A Day in the Life of a Family Practice PA

Danielle Kepics is acting VP of content and development at NPAE, blog author and Pre-PA consultant @ allthingsphysicianassistant.com as well as an active family practice physician assistant. To read more of Danielle’s blogs, learn about her consulting services, or learn more about her, please visit her website – All Things Physician Assistant

My Current & Past Positions

Currently I work in a family practice setting as a travel independent contractor PA.  I am contracted through a company called Staffcare and the clinic I work at is operated by Dignity Health.  If you are interested in learning more about life as a traveling PA see my blog post about it (click here).
As a travel/locum PA I have worked in a hospital, urgent care and family practice setting.

My Average Day As A Family Practice PA

Presently, my hours are 8-5pm (M-F). I see a wide variety of patients from hypertension and diabetes to walk in abscess or suture management and women’s health.  The average patients per day are 16-20 (although it has been the “s” word recently).
I perform minor procedures including suturing, incision and drainage, PAP exams and cerumen removal (I seriously love to curette a huge block of cerumen– so rewarding– anyone else with me?)
A good part of my day is also taken up by paper work and referrals and refilling medications. I am lucky that the site I am at right now allows for administrative time and I am always out on time.  This is also a non-negotiable for me for work-life balance (I mean I have a chiweenie pup at home who needs love 🙂
I can say that for me the specialty and jobs that I take come second to following ensuring that I have a proper work life balance.  At this point in life I can never imagine being a surgical PA (I need to eat FAR too frequently) and hate having only minimal control over my schedule.  I know myself and I know that hearing “oh we added a case on” at 5pm would not go well for me.

Thoughts on Choosing A Specialty

I think that a huge part of ensuring satisfaction in your career is knowing yourself.  What do you like, what do you not like and what are your non-negotiables? Certain specialties play to particular characteristics, likes and dislikes.
Personally, my end goal is to end up in outpatient ob/gyn. I love the variety, independence and the idea of specializing with a “side” of general medicine”.
My next job is urgent care which I think suits me far better than family practice. I like going in getting a thorough, but quick job done.  Find it, fix it, ship it out.  I like procedures and I like independence. Which, when I started school I wanted to be an ortho PA– so if I can offer once piece of advice that everyone takes with them is don’t “pre-specialize” and pigeon hole yourself into something before school.  Be open minded.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing your first (or any other) specialty:

1. What type of patient population do I want to see?
2. How much independence vs. collaboration do I desire?
3. How do I see my job fitting in with my work life balance? (hours/days, shifts, flexibility, etc)
4. Do I want to know a lot of information about one thing or know a little bit about a lot of things (how specialized do you want to be?)
5. What type of environment do you thrive in?
This is the first part of a multi-part blog series by Danielle. The above questions will be answered in the next portion of this series. Be sure to check the site and our social media channels for updates.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to take a peak at Danielle’s site, All Things Physician Assistant

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