Q&A with Pre-PA Levine
I’m Levine and I am currently a 4th year Biomedical Science student at the University of Guelph.
Why are you interested in the PA profession?
I have been contemplating between becoming a Physician (MD) vs Physician Assistant (PA) for a very long time. I took the initiative to shadow both a PA and physician to learn and understand the differences. After observing both professions, I feel that the PA profession is the right fit for me. As a PA you are able to switch specialties easily (lateral mobility), and get to practice medicine while being able to balance life outside of work with a shorter duration of schooling compared to physicians.
How did you obtain your shadowing experiences?
I took the initiative to go on LinkedIn and search for current PAs in Ontario. I e-mailed a lot of them and I was lucky that some replied back. Most of them told me to e-mail the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (PAs) because they have the resources to find me a PA within my area who will let me shadow. A few e-mails later, I had the opportunity to shadow two physician assistants.
Why did you decide to do two shadowing experiences?
I wanted to see how the role of PA varies between two completely different specialties. Being able to shadow in Family Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery demonstrated that no two PA roles are the same.
Can you briefly described what you did during the shadowing experience?
In my shadowing experience, I got to observe the role of a physician assistant in each clinic (Family and Orthopaedics). I observed how each PA communications with patients, the PA/MD relationship and how they go about their day to day.
What positive impact did you see the PA bring to the practice?
PAs makes a huge difference for decreasing patient waiting times. Both clinics run more efficiently and patients appreciate being seen sooner. Having a PAs in their clinic improves access to health care and patient satisfaction.
What did you learn from PA shadowing?
I understand the role of PA a lot more and their responsibilities in the clinic. Anne did do some coaching with me, and I learned about different resources I could use to learn about the PA profession. I also learned how small, and relatively close knit the PA community is in Ontario and Canada, and the opportunities available for future PAs. I also learned about the positive impact of being a PA for patients, work-life balance, lifestyle differences (PA vs MD), and why the PA chose the profession as a good fit for them.
How do you feel this will help your PA application process?
Being able to shadow shows initiative that you are willing to learn about the profession, especially in Canada where PAs are still not well known. You are able to ask questions to current PAs about how they approached the application process and get a better understanding of how the PA you shadowed a stand out candidate for the profession. In addition to many online resources for Canadian pre-PA students, shadowing is an amazing opportunity.
Any tips for students on how to approach PAs for shadowing experiences?
Do not be intimidated to take the initiative to approach PAs, the worst thing that could happen is they say no, or you are able to ask a few questions which is insightful and helpful anyway. E-mailing CAPA (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a great way to start and a great way to expand your network.