By Physician Assistant In-Progress Meghan Kayan
In my past blog posts I’ve preached of the importance of doing your research in order to truly understand what you’re getting yourself into. Going into the physician assistant profession isn’t something that you just do. It takes a lot of work and dedication in order to become a certified PA.
One thing I have also discussed in past blogs is how important it is to seek advice. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to talk to many veterans in the profession, both current PAs as well as students going through PA school. This aggregate of the profession has given me a lot of advice that you may just want to hear.
Here are a few things practicing and upcoming physician assistants have recommended I do on my path to becoming a PA.
- Job shadow a physician assistant – The only way you can truly understand a professional’s role is by “walking a day in their shoes”. By following a PA’s daily routine you get to see what the job description truly entails.
- Relax when it comes to admissions decisions – “It doesn’t matter what school you go to.” This is one piece of advice that I have heard many times. A lot of people fret about getting into the best school or getting into their dream school, however, when it comes to acceptance into PA programs, this simply isn’t as big of a deal as you’d think. When employers hire physician assistants they want to see that you’ve graduated from an accredited program. They won’t harbor on the fact that you didn’t go to the #1 PA school. Focus on getting into a school and let the rest fall into place.
- Keep an open mind – Some people go into their clinical year of a physician assistant program thinking they’re going to hate one of the designated rotations. However, I have been told by many that the rotation they thought they were going to hate, turned out to be the medical specialty they ended up working in for years because they loved it so much! Keep an open mind when it comes to your future practice area.
- Apply to as many schools as possible – Most physician assistants and students I’ve talked to said they applied to more than ten schools but only got interviews for a couple of those to which they applied. You want to have as many options as possible, so the more schools you apply to the higher your chance of getting into a PA program.
- Keep trying – A handful of PAs who I’ve spoken with that said the first time they applied to physician assistant programs, they were rejected by each school they applied to. However, if you’re serious about becoming a PA and you know it’s your passion, it’s hard to give up on. Contact schools and inquire about your application weaknesses. When faculty let you know what you can improve on, enhance those skills and reapply. The schools will see that you’re serious about your education, and will appreciate your willingness to do better.
This list of advice is endless. By getting to know others in the physician assistant profession and talking with them, you can add onto this list and even create your own. Advice is always best served with experience!
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