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Bored new grad


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Hello, 

I am a recently graduated (May 2020) PA who was fortunate to find a job relatively quickly during covid. I actually landed a great job working for a world renowned surgeon and started mid August. I've been at the job full time 6 months. It's in the semi rural town I live in so all is well. Except, I'm bored out of my mind every other week. The doc I work with is older and only doing surgery and seeing patients every other week with the rare exception of an add on case during an "off" week. During this time, I'm still expected to work doing mostly pre op and post op phone calls and other administrative work (yearly X-ray reminders etc). But basically it's just very very slow . He's has this schedule for three+ years and his last two PAs had no complaints from what I've heard (both moved for their spouses jobs) but I'm basically a glorified MA- I don't see any of my own patients and the only real decision making I get to do is when I'm on call. 

I'm looking for advice for ways to add in part time or prn work to my schedule to keep my medical knowledge. I live 2 hours from the nearest city so there aren't a lot of options of other work. In fact, there's basically nothing closer than 2 hours away (I look every day and have talked to all of the local employers). There are no 24/7 urgent cares here and the ED doesn't employ PAs. Do I take a PRN job 2 hours away?? Is that crazy? Does anyone have any advice for getting into telehealth or remote work this early on in a career? I know it's a stretch but I don't want to lose all of my hard earned knowledge.  

I know people are going to kindly suggest I move but due to life/financial constraints that's not an option at this point. 

I am basically just struggling to find happiness or fulfillment in a career I so longed for. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

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All about how you want to spend your time. That week off can be good for all kinds of things.  Or drive you absolutely insane.  Or more specifically drive your wife insane because you insist that you're happy only working 10 nights/mo and don't need another job and no I don't HAVE to follow you around the house all the time but what the h#$! else am I supposed to do honey?!

*cough* Anyways, I'd remember if this surgeon is nearing the end of his/her career you're going to be out of work.  May be nice to find some way to network, or to get a per diem gig which could translate into something FT in your town once he/she closes up shop.

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I'm not considering leaving and I do understand that at the end of the day it's just a job but I also don't feel like it's wrong to want to add in some other jobs that may be more fulfilling. 

Thankfully my surgeon already has his replacement lined up in the event that he does choose to retire and as long as that new doc likes me, i'll stay employed. 

I have many hobbies but I do see how this post makes me sound like I might not. 🤣 For anyone genuinely concerned, I live in a beautiful ski town and ski multiple days a week, workout daily, hike, run competitively, read and cook all of the time. It's certainly not my life that's unfulfilling, its the career. That's why I said I will not be moving. 

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement to take a PT/PRN job even if it's a far drive. I think I just needed reassurance that it wasn't a super stupid decision.

When my doc is in the office, we have one day of clinic where either he and I or he and the fellow see all of the patients together. The rest of the week I assist in the OR and do all of the charting/prescribing/following up/rounding etc. But no, on his off weeks I do not see patients. I really just respond to emails/calls and prepare charts for the following week. Which is why I am so bored 50% of the time.

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5 hours ago, run0811 said:

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement to take a PT/PRN job even if it's a far drive. I think I just needed reassurance that it wasn't a super stupid decision.

I would say there are two good ways to stay competitively employed as a PA, and they're not mutually exclusive: depth and diversification.

You can sit around in the off-weeks and do all the online CME and merit badges until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, those are just certificates in a folder unless you're out putting those skills to use.  Mind you, I'm not advising against it, but after 200+ hours of Cat 1 CME in a year, it's all of questionable additional value...

The nice thing about PT/PRN jobs is that it's less of an investment for an organization to hire and pay you, so you end up with a loose coupling: they are OK letting you go first if need be, and you're OK with not being able to schedule hours at that job if something picks up at your main gig.

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I am a firm believer in listening to your reaction to your working life. When we start to get off-course, we often begin by getting little signals that that is the case. Ignore these signals long enough and you can get so far off-course that it can be hard to figure out what to do next. You clearly want more to do and there is nothing wrong with that. We do work for money but we are generally happier when we get psychic rewards too.

Starting out in a career is probably not the time to be working essentially half-time. I would encourage you to find another gig to fill in. Yes, it might lead to something else and, given that you're starting out in a small pond (your relatively isolated town), the chances are good that someday you will either move or change careers.

You got some good options suggested above. I would add that, this being the age of telemedicine, that might be an option for you as well.

Good luck.

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