Attempting to find someone to shadow can be a daunting process, here are some ways to make this easier on yourself
Firstly, PA school is kicking my butt-last night I fell asleep with the lights on reading a book. So my posts may become a little more irregular/not every week but I’m going to try to keep you guys updated still.
Secondly, the best way to contact me is through email. I HATE Facebook messages. I miss them/forget to check them all the time. Plus I try to keep Facebook fun and not stressful. So even though I share things in groups, try to stick to contracting me here.
Thirdly, shadowing. One of the “hardest” things a pre-pa student does. I put quotations around it, because the physical act of shadowing is not hard and often times lots of fun, but finding a person is cray-cray.
So, how do you go around finding a person?
NETWORKING! woo this is my favorite thing
- Literally, you need to always be on your game. I randomly met a PA while at a Hibachi restaurant celebrating my birthday. We got to talking, I told her my plans, and she offered to let me shadow her. Super random but goes to show you that you never know who you will meet and you should always be conscious about your behavior.
- the place you work at. I didn’t have the pleasure of working with any PAs, but I worked with TONS of MDs. I was always friendly/professional/willing to learn and I got on a great first name basis with a bunch of them. I would ask if any of them knew PAs and often they had someone that they could refer me to. It helps when you have another provider backing you up, or saying “hey I think this person is great and would be a awesome PA”. Often times, your foot will already be in the door simply because you work somewhere.
- Do you have a family doctor or some other form of practice you go to regularly that has PAs? Ask them. If anything, while you might not be able to shadow, the person should always be willing to answer questions and help you out. They should want to see the field grow and its super easy just to be able to email thoughts back and forth. And who knows, maybe you can shadow them.
- The PAs you shadow. Get your foot in the door and often times, a PA will know another PA they went to school with or work with and can help you out. This is how I found one of the PAs I shadowed.
Research! This is the slightly more tricky aspect but possible
- step one: make a rockin’ cover letter. Highlight who you are, why you want to be a PA, what you have done to achieve it, and why shadowing them would be interesting or helpful. Attach your resume to every email.
- step two: Google. Your new best friend. Pick a hospital in your area (a lot of practices are associated with the nearby hospital so I found it easiest to go from there) and google ___ PA’s. For example I googled UF health PAs.
- step three: pick through this info. This is the time consuming part. You’re going to get a ton of hits. You might get lucky and get to a directory that lists emails for providers (doesn’t happen a lot). Some areas of specialty will list the provider’s name and an email to contact them with-this is what you want.
- step four: send out emails, and I mean TONS. Not everyone is going to respond to you and not every practice allows for shadows. But you might get someone who answers (this is how I found 2/3 of my PAs).
Asking others. A little less reliable
- You can ask friends who are also pre-pa. Issue is they might be a little competitive and not want to share. Or the PA might get annoyed with so many people emailing them that they don’t want to shadow anymore. So be careful with this one.
Things to keep in mind:
- This is a PRIVILEGE, not a right. The PA can say no to you. Do not assume that just since you email them, they have to say yes. They’re busy and might not have time, or might not be allowed, or maybe just don’t want to. Accept it
- if you do find a person to shadow: be professional!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. Put away the phone. Show up on time (aka 15 minutes early). Dress professionally (closed-toe shoes and no short skirts/low cut tops). Ask questions. Be engaging. Take notes if you want to.
- THANK THEM
- dont assume that since you shadowed once you will get a letter of recommendation.
- dont assume that since you shadowed once, you can come every week.
- TALK to the PA-they’re people. Get to know them outside of just their work as a PA. I learned some of the most insightful things this way.
Hopefully this was helpful, let me know if you guys find any other great ways to find a PA to shadow and I will add it in.