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Introduction/questions concerning Virginia schools, surgery, etc

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This is my first post. I just wanted to say hello, give a little about my background and ask some questions. Currently, I'm a 26 year old medical device rep. I'm in ORs constantly and before this job I was traveling every week, running around the floors of hospitals in every corner of the country and interacting with nurses, docs, and PAs daily. I had no idea what a PA was until I met one during my travels. I was immediately intrigued. I've always been interested in medicine but screwed around in undergrad too much and thought I'd ruined my chances of going to med school by my 2nd year (silly me). The idea of that much schooling and responsibility was too much of a decision to make at that early age.


Now, knowing the position and purpose of a PA, I see that it is a position of just the right amount of autonomy for me (wish I knew about it my freshman year, geez... I mean, an art degree has really been useless). If I could go back, I'd tell myself to go to med school and become a reconstructive plastic surgeon (my original dream - mixing art and medicine) but now I'd be almost 40 before I'd be able to practice. I want a family and work live balance now, not eat.breathe.drown in schooling for 8 years.


That being said... My plan is to finish pre reqs in the next 2 years, apply to a VA based school, and eventually move home to Richmond. Here's what I'm curious about:


1) How much autonomy do surgical PAs get in the OR, specifically ones that work with plastic surgeons? Do they get a say in the design/direction of the surgery at all or is it mostly just basic surgical assist stuff? I've shadowed a cardiothoracic surgical PA and he mostly just held the forceps and sutured at the end.


2) What is the atmosphere of practicing in Virginia like? I hear some states are more PA friendly then others. Anyone work specifically in Richmond?


3) I planned on taking an Emt-b course and becoming an Emt for a year and a half for actual hands on HCE, but is there another way of getting that which is more oriented toward a plastic surgery specialty without having to spend another 2 full years in school? I know scrub techs and SAs have pretty lengthy programs. I'm gonna start growing grey hairs soon...


4) Do you think experience in the OR as a device rep would count as any experience whatsoever?


Thank you for reading such a long post. I'm excited to be a part of the forum and hopefully one day the PA community!

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