Shadowing a Doctor

May 20, 2016

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One profession that is sometimes misunderstood is a Physician Associate (or PA), which is why a mentor can be so helpful. Whether you are already at university, recently qualified or still in secondary school, a physician associate mentor can be priceless. Here are just some of the things they might be able to shed some light on. 

Tips on university courses

Who doesn’t want inside information on which PA courses to consider? A physician associate mentor can provide you the lowdown on the best physician associate programmes at universities around the country. Even if you talk to admissions departments, they may not know the nitty gritty about what the life of a PA is really like. For example, your mentor may have knowledge about which programmes have the best faculty or what clinical rotations are the toughest. They may have tips on getting through certain courses and know which schools are considered the most reputable.

Help choosing your speciality

Choosing your career path is a major decision. You want to understand your options and find something that is the right fit for your goals, personality and strengths. A physician associate mentor can offer insight into various specialities. Did you know that most areas of medicine in which a doctor can specialise, physician associates can also become specialists? For example, physician associates can specialise in emergency medicine, paediatrics, surgery and obstetrics.

Once you have a physician associate mentor, pick their brain. Ask their advice about your current modules and which specialities are popular at the moment. You can even ask a mentor to review your personal statement. Seek advice and ask questions. Soak up all the information you can. You might not take every piece of advice given, but some tips may be invaluable.

Job leads

At some point, your mentor can also be a great resource for job information. Many jobs are found through networking instead of job websites or the classifieds. A physician associate mentor can even be a reference for either a PA course or a job once you graduate.

Where can I find a physician assistant mentor?

Although all the benefits of having a PA mentor sound great, how do you find someone who is willing to help? Well, it may be easier than you think. You can locate mentors through PA shadowing experiences, volunteer work at clinics and hospitals or physician associate associations in your area. If you can’t find a PA willing to mentor you, a doctor can also be a good mentor if they are very familiar with the role of physician associates.

As you progress through the process of becoming a physician associate, keep you mentor informed of your progress. They will be glad to know they helped you meet your goals.

Once you graduate and are a licensed physician associate, don’t forget your mentor. Let your PA mentor know that you appreciate the time and effort they put into guiding you in your career choice. Thank them for all their help and stay in touch. An experienced PA can still be a great resource as you continue in your career. You never know, you may even become one yourself!


Want to make sure that the PA role is the one for you? Check out our overseas physician associate placements, available at all Gap Medics destinations. 



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.