Physician Assistant Frequently Asked Questions
As one of the top PA recruiting services around and being 100 percent PA owned and operated we get a lot of questions from our job seekers regarding the process and their resume. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions from physician assistant job seekers.
Recent graduates should include individual clinical rotations along with brief summaries of the most relevant ones. Additionally, previous clinical experience, research, honors and other projects that demonstrate a solid work ethic should be emphasized. Beyond that, only include information that adds to your appeal for the position. Including additional “filler” just for the sake of making your resume longer is frequently counterproductive.
All healthcare related work prior to PA school should be included in a separate section titled, “Additional Clinical Experience.” All other non-healthcare, professional experience should be included in a separate section titled, “Additional Experience.”
One or two pages, possibly three. No more. Use negative space to provide an easy reading experience. Avoid clutter and superfluous information.
No! Most clinical employers are looking for a summary of your qualifications, not your entire life story. An interview is the time and place for an in depth discussion of your unique experiences and qualifications. Stay on message.
Rural employers look for evidence that you know what life is like in their environment. All too often, PAs accept a job in a rural setting, only to leave a few months later because they didn’t do their homework. If possible, reference previous education or employment in rural settings. This will help send a message that you understand what rural means. This is one of the only situations where it may be appropriate to include high school information.
No! The volunteer section has one purpose: to highlight additional activities that you are passionate about. In order to make a positive impact on the reader, these activities should convey a substantial commitment on your part. Including brief or one time activities distracts the reader from your overall message, at best. At worst, it shows a lack of commitment and an under appreciation for what that means. Leave the fluff out.
Be proactive. Unexplained employment gaps make employers hesitate. Hesitant employers will not contact you. Preempt any speculation about your license and work ethic by explaining these gaps in a cover letter. Most employers understand that family members get sick and that children always come first. However, long gaps can dull your clinical skills. In this situation, consider taking additional CME courses or shadowing other clinicians to get your skills back up to speed. Be sure to include any steps you have taken to sharpen your clinical skills after these gaps in your cover letter.
Maybe. Employers invest considerable time and resources hiring and training new PAs and they look for assurances that you will be there for the long haul. Employers look to your work history as a predictor of future performance. Unless your current situation is intolerable, it may serve you better in the long run to stay with your current employer until after you secure a new position. If you worked a series of temporary positions, make sure that is evident in the employment section. Whatever the reason, don’t let employers assume you are the problem. Be proactive.
You should include three professional references. Don’t make employers ask for them. Employers generally prefer references from physicians. New graduates may include a reference from a faculty member or practicing PA, as long as at least two other references are from physicians.
Again, be proactive. An upfront explanation should demonstrate more about your character than a single blip on the radar.
Yes. An effective cover letter should first introduce you as an applicant to a specific job. You should then explain your qualifications for this position and conclude with a request for an interview. You should also take this opportunity to explain any potential concerns including employment gaps, brief employment periods and any other items that could be perceived as negative. Remember, in the absence of supporting information, employers will assume the worst.
We do not require cover letters if you use our services. Our recruiters facilitate introductions that take the place of cover letters. We are your strongest advocate.
Employers pay for our services, physician assistants do not. We will never ask you to sign a contract or pay a fee for our recruiting services.
We take your privacy seriously, but beware, many do not. Unlike job boards and many other employment services, we will never sell your resume, mass mail it, post it online for all to see, or otherwise distribute it without your knowledge. The shotgun approach is not in your best interest. Keep control of your resume and personal information and never share it unless you know who will be reading it. Rest assured, we will only share your information with employer after you give us the OK.
Writing a PA Resume that Gets Noticed
Medicine is a detail-oriented profession. You may only have a few minutes to complete a history, perform an exam and implement a treatment plan. You may do this dozens of times a day with the expectation of delivering error free care. On the other hand, you have months to prepare your resume. Consequently, it must reflect an attention to detail that meets or exceeds the care you deliver. It must not contain any errors. Improper grammar, formatting and spelling errors are inexcusable, plain and simple. Content must be relevant and concise. Most employers assume that any distractions or errors in a two page document will translate into your clinical practice.
Your resume is a written representation of your clinical knowledge and skills. But, it is also an introduction to your communication skills. Most relationships succeed or fail based on communication. This is especially true for relationships between providers and patients. Great communicators are often perceived as great clinicians. The best ones know their audience and tailor their message accordingly. A visually appealing, informative, yet concise resume may be your only communication tool before an interview.