"We have the flexibility to work in every medical specialty. There's always a role for a PA. Especially in these unprecedented times, we are working on the frontlines. To be a part of that, a part of something bigger and making a difference, the value is priceless."
Korbyn and her classmates learned an amazing amount of medicine in 29 months, and the strength of our MPAS program was clearly evident: every member of the 2019 cohort passed the NCCPA exam. Korbyn was offered a job in Neurosurgery at MercyOne Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, two months before graduating.
SAU launched the only MPAS program in the Quad Cities and Western Illinois region in 2014. Korbyn's education included 14 months of didactic study, followed by 15 months of supervised clinical rotations, which she describes as "straight hands-on. You learned quickly and you learned on your feet." St. Ambrose MPAS students are well prepared for clinical rotations. "There were multiple physicians who wanted to extend job offers or volunteered to help us find jobs because they recognized our potential."
How did the program prepare you for your license exam?
Korbyn walked into the NCCPA exam with confidence. "I knew I was as prepared as I could be," she says. Korbyn said faculty were clear on what they needed to know for the board exam, continually revisited content after each clinical rotation, and provided students with the all of the resources to succeed. Her cohort was the fourth to graduate from SAU, and the second to achieve a 100 percent first-time pass rate. "The program fully prepared me to go into the workforce."
How did faculty support your goals?
"The program is short-term and intense. It is important to establish a personal relationship with faculty right away. I had them to lean on, even during my rotations," she says. "They had confidence that each of us would get through the program and the board exam successfully, and that confidence came across when they were teaching us, too. They were excited for us to go forth and help patients, to give good care."
How do small cohorts create a stronger MPAS program?
At St. Ambrose, each MPAS cohort is limited to 30 students so they get to know – and support – one another. "It was the most stressful time in my life, but also some of my favorite memories. I didn't know what to expect coming in, but it isn't competitive. We worked together, just like you do in all fields of medicine. You work as a team."
What is the value of your St. Ambrose education?
"When people hear the word 'value' they think 'price tag.' But when I decided to become a PA, none of that mattered to me. You obviously can put a price on education, but I would never let something like that come in the way of my passion, my calling in life. It's priceless: helping even one person is making a difference and that's what my SAU education gave me the privilege to do."