So, you’ve decided you want to become a Physician Associate. Great! Now its time to actually write your application. It can be a daunting task but I’ve put together some hints and tips that will help you stand out from the rest.
Why do you want to be a Physician Associate?
This is the obvious question you’ll need to think about and answer. Whatever your answer is, make sure its personal and honest because if you get an interview, its potentially something you will get asked about. There may be variations on this e.g. why PA Studies over Medicine? There are many advantages to being a PA such as the job flexibility (primary care to secondary care and vice versa), potential better work-life balance, providing continuity of care and much more. Again, its about being personal and honest to ensure your application is unique and reads well.
This is not the time to be shy and modest. Don’t want to brag but I thought my application was pretty good. This was because I read the application requirements and made sure I matched nearly all if not all of the specification. Make sure to do the same. This course is intense so you want to be using key words and skills to show that you’re ready to take on those challenges. Time management, organisation, commitment and professionalism are just some examples. Don’t just dump them in there either, show examples of where/when you’ve been these things. Each uni might word their specification (what they’re looking for) differently so make sure you’ve read carefully and tweak if you’re applying for more than one course.
Any clinical or relevant experience
It’s not always possible to get clinical experience, sometimes you have to think outside the box. Hospitals aren’t the only place to gain experience. Although I worked as a Healthcare Assistant before applying for my PA course, I also volunteered twice a week at a Neurodisability centre which provided rehab and long-term care for patients. You can also consider approaching local GPs, walk-in centres, charities, anywhere that involves giving up your time to help and care for others.
I’m a big believer in turning past experiences into relevant experience. If you’ve worked or volunteered in positions where you’ve been public facing or worked with confidential public information you can turn this into relevant experience. You’ll find that a number of the skills you have are transferable to working in a medical environment, you just have to reflect on this and sell it the right way.
Show you know about the PA profession
You need to demonstrate that you understand the profession that you’re applying for as this will massively strengthen your application. It is also a topic that is likely to be discussed at interview. Here are a few topics you can think/write about:
Why does the NHS need PAs?
How you think the PA profession will improve patient experience?
How do you think PAs fit into the MDT (multidisciplinary team)?
Where do you see the profession in the future? – here you should read up on the situation with statutory regulation and what this means in terms of prescribing rights and furthering our scope
The Faculty of Physician Associates has information here http://www.fparcp.co.uk/about-fpa/Who-are-physician-associates.
There are articles like this you can read with helpful information
You can also look at information and studies done in America looking at the impact of PAs on their healthcare system.
Check and Optimise
Give yourself enough time to write your application, you don’t want to be rushing and scrambling something together at the last minute. It took me a few drafts before I was happy with my application so give yourself a few attempts. Take a break and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll be more likely to phrase things better and find those mistakes you missed the day before. Obviously use a spell-checker and ask friends and family to have a read and get feedback. These are the people that are likely to remind you abut things you’ve done and not mentioned, or help you phrase things in a way that better reflects you.
All that’s left to do is apply! Hopefully you’re feeling more confident and inspired to write a great application using these tips. Good luck!
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