Once I decided that I was interested in the Physician Assistant career, I found a PA to shadow in the area. At the time I was still in undergraduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia and a found a resource online that started my series of connections which was pashadowonline.com. You create a username and password and you now have access to choose your region and look at Physician Assistant’s schedules if they have volunteered their time by allowing students to sign up to shadow. This is such a great site and I’m thankful for it and for those PA’s who use it! I was able to find a few PA’s in my area and chose to email them about finding a time to shadow. One ended up responding to me after a bit of time and I was able to have my first shadowing experience in an ICU where the PA was the only PA, Physician, etc. working overnight. After making a relationship with this PA he was able to contact a few of his PA friends and coworkers and connect me with them to shadow and the rest is history!
I completed over 100 hours of strictly Physician Assistant shadowing before my application was sent in areas of Surgery, ICU, EM, Internal Medicine, Dermatology, Orthopaedics, Family Medicine, and Neuro. The majority of the hours were accomplished due to connections and not simply applying to hospitals and thankfully so because it takes eons, a lot of paperwork, and screening compared to reaching out to a PA personally.
1. Check out pashadowonline.com and sign up.
2. Reach out to your connections, there is bound to be at least one Physician Assistant that you could get contact information from. Even ask your own family Physician/OBGYN/Dermatologist, etc.
3. Call all clinics, hospitals, private practices that are known to have Physician Assistants. This process will be much longer due to such strict HIPPA requirements now but it is worth the time it takes if unsuccessful with the prior steps.
I encourage every pre-pa student to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to clinics, private practices, hospitals, family members, family friends, coworkers, friends of friends, etc. to find opportunities to shadow. It is 100% worth the time, it opens your eyes to what you’ll really be doing as a PA, and it looks great on your application. Shadowing was the easiest and most intriguing part of the application process for me. It made me so excited to see how much PAs do on a day to day basis and in such different specialties.
If anyone needs tips on where and how to find Physician Assistants to shadow, please reach out, I’d be happy to help. And if we’re in the same region, I may even have some names for you!