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Student Expectations

While the reward is great, there are many challenges in the program. 

The program is strict and demanding. It is designed for highly motivated individuals who can assimilate large amounts of information and apply it in a clinical environment.

Students must successfully complete both the clinical AND the didactic portions of the program to graduate. Graduates must then pass certification board exams to practice in the field.

We estimate 6 - 8 additional hours of evening study per week. Thus, employment outside of school hours is discouraged.


Travel to clinical affiliates is required. Each clinical rotation lasts approximately 4-7 weeks.


8-hour shifts begin at 7:00 am (or earlier in some clinics) and can extend through 4:30 pm.  Time may be deducted from the 60 hours of allowed leave for students who arrive late or leave early.


Clinical rotations are assigned by the Selection Committee and cannot be modified. There is a total of 10 rotations (divided over 5 quarters). Palo Alto students rotate to clinics in the Bay Area. Sacramento students rotate to clinics in Martinez. Fresno students must attend a 5-7-week (minimum) PET/CT rotation in either Palo Alto or Sacramento.


Students are expected to arrive on time and stay for the length of their shift.  Students who skip class or clinic without authorization may be dismissed from the program.  Students are allowed a maximum of 60 hours of combined personal and sick leave, if needed.


We do not charge tuition.  This education is provided for free by the Federal government.  And there is no work obligation after graduation.  Ancillary school expenses are estimated to be less than $500 for the entire program.  Students are responsible for their own cost of living (e.g.  Housing, living expenses, transportation, etc.)


Our program is hospital-based and is thus not eligible for Federal Direct student loans or grants.


Students are responsible for transportation between sites and parking fees ($35/month at some sites).


Students in Sacramento, Martinez and Fresno attend class via live, interactive, video-teleconference from a classroom reserved for student-use at their local VA clinic.  We do not offer web-based online classes.


All students must attend a mandatory safety seminar in Palo Alto during the first week of the program. Some additional travel may be required for special projects, events, or exams.


Students who fail grade objectives or violate program, VA or affiliate hospital policies may be dismissed from the program.

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