Archive | November, 2016

PA-C Networking

13 Nov

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Recently, a past colleague reached out to me for the sole purpose of networking. We’ve run into each other occasionally over the last few years, but haven’t worked for the same employer for a long time. He heard about my new position in management and wanted to get together to chat about my journey into leadership.

It was the first time someone contacted me for this purpose. It was an odd feeling to have a peer look at my career choices and desire to know how I got there. We met for a beer and he was dressed in a suit. After we shared some friendly banter, it was all business. He had an agenda and also a vision of where he wanted to be in his own career. One aspect that I found very interesting was his resume. It wasn’t so much a list of his work experience as it was an aggressive 5 year career plan. It went into detail about which companies he would like to work for and what talent he would bring to those companies. He asked about what I perceived were the biggest struggles for a PA in leadership and what I felt were my greatest accomplishments. I had kind of a mind blowing moment after this one hour informational interview. My PA education never touched the idea of career advancement or how to network. This guys was organized, driven and had a plan. After the meeting, I came away with the feeling that he was going places and would be a part of advancing the PA profession.

Since this meeting, I’ve researched a little about how to successfully network and what purpose it serves. The informational interview is one component of networking that I find to be especially helpful for PAs because there aren’t that many opportunities for bigger events to network, like the AAPA conference. Here are a few tips to help make the informational interview worth your time.

  1. You can network and connect with others even when you are perfectly satisfied with your current job! You have to think about how to be well aligned for future opportunities.
  2. Set up an informational interview with leaders in the industry and come prepared with thoughtful questions about their careers and how they got there.
  3. Dress as though you take the other person seriously. Even if you know this colleague outside of work, dressing professionally will send a clear signal that you aren’t wasting their time.
  4. Be confident, just like a regular job interview. Ask clear questions questions, look the person in the eye, and smile.
  5. Take notes! You will be surprised about what career gems you may learn during your time together.
  6. Bring your resume and career goals. Talk to them about where you see yourself in five years and see if they have any insight as to how to get there.
  7. Listen first, talk about yourself second. This is the time to learn from another professional. If you spend too much time talking about yourself, you will miss a valuable opportunity.
  8. Leave them with a business card or contact info, and make sure you get theirs as well.
  9. Follow up! Don’t forget to send a personalized email or send a paper (gasp!) thank you card.

This is just the beginning. PAs are viewed as, and view themselves as clinical work horses. We are interested in taking care of patients, but I think that we are limiting ourselves to other possibilities. RNs and MDs lead the way when it comes to career advancement. Networking, at a minimum, lets us get a taste for our own possibilities in clinical settings and beyond.

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Police Violence and the AAPA

1 Nov
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Folks, there is something we have to talk about. As a PA, I am deeply concerned about the current relationship between the police and people of color in this country. I believe that it has become a public health issue.

The CDC states that “public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations”. As I write this article, I am outraged by the recent police shooting of Keith Scott. Another police shooting of a black man. Another community shaken to its core. Another family, devastated.

I support the blue. As we all know, there is a close connection to and respect for police in the medical community. Our paths cross often, especially in the emergency room. They are the ones to respond and run headfirst into a threatening situation and have given their lives for their communities. But there is something gravely wrong when a situation escalates to a point where an unarmed person of color is killed by the very people who have been charged to serve and protect.

There was a time when it  was easier for me to go about my day and pretend this wasn’t happening. I can do that, because I am white. I decided that I I could no longer ignore the cries and protests of my neighbors, of my colleagues, or my friends. I think as healthcare providers we need to speak out for the health and safety of our patients and communities. That means we need to speak out for the people who are experiencing an unjustified use of force by the police.

Will the AAPA take a stance against police violence? What will happen if we don’t?

This is a public health issue. Look at the effects it is having on our communities. There are psycho-social implications that are affecting the health of our patients of color. We can help push for positive change, while maintaining our close ties with police enforcement. There have been studies conducted on the use of force; you can read one such article here.

I am supportive of the police, and I am grateful for the safety that they provide many of us. But their policies, their training, and their accountability needs to be closely evaluated and changed.

My recommendation? The AAPA needs to talk about it. We need to discuss police violence and race. As medical professionals, it is our duty to look at public health issues and take a stance. We need to be aware of who our patients are and what their needs are, beyond medicine. The medical community needs to start speaking up about the unjustifiable use of force against people of color. If we don’t, we are part of the problem. “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”. – Martin Luther King Jr.

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