One of the most challenging tasks as a Pre-PA can be how to find a PA to shadow. Here are my best strategies to get you started, so you can eventually find the best PA to shadow!
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How to Find a PA to Shadow: Strategies and Tips
Are you an aspiring PA student looking how to find a PA to shadow? Shadowing a PA is a valuable experience that can help you gain insight into the profession and strengthen your PA school application. In this article, we will share some useful tips and strategies on how to find a PA to shadow. Whether you’re wondering why shadowing is important or seeking guidance on networking and virtual options, we’ve got you covered.
Understand the Importance of Shadowing
Shadowing a PA holds significant importance for admissions committees and your own understanding of the profession. It showcases your interest in the field and allows you to witness firsthand the interactions between PAs, physicians, and patients. This experience not only helps you articulate your motivation to become a PA but also provides a comprehensive knowledge base about the profession. While some programs require a specific number of shadowing hours, most recommend them as a valuable addition to your application.
Utilize Your Connections
One of the most effective ways on how to find a PA to shadow is by leveraging your network. Reach out to friends, relatives, coworkers, or acquaintances who may have connections in the medical field. Even distant relatives or friends of friends could potentially connect you with a PA who is willing to let you shadow them. If you already have patient care experience, inquire if your workplace has any PAs who might be open to hosting a shadowing experience. Remember, don’t hesitate to approach PAs and ask for the opportunity to shadow them. The worst they can say is no.
Join Local and State PA Organizations
Consider becoming a member of your local or state PA organization. Each state typically has its own PA organization, such as the South Carolina Academy of PAs or the Texas Academy of PAs. These organizations often offer student memberships and local networking opportunities, making it easier for you to connect with PAs who may be open to shadowing. Supporting your local PA organization also provides benefits such as advocacy and future involvement as a practicing PA.
Explore Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer opportunities, even those outside the medical field, can still be valuable for expanding your network and finding connections to PAs. Look for volunteer positions where PAs or doctors might be involved. Utilize your connections within these organizations to inquire about shadowing opportunities. Remember, expanding your network is crucial during this phase.
Utilize Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook can be valuable tools for finding PAs to shadow. Join professional groups or search for PA-focused communities where you can connect with PAs in your area. When reaching out to PAs on these platforms, ensure your messages are professionally written. Approach them politely, introducing yourself as an aspiring PA student and expressing your interest in shadowing. Be specific about your request and inquire about potential shadowing opportunities.
Make In-Person Visits and Cold Calls
Sometimes, a face-to-face visit or a phone call can yield better results than digital communication. Consider visiting local hospitals, clinics, or family practices where PAs work. Introduce yourself and politely inquire about the possibility of connecting with a PA for shadowing. Remember, it may be harder for them to reject you in person. If you prefer not to walk in, cold calling is another option. Contact clinics or offices and ask if they have any PAs available for shadowing.
Virtual shadowing gained popularity during the pandemic and can still be a viable option. While in-person shadowing is preferred by many programs, virtual shadowing can still be listed on your application. Some clinics and hospitals continue to offer virtual shadowing experiences. However, it’s essential to check with each program to determine if they accept virtual shadowing hours. In-person hours generally hold more weight, but listing virtual shadowing hours demonstrates your initiative and commitment.
Aim for Targeted Hours
While there is no strict minimum requirement for shadowing hours, it is recommended to target around 40 to 50 hours if possible. Some programs may specify a minimum range, such as 20 to 40 hours. By aiming for a higher range, you demonstrate a thorough commitment to understanding the profession and maximize your chances of obtaining a strong recommendation letter from a PA.
Finding a PA to shadow may require some effort, but the rewards are worth it. Networking, utilizing your connections, joining local PA organizations, and exploring volunteer opportunities can lead you to potential shadowing experiences. Social media platforms, in-person visits, and cold calls are additional strategies that can help you connect with PAs. While virtual shadowing is an option, in-person experiences are generally preferred. Remember, persistence and determination will pay off as you search for a PA who can provide invaluable insights into the profession and potentially become a mentor.
I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.
Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school, I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program. But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout.
My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!