New PA On the Block: Part 1
New PA GRAD: How I found my first PA position & top recommendations to find yours!
Before I dive in to all of the new grad details, I’ve decided to make this blog a 2 part series – possibly even 3 as I begin working and have more tips for all new grad PA’s out there. Along with the 2nd post prepare to see more FAQs answered that you’ve left in my inbox & more details on how my first job as a Physician Assistant unfolds.
How did you find your job?
When it came to start job searching I stalled as long as possible. Personally, I believe it was because I was so fearful of failing the PANCE and devoting time to something that wasn’t necessarily my reality yet when this HUGE national board exam was staring me in the face. So, trust me I get it if you’re delaying as well- but please, DO NOT DO WHAT I DID & DO NOT WAIT.
I began looking for a job through Indeed (not super actively, but without success), updated my Linked In, & reached out to prior connections I had from my contacts as a Pre-PA.
I eventually found my position through a recruiter through the hospital system I’ll be working at (not going to elaborate any further as I won’t be releasing the system I’ll be working with). Once I contacted the recruiter, we went through specialties I was interested in & he would present potential options that were available throughout the hospital network.
Eventually I found the practice I felt most interested in and we scheduled an interview with a few of the physicians I would be working with. In the interview I made sure I expressed my dedication to the job duties, learning as much as I could as a new grad & asked to shadow for a day before committing my interest. This is something I 110% recommend doing even if you do have experience with the specialty- ask to shadow-- it’s so important to see how the team functions in cases throughout the day & will give you a better understanding of what your responsibilities would be / to see if you will actually be happy there! From here the practice interviewed more PA candidates and a couple weeks later I was contacted with a congratulations & an offer!
How many interviews did you have overall? 3-4; ALL of which were very relaxed and just wanted to know more about me and why I was interested in their field, company, and what my expectations were. Definitely much different than PA school interviews that drilled you with questions you don’t feel prepared for. Although I did prepare for my interviews with the questions I listed below and made sure my answers I had prepared were genuine in the case I needed to elaborate on the topic. If I could give you any interview advice it would to just be yourself.There’s absolutely no point pretending to be different when you’re interviewing so you can work with these people every single day in the future – showing them who you truly are will give them the best idea of who you are and how you’ll mesh into their team.
(& I, thankfully, ended up getting job offers on all that I interviewed for!)
What to look for in a job as a new grad: This is all an individual preference – however below are the 3 key factors I focused on…
- Location: I did not want to practice in Tennessee & practicing close to home in Florida so I could catch up on all of the missed time spent with my family was a major factor in determining WHERE I searched for jobs. Make sure you consider how heavily you will rely on your support system (whoever that may be), for me this is weighed into my decision making. Applying to jobs out of state was definitely harder than if I had gone to school in state, but not impossible.
- Pay & Schedule: As a new grad I am ready to hit the ground running, but in doing this I want to be sure I am paid adequately to feel of value to the effort I put in. Consider shift times, call hours, paid time off, holidays, and weekends…
To negotiate a pay as a new graduate with a new employer, I recommend sourcing the AAPA 2018 Salary Report (Linked here: https://www.aapa.org/shop/salary-report/ ) and rest assured that you are at pace with the rest of your peers in the profession.
- Level of Autonomy: I understand the need to be trained on the job & having support as a new grad as I learn the ropes – but having the ability to spread my wings and develop my own autonomy as a provider was one of the primary reasons I chose to be a PA! Many practices still do not utilize PA’s to their full extent and allow them to be autonomous – instead they use them as highly trained scribes. This was FAR from what I wanted – so I made sure to ask about this in my interviews.
Overall Tips for the New PA Graduate:
- #1: Scheduling the PANCE can be scary, but don’t delay it too long because that pushes everything back
so just dive in.
- On your CV only list references that you know will respond quickly and positively when people ask them.
- Read EVERYTHING about what your state wants in regards to licensing. Literally everything before you apply, so when it comes time you have all your ducks in a row.
- If you’re looking for jobs at a hospital system, see it you can find a recruiter and email them directly telling them you’re interested in a group that is welcoming towards new grads. Doing this will keep you in mind the second a job opened up for a new-grad-friendly specialty!
- Use your downtime before starting work to tackle CME’s.. it’ll give you a good refresher and also you’ll actually have time to do the hours unlike when you start work.
Finding a PA position as a New Grad (IG Story Responses from fellow PA’s):
- Find where you want to practice FIRST, then search alljob postingsat local hospitals, on AAPA’s listings, or listings from the state chapter you’re in.
- Interested in working in underserved populations —> use the HRSA Workforce connector
- Drug Reps: these guys have clients EVERYWHERE & connections in just about every facility. Don’t hesitate to ask them about any openings or resources they may have to forward your CV/resume along.
- Clinical Rotations: Many of you had found success during rotation year finding a position.
Don’t lie to your preceptor and pretend interested in their specialty just because you feel like you should, if you’re honest with them about the specialty you are actually interested in they can make connections for you with the resources they have. -- Savannah Perry, PA-C (@thePAPlatform)
- Cold calling offices / Reaching out to the practice directlyto practice manager & submitting an app &/or going in personally to ask about potential future position openings for PA’s
⁃ Indeed, LinkedIn, Ziprecruiter, Glassdoor, DocCafe.com
⁃ Networking at conferences: Get CME’s or PANCE Prep and network, kills two birds with one stone!
PA Position Interview Tips & Possible Interview Questions:
- Always have additional resumes printed on hand: it’s likely they have additional coworkers joining in to interview you who haven’t yet looked at your history, credentials, past experience, etc. I always brought about 5 extra copies with me to offer in the case they wanted to write notes on or didn’t print a copy out – plus it shows you’re prepared & confident enough to put forward your best foot for that specific position.
Tell us about yourself: Always the first question off the bat. Use this to your advantage & prepare to answer it!
What do you know about our company?
Why do you want to work with us?
What are you looking for in a position?
Why should I hire you?
What is your salary expectation?
(Tip for the wise: either reference AAPA salary report or a reliable & up to date report to voice your expectations from. I would not advise giving a verbal number as this could limit your potential earning, instead say a competitive amount that will make you proud to work there and live a comfortable life)
How do you handle pressure and stress?
What past accomplishments give you satisfaction?
What is your most significant achievement?
Describe a time when your work was criticized
What mistakes have you learned from?
How did your experience before PA school and clinical rotations help prepare you?
What part of your clinical rotations do you think were your strengths and weaknesses?
Which adjectives would you sue to describe yourself?
Explain how you overcame a major obstacle.
If you specialize, how would you feel about losing knowledge that you gained?
What do you think you’ll bring to this practice?
What was difficult for you during your clinical rotations or PA school? Where did you struggle?
How does this position fit into your overall career plan?
How would your colleagues/superiors describe you?
What are your career goals?
What are your strong/weak points?
What would you like to tell us about yourself? (limit response to two minutes)
What interests you about our practice?
How do you see yourself practicing if you were to join us?
Why should we hire you?
What can you do for us that someone else can't?
What do you believe is the most difficult part of supervising?
What do you think of your present or past boss?
What were the most significant accomplishments in your last position?
What other positions are you considering?
What hours are you used to working or would you like to work?
Do you have your reference list with you? (Remember, don't give it out unless it is requested.)
What would make you feel supported in our practice?
What kind of characteristics do you seek in a mentoring physician?
What specific questions do you have about us and our practice?
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
& don’t forget your interview with the company is also a chance to see if you reallywant to work for them! Have some questions ready to ask so they know you’re genuinely interested in their practice & have considered the job details.
Questions for the interviewers:
How would you describe the company culture?
Who will be making the hiring decision?
What are your expectations for PA’s in your practice?
What skills do you think are most critical to be successful in this job?
What is your timeline on filling the position? Will you be offering a written contract that I would be able to review and negotiate?
What are the most important responsibilities of this job?
Can you tell me about the people I’d be working with?
What are the three most important things you would like to see me accomplish in the next 6 months?
Can you describe the role I’d play day-to-day within the team?
Why did you choose this organization?
Which physicians will I practice with? If more than one, is there a primary physician? How will my time be shared?
Are the physicians all in favor of working with a PA? will I get to meet them?
What is the percentage of surgery vs clinic time vs rounding?
What would it take to be successful in this position?
What are the future growth plans for the company, and what role with this job have in those plans?
What is the management style of the company? Of my boss?
Have new hires, those hired out of school, or those hired from outside the company been successful here in the past?
What can I do to convince you that I am the ideal candidate for this job?
What are the credentialing and privileging processes for PAs?
Do you have your own insurance policy or will I need to find my own malpractice insurance?
Would there be an opportunity to be a Preceptor in the future?