A Day in the Life
What's your current job and what does it require?
I’m a physician assistant at a major health provider, where I’ve worked for about 8 months. Each day is different—sometimes we’re in the clinic all day, and I’m seeing and treating patients primarily on my own. Other days, we are in the operating room assisting surgeons in surgery or in the hospital helping patients who are recovering after an operation.
How did you know that physician assistant (PA) was the right job for you?
I’d always been interested in health care, but knew I didn’t want to make the time and financial commitment that medical school required. I volunteered at a hospital and a clinical research facility in order to explore other health fields. It was while volunteering that I first met a physician assistant and learned about their job. I then shadowed one and really liked what I saw – that the PA saw patients in the clinic on his own but had a physician available when needed.
For me, it was the right mix of direct medical work and really getting to help people without the long journey of medical school.
What did it take to become a PA?
It definitely took time and work. I first got an undergraduate degree in human biology and got certified as an EMT. I also gained experience by working at a clinical research facility. Then, I got a master’s degree in medical science.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
I really like the variety of the work and the size of the place I work. In any given day, I could work in a clinic, operating room or hospital setting. My favorite setting is probably in the operating room because it is hands-on and there are so many unique procedures. After the operating room, you get to see patients recover and get better, which is very satisfying.
What’s your best advice to anyone considering becoming a PA?
I recommend volunteering and getting your foot in the door anywhere you can find. Once you’re inside a hospital or clinic, so many doors can open. You might not get to do a lot when you first start, but it’s a great opportunity to meet people and learn about as many different roles as possible.