Sit down with your employer, and discuss expectations – Andrea Lombardi works in a family medicine setting, and said that she sat down with her employer and had a frank discussion about expectations.
Build relationships with office staff, community pharmacists –
- .. with office & nursing staff: Tread lightly, and be extra nice to all the staff you are working with. Building good relationships will be pivotal in helping you advocate on behalf of your patient and ensure the clinic runs smoothly.
- … with community pharmacists: If you are writing prescriptions on a medical directive, its good for pharmacists in the community to know who you are. You can send a letter introducing yourself, your role, a copy of the medical directives that allow you to prescribe (in Ontario). Andrea took it a step further and actually had phone/face to face conversations, which often builds stronger rapport.
- … with allied health (social work, registered massage therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians): you will often be referring your patient onto allied health and establishing these relationships early on is important.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Its often better to ask all the clarifying questions at the beginning of your employment, rather than towards the end. Learn how your supervising physician thinks, e.g. how they approach clinical conditions, their patient interactions and management plans. Take initiative, and “know what you don’t know”.
Don’t isolate yourself: The PA community is small (but growing) in Canada. Often its easy to get caught up focusing just on your practice and not reaching out to the community and staying in touch with other PAs. This doesn’t always have to be a social capacity (although that often more than not helps). The PA community is made of members from many different backgrounds and experiences, many in teaching/mentoring capacities. How can you stay in touch:
- Don’t lose touch with your graduating class – plan to meet up every couple of months to touch base and see how everyone is doing
- Don’t lose touch with your program – Once you have a few months under your belt and feel competent to take on PA students for observerships, its a great way to mentor and keep you on your feet about your own clinical knowledge.
- Attend PA conferences – Although advertised for CPD credits, I find the most I get out of these PA conferences is the networking and advocacy opportunities. Being able to connect with other PAs is POWERFUL, whether online through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
Benefits of Attending the CAPA Conference
- Connecting PA students with clinical observership opportunities
- Finding mentors to help guide you along your PA career, whether you have issues about employment, want guidance on where to practice, the job hunt, or if you have an interest in research.
- Bouncing issues around employment and advocacy off prominent/well experienced PAs in the military and civilian populations
- Seeing where our profession stands in terms of funding and regulation for our jurisdiction
- Learning strategies for how to advocate within your own community – how to approach your local MP, ministers of health, etc.