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New grad dilemma: Army vs civilian job


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Hi all,

 

I've come to a crossroads and am wondering if someone had a similar experience or if military PAs could weigh in. I just graduated this past December and I started working with an Army recruiter as soon as I could last summer so my first PA job would be with the Army. I'm at the point now where I am just waiting for my orders to go to officer training. I was hoping this would happen by the March officer course, but it hasn't. My recruiter thinks I might be able to make the June 29th officer training, but of course no promises. My understanding is that I would start to do the medical training closer to September (the 2nd part of officer training).

 

I was initially very excited to join the Army and I would still like to, however my concern is waiting almost 9 months after graduation to start my clinical training as as PA. I am afraid I'll forget everything I've learned. I've been studying, working on EKGs, going over Bates and so on, but I am eager to start being a PA.

 

I've been applying for civilian jobs for the past few weeks as a back up. However, I don't want to start a civilian PA job and then quit after a few months because I find that very unprofessional. I'm not even sure I'd be able to find a job without a required time committment.

 

I'd really appreciate input from you folks. In terms of what I've learned in PA school, would it be a total disaster to essentially not start working for 9 months? It's just really frustrating because I essentially have a job without a start date.

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9 months is nothing.

Student that did a rotation with us did not find a job for a year, had a lot of geographic restrictions, had a lot of interviews, for some reason just couldnt close the deal.

He got a job at the 15 month mark.

Just keep doing the reviewing, keep trying to get your date moved up, sometimes things will change abruptly and you will get a call that it's time.

I agree, getting the civilian job and then dumping it is bad form unless everyone is clear on that. Even so, it likely will take you months to get a state license and credentialing if needed takes as long. So you realistically wont be working for a few months anyways. 

Good luck.

G Brothers PA-C

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9 months is NOT nothing.  A successful PA with a good CV should have a job lined up BEFORE graduation, and be practicing 1-3 months max after graduation.  Not that you'll necessarily forget all that much in the extra months... but that's NINE MONTHS of no income, no professional development, and scoring the dreaded resume gap.  Once you have a resume gap--that is, any time a new job or schooling doesn't begin in either the same or adjacent month as leaving your prior job or schooling--you can never get rid of it.  Now, if your resume is a disaster in the first place, no biggie.  To someone like me with a 20+ year history of zero resume gap, that would be a very big deal.  No resume gap says you're dependable enough that you will never quit on a whim, you'll always have something lined up OR be so competent that people will pick you up in a heartbeat.

 

Consider carefully.  I know military PAs get some of the best possible training there is, albeit for some so-so pay and high deployment ratios.  I definitely wouldn't sit around on my hands waiting for them, even if that's where I wanted to end up, were I in your situation.

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As a vet, I can tell you that the military is a unique beast. They will take you when they are ready, not when you are. Don't sit around twiddling your thumbs, go get a job. If a new, better one presents its self in six months to a year (i.e. the military), then go take it. Your recruiter is a middle man who is giving you his best guess, nothing more. Don't rely on it as gospel.

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A successful PA with a good CV should have a job lined up BEFORE graduation, and be practicing 1-3 months max after graduation. 

 

Yes, that's what I was trying to accomplish by meeting with the recruiter as soon as the Army would talk to me (6 months before graduation) and being persistent with my paperwork. I was doing everything on my part to get started STAT.

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9 months is nothing.

Student that did a rotation with us did not find a job for a year, had a lot of geographic restrictions, had a lot of interviews, for some reason just couldnt close the deal.

He got a job at the 15 month mark.

Just keep doing the reviewing, keep trying to get your date moved up, sometimes things will change abruptly and you will get a call that it's time.

I agree, getting the civilian job and then dumping it is bad form unless everyone is clear on that. Even so, it likely will take you months to get a state license and credentialing if needed takes as long. So you realistically wont be working for a few months anyways.

Good luck.

G Brothers PA-C

Well, he can go ahead and get a license anywhere. I got my in PA since it was cheap ($30) and easy paperwork before I ever got to my duty station. If you get started early, the credentialing isn't bad either. Had mine done in 2 weeks from arrival at the hospital. Just my experience

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I think licensing and credentialing is variable depending on location and hospital/employer.  Yes, a Pennsylvania license is pretty quickly turned around.  However, if the OP isn't in Pennsylvania then a license from there won't do too much for her.  At least it won't do much for her immediately.  As far as being ready for when the Army gets her moving it'll probably help having it done in advance.

 

Credentialing can vary, too.  My credentialing took three months after I got my license (which was a several month process in itself).  And that was with the credentialing application filed and waiting on the license process to be completed.  I know folks who tried to work in New Jersey after PA school and had a wait time of six months before their license was processed.

 

I know... I know.  We all have some sort of anecdote to contribute.  My point is really that there is a lot of variability in licensing and credentialing time frames that even the most efficient and prepared PA can't work around.  What I think we can agree on, though, is that there are things the OP can be doing to fill the time between now and when the Army orders a start date.  Getting a license done now is a good idea.  (I agree with getting a Pennsylvania license.  Quick turn-around and $30.  Hard to beat that.)  Some sort of activity be it volunteer or employment with the understanding in advance that you're waiting for the Army to get its act together would also be a productive way to pass the time.  Or you can take advantage of the time and get your CME requirements for this cycle completed so you won't have to worry about logging anything during your first year or so in the Army.  Find a conference local to you and go.  That way you're at least keeping your brain in the PA mindset.

 

Certainly make sure you do something fun between now and when you head off to your officer basic course.  Once you report for your training and then your first assignment you're going to be pretty busy.

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I appreciate the input from everyone. No state license is required for active duty PA, so I hadn't planned on getting one because my recuiter kept telling me I'd go to training "soon" and it costs about $300 here and takes about 3 months, so I didn't see the point. I looked into locum ED positions in the Midwest today and it sounds like I might be able to get something arranged for 3-4 months. I didn't think they'd be interested in a new grad, so I didn't bother contacting them after I took the PANCE in Jan (wish I had anyway!). I have been working on my CME and will certainly continue that.

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I appreciate the input from everyone. No state license is required for active duty PA, so I hadn't planned on getting one because my recuiter kept telling me I'd go to training "soon" and it costs about $300 here and takes about 3 months, so I didn't see the point. I looked into locum ED positions in the Midwest today and it sounds like I might be able to get something arranged for 3-4 months. I didn't think they'd be interested in a new grad, so I didn't bother contacting them after I took the PANCE in Jan (wish I had anyway!). I have been working on my CME and will certainly continue that.

You're going to hit a lot of road blocks without a license. Ordering DME, getting an NPI, DEA, credentialing. Maybe the army is different from the Navy, but my license number has been put on a LOT of forms.

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EVERY medical personal (MD, PA, PSYD,RN, ETC.) in the DOD or federal service must be licensed in at least one state to practice. Your recruiter is unequivocally wrong on that account. That license must me kept current at all times by meeting the requirments for that state. Federal employment, including military, simply allows you to work outside that state at federal facilities.

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EVERY medical personal (MD, PA, PSYD,RN, ETC.) in the DOD or federal service must be licensed in at least one state to practice. Your recruiter is unequivocally wrong on that account. That license must me kept current at all times by meeting the requirments for that state. Federal employment, including military, simply allows you to work outside that state at federal facilities.

This is not true. I'm a practicing Air Force PA and was not licensed in any state for a while. I am now, but it's not a requirement.

 

I also know you also don't need to be licensed as a pharmacist or social worker (I know people that are not licensed in the military, but still practice).

 

I can't speak for MDs or RNs though....

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PAs are given a one year time frame for licensure (some will allow two with waiver), Pharm D is given two years for licensure as well.  Social work is unique in that every state has different requirements for licensure/employment and the DOD will allow the least restrictive policy.  CA will license a CSW; yet because they do not require the license for employment you can work in the DOD or Federal service without one if that is your residency state (there are several other states with similar situations) CSW is even more disparately regulated than PAs.

 

As for the Army, you are given a year.  However, if it has been more than a year since graduation as a civilian a state license is required before you can accession.

 

I stand corrected that in the Air Force you are only required to pass PANCE currently, the exceptions stem from the Asst SecDef authorizing a waiver in the early two thousands explicitly for PAs as their was only one sate at the time that would allow PAs a license without a listed SP of the same state licensure so it covers all PAs civilian, active, and reserve in MTFs.

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Agree with most of the posts.  I am a civilian PA and in the Army Guard.  I joined the Guard with 22 year experience as a civilian PA and love both jobs, having deployed to Afghanistan once.  I would also recommend that you get something to keep your chops wet.  Even if it is in an urgent care clinic part time.  Don't wait too long to get a state license and some experience.  Also consider the National Guard as an opportunity to pay of some loans and serve your country part time.

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HURRY UP and wait.....

 

Lesson #1 for military training...

 

Stop waiting - get a job - tell the recruiter that they need to hurry up as you might settle into a job

 

 

recruiters are not your friends, they will string you along for ever and tell you what you want to hear....

 

Your training and career is worth more then waiting on the Army - it is now to the point they might view you as having something wrong as you have not gotten other employment!

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I am a civilian trained PA with 37 years of experience. I spent 3 years in the Army as a PA. I spent most of the 3 years in the Army stationed in Germany,so I did not have any exposure to a combat zone. I would not recommend that you take your first job as a PA in the Army,as the level

of responsibility is high,and you are expected to function fairly independently. I would recommend that you work at least 3 or 4 years in either family

practice or emergency medicine before going into the Army. Having said that, the Army is a great job for a PA who is willling to take on a high
level of responsibility and work long hours. Also you need to be in good physical condition to be in the Army,you have to be able to run 2 miles,

do lots of push ups and sit ups within a standard of time. It is not an easy job,but it is a rewarding one.

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Current Army PA here, passed PANCE June 2013. No State license required to practice in the Military Treatment Facility (MTF). I have no problems ordering DME or scripts off post in GA. I just use my NPI in place of license # on forms, and have to list SP for off post scripts in GA. The Army is a good gig, and there is definitely a high level of responsibility.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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HURRY UP and wait.....

 

Lesson #1 for military training...

 

Stop waiting - get a job - tell the recruiter that they need to hurry up as you might settle into a job

 

 

Yeah, I've figured that out. I did receive a civilian job offer (the salary really made me second guess the Army). I told my recruiter that I was going to take it if I did not have my orders for July BOLC within one week. The MAJ doing the PA assignments got in touch with me two days later and I will go BOLC and then on to Fort Hood in September. For some reason, there isn't a BOLC scheduled between March and July. July is the earliest I could start anyway.

 

 

...I would not recommend that you take your first job as a PA in the Army,as the level of responsibility is high,and you are expected to function fairly independently. I would recommend that you work at least 3 or 4 years in either family practice or emergency medicine before going into the Army. Having said that, the Army is a great job for a PA who is willling to take on a high

level of responsibility and work long hours...

 

I appreciate the advice. I figured now was the best time to go active duty as I don't have any dependents or own a home. I didn't want to get settled with a civilian job/life, and then go active. It just made sense to me to join now. Also, I was accepted by the board now with the loan repayment program. Not sure if I would be accepted in 3-4 years or if the student loan benefit would even be available then.

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Yeah, I've figured that out. I did receive a civilian job offer (the salary really made me second guess the Army). I told my recruiter that I was going to take it if I did not have my orders for July BOLC within one week. The MAJ doing the PA assignments got in touch with me two days later and I will go BOLC and then on to Fort Hood in September. For some reason, there isn't a BOLC scheduled between March and July. July is the earliest I could start anyway.

 

 

 

I appreciate the advice. I figured now was the best time to go active duty as I don't have any dependents or own a home. I didn't want to get settled with a civilian job/life, and then go active. It just made sense to me to join now. Also, I was accepted by the board now with the loan repayment program. Not sure if I would be accepted in 3-4 years or if the student loan benefit would even be available then.

Did you get your assignment yet?

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Fort Hood after BOLC! I really only had a choice of Fort Hood or Fort Bliss. I'm just happy to serve and get started!

This is interesting.

 

One of my preceptors when I was on rotations had just gotten out of the Army after a three year stint (2008-2011). He pretty much had his pick of bases and was stationed in Germany.

 

I assumed that the Army had a shortage of providers....

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This is interesting.

 

One of my preceptors when I was on rotations had just gotten out of the Army after a three year stint (2008-2011). He pretty much had his pick of bases and was stationed in Germany.

 

I assumed that the Army had a shortage of providers....

 

No slots available OCONUS right now. I was hoping for Germany or Alaska, but I told him to send me where he needed me, knowing I'm a new grad. MAJ said Ft Hood and Ft Bliss need a lot of PAs because they're large bases and have a lot of units. I'd like to go OCONUS at some point if it becomes available.

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No slots available OCONUS right now. I was hoping for Germany or Alaska, but I told him to send me where he needed me, knowing I'm a new grad. MAJ said Ft Hood and Ft Bliss need a lot of PAs because they're large bases and have a lot of units. I'd like to go OCONUS at some point if it becomes available.

Fair enough. My preceptor wasn't a new grad (he did 3 years in the ED before joining the Army) and he was commissioned as a captain, I believe.

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Did he get promoted at all after?

He was only in for 3 years. So he wasn't in the zone for major yet.

 

I'm currently in the Air Force. At least here, PAs usually make it to 0-4 without issue, with many becoming 0-5 if they stay in. The highest that a PA can go, to my knowledge, is 0-6 (Colonel).

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