Real Versus Ideal? The Truth About Being a PA

Real Versus Ideal? The Truth About Being a PA

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation     How much of your vision of being a PA matches reality? By Alyson Rockhold PA-C, MPH When I was a PA school student imagining my future career, there was a lot that I got wrong. I had no idea about insurance battles or the mountain of paperwork I would be facing. On the other hand, I also never imagined that I would have patients tell me that I had changed their lives or bring me homemade cupcakes to thank me.  It’s so hard to separate the real from the ideal as you peer into the future. So, I decided to interview one recent PA graduate and one current PA to get a wider perspective on the PA career. And, to make it even more fun, they just so happen to be related to each other! Dani Cross just completed PA school at Midwestern University. Right now she is dreaming about and applying for her first PA job. Her sister-in-law’s sister-in-law (yes, you read that correctly) is Amanda Chibaka, a PA at a children’s hospital in Colorado. I had the pleasure of speaking with both of these women about their real and idealized versions of a PA career: 1. What is (or will be) the best part of working as a PA? Dani Cross (recent PA graduate): “I went into healthcare because I wanted to help people, and I think the biggest reward is going to be making a difference.” Amanda Chibaka (current PA): “There are so many great parts of my job! I love my colleagues...
The Difference Between PAs and Physicians

The Difference Between PAs and Physicians

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation   What distinguishes PAs from the medical doctors they work with?  By Alyson Rockhold PA-C, MPH “So, when will you become a doctor?”  The first time a patient asked me this, I sputtered in confusion. I was so proud of my newly minted PA license. How dare he insinuate it was merely a stop-over on the way to bigger and better things!   Then I paused and looked at the patient, an elderly gentleman wearing overalls. He had probably never heard of a PA. His comment wasn’t meant disrespectfully. I forced a smile, mumbled “Not sure,” and completed his visit.  After a decade as a PA, I’m more likely to face the opposite problem. Many patients call me “Dr. Alyson” even after I repeatedly explain that I’m a PA.  Here’s what I wish I could share with anyone confused about the difference between a PA and a doctor: Doctors and PAs are both qualified medical professionals who examine, diagnose, and treat patients. In their day-to-day work, there is a lot of overlap in their tasks. However, PAs and doctors differ in their length of education, level of autonomy, scope of practice, and the financial costs and rewards of their profession. Length of education Both PAs and doctors start with a 4-year undergraduate degree. Then most PAs will attend a 27-month PA program, bringing their grand total of higher education to about 6 years. After college, doctors will go to medical school for 4 years followed by 3 to 7 years of residency and possibly a fellowship. So, it will...
Common Personal Statement Mistakes for Medical School, Dental School, PA School, and other Health Professions

Common Personal Statement Mistakes for Medical School, Dental School, PA School, and other Health Professions

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation     What is the purpose of a personal statement?   The personal statement is an opportunity for you to tell the admissions committee what you want them to know about you to convince them to accept you. A few years ago, a medical school admissions committee member made a good analogy about the personal statement. She asked students to imagine that the dean of admissions at their top choice medical school calls them and says you have 4 minutes to convince me that I should give you an interview at our school. What would you say in those 4 minutes?  Whatever you say should go into your personal statement.   A personal statement should achieve a few key goals: It should explain how you became interested in the field you are pursuing (medicine, dentistry, PA, pharmacy)It should provide insight into why you are drawn to this profession. Ideally you should use experiences participating in patient care, shadowing, volunteering to show what you like about the field. It should give the reader some insight about what qualities make you a good candidate. This should not be a laundry list of generic positive qualities like being hardworking or being smart. Instead it should be a handful of specific qualities and a demonstration of how you acquired these qualities through your personal or professional experiences.  The most common personal statement mistake!   Perhaps the most common big picture mistake that we see in personal statements is applicants not clearly and explicitly articulating why they want to go into their chosen health profession. This may...
PAs have more time with patients: Fact or Fiction?

PAs have more time with patients: Fact or Fiction?

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation   Is it true that PAs get to spend more time with their patients than doctors?  By Alyson Rockhold PA-C, MPH PAs have more time with patients: Fact or Fiction? The professors in my physician assistant (PA) program repeatedly stated that PAs spend more time with patients than doctors. As a PA student, this was a major selling point for me. I was excited to get to know my patients and have the time to provide excellent patient education and answer all of their questions. After working as a PA for over a decade, I am starting to wonder if my professors were lying. I see an average of 25 patients a day, and I often wish I had more time with them. There always seems to be more questions to answer or advice to share when it’s time to move on to the next patient. The doctors that I work with see a similar patient load. They also bemoan the overbooked schedules that make us all feel like we are perpetually running behind. Do I really spend more time than doctors do with each patient? I decided to do a little digging. I waded through many research papers to discover how PAs spend their time and how that compares to how doctors spend their time. How PAs spend their time There is an interesting survey by Florence Health (huddle.florence-health.com) that surveyed over 1,000 medical providers about their workdays. Their results showed that mid-level providers, such as nurse practitioners (NPs) and PAs, spend about 54% of their days...
The Difference Between PAs and NPs

The Difference Between PAs and NPs

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation   So what is the difference between a physician assistant and nurse practitioner?  By Alyson Rockhold PA-C, MPH There are 5 nurse practitioners (NPs) and 2 physician assistants (PAs) that work at my office. Recently, a drug rep asked us, “So, what’s the difference between NPs and PAs anyways?” My co-workers and I looked at each other in uncertainty. One NP muttered, “Well, um, NPs are trained in the nursing model, and PAs are trained in the medical model?” Crickets. Everyone shrugged at each other, and the conversation flowed in a new direction. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What do these different training models mean in the real world? In my particular office, PAs and NPs do the same work and get the same pay. Are we any different after all? With a little digging, I discovered a few key distinctions between PAs and NPs, especially in their training, certification, and autonomy: Training As my co-worker pointed out, the classic explanation is that PAs are trained in the medical model, and NPs are trained in the nursing model. In my experience, this doesn’t change very much about how PAs and NPs act in a clinical setting. Most patients won’t even realize they’re being treated by different medical professionals. Even though I was trained as a PA to focus on the disease state, I also care enough about my patients to make sure they’re comfortable and to explain everything thoroughly to them. There are a few other differences in our training. The average PA program is 27...
Combining PA school with public health training: Perspectives from a career as a PA MPH

Combining PA school with public health training: Perspectives from a career as a PA MPH

Get Started Today Call: 888-839-9997 e-mail: info@admissionshelpers.com 20 Minutes Free Consultation     Alyson Rockhold PA-C, MPH I stood in the Museum of Modern Art, mesmerized by Monet’s water lilies. I leaned in to inspect the precision and artfulness of each tiny brushstroke, then I stepped back to appreciate the beauty of all of those small spots of color working in unison.  I moved closer and then farther away, unsure which view I found more inspiring. As I swayed back and forth, it hit me: This is why I got a dual degree in both physician assistant (PA) studies and a master’s of public health (MPH). As a PA, I deal with disease one person at a time. Like the brushstrokes, each individual is important and deserves close inspection and thoughtful placement. Public health gives a wider perspective; letting me evaluate health on a larger scale and plan interventions that improve the health of entire communities!  And so my career has been a dance between leaning in to treat patients one-on-one in an exam room and then stepping back to evaluate the problem on a bigger scale. I loved how these two degree plans were woven together in my dual degree program. In the morning, I leaned in to learn physical exam techniques, diagnosis, and treatment plans for diabetes and hypertension. Then, in the afternoon, I stepped back to study interventions that target the obesity epidemic, a root cause of those same disease states. In the 10 years since I graduated with my double master’s, I have reaped the benefit of their combination time and time again. When I’ve...