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I am a student graduating in December and have begun the job search process. Many positions are available, but I'm finding they're either very rural, temp positions, float positions, or in a subspecialty that would be a poor fit for me after school. I am really interested in family practice or a surgical subspecialty. Today I applied for a job (my first time) that said they would consider new grads, but immediately received an email that I did not have enough experience. This is disheartening and I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps my expectations are too high. Granted, I have just begun the search and have plenty of time. I'm just curious about perspectives from everyone here. Please share as much as you feel comfortable, or PM me if you do not want this public.

A few questions:

  1. How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?
  2. How many times had you been dismissed due to being new?
  3. Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?
  4. Were you satisfied with your first position?
  5. If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently.

Thank you in advance. I will keep my chin up and keep applying.

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Boatswain2PA - You're right. I shouldn't compare myself to others. I was just curious if it's a common experience finding a position that has patience for a new grad. Two of my friends just received very desirable offers from places that were exclusively seeking new PAs. I'm wondering if this is common. Also, I feel I miscommunicated my specialty preferences. I'm not looking for a specific surgical subspecialty. I'm seeking family practice or any sort of surgery whatsoever. I would also like to stay in the same city as my home and family.

 

Soulfari - That's a good point. I had great experiences at my sites, but none of them are hiring right now or know anyone who is. I really thought my rotations would offer this opportunity. I've made some good networks and fantastic feedback, but no open spots.

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How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?


I took a job at my second-to-last rotation. I enjoyed orthopedic surgery very much and inquired on a job opportunity. A couple interviews later I had the job. Some places ask for experience as you mentioned, but others welcome new grads. This is because it gives the employer the opportunity to train and mold you to their system, possibly giving them a more efficient PA.


 


How many times had you been dismissed due to being new?


None, but then again I only applied to one place and started working right away. My experience is probably not the norm.


 


Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?


Don't underestimate your potential as a new grad. Most of my friends found positions they were very happy with. A couple quit their first jobs within a year, but then secured job opportunities shortly after because they had a good network of contacts. They told me the main reason they quit wasn't because of disliking the specialty they had chosen, but because of not getting along with their attending physician or co-workers. This is something important to consider when you're searching for your first job as a PA.


 


Another classmate of mine was determined to practice emergency medicine and moved from Florida to Chicago straight out of school for the job. In this case he had to make the sacrifice of moving somewhere new, but in the end was very happy with his decision.


 


Were you satisfied with your first position?


Yes. I think your first position, at the very least, will be a great learning experience regardless of where you go.


 


If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently.


Interviewed at other places to give me a better perspective on my options.


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My first thought... Just chill. You are still 3 months from graduating and then another 2-3 before you take PANCE, hopefully pass and get started on credentialling. That's 6 months. With all do respect, I wouldn't hire you either unless you rotated at the site and the employer saw your work and were a stud/studette. If you feel disheartened already I would recommend you grow some thicker skin (again, no disrespect here). There will be plenty of jobs that come and go.

 

I started my first job at 3 months after grad... And I was one of the few that found one that quick. It was in ortho and turned out to be awful. After 6 months i resigned and took a job (same specialty) that paid wayyyy more with less hours and more earning potential. Not only that... Work is fun and I get along great with my surgeon. I found one of thoe rare 3/3 jobs (location, pay, specialty) and am very thankful for that. Point is that you will find something, and it may not be what you thought it would be. With a little persistence you will find the right place... Whether you get it the first time or have to take another job at 6 months out. I won't guarantee that but if you know how to network and keep your eyes peeled then something will fall.

 

Good luck.

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I had an offer and accepted it pretty much right away, as soon as my family and I had moved to "new city" for husband's job. I started interviewing a few months before and right after graduation. turned down a lot of jobs for various reasons - horrible hours, not super-excited about the specialty, etc.

 

I was coming up on the train "from "old city" to interview with a surgical service at the city hospital before we moved to "new city". while I was on the train, the director of a different service at the same hospital called me on my cell phone and asked if she could take me out to lunch before I met with the original service (!!). apparantley she had gotten a lookie-loo at my resume in HR. I did. she wanted to hire me immediately. I told her I'd need to at least go to the interview I had come up for, and went. it was with a surg service and I accepted a 3-12s nights/weekends position. again, the hours worked for me. I learned a ton, covering two hospitals solo for the surg service on nights/weekends. unparalleled learning.

 

just trust that if you don't really want that first offer, there will be more. negotiate an appropriate rate of pay. never look desperate or insecure about negotiating. act like you are interviewing them as well as visa versa, because you ARE. have questions you sincerely have about the service and the position. and don't be afraid to turn someone down if it "just doesn't feel right".

 

good luck. and yeah - chill. if you're looking in a city, there will be piles of jobs. and don't worry about taking something you're not completely crazy about. just take what best fits your personal needs (schedule, pay, wish for new skill sets)...my second job came to me from a resume I had sent a year before, out of the blue...I didn't think I'd be crazy about it but the schedule was right and I liked the SDP right away. I ended up wanting to stay there for the rest of my career, and if my SP hadn't ltragically ost a daughter and moved away, I would have.

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  1. How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?

Roughly 4 months.  And I went to school out of state, the couple job offers I had from rotations I was not interested in because of location.

  1. How many times had you been dismissed due to being new?

The vast majority.  I finally ended up in a position that "considered" new grads, however.  I had a few other offers.  One great offer in FM but I passed on it, preferring to work inside a hospital.  Another good position but 2 hours from where I wanted to live.  And a handful of crappy urgent care and occ med positions.

  1. Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?

Yes, ended up taking such a position, then transferred within the system after several months to a job I wanted.  However my first job was not bad, just not where I wanted to be.

 

  1. Were you satisfied with your first position?

No, see above.  However, it was okay, it had its ups and downs.

 

  1. If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently.

Do not waste time with occ med or urgent care interviews.  Otherwise, I am happy with the way things turned out.  My first non-ideal job allowed me to transfer to a position I wanted.

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How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?


  • Graduated in May, moved to a new city in July, started applying right away. First interviews in August, first offers at the end of August.

How many times had you been dismissed due to being new?


  • I can't even count how many. I'm in a heavily saturated area for PAs on the west coast and was mostly interested in hospital work (not private practices), which could account for part of this. 

Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?


  • As far as distance goes, yes. Someone stated this above, but the mantra seems to hold true for most people: location, specialty, salary - pick 2. My location isn't ideal, but I got what I was looking for as far as the others go, and the location is still a workable situation for me. 

Were you satisfied with your first position?


  • I'll let you know after I *officially* start in late Oct/early Nov. I am incredibly excited about the position though. 

If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently.


  • Get a job in the city where your school is where you already have connections, even if you can't get a job at one of your rotations. If you have to move, use all of the contacts you have to find out about opportunities that they know about. Ask family and friends in the area to be on the lookout for positions for you. Consider contacts you already have in the city you want to work and reach out to them. Also, apply to "outside the box" employers. Big hospital systems tend not be great for new grads in a saturated area because of the sheer number of applications they get. If you're looking for a surgical specialty, instead of applying to the hospitals try contacting surgical specialty groups in the area you want to work. Multiple people in my class did this and it worked out well for them. Also, join the surgical PA organization and peruse their job postings. Start working on your resume and cover letter now (mine went through many many revisions). 
  • If you're in a state where you can, start working on your license application, fingerprinting, etc. now. 

 


Side note about the PANCE - you can take it as soon as 10 days after graduation, which is what I did. No need to wait 2 to 3 months unless you really need that time to study. I was better off taking it sooner since the material was still fresh from our final exams and I was moving shortly after. Also, I'm not part of the "just chill" philosophy, though I totally understand where they are coming from. It can be hard to balance finding a job you're actually interested in with needing a job ASAP to pay the bills. I agree with problem child, though - you may need the money, but avoid looking desperate and you still better negotiate!


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My first thought... Just chill. You are still 3 months from graduating and then another 2-3 before you take PANCE, hopefully pass and get started on credentialling. That's 6 months. With all do respect, I wouldn't hire you either unless you rotated at the site and the employer saw your work and were a stud/studette. If you feel disheartened already I would recommend you grow some thicker skin (again, no disrespect here). There will be plenty of jobs that come and go.

 

I started my first job at 3 months after grad... And I was one of the few that found one that quick. It was in ortho and turned out to be awful. After 6 months i resigned and took a job (same specialty) that paid wayyyy more with less hours and more earning potential. Not only that... Work is fun and I get along great with my surgeon. I found one of thoe rare 3/3 jobs (location, pay, specialty) and am very thankful for that. Point is that you will find something, and it may not be what you thought it would be. With a little persistence you will find the right place... Whether you get it the first time or have to take another job at 6 months out. I won't guarantee that but if you know how to network and keep your eyes peeled then something will fall.

 

Good luck.

? Why wait 3 months to take the pance? I took it a week after grad. Most my classmates within the month.. Hmm
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^^ if your one of those who can take it in a week go at it. Then things might change. My response was the most likely route. Graduate December. Can't take it until January 10. So let's assume OP graduates mid December (say dec 10). That's a month before PANCE will be attempted. Take pance, wait a week or 2 to get results depending on the timing of your date. That's 1.5 months. Perhaps OP would like a bit of a "holiday" to relax rather than starting the day that he/she officially gets his/her grade (assuming OP passes first attempt). Take 1-2 weeks and that makes 2 months. Wait for license.... Because yes, some states will need your score before getting a license.... Guess what? That can take a month. Viola... 3 months. May take less, but I feel like that was the case for most people in my class who graduated in dec.

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The OP's post is legit as I don't subscribe to the "Just Chill" either and for good reason.  I actually commend the OP for seeing the bigger picture and preparing in advance as it is now becoming very common for employers to look for people with "at least 1-2 years experience."  Combined with being in a PA saturated area, it can be very difficult finding work.  I had many challenges finding work.  Looking back, I admit I was very desperate when I accepted my first job which was a mistake.  That mistake led to other mistakes of simply accepting work out of desperation which led to abusive docs, etc.  Now, I see it in a different light - one in which I'm interviewing my employer as much as my employer is interviewing me.  Hopefully I have it right this time.


  1. How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?  Hard question to answer as there were many positions I was interested in but never got the job because of lack of experience.  I even applied for a surgical residency to gain experience but was not accepted.  
  2. How many times had you been dismissed due to being new? 9/10 times.
  3. Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?  Story of my PA career
  4. Were you satisfied with your first position? Nope.
  5. If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently?  Not accepted the first job offer.  I would have looked around for a "better fit" - whatever that is for you.  But for me, the most important advice I can give is to make sure you have a supportive SP who WANTS to mentor and KNOWS how to supervise and guide you on your first PA job.  And do not allow yourself to feel as if you need your SP - your SP needs you just as much.  Also, don't be afraid to interview them as well.   Best of luck and PM me if you need further answers.       

 

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Never said OPs post isn't legit. It definitely is. I was looking for jobs 3 months before grad too.

 

I guess I need to elaborate on what I mean by just chill. Relax... Don't stress out... Don't feel "disheartened" as the OP mentioned. Not just chill as in "don't do anything" which I feel is how it is being interpreted. OP has lots of time to find a job. There will be employers that turn OP down because of lack of experience. I think it's important to not get down on oneself because of this.

 

I thought I was giving advice... Turns out I wasn't. Disregard my posts.

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A big thank you to everyone for responding to this thread. From this, I've learned:

 

  1. MOST jobs will reject me for being a new grad. (Although I wish they wouldn't list, "Will consider new grads."
  2. Finding a job with the trifecta of location, specialty, and salary is rare.
  3. Consider other options- residencies, surgical subspecialty groups, and PA organizations.
  4. Get licensed asap. (I already have the forms filled out. I just need to take the PANCE... and graduate.)
  5. No matter how desperate I feel, never settle for something I know will make me unhappy.

I appreciate all the guidance. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sam I am, you are definitely correct.  I live in a supersaturated area and it took me 7 months to obtain a job offer.  What is worse is that I have no guidance at all!  I was hired as a hospitalist PA, however I take care of really sick people in the ICU also because the hospital does not have intensivists.  My first day of the job, I was told to go to the hospital and start seeing pts in the ICU by myself! The only training I got was computer training and I shadowed an NP for 5 days. 

 

Most of my classmates accepted the first job they could get because they were also having trouble. I would try to network as much as you can. If you keep getting rejected (lets say after the first 3-4 interviews) then I would take the first job offer you receive.  Six months experience is better than nothing even if you don't like the position or feel it won't be a good fit.  Once you get experience, it will be much easier. 

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  1. MOST jobs will reject me for being a new grad. (Although I wish they wouldn't list, "Will consider new grads."

 

I strongly suspect that the unstated "rest of the story" here for "Will consider new grads" ... is ... "If new grad has HC experience from PRIOR to PA school that makes new grad a viable candidate ... or new grad has exceptional referenceable relevant rotation experience that makes new grad a viable candidate".  

 

Something for new grads to take into account - just like getting into most PA schools, as a newly minted PA-C, while degree conferred (C,B,or M) may or may not come into play right off, relevant HC experience likely will.  

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I think it's reasonable for you to be looking for jobs at this point, and I agree with you that your expectations might be too high. I don't know anything about you beyond this post as I haven't gone to read any of your others, but AliB is correct. Many places "will consider new grads" but what they mean is that they "will consider exceptional new grads." As a new grad part of your job is to prove you're exceptional. If you don't know anyone at the potential employer the usual way to prove you're worth training is by having a slamin' resume and the ability to translate that into value as a PA.

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AliB and greenmood - You two make some good points. Previous HCE is important and, unfortunately, mine was very limited. I'm a former low-income high school Spanish teacher with a lot of community involvement. I also have a couple phenomenal letters of recommendation from clinical preceptors. I'm hoping my minimal previous healthcare experience doesn't stop all employers from seeing the big picture of what I have to offer.

 

Thank you again for your feedback. I will keep my chin up and keep applying.

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A few questions:

  1. How long did you search before finding positions you were interested in as a new grad?
  2. How many times had you been dismissed due to being new?
  3. Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal?
  4. Were you satisfied with your first position?
  5. If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently.

 

 

1. I found a job several months before I even graduated in spine, but it ended up being a disaster in terms of my low skill level, the practice demands, and the surgical lifestyle.

 

2. More than I can count. I think this trend will only continue with more and more new grads being churned out.

 

3. Yes. As you are probably finding out, new grads tend to get offered less-than-ideal gigs like runny nose clinics, low-t clinics, occ med, weight loss, etc. These places have high turnover and only require a very basic skill level.

 

4. No, see above. And I think it's very naive to expect a first gig to be a 100k/year gravy train. Not saying that's you, but it's a common attitude.

 

5. Started in primary care, and not chased the money. I would be 10x more marketable in 3 years than I was with the backwards route I took. You really cannot go wrong with having a primary care background. PC PAs will always be in demand, and most every employer will put strong preference on experience. Once you have a few years under your belt, it's MUCH easier to switch jobs and find good work.

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  1. There were some online but I wasn't getting any calls back. I got hooked up with a job from a friend of my final rotation's attending. Immediately knew it was a bad situation (urgent care) but got myself moonlight malpractice insurance (they only paid for claims made) and stayed there a month for the money while finding another job. 

None directly, but the job I am at now was somewhat hesitant (job posting asked for 1-2 years experience) and I applied to probably a hundred jobs online with few call backs. If you are applying to hospital systems online, many HRs will automatically not consider you for not being certified/licensed. In my experience and most of my classmates, once you start submitting resumes as a certified licensed PA you'll get many more calls.

Did you have to broaden your search and apply to positions that weren't necessarily ideal? - Try not to do this. Hold out for what you want and try to find a job you'll be happy at. I could have saved myself a lot of stress by not doing a month of urgent care while worrying about the future. On the other hand, I would have had to borrow from parents for a month of rent money if I hadn't. 

Were you satisfied with your first position? No, I should have held out for the 2nd job. Something would have come eventually. 

If you could have a do-over from graduation, what would you have done differently. ^^ And also if you are interested in family practice, cold call local places - you can find lots of offices you may not know about by searching major insurers websites - and you never know who has been thinking of adding a PA and you could craft a position - ideally better if they are familiar with PAs. I could have gotten my current job without a recruiter involved and probably negotiated a signing bonus of the probable few K they paid a recruiter. 

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