Physician assistant (PA) Career


Preparing for PA School

Getting Clinical Hours

  • Medical Scribe - in my opinion, one of the best ways to get exposure and see real medicine and learn how to document
  • EMT - direct patient care and great exposure
  • Nursing assistant - direct patient care, although not necessarily the most pleasant tasks
  • Shadowing - easiest to obtain, but many places don't consider this as "direct" patient care

Optimizing Your Skillset

  • Learn another language - this is particularly valuable if you plan to work in an area with a lot of non-English speaking patients, and even more so if you have some time to kill before starting PA school. I wish I had solidified my Spanish before starting school and becoming a parent.
  • Start familiarizing yourself with medical terminology and anatomy. Get an app, Quizlet, a book, whatever, and start skimming whenever you have a chance. I doubt you'll retain much but any exposure is helpful.

Preparing for PA Certification/Recertification


Question Banks

Practice Exams

Review Courses

Types of Recertification

  • Traditional - sit down computerized exam, closed book and timed
  • Pilot - two-year test that consists of 25 questions per quarter, open book but timed - I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Questions are stressful but you can use whatever resources are available to you, and each set of questions only takes me 2-3 hours to finish

Clinical Resources

The are the best resources I've found in my experience in trauma, general surgery, and orthopedic surgery

Phone Apps

    • UpToDate - great for quick and detailed reference as well as getting CME for it( see "CME Resources" above); also has a desktop site
    • Epocrates - great for quick reference, no CME last time I checked


Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Professional Organization Memberships

Digital Resources

  • UpToDate - all you need, in my opinion. Use it as your daily go-to for questions you have about your practice, and you'll probably have all the credits you need by the time you need them. Find out if your organization gives it for free! (many do)
  • Audio Digest - expensive, but if you have CME funds to burn, this is the way to go. You can also get a hefty gift card out of the deal!
  • AAPA CME On Demand - all of their in-person conferences in digitized form; I've done this several times and loved it




For those of you who need to burn CME funds and don't need anymore actual CME credits. Not all employers will cover equipment, though, so be sure to check first.

  • Work shoes - if I'm in scrubs, I'm in crocs! By far the most comfortable shoe for lots of standing/walking. I've used Danskos and get foot and back pain after a while.
  • Scrubs
    • Scrubzone Unisex Top and Pants are my personal favorites. Not fitted, but durable with great pockets
    • Figs - the most highly recommended brand amongst peers. A little pricey but apparently worth it. Planning on trying them myself if my Scrubzone scrubs ever need replacing.
  • Lab coat
    • Medelita - sells more than just lab coats, but these definitely seem to be their forte. I did try their scrub jacket and found them to be too long for me (I'm rather short).
  • Lead apron, glasses - I liked ZZMedical
  • Technology - iPad, Surface with or without Surface Pen, etc