Physician Assistant Forums
One of the more challenging struggles I have faced during my relationship with the physician assistant profession was simply figuring out where to start. I can recall my interest being sparked many years ago by a close friend who had enrolled in PA school coming back to our “pre-medicine club” at my college giving a presentation about the profession. I was absolutely hooked but found it difficult to find information about PAs. Then, I was lucky enough to stumble upon the PA School Forum, particularly the Pre-Physician Assistant Forum, which was like finding a gold mine. Today, we will review some of the available online forums; particularly the PA School Forum, as well as the physician assistant reddit forum.
Where do I start?
As I mentioned above, I had a hard time figuring out where to start in regard to gaining information about PA school. I was faced with limited resources and simply tried to dive into the information on my own. This proved challenging, but I was very thankful to find right away, one of the most informative message boards I have encountered, “Physician Assistant Forum”, which can be found here. This forum proved to be very useful every step of the way; from an interested onlooker, to an official “Pre-PA Student”, to a “PA student”, and then ultimately a practicing clinician.
The Physician Assistant Forum
The forum was founded in 1998 and has been a source of information for prospective students, current students, as well as clinicians for many years. The forum is set up with great organization and is very easy to navigate. It has guided me through many difficult decisions and been a source of valuable information many times. Additionally, I have used it through every step of my professional journey into the realm of the PA world. What I really like about the forum is that it is separated into categories; as mentioned above, this includes a category for “Pre-PA”, “PA-Students”, Professional PA’s, and clinicians. There is even a section deemed “miscellaneous” for non-medical topics, because we all need a break from school or work at some point.
Sub-Categories – Pre-PA
Within the major categories, there are also sub-categories, which allows for more refined searching. For example, there are many buckets within the pre-pa forum that allows for easier searching and improved ability to find information. For example, there is a section on CASPA, pre-pa general discussion, personal statements, shadowing opportunities, and each school even has its own page! During the early years of my application cycle, I used this to have my personal statement edited, and eventually to meet prospective students in the program I would ultimately be attending. It was a great resource that helped lessen a lot of the pre-pa anxiety for me.
Sub-Categories – PA-Students
For PA students, there is also a dedicated forum for students to meet, ask questions and create topics about clinical material or experiences on clinical rotations. The sub-topics in this area include PA student general discussion, Clinical rotations, PANCE/PANRE, financial aid and there is even a forum for selling equipment/textbooks.
Sub-Categories – Professional
The PA forum was a staple for me during PA school, but I will admit that I used it a bit less during the clinical year, as I moved forward toward graduation and ultimately practicing. One of the nice transitions into the professional world of practice was the fact that there continued to be quite a bit of resources that were available for me, moving toward graduation. In the professional section, there is a clinical practice general discussion, state specific forums, military area, as well as multiple other very helpful forums.
Most Helpful Sections to Me
One of the most important sections that I encountered during this particular time in my life was the “Contracts, negotiation and Malpractice” section. In this, many students who are graduating will post their offers from employers, which is then critiqued by commenters in the forum. For example, when I was struggling to pick between three different job offers at graduation, the forum helped guide me in the direction I needed to go. I found this to be very helpful because I did not particularly feel comfortable discussing offers with fellow students, or family who did not have any experience in the medical field. I have learned many negotiation tips, contract tips, and things I wish I would have discussed when reviewing my own contract, through the forum!
Another great resource that is at our disposal and completely available to us for information is that of Reddit. To be honest, this one took some more research, as I have not used Reddit often. Reddit was founded in 2005 and is a message board/news source for many different topics in life, not just the PA profession. Basically, information is posted, and members will “vote up” or “vote down” the topic, with the ability to comment as well.
Reddit, much like we discussed with the physician assistant forum, is also divided up into “Sub-reddits” which are basically topics within topic. For example, when I searched “physician assistant”, I found a list of the most popular topics related to physician assistants, but then also found more specific and focused portions of the site or the “sub-reddits” which were strictly related to “pre-pa” or one in particular for physician assistant professionals in general.
Many of my classmates during PA school were avid posters on the Reddit forum and a lot of times gained new pearls and experience from the forum which they then shared with me. I benefitted greatly from some of the information that they attained and then subsequently passed along to me during our study groups. The great thing about PA school is that everyone has different backgrounds, using different resources, which is then passed on for the greater good in the class. From this standpoint, maybe I actually used Reddit a lot more than I think!
Ease of Use
As part of writing this article, I spent some time on Reddit and did find it fairly easy to use and search through, with many particular topics catching my eye. As a new user, I did find it a bit overwhelming and chaotic at times, but there was quite a bit of good information available and I found myself scrolling through quite a bit, ending up wondering where the time went! I particularly enjoyed the Pre-PA portion, where students were posting, asking for quite a bit of specific advice, with many comments helping them move forward with their application.
The beauty of our profession is that it is continuing to grow with each application cycle, each graduating class and each week, when more and more students become PAs! With that, there will continue to be forums to help pre-pa students, PA students and practicing PAs navigate their careers, in the hopes that each person will continue to give back to those going through the application process and PA school curriculum!
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