Update: My first 6 months as a PA-C

I just completed my first 6 months at my first job as a PA-C!  There have been a lot of highs and a lot of lows, so I thought I would give you all an update.  Those of you starting out as a PA may be able to relate to my experiences and those of you pursuing the PA profession will hopefully get an idea of what to expect.

The first couple of months were filled with moments of second guessing decisions and reading uptodate constantly.  (The amount of CME credit I have on uptodate is out of this world!)


It got better each day and I am feeling so much more confident now.  So give it time!  You truly learn a lot very quickly.  Really, most of the information is in your head somewhere, you just have to use your resources to draw it out.  I remember my very first patient was a little girl with abdominal pain, and I diagnosed it as gastroenteritis (the stomach flu), but all night I was worried…”what if she had appendicitis and I missed it?”  Looking back I realize I overthought the whole scenario, but at the time I was honestly feeling overwhelmed.  My advice to you is: keep going to work, and keep learning.  I am still reminding myself of that each day.

I also learned the power of saying “no.”  This was a total game changer.  As a new provider you will get asked to prescribe antibiotics, controlled substances, and many other medications…and many times it is not appropriate.  You have to learn to explain to patients why it is not appropriate and what would be more acceptable.  I had several patients get upset, but guess what?  That is OK.  I am there to provide the best possible medical care, and writing an antibiotic for the common cold is not good patient care.

Some days I love my job, and some days I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water, but I think that is normal.  Medicine involves working with people, and people are not always easy to care for.  For example, even when I give a patient clear instructions that could save their life, they may not do what I advise. I saw this meme the other day and it seemed sadly kind of accurate to how I feel sometimes:


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But for all those patients that don’t make any changes to improve their health, there are many that do…and that makes it worth it.

I’ve seen so many different diagnoses in the past 6 months, some hard, some common, some funny, and I can say this: life is never dull in medicine.




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