Next Steps

Figured it was time to update folks on where I stand on my transition towards applying to Physicians Assistant school. I’ve mentioned that I have a number of prerequisites I have meet in order to be able to apply. For example, since I had never taken Organic Chemistry in college, I had to get that out of the way. I have a number of other classes too and in fact just started my next round for this semester, namely Anatomy & Physiology II and Bio II. Both are with professors I had previously (though my Bio II professor for lab and lecture I had only for lab previously). In any case, classes started yesterday and I’m looking forward to them.

But, the biggest prereq that had been weighing on my mind had been my patient contact hours. I need at least 1000 of them. I had put this off until recently because I had a lot of other things on my plate and wanted to give them my focus. Several people had told me “Oh, you’ll have no problems getting them. Albany Medical Center is hiring like crazy.” I was hopeful, but a bit cautious. I had actually applied for a job months ago and gotten rejected almost immediately. My suspicion was that my resume was purely IT tech and didn’t even make the first cut. This time around I moved stuff around and emphasized my work with the National Cave Rescue Commission as an instructor and my being a part of the Medical Interest Group. But again crickets. I was starting to get nervous. I finally decided to ask a friend for a favor as they had some inside contacts. Strangely, while I rarely mind doing this for friends of mine if I can, I feel uncomfortable asking others for such help. In any case, while chatting with them on line, my phone rang and it was Albany Medical Center (small aside, sadly the reason I have their number in my phone is because of when my father was dying there, I needed to mark it as a number that would get through my “do not disturb” hours.)

At first I thought my friend was being supremely efficient. But no, it was simply a coincidence. This was a call from someone in the Labor and Delivery department asking me to come in. Now, fortunately, being a consultant I have flexibility to set my hours, so I was able to schedule to come in the next day (last Thursday).

First, I have to say, part of the job definitely seemed fascinating. But, as the interviewer quickly realized and admitted, it probably did not fit my needs for the number of patient contact hours. Then, something happened that is one of those “never do in an interview” moments, but one of us pulled out our cell phones. Fortunately it was her. She was texting her counterpart in the Emergency Department seeing if they were available then and there to meet with me. Sadly they weren’t. But she promised to follow up.

Sure enough, on Friday I received a call asking me to come in. Unfortunately I was in a meeting with a client so it was very brief and came down to “Can you come in Monday at 10:30 and if so, go to the Peds ED Triage and ask for so and so. And would you be able to shadow that day?” Really no more details than that. But I’m good at following orders and sure enough yesterday I was there at 10:30 asking for the indicated person. I was escorted upstairs to meet with them who transferred me over to their boss. She and I talked for no more than 5 minutes when she asked me if I had time to shadow a patient tech or two. I of course said yes. How better to get a feel for what my work would be. I ended up spending about 3x longer than expected and followed 3 patient techs.

I can’t go into details other than to say it was both overwhelming and thrilling. Being in the ED there’s the opportunity to do a lot, even at the level of a patient tech. Sure, a lot of it is simply scut work: restocking supply cabinets, doing nasal swabs, handing charts to doctors. But I’m ok with that. Honestly, I think that sort of work is critical and often overlooked and despite my goal to be a PA, certainly not beneath me.

But there’s potential for a lot more. There’s simple stuff like taking EKGs. But there’s also the opportunity to being involved in assisting when trauma patients come in, doing CPR and observing a lot. For what I want to do, I think this is the perfect fit!

So, now the waiting for the paperwork!

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