Jump to content

Most Liked Content

#324263 For the new grads, EmedPA's post #20,000

Posted by EMEDPA on 22 January 2017 - 08:20 PM

yup, I have a lot of free time on my hands working solo night shifts....

anyway, some of these things have been listed here over the years, but thought I would put them all in one place

1. your first job is about leaning your trade, not about money

2. if you can afford to do a residency in your field of choice, do it! see #1 above

3. as a new grad you can have 2 of the following 3 if you are lucky; location, specialty, salary. choose wisely.

4. don't buy a $50,000 car right out of school. a good rule of thumb is take your yearly salary and divide it by 3. at most you should spend 30k on a car if you make 90k/yr assuming no alternative source of income and no other major debt. I have too many friends who have to work extra to make their $700/mo BMW payment. drive a safe and efficient car until you can afford your dream car.

5. don't buy a $500,000 house right out of school if you are single. take your yearly income and multiply by 3. this is a good price for a first house. 90k salary? 270k house. spouse/partner also makes 90k? you can double that.

6. living within your means(see #4 and 5 above) means you can work less, travel more, and take time to enjoy life. I spent too much of my 20s, 30s, and most of my 40s working 180-220 hrs/month. don't do that. now I work 168 hrs/month and have never been happier. I used to never have time to go out with friends. now I go out at least once/week, go to jazz clubs, etc. in 2017 I already have tix for sting, red hot chili peppers, U2, and foreigner concerts. I also now have time to do 2-3 international medical missions/year and taake time out with the family for spring break, cme conferences, etc

7. don't take the first job you are offered unless it's perfect. don't settle for mediocrity.

8. don't work in a field you detest just because it is a job. moving is better. you will be miserable doing surgery, urology, pain clinic, etc if you hate it

9. don't accept a "training salary" unless in a formal residency program. A formal residency program has off-service rotations and dedicated learning time. don't be fooled by training fellowships that are just low paid jobs in one dept in disguise.

10. don't accept a position that does not offer cme, retirement, malpractice, vacation, etc. you have earned a benefits package

11. don't work in a very narrow field right out of school unless it is your dream job and you never intend to leave the specialty. I know lots of folks stuck in jobs they hate who can't leave them.

12. if you are getting burned out consider the following: work fewer hrs/mo, see fewer pts/shift, switch specialty, switch location, find somewhere you are appreicated. I can't tell you how much better my mood is after transitioning from a high volume/low acuity facility(30 pts/12 hrs)  where I was treated like an interchangeable worker bee to a low volume/high acuity(10 sick pts/24 hrs) facility where I am valued as an individual for my skill set and experience.

13. don't sign a lengthy contract or a non-compete clause. these are tools to keep clinicians in crappy jobs. If it's a good job, you will want to stay anyway.

14. don't take a job where your clinical supervisor is an RN or office manager. we are not medical assistants

15. don't refer to yourself as Dr Smith's PA. they don't own you. Say instead " I'm John Doe, one of the PAs here" or "I'm John Doe, I work with Dr Smith on the surgical service". language matters. don't let yourself be treated like an assistant. don't regularly take out trash, take your own vitals, room patients, etc unless the docs in the group do too. I can see this in a small office, but there is no excuse for it elsewhere.

16. don't work for free. if you are charting at home, make sure that you get paid for it.

may add more later, but that's what I've got for now after a 24 hr shift.

17. don't take a job at far below market value just to be in a particular location. lots of new grads are taking jobs in NYC for example at 55-60k. As a young new grad this may seem like a lot of money if you have never had a real job before. it isn't when the national average is around 90k. know what you are worth. don't accept less. if enough of us do that the crappy job offers will go away.

  • True Anomaly, ToppDog, jmj11 and 48 others like this

#26051 Do you REALLY want to be a PA?

Posted by mktalon on 20 May 2011 - 03:42 AM

I might upset a lot of people, and I respect many of you who contribute to this forum, but I do disagree with the OP. And just to set tone, I don't mean any disrespect to Rev Ronin, I just don't agree. So, firstly, whenever ANYBODY chooses a profession they do so with limited understanding of what it entails. One does not have to have already spent 10,000 hours as a CNA to know that they want to be a PA. The jobs are hardly related anyway. You are basically saying that I can't decide I want to be a PA unless I spend years in the industry and that just is inaccurate. Doctors decide they want to be doctors often when they are 18 years old! Would you argue that they can't do pre-med until they have been a CNA for 3 years so they have the right to say they KNOW they want to be a doctor? The very nature of choosing a profession inherently means you are not currently in that profession and therefore do not have extensive knowledge of what exactly it is like. Just because you assisted on one surgery does not give you any more right to decide you want to be a PA than somebody who is very passionate about the profession with very limited experience. Assisting on one surgery doesn't come close to describing what an actual PA does day in and day out. Yes, experience can help define a passion, and it can also squelch it, but nobody KNOWS for sure if they want to do something until they are actually doing that thing. So even you assisting one surgery doesn't give you any more credibility to make a decision about your career than anybody else.

Secondly, PART of the reason I am pursuing a career as a PA is because it is shorter (you may call it a short-cut, but that insinuates other things) than med school. Yes, technically med students as residents are "practicing medicine" but they certainly aren't supporting a family by doing it. My goal is to practice medicine, and wanting a shorter route to accomplish my goal so I can move on with my life and family is a reasonable desire.

Third, the PA profession is changing, as it should, with the changing need of of the health care industry. You all know the history of the PA profession, probably better than I, so I won't try to lecture you on it. However, the one thing worth pointing out is that the PA profession was created to fill a gap in the industry. If we want to remain relevant as practitioners then we need to be able to change and adapt to the changing need of the industry. Yes, PA's are still very much needed in Primary Care and underserved areas, I am not refuting that. But with the cost of health care, the aging population, the reforms, advancing technologies research and procedures -- they all lead to a new time for this industry, and PA's need to be there, in ALL reasonable areas to fill the gaps created. This means that 15,000 hrs as a CNA or EMT-B may not be the most relevant experience someone can gain for what they might be doing as a future PA. Maybe that time is better spent in a year long residency to learn surgical procedures. PA's can pat themselves on the back for what they once were as a profession, but if we want to remain a viable profession we must not get too attached to the way things were, and start embracing a vision of what the profession can become.

Your post communicates an air of elitism - that "you can't be in the club unless you pay the exact same dues I paid" kind of attitude. In my opinion, this is the kind of attitude that will quickly make this profession obsolete.

Starseed: asking about whether a GRE score is good enough CAN mean that somebody wants to get away with the least amount of effort possible, but to assume it on all those asking is really unfair. I took the GRE and did pretty well. I asked that question on this forum because I would rather spend my time doing other things to improve my chances of getting into school IF my score is good enough as is. It is a matter or prioritization. My knowing if my score is competitive I can check it off the list as one less thing I need to worry about so I can spend more time volunteering or shadowing. It is by no means an attitude of getting by with the least possible. It is an attitude of "where can I most improve."

While I truly appreciate everyone's posts and contributions to this forum as a whole, I am really kind of upset about the kind of attitude that this post portrays. It is elitism and protectionism. It comes off as being defensive which just looks kind of silly.
  • ICUman, dekita, mmk01 and 48 others like this

#26032 Do you REALLY want to be a PA?

Posted by acozadd on 20 May 2011 - 01:13 AM

I'll graduate PA school just before I turn 25... sorry to disappoint you Rev. In my future life I will go to med school to appease you-- since that is where I obviously belong.

Believe it or not, employers are more likely requiring 2+ years of experience in a particular field because PAs are now branching out into all specialties, though we are still trained as generalists. A 2 year training as a generalist is not enough to become proficient in any given specialty, especially when you consider the material might have only been 1-3 weeks of coursework and MAYBE 1 month of a rotation if you were lucky enough to land that rotation.

For anyone to think that they will be proficient in all specialties following graduation just because they worked as (fill in the blank) and are older (hence infinitely wiser apparently) is not only a stretch, but potentially dangerous to future patients.

I'm all for previous HCE being a requirement, but who is to say that you cannot gain this experience while in school? I had 4.5 years of experience with patients when I graduated from undergrad... it doesn't HAVE to come after school is complete. Everyone's personal and career goals will vary, who are you to decide what is right for any individual/an entire profession?

These boards are becoming increasingly close-minded when it comes to many things, to the point where I'm considering being done posting here. I spend more time arguing posts than learning anything at this point.
  • mdruzhinina, Lizzilou, ICUman and 34 others like this

#219997 Don't do this new grads!

Posted by EMEDPA on 01 June 2015 - 07:10 PM

I want to make a sticky here of common pitfalls to avoid for new grads. These have all been discussed here before.

please add to the list.

do not accept the following:

"training rates" for X months before real pay starts

no benefits for X months

Paying for your own malpractice

working as a scribe for a doctor

ridiculous call or uncompensated extra work

positions in which you report to anyone other  than a physician, like an office manager or doctor's spouse

pay less than 80 k/yr for anything except a residency or postgrad program

positions in which you do nonclinical tasks like take out the trash or clean the bathrooms

positions in which you are treated like a medical assistant

  • LESH, ajnelson, chatcat and 31 others like this

#26020 Do you REALLY want to be a PA?

Posted by rev ronin on 19 May 2011 - 11:54 PM

Mind if I rant a wee bit here?

In the two years and change I've been here, I've been seeing more and more posts from new members that go something along the lines of "I want to be a PA, but how do I get HCE?" or, less commonly, "I want to be a PA, but how do I find a PA to shadow?"

Rather than chewing on any particular newbie, here's my generalized response:

1) PA is not an entry-level medical profession. It is a profession specifically crafted to take experienced providers and uplevel them. If you're not already an experienced entry-level (or higher) provider, you probably don't actually want to be a PA. You might think you want it, but how on earth can you know you want to see patients day in and day out if you've never seen a patient in your life?

2) HCE is not "paying your dues" or "checking a box". HCE is an integral part of the reason a pre-PA chooses to become a PA. As an EMT, I was thinking I wanted to go to Paramedic school... until I got to assist in surgery on a medical mission. If you can't point to a specific patient care experience and say "this is when I decided I wanted to practice medicine", then you probably only think you want to be a PA. If you read any of the nonsense articles that said that PA was one of the best jobs in America and that influenced your decision to seek admission to PA school, then you need to think long and hard about why you're really interested.

3) PA is not for the young; they belong in medical school. If you're under 25 and want to practice medicine, go to medical school. It's longer and more expensive, but it's a tried and true way for the young, malleable, and motivated to practice medicine. PA is orchestrated from the ground up to take people who have experience, adult learners, who have already demonstrated competence in limited fields to uplevel their skills and knowledge to the level needed to practice medicine, and are willing to live with de facto caps on their salary and professional respect.

If you do the math and the number curves, physicians more than make up for the additional cost in med school over the course of their careers, provided they start early enough. For those of you who think you can make bank right out of school AND have a comfortable, casual lifestyle you desire, you, too, don't get it.

4) PA is not a shortcut. Yes, the school may be shorter chronologically than med school, but that's missing out on two key things: PA school needs far more than just an undergraduate degree (see 1-3 above), and residents really do practice medicine. They do so in conditions that would draw fines if any other workers were subjected to them, for pay that is ridiculously low given their level of responsibility, but they practice medicine.

I love the fact that I'm in my clinical rotations now. I love the fact that at 40, there's a career option that will let me bring my existing life skills and knowledge into medicine. I make no secret of the fact that if I'd known how much more fun biological systems were than digital systems, I wouldn't have gone into IT as a first career.

5) If all PA programs respected points 1-4, there would be far less call for mandatory PA residencies and jobs seeking only PAs with 2+ years of experience. 2-2.5 years is not enough to take any random person off the street and shape them into a medical practitioner. If the folks selected don't have enough judgment, scientific acumen, and patient care experience to step into the role of a medical provider after the PA school length, then the selection process is wrong.

So by all means: those of you who have HCE, real-life experience, and the smarts to knock the science prerequisites out of the park, please come be PAs. The rest of you, who think you WANT to be PAs but are missing one or more of those three legs, don't try and shortchange the process. It should probably be harder than it is, because somehow they let me into the coolest profession on the planet.
  • Tito, vli56, lindsig1 and 25 others like this

#226684 My EM Residency Experience...

Posted by SERENITY NOW on 24 July 2015 - 01:46 PM

Hi everyone,

I have been a member of the forums for a while and have found it very valuable at each step towards becoming a PA.  On this sub-forum, I really enjoyed reading about the experiences of people going through their residency in the pseudo-blog format.  I wanted to replicate that as I go through my residency. I am now one month into my program and I think it is going to be a great experience. 


Let me tell you about the way my program is set up (sorry, but I am going to omit the name of the program).  Its an 18 month program that heavily integrates me into the physician residency class.  The class has been very welcoming to me and I would now consider them to be my good friends.  We are located in a large U.S. city with the busiest ED of all the local hospitals, seeing well over 100k patients per year.  I will do rotations in anesthesiology (learning intubations), telemetry/cardiology/CCU, neurology/neuro ICU, general surgery, orthopedic surgery, radiology/ultrasound, OB-gyn/L&D, ENT, Ophtho, pediatric ED, ED Obs unit, fast track, and a community hospital rotation dedicated to learning and practicing ED procedures.  Every other month, when I am not doing an off-service rotation, I'll be working in the high acuity sections of the ED.  In addition to this, every wednesday we have protected time for conference with faculty lectures, grand rounds, tintinelli reading club (we will nearly read the entire book by the time I am done), small group practice, simulation lab, procedure practice, ultrasound training, etc. 


The first month has been going well.  It is a whole month dedicated to orientation in which we have a mix of lectures and "princess shifts" (6-8 hour shifts).  We have also taken the certification courses for ACLS, PALS, and ATLS.  The lectures have been geared towards the approach to bread and butter EM chief complaints, like chest pain, dyspnea, syncope, etc.  Our princess shifts have basically been a chance to orient ourselves with the department, learn where everything is, how to use the computer, etc.  There is no pressure to speed through patients; I havent been seeing more than 5-6 patients in an 8 hour shift!  For that I am incredibly thankful, because I am slower than molasses and never could have imagined how many little details you need to know to navigate our healthcare system and EMR. 


So that's basically the summary of my experiences so far.  I will try to keep you all updated as I go through.  My first rotation is anesthesia so look forward to hearing about that!





In addition to providing my personal experiences, thoughts, and reflections as I go through the residency, I've decided to share a bit of the most important practical medical knowledge I learn at each rotation.  My motivation for doing this goes back to the days before PA graduation when I read through the residency blogs like this.  I'd see posts like "my cardiology rotation was a great experience... I learned the most important 'take-away' knowledge like how to do a focused cardiovascular HnP, interpret troponin elevation, etc".  They'd just mention these things and I'd always yearn to hear them fleshed out, straight from the person's mouth instead of the dry textbook that never seems to be entirely clinically relevant.  So, I am going to try to do just that.  I'll list out the most important topics I learn and I'll try my best to actually go into the some of the important details underlying them.  I'll make sure to focus on the things that were emphasized to me by my attendings and real world experiences.  Last, I'll try to share some of the best resources I encounter as I my program immerses me in the world of EM.  Eventually I'd like to go into education in some way or form, so I'll treat this like a practice run for some basic teaching exercises.  I hope this is worthwhile for you all, and I'd really appreciate any feedback you're willing to give.










*Medical Disclaimer*
The medical information on this thread is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes by patients, students, PAs, nor any other health professional. Any information found here should not be acted upon without consideration of the primary source material and professional input from one's own health care professional, supervisor, primary resources and references.  This information may not be up to date or completely accurate, and should not be relied upon.  This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician-assistant relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  The views expressed on this thread and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, or other institution with which the author is affiliated.  

  • EMEDPA, ventana, whoRyou and 25 others like this

#188439 Ebola virus

Posted by rev ronin on 11 October 2014 - 03:24 PM

You realize how culturally imperialist and elitist that sounds, Torshi?  "Let the rest of the world (or just Africa, whichever) burn, we'll be safe if we just keep those 'undesirables' (substitute the ethnic slur of your choice) out!"


We live in an interconnected world, and even if we could 100% keep out direct contacts from West Africa (and I submit that that is not possible), the virus can be transmitted elsewhere and arrive via a contact from a first-world country.


Everyone who gets Ebola, whether they live or die, is a human being with families, hopes, aspirations, fears.  Formed in the image of a benevolent Creator God if you share my belief system, and individually sufficiently valuable for that reason to risk my own life for them.  If you didn't get into (or aren't considering getting into) medicine to help save the lives of those who cannot help themselves... then why get into medicine at all? Engineers do good work and make good money; Lawyers and MBAs make much more money for their contributions to society.


Sometimes, being a provider means putting your brave face and best PPE on, and going to do a job you know might get you killed if you do it wrong.  Same kind of stuff I do as a firefighter, just with an epidemic rather than a fire or other hazard.

  • EMEDPA, primadonna22274, Allegro and 24 others like this

#318465 I AM IN !!!!!!!!!!!!!...

Posted by Dream2PA on 05 December 2016 - 10:43 PM



I have been following this forum for past 7-8 years and always wondered when would I be able to post my acceptance stats. I have been a poster child for low GPA but I worked extremely hard to over come this by buffing other areas of my application. I started with 2.6 GPA and took over 100 credit hours to bring it to 2.99 with post bacc 3.47 currently. I went ahead and obtained CNA, EMT-B certificates and started working hospital. I now work as a medical scribe. Currenyl I have over 6000 hours of HCE. I also volunteered in between and took GRE twice 293/300 respectively. This is my third time applying and I was fortunate enough to get interviews in every cycle but perhaps my interview skills were rusty. 


I would like to sincerely thank all of those members who responded to my PM and pre PA student discussions. I owe it to your feedback.

I utilized services like PA source for my PS, MR. Andrew Rodican for interview prep.


Trust me all this money that I spent was worth it in the end.


I thank you once again to all of you who have helped me in this journey. emotions are running high :(

  • UGoLong, Dignitary, Maverick87 and 23 others like this

#301151 Thoughts from a New PA Graduate

Posted by rcreek on 24 August 2016 - 01:39 AM

I just graduated from the University of Utah PA Program and took my PANCE yesterday. I felt pretty good about it after taking the CME review course beforehand. As my formal PA education comes to a close and I embark on this career path (already have a job lined up), I just have a few things that I would like to share.


I'm a 31 year old father of two young boys. I got divorced in didactic year. I had my fair share of challenges, but realized that I am not really a unique case among other PA students across the country. Others have gone through similar life shake-ups before me and have succeeded. I just put my head down and kept powering through my studies while I utilized the student counseling/therapy services available to me. My faculty was understanding and helpful, which I am grateful for.


I want to dispel the myth that you have to give up your whole life and everything you are to succeed in PA school. I used to think that in order to succeed I had to become some sort of study robot. That is not true, and is actually a detrimental way to approach it. You must maintain balance in your life and care for your own mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Only then will you have the mental fortitude to learn what you need to learn. I was able to take up new hobbies. I exercised and lost weight. I went on dates. I developed a new relationship with an awesome woman. I spent time with my kids.


With that being said, PA school honestly was a little easier than I expected. Certainly it wasn't harder than handling several science prerequisite courses and a job before PA school. I found the course-load and content to be challenging, but doable. I didn't have to change my study habits much at all. The same study habits that got me accepted also got me through.


I was never able to afford health insurance for myself. My school did not offer any good options either. The amount of $ I got to live on through high interest grad plus loans placed me square in the poverty level and I had to rely on some help from my parents to lease a car for me to use.


I was dismayed to see that medical students had more options for loans than I did as a PA student. When I was interviewing at PA schools, they all touted these loan repayment programs that are available. These are actually very few and far between and not easy to come by. I'll be paying my loans off the old-fashioned way, as are the majority of PAs.


Yes I struggled with self doubt at times. I have learned that this is normal. The clinical rotations especially placed me outside of my comfort zone on numerous occasions, but it made me a better clinician in the end. Coming out of PA school I realize I am far from a medical expert. There is and always will be more to learn in this field. This is a career for lifelong learners.


I really feel that the PA profession is best suited for older students who have already had careers doing other things. If I was in my early 20's and new in my undergraduate education, I would shoot for medical school. It's a longer path but it makes more sense financially speaking. Not trying to dissuade anyone, but that is my opinion on the matter.


The PA profession is a great one, but there are hurdles facing the profession. It's important for all of us to advocate and be active with groups that influence PA legislation in our states. I realized this more and more as I rotated with other PAs.


To all of you considering the PA profession or currently in a program, I wish all of you the best!

  • EMEDPA, UGoLong, rev ronin and 23 others like this

#26034 Do you REALLY want to be a PA?

Posted by mdebord on 20 May 2011 - 01:54 AM

I too will be a PA at 24. For someone who claims to defend the profession, you ignore a lot of the advantages of it. There are many reasons I chose PA over med school, and none of them had to do with my age. What about lateral mobility, for example?

I realize that many of you value extensive prior HCE, and you of course have good reasons for that. But regardless of your opinions, the reality is that there is a trend toward younger PAs. Advocate for a change if you wish, but next year, if you happen to work with acozadd or myself, please remember that we have worked hard and deserve respect. For my part, I will continue my dedication to the profession and earn that respect.
  • ICUman, shiv93, pitt2014 and 21 others like this

#299962 A Post-Burn Out Method of Practice

Posted by jmj11 on 16 August 2016 - 06:54 PM

We often talk about burn out, which is real and becoming a bigger problem in this post ACA world.  I suffered a rather severe burn out when I owned my own practice for five years. It was working seven days a week, usually 10-16 hour days (at night I had tons of paper work that had to be done to run a business) AND, the finances started to go down the tubes when insurances made it more and more difficult to get paid. By the end, I was very serious about leaving the profession and leaving medicine with a great disillusionment. I would have retired if I had had the money. I was facing extreme exhaustion and a mental health crisis.


So, here is my strategy and it appears to be working for me. This  may or may not work for others, but just one plan.


Step 1: I closed my business (sold it) and jumped on a plane to a remote part of the world where I had no access via phone and I closed my e-mail account for one month. I slept a lot, drank a lot of good coffee and wrote.


Step 2: I have come back to my old job but with a lot of leverage. They too were facing bankruptcy without my help. So I wrote my own ticket. I am paid only on productivity and at the same rate as the physicians.


Step 3: I have NOTHING to do with the business end. I see patients and I go home. If I want more money, I see more patients. If I don't need the money, I take a vacation whenever I want to (I have no paid leave time).


Step 4: My real passion is writing. I have three books started and I begin my day at the coffee shop (sometimes with other writers) and write. I write between patients during the day. If a patient no-shows, I write on my books.


Step 5: I have a no-drama practice. As soon as a patient starts to argue with me, I literally tell them "I'm not the right provider for you" and I show them the door. If it happens at the beginning of the visit, I won't bill them. If it happens at the end, I will bill them. But I will never schedule them back (if it is not clear to them from our conversation, I will dismiss them as not sharing the same goals).


Step 6: If I ever get a complaint, I first make sure it is not my fault, and if it isn't, I throw away the complaint an send the patient a letter saying, "I see that you are not satisfied with the care I have given you. I have done my very best and therefore cannot improve. You deserve to see the provider whom you think is the best. Therefore I will not see you back." (this has only happened twice in six months).


Step 7: If a patient calls and ask a stupid questions (Dr. Oz said such and such) or leave a message that they don't agree with me and wants me to call them back, I mark it as a FYI and I don't call them back. Good luck if they can find another provider. 


Step 8: I don't do drug rep lunches. If they bring me food, I will eat it. But, I use lunch to call patients, chart or write on my book. If they insist on talking to me, they have to make an appointment like my patients.


Step 9: I only take off hours call for my patients and I give my patients a handout as why there is no need to call me off hours.


I think I have recovered very well and will stay in medicine now. I wish I had made some of these decisions years ago . . . but again, it won't work for everyone.


I have to go as a drug rep is on the schedule for an appointment.

  • EMEDPA, MedicinePower, UGoLong and 20 others like this

#285989 I got elected.

Posted by Paula on 24 April 2016 - 12:14 AM

I was elected to President Elect of my state chapter...Wisconsin Academy of PA's.


I have a huge job ahead of me so anyone from Wisconsin on the Forum is invited to message me.  I will be gathering support from fellow colleagues to work towards Model State Legislation.

  • EMEDPA, ajnelson, LKPAC and 19 others like this

#219059 Interview Tips

Posted by Maynard on 23 May 2015 - 06:44 PM

I've been through 8 interviews total. My first cycle I had five interviews. I decided to follow some of the advice handed out on this forum. I did little preparation, went in with the attitude that I would just "be myself". I had 3 waitlist-rejections and two straight rejections.


My second cycle I was determined to do whatever it takes to get an acceptance, and I did. Of the three interviews I've had, I got two straight acceptances, and one waitlist-withdrew from a school I interviewed at while under-slept and deathly-ill. I have learned a lot about PA school interviews through this process and I can tell you an exact step-by-step process to dramatically increase your chances of getting an acceptance.


Here's what I've learned:


There is only one book on PA school interviews, and it is decidedly mediocre. A lot of the questions ("Do you think PA students should be politically involved?") were unlike anything I was asked at any of my interviews. Another question asks if there is any competition between NPs and PAs and says the strongest response is to say that PAs and NPs have no competition with each other. Anyone who’s browsed this forum knows that is straight-up idealistic BS that is out of touch with political and economic realities. This book is still worth the time and money, and I like the format. However, Rodican seems to be more interested in pushing his own political agendas than in helping you prepare for the interview. 


Fortunately, there are a number of books on medical school interviews, and 95% of the advice crosses over to PA school interviews. I purchased several of these, and the one I strongly recommend is “The Medical School Interview” by Desai and Ketta. If you read nothing else in preparation, read the chapter on “Interview Questions”. I got this after my first failed cycle of five interviews and I swear it seemed like some of the committees pulled their questions straight out of this book, word-for-word. Not only is it great at telling you what questions to expect, it tells you the intent behind the question, which is not always readily discernible when you get asked it at an interview.


My recommendation is to prepare flashcards for each question, along with a thoughtful response. I used the program “Anki” for this. The goal here is not to memorize word-for-word responses, but to know the basic bullet points you want to convey, and the order you want to convey them with – you can improvise the rest on the spot. It may seem a bit extreme to use flashcards to this end, but when you’re under stress in an interview, it will have made a huge difference to have done this kind of extensive preparation. Otherwise, you will be walking out smacking yourself for things you forgot.


In addition to the questions in the above book, there are a few questions you need to be prepared for that are asked for PA school but not medical school. They are:

1. Why PA and not NP, MD, or PT/OT (you need to have a separate answer for each of these). Also, I've encountered a couple other question types that require the applicant be well-versed in the differences between a PA and a NP. It seems petty to me, but for whatever reason some adcoms want you to know this.

2. What does a PA do? (this might be the one question where it could help to have a memorized response).

3. How would you handle a disagreement with an SP? (there are a variety of ways they might ask this – you might disagree for ethical reasons, it might be for medical reasons)

4. A couple of times I was asked questions that demanded I justify the importance of PAs and their position in the healthcare system (e.g. how would you respond if someone said you're just a PA?)

5. What do you think will be the worst part about being a PA?


Additionally, I recommend you memorize a LONG (say, thirty) list of questions to ask them. Try to make them not too aggressive-sounding. You will have a lot of chances to ask questions and a most of your prepared questions will have already been answered when those times come. Make yourself stand out by having relevant, smart, and diplomatic questions handy.


It will take a number of dedicated hours to do all the preparation I listed above. However, if you do, and you get invited for an interview, then I swear, I swear, you will be ready for about 2/3 of the questions they ask. I don’t think there is anywhere in the path you’ve had so far where investing forty hours of time can have such a tremendous impact on your chances of getting in. Additionally, if you don’t get in (like I did) and you have to wait a year, it’s going to mean tens of thousands of dollars of lost income in the long run. Don’t take that chance. Do the work.


As far as the other 1/3 questions are concerned, it is a little more difficult to prepare for these. If you’ve done everything I’ve listed above and you want to be even more prepared, I would recommend you start writing an “autobiography” of sorts that consists of as many different anecdotes as possible which demonstrate the best aspects of your personality. Collect lists of “behavioral interview questions” to stimulate you into remembering these stories. Often times you can come up with a few anecdotes that can answer multiple behavioral interview questions and demonstrate multiple positive qualities simultaneously. When someone asks you, “Tell me about a time when you were kind” it is surprisingly hard to come up with a specific example, even if you’re the kindest person in the world, and this is especially true in the high-stress situation of the interview. Furthermore, the example that does pop into your head after a painfully long lapse of silence is often times not the best example to use. Having a list of good anecdotes on hand can make a big difference here. Furthermore, this autobiography can serve you in interviews beyond PA school. 


A few other general points:


1) This is just my perception, but if you’re an older candidate (like me), you need to demonstrate a higher level of maturity and interview competency than your early twenty-something competition. You have less excuse to give a mediocre interview, so don’t give one.

2) Have a few “stall lines” ready for curveball “stress” questions they might ask you (e.g. “Which ninja turtle would you be?”). For example, you could chuckle and say, “I’ve never been asked that” or you could jokingly say, “I was just thinking about that last night”. These show you can adapt to stressful situations confidently, but they also buy you some time to think up an answer.

3) You can also buy some time by proceeding from the general to the specific. For instance, take the “Give me an example of a time when you were kind” question above: if you’re memory doesn’t immediately give an answer, you could start by talking about how, in general, it is important to you to be kind to others, how you believe in kindness, etc. until you come up with a response.

4) In group interviews, they will usually ask a question one time and then get multiple people to answer. I've noticed a certain phenomenon where the second and third person to respond end up just elaborating on the first person's response, even when it doesn't even answer the question that was asked. Keep your head in the game and focus on the question they asked. If other candidates preceded you with irrelevant answers, start off by repeating the question they asked so they know you're actually going to answer their question.

5) Having said that, if you cannot at all answer the question being asked, answer a related question you have a good response too. Watch how politicians respond to questions –they do this all the time. It’s always best to have a good response to the question they asked, but if it comes down to a good answer to another question or a stammering, dumb response to the right question, choose the former.

6) Check out the school-specific threads on this forum, including past years' threads. These can give you insights on what to expect.

7) For my first interview of the second cycle, I was so unnerved by the previous cycle's results that my voice was shaky and I had to hide my hands. But you know what? I gave good answers and I got in anyway. For one of my first cycle interviews, I walked in confident. I incorporated some humor and made the other candidates laugh in the group interview. I thought I gave good answers. However, I was stunned to get a straight rejection. My point here is that IT IS OKAY TO BE NERVOUS and, in fact, it is BETTER to be nervous than to be smugly self-confident. The ideal candidate is somewhere in between, but you will not be rejected for nervousness alone. If your responses are spot on it should matter little.


If you do all this preparation, you will most likely have intelligent answers to all the questions being asked. Even if you get stumped one time, you’ll be able to get away with saying something like, “I’m really not sure how to answer that”. Your response to all the other questions will be so good they’ll overlook the one you couldn’t answer and maybe even respect you for not trying to BS your way through it like most candidates do. Do the preparation and you have every right to walk in confident, knowing that you will master the interview.

  • greenmood, shiv93, funk9 and 19 others like this

#174146 Not enjoying medicine, wanting out

Posted by gbrothers98 on 05 July 2014 - 11:54 PM

I have cared for children with congenital abnormalities and I have cared for the lady who faked a seizure multiple times per week after eating at a restaurant only to recover as we arrived in the ER and walk out of the ambulance.  I understand the spectrum.   Fair warning...I'm going to be hard on you but keep reading because I will back off at the end.


Life and people are messy.  Your "Don't Like" list is what life can be.  My interpretation is that you wish to care for people who have become sick or injured in a manner in which you approve.  I guarantee that this would be a bad opening for your essay if you were applying to get into PA school.  This business is not about us.  It is about people and all of their frailties.  We do silly, annoying, and stupid things.  Sometimes we complain of back or head pain when in reality we are so overwhelmed with our troubles that it is all we can think of saying.  However, sometimes we are complaining of back pain when it turns out we have metastatic prostate cancer that was undiagnosed. (An actual case that I have seen.)  Sometimes we complain of a sore throat when we actually have Ludwig's angina.  (Another case that I have seen.) 


However, I do applaud that you are expressing your messy and complicated feelings.  I am certain that you are not alone.  Our working life looks a lot like that of Physicians and they have an alarming rate of dissatisfaction, depression, and suicide.  Why should our ranks be different in that respect if everything else is starting to be more similar as time passes.  What do I know?  I don't work where you work nor do I live your life.  Maybe you are getting a steady diet of misery and I should be more sympathetic to your plight.  However, it is not your patients fault that you are currently in a job that is mismatched for your interests.  While you are figuring out what is right for you, try spending some time putting yourself in your patients' shoes.  If you label the back pain sufferer as a malingerer then you miss why they are coming to you to complain of the pain.  They may not be in pain, they may have a pain syndrome that science does't really understand yet, or they may have a big problem that has a common symptom.


All of that being said, if you are truly unhappy and a different perspective doesn't change your feelings then get out of this job quickly and find something you do love.  Forget about what it looks like on your CV.  Life is too short to be miserable every day.  You owe it to yourself and the people you love to work for peace of mind and to do great things.  Good luck and thank-you for sharing your story.    

This is great advice.

Several years ago I had an epiphany that I was miserable. Night shifts, difficult patients, SP who was an a$$h@le, lots of change.

I looked at my options. Young family, big mortgage. Not a lot of wiggle room considering the responsibilities I had taken on. Needed to make what I had better. Looked at the things that were making me miserable and realized most I did not have control over. 

So what could I do?

I focused on what I could do. I could strive to do an excellent job and be an example of what PAs can do in a immediately unsupervised setting. I wanted to provide for my family and my children. They did not care that I had to eat a sh&t sandwich on a regular basis, and since I wanted them happy and cared for, I stopped whining about the sh*t sandwich and after a bit, it really started to taste like PB&J. I got involved in projects and started exhibiting more leadership. The more I got involved, the better I felt. I also started to draw a hard line about work. No charting afterhours, no staying late. Get done and get out. Take every single day of vacation time I had coming to me, no more OT. 

I also realized that I had worked hard, very hard to get where I was. There was a gap of empathy when I encountered those who were not like me. But who was I to judge, I was there to help. So instead of getting mad at the patient with a mouth full of percocet tickets, I gathered up the balls to ask, what can I do to get you to a dentist? or I see we have seen you 6 times in 4 weeks for this problem, do you have a problem? are you a drug addict and need help? Some told me to F off, some said man my teeth really hurt and one said yeah I have a problem, a monkey on my back and I dont want it there. But I finally felt like I was doing what I was supposed to. I did this with all the patients I saw, I got more real and more honest. I was professional but I also drew a realistic line with everyone I encountered....this is what I can do for you. Smile, stand fast.

What I did in my mid 40s was that I finally grew the f%ck up and fully embraced the role I had been phoning in.

Introspection and insight are rarely suggested but it made me a better clinician and a better man. 

Try it.

G Brothers PA-C

  • EMEDPA, UGoLong, LESH and 19 others like this

#252 PA Applicant Stats Page

Posted by laughing angel on 21 November 2004 - 05:28 PM

Since I seem to be the "low GPA PA student poster child" (LOL!) I'll go first. These are the numbers on my CASPA record:


Undergrad Ed School: Furman University (Greenville, SC)
Cumulative Undergrad. GPA: 2.57
(Fr: 2.13 --- So: 1.84 --- Jr: 2.07 --- Sr: 3.35 --- 5th year: 3.54)
Science Undergrad. GPA: 3.13 (2.0 freshman year, 3.5 senior years)

Age at application time: 31

1st GRE: 730 V, 680 Q, 4.5 AW (2050 cummulative by previous standards)

Direct Patient Care:
2.5 years full-time EMT/ER tech, small military hospital
.5 years full-time EMT, small community EMS
3 years full-time EMT/medic, inner-city EMS
~1.5 years volunteer first responder (24-36 hours/month)

Extracurricular/Research Activities:
1 summer paid research assistantship
2 volunteer research assistantships
1 publication, coauthorship (name is #5 of 6)
1 presentation at nat'l undergrad research conference
adjunct EMT instructor
PA shadowing

Schools Applied: 1

Application Submitted Date: August 18

Schools Received Application Date: postcard from school dated September 29

Interview Invites: 1

Denied: 0

Withdrew Application: 0

Waitlisted: 0

Accepted: 1


It's been a few years since I posted this... I went to PA school, served as student member on the ad comm, graduated and am now in my second year of practice. I get quite a few people asking me questions about getting in with a low GPA, so here are a few thoughts about what helped me:
  • The most important thing I did was talk to an admissions counselor at every program I was interested in attending. I concentrated my efforts on the programs that seemed enthusiastic about me despite my low GPA. You could ask which programs these were, but it wouldn't matter. After being on an adcomm and participating in this forum, I can tell you that admissions criteria can be in flux... so get on the phone and find out who is interested in YOU!
  • My overall GPA was low, but I had a high science GPA and an upwards trend. I was a lousy student ages 18-20, when I changed majors every 1-2 semesters... I was a great student after several years off, then going back and obtaining a science degree.
  • I did post-bacc work and got all As while working ful-time and being married - demonstrating an ability to manage a challenging schedule with success.
  • I had strong, HANDS-ON patient care experience for many years.
  • I had strong LORs.
  • I participated in a variety of activities, showing I was a well-rounded person.
If your GPA is low, you have a harder, longer path to PA school. There probably isn't a shortcut. But, in my experience, it can be done.

Feel free to PM me with more specific questions.
  • IdahoSU16PAS, SweetTooth, Shelbyshank2009 and 18 others like this

#224983 Not working as a PA...

Posted by PA Mann on 13 July 2015 - 09:18 PM

Sounds like you are really struggling.  How disappointing it must be to have these feelings.  Trust me!  We have all had these feelings.  Those school mates you are comparing yourself too, the ones that rocked their rotations... they are great at pretending.  They made mistakes too... they may have hurt a patient or even killed a patient.  They just hide it better than you.  In fact, your willingness to look honestly at yourself and your work is very promising.


Have you hurt a patient accidentally?  I have.  Have you missed a huge tumor on a CT report? I have, thank goodness my supervising physician caught it.


On the other hand have you reduced a teenager's paraphimosis in a rural clinic?  He could not afford to go to the ER so I called a local urologist and asked him what to do.  The urologist talked to me like as was an incompetent two year old... but you know what, I did what he said and that young man is alive and well today with all parts working.  Your willingness to reach out on this forum tells me you will do good things too.


Oh... And have you met a first year medical resident?  Four years of medical school and they have no idea what they are doing.   Seriously, heaven help their patient’s.  We laugh at their medical decisions behind their backs knowing that we were once like them... and still are in some ways.  And you, a PA, only received two years of training.


Our physician assistant programs teach us just enough to survive.  If they taught us to be competent medical providers we would be in school forever.  Medicine is learned by doing.  I asked my supervising physician, "When will I feel confident putting in a central line?"  He said do one hundred of them.  He was not kidding.  And now that I have done more than one hundred central lines I am confident... so confident that I don't beat myself up if I get stuck.  I realize we all get stuck and we all ask for help.


One thing that has surprised me most about the medical profession is the extent to which providers, even the most experienced providers, COLLABORATE.  My supervising physicians ask their peers (and sometimes even the PA's and NP's) for help with cases all the time.  I have always been a 'lone wolf' and had to adjust my medical practice to match the reality of medicine... no one makes medical decisions alone... we work together sharing knowledge and experience.


And there is the key word... EXPERIENCE.  I too have felt like leaving the profession at times.  The worst was when I was comparing myself to my school mates that just seemed like naturals.  Why didn't they make the stupid mistakes I made?  I have since learned they are not naturals and they did make mistakes.  Bless their hearts… they are just really good liars.


Please don't give up because you think you suck at practicing medicine.  Because you do suck at practicing medicine right now... but you will gain experience.  This experience will be hard won... patient's might get hurt... and jerks like me might laugh at some of your medical decisions because they are so wrong they are comical.  But, in a few years, I will be coming to you to ask your opinion about a case that has me stuck.


And another thing… You passed the PANCE.  This was no easy task.  The knowledge is there.  And if you have forgotten some things (or a lot of things) do what the rest of us do, ask someone or look it up on the Internet.


So, find a supervising physician that you trust (hopefully one that will pay you) and get to work.  Review every patient together.  Ask questions.  Talk to other PA's.  Scan the internet.  Heck, maybe even look at your school notes.  Collaborate.  Make mistakes.  Go home and break something (small) against the wall because you are sick and tired of patient's asking for hydrocodone.  Treat one hundred runny noses.  Drain one hundred abscesses.


There is no doubt that the confident medical practitioner you are going to become will enjoy being a physician assistant enough to make some money to pay off your loans.  More importantly, as you gain confidence you will enjoy the job.

  • EMEDPA, Febrifuge, adikin and 18 others like this

#184326 Word of encouragement and some advice.

Posted by wesr_gordon on 17 September 2014 - 08:44 PM

To those applying or that will:


I have a very average GPA, both science and cumulative, with very average test scores. Since I had to support myself through college I also had very little volunteer experience. 


My medical experience is mainly as a scribe (about 1200 hours), with just six months of medical assistant experience. I have shadowed three PA's for about 20 hours each.


It's only mid-September and I've been offered admittance into two programs and still have interviews scheduled.


I wrote this because I often felt by reading these boards that my GPA wasn't enough, my volunteering wasn't enough and my work experience wasn't enough (or would not even be considered based on the naysayers about scribing). I didn't think I had much hope of ever getting in.


All those things landed me interviews,  but what I think has mattered most during this time is personality.


My advice: 


Don't let sky high GPA's scare you. 


Don't think there is some magic number of HCE hours. 


Don't waste time comparing yourself to applicants on here, there is so much variation based on interviews I have gone to. 


Do spend a lot of time on your personal statement, it was mentioned in all my interviews.


Do spend time on your supplements, let them get to know things about you your CASPA hasn't already told them.


If you do get an interview, be yourself and be totally honest. I told a school I was just admitted to the other day that places emphasis on underserved populations that I had no specific interest in the underserved until a few months ago. 


Point is, if you have the passion keep going for it. Your application will start to resemble your passion and schools will see that. You will be your own worst critic.

  • UGoLong, LESH, whoRyou and 16 others like this

#157911 Do Not Become a PA

Posted by UGoLong on 12 February 2014 - 07:48 PM

I used to think that all problems would be solved in my lifetime. I guess some of that comes from growing up with the march of civil rights, the space program, the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc. As I've gotten older though, I've come to realize that some problems will take a lot longer to solve and new ones will keep cropping up. Our landscape continues to change, and so will we. 


As someone who is in their nth career, I think we have to take ownership of our own situations. Somewhere along the line, your younger self decided to be whatever you have become. If you no longer like what you do (and I've been there), then you you have options: curse the darkness, work to try to fix the problems, change jobs, or transition to something completely different. It's your life and the clock keeps on ticking.


These are not easy choices and there can be substantial obstacles to overcome. Still, moving forward feels a heck of a lot better than cursing the darkness and watching the clock tick. I've been there too.

  • kittryn, LESH, Joelseff and 16 others like this

#289346 Thinking about PA school at the age of 33

Posted by UGoLong on 23 May 2016 - 12:57 PM

I'm sorry but I have to chuckle a bit. Got my first HCE at 38, EMT at 40, first prereq at 51, paramedic at 57, entered PA program at 58, graduated at 60.


If you want to do this, it is definitely doable.

  • MedicinePower, rev ronin, SERENITY NOW and 15 others like this

#170703 New PA to DO Bridge Programs

Posted by primadonna22274 on 01 June 2014 - 08:53 PM

Graduated! It's official! I have a diploma and it looks real!!! 😁
  • MedicinePower, cupojava, Contrarian and 15 others like this