Shadowing a physician assistant is one of the best ways for you to really decide whether or not going to PA school is the right course for you to take. If you are in anyway unsure of whether or not you know enough about this career or if you have a future in it, shadowing a PA will most definitely make it clear to you if its right for you. If you’re uncertain about it, when the interview comes around they will see the uncertainty in you and this could definitely hurt your chances of getting admission into the PA school you’ve chosen.
Almost everyone who is contemplating on starting a career should shadow someone who is already in it. You’ll find a physician assistant working in many different practices. With the information obtained the from bureau of Labor statistics, there were a recorded 74,800 available jobs for PAs in the United States in the year 2008. This is phenomenal because in that year, that number was greater than the number of actual licensed PAs in the country, and it’s a fact that physician assistants work more than one job at the same time.
The growth rate for the next 10 years for this profession is an amazing 39%. PAs are extremely busy on a daily basis, so finding a PA to shadow just might be one of the most challenging things you do and if its possible you should try and find multiple PAs to shadow work in different health care institutions.
As you are shadowing your physician assistant, its important that you remember to wear shoes that are comfortable. Working PAs stand and walk around whole day as they do task to task like clockwork. Do your best to observe and stay out of their way, and ask them where they’d like to observe from so that you aren’t in their way. Remember to dress appropriately, and remember that you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.
Just wear clothes that don’t set you aside from everyone else because you’re only going to be there to observe. Don’t wear cologne or perfume, and these are banned in most hospitals anyway due to the fact that they could be harmful to patients. Even though asking questions is important, wait until an appropriate time to ask them so that you don’t get in the way of their work. Remember that you aren’t supposed to discuss anything about the patients you saw outside of the practice because there are laws that uphold patient confidentiality. Here are three of the perfect resources to find a physician assistant for you to shadow….
1. Your Own Doctor – When you were in your Doctor’s office, there was probably a PA there and it was probably a PA who examined you. This is a great resource because of the fact that they will already know you on some level. Remember that even though the PA may agree to let you shadow them, you need to make sure you confirm this with the person who runs the office or practice.
2. The Local Hospital – PAs work in hospitals as well and finding you can definitely find one who may let you follow them around for a day. In hospitals, a PA can work in just about every department where a physician is likely to be found. When you go to the hospital, go to the human resources department and confirm that they will let you shadow a working PA. The human resources department should be able to give a lot of information and they may even be able to give you some names of PAs that would be willing to let you shadow them. If they have no names available for you, then you should ask for a staff directory so that you can find a physician assistant and contact them directly to ask.
3. Get in contact with your local PA chapter or organization – There is going to be a local PA association that is going to be extremely valuable for you. They will not only be able to get you in touch with a physician assistant, but they will also be able to give information about different practices and available jobs when you are done with PA school.
It may not be easy to find a PA to shadow, so don’t get discouraged if you are told “no” by a PA. The fact is there job is very fast paced and demanding at times, and they may not want a student following them around. There is bound to be someone who will say “yes.” When you are done shadowing your PA, make sure you thank them in a note because it will definitely be appreciated if you and it makes them remember you later down the road.