Here's my interview from A Day in the life of a Physician Assistant from Launchpad4Kids:
https://launchpad4kids.org/tdt-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-physician-assistant/Pamela Salgado, PA-C (physician assistant certified)
I’ve been a PA for 10 years.
I currently work in Pediatric Ear, Nose and Throat, Head and Neck Surgery.
2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice?
It’s very important for prospective PAs to be very hardworking, self motivated, independent and patient.
Employers look for someone who is dependable. Since working with sick patients, if very important for PAs to be compassionate about the field they are in. Employers need someone who will come in early and stay late.
If you have a lot of volunteer experience in medicine, even just shadowing another PA or physician in your free time, it can help with your application for the certification/graduate program.
3. What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do?
I work part-time 7-5:30pm twice weekly. I work in a clinical setting and see patients that may need surgery to have their tonsils removed, have ear tubes placed or need a procedure completed in the office like removing cysts or cauterizing noses to help prevent future nosebleeds. There’s never a dull moment.
4. What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest?
I recommend the premed route with a science major. I majored in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, which included all the prereqs needed to go into PA school or medical school. You can major in any field (even History), but the science classes will be extra work on top of your requirements depending on whichever major you choose in college.
5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?
I recommend shadowing a PA to see if it’s something you want to do.
6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?
People often think a PA is like a nurse. This is not correct. PAs have a large amount of autonomy (independence) to treat their own patients, order labs, prescribe medicine, assist in surgery, etc. They are overseen by a physician, but a physician does not need to be present for every patient. They are required to sign off on 5% of our charts (states vary on different rules and regulations for PAs).
7. Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction?
I did not take a linear path. Throughout undergraduate school I was motivated to become a doctor. Once I graduated from school I worked in clinical research for 2 years and decided that I didn’t want to wait 5 or more years before I could start my career, especially with planning on starting a family in the near future. I discovered that PA school was only 2 years and I could work in any field and could still balance a work and family life without having to wait to begin my career.
8. What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?
My motivation to keep up with current research has helped me to expand my knowledge base and apply new findings to my current practice.
9. What do you most enjoy about your career?
I fell in love with the diversity of the field: seeing patients with hearing impairments to complex congenital diseases. I employ a wide range of skills including performing minor surgical procedures to complex in office endoscopies.
10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?
Important work experience includes working in the medical field, in particular shadowing a physician assistant in a family practice setting. You’ll be able to see patients with various ailments and decide if helping people will spark your interests.
11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?
A Bachelors Degree and a certification as a Physician Assistant. Many programs now offer a Masters Degree in Physician Assistant studies.
12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? And why?
If I wasn’t in this career field, I would be interested in working as a chaplain. This is someone who works with various populations to provide spiritual support during trying times, such as sickness and death, consoling families through trying times through prayer and scripture. This is a very difficult job and takes someone who is very strong willed and courageous.
Pamela’s favorite quote:
“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.” -Woodrow Wilson
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