One of the best aspects of being a physician assistant is the relationship I develop with my supervising physician.  I have had some amazing supervising physicians and others that were not amazing.

The characteristics of my favorite supervisors are the following:

1. The physician is clear about his expectations.  Some of my supervisors want me to do things as they would do them, to truly be an extension of their practice style.  Others prefer that I simply follow the standard of care based on my own style and experience.  Both types make great supervisors as long as we communicate about what is preferred.

2. My supervisor is interested in my professional development.  The teaching supervisor is the best supervisor.  A physician who is teaching is a physician who is continuing to learn himself.  Ideally, my supervisor designates time for us to discuss cases.

3. My supervisor appreciates my autonomy.  If I see a better way to do something, my supervisor is interested to discuss this.  Admittedly, sometimes my “new idea” is not so great after all.  But a great supervising physician will still listen and appreciate that I am thinking and growing.

4. My supervisor creates opportunity or allows my to create opportunity to grow professionally.  Perhaps I am interested in sports medicine, and my physician allows me to cover athletic events as a side job, or schedules the injured athletes in our practice to see me.

5. My supervisor is interested in my development as a person.  The best supervisor will critique my interaction with staff and patients.  She will help me learn to communicate effectively.

6. My supervisor has my back.  When patients are disgruntled, the physician does not throw me under the bus to appease the patient.  The best supervising physicians can turn these situations into a win for all involved.  I remember prescribing a sulfonylurea for diabetes.  The patients blood sugar dropped when she skipped a meal due to illness.  Her anger towards me was alleviated when she, the physician and I got together to discuss more details about using this class of medication.

The physician/ PA relationship is often the most important aspect of job satisfaction.  The physician and PA will both be rewarded when communication and respect are the priority of both professionals!

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