I recently got asked to answer a couple of questions for someone in an undergrad class, and I loved the questions I was asked so much I decided to share them with you guys!
1) What drove you towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to get involved with medicine. When I was little, my mom was completing her Master’s in Nursing and I was always fascinated by all of the different things she was learning. Perhaps one of the most pivotal moments of my life occurred when I was 4 and we were on a family vacation. I had (and still have) this teddy bear named Rufus who got his leg caught in the wheels of a bicycle. His leg was ripped open and I was devastated. My mom ended up putting a masking tape “cast” on his leg for him. In two weeks he was as good as new and I was amazed! I thought medicine was the most magical thing in the world and have been working towards a career in it ever since that day.
Then, when I was in high school I had two reconstructive shoulder surgeries that allowed me to interact with a PA for the first time. I was amazing by the PA’s autonomy, medical knowledge, and just overall ability to treat patients. Meeting this PA was perfect for me, because it allowed me to start considering becoming a Physician Assistant as a career. And once I started looking into the profession I fell more in love.
2) What do you think are some positive and negative aspects of this profession?
There’s obviously positives and negatives to every profession, but I think that being a PA tends to have more positive aspects. Perhaps the largest negative about the profession is the misconceptions associated with it. I think a lot of people don’t understand that we are not Physician’s assistants. We have our own incredibly rigorous training program based off of the same medical model that medical school uses. When I graduate I’ll be able to see and exam patients, diagnosis them, come up with a treatment plan, and prescribe medications. I just have to work with a physician-which isn’t something to complain about since medicine is a team effort
There are so many incredibly positives that I’ll just list a few for you:
-only 2-3 years of school
-incredibly high job satisfaction rates
-opportunity to help people
-opportunity to change the field of medicine you’re working in
-conducive to family life
3) Is communication or writing an important skill to have when it comes to this field?
Absolutely! Communication is crucial to being a good provider. You want to be able to explain to your patient in clear terms what is going on with them. And you need to be able to actively listen to a patient and understand their concerns. In regards to writing, every patent needs to have documentation on what when on during their visit, and you want to make sure its clear to providers who could read the note later down the road.
4) What do you think will be the projected outlook for this field? (will it increase or decline?)
I think that this is quite the hot topic for debate right now. Obviously, medicine is always going to be crucial important (at least in our lifetimes), and providers are always going to be needed. But there is some question on whether the increase in number of PA schools and graduates is over saturating the field. Personally, I think this is something we definitely need to consider when accrediting new programs, especially in states that already have a number of programs (Florida vs. the Dakotas). But, I don’t think that we should be instilling a feeling of fear in new graduates that they might not be able to find work. In my opinion, as our numbers increase so will the understanding of our field and how crucial we are to providing great health care.
5) What advice would you give to those interesting in pursuing this field?
Do your research! Find the schools that interest you and learn what you need to do to get in to that program. I think its challenging that each program has different requirements and some things work for a school that might not work for another. So its absolutely important that you do research before starting the process of getting ready and then consistently throughout.
Perhaps the other most important piece of advice is to believe in yourself. Its a really challenging process of applying and you need to believe that you can overcome this challenge.
6) What hardships or obstacles did you have to overcome to get into PA school?
I think one of the hardest things I overcame was my own self doubt. I had a problem with a stalker during my sophomore year of undergrad that I think really made me loss confidence in myself and my abilities with school. It’s really hard to believe in yourself when you have someone telling you that your not worth it. After that experience, I just started to question myself more. So, even though I knew I was getting great experience as a CNA at a teaching hospital, and even though I knew my patents and coworkers loved me, I was worried my efforts weren’t enough. Then during the application process, I got a lot of rejection at first, and it was very hard to stay positive at different interviews when you’ve already been turned down. Part of me wanted to give up and just apply the next year, and I really had to fight against myself to keep going.
7) What are some of the requirements you had to meet in order to be accepted to PA school?
So, every school is different and you should definitely do research, but these are the things I completed for my application process:
- 2211 patient contact hours at time of application
- lots of volunteering hours
- GRE exam
- Getting Letters of Recommendation
- Writing a Personal Statement
- General Chemistry 1 and 2 with labs
- Biology 1 and 2 with labs
- Anatomy with lab
- Physiology with lab
- Neurologic Anatomy (it was a brain cadaver lab)
- Organic Chemistry 1
- General Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Childhood Psychology
- Statistics 1 and 2
- Medical Terminology
- Writing for the Health Care Professional
- and then all the normal classes for my major!
8) How are you being trained to be a PA
This is one of the greatest things about PA school. My program is 24 months, but some schools will be up to 3 years. I spend the first year in the classroom learning a huge amount of material.The summer semester is more basic science classes like biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, etc. During Fall and Spring we get more into the medical aspect of our education during our Clinical Medicine and Pharmacology classes. Then, the second year is spent doing eight 6-week long clinical rotations. Finally, I will graduate, take my boards and get my license, and then start working!
9) Overall, are you happy with your decision of choosing to become a pa? do you have any regrets? if so, what?
I am so happy that I am going to be a PA. I honestly have no regrets, except maybe it would have been nice to have more time off between undergraduate and starting PA school as I only had a month.
Hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed answering these questions! Feel free to email me and ask me if there is something else you are curious about!