As a physician assistant, you are by definition a dependent practitioner. You rely on your supervising physician to make decisions about your patients. Many PA's are given the liberty to handle a variety of situations with patients, making recommendations similar to a doctor. However, ultimately you will be referring to the doctor on final decisions.
"I appreciate the fact that I can rely on my supervising doctor for support when treating patients. I respect the wealth of knowledge they bring to the table and I value my relationship with them. I'm excited about my influence as a Physician Assistant because even though I'm dependent upon the doctor's final say in many situations, I still have some of the same freedoms to treat patients."
"To me, a dependent practitioner is a medical professional who still works under the supervision of a physician. I feel very prepared to work as a dependent practitioner. My education and practicum have both prepared me for the opportunity."
"I have been a dependent practitioner for twelve years now, working with the same two physicians my entire career. I have felt that, as a dependent practitioner, I have been given incredible opportunities to work with brilliant minds in the healthcare industry. I look forward to continuing my PA career with your facility."
Tell the interviewer what type of patients you enjoy working with or particular department you prefer to work in. This preference may be related to your educational expertise. Tell the interviewer if you enjoy assisting the elderly or working the neo-natal unit. Talk about your experience regarding your area of specialty. Elaborate on why you enjoy it.
"I enjoy working in the ER because I see all kinds of different injuries and accidents. I specialize in handling trauma. I'm good at moving quickly and staying calm in an emergency. I love working in the business of saving lives and giving people the tools to begin their recovery."
"My educational specialty is in patient assessment. For that reason, I am most interest working in triage or intake."
"I am interested in working within oncology. My training is geared towards this specialty, and I have been a PA in the oncology department at our local children's hospital for the past eight years."
This question is a stress test! You need to be honest about your feelings about this meeting while maintaining an air of confidence at the same time. Be honest. It's okay to ask the interviewer to circle back if you aren't pleased with your initial response. If you feel that your performance in the interview is going well: "I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
"I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
"If you feel that your performance in the interview is not going well: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more that I can clarify for you, I would be happy to do so."
"I feel confident about our discussion today and am looking forward to the next steps in the interview process."
When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career as a physician assistant, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
"I come from a family of nurses and doctors, so it was an early dream of mine to be a physician assistant. I've seen many of my family members thrive in the healthcare field, and I'm excited to provide care to my own patients sometime soon."
"I am a passionate, excited team player who loves to learn on the fly, take the lead when possible, and I have a proven track record of success. I'm loyal and have shown that through my decade-long career at one employer. I have risen through their ranks, and am ready to take on the next challenge. Outside of work, I love to travel and do DIY projects on my home."
The interviewer is asking this question for a few different reasons. They want to hear how well you handle criticism if you name drop or speak poorly of the one that challenged you and if you seem to hold a grudge over the situation. If you choose to give an example, be sure it allows you to demonstrate your ability to handle criticism with style.
"It is never easy to be criticized or to receive unfavorable feedback. However, I believe that I can learn from each experience and constructively move forward. For example, a physician recently mentioned to me that my notes in the database were not as detailed as she would prefer. I had to take a minute and breathe because I spent extra time on those notes and felt frustrated by the feedback. However, I knew this physician could be tough to please so I asked her to show me exactly how she preferred the notes in the system so that next time, as a team, we could be more efficient."
"I am newer to my career as a PA and, with that information, sometimes comes additional critiques from physicians. I take every critique as a learning opportunity. I am thankful for any feedback that helps me to become a better healthcare practitioner."
"It depends on how the criticism is delivered. If it's given in the sense of constructive feedback, I am thankful for the learning opportunity. If the feedback comes to me as rude or unforgiving, that can be tough to swallow. I am always prepared to defend my work because I know it's good, but I would never be unprofessional to save face."
You may be carefree and fun-loving with your friends on the weekends, but at work, you are focused and professional.The interviewer is interested in your personality and how you will fit with the team. Give specific examples or keywords they can relate to. When you read the company job, posting or job description do they refer to particular ethics? Talk about their values and how those align well with your work values.
"I am a very dedicated and loyal employee. I saw on your website that you describe your facility as honest, transparent and you go the extra mile for your patients. My work ethic is the same. I am honest, flexible, and come ready to work hard for my patients every day."
"Some characteristics you may want to use are: - Determined/Driven - Accountable - Humble - Respectful - Dependable"
"I count myself among the most dedicated PA's, not only to my patients but also to my clinic. I am hardworking, humble, kind, and passionate. I wake up every single day excited to go to work, excited for my job, my patients, and my role in helping the medical community."
Preparing for this question requires a great deal of self-awareness and strategy. Focus on a weakness that you could turn into a strength or take action on to improve. Always share what you are learning, or have learned, from your weakness. This shows your interviewer that you are adaptable and willing to grow.
"I tend to be a people-pleaser, and it has gotten me in trouble when I take on more than I can handle. I'm learning my limitations and learning how to say 'no' or 'let me check my schedule' before I say yes to anything."
"I am still working on my ability to juggle all of the priorities that come with the role of a physician's assistant. Each day is unique, and with it, comes unique challenges. I have learned to take a few minutes at the start of each morning to lay out my care plan, highlight priorities and adjust my schedule when needed."
"I believe my biggest area for improvement is in my software proficiency. I have a working proficiency in PrognoCIS, ChartLogic, and MD Connection but it's not as strong as I would like, so it's something I'm constantly working on improving. I have watched a lot of online tutorials and will seek the advice of my co-workers, so it's something that's a work in progress for sure. I hope to be much more comfortable and confident, as well as efficient, in my use of those three programs by the end of this year."
Professional working relationships are essential as a health care provider who regularly works on a multidisciplinary team. You can be specific about your process or stay general by sharing some of your best practices around "building trust." If possible, share an example of how you gain trust within the patient care team or how you relate to others.
"I feel that the best way to earn the trust of the physicians is to be helpful, always do what I promise, and be honest with them at all times. Strong relationships have to be built on these principles."
"Trust is something you earn over time with people. I will lead by example and be transparent in my communications. Trust happens when people deliver on doing what they say they will do. I take the approach of under promising and over delivering to accelerate the trust process. With strong trust, teams can accomplish great things together."
Most hiring authorities prefer candidates who have some volunteer experience. As a physician assistant you have a love for helping others, but do you support your community through volunteering? Share a bit about your core values or your commitments outside of work.
"I have a family member that was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, and I am now a volunteer with the American Diabetes Association. There is an annual fundraiser, and I am the co-chairperson for the event. One of the reasons that I applied to this position was because I read about your facility's commitment to employee wellness and I appreciate that the company also supports the American Diabetes Association."
"I was raised by parents who believed that giving back to the community through volunteering was the most important thing you could do. Even if you don't have money to give, you can always find the time. Currently, I spend every Sunday afternoon working as a health aid for at the homeless shelter."
"I like being involved with the community and have started up a couple of efforts on my own. Currently, I collaborate with the local women's shelter to offer free health advice to those without health care. It's important to me that I use my knowledge to help others."
The interviewer would like to know that you understand the qualities that a great leader should possess. Highlight your ability to work with a team, and actively communicate. If you had a great mentor or supervisor in your past, feel free to mention something specific about what you learned from them.
"I believe that being a great leader requires a balance between working collaboratively with your team members while also being a consistent individual contributor. For example, we have a department project where everyone must work together to reorganize the supply closet, and each team member has an assigned task. I must strategically plan the work for the team but also communicate productively and professionally for everyone to understand the goal. I also took on a small part of the project myself, so they can see that I am committed to the outcome. I learned this from a mentor of mine when I was just starting out as a PA."
"Here are some great leadership qualities you may possess: - Clarity in delegation - Ability to teach and mentor - Willingness to accept feedback - Being an inspiration to your team - Understanding what motivates your team - Takes ownership for mistakes - Chooses to coach first, before discipline "
"First and foremost, a leader should have the ability to get the team excited about the short and long-term goals of the facility. A great leader should also be empathetic, responsible, and reliable. Among these skills, I also bring the ability to maintain a harmonious relationship with other physician assistants, nursing staff, and patients."
Review the job description to help you highlight accomplishments that are relevant to the expectations. Consider the challenges of your future role. How will you go above and beyond to tackle the most difficult tasks? One way to show off your skills is to talk about your accomplishments from your clinical rotations or your current job. Tell the interviewer how you contributed to helping your supervising doctor make sound decisions.
"You should hire me because I have the proven ability to stay calm and composed in emergent situations. My attention to detail and ability to be an effective team leader helps me see the big picture and make quick sound decisions. I come with excellent references who will attest to this."
"I am a collaborative team member and a dedicated individual contributor. I recently graduated at the top of my class with my Masters' in Pharmacology, and I have had the opportunity to work, during my practicum, with some of the top healthcare professionals in the state. I'm eager to work with a world-class medical team such as yours."
"I believe you should hire me because of my decade of experience at the local children's hospital. I have experience in the specific department in question, as a PA lead, and I look forward to building on those leadership skills with your organization. I know I can make an immediate, and long-term, impact."
You may have a long list of experiences worth sharing, but see if you can narrow it down to three. After logging over 2,000 hours worth of rotations, you have learned about treating everything from broken bones to infectious diseases.
"I've experienced situations where I was able to jump-start someone's healing process, and times where I felt like a fish out of water. In both types of scenarios, I learned so much. One of my most memorable experiences was working with an elderly lady who broke her hip. She survived the hip surgery, which was amazing, but we noticed some problems with her heart in the meantime. After some investigating, we learned that she had a blockage. While I learned how delicate and sensitive elderly patients could be, I also learned how powerful having a good attitude can be. After multiple surgeries, this 75-year-old woman was still going and still smiling!"
"My most powerful experience during clinical rotations was working with the pediatric oncology unit. I had worked with cancer patients in the past, but never with children and this rotation sparked my passion for oncology care and research. I left that rotation knowing that I wanted to work in hospitals for the rest of my career, it lit a spark in me."
"During my clinical rotations, I learned just how critical it is to work as a team. Physicians and nurses juggle a large caseload, and it is critical to collaborate with the patient care team and to communicate effectively. When we worked together, we were able to deliver the highest quality of care, and our patients were so grateful for the partnership."
The strengths and weakness interview question is one of the most popular questions so it is imperative that you have your answer rehearsed and ready to go. Being a good physician assistant means that you are observant, decisive and knowledgeable. Tell the interviewer a few of your strengths and how they help you do your job. Use strengths that are unique so that you are a stand-out candidate.
"My biggest strengths are my ability to be observant even in chaotic times. Being observant helps me notice the details in medical records and the symptoms of patients. I can make sound decisions when it comes to patient care, no matter the circumstance."
"Some great strengths to mention are: - Communicative - Loyal - Collaborative - Tech Savvy - Flexible in Schedule/Availability - Persistent and Determined - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills "My strengths include collaboration and communication. I work well as a team member, and I can complete my tasks on time. In addition to these, I have an excellent educational record."
"I think my strengths are in my perceptiveness and ability to be observant of the needs of others. These strengths are part of what makes me an excellent performer in a patient facing role."
The interviewer is looking for you to identify a struggle you may have and share how you constructively handle this challenge in your typical workday. Be careful not to complain. Instead, present a solution to a challenging situation. Don't be afraid to share a controversial topic, but be aware of your audience. If you know that your interviewer is passionate about nutrition, consider sharing how you have researched the ingredients included in feeding tubes for patients who cannot swallow or are in a coma. Talk about how nutrition needs to be a higher priority, and how the food quality needs to change. Whatever it may be, share your knowledge and experience about the topic. Tell the interviewer how you are going to help change this particular issue in healthcare.
"I am new to my career as a physician assistant. However, I am not new to the healthcare industry. I would say that the most challenging factor at the moment is the budgetary needs of my department. We are a small medical facility with limited resources."
"Everyone has something they would like to change about their job. For myself, if I could change anything at all, I would ensure that our RN's are given a stronger voice when it comes to the opinions in patient care and diagnosis. Many of our RN's are incredibly knowledgeable and are not often given a chance to be heard."
This could be a tough question to answer if you are not able to work nights. Answering this question with a 'no' isn't necessarily a deal breaker. The interviewer may know of a day shift opening in a few weeks and will keep your name on the back burner until then. Or, the interviewer may be able to work with your shift request. You need to be honest so that you guarantee you're ending up in a role that will suit your scheduling needs.
"I currently work a day shift, 7 am to 5 pm. I am seeking a role with the same schedule. With that said, I am a team player, and can certainly pick up the odd night shift to cover someone when needed."
"As I am new to my career as a physician assistant, I believe that I should make myself available for any shift options. Could you provide me with further details on your night shifts?"
"I am available for a variety of shifts. Could you share with me the rotation here?"
The interviewer wants to know what keeps you motivated to do a good job, even on the tough days. Why are you in this career? Perhaps you like working with children or diagnosing complicated issues. Discuss your commitment to providing exceptional patient care. Everyone has different motivations for working in the medical field, but the best moments usually involve solving patient health issues and helping them towards the road to recovery.
"I love being able to solve difficult problems, like when a patient comes in with symptoms of something we don't have a clear answer for. Using testing and technology and collaborating with the team are some of my favorite aspects of the job. When we can use all of our tools to help patients, it's exhilarating!"
"I most enjoy helping people in their time of need. When you don't feel well, you feel vulnerable and need people around you that are kind and knowledgeable. I like to take action when others are in need so being a physician's assistant was an obvious career choice for me."
"In my ten years as a PA, no one day has been the same. Who else gets to say that? I learn so much from the other healthcare professionals around me, and I do feel a sense of responsibility knowing that I can save lives and cure people of their worst ailments."
We all experience stress on a daily basis but how you relay this to the interviewer will say a lot about you. Steer clear from the time that you lost your cool and raised your voice- we all have days like that but now is not the time to bring it up. Tell the interviewer how you manage your work stress and keep a healthy balance between home and work.
"I handle work stress best when I feel organized, and when communication is strong. Every day we have a morning huddle for the turnover. We discuss current patients, who we are expecting in and what everyone is working on. Our morning huddles help alleviate work stress by distributing the work evenly as best we can. It gives everyone a chance to hear what needs to be accomplished and work together."
"I fully understand that physician's assistants jobs come with a lot of stress. Stress is part of any demanding job, and I embrace it to the fullest. I take good care of myself and prioritize my workload to maintain a healthy balance in my stress levels."
"I handle stress very well, and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure as a PA, I focus on the task or patient at hand and make sure not to get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful to keep the day running smoothly, and I will delegate to junior assistants on my team when necessary to alleviate some stress."
The interviewer would like further details on the grades you received during University. Competition is tough as a PA and you need to show your diligence and ability to exceed. Discuss your GPA and be sure to mention any special awards, individual accolades, or scholarships that you received. You can also mention anything that makes you a stand-out such as sitting on a student committee while attending University. If you were satisfied with your post-secondary experience: "I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during University. The experience taught me to study hard and set goals for myself." If you were not satisfied with your post-secondary experience: "I feel that my GPA could have been higher; however, I was working full time while attending classes. All in all, I did learn a lot about discipline and commitment."
"I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during University. The experience taught me to study hard and set goals for myself."
"I graduated, just this year, with my Masters' Degree in Physical Diagnosis. I completed this program, top of my class, with a 3.94 GPA. I was on the Dean's List and received multiple scholarships, all highlighted on my resume. As you can see - I am an overachiever and have created a secure footing for myself as a PA."
"I studied incredibly hard while obtaining my Master's Degree. I also worked part-time during these studies which kept me very busy. I graduated six years ago and look fondly on those experiences, every day. My final GPA was 3.67 I believe."
The interviewer wants to know how you handle stressful situations. Be sure to highlight your ability to think strategically and to make quick, thoughtful decisions. Provide an example of the confidence you have in your decision-making skills when it comes to patient care and the tough choices that go with it.
"I think my confidence in making tough decisions has grown over the years. As a new physician assistant, I was a bit more hesitant to make these decisions and learned a great deal from the more tenured PA's on my team. Now, I make strategic and thoughtful decisions based on my knowledge and experience. I also am very comfortable asking for help in situations that may be new to me. I value the collaborative approach we have as a team."
"As a PA, I decided to separate the feelings surrounding patient care decisions from my other emotions. The medical decision needs to made factually and not based solely on feeling. For this reason, I do not find it difficult to make tough decisions."
"Yes, I am comfortable making tough decisions surrounding patient care. As an experienced PA, I need to make recommendations to the doctors based on my findings which are often related to terminally ill patients. It is never easy, but I am pragmatic."
The interviewer is asking you this question to see if you did your homework on the organization or if you are merely floating your resume. Be sure to read up on the organization that you are interviewing with and have a few questions prepared. The interviewer is looking for a baseline of your knowledge and level of interest.
"I made a short list of hospitals that I'd like to work with, and yours is on the top of my list. I know that your facility is a nationally recognized hospital that is known for service excellence. When my sister was sick a few years ago, she was admitted to the ER and told me that she had an outstanding experience, given the situation. I am especially interested in knowing more about the workplace culture and the community programs you support."
"I know that your facility is top of the line when it comes to technological advancements and research. I am a major supporter of these efforts and would be honored to work in such an advanced hospital environment."
"I have followed your facility's achievements for some time now. I have many industry acquaintances who have excellent things to say about your hospital. I know that you are the number one research hospital in the state and that you have incredible community support. All of these factors are things I am looking for in my next opportunity."
The best thing that you can do when asked about your salary expectations is to be open and honest about what you are currently earning, and where you want to be in the future.
"I can share with you what I am currently earning, and where I would like to be in my next position. Currently, I am earning a base salary of $88K plus health benefits. I'd like to earn a bit above that in my next position."
"As I am new to my career as a physician assistant, I am happy to negotiate my earnings based on your typical salary for this role."
"I am negotiable with my salary expectations. However, I am not inclined to lose compensation. Compensation to me, though, is not just net pay. I take into account work hours, drive time, benefits, and more. Currently, I earn a base salary of $98K."
Physician Assistants are healthcare professionals who are licensed to provide a broad range of healthcare services under the supervision of a licensed physician. Physician Assistants or PAs are licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses, conduct physical exams, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and write prescriptions. As a Physician Assistant, you may also assist in surgery, and advise patients on preventive health care measures.
To qualify as a Physician Assistant you must complete a 2-year full-time accredited physician assistant education program. This is after completing a 4-year bachelor's degree and having some work experience related to healthcare such as a registered nurse, paramedic or emergency medical technician. You are typically employed by hospitals, private clinics, outpatient care centers, educational institutions and the government. Depending on the healthcare organization you are employed by, you may also make house calls or treat elderly patients in nursing homes. You have excellent diagnostic, communication, and interpersonal skills. The ability to work as part of a team is a must.
Your interviews are generally conducted by a panel of interviewers. The Hospital Administrator and the Licensed Physician you will be working with will almost certainly be part of this panel. Be prepared for a rigorous interview that tests your knowledge and skills as well as your interest in caring for the sick and the injured. Make sure your answers reflect these qualities. If you are a new graduate, have a few situations from your internship in your back pocket to refer to during the interview.