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PA to PA: A Panel Discussion

At the SDPA Fall Conference in San Diego, a panel of Physician Assistants shared their experiences and fielded questions from their colleagues in the audience.

At the SDPA Fall Conference in San Diego, a panel of Physician Assistants shared their experiences and fielded questions from their colleagues in the audience. The panel consisted of Vicki Roberts, MPAS, PA-C, Jacki Kment, MPAS, PA-C, Jason Roddick, PA-C, and Matthew Brunner, MHS, PA-C and was facilitated by Dr. Matthew Zirwas.


Question: How can you make a successful situation?

First, make sure you have identified the positives in your work environment.

  • Be patient.
  • Be creative.
  • Be careful not to fall into “the grass is greener on the other side”
  • Be smart. If you have evaluated your situation, and realize it is not and ?never will be a successful situation, then it may be time to change your environment. Don’t settle.

Matthew added: “With creativity, I love problem solving creatively, especially with my schedule.”

Vicki shared: “If you realize that it’s not going to be a successful situation, then it’s time to look somewhere else.”


Question: When you’re applying for a job, what are the red flags to look for?

  • Matthew: “Look at the PA turnover. It’s fair to ask about the PA experience in their office.”
  • Vicki: “How were you treated in the interview? Does the staff know what a PA is?”
  • Jacki: “It’s valuable to listen to your gut.”
  • Jason: “Ask the Dermatologist: What does it mean for you to supervise? Listen for the deal breakers.”

As part of this panel lecture, Matthew Brunner discussed increasing job satisfaction by breaking down the stages of career.


Zero to One Year Experience

In the first year of practice, Brunner suggests a path of establishing yourself without panic. Get to know your supervisor, plot your success course in terms of text books, medications, or apps, and join an organization (we recommend the SDPA!).

One to Five Years Experience

After you have your footing, you can begin to develop your skills. Brunner suggests the SDPA DLI program to become a Diplomate, develop your bedside manner, focusing on the customer service of medicine, and pay attention to the areas in your practice that you really love (surgery, cosmetics etc.)

Five to Ten Years Experience

With 5-10 years under your belt, it’s time to get involved. Give back and volunteer as those before you did. Brunner suggests becoming an SDPA committee chair, mentoring a PA student, or lecturing at a local PA program. Lecturing tends to challenge you and assists your continual growth in knowledge. Though at this point you have a depth of experience, Brunner reminds us to stay humble and remember that we need our supervising physicians.

Beyond Ten Years

When you’ve been at it for over a decade, it’s time to remind yourself why you got into medicine in the first place and take a look at what your initial goals were and whether that young enthusiasm still has a place in your decisions. Volunteer, become a leader, find ways to remove the monotony of the day. Don’t forget that new practices and treatments are always being developed—go to workshops and lectures to update old skills and learn new ones. And once again, stay humble!

Image: tylerhoff

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