When and how did you start preparing for job process?
I started preparing for the job process near the end of my last rotation. I worked on my resume and cover letter while studying for the Canadian Entry to Practice Certification Exam, which unfortunately was scheduled in the middle of Health Force Ontario’s (HFO) hiring cycle. Once the list of HFO funded jobs are released, I sent out my application. I adapted the idea from Anne and created a GoogleDoc listing all the employers I sent my application out to. This was to keep track of which employer I should be following up on if I did not hear back in a week, dates of interview, etc.
How did you prepare for these job interviews?
To prepare, I tried to anticipate what questions would be asked at the interview. I spent a lot of time doing mock interviews with my partner.
How did you make your decision about where to work?
I completed an elective at the position that I accepted. I felt comfortable with the staff and nurses whom I worked with during my elective. To me, the Physician/Nursing-PA relationship is important. I was familiar with the tasks and the position described allowed me to participate in the clinic, as well as in the OR. The down side is that I have to relocate to a different city, away from my family. However, it is truly a unique opportunity that I felt was hard to pass up.
What do you think made you a successful candidate at the job of your choice?
I believe that having completed a rotation there gave me an advantage. Two out of the four staff knew me and gave me positive feedback for my performance as a clerk. I was interviewed by a different staff whom I have not worked with. However, I felt that my rich experience from my electives in a variety of surgical specialties also gave me an edge at the interview.
What tips do you have for new graduates when approaching the Career Start Program?
- It definitely helps to do electives in areas of interest (to strengthen resume), in areas with no PAs before or in areas where the employer is hoping to hire.
- It is important to have a good understand of what a Physician Assistant can do in that area and advocate to the staff/residents/nurses. There will be curiosity as to what a PA can or cannot do for them. I know a classmate of mine who completed a rotation in a subspecialty who did not have a PA before. They were interested in hiring after learning about the Career Start funding and my classmate offered to help write the funding application.
- When it comes to applying, I think the applicant should reflect on what they value. The majority of funded jobs are outside GTA – rough estimate of 65% were outside of GTA so it is competitive for the positions in bigger cities.
- Some new grads are very fortunate to work in the location and area of medicine that they are passionate about. If not lucky, they should be very open minded – location vs area of medicine. There may be a time where they need to decide what is more important – Is it worth waiting for new positions/applying outside of HFO or relocating.
Did the majority of your classmates obtain work after graduation?
All my classmates who were seeking employment after graduation did obtain work, though the timeline of when employment was secured varied (some started before HFO funded positions rolled out; some started months later). Also, a few of my classmates had to make compromises; relocating to another city being the most common.
Any overall thoughts about the Ontario Career Start Program/process?
I felt that the Ontario Career Start Program process was very time sensitive.
Employers had one month to review applications, interview, and select a successful candidate. This is especially difficult for hospital positions that they have to go through HR (PAs are hospital employees, not hired by physician). After understanding this, it is not a surprise to see hospital positions being interviewed very late in the cycle. Which brings us back to the dilemma I brought up before: forfeit future interviews and accept the first offer or decline offer and hope for more interviews.
Some of the potential employers withdrew from the HFO program, which is unfortunate for us applicants.
The one thing I did appreciate what that HFO would email us when a position was filled or withdrew from the program.
Illustrations in this post created by Sapann-Design – Freepik.com