Becky Mueller is an American PA who moved to Canada to practice in Oncology, and then Palliative Care. She then transitioned into a career in medical writing. Here she discusses the “ideal PA” looks like, and some tips for new PA graduates
The Ideal PA
It is less to do with intelligence, and much more to do with the ability to talk to patients, and the ability to understand our strengths and weaknesses. I think a good PA Is able to come into a practice, and integrate themselves into the practice so wholeheartedly that the practice would not know what to do with out you. Most of us are able to achieve that, and research supports that, that PAs (although most is from the US) it is still supported here in Canada.
PAs come into a practice, and they are able to integrate themselves in a way that the patients know their name, and you know their patients name. Doctors don’t know what they’d do without you, and the admin staff appreciate your efforts.
To me a good PA really does that. A good PA continues with their learning process, looks at the new things coming out. Finds gaps that no one knew we were there. Find ways to come up with ideas, and really be an integrated person in the health care system.
Job Hunt Tips for New PA Grads
There’s the New Start grants in Ontario which is very helpful. The rest of everybody else, including the New Start people. One of the things you are looking for is a long term position. I would ask for that in the job interviews. The other thing is paying attention to, is the workload.
How many patients are you expected to see per day? Per hour?
The other thing is, if you will be given any administration time? Because the charting and the paperwork piles up more than you realize before you take your first job. It’s very helpful, if into your initial contract you can get half a day, or a day dedicated to get that done. Otherwise you will end up taking it home and it during hours you are not paid for. Those are the things I think I would look for to get a job you like.
In terms of finding available jobs, that’s networking. It REALLY is networking. The key is advocacy for yourself, and networking.
One of the things within self-advocacy is not just going out and saying, “I’m looking for a job”. You have to go out and make yourself useful to somebody else, for nothing return. That is what is going to make people start to go “You’re actually a very vigilant person. You’re somebody that I want my practice to be associated with.” And then they start to create the job openings for you once you meet those people.
How do you advocate yourself? Well that’s the next conundrum. The first place is to start, is the places you rotated. Where’s the best experience you had? Where did you have the best connections? Or best connections with the admin staff? And go back and ask how they’re doing, even before they’re done the research.
There are resources out there to help them get funding and approval. That’s the first place to start. If that doesn’t work for you, the next place to start is anybody you may know. If you have friends and families that are physicians and work in hospitals, in might not just be asking them for a job. It might just be saying “do you know anybody looking?”. “Is there something that I can help with?”.
The other thing is [attending] conferences, if you can invest in the conference and go to CME, just the local ones, you are going to increase your knowledge and you can network.
People are there to network. They are there for the CME and to meet other people.
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