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My current physician has offered to pay for my PA school if I work for him after I graduate. Does anyone have any experience with this??

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I am currently applying to PA school.  My physician/boss/employer (ENT specialty) has offered to pay for my schooling if I work for him once I graduate. I have been working as his medical assistant for 3 years. We haven't discussed any details or specifics but I honestly don't know where to even start!  Does anyone have any expereince with this and could offer some insight???  I'm flattered and excited but am hesitant since this is uncharted territory...

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I have heard of hospitals(generally rural) offering to send folks to school if they promise to practice for X years at said hospital when done. I have never heard of being sponsored by a specific doc. could be good, but could also end up terribly wrong if they decided to stop paying 1/2 way through or something...

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will they just pay tuition or will they pay books and a living stipend, etc. quite a bit to iron out here. how about relocation for rotations in other states, gas money, interviewing expenses, etc

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Lots to iron out!  I showed him the tuition from one university (110k) including health insurance etc plus living expenses, additional 50k. He was fine with it.  I just don't even know what is reasonable for the contract after I graduate.  I know some universities educate their graduates on nuances like malpractice insurance etc and at this point I have no baseline for what to expect. What is the reasonable amount of years indebted to a company?  Should I expect a lower starting salary with this setup?

The good thing is that we have a great repore so I am not concerned with the work environment once I graduate.

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And now for a different perspective...

 

< EDIT: keep in mind, initially, the top post only said this was her physician and not her employer >

 

No. Are you crazy? I have warning bells and red flags going off all over the place.

 

Let me see if I have this straight: an ENT doc is interested in hiring a PA, sometime from 2 to 4 years in the future most likely, depending on academic calendars and whatnot. He's willing to invest $160k or more in his young female patient to become that PA.

 

If my daughter came home and told me this was an offer her doctor made, I'd be HUGELY skeptical.

 

If he needs/ wants a PA for his practice, why not just hire one who has already been to school?

 

Does he have PAs as part of the group now? Has he ever? Would you be the first one? Has he recruited anyone else that works there out of the ranks of patients? Does anyone else find that to be ethically a little... weird? How big a town is this? How big a practice? Does this person have partners? A board of directors? Anyone he answers to?

 

But let's assume I'm worried for nothing and this is completely not sketchy at all. You won the lottery and have this amazing scholarship opportunity, basically. What exactly do you have to do? Can you lose eligibility at any point? What if you get partway through your training and discover you hate ENT as a specialty, and want to work in a different area? What if the practice isn't doing so well financially at some point along the way, and this guy can't make tuition payments?

 

What is he actually expecting from you in return for this unprecedented gift?

 

When something sounds too good to be true, there is usually a reason. At minimum, if this gets past the informal "just talking" stage, you HAVE to run all this by a skilled contract lawyer -- and NOT one recommended by the ENT doc, please -- and make sure there are clear and unambiguous agreements about who's getting what, and what they owe in return. The best-case scenario as I see it is you complete training, and get hired at a terrible wage with a crushing schedule, feeling obligated to "pay back" the favor, while somehow helping out the practice finances as a tax loophole of some kind.

 

I feel like it's inappropriate to offer a front-office job to a patient. Offering to pay grad school tuition is, to me anyway, profoundly creepy. All of my NOPE, is my first impression.

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I also want to hear what some of the practice-owners have to say about this. Would they ever offer a job to a patient? Would they pay tuition as part of landing a future employee?

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I assumed she already worked for this guy in some capacity...

I assumed "my current physician" meant she is a patient, and the doc recently learned she plans on PA school.

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I guess i need to clarify!

I have been this doctors Medical Assistant for over 3 years as well as the medical assistant for the other doctors in the office, we are ENT/head and neck surgery.  I would definitely get a lawyer of my choice to help me.  I have thought about all sorts of scenarios like finding another specialty while in school etc.  

 

I too would be very concerned if I were just a patient....

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I was also going to suggest an escrow account, where the money would be placed before the start of school, with agreed upon terms and conditions.   

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Thank you, that does make a big difference.

 

Anybody else old enough to remember Gilda Radner's "Emily Latella" character, from 1970s Saturday Night Live? She'd go off on this long, drawn-out, crazy rant about something like how "violins on television" isn't a bad thing at all, and people who want to ban it just hate music and culture, and she'd get all worked up and nutty. Jane Curtin would say, "um, no, see, the problem they have is with violence on television..."

 

There would be this long pause. And Emily would go, "never mind."

 

So... Never mind. It's nice to be wrong in this case.

 

I still think it's unusual and I haven't really heard of it before, but if you're a kick-ass MA and the doc already knows you would be a great PA, you like the work and the patients, and you can hammer out a fair deal that doesn't mess up your salary scale for the rest of your career, heck yeah you should look into it.

 

We like to warn new grads about taking lousy deals for their first jobs after school. The trick with a deal like this is you'd need to take a lot of that into account before you even start school, and that gives you a lot to do while you're also applying and preparing for interviews. And I would talk with the financial aid office at your school, once you have one, just to make them aware, and to figure out your eligibility just in case.

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I had a PA student once from Alaska whose entire town funded her education as long as she promised to come back to the hinterlands and stay for X number of years.

They paid everything - room, board, books, travel, etc.

 

I too would say to work with a contract attorney and look at all kinds of issues - the dreaded what-ifs -- 

What if you become ill or medically disabled and unable to complete your education?

What about potential maternity and its affects on school or employment?

You have to protect the business relationship from the medical relationship and ensure that you are properly supervised and insured, protected, etc.

What if this physician passes away or becomes unable to continue practicing before the contract is complete? Is it transferable or escapable?

 

It sounds like a good idea in that the doc gets what he/she needs in a PA that is already a known entity with a knowledge of the practice.

 

Just protect yourself and make sure it is what YOU want for your future and you can realistically fulfill all the tenants of the contract.

 

Good Luck

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I graduated in 1994 from Yale and finished paying off those loans in 2007! I would certainly accept that offer; however, be sure everything is in writing including salary, length of contacted period, terms of contract. Also , be sure to have an attorney read the contract and advise you, so you'll know exactly what you're agreeing to.

 

You must be a great employee to be offered money for PA SChool. Trust your gut!

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Private practice PA hiring can be a real challenge. This is your small business and hriing someone patients do not like or provides poor patient care can really set the business back. Everytime someone quits you need to rehire and retrain a PA which costs big money over a career. I do not think it terribly odd that an MD/business owner would want to invest 100K in a professional who is going to work for XX number of years. My guess is he is going to want you to work fora certaina mount of time and a bit under what the market pays. Keep in mind 100K being paid over a 15 year period might be close to 200k+. ALSO keep in mind that you are a medical assistant for this practice and then a new PA. It will be hard for you to ever feel like a true colleague here. Given that you only have to be here for a period early in your career I do not see that as a big problem since that is to be expected anywhere. I would have a contract signed. I wouldnt push book coverage since nowadays that is pennies compared with tuition.

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It's hard for us to say because we don't know your boss or your relationship with him.

 

On the surface I agree with Febrifuge here----I would have a healthy skepticism if I were you. Not necessarily because he is a "creep" or whatever, but you are about to be INDEBTED to another person who will also happen to be your employer. This could potentially turn into a situation that would be leveraged against you, or put you in a corner so to speak.

 

Very tempting offer. But also keep in mind you would be locking yourself into ENT for a few years, and unless you plan to stay in ENT it is very hard for a PA with no primary care experience to get work in EM, IM, FP, etc. Just some things to think about.

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It's hard for us to say because we don't know your boss or your relationship with him.

 

On the surface I agree with Febrifuge here----I would have a healthy skepticism if I were you. Not necessarily because he is a "creep" or whatever, but you are about to be INDEBTED to another person who will also happen to be your employer. This could potentially turn into a situation that would be leveraged against you, or put you in a corner so to speak.

 

Yep, that's it, exactly. It sounds like a good deal in a lot of ways, but it's important to be careful. Interesting situation, in that she needs to start thinking about advocating for her career before she even gets in to school.

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The upside is a free education and a guaranteed job. 

 

Downsides: might not like the job, the job will pidgeonhole you slightly, you might get taken advantage of as the first PA in the practice, might get taken advantage of because of indentured servitude, doc might have a change of heart, you might have a change of heart, and of course there's the rare but possible - you might not get accepted or might not graduate or might have a delay because of pregnancy, yadda yadda yadda.

 

So, the upsides are huge but few.  The downsides are smaller but much much more prolific. 

 

Only you can answer the questions regarding whether or not you can live with the downsides.  We can all say, "Heck yeah!" to the free schooling and a guaranteed job.  But we can't tell you what to do about the negatives.  We can help you brainstorm what they might be, though.  Which is really what you need to do next. 

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You know, I really love the diversity of FP/UC/EM, but I shadowed an ENT PA before school, and I would really not mind doing that for a career.  True, there's a lot that's repetitive, but you get to work with a wide age range, balance of outpatient/surgical, do things that really benefit people, have minimal call requirements compared to other surgical subspecialties....  I could see myself doing ENT, even if I'm not pursuing that route.  There are far worse specialties to get pigeonholed into.

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First of all, I want to thank every one of you for your kind thoughts!  I appreciate you taking the time to offer your insight and I value everyone's opinion here, this is my one landline to the PA profession!  

 

My physician has been toying with the idea of bringing on a PA. His ENT colleagues have one in their practice and have been suggesting that he should hire one. We currently have two physicians, one ENT and one ENT/facial plastics.  They have both talked about my role in their clinic if I were to become a PA.  Currently, they are each others first assists in major surgeries (neck dissections/thyroids etc.) and they want to alleviate this burden on each other by making their PA the first assist.  The other days I would be in the clinic seeing patients.  They do not micromanage.   My Dr/boss/employer explains that ENT training is really on the job, there is no rotation even in med school for the specialty, so his investment in my education will allow him to hire a PA (me) that already has on the job experience.  Honestly, I think he has been gearing up towards this as he has spent a lot of time training me, teaching me how to read CT scans and testing me with treatment plans etc.  I appreciate the challenge and enjoy learning so I have willingly dove into the "pretend clinician role."   

The great thing about the area I live in (san francisco) and our practice is that we have great and compliant patients, we see a broad spectrum of diseases and ages, and we are always busy.  I have a great rapport with our patients and I think my providers realize that I will be a easy and great fit in the long term for the practice. 

There are so many upsides to the agreement, job security, no loans, great clinic to work in, boss that is understanding of my abilities and does not micromanage, and I get along great with staff and doctors....

but yes, 

my hesitations

1.) Regarding the iron clad contract Id insist on: I would miss something I would have otherwise learned about in PA school***** ie non-compete, mal practice etc

2.) I get stuck in ENT because it will be challenging to change specialties after a few years***

3.) i fall in love with another specialty while in PA school
4.) everything else that could go wrong!! 

 

I would 100% hire my own lawyer and get an solid agreement with terms and conditions.

The whole thing is just so daunting; having to make such huge decisions before I even get my feet wet at school is frightening.  BUT I don't want to write off a great opportunity.  

 

Thank you again for listening!  I appreciate it :)

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Does the physician know what a PA is and what a PA does? 

This would have saved me some heartache had I known to ask it....Hindsight...

 

I resigned from 1 job to accept what I thought was an amazing offer from another doc.  100% of medical/dental, CME, $25 pay increase, no call, etc...awesome right?  Not so much when I discovered she has never worked with, nor supervised/mentor a PA before.  We lasted 1 month together.  

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