If you’re coming to the end of your PA course or you’ve already finished and qualified, then it’s time to start thinking about applying for your first Physician Associate job! There’s quite a few things to consider and ask before accepting a job offer, so make sure to read on and do your research.
You’ll need to consider what PA role you want to do. Are you wanting to work in primary care? Secondary care? Mental health? There’s a variety of different jobs out there so make sure you know what you want.
Think about the placements you had. Was there a speciality you really enjoyed? Were there PAs working there so you could envisage what it would be like for you? Are you looking for something fast-paced like emergency medicine, or would you prefer your own office/desk/patients like in GP? There is no right or wrong answer, it’s all about your wants and needs. And don’t forget, if you end up in an area that isn’t what you thought it was, you can always change, that’s the beauty of being a PA!
If you’re not sure what specialty you want to work in or you didn’t get a chance in a certain area whilst on placement, get networking. Try and speak to PAs working in different areas, ask questions and consider how that area might suit/not suit you. If you do know where you want to work but can’t find a find a job in that speciality, then again get networking. Get in touch with your placement supervisors, ask them if they know who to get in touch with. I got in touch with my Cardiology supervisor and told I her I was interested in a job before I had even applied. She was the one that ended up hiring me! Directly contact departments/GP practices and sell yourself and the role. You never know if you don’t ask.
Are you someone that’s quite specific on where you want to work? Or are you happy to move in order to bag your dream job? Just like before, there’s no right way to go about it, if a specific location is going to make you happy then stick to it. Maybe you have family and friends nearby that you want to be near. Maybe you want a short commute so you can get home quick and enjoy your evenings (that’s me in my pjs/dressing gown and on the sofa by 5pm). Or maybe you want a new adventure and a new place to call home.
If you’re not fussed on location then the job market will automatically be more favourable to you as you’ll have more options to pick from. Don’t forget to consider the cost of living in specific areas and factor that into your plans. I’m originally from London but chose to stay in Manchester because it’s cheaper. I knew I wanted to buy a house, go on nice holidays etc. which I wouldn’t have been able to afford in London as quickly as I have up here. I do want to move back down in the future to be closer to family, so I check out the London job market from time-to-time too (hello NHS jobs).
If you are keen to stay in a specific location but can’t find what you want then the same advice applies from above, get networking hun. Although more and more employers know about PAs, sometimes they need that push from you to make the decision to hire one.
This can vary depending on whether you work in primary/secondary care, where you work in the country and your level of experience. Some of you may be aware of the PA preceptorship scheme where you are hired as an Agenda for Change (AfC) band 6 and then move up to a band 7 after a year. This was the case for me being I the North West. But there are lots of jobs for newly qualified PAs that start on a band 7. Heck I even know a newly qualified PA who started on a band 8! So keep your eyes peeled because there is a variety in pay.
People working in London will benefit from the ‘High cost area supplements’ which means they receive more pay to help balance the increased cost of living in the Capital. Those working in GP don’t necessarily get paid according to AfC and able to negotiate their pay more than PAs working in secondary care.
I certainly didn’t try to negotiate my pay when I was offered a job because I was a naïve and grateful to have been given a job haha. Now I’m older and wiser so would happily negotiate for my next job when that time comes. Being newly qualified, the idea of asking for more money than being offered may seem crazy, but read your audience and be clever about it. If they seem really keen to have you and you can give a few sensible reasons why they should pay you more then go for it. They’ve already offered the job so no harm in asking. That’s what the newly qualified PA who scored a band 8 job did…
Don’t overlook this aspect of job hunting when the time comes. Making sure you have a good supervisor who is invested in your development and job satisfaction is really important. You can pick up this information at the end of your interview when they say ‘Have you got any questions?’. Yes I do and you pull out your long scroll of queries whilst a cherub plays a fanfare on a trumpet.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, not only is it important for you to know the answers, but it also showed the interviewer that you’re serious about the role. Here are a few questions to consider:
- who will be my supervisor be how often will I meet them?
- What is your training /induction process?
- What would a typical working week look like?
- How often will I receive an appraisal?
- How will you support me with my portfolio and CPD?
- Is there scope for me to develop advanced skills/take on further responsibilities?
Set up alerts on NHS jobs
Ask your previous supervisors for a letter of recommendation that you can use during interviews
Ask to have a visit of the department/GP practice before your interview. Some job adverts will offer this anyway so make sure to go. You may pick up extra info to use in your interview and in general just shows that you’re motivated to work there.
That's all for now folks hopefully that's given you some pointers to follow and get yourself that job you're dreaming of.
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