I am looking for realistic advice on becoming a surgical PA First Assist. I viewed similar topics within this forum but wanted a more personalized response. This will probably be a long post 😅.
Here is a little about my background; I’m a 27yr old currently holding only my GED with a certification as a NA. I’ve worked as a CNA for 3years with 2.5 years working on a post surgical unit at my current hospital. I am transferring to sterile processing next month where I plan to work as I attend a CST program.
I thought this would be a good field to work in since I will be working directly with the surgical instruments and preparing the kits and trays for each surgery throughout the day. I also plan to obtain my CRST ( certified registered sterile technician) by taking the exam after some more experience on my new job. I originally wanted to go to school to be an OR Nurse or go for my CRNA but after being allowed to observe a few surgeries at work realized I’d rather be more hands on during procedures. My end goal then became wanting to be a first assist. After speaking with a coworker currently waiting for admission to PA school about it, they suggested becoming a surgical PA. I’m already starting out so late in life... Is it a waste of time to go through the certification of becoming a Surgical Tech? Is it feasible to start a journey to PA so late? I want to be sure that surgery is for me and more than just an interest so figured being a Surgical Tech would help with my decision...I’ve already taken so many detours on the road to furthering my education. I don’t want to delay any further.
I have also looked into the RNFA route but prefer the flexibility when it comes to specialties being a PA.
All feedback is welcome. Sorry for the long post, and Thanks in advance!
Although I’m not a PA yet, I hope posting in this forum is fine, as I’m seeking info on existing surgical PA’s.
So, what’s your specialty?
I’m very interested in surgery, but I also would like to have a decent lifestyle outside of work. I’d also prefer to do more lower-risk surgeries versus something like trauma patients.
The only PA I know personally specializes in urology. She works a normal schedule, is married, and has a child. I love the aspect of surgery, the idea of savings lives, and even working weekends when they need me - I hope I don’t give off the vibe that I don’t want to work.
Any PA’s out there in surgery that care to comment on your work-life balance? Any insight is very appreciated!
I am a pre-PA and am interested to learn about compensation packages from those of you who are employed by university health systems, particularly the University of California and particularly those who practice in a surgical subspecialty. A basic search through several UC medical center websites gives me an idea as to what a first year graduate would earn hourly at each of these sites, but no additional information about CME, licensing, or whether quarterly reconciliation bonuses are part of the pay scheme.
When I shadowed in the CVICU of one UC medical center, the PAs there were reportedly working 80-100 hours per week. Whether or not that number is inflated is beside the point; however, I would be interested to learn about those weekly hours beyond 40 (and those spent on call) are compensated.
Just to be clear to those lifers on the Forum, I have no interest in working those kinds of hours. I am not focused on trying to make the most money I can right out of the gate and kill myself in the process. Just trying to learn from those of you who have experience working in university hospital systems. Interested to know what the advantages are in terms of compensation, life-work balance and what the most obvious pitfalls are. In sum, is it more trouble than what it is worth it to work for a university health system?
Note about me: I currently work for a non-profit charity that provides plastic and reconstructive surgical services to victims of natural and man-made disasters. Working in an administrative capacity for this organization is what has energized me to seek clinical training as a PA. Its nice that PA compensation can be lucrative, but my chief focus in switching careers is to make a difference in the lives of my patients, whether domestic or international.