New PA Grad Anna on her First PA Job

About Anna

Anna is a graduate of McMaster’s Physician Assistant Education Program, Class of 2020. She currently works as a PA in Respirology in Hamilton, ON. This is an outpatient, clinic role, shared between two areas – interstitial lung disease and lung transplant medicine.

Anna’s PA Job Hunt

My job hunt really started before I finished PA school. In spring/early summer, PA roles were being posted – while not often explicitly for new grads, they were open to hiring a new grad. Sometimes I got an interview and sometimes I did not. While they did not end up being the right opportunities, it was a great chance to get a feel for the PA job interview process, pull together my resume/cover letter, and begin to solidify my priorities for a job.

Throughout early fall I spent my time reaching out to my contacts, sharing information with them and encouraging them to apply for the PA CareerStart program. In some cases, these were places I had done rotations with during my training and saw possible opportunities to add a PA. In other cases, they were contacts I had who I thought may benefit from hiring a PA.

Once CareerStart grants came out towards the end of the year, I went full speed into the job hunt. I took the time to review the jobs and how they fit against the priorities I had identified for my first job. I then got to work submitting applications and interviewing. With the tremendous delays this year, I found this part to be the most disjointed, as timelines for each job’s hiring process were very variable. But, I appreciated getting to see the many different communities, organizations and physicians who were interested in bringing on a PA!

Why Anna Picked Respirology as her First PA Position

When I was considering my first job as a PA, I had a few things that were important for me:

  • I wanted to be able to stay in Hamilton, ON (meaning finding a role either in the city or within a reasonable commute around it)
  • I wanted a role and an employer where I felt my previous training was valuable and could be put to good use (I have an MBA in Health Administration and worked in quality and health administration before becoming a PA)
  • I wanted to feel like there was a good connection or “fit” with my employer and future co-workers

Having this list of priorities really acted as a “guiding light” for me through this process.

When I interviewed for the role I am now working in, all of my top three priorities were met. While this area of medicine is very specialized and I know the learning curve will be steep, I am excited to be a part of shaping programs and services and getting to use some of my past experiences in my clinical practice.

Tips for PA Students on Finding Employment in PA School

Tip 1: Use Your Network for Support

Reach out to mentors and friends for support. I had PA and MD mentors, fellow PA new grad friends and non-medicine friends who were all super supportive as I tried to secure my first role.  They gave me excellent feedback with my resumes and cover letters, on job selection and when the time came, negotiations. They were also great “sounding boards” for me as I thought through the different opportunities. Find those people in your life to help you out in this process and then when the time comes, give back by acting in a similar role for someone else!

Tip 2: Build a ‘Priorities” List

Interestingly enough, I had always thought I had wanted to stay more general in my first roles – originally I was aiming for roles in either OBGYN or Family Medicine! But there were not many opportunities that met my other job priorities in these two areas. So, speciality of medicine ended up not being on my “Top 3” list.

When you are in the job hunt process, figure out what are your absolute priorities and what are more negotiable. This will help you throughout all stages of the job hunt process – figuring out what to apply for, what questions to ask in the interview, and what role will be right for you.

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