I started the application process over two months ago, and now it's finally on its way to the five schools I'm applying to!
DUKE is my first choice... I would be able to stay in the Triangle, and who turns down the Duke reputation? They invented the entire profession of PAs, for goodness' sake! They have some awesome facilities and even offer a few international rotations during the clinical year.
PACIFIC is another top contender. They're a small private school -- an atmosphere I've never experienced, but think I would love -- in a fantastic location (just outside of Portland, OR). They also have lots of cool international rotations during the clinical year (everything from Costa Rica to Kenya). In my head, this program feels very funky and 'colorful'. Scary as such a drastic move might be, it's really appealing to just toss most of our stuff in storage and spend two years among the redwood trees, biking to class every day and wearing jeans and L.L. Bean all the time.
MEDICAL University is another of my favorites. Located in Charleston (another great location!), the school does only medical programs (MD, PA, RN, OT, etc.) They've been awesome about communicating with me about all my questions. And, as a bonus, they have an amazing fitness center.
FLORIDA, my undergrad institution, makes the list, too, of course. They use actual cadavers in their dissections and supposedly have the very latest equipment, simulators, etc. Plus I'd love to be back in such a liberal, familiar town... and I'd be back on my swim team! :) The only drawback is that, since I'm now a North Carolina resident, this would actually be the very most expensive option on my list.
EAST CAROLINA University is my fifth and final school. By the same token as the above -- the fact that I am now a North Carolina resident -- this would actually be the very cheapest school on my list, ($18k tuition for the entire program, compared to a minimum of $60k for the others). That's really its only pull for me (no international rotations, a small conservative town, very few jobs available for L, etc.), but it's admittedly a strong one.
Anyway, I won't hear anything for months yet, so we'll see what happens... but today was an exciting, important step!