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Physician Assistant

25 Interview Questions & Answers

1.
What will you do if you have a client that refuses to take care of their health?
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There are many challenges in the healthcare field, and one of them is treating patients who lack the desire to make healthy choices. You may encounter individuals who repeatedly visit your office with the same symptoms, asking for a pill rather than making the effort to live a healthy lifestyle. As you know, lifestyle choices greatly impact specific conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Tell the interviewer how you would handle a patient when they continue to complain of the same symptoms without taking the initiative to help themselves.

1.
What will you do if you have a client that refuses to take care of their health?
There are many challenges in the healthcare field, and one of them is treating patients who lack the desire to make healthy choices. You may encounter individuals who repeatedly visit your office with the same symptoms, asking for a pill rather than making the effort to live a healthy lifestyle. As you know, lifestyle choices greatly impact specific conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Tell the interviewer how you would handle a patient when they continue to complain of the same symptoms without taking the initiative to help themselves.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have learned that working in the medical field requires a certain amount of tolerance. I remind patients of the impact healthy lifestyle choices will make on their conditions, but sometimes I am limited on my influence. I have found that giving patients a clear picture by explaining what is actually happening in their body helps them to understand and often take action."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"It is frustrating to see ailing individuals who do not want to help themselves. I have found that many people are overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting information they receive. I will encourage my patients to make one small change at a time. This could include committing to drinking more water, or eating more fibrous foods."
Anonymous Answer
"I would do my best to met them where they are. I would continue with education and treatment options. I would work with the patient to come up with even one small lifestyle change they could make to better their health. It's important for patients to be involved in their own healthcare decision-making process."
Rachelle's Answer
Very well stated! I have changed the order just a touch, to help with the flow.
"It is important that patients be involved in the health care decision-making process. For this reason, I do my best to meet them where they are at; meaning, I would continue with education and treatment options. Working with a patient to come up with even one small lifestyle change could be enough to make an impact on their health."
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Anonymous Answer
"In general, all health care professionals have a duty of taking care of their patients and making sure they comply with their medications and health advice. However, THE PATIENT is accountable for their health and their bodies. We can't force-feed them medications: the only thing we can do is keep following up with care and advice, but it takes listening and compliance for results to be seen."
Rachelle's Answer
Your answer shows a great deal of professionalism as well as boundaries that are necessary while working with patients and inside the healthcare system in general. Good work!
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2.
How do you plan to continually grow as a physician assistant?
You have an elevated degree; however, that doesn't mean that you stop learning once you have reached the top. Discuss your plans to take professional courses, obtain new certifications or focus on personal growth. You may also want to mention a class or volunteer position to highlight your commitment to professional growth.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am so happy to have completed my Master's Degree in Genetics. I recently enrolled in a course that will increase my knowledge on the relationship between pharmacology and biomarkers."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I never stop learning and believe that, especially in the healthcare industry, one must stay up to date on new trends and discoveries. I plan to continually grow as a physician's assistant by taking monthly courses on a variety of related topics. If there are any courses you recommend, I would be happy to hear your recommendations."
Anonymous Answer
"What I like about being a physician assistant is that you are continually learning about different specialties, and you continuously learn on the job. I plan to continue growing by reading current medical journals, taking courses, and possibly getting my doctorate in physician assistant studies."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you have a great plan already in place for flourishing in this career. Well done :)
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3.
What are some of the challenges of working as a physician assistant?
This question is similar to the interviewer asking what your weaknesses are. Because this is one of the most common interview questions, you'll want to have a few examples prepared. Consider a few examples of patients coming in with a variety of unexpected ailments, technology going wrong or a coworker showing up late for work. Tell the interviewer how you handle these situations.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"A challenge as a PA can be that we have more patients than we have coverage or availability. I've learned so much working in this fast-paced environment. My most important take away from these types of situations has been learning the importance of time management, clear documentation, and appropriate scheduling."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My biggest challenge is having to prioritize on a daily basis, in hopes of getting everything done. No two days are the same as a physician assistant, so I can use a plethora of skills, which is amazing. I have become very proficient at prioritization and delegation."
Anonymous Answer
"As a PA, you are trained as a generalist provider, and possibly a given specialty if you so choose. However, as a PA, you may encounter cases that are complex and beyond what you may feel comfortable treating and diagnosing. You can collaborate with other providers and do the best you can to treat the patient. Sometimes patients may be too complicated, and you may have to refer them to another provider. Also, in any health profession, patients maybe not wanting to deal with their health condition, and you have to do the best you can to treat, educate, and provide resources. It is challenging to figure out how to best manage and help each patient, but as a provider, you should do your best to provide individualized care to have the best outcomes for patients."
Rachelle's Answer
These are real work challenges, indeed. You do a nice job offering up options on how to overcome situations like this.
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Anonymous Answer
"Any time you are working with people, there is always the challenge of communicating effectively. Whether it's with patients or co-workers, it's important to take time to ensure both parties are on the same page working in the same direction. Patients with unexpected ailments present a unique challenge. I may have to refer them out or take extra time to contact my supervising physician."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a very well thought out response.
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4.
Who is your mentor in the healthcare industry?
In this particular situation, your interviewer is looking for a mentor in the same career field. If your crazy best friend is who you look up to, you may want to censor and save those stories for another time. The interviewer wants to know who you get your professional direction and advice from. Did a professor take you under their wing and guide you? Perhaps a family member has overcome challenges in life and has pushed you to become the person you are today.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"When it comes to my career as a physicians assistant, the physician I currently work under has been my professional mentor for the past six years. She has taught me a lot of skills and given me knowledge far beyond a basic PA."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"My professional mentor is my former pharmacology professor. I excelled in his class which prompted a great relationship between the two of us. He offered me more advanced work and helped me find an excellent practicum placement. Even though I have graduated, we still meet once per month to discuss changes in the healthcare industry."
Anonymous Answer
"I had the opportunity to have a PA as a mentor in my senior year of college. She worked as a family medicine PA at a small clinic in an urban suburb of Minneapolis. She very much inspired me to want to go into primary care, and help provide healthcare to populations that do not have adequate access. She made a difference in people of all ages and backgrounds lives, from children's physicals to older adults with hypertension, she impacted the health outcomes of individuals."
Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you had an excellent mentor which is an experience that can offer up a significant advantage as you grow in your own PA career.
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5.
What is a dependent practitioner, and how do you feel about practicing as one?
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.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"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."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"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."
Anonymous Answer
"A dependent practitioner is someone who works on a team with a physician as a supervised practitioner. I am excited to work as a dependent practitioner with the XYZ team. I am expecting the practice agreement to be a progressive document that with expand with my increased knowledge and skills."
Rachelle's Answer
Great answer!
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Anonymous Answer
"A dependent practitioner means you practice under the supervision of an MD. I think collaboration in healthcare is very important because you are ultimately making decisions that impact others' health outcomes. Even though you are practicing under an MD, you still have autonomy in situations you are trained in, and confident to address. However, I very much like the idea of being a dependent practitioner, because I will always have the opportunity to collaborate with an MD if I want a second opinion on the best solution for a positive outcome for a patient."
Rachelle's Answer
You sound highly collaborative with an interest in learning and growing while leaning on the support of a MD. Great response!
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