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Transitioning from school to practice

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I'm a PA-S matriculating this year and I'm looking for any words of wisdom for what I can do in my program or shortly thereafter to aid in transitioning into a practice and giving me as many options as possible when I seek employment. I'd rather start thinking about it now so I can position myself well in the future. I'm older (31) and well versed in the medical community (prior EMS and family of MDs and nurses). What I lack are the nuts and bolts of maneuvering as a new PA. My first job search will likely be in rural NC (fiancee is committed to a PhD program for 5 years) and I anticipate being in a position where I have "follow" where her job/research takes her due to the much more limited options for PhDs (been watching my brother do it, applying all over the country). I'm comfortable delving into general practice or emergency medicine as both interest me and are pretty cosmopolitan wherever one might end up, but I wouldn't rule out other specialities.

So all that said, any tips for what to consider/not consider or what sort of things to look out for that first year or two after graduating to improve competitiveness options for employment would be appreciated.

P.S. Sorry if this belongs in the student section, thought with the transition though it might be good here. 

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Congrats on your acceptance to PA school. It's a terrific profession. Sounds like you've got solid patient care experience, and that'll go a long way for you. Especially so while on your clinical rotations.


Advice for didactic:

  • Stay afloat in didactic. Find what study skills work for you and drown out the background noise of what your peers are doing.
  • Be prepared to change your study habits as what's worked in undergrad may not work in PA school. 
  • Use multiple study resources (books, videos, podcasts). Hearing the same information presented different ways can often help with making things stick


Advice for clinical year and after:

  • A lot of job opportunities as a new grad/PA student happen during your clinical rotations. Don't necessarily seek these out, they'll come to you. Just show up on time, do a solid job and be teachable. 
  • Make good professional contacts and keep in touch with them as you progress through your training. Having 1 or 2 solid professional contacts that are comfortable giving you a reference for employment can be helpful as a new grad. Also, a lot of PA jobs can be word of mouth so they can potentially be of help later on down the line.
  • Consider Family Medicine, UC or ED as you've previously mentioned because those positions are abundant and you can easily pick up and move depending on your partners career track
  • Join your state AAPA chapter and ask to be put on the email list. A lot of job postings happen via that route that don't necessarily make it to the big name online job sites


All the best.

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Good advice above.

Focus on the didactics and maintaining your relationship with your significant other.

Transitioning to practice is something to be concerned about as you hit the half-way point of clinical year. Earlier consideration is just a distraction.

Keep in touch or develop a friendship with graduating students ahead of you. They can give you the lowdown on their anecdotal experiences which may provide you with further insight.

Good luck.


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