NEW PA GRAD PROFILES • WITH SAIF

New PA Grad Saif on the PA Job Hunt

My First PA Job: PA in Family Medicine

I work full-time in a family medicine clinic with four different physicians in a town near Waterloo, ON. I am their first and only physician assistant.

Every day of the week, I am assigned to a particular physician and then on Fridays, I am working h with whoever is the on-call physician that week.

Everyday, we have scheduled appointments for a wide variety of health related concerns which consist of phone and in-person appointments.

There are some parts of the day that are blocked off for same-day appointments which tend to be more urgent or acute. These appointments could include minor MSK injuries, simple lacerations that require suturing, new GI or GU symptoms, etc.

The PA Job Hunt as a New Grad

Saif in 1st year of PA school during simulated patient interviews.

My job hunt experience was relatively short-lived because I found this position before the career start grant jobs were released. I interviewed for a handful of positions at various hospitals and clinics. The majority of my interviews were conducted via phone or Zoom which was a unique experience.

I practiced answering common interview questions beforehand but focused more so on reflecting on my past experiences so that they would be easier to recall during an answer I hadn’t prepared for.

For every interview, I ensured that I also was evaluating the position, environment and employer, and whether or not I could envision myself working there. The questions I felt most nervous about were case scenario questions for which I had to explain my clinical approach.

For a couple of the jobs, after the initial interview, the employer brought me in for a working interview where they would observe me interacting with patients and review my notes. This was useful for me as well because I was able to see their clinic and how it operated.

How did you select your current PA Job?

I picked my current job for many reasons: I felt a connection with the physicians and predicted that I’d enjoy working with them; I’d get to learn from different 4 physicians; there was a chance to learn and perform procedures such as suturing, biopsies and joint injections; and I found the appearance of the clinic itself very appealing.

I wholeheartedly did not imagine myself working in family medicine during PA school, but after a lot of reflection, I realized that there were a lot of aspects of family medicine that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Family medicine is the specialty where you can follow a patient’s life from conception to death. It gives you the opportunity to make a significant impact on a patient’s health and the life course in the long term instead of in just one day or a few weeks.

I also knew I wanted to work in a broad specialty to be exposed to many types of diseases and patient populations.

This clinic is also in a rural town and since I sincerely enjoyed the close-knit community and staff I experienced during my rural hospital rotations, I thought I’d also enjoy working in a rural family medicine practice.

Any tips for PA students on finding employment after PA school?

Treat each rotation like a job interview which means you should be aiming to impress your preceptors, not necessarily with clinical knowledge, but with work ethic, professionalism and the enthusiastic desire to learn.

Ask each and every preceptor to be a reference for when you apply to jobs in the future so that you have a list of references to choose from. You can then choose which reference is most relevant to the job you are applying to, and choose references that you think will provide a strong and positive review of you.

A great way to prepare for interviews is to reflect on yourself, your prior experiences and how they make you a suitable candidate for the position. You could prepare answers word for word for many common questions, but it will not come across as genuine, and you may encounter questions you have not prepared for.

Apply to a wide spectrum of jobs to not only get practice interviewing, but there’s a chance that a speciality you aren’t necessarily interested in just happens to have the exact work environment and location you’re looking for which may be more important to you.

Speaking of, determine what you value most in a job. For me, it was the people I was working, the environment I was working in, and the abidance of opportunities to learn.

Keep in mind that in every interview, you are also interviewing the employer; ask about aspects of the job that are important to you and ensure that the job aligns with what you’re searching for.

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Read about Saif’s Experience in 1st year PA School