1. Your supervising physician has to sign a lot of your paperwork for licensure. This means you need a supervising physician, aka a job. This wasn’t a big deal for me since I had a job before I graduated, but it was an issue for a few of my classmates. I guess we thought you could get your license and then work anywhere. We didn’t realize the state has to process paperwork for your supervising physician, or that it would take weeks after finding a job to actually start working.
2. How to fill out all the licensing paperwork. The paperwork and process is different for each state, which means there is little help to be found on the web. Luckily for me, my office helped fill out a lot of the paperwork and I only had to submit a few additional forms. I recommend making a copy of everything because I had a few papers go “missing.”
3. I didn’t expect that it would be weeks/months before I could start working. I didn’t realize until the summer before graduation that the boards require waiting 7 days after graduation before sitting for the boards, then 2 weeks to get my scores, then 2 more weeks before I got my license, then 2 more weeks to get my controlled substance license (that I was “missing” paperwork for) and then another couple of weeks to get my DEA license.
4. Graduating and getting licensed is expensive, so be sure to save ahead of time. I knew the boards cost $475 dollars, but what I didn’t expect was everything else. My state licenses only cost $55. However, the DEA license was $732 dollars (thankfully my job paid for this). In addition you will need a transcript ($7) and postage to mail all the documents. Total: $1271
Don’t forget about AAPA dues, state chapter dues, uptodate subscription, recertification fees and CME money. It is expensive to be a PA and maintain certification. Make sure your job helps pay for licensure and other fees.
5. I thought there were tons of free CME opportunities. As I was waiting for all my paperwork I started working on earning the CME credits I needed. I soon learned as a PA you need several types of CME each year, and some types are much easier (and cheaper) to complete than other types. Make sure your new job gives you an allowance for CME (the average amount is around $2000 a year).
6. Finally, I learned that it is hard going from the busyness of PA school to suddenly having nothing going on but a lot of waiting. Some of those hobbies I had abandoned for two years are suddenly interesting again and there is time to visit with family and friends. Life is good.
None of the above is negative, it was just unexpected. I want you to be aware too. Happy Graduation!