Category Archives: The PA Career

Set Yourself Apart with Unique Hands-On Patient Experience

During the EXCELL Pre Physician Clerkship Program, you’ll undergo a PA mentorship that includes both mentoring and shadowing experience. Not only does the program provide you with insight into the PA profession, you also get first-hand experience observing how PAs interact with patients, collaborate with physicians, and generally operate in their medical practice. In addition, you get to administer a Quality of Life Patient Survey and present a Plan of Action to your facility administration, giving you a sense on contribution to the quality of service for current and future patients.

If you think this unique, hands-on experience isn’t valuable, take a look at a past student’s recollections of their time in the program.  Read more »

How Well Do You Know Your Physician Assistant History?

How well do you know your Physician Assistant history? You may know enough of the bullet points to get through your interview, but will that may not be enough to get a good understanding of the profession.

To be able to effectively convey your reasons for wanting to become a physician assistant, it’s important to understand what a physician assistant does. If you don’t have a solid knowledge of where the profession came from, how it was founded, and how it grew to the point it is today, you’ll have a difficult time justifying why you want to become a physician assistant rather than a doctor or nurse practitioner. Read more »

10 Important Things to Consider Before Starting PA School

Picture this; you’ve been accepted to your top PA program. Your application and interviews are a distant memory, you’ve celebrated your acceptance, and the reality of starting school is starting to kick in.

Regardless of your previous academic or personal experiences, Physician Assistant school will be a new type of challenge you likely have not faced.  If you want to maximize your PA program experience, familiarize yourself with what you’ll be getting into (just like you did when you were preparing for your interviews). You probably already know you’ll be spending a lot of time studying, but there’s much more to doing well in PA school than hitting the books.

We’ve compiled the top 10 things pre-PA students should consider before starting their PA school journey. Read more »

Navigating the Ethics of Healthcare

Healthcare: Entitlement vs. Right

In an era where the face of healthcare is rapidly changing amidst an affordability crisis, the question on everyone’s mind is simple: is healthcare a right to all that live in our country? This question is difficult and goes into the entitlement vs. right debate. As a future physician assistant, you must bear in mind that it is our obligation as health care providers to provide care to everyone, giving them the best care possible.  That being said, we need to always make sure we act ethically and base our decisions around providing the best possible care without bringing our own biases or morals into play. Read more »

The 5 Most Important Leadership Qualities for a PA

PAs are in a unique position in that they must act as both leader and team player depending on the situation.  Many PAs will find themselves needing to step up in the moment and lead a team without a second thought while still maintaining a “group effort” mentality.  If you don’t have the ability to work well in both roles, you may find yourself unable to keep up with the professional demands of the job. Read more »

Working Through Constructive Criticism

Whether it’s been at work, school, or in a personal setting, all of us have received constructive criticism at some point.  Constructive criticism is a type of evaluation that involves both positive and negative feedback.  While this type of feedback is typically used to help improve the recipient and to encourage personal or professional growth, it has the potential to cause a negative reaction.

It’s important for physician assistants to have the ability to receive constructive criticism graciously. You can be sure that a physician assistant will receive plenty of constructive criticism over time, especially in the early part of their career.  In some ways, it’s the nature of the profession, but it can also be the nature of practicing medicine as there’s always more to learn and there will seemingly always be someone more knowledgeable than you.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of constructive criticism, how can you work through it in an affective and tactful way?  Framing your criticism positively is arguably the easiest way because, if you think about it, most constructive criticism already includes at least one “positive” you can focus on.  For example, if you keep making the same mistake but it’s coming from a place of good intentions, reassure yourself that your intentions and motivations are the “positive” but you need to change the actions you’re taking to help improve the “negative”.   This will allow you to focus on the steps needed to correct your actions rather than turning inwards and questioning yourself.

There are two phrases that should never come out of your mouth- “I can’t” and “I know”.  Saying “I can’t” is extremely detrimental psychologically to a person who hopes to pursue a career in medicine.  The rigors of the education alone require an extremely positive attitude to achieve success.  Similarly, saying “I know” makes you seem like a know-it-all while not actually acknowledging the things that may need improvement.  If you respond to every critique with “I know”, you come across as arrogant, disinterested, and closed minded.  If you’re perceived as a closed off person, you could inadvertently lose some important opportunities for growth and personal improvement.

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How to Demonstrate Professional Integrity During Your PA School Interview

During the PA school interview process, you will be asked a handful of ethical questions.  These questions are designed to evaluate your professional and academic integrity, as well as your sense of morality.  These questions are a way to see how you would react in situations that challenge your ethical standards, and generally place you in an uncomfortable scenario.  In these scenarios, you’ll likely have to balance your emotional response, moral code, and understanding of what a PA can and cannot do when providing care.

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Weighing Your Options: PA or MD?

If you’re interested in working in the medical field, you may be overwhelmed with the number of different positions and job titles available.  Many people assume that they need to be a Medical Doctor in order to make a great living as a medical professional, but the MD path may not be right for everyone. Trying to get a sense of which career path suits you can be difficult, so we’ve pinpointed the finer points of each profession. Take a look below to see the pros and cons of becoming a Physician Assistant vs. a Medical Doctor. Read more »

What Really Motivates You To Become a PA?

If you’re going to convey honesty and transparency in your PA school personal narrative, it’s crucial to understand what motivates you.  It’s unlikely that your interview panel will directly ask what motivates you, but they may ask about the reasons you chose to become a PA.  If you’re just looking for notoriety, a decent salary, or for the opportunity to “help people” your motives will undoubtedly be questioned.

To present your story most effectively in your narrative and at the interview, it’s imperative that you know yourself it the context of what motivates you.  There are six major motivating factors and most people are influenced by two or three of these.  Here’s a breakdown of each factor.

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Finding Shadowing and Patient Contact Experience for PA School

Let’s face it- finding patient contact experience can be hard if you don’t know where to look. Patient contact experience often comes from shadowing working Physician Assistants, so if you don’t already have access to patient contact experience, finding and securing a shadowing opportunity is very important.

As you may know (and will learn soon enough), PAs are very busy – but don’t be discouraged by their intimidating schedule.  The overwhelming majority of PAs really love talking about their profession and answering questions because they love what they do!  The trick to gaining shadowing experience is just finding a time when they can talk and taking it from there.  So how do you go about finding a PA to shadow?

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