UNLOCKING THE IDEAL PA CAREER with SHAYNE & JORDAN from The PA Blueprint
If you are a future or practicing PA and you don’t know about The PA Blueprint Book yet, you must!
Allow me to introduce you to Shayne Foley, PA-C & Jordan Fisher, PA-C.
These two amazing PAs pack 15+ years of collective experience in the PA profession, while also teaching, precepting, and writing books. Pretty impressive.
What I love the most about them is that they saw a pretty big blind spot in the education of PA's & went ahead and created an excellent resource to fill that gap.
This educational blind spot pertains to all the really important stuff about life, finances & navigating the world as a PA inside and outside of work. More importantly how to have all of that without going insane.
As the authors of The PA Blueprint Book, they have created a priceless resource that helps to unlock all the secrets of crafting your ideal PA career, without having to go to the school of hard knocks yourself.
You know, all the important stuff that school didn’t teach you about finding balance & actually thriving in the PA profession.
They address super important topics like compensation negotiation, discerning between a garbage contract & benefits package & a good one, the path to wealth through investing, maintaining sustainable work/life balance, student loan repayment, navigating the workplace, avoiding burnout, and even where to get CME.
This book is truly the guide that every PA wishes they got as a graduation gift.
I highly recommend you get or gift your own copy at www.thepablueprint.com
PA students take note: You may ask that your school get Shayne and Jordan to come speak at your School!
I did an interview as a guest on their blog a little while back called Real Talk with Karen Calcano & the questions they asked me on this interview-esque blog post were way too good for me not to turn around and ask them the exact same set of questions!
Shayne & Jordan did not disappoint! As I expected I delivered gold and many nuggets of wisdom that I just know you will find just as valuable as I did.
1). IF YOU COULD GO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU STILL CHOOSE TO BECOME A PA FOR YOUR CAREER?
The short answer: YES. I’m not sure I would’ve answered that way within my first few years of practice, but now I feel confident in saying yes. Here are my reasons:
At the end of the day, the career is rewarding and I genuinely love connecting with and helping my patients.
Right now, having nearly 10 years and a variety of experiences to draw on, as well as having a great personal life setup, really makes the work much easier to handle. I think I’ve found just about the optimal life-work balance.
The variety of professional opportunities (clinical practice, teaching, precepting, blogging, starting The PA Blueprint) that I’ve been able to find and pursue because of being a PA.
What we are allotted in our careers, from our salaries to benefits to career opportunities, are very generous and can easily assist us in pursuing our goals and dreams.
I would if I could decrease the cost. One of my biggest qualms with the PA profession (and any healthcare profession for that matter) is the cost.
PA school admission is so competitive that most students must put finances aside and just go where they get in. Often this is a private school with high tuition costs. I don't think any career should start $100,000+ in debt and cost $5k+ to just apply. New applicants should always try to keep tuition costs in mind, especially if they are lucky enough to have options.
Besides this, the PA profession has a lot to offer and is a wonderful career to consider.
2). WHAT IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST CAREER MISTAKES THAT YOU'VE MADE SINCE BEING A PA?
Having made just about every financial mistake since starting practice, my answer is not having a better understanding of budgeting, student loans, and investing at the start of my career. If I had all my financial ducks in a row from day #1 until now, being nearly 10 years into my career, I can confidently say that I’d be close to financial independence already.
Instead, up until 2020 when I decided that I could no longer remain financially ignorant, I probably checked every box in the “Basic financial mistakes” category. It looked something like this:
Spend more than you earn.
Don’t invest in 401k/403b, Roth IRA, and brokerage account options.
Pay excessive amounts of money to a financial advisor.
It was a painful and expensive 8 years of trial and error, and I realize now that I could’ve just spent less than $100 on books (including The PA Blueprint), read some free blogs, and taken a few hours to learn the basics and get on a much more prosperous path. Given that I now know enough to figure this stuff out, my financial naivety up until 2020 cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars and years until retirement, and that thought is a real punch to the gut. But, on the flip side, I am also ecstatic to report that I’ve saved “future us” at least $500,000, and we are on track to meet our goals of financial independence within 10-15 years!
I don't know if it is a mistake as much as a regret.
I had a job offer at a hospitalist practice that I signed roughly 2 months before I graduated. Once I graduated and started the credentialing process I was pretty much forgotten about. I didn't hear from anyone for 4+ months as I was burning through my savings and growing increasingly anxious. Then the job changed, and I was getting set up at a different hospital with a different team, unbeknownst to me. These all seemed like red flags, so I ended up taking another position.
In hindsight, I wonder if I should have stuck with it. I left the other job after a year and wonder if the hospitalist experience would have served me better.
The moral of the story is to choose a job where you will feel supported and valued, especially right out of school when you are in need of extra guidance.
3). TELL US ABOUT A TIME THAT YOU WERE BURNED OUT, INCLUDING WHAT YOU DID TO IMPROVE THINGS.
A few years back while working in Urgent Care, I was fried. I had over-committed with full-time practice, working as an adjunct faculty member, precepting, and trying to work extra shifts in order to earn more money.
The slow creep of saying yes to too many things, in addition to the demands of 12-hour shifts, really was too much. I found myself running on cortisol, needing days to recover from consecutive shifts, frequently eating junk food, and feeling depressed.
It took a long time to realize that the demands of working in Urgent Care were the biggest contributor to my burnout, so I knew that that specialty wasn’t one that was ever going to be sustainable for me.
My wife was also feeling burned out, so we hashed out a plan to take a sabbatical year (as discussed on PA The FI Way podcast), and just the exercise of doing that was enough to relieve some of the burnout feelings. With each extra shift and commitment now serving a purpose (saving enough money to fund a sabbatical), along with having a defined end-point, these burdens no longer felt so heavy. My thinking is that creating, planning, and executing on the sabbatical forced us to focus more on our personal life, realigning ourselves with our goal to “Work to live, not live to work.”
That would be now! The pandemic has been difficult, especially in the emergency medicine and urgent care settings, which has led me to experience a degree of burnout.
I have been focusing on mindfulness, taking more time off, working on my side hustles, and looking into other specialties to try to combat burnout (not to mention all the other great tips in The PA Blueprint!).
This is a genuinely difficult time to be in medicine and I think a large portion of healthcare workers are experiencing a degree of burnout. Make sure you are taking the time to self-reflect and see if you are experiencing burnout.
4). WHAT FRUSTRATES YOU MOST ABOUT WORKING IN MEDICINE?
I’m actually going to say two things: Bureaucracy and the lack of a proactive approach to the well-being of healthcare workers (HCW). These two things do go hand-in-hand, as oftentimes good ideas, including how to “heal the healers”, wind up dying on the vine via “death by committee.”
I see bureaucracies as like aircraft carriers, meaning they have a lot of weight and power behind them when employed, but are lacking in the agility often needed in modern medicine. It seems all too predictable that good ideas will reach a point where a committee or task force will inevitably be created, wherein a conglomerate of already overworked professionals will meet monthly to discuss (often at the expense of action being taken) the idea, and at a glacial pace decide on how to best take actions. By the time the plan is set to be executed, there are often other issues at hand, and the delayed response has allowed the problem, such as healthcare workers’ burnout, to reach a point where the proposed solutions are no longer commensurate with the level of the problem. I know that this may just make me sound cynical and jaded, but I’ve seen it play out where it took 6+ months to roll out a survey on burnout, at a critical time when action, and not just data collection, were needed STAT!
In regards to HCW feeling that our own well-being is ignored, I’ve written about this Hippocratic Hypocrisy on KevinMD.com previously. It frustrates me that there isn’t more being done by our own employers to help us with our financial, mental, physical, and career well-being. Too often, we need to settle for “Hang in there” messaging, pizza party or donut delivery, outsourced solution, or something else that just seems superficial, disingenuous, missing the mark or that puts the onus back onto us to navigate our work-related problems alone (Yeah, I’m looking at you “Mindfulness” webinars).
In order to decrease burnout, improve employee job satisfaction and retention, and improve HCWs’ ability to provide optimal care to their patients, the medical field as a whole needs to do even more than they currently are.