My name is Amy and I am a board-certified Critical Care and Pulmonology Physician Assistant practicing in Miami, Florida.

The first time I met a PA, or Physician Assistant, I was 19 and a sophomore in college. I had been pre-law for my first two years and I was at a bit of an impasse. I had come to the realization that I did not want to be a lawyer, but I felt stuck. By this point, I knew that I wanted to go into medicine, but was afraid I was too late to the party. Then, I met the aforementioned PA. She was intelligent, competent, driven, and worked her dream job. She was a Physician Assistant in orthopedic surgery, and she was living out her passion every single day! While I knew immediately that orthopedics was not for me (ortho surgery is hard labor, ya’ll), I was instantly sold on the PA profession.

If you’re like I was, unsure of exactly where you might fit into this thing called medicine… let me tell you a little about my exciting profession!

Physician Assistants are nationally certified, state-licensed medical providers. We prescribe medication, treat medical conditions, perform procedures, and first assist in surgery. And the best part… drum roll please… We get to change specialties anytime we want! Since we are board-certified as generalists, we can work in any specialty at any time. I have friends who work both in the ER and also cosmetic dermatology simultaneously! The possibilities are truly endless!

PA school is generally a Master’s degree, although there are some PhD programs. When applying to PA school, you must have a bachelor’s degree, certain pre-requisite coursework, a strong GPA, extracurricular activities, and hands-on patient care experience. My greatest advice to anyone pursuing a PA career would be to get a job working with patients as early as possible! Some of my classmates were accepted with relatively average GPAs because they had such extensive, impressive patient care experience. If you don’t believe you will have a stellar GPA upon graduation, this is one way you can help yourself tremendously.

PA school is between 24 and 36 months, depending on the program. The first 12-15 months is didactic (like the first two years of med school) and the second year is clinical (like the last two of med school). Each program requires the completion of 7 core rotations including emergency med, internal med, family med, pediatrics, psychiatry, OBGYN and general surgery. Most programs also offer a few elective rotations. I chose Dermatology and cardiothoracic surgery for mine.

PA school is a whirlwind experience with very little time off! But, it is SO worth it! In just two short years I was able to hold a heart in the palm of my hand, save a life, deliver a baby, and comfort families in their worst hour. It is so incredibly rewarding. With the demands that the industry places on providers these days, often times there is very little time slotted for each patient. But, as a PA working with a physician, we are an extension of their healing hands. We are able to take a little more time with each patient to make sure they are t
reated, comforted, and happy with their care. After all, isn’t that why we chose medicine in the first place? To make a difference, no matter large or small. 

You can follow my journey @chasingamy24, and feel free to DM me any questions you have about anything PA!