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Top 3 Questions a PA Should Ask a Potential Employer

November 9, 2020

After graduating PA school, you are likely very eager to start your new career and begin making your mark on the medical world. With that excitement comes the thrill of the job hunt. You’re ready to put your education to use, and you want to make sure you do so at a place where you are valued, where you will continue to learn and grow, and where you will gain new experience. So, it’s essential that you ask the right questions when interviewing with a potential employer.

Whether you are new to the career or an experienced physician assistant, here are the top questions you should ask a potential employer during your interview.


1.       Have you utilized PAs here previously?

Many physicians do not have firsthand experience working with physician assistants or are unaware of how to best utilize them in their practice. You need to know if the practice in which you’re interviewing understands the legality of PA practice, as well as all of the benefits of a physician assistant.

“You should be looking for someone that is a PA supporter,” says Paul Lutter, DMSc, PA-C and Director of the PA Residency Program at Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC). “There are physicians out there that support our profession, much like the physicians at DOC, where they know and understand the training and what we bring to the table.”

Just as there are physicians who support PAs, there are some who don’t, so you want to be sure that you go where you will be properly utilized. Unfortunately, PAs can end up as overpaid medical assistants or scribes, when they are trained to be a much more valuable asset to the patient care team.


2.       Does your office use a shared schedule model?

Shared scheduling means just that – the schedule is shared between the physicians and the PAs, and it may not be determined who will be seeing which patients ahead of time. According to Lutter, the shared scheduling model is a recipe for disaster for a number of reasons, especially if the patient is unaware that they are seeing a PA instead of their surgeon or physicianr.

It can lead to a lot of ambiguity and frustration for both patients and physician assistants. Patients may be confused or upset if they don’t understand the role of a PA and why their normal physcian isn’t treating them. For a PA, this can make them feel uncomfortable, undervalued, and undermined. Look for a practice that clearly communicates with their patients which provider they have an appointment with, as well as the role and benefits of a physician assistant should they have you as their clinician.

Periodicity of performance reviews and compensation.

You need to know exactly what your role and patient load will look like in the practice before you accept any offer, especially if your compensation is tied closely to the number of patients you treat. And speaking of compensation, “Income is important, but everybody is going to lowball a new grad salary,” says Lutter.  Knowing that one day you won’t be a new graduate eligible for an increase in salary can be the light at the end of the tunnel.   

So, it’s important to ask follow-up questions; such as when your performance/income is up for review regarding a raise or potential increase in responsibility. Is there a bonus structure in place, and what are the details of how the bonus is calculated?

“An administrator could say, ‘Here is a spreadsheet of all the revenue that you brought in. You didn’t even pay for your own salary, but you saw 400 follow-up surgical guests last month.’ That’s where the PA should recognize that they bring value because the while the surgeon was in the OR, in the procedure suite, meeting with a new patient, or taking call, they freed them up to be able to generate that revenue. And without that, the surgeon would have been in this room generating no revenue,” Lutter says. So, every last detail of compensation is important.


3.       Bonus Question: Is there opportunity within a career here for independent thinking?

A lot of PAs get institutionalized on the typical concept of the utilization of a physician assistant, and the role becomes less about independent thinking, and more task oriented, where you’re directed how and when to do things.

“That stifles the independent thought process of how we’re originally trained. And so, the volume of medical knowledge learned in PA school, including the ability to be a good clinician and to be able to formulate the right diagnoses and treatment protocols can be lost if the PA is treated as a very dependent provider,” says Lutter. At Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC), PAs looking for greater independence and autonomy with the ability to truly build a career and practice find exactly that.

While you may feel pressured to find a job quickly, there is no rush to make sure you land in the right place the first time. PA’s are in a rapidly expanding field, with an expected opening of 33,000 more jobs in the field by 2022. With such high demand for people like you, make sure you feel great about the employer and everything that a career with them entails.

Direct Orthopedic Care is always interested to interview knowledgeable, passionate PA candidates.  DOC’s ideal candidates are persons desirous of an orthopedic career in which they can grow professionally, financially, and personally.  Top candidates are willing to work hard to build and run their own practice in order to be appropriately valued and compensated. Our PAs have the opportunity to become top earners in the field. We have PA’s currently making over $200,000 per year!


If creating your own schedule, no call schedule or rounding, and an unsurpassed compensation package sounds great to you, let’s talk!  You can apply directly at DOC Careers

Or, if you’d like a bit more info, speak with Jackie Mossakowski, DOC Recruiter at 214.983.0403.

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