PA Party: Why I Decided to Become a PA

With all the wonderful professions out there, how do you narrow your pick down to one?!
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Even within the health field there is such a wide variety of interesting, wonderful, and important jobs to choose from: nursing, doctor, RT, NP, PT/OT…just to name a few. It can be overwhelming to decide on a career that is not only fun but also helps you grow and develop into a better person as well.
Fast forward a few years and here I am about to cross the finish line of my didactic year (woohoo!). How in the world did I pick a career? The decision to go into the PA profession was one that was made after a ton of research: both online and by talking to multiple health professionals. I have the utmost respect for any person that pursues a career in medicine, regardless of their role.The healthcare field is truly a unique one that is built around teamwork and collaboration, and no profession can be at its best without the help of another.
But for all you folks out there that are curious to why the PA profession rocks, here are my top 5 reasons why I went PA over another route.

1. Variety– this one was a huge factor for me. One beautiful perk about the PA route is that you do not need to be set on a specialty and can swap around as you please. Having the flexibility to “test the waters” before committing to a specialty was like sunshine beaming down from the heavens for me. I love change and shaking things up, so the availability to swap from cardio to surgery to dermatology until I found the right fit (and without going back for additional schooling) really made me feel comforted. In addition, PAs are being utilized more and more these days. Basically, any specialty that you can think of supports having a PA work for them! It’s truly an expanding and diverse career!

2. Challenge– While I was shadowing prior to matriculating into my program, I was really blown away by the PAs I worked with. I had the utmost appreciation for the thought process and critical thinking that went into their diagnosis of each patient. A wide misconception that people have (including myself prior to educating myself about the profession) about PA’s is that we are the doctor’s “assistant”. SO WRONG.The PA’s I worked with had their own patients and practiced almost entirely independent of their supervising physician. Yes, the physician was there to consult with cases that the PA brought to them, but for the most part the PA worked solo.
 When I pictured myself in a career,  I really wanted one that pushed me every day and gave me a “challenge” that I could resolve. Being a PA does just that!

3. Cost/Income– Although this should not be the hugest determinant in your decision to pick on career over another, it certainly is a factor. When I sat down and compared the cost of medical**/dental school vs. PA school, it made me really think critically about the path I wanted to take. At the end of the day, I realized I was thrilled with the role a PA plays in healthcare and I would be able to live the life I wanted off of my salary.
(**At the time of my decision to go the PA route, I was single. Now, I am seriously dating a medical student (aka probably going to get married in the next 5 years which means his loans=my loans=fail) My budget is busted hardcore).

4. Love of the Job– Although this point seems so simple, think of how many people you know that aren’t overly satisfied with their job. I did not want to be one of those people and made sure with each and every PA I shadowed, I asked that exact question. Amazingly, the answer to that was always a strong “YES!” To hear that from professionals that had been working in their career for so many years and still loved spoke volumes to me! Hopefully one day I can share in their passion for the PA profession.

5. Family– this is my super sappy reason. My parents are the best people in the world. My mom and dad sacrificed so much for my 5 brothers and I growing up, starting with my mom putting her career aside to be a stay at home mom. She worked her butt off in school, but then fell in love with being a mom once I was born. My dad fully supported her decision and worked his tail off to support our family. Their sacrifice is something I will never ever be able to re-pay, and I don’t think there are enough thank-you’s in the world for them. I can’t iterate enough the importance of my parent’s presence in my daily life growing up, as it has rippled through to help me in my successes today.
Now, what does this have to do with being a PA? Well, one of the biggest questions I asked the PAs I shadowed was just that: how does this job support being a parent one day? Each PA that was a parent shared how the profession caters to parenthood. The flexibility to be part-time and still earn a hefty income all while not having the high price-tag of school debt hanging over your head really made the family aspect do-able and enjoyable. With the heavy impact my parents had on me, I knew this is something that I wanted to have for my future children as well. I know in my heart that being a mom will be the most important job I will have one day, and I wanted my career to support that.

 Just to re-iterate this point: you need to make sure you pick your career choice off of your own values! The beautiful thing about this world that we live in is that everyone is different and unique in their own ways. A career in the health field is going to be wonderful no matter what path you find yourself choosing, but you need to find one that aligns with your goals!
The PA route is an absolutely wonderful one, and I fully support anyone who chooses this as their path! As always, if you ever have any additional questions, comments, or concerns about going down this path…please send me an e-mail, comment below, or reach out in any way possible…I am more than happy to help 🙂
-J
Pics from giphy.com
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