National PA Week is held every year from October 6th-12th and what better way to celebrate than to do a little post on my (future) career! I would say most people know what a PA is, but consider this a refresher course. I seriously can’t believe I graduate next December, where has the time gone?? School is a blast- I’m learning so much and have a great time with my classmates, but this girl is also ready to finally have a career! Here are five fun facts about PAs and my PA program:
1. What is a Physician Assistant?
A PA is a healthcare professional who practices medicine and provides care to all types of patients in a wide variety of settings. Often called “mid-level providers,” PAs are trained as generalists and have the ability to work in any specialty. PAs are required to get CME (continuing medical education) because the world of medicine is ever evolving with new studies, drugs, and treatment plans. They see patients, order labs and tests, make diagnoses, write prescriptions, and provide treatment.
2. How long is PA school?
My PA program at Campbell University is 28 months long but other programs around the country range anywhere from 24 months to 36 months (after getting a Bachelor’s of course). The first year is spent in the classroom and the second half of the program is spent out in the community on clinical rotations which means lots of hands-on training. My program has 12 rotations that are each five weeks long. Some of these include family medicine, surgery, OB/GYN, pediatrics, orthopedics, and many more (plus electives). After completing PA school, you sit for the boards aka the PANCE. When you pass, you are a nationally certified PA and get to add that “C” to your title. Next you are licensed in the state where you’ll work and they you’re ready to start practicing medicine!
3. Why I love Campbell?
Sure my school may be located in a teeny town, but the facilities and resources are top notch. Our building is amazing, we have a state of the art simulation lab, and my favorite part would have to be the faculty. After my interview, I left thinking “that wasn’t so bad.” Everyone was so welcoming, not intimidating. Our faculty would do anything for us and are truly amazing at what they do. Did I mention that school can still be fun? I’m lucky to have such awesome classmates who get along and still know how to have a good time. I mean, have you seen our rap video?? We’ve planned tons of fun events and even though we’ve studied like crazy, we still have a blast!
4. Where do PAs work?
Everywhere! A lot of PAs work in doctors offices, hospitals, academic institutions, and military bases. They can work in family medicine or specialize in other areas like orthopedics, emergency medicine, dermatology, ENT, cardiology, and the list goes on. As for me, I’m not 100% sure where I’ll end up (I get asked all the time). I’ve always seen myself in an office setting, but during this ER rotation I’ve enjoyed being in the hospital. The best thing is you don’t have to choose. Unlike specializing as a physician, PAs have lots of flexibility and can switch specialties throughout their career.
5. Why did I choose to become a PA?
My mom, uncle, and grandfather were all doctors in Russia so I have always leaned toward the medical field. I found out about the PA profession when I was in high school and it sparked my interest. I was always good at science and really wanted a career where I could interact with people. I like the idea of talking to patients, learning their story, finding a diagnosis, and aiding them in treatment plan. I did not, however, want to spend 7+ years in medical school. I also knew that the demand for PAs was on the rise and the job outlook was very good. It all just made sense and I couldn’t be happier with my choice!
Happy PA Week to all of my fellow PAs and PA students out there!! We are still claiming Forbes’ spot as the #1 Master’s Degree (woohoo!) and if anyone out there is thinking about a career as a PA or knows someone who is, please feel free to comment or email me- I love to talk up this profession (can’t you tell??). I hope y’all have a fab Friday & I’ll leave you with some medical humor- thanks for reading 🙂