Thursday, October 18, 2012

Things to think about...

Where I used to work... it was roomy and I had windows
I'm back at Duke north surg path this week and feel like I've had a really productive week. But it started off at Durham Regional Hospital for a one day taste of what a regional hospital is like. It is a good idea to get a look at that sort of environment since it is very different from the other locations we see. Their main cancer cases are breast, colon, and prostate. They do also get some other routine surgical specimens like gallbladders, appendixes, placentas, etc. It is a very similar specimen-wise to where I worked so it felt familiar!

There are two PAs who work at that location and since I arrived right after they'd finished up the backlog that had built up over the weekend we had some time to sit down and just talk. They were kind enough to let me pick their brains about work environments and job hunting. It was a lot of food for thought.

One of them asked me if I would be bored working somewhere like a small regional hospital where I wouldn't routinely get things like transplant organs. They also brought up the stress that can come from being in a large, busy academic medical center. And they mentioned teaching, if it is something that would be a pro or a con in a job. There are a lot of things to think about.

Right now, I'm mostly interested in location. I really want to stay in the triangle area of NC if I can, other than that I can be happy in lots of different situations.


  1. You stated that you were able to talk to the PA's about their job, job hunting, and about the work life. I'm applying to PA school, but have not had a chance to talk to PA's like that. I was wondering if you could go into a little more detail, maybe job outlook, satisfaction, etc. they mentioned, whether it be good or bad. Would love to hear about this.

    1. Job outlook is very good. There are more job openings than candidates to fill them. If you have a specific area where you are looking for a job it might take a months for an opening to come up in that area, but if you are flexible about where you would like to live it doesn't take long at all. For job hunters, it tends to be a buyers market which is a nice position to be in.

      Satisfaction seems to be pretty high. The ones I met with last Monday have been in their jobs for years (as in a decade plus) and are very happy. The ones I worked with back home were also pleased with their profession (to the point that they encouraged me to pursue it) and had a good working relationship with our pathologists. The PAs we work with at Duke surg path all seem to get along well really well and enjoy themselves. The autopsy PAs seem to love their jobs and have both been doing it for years. These are all wildly different environments though. Someone that wants a lot of action might be bored on an autopsy service (even one like ours that has 400+ autopsies are year), while someone who doesn't like teaching would be miserable at an academic medical center. It is up to the PA to know themselves and to know what sort of environment they are interested in (and you get exposed to different types of environments while on rotations in all the programs so you have time to figure it out for yourself).

      Also, have you poked around the PA forum on Indeed( There are some experienced PAs who have been very good about answering questions from interested students.

  2. Awesome, thanks for the information, your blog in general has been very helpful. I asked this question because where I currently work, they used to hire Path Assts. to do the work that I currently do. They have now been replaced with Path Techs, like myself, who do the same job, with probably 1/3 of the a PA's salary. Only difference is we get trained on the job. Wasn't sure if this was a trend, or just an isolated decision by my work place. With what you said though, it sounds very encouraging. I love what I do and would like to continue my education in this field as a PA. Hopefully next year I'll be starting school. Thanks again for all your help and info, and keep up the great work!