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Questions to Ask PA While Shadowing

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Hi all! So I am shadowing a PA again tomorrow that I shadowed earlier this month. She reached out to me after I sent her a letter at her practice expressing my desire to shadow. She was eager to answer my questions and go into detail explaining each patient case to me. I was wondering what questions would be good to ask her tomorrow. Would it be appropriate to ask her if she would be willing to write a letter of recommendation? To shadow her again? If she would be willing to serve as sort of a mentor to me over email? I don't want to be too forward, but I do eventually need a letter of rec from a PA and it can be hard to find PAs to shadow! 


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Great question! Quite frankly, you have to be assertive. Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding her profession. I’m sure she would be happy to answer them! All of the PAs I shadowed encouraged be to ask questions regarding their path to becoming a PA, their education and their practice. Shadowing, in my opinion, is the most important step in seeing if PA is the right career for you so you owe it to yourself to ask the questions. Don’t be afraid! To answer your LOR question, make sure they’re comfortable writing you a LOR. Feel them out. What kind of person are they? Some PAs just aren’t comfortable writing you a letter because they just don’t know you very well - don’t take offense. It would be best to follow the same PA around for awhile so you can get to know them on a personal level and vice versa. When they’re with patients don’t be afraid to talk to the patients but of course don’t be a nuisance. It’s all about how you put yourself out there.

Questions I’ve ask my mentors:

1) how did you find out about the profession?
2)what do you love about your job?
3) what do you dislike about your work?
4) why did you decide to pursue the field you’re in?
5) any advice for a student in PA school?
6) how has the profession changed since you started?
7) are there procedures you’re uncomfortable with and want a physician to oversee?
8) what is your scope of practice? Does it differ from the physicians that practice with you?
9) what are challenges you face day to day?
10) are there times that you make you want to quit? What keeps you going?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I wouldn't ask about an LOR being only the second time.  They don't know you well enough. People stress too much on just getting an LOR, and do not realize that it's the quality that matters and that requires the writer to really know you.

I'd ask things as they pop up.

I shadowed a PA for a year. At first, I tried to stay out of the way, and asked questions as things came up .  Eventually, I was removing stitches, getting quized on x-rays, bilirubin count, and got an amazing LOR.  

Just take it day by day. If your 2nd day shadowing is good, ask when it may be possible to shadow again.

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  • 3 years later...

I know this is a late reply to the original post.  However; I started shadowing an Orthopedic PA in November of this year.  I've shadowed her 4x so far and hope to keep shadowing until I apply to programs this May.  I've also shadowed a Dermatology PA and will start shadowing an ENT PA this week. I'm trying to get shadowing hours in varied disciplines to become familiar with different specialties.  So far, I've asked all the questions JChen mentioned above.  In my opinion, you will know if and when it's appropriate to request a LOR.   For example, since I've shadowed the Ortho PA 4x so far I feel like we've developed a rapport and as long as I'm able to shadow her- there's a good chance she'd be willing to write a LOR.  I've only shadowed the Derm PA once so that relationship is developing and the ENT PA is TBD.  As for asking questions..  It's difficult to tell what would considered "excess" vs an appropriate amount of inquiry in order to 1) glean/learn as much as possible and 2) show the PA that you're sincerely interested and eager to learn.  

TBH, I sometimes wonder if I'm asking too much or too little.  PA's are so busy and I find myself asking a lot of questions between patients, when they're documenting the encounter.  With the ortho PA, I was open with her and said "if you need me to be quiet while you document, please let me know because I have the tendency to ask a lot of questions."  She told me it doesn't bother her so I'm glad I got some clarification there.  During patient visits, I'm a little hesitant to jump in and start asking the patient questions because 1.)  being a Pre-PA, I can't even pretend to know what I'm talking about and 2.) I don't want to come across as a nuisance because each patient is allotted a certain period of time.   YET, on the other hand- sometimes I wonder if by not interjecting during patient visits- the PA thinks I'm not inquiring enough or making efforts.   So it's hard to tell.  I've decided not to over-think this too much.  Ask questions when I feel it's right.  I do take initiative and with the PA's permission, observe them while they chart the encounter- look at lab results on the computer, etc.  

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