As one of the top 5 medical careers, a Physician Assistant job is not hard to find. Picking the best one for yourself as a new graduate can be a process. Check out the previous post on proper steps to get your license and average time for credentialing. Plenty of people begin their career with either a job they truly love and stay there for a long time, while some just take the first job they can due to several reasons not limited to paying back loans. My advice is also to be realistic with what you consider a dream job out of PA school. A job where you’ll learn, have support as well be able to grow are necessary requirement. Remember, you’ll have to show up to work, don’t take a job for frivolous reasons have to spend the next year miserable.
When I began to look for a job, I asked myself these questions:
- What specialty did I want? Emergency medicine (#1 choice) Surgery, Family Medicine, Dermatology?
- What hours was I willing to do? 9-5? 12 hour shifts (#1 choice)?
- Days or Nights shifts?
- Where did I want to work? Hospital (#1 choice), clinic, private practice?
- How far was I willing to travel for a job?
- How much was the salary?
Throughout the process, I found myself compromising on either the travel time or salary, but not on the hours. I knew I did not want a 9-5, five days a week job, which eliminated a lot of specialties that required that (i.e family medicine, certain surgical position, dermatology) but allowed me to explore potential internal medicine positions. I even thought of orthopedic, ENT or neurology as those specialties looked to train new graduates more often than other specialties in my area.
There are different paths to finding a job. Positions recommended by people you know are always great because knowing someone within the organization has proven to help get you closer to an interview than simply sending a resume to the recruiting team. Tell you professors what specialty you’re interested in, or your clinical site supervisor to let you know if there are open positions. These are ways to get information early and apply. I also used Indeed, LinkedIn, recruiters, hospital careers websites and google search engine. There so many jobs opening and many of it will require experience. This could be disappointing, but a few of the time, I still sent in my resume and cover letter. I figured, I had nothing to lose.
Once I started getting positive response from the hiring team, I made sure to prepare my telephone pitch. It included who I was as person, what I was looking for and why I wanted that position. Phone interviews are very common with the recruiters of the hospitals you wish to work for, and it also helps you ask and learn more about a job before going in for a physical interview.
Physical interviews can be nerve wrecking. I remember my first one and my interviewer later told me how she thought I was a shy person (Ha! Anyone who knows me, can attest I’m the furthest from shy!). Since then, I have tried to allow my true self shine through and while I’m still learning, I got better. Practice makes perfect!
Some of the questions I asked during interviews included:
- What was their training timeline for new graduates?
- What is the turnover rate for employees working in the department?
- Is there opportunity for overtime hours?
- Are they aware of what a PA does and how do they utilize PAs?
- Are you mandated to take calls?
- Is there OR time allowed for surgical positions?
Most companies will reach out within 10-14 days if they do not offer the position right there to you. This has happened to me! Some may take a while if they’re still interviewing other applicants. Accepting a position is a commitment and most will ask you to sign an offer letter so they can begin credentialing. There are times where you may juggle a few offers and deciding which to accept will depend on what you really want out of the job. Remember, you ultimately decide if a job fits you, so ask questions and be active in the process.
Be aware of what you’re willing to accept and step forward into the next phase of your career. This can be another long and frustrating process, but staying on track will make a difference in how you handle it.
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