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Hippo Education
By Hippo Education on August 11, 2021

Katie’s Key Concepts for Post-Graduate Residency

Tips for Post-Graduate Residency

I graduated from PA 17 years ago in 2004 and that year only one of my classmates did a post-graduate residency and it was kind of by mistake. She followed a fiancé far from home, hated her first job, and took a dermatology residency spot out of necessity when her engagement broke up and she had a lease in a city with no job. She ended up loving dermatology and still practices it to this day. Residencies were just not commonplace ‘back then’.

Tips for Post-Graduate ResidencyWhen I started on the University of Iowa faculty in 2009, they were still relatively a rare occurrence but they have gained popularity in my tenure on faculty. We graduate 25 PAs each year and in those first 5 or so years, we had 1 maybe 2 students choose a residency over a job.  In the last 5 years, we have had a least 5 students (out of 25) go into a residency program. So still these aren’t huge numbers,  but it is definitely an increase. According to a recently published article,  they estimated 200 graduates entered residency in 2020 out of the 10,000 PA program graduates which I feel like is a low-end number and this article doesn’t explain their estimation rationale. My anecdotal gut says it is probably ~5% which would be more like 500 graduates out of 10, 000. 

There also has been a big increase in the number and variety of programs.  The  Association of Post-Graduate PA Programs has compiled the following list of their member programs. This is not a complete list as it only reports members of their association.   According to their website, “active program members shall be postgraduate programs with a curriculum, including didactic and clinical components, which trains National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) eligible/certified physician assistants for a defined period of time, usually a minimum of twelve (12) months in a medical/surgical specialty. Programs must award a certificate or graduate academic credit or degree”.  

There are lots of reasons to choose a residency after graduation.  There are just as many reasons not to choose one. Here are some pros and cons to read through as you consider.



  • Formalized specific training with supervision
  • Increased clinical and technical abilities
  • Increased confidence
  • More qualifications for jobs after training with a perhaps higher base salary
  • Lower pay while in residency 
  • Student loan interests will accumulate if loans are deferred during training
From my students who have chosen the residency route, each one had their own unique reasons and long-term goals. I asked several of my former students about their experiences so I could share them with you. Check out their questionnaires:

Whether or not you choose to go into a post-graduate residency program after graduation, know that there are lots of options for you and new programs opening up every year. As always, reach out to us with questions and/or comments at pa@hippoeducation.com. 

For the love of medicine,


Published by Hippo Education August 11, 2021
Hippo Education