplinary healthcare team, I was able to learn about all of the individuals involved in the medical care and management of patients. These experiences also helped my professional growth and how to handle certain nuances that they might not teach you in a school setting.

Doherty, Bianca

Bianca Doherty

Bianca Doherty

Second-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Psychology/Chemistry
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Orthopedic Outcomes Analyst, NICU Volunteer

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Problem-Based Learning (PBL), hands down. I knew I wanted a program that utilized PBL and the organ system approach.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

Going to volunteer clinics such as CHC Gynecology and Labor and Delivery shadowing helped me to prepare for the rotation year. Volunteering at the clinics allowed me to practice my history taking and physical exam skills. I became more familiar with the preceptor-student relationship, and I was able to interact with more medical students as well.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Knowing that I could never fully prepare for PA school was the most important realization I came to. Of course, shadowing and speaking with numerous PAs was very helpful. But once you’re admitted to PA school, all you can do is prepare to work hard and know that you will be wrong a lot, and that’s okay. Start the program with a humble and hard-working attitude, and you’ll be fine.

Domingo, Hazel

Hazel Domingo

Hazel Domingo

Second-Year Student, Class of 2015

BS, Nursing
Madonna University

Cardiovascular ICU RN
Cardiology RN

Home State: Michigan

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern University has a reputation of excellence and is one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Its PA Program is one of the few in the country that utilizes Problem-Based Learning (PBL) to teach clinical medicine. It is so much better than traditional lecture-based classes because we become active, rather than passive learners. The students not only identify their own learning issues, they also have to truly understand the material so that they can teach it to their student colleagues.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

Our didactic year is a wonderful design in that everything comes together during rotation year. Patient Assessment truly helped us with history-taking, patient-interviewing and physical exams. Behavioral and Preventive Medicine equipped me with concepts related to public health, health promotion and understanding the patient holistically. Basic Science helps me make sense of the different processes that are causing the patient’s signs and symptoms. Pharmacology has also helped a lot, especially with antibiotics. PBL truly prepared me by learning to ask questions and identifying what learning needs I have. I still find myself writing down learning issues during my rotations and then looking them up to ensure that I understand them. We also used to write the plan of care/admission orders for our simulated patients in PBL, and I find that that has helped my note-writing skills.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

It’s been great. I couldn’t be more excited. We learned the theory (still learning it, actually), now it‘s time to synthesize and apply it to real-world patients. It’s both challenging and fascinating. There is so much pathology out there, and I learn something new every day. The questions never end: Why is this lab elevated? How does it relate to the patient’s presentation and vital signs? What imaging should we order? Most importantly: What are my differential diagnoses? What is my plan and how does it compare to the primary team’s plan? Did I cover everything? I’ve also been lucky to have so many great teachers and preceptor whom I can look up to, ask for advice, learn from and aspire to be. Many of them treat me like I am part of the team, even though I’m still a student. It’s refreshing to see so many incredibly smart yet caring and down-to-earth healthcare providers who want the best for their patients.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

Everyone kept saying we get more free time during our rotation year, I find this not to be the case. Probably because I’ve had rotations that have long hours (about 10-12 hours per day). In addition, I lived close to campus in didactic year and moved to Lakeview this year, so I am still getting used to commuting.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

My advice is to be a well-rounded candidate. Take advantage of your healthcare experience because it is as important as your academics. It is a great opportunity to learn. Be inquisitive. Volunteer to do things. Talk to the doctors, PAs and nurses — ask them questions. Talk to the patients and their families. Know their stories. Use those stories as your inspiration while you’re applying for school. Specifically for Northwestern, look into PBL and even sit in on one of our classes if possible to see if it is a good fit to your learning style. The PA Program is one of the toughest, but I am most definitely proud and happy to be here. And if you don't get in the first time, don't give up. Keep trying.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

I don’t think I’ve ever felt prepared for PA school, to be honest. As a nurse, I’ve always known how big of a responsibility it is to practice medicine, so I’m always slightly nervous. What helps me right now is my clinical experience. Having been at the bedside with the patients and their families, implementing physician orders, being a patient advocate, teaching them and learning from them — all of those things are certainly helping me.

Facktor, Cosette

Cosette Facktor

Cosette Facktor

Second-Year Student, Class of 2016

BS, Microbiology
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Phlebotomist
Medical Assistant & Hospital Volunteer

Home State: Wisconsin, various places throughout the United States

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I was attracted to, and selected, the Northwestern University PA Program due to how the curriculum aligned with the skills I wanted to use in practice as a PA. First, the curriculum focuses highly on the clinical practice of medicine. Every course makes direct connections to how medicine is actually practiced or involves simulated clinical scenarios and physical skills. Second, the scientific knowledge the curriculum provides is top-tier. As Northwestern Memorial Hospital is among the top academic hospitals in the nation, the practitioners that teach the courses are experts in their practice and well-versed in explaining medicine in the classroom. In addition, since NMH is a large hospital with many specialties, instructors and students, there are rounds in about every specialty, student events, like a suturing workshop, and clubs that add even more to the specialized medical knowledge a student gains here. Finally, I loved that Medical Spanish is offered as a course, in extracurricular workshops and as a club on campus. I want to use Spanish in my future practice, and this program provides so many resources to perfect this skill. Overall, I knew that this environment would provide me with the scientific and patient-based knowledge I wanted to practice with in the future, and it has fulfilled these expectations and more.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

Didactic year prepared me extremely well for rotation year. As a result of the required coursework in year one, I felt confident going into rotations. However, nothing affirms that you have really learned what you needed to know more than experiences such as hearing your first cardiac murmur and knowing immediately what type of murmur it is and what concerns it presents. It is an amazing feeling. In addition, opportunities outside of required coursework in didactic year allowed me to make professional connections that have resulted in meaningful research and professional opportunities as a second-year student. They've allowed me to continue to hone my medical Spanish, which I have now put to use in clinical year and has presented me with many professional opportunities post-graduation. My personal feeling of preparedness has been echoed by the preceptors that I have worked under, which is a good feeling as well.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

It sounds silly, but compared to my initial impressions, I was surprised how clinicals really throw you into really medical situations. In first year, you spend most of your time on coursework, but in second year you are suturing lacerations, assisting in emergency surgeries, and splinting, as well as working with the team to decipher a diagnosis from unusual lab results, writing plans for treatment, monitoring and diagnostics and having personal conversations with patients at sometimes very difficult times in their lives. It is an amazing whirlwind of experiential learning that makes second year an absolute joy and unprecedented opportunity in life. In addition, I knew that the PA Program had a great reputation for amazing placements in clinical year, but I cannot say enough about how perfectly they have planned my clinical rotations this year. Each has incorporated my professional interests and has prepared me well in order and breadth for future rotations and the board exam.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

When applying to PA programs, one would be amiss to not consider the opportunities that the school’s medical campus has to offer for first and second year. I can honestly say that between the award-winning facilities and faculty of Northwestern Memorial, Lurie Children’s and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, all here on campus, the diverse patient and pathology population here in downtown Chicago and the innumerable medical practices and medical community involvement in the immediate area in all departments of medicine, Northwestern has it all. In addition, you can be confident that as a second-year student, Northwestern gives you the resources to make full professional and educational use of these opportunities in the area. As a result of my education here, I am confident in my ability to soon begin my career as a successful PA.

Fowlkes, Lauren

Lauren Fowlkes

Lauren Fowlkes

Second-Year Student, Class of 2015

BS, Science - Business
University of Notre Dame

Anesthesia Technician

Home State: Missouri

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Northwestern had everything that I was looking for in a PA program. I really liked the systems-based approach to the curriculum and the Problem-Based Learning focus. The program is also part of the top-notch Feinberg School of Medicine and is connected to one of the best hospitals in the country. Before matriculating, I worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, so I was also already very comfortable here. 

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

The transition from didactic to clinical rotation year has been an easy and exciting one for me. I feel that the experience we had in year one was enough to prepare me well for second year and to provide me with the tools I needed to continue my learning while on my rotations. Clinical rotations are exciting because taking care of patients is the reason a person goes to PA school. When you finally realize that you can positively impact a patient's health, it is very rewarding.    

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

The thing that is most surprising to me about rotations is how much of the experience is up to me. Being engaged throughout the rotation and studying the appropriate material when I go home at night translates to greater learning from my preceptors and greater likelihood that they will give me more responsibility with patients.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

Being a part of a medical team in anesthesia before PA school has really helped me to fit in and understand how the medical team functions on my rotations. It has helped me to learn what to do to be helpful to my preceptors instead of a student that is a burden to him or her.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

I would advise an applicant that is considering Northwestern for PA school to really evaluate his or her learning style. If they are someone that enjoys working in groups and using his or her resources to explore the material on their own, then I would recommend Northwestern.

Gorrell, Jordan

Jordan Gorrell

Jordan Gorrell

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BA Psychology
Northwestern University

Anesthesia Technician

Home State: Illinois

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

I think that the PA Program curriculum offers an incredibly unique educational opportunity, and I can’t imagine a more effective framework for learning medicine. A systems-based approach means that content is coordinated across all courses, which fosters a holistic, integrated understanding of each organ system. PBL, the true cornerstone of the curriculum, goes beyond training students to think like clinicians, encouraging teamwork, allowing us to both grow together and trust one another.

 

Hayes, Kaitlin

Kaitlin Hayes

Kaitlin Hayes

Second-Year Student, Class of 2016

BS, Molecular & Cellular Biology
University of Illinois

Healthcare Technician - Cardiovascular ICU
CNA - Skilled Nursing Facility

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I was really drawn to the Northwestern University PA Program for many reasons. One was the affiliation to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Feinberg School of Medicine. This allowed the opportunity to work with and learn from top experts across the nation. Another reason was the system-based approach and Problem-Based Learning (PBL). I traditionally learned from lecture-based learning in undergrad, but I know that I learn best when I can apply my knowledge directly. I found PBL to be a very effective and engaging learning method for me, and highly recommend it. Lastly, I was also attracted to the downtown campus location and the small class sizes.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

PA school has been an incredibly steep learning curve, but after completing didactic year, I felt confident with my knowledge base and prepared for clinical year. Clinical year has been an exciting experience so far, because you get to interact with patients and actually have an impact on their healthcare. The learning never stops, and it was always challenging and interesting to see how diseases present in the book compared to how they present in real life.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

PA school is very demanding, and Northwestern’s PA program definitely sets the bar quite high. Prepare to be hardworking, self-motivated and flexible. Since Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a huge academic center, take advantage of every learning and networking opportunity possible.

Lee, Gina

Gina Lee

Gina Lee

Second-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Biochemistry
University of Washington

Patient Care Coordinator - Psychiatric Clinic

Home State: Washington

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I really liked the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) style, and having the resources and access that come with a big university and hospital were also good bonuses.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

To be honest, I was nervous for rotations to begin. I felt like I learned a lot during didactic year, but there was still so much medicine I didn’t know. I also don’t do well under pressure when getting questioned, even if it’s on topics I have a relatively good grasp on. However, I’ve found the transition to be a lot less daunting than I originally expected. Going through PBL cases week after week really helped to prepare me for the history-taking and physical components of patient care; it’s literally translating everything you did on the computer to the patient in front of you. As for the assessment and plan portion, preceptors are generally very understanding, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how much we have obtained through didactic year, even maybe without consciously realizing we learned all of that. Once you start thinking through and talking out a few cases, you’ll realize you know more than you think. Obviously, there are definitely times when I have no idea, but I’ve found that the preceptors are very helpful and willing to teach as long as you’re showing an eagerness to learn.  Overall, though, I think the program prepares us pretty well for rotations.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

I think one of the biggest things to consider is the PBL curriculum. Be sure to do research on this and understand that it’s a large part of our program. Coming in, I knew what PBL was to some extent and was half-excited, half-skeptical, but it’s been so much more enjoyable and helpful than I originally imagined. It is so useful to have “patient encounters” multiple times a week to hone in the basic history, and physical exam skills and spending time sitting in small-group discussion with fellow classmates was a much-appreciated break from formal lectures. From what I’ve heard, I don’t think there’s anyone in the program who isn’t a fan, and I think it’s been a very efficient and effective way to learn medicine.

Another big factor for me, personally, when deciding between schools was the access to resources the program has. I’ve really appreciated being affiliated with so many well-established hospitals in the area. It’s given me a lot of opportunities with my rotations thus far, and it’s been nice to not have to travel too far for any one rotation.

May, Sarah

Sarah May

Sarah May

Second-Year Student, Class of 2015

BS, Kinesiology
University of Michigan

Household Caretaker
Hospital Volunteer

Home State: Michigan

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I chose Northwestern for many reasons. First of all, I appreciated the small class size. Coming from University of Michigan and being one of hundreds in most of my classes, I looked for programs with small class sizes so I could really get to know my classmates and faculty members. Secondly, the faculty members are passionate about this program, and the vast majority have been here to foster the program's growth and success from the very beginning. They are deeply invested in our learning and want to prepare us to be the best PAs we can be. I also came here for the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and systems-based program. When we are in a unit, all of our classes are centered on that specific organ system. For example, during the cardiology unit our PBL cases, anatomy, physiology/pathophysiology, clinical medicine, clinical lab medicine, patient assessment, behavioral and preventative medicine, pharmacology, etc., were all centered on cardiology. I think it is a great way to learn because in medicine you have to think about all of the above when approaching a patient. And last but certainly not least, the amazing location just steps away from the Magnificent Mile and Lake Michigan doesn't hurt either.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

I think the transition has been smooth. After spending 12 months in the classroom learning the skills to best assess and treat patients, I was ready to put those to the test. The first few weeks in a new setting are always an adjustment because you have to adapt to a new facility whether it be a hospital or outpatient clinic, navigate the electronic medical record, learn everyone's roles as part of the healthcare team and figure out how you fit as the student. Another thing to remember is that the learning does not stop once you're out of the classroom. I think I am learning and retaining more information this year because I am seeing the disease processes firsthand and then supplement what I haven't seen by reading and studying.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

Three words: Problem-B Learning (PBL). Each week, we were in groups and went through a case in the same manner we would approach a patient in real life. Chief complaint, history, physical, appropriate labs and imaging, diagnosis and treatment. All the while, we are refining our differential diagnoses. This occurred every week during the didactic year and multiple times every single day during clinical year. PBL gave me the skills to approach each patient uniquely and helped me broaden my list of differential diagnoses.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

How much I know and how much I don't know. There will always, always, always be more to learn. More to read. More to practice. As a future healthcare provider, it is important to be a lifelong learner and to know your limitations. I was also surprised by the support from the vast majority of preceptors. I had the assumption that my preceptors would be strict and put me on the spot with questions I couldn't answer, but this is generally not the case. Some even take the time out of their day for individual teaching sessions, and I greatly appreciate that.

OConnor, Colin

Colin O'Connor

Colin O'Connor

Second-Year Student, Class of 2016

BA, Sociology
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Phlebotomy/Medical Assistant

Home State: Minnesota

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I chose Northwestern because Northwestern Hospital is one of the best in the nation and I was intrigued by the Problem-Based Learning curriculum.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

I was a little nervous for my first clinical rotation, but this was short lived. We received an excellent didactic education, and I was better prepared than I realized. It’s been great.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

Didactic year felt like a sprint the distance of a marathon. In that short time frame, we collected a very full knowledge set that included not only the “nuts and bolts” like pharmacology and patient assessment, but finer nuances such as how to compassionately interact with a variety of populations. Although I’ve learned so much since then, I did not feel deficient heading into the clinic.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

You no doubt have worked hard to be a top PA student candidate and have distinguished yourself among your peers. After getting in, it’s time to make a change. Competition needs to turn to collaboration. Let the little things go; no need to agonize over little points missed on your quizzes. You’re going to be okay.

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

I have several years of military service and a few years of an intensive Biblical studies program under my belt. I think those demanding, marathon-like experiences have been a big factor in my transition into PA student life.

Pappas, Carli

Carli Pappas

Carli Pappas

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BS Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Physical Therapy Technician

Home State: Illinois

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

The Northwestern PA Program curriculum is designed in a way that allows students from all different backgrounds and knowledge bases to succeed. This is accomplished in a number of ways that I did not fully appreciate prior to beginning studies at Northwestern. First, the systems-based approach allows us to connect information from class to class. When we learn about a body system and its diseases, we learn to assess it physically, its clinical presentation, the physiology behind it, the pharmacologic agents that treat it and, importantly, gain hands-on experience with the anatomy of that system. Additionally, small group PBL prepares students for learning while on clinical rotations and beyond. PBL not only helped me understand medicine, but it taught me how to think and research for myself. These aspects, central to the NUPA curriculum, not only help to prepare students to pass the PANCE, but also be successful lifelong learners.

 

Readle, Amy

Amy Readle

Amy Readle

Second-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Nutrition
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Clinical Dietitian

Home State: Illinois

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

Aside from being located in the heart of my favorite city, I chose Northwestern because of its fantastic reputation, proximity to an academic hospital with endless resources and its systems-based, interactive Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

Incredibly exciting. I was skeptical at first, but am now impressed to say I have transitioned from scared, timid student to proactive PA-in-training in just a few months. The clinical year forces me to regularly challenge my comfort zone, resulting in a much more flexible and confident version of myself. The best part is being able to share this time of transition with all of my classmates.

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

The most important skill I credit to my didactic experience is my ability to actively think through a situation at hand. PBL forced me to truly understand clinical medicine material rather than simply memorizing it  The ability to employ that skill in the rotation year has benefitted me on a daily basis. Whether it be answering a preceptor’s question, educating a patient about his/her condition or working through a patient’s care plan on my own, I am able to expand my knowledge much further because of the groundwork established during my didactic year.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

Both my level of confidence and the awesome respect that all of my rotations have for Northwestern PA students, which seem to continually fuel one another.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

Spend the time doing your research and understanding the core of every program you consider. Make a list of your own priorities and see how well they match with the programs you are considering. This may very well be the hardest, most rewarding journey you have taken yet. Be sure to make it count.

Rubin, Shelby

Shelby Rubin

Shelby Rubin

Second-Year Student, Class of 2015

BS, Sociology
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Nursing Assistant in a Cancer Care Center
Emergency Department Volunteer

Home State: Minnesota

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

One of the primary reasons I was drawn to the Northwestern University PA Program was the Problem-Based Learning curriculum. It enabled the application of clinical knowledge to be directly and constantly integrated into the complemented lecture-based learning. This is one opportunity that other PA programs do not have, and I strongly feel that it forced me to be a critical thinking clinician from day one.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

The second year is completely different from the first year. For the most part, your first year is a constant and consistent schedule from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You’re sitting in a classroom during the day and studying at night. For the second year, not only does your schedule change every month, but it changes every day. So, the second year does require some adjustment to your typical daily schedule. With some rotations requiring a commute each way, you need to account not only for your clinical time but also for transportation. Your study schedule changes: You study when you have down time or when you have a day off. You may work a weekend and have a day off during the week. With all that being said, being out on rotations is by far the best of the two years of PA school. It is so rewarding and you get some of your social life back. It’s a glimpse into soon-to-be “real” life.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

Second year is amazing. Not only do you learn something new every day, but you can see the progress you are making in becoming a ready-to-practice clinician daily. Prior to starting second year, I was very concerned about not only remembering all that I had learned in first year, but also being able to apply it in an effective, efficient way that allowed me to work alongside my preceptors as opposed to slowing them down and/or disappointing them. I was concerned about getting lost in the pack when learning at a teaching institution due to the fact that there are medical students, residents and fellows also on the pecking board. However, all of these concerns were quickly put to rest in my first rotation and have continued to be at rest as the second year progresses. For the most part, the preceptors are so excited to have you as a part of their team for four weeks and are constantly impressed with the level of clinical knowledge and application we as PA students have. Even when at a teaching institution, the residents and medical students are excited to help you learn and learn with you. My concerns about remembering information and being efficient and effective were also put to rest quickly. It always takes about two to three days to get into the swing of a new practice or clinical setting, but your knowledge comes right back to you when you’re there with a patient. You will surprise yourself like I did, I promise. The stress and worry that you find yourself having in a standardized patient setting at school is completely gone when in a clinical setting. Don’t get me wrong, I am constantly referencing resources to ensure I am not missing anything, but so are the preceptors. You’re not alone, and you’re constantly developing and improving.

Saggese, Samantha

Samantha Saggese

Samantha Saggese

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BS Biochemistry
Northeastern University

Rehabilitation Aide, Research Assistant

Home State: Massachusetts

Compared to your impressions before starting PA school, what has surprised you since enrolling in the Northwestern PA Program?

Prior to starting at Northwestern, I was worried that I would struggle with finding a work-life balance in such a rigorous program. I did not know exactly what to expect from the intimidating challenge that lied ahead of me. However, I was encouraged from the beginning by the support available to me from faculty, staff, and my fellow classmates. Through their help, PA school became a less daunting, more enjoyable experience. I was relieved to figure out ways to make the most of an immersive educational experience while also finding time to build new friendships, explore a new city, and continue old hobbies.

 

Saulnier, Matt

Matt Saulnier

Matt Saulnier

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BS Dietetics, MS Nutrition
University of Kentucky

Clinical Dietitian

Home State: Kentucky

What attracted you to the Northwestern University PA Program?

There were several facets that drew me to the Northwestern University PA Program. First and foremost, the national recognition of the Northwestern medical system as a premier institution for both medical care and education gave me the confidence that I would receive the best schooling available. In conjunction, I enjoyed the promise of a small class size. From attending an information session as well as an interview day, it was clear that the faculty were fully invested in the students’ education, which I did not think I would get with a larger class. The PBL-based curriculum was also central in my decision to attend Northwestern. Finally, the location of the program in the heart of downtown Chicago was another drawing factor.

 

Shen, Isabel

Isabel Shen

Isabel Shen

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BA, Neuroscience
University of Southern California

Medical Assistant

Home State: California

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

The Northwestern PA Program curriculum effectively combines system-based and problem-based learning. By the end of didactic year, we have thoroughly analyzed each body system in terms of its anatomy, physiology, clinical pathology/physical assessment, diagnostic testing, pharmacotherapy, and disease prevention. Each class contributes to the understanding of the others, helping us to synthesize and retain information for clinical application. Moreover, the PBL curriculum, based on actual patient cases drives us to collaborate with each other, research and communicate information concisely, and bring our focus back to patient- centered care. As I progress through clinical year, I am impressed by how Northwestern’s curriculum provided me with both the knowledge base and research skills I need for each rotation.

 

Stahl, Nicole

Nicole Stahl

Nicole Stahl

Second-Year Student, Class of 2017

BS, Human Biology
University of Southern California

Newborn Hearing Screener

Home State: California

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I loved the idea of being part of a 30-person class at a hospital that is recognized as an excellent teaching institution across the nation. Our small class size and dedicated faculty members allow us to have amazing opportunities both inside the classroom and during our clinical year rotations. Beyond that, Northwestern’s curriculum seemed to fit my learning style very well. Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a unique way of learning medicine through practice with realistic clinical scenarios. This hands-on approach was appealing to me because I knew that each patient case would reinforce the most important aspects of my education in a memorable way.

How did your Didactic Experience prepare you for the rotation year?

The overall structure and thoroughness of Northwestern’s PA Program didactic year truly prepared me for my clinical rotations. The first day in each new rotation is always intimidating, but my experiences from the first year have reliably carried me through each new environment. I think the most helpful portion of my first-year education has been the PBL curriculum. Every time I walk into a patient’s room, I know exactly how to approach the clinical question at hand because of our intensive practice with PBL patients during each week of the didactic year. During our first year of school, we also practice various difficult scenarios that we could potentially encounter during our future interactions with patients. It was very helpful to have had experience giving bad news to actors pretending to be patients for when I had to admit a patient to palliative care during my internal medicine rotation. These types of intangible patient interaction skills are a major focus of Northwestern’s PA Program and have genuinely influenced the way I will interact with patients throughout my PA career. I feel confident in my ability to obtain accurate patient histories, perform thorough physical exams and reach out to patients in an approachable way.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

During my clinical year, I have been pleasantly surprised by how hands-on each of my rotations has been. Before starting our rotations, we take a course called “Pre-Clinical Year Preparation” where we learn skills like venipuncture, IV access, lumbar punctures, suturing and other simulated activities to prepare us for our second year of education. When learning each of these activities for the first time, I remember wondering if I would ever be given the opportunity to use my newfound skillsets during my rotations. On my first day of rotation, I was able to place a catheter, remove staples from a wound and first assist in a below-knee amputation. Since that time, I have only grown in my clinical skillsets and feel confident in areas that I never expected to master. Being at such a well-known teaching institution has allowed me to learn from the best physicians, PAs, NPs and others.

Steinhauser, Mark

Mark Steinhauser

Mark Steinhauser

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BA Social Work
University of Iowa

Army Combat Medic, Emergency Room Technician, Social Worker

Home State: Iowa

What are your impressions of the PA Program curriculum?

The Northwestern PA curriculum is designed to produce competent, self-driven, and compassionate clinicians. The PBL curriculum develops our ability to address clinical problems in a logical way, whilst building our interdisciplinary skills. In each class, we are required to support our decisions/ideas by using evidence-based medical guidelines and research, in addition to being able to communicate this information in a concise and effective manner to our peers. This approach prepares us well for clinical rotations. We can effectively elicit histories from patients, perform appropriate examinations, and make evidence-based recommendations regarding treatment. I believe the curriculum has created clinicians able to competently adapt and work with a variety of medical professionals in diverse settings. Lastly, we have trained with quizzes and tests for the entirety of our curriculum. This rigorous testing has built our mental stamina, making us well prepared for every exam and the PANCE, as demonstrated through the successes of previous classes. Although challenging, every element of Northwestern’s PA Program cultivates excellence from its students.

 

Weidner, Savannah

Savannah Weidner

Savannah Weidner

Second-Year Student, Class of 2019

BS Neuroscience
University of Michigan

Certified Nursing Assistant, Laboratory Assistant

Home State: Michigan

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

My clinical experience as a certified nursing assistant helped make the transition to PA school smooth, and allowed me to better enjoy clinical rotations. Being able to comfortably interact with patients was instrumental in preparing me for PA School. As a nursing assistant, I cared for a very diverse population of patients from varying backgrounds. This experience taught me how to be comfortable in caring for others, and demonstrated to me the critical nature of the patient-clinician interaction, as well as the importance of being a patient advocate.

 

Werts, Rachel

Rachel Werts

Rachel Werts

Second-Year Student, Class of 2016

BS, Nutrition
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Nutrition Assistant - Biochemical Genetics Clinic
CNA - Children's Hematology/Oncology

Home State: Minnesota & Wisconsin

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I loved that the class size was small and staff had a relationship with students. I was also very interested in the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum design and Medical Spanish class. Also, you can’t beat Chicago for a diverse patient population.

What has the transition been like between the didactic and rotation years of the program?

Quite a transition. Learning hands-on is much more organic than sitting in a classroom all day. I find that I remember concepts more easily because I have real patients and experiences to tie them to. I’ve also been enjoying the work/life balance. You create your own study schedule outside the hospital, which is nice.  

How did your didactic experience prepare you for the rotation year?

PBL really sets you up for the autonomy of second year. You realize quickly that clinical year is what you decide to make of it. You are in charge of how actively you pursue your own learning, your attitude, looking up medical literature, your extra studying, improving skills, etc.

Compared to your initial impressions, what has surprised you during your rotation year experience?

What has really amazed me is how quickly you ascend the learning curve in each rotation. You only have one month through each specialty, so it goes by quickly. It is a great feeling at the end of every month to think back on how much you did and learned in the past month. I’ve also been amazed at the variety of clinical sites I’ve been able to work in. Cook County, Mt. Sinai, the VA, private family practice and NMH all have their own separate patient populations that present unique learning experiences.

What advice or other thoughts would you share with an applicant considering the Northwestern University PA Program?

If you are an independent person who is excited about learning, then this is the program for you. Also, if you want to work with a diverse patient population, it will give you the opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients (including Spanish speakers if you are interested in speaking Spanish). 

Prior to enrolling, what helped you feel prepared for PA school?

The initial uncertainty of how PA school was going to turn out for me ended up being a great prelude to clinical year. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started PA school. Now that I’m on rotations, each month is a new uncertainty, a new adventure and a new chance to learn. It’s not always about being prepared. It’s about improving from where you’re at. If you have the right attitude and keep working hard, you’ll be just fine.  

Alumni

Braier, Christopher

Christopher Braier

Christopher Braier

Alumni, Class of 2012

BA, Biology
Lawrence University

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The Problem-Based Learning curriculum and reputation of the University.

How did you find your first job out of PA school?

I found my first job by way of our “career day” in March of my second year at Northwestern. We had representatives from different hospitals come to talk to us about applying for jobs. I went up and talked to one of the speakers after the presentation and told her I was interested in her field, and it eventually led to my first position out of PA school.

If you were going to do it all over again, what would you do differently (regarding the PA school experience, choosing PA school or anything at all)?

I would have taken my elective rotations in something different than my current profession. I knew I wanted to go into orthopedics, but I wish I had a better knowledge base in cardiology and/or respiratory by taking a four-week rotation in one of those subjects.

Eiten, Emily

Emily Eiten

Emily Eiten

Alumni, Class of 2012

BS, Kinesiology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

In addition to going to school between the Mag Mile and Lake Shore Drive, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine has an exceptional reputation.

What aspect of the Northwestern University PA Program best prepared you for your current position?

Problem-Based Learning (PBL): At first I was hesitant for this form of learning and was even avoiding PA programs that offered PBL; however, my interview convinced me otherwise. PBL made the coursework exciting, encouraged team skills and, most importantly, helped me retain information because I was responsible for teaching my classmates. I can still recall our first case.

How did you find your first job out of PA school?

Mayo Clinic BMT saved my father’s life; therefore, I have the utmost respect for this institution. When I saw a job posting online, I immediately applied and the rest is history.

If you were going to do it all over again, what would you do differently (regarding the PA school experience, choosing PA school or anything at all)?

I would recommend choosing your elective rotations very carefully; pick a weakness, not a strength and become better at that particular specialty. Whatever you decide to do, an additional few weeks in cardiology or pulmonary will help you.

Jacob, Sincer

Sincer Jacob

Sincer Jacob

Alumni, Class of 2013

BS, Respiratory Therapy
Ohio State University

Respiratory Therapist

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

A number of factors went into selecting different programs; specifically the reputation of the program, opportunities and board pass rates. Additionally, being in Chicago only added to endless opportunities within the program.

What aspect of the Northwestern University PA Program best prepared you for your current position?

One thing that distinguishes Northwestern’s PA Program is the variety of rotations offered. I completed rotations at major academic medical centers, federal hospitals, community hospitals and even private practices. The variety of patients from inner-city to rural populations prepared me well to practice medicine.

What advice or thoughts would you share with an applicant regarding work or involvement in the PA profession after PA school?

Research. Research is imperative to success. Know expectations, set goals and make plans to accomplish those goals.

Lee, Christine

C. Christine Lee

C. Christine Lee

Alumni, Class of 2012

BS, Brain, Behavior and Cognitive Sciences
University of Michigan

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I chose Northwestern for numerous reasons. First, the PA Program is situated in the downtown Chicago medical campus. The students have access to some of the most advanced medical resources (e.g., patient simulation lab) and have the opportunity to train at a nationally recognized healthcare system. With the strong reputation Northwestern University carries, I knew graduating from the program would help me during my job search process. Lastly, after my interview with one of the faculty members, Ms. Kris Healy, I was impressed by the program's commitment and dedication to reaching out to the underserved populations. 

How did you find your first job out of PA school?

Persistence. I knew I was interested in dermatology and that getting a job straight out of PA school would be difficult. During my clinical year, I completed an elective rotation in dermatology and shadowed a dermatology PA during my spare time. I was also very active in the Illinois Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants and began networking through the organization. After applying to every dermatology job posting I saw and sending out my CV to all the dermatology offices in the Chicagoland area, I finally landed my dream job.

If you were going to do it all over again, what would you do differently (regarding the PA school experience, choosing PA school or anything at all)?

I wish I could have been more involved with the student leadership. Don't be scared like I was. I was concerned that I would not be able to balance schoolwork and holding a leadership position. Looking back now, it would have been doable. 

Mangerson, James

James Mangerson

James Mangerson

Alumni, Class of 2012

BS, Nuclear Medicine Technology
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

I chose the PA Program because I had been working in the NMH system for a few years and knew both the reputation of Feinberg as well as the quality of the University as a whole. Regardless of being in the first class or not, which had inherent risk, I knew that being at such an esteemed institution I would be well educated and prepared at the highest level. And you can’t beat classes on the shores of Lake Michigan either. 

What aspect of the Northwestern University PA Program best prepared you for your current position?

The single most important aspect that prepared me was the expectation for excellence. The program championed high expectations to perform at the highest level as well as represent a new program in the Chicagoland area. If we weren’t prepared for a clinical day or didn’t score well on national exams, it reflected poorly on a program that we were directly responsible for shaping. That being said, Northwestern gave us endless educational resources within the medical school that enabled us to succeed.

What was the biggest adjustment moving from PA school to your current position?

The most difficult part of the transition from student to practice was with confident decision-making. As a student, there is always someone superior to you that reviews your notes, assessment and plan, but as a practicing PA there is a level of autonomy that demands not only knowledge and compassionate decision-making but also confidence, which is difficult to develop.

How did you find your first job out of PA school?

I did my final rotation, an elective, at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Cardiothoracic Surgery and was hired before the end of the rotation.

What advice or thoughts would you share with an applicant regarding work or involvement in the PA profession after PA school?

I think the best initial step is to be selfish; concentrate first on your immediate position as a provider and get through your first year as a PA. Learn as much as possible about your field and yourself in that field. Once you begin to feel confident and see some real success as a healthcare provider, then start to transition into leadership and involvement. You can’t be a good leader without a strong clinical base.

If you were going to do it all over again, what would you do differently (regarding the PA school experience, choosing PA school or anything at all)?

Wouldn’t change a thing.

Tamble, Megan

Megan Tamble

Megan Tamble

Alumni, Class of 2012

BS, Child Psychology
University of Minnesota

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) style was a major factor for me, in addition to the hospital connection with Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

What aspect of the Northwestern University PA Program best prepared you for your current position?

Ability to adapt to new situations and learn new information (preparing learning issues from PBL class). The ability to read through information and pull relevant portions to create a concise summary is an important skill to have. There will always be new information, and it will help you to create your own “learning issues” and share the information with other colleagues and residents. It helps move your knowledge base further than you will achieve with passive learning.

How did you find your first job out of PA School?

Networking, networking, networking. Know your interest (but don’t commit too soon to interest; keep your options open), always be “on,” everyone you meet on rotation is a potential colleague. Treat them as such.

Wilson, Margaret

Margaret Wilson

Margaret Wilson

Alumni, Class of 2012

BS, Biopsychology
University of Michigan

EKG Technician

Why did you select the Northwestern University PA Program?

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) aspect of the curriculum.

What aspect of the Northwestern University PA Program best prepared you for your current position?

PBL: Learning and practicing the process of how to approach topics in medicine rather than just learning information. You’re never going to be able to memorize everything, so PBL teaches you to be comfortable taking any clinical topic or question and knowing how to approach finding the answer and applying it to your patient.

How did you find your first job out of PA school?

Web postings on hospital websites.

What advice or thoughts would you share with an applicant regarding work or involvement in the PA profession after PA school?

Become a member of your state, national and specialty organizations. They are the only ones advocating for you, and they are a great resource when you have questions.

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