A collection of frequently asked questions regarding me, faith or my career 💜

  1. Why Physician Associate & not Medicine?

This question will always have a personal caveat to it. It all comes down to personal preference. Personally I wanted to do medicine during my early A-Level years, but ended up being brought to place where I decided on Physician Associate studies. For me, I preferred the course length and how the role fit with my personality. I liked the scope of the role and I was very happy with not having the say all to end all in various clinical situations that warranted it. I liked that the role was still in a place where I could mould it into the career prospects I wanted to achieve. Whether I ever chose PA or medicine I believe I’am still carrying out the goal I intended to achieve which was to be involved in helping people. It comes down to practicalities at the end of the day and deciding for yourself which career fits the path you want to take and what suits your personality and values. Here are some questions I suggest asking yourself if you are thinking between PA and medicine:

  • Do I want to be in a more authoritative role/are “labels” something I’m concerned about (this is a factor for some people)
  • Do I want to spend longer years training in medicine or a shorter amount of time in PA?
  • Do I want to work in a specific speciality or have the option to fleet between different specialties?
  • Does PA fit more with my aspirations/personality or does being a doctor?
  • Am I concerned to venture into a role that although is growing in recognition, still needs its awareness building, or being in a role that is clearly defined and everyone understands?
  • What are my values? My goals? What do I want to sacrifice and what don’t I want to sacrifice?

In making a decision between being a PA and medicine or any other role; (the PA role can overlap with the Nurse practitioner role too sometimes) it takes researching each role and coming to a decision. What I did to help me was to write out a pros + cons list and use that to guide my decision 🙂

2. Have I always wanted to go into the medical field?

Not always. I fleeted between being a teacher, child psychologist or a doctor. Those were my top career choices when I was younger. My decision to do nursing as my undergrad was, I’ll be honest, a choice of impulsivity rather than an informed decision. However my career prospects have always stemmed from a place of wanted to be a part of people’s developmental/healing journey. To help people.

3. Personal statement tips.

  • Highlight any past experience you have had. I still think it is valuable even if it is non-healthcare experience because there are transferable skills such as team working, patience, communication for example.
  • When talking about past experiences, aim to highlight/make a link between those skills you obtained and how it would make you a good candidate to being a PA. Examples of skills that exhibit a good candidate:
  • Empathy
  • Good communication skills (e.g. active listening)
  • Independence
  • Motivation
  • Compassion
  • Knowing your competency limits
  • Explain why you want to be a PA.
  • It can be beneficial to include how you think the PA role benefits the healthcare system – shows you understand the PA role and what it entails.
  • BE YOURSELF + enjoy the writing process 🙂 – Writing personal statements can be SO stressful because you want it to sound perfect. But actually enjoy the process and be authentic.

4. Interview tips.

I mostly have MMI (multiple mini interview) experience. I have probably taken about 8 of them (across applying for nursing and PA). Here are some tips:

The MOST important tip is be yourself! MMIs are not there to test your medical knowledge. It’s to test who you are as a person. So this means your:

• communication skills (which means speaking clearly, making sure to communicate points clearly)

• Empathy (showing compassion, understanding the patient’s perspective)

• Active listening (which means you’ve taken in what the person has said)

• How you can handle an awkward/difficult situation. (for example if it’s a hostile patient or a patient that doesn’t want to open up to you. They’ll look for how you will handle that)

• Ethical reasoning.

• Professionalism 

• Problem solving (helping the patient out if there’s a dilemma)

You need to stay calm, be professional and just be yourself. If you care about people and want to do your best for the patient you will naturally be empathetic. And that’s what you need to get across.

There isn’t a “best” way in my opinion to practice MMIs. I have never practiced or prepared for my MMIs to be honest. (That might not have been wise lol) There’s loads of workshops and one to one sessions that people offer but I’ve done in my short lifetime now about 8 MMI interviews which I all passed and I never practiced for any of them. (by the grace of God). My point is that it should be natural. I strongly believe You can’t “practice” being empathetic or professional. You can learn the principles (and I guess that’s one way of practicing) but you can’t “learn” to be empathetic. I’ve worked with consultants, nurses and other colleagues, who I can tell have just “learnt” to be empathetic and I will tell you, you can tell they’re faking it, I think in a REAL good clinician, this comes naturally. I believe exhibiting these traits requires you to rise above yourself and considering the other people.

That’s why in an MMI, just breathe, and relax 🙂 Honestly do what you think you would do if it was a real clinical scenario. You’ve got this! 🙂

5. When to start applying for PA.

PA courses either have a September entry or January entry – so you can apply according to when you want to start and what fits with your life. You might want to apply straight away from undergrad or wait it out. Completely up to you 🙂

6. What do you learn on the PA course?

The PA course consists of theoretical learning and placements. There are elements of communication skills, clinical skills, core foundations of medicine and clinical pharmacology.

7. Do I regret moving from nursing to PA/not doing medicine?

I 100% do not regret it. In the beginning I didn’t dedicate time and the passion to fully informing myself of these careers. I jumped into nursing impulsively and I would’ve done the same with medicine. I try not to regret much because my God and my faith tells me that everything works out for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to his purpose in accordance with His will. (Romans 8:27-28). Everything up until this point has worked out the way it should’ve 🙂