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Life at Yale

1st and 2nd year students and faculty member, Jonathan Weber, attend AAPA National Conference in Indianapolis, IN

The Yale Physician Associate Program offers fast-paced graduate-level training in an environment promoting and fostering cooperative intellectualism and professional conduct. We recognize the rigors of the physician assistant education model and of the intensive curriculum here at Yale, and our core PA faculty and staff are devoted to helping and encouraging our students to succeed. The following Student Life pages contain information useful to current and prospective students beyond the classroom, the lab, and the clinic.

Student Health Services offers insurance coverage and important health facilities, including a travel clinic. Students are involved in the Jack Cole Society, a chapter of the Student Academy of American Academy of Physician Assistants. A variety of recreational activities are available, including athletic facilities, cultural and artistic events, and access to museums. Students are discouraged from working due to the intensity of the program, but those who choose to must still meet all program requirements. Students' rights are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The university also promotes a sense of belonging and offers special programs and opportunities to enhance the educational experience.

Student Health Services

Students training to become PAs are required to maintain health insurance coverage throughout their training. Students may elect to enroll as members of the Yale Health Plan (YHP), which is a prepaid health insurance plan with facilities located in the center of the Yale campus.

The YHP also offers a travel clinic to assist students who plan to travel abroad. Important health and safety information as well as immunization requirements can be found at the travel clinic. A full description of services and benefits is provided in the Student Handbook and is distributed to all incoming students during orientation. More information can be found at:

Please note: All students must have a physical examination and the requisite vaccinations prior to matriculation. For more details on required immunizations, visit the Yale Health Plan web page for new School of Medicine, School of Nursing and PA Program Student Forms.

Jack Cole Society

The Jack W. Cole Society is the Yale chapter of the Student Academy of American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA).

Dr. Cole was a founder and very important advocate of our program, its students and the PA profession during the 1970s. The society participates in community service projects, secures speakers on various topics and organizes social events.

Jack Westley Cole, M.D. - Founding Father of the Yale Physician Associate Program

Photo by Terry Dagradi
Jack W. Cole, MD

Dr. Jack W. Cole earned his BS degree from the University of Oregon in 1939 and received his M.D. degree in 1944 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After completing his surgical residency at the University Hospital of Cleveland, Ohio, he taught at the Western Reserve University where he attained tenure as faculty professor. He entered into the military and served as Captain in the Medical Corps and Chief of Surgery of the 120th Station in Bayreuth, Germany. Upon fulfilling his military duties, he accepted the position of Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963. Dr. Cole came to Yale three years later and served as the Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1966 through 1986. During that time, he also served as Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Yale from 1978-1986 and subsequently retired in 1986.

In the late 1960s, in response to an overwhelming need for improvement in the area of trauma care, Dr. Cole applied for grants from the Commonwealth Fund. He was awarded 3 million dollars to support the proposal which was to provide better-equipped ambulances, hospitals and properly trained personnel. As part of the endeavor, the Yale Physician Associate Program was conceived to train medical personnel to assist in the surgical and medical management of patients.

Dr. Cole traveled the country and the world as a visiting professor including positions in London, Saigon and Taiwan, and was twice a Woodrow Wilson National Foundation Visiting Fellow. His involvement in professional societies has been immeasurable. He was a founding member of the American Trauma Society, and he was president of the New England Cancer Society and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Institutional Research Grants of the American Cancer Society. Besides his numerous contributions to the field of medical education, he served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Graduate Education of the American Medical Association, and was on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cancer Research Institute at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Cole died June 17, 2002 in Camden, ME, at the age of 81.


Athletics and fitness

Many Yale PA students credit exercise as the best way to unwind after a long day in the anatomy lab or on the wards; for this, Yale's Payne-Whitney gymnasium, open to all students at no cost, offers a wide range of classes, squash and racquetball courts, indoor and outdoor running tracks, a par course, and two pools.

Harkness Memorial Hall also hosts its own smaller Harkness Gym facility, whose access is limited to students of the Yale School of Medicine and, like Payne-Whitney, is free for our students.

Yale's golf course is one of the top 100 courses in the country and the Sebastian Coe running track is reputed to be the fastest in the world.

Students enjoying outside activity

The Outdoor Education Center, consisting of 1,500 acres in East Lyme, Connecticut, includes a trout pond, cabins and campsites, hiking trails, swimming, horseshoes, fishing, volleyball, cookouts, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, basketball, ping pong, and a picnic grove available for day trip or overnight stay.

In addition to use of Yale's world class athletic facilities, our students have free access to Yale collegiate sporting events.

More information on sports and recreation can be found on Yale's Living in New Haven website.

Music and Theater

New Haven's strong cultural and artistic traditions continue to thrive into the 21st century. The city boasts three world-renowned theater houses, including the Long Wharf Theater, the Yale Repertory Theater, and the historic Shubert Theater for Performing Arts where debuted such works as OKLAHOMA!, Carousel, A Streetcar Named Desire, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.

Broadway touring shows, the Connecticut Ballet Company, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and the abundance of artistic contributions of the University, such as the Yale Symphony, the Yale Chorale, and the Yale Glee Club, also offer an extraordinary caliber of musical and theatrical entertainment.


The City is also home to some of our nation's most impressive art collections (and with less crowd, at that): the Yale Art Gallery, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Mellon Art Gallery, and the Center for British Art.

Other Opportunities

In addition, the City sponsors a number of festivals, concerts, and open markets on the streets of New Haven. Attendees of the nationally renowned International Festival of Arts & Ideas flock to the City of New Haven's Town Green throughout the summer months, the town commons becoming an annual mecca for thousands of artists and tourists who travel to enjoy weekly concerts and other special events.

More information on the artistic offerings and traditions of the City of New Haven can be found in Yale's Living in New Haven Culture guide.

Yale's annual contribution to the City of New Haven helps to keep the 27 blocks surrounding the Town Green safe and clean.

Work Policy

Due to the labor and time intensive nature of the Yale School of Medicine Physician Associate Program, students are discouraged from working while enrolled in the Program.

Any student who chooses to work while in the program is expected to attend scheduled classes and fulfill all stated activities of the program. A student who chooses to work may not switch classes, labs, special assignments or clinical rotations to accommodate their work schedule.

If the student’s academic or clinical performance falls below the minimum program standard, the program director may recommend a student’s termination of employment. This recommendation will be made in writing and placed in the students file.

Students are not at any time required to perform work duties for the PA program.

Students are not permitted to substitute for clinical or administrative staff during supervised clinical practice experiences. Violation of these policies will result in a referral to the Progress Committee.

Notification of Students’ Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Please review student rights under FERPA.

Student Life

Yale aspires to be the most student-focused research university in the world. Yale’s commitments to teaching and student engagement are distinctive, as too are its activities that prepare and assist students to take full advantage of their educational programs and of the extraordinary strengths and assets of the university.

Belonging at Yale

Belonging at Yale is the name for the university’s activities to enhance diversity, support equity, and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion, and respect.