August 24th, 2017
How to Land Your Dream PA or NP Job While You’re Still in School
Megan Tetlow, PA-C
I have the pleasure of working with multiple PA students, both as a clinical preceptor and through teaching at the university. I’ve found myself fielding the “how do I find a job?” question a lot recently, so I thought I would address it here.
I think the best way to find a job as a PA or NP is while you are still a student. Finding a job through your rotations gives you the chance to get a real working sense of what being a PA or NP on a particular team might be like and lets you get familiar with your future team members. I was privileged to find my first job as a PA on my elective rotation, and it worked out well for me.
So, if you are a PA or NP student and are looking to secure a job while on your rotations, read on for my advice…
Treat every day like a job interview.
If I could impart one piece of wisdom to PA and NP students, it would be this: Treat every day you are on rotation like a job interview. Because it is one. Whether you treat it as such or not. Every rotation. Every interaction even. And it is your own actions, preparedness, and motivation that make getting a job either a very real possibility or a remote one. Would you turn up 15 minutes late for a job interview? Hopefully not. Would you prepare ahead of time and ask engaging questions? Hopefully yes. While on your rotations, ask yourself, “Would I do [such and such] if I were on a job interview?” The answer might just mean the difference in getting you a real job.
The best job may be the one you create yourself.
So the rotation you’re on doesn’t have an advertised listing for a PA job? Great. According to Forbes, half of all jobs are unadvertised. Perhaps the group you’re rotating with has never considered having a PA or NP on their team, but when they get a stellar student (ahem — like you), they start thinking that adding one might be just what the service needs. Perhaps they’ve seriously considered adding an additional provider to their group and are just waiting for the perfect candidate. Regardless of the reason, the lack of an advertisement online does not mean lack of a possible position. And don’t be afraid to gently field the question, “Has your group ever considered hiring an additional PA?” You might be surprised by the answer you get.
If you’re on a rotation you like, shout it from the rooftops.
If you’ve found an area while on rotation that you love, congratulations. Now, tell people about it. Both officially with your clinical preceptor and the practice/business manager, and also anytime it might come up in conversation with nurses, theatre staff, other providers, etc. We all talk. And word travels fast.
If you’re on a rotation you don’t like, keep it to yourself.
For the same reason as above. I’m an ob/gyn PA. Students tend to either love it or hate it. We get it. But you should assume that those of us in the field do like it and probably don’t want to hear you speak negatively about it. Consider it the professional version of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Dislike often comes off as disinterest — and no one is going to go out of their way to help out a student who appears disengaged.
If you’ve had a clinical preceptor who invested time and energy in teaching you how to be a good provider, thank them! Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a stickler for a handwritten thank-you note. Emails work too. Saying thank you leaves a good impression. It also helps you stand out in your preceptor’s mind should an opportunity present itself later, or if they are asked for their impressions of you for a role you’re considering later (like I said before, we all talk).
Good luck out there. Now go get ‘em!