Physician Associate University Interview Tips
Why do you want to be a Physician Associate?
It is important to be aware of what made you want to pursue a career in being a Physician Associate. When determining why you chose to enter this profession, you could think about a particular trigger or a series of events that stimulated an interest. For example, perhaps you were at hospital and treated by a particularly sympathetic or warm Physician Associate, or shadowed a PA during work experience who was an especially good teacher. Ensure that your reasoning is as genuine as possible, and reflects your passion for this profession, as this will impress the interviewer. You may also be asked why you have chosen to be a PA over other careers in healthcare, such as being a doctor or a nurse. Reasons could include the less scientific aspect of being a PA – it provides a route into healthcare and the treating of patients not entailing an extensive knowledge of physiology or pharmacology, for example. It is thus important to understand the roles of other healthcare professionals, as you would also be working with them in a multi-disciplinary team.
Be conscious of the role of a Physician Associate
Physician Associates are responsible for carrying out a variety of different roles in the healthcare setting, which can be a GP surgery or a hospital environment. Examples of tasks that are required to be completed by these physicians are as follows:
- Taking a history from a patient
- Performing a physical examination on a patient
- Diagnosing conditions
- Treating patients with long-term chronic illnesses
- Carrying out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
- Analysing test results
- Formulating management plants for patients
- Providing patients with advice on health promotion and disease prevention
In the interview, you may be asked about these roles, and even if not it is important to mention them, to highlight your knowledge of this profession.
Identify the skills required to be a Physician Associate, and demonstrate how you have shown them
There is an array of skills that are relevant to this profession – it is important to be aware of these, and provide examples of how you have displayed them. Communication is one that is imperative in this field, as it is in any healthcare profession. You will be interacting with patients on a daily basis, thus being able to effectively interact and engage with them is essential. Examples of how to practice communication include working in the hospitality industry, or during volunteering experiences. Essentially, discussing any opportunities in which you were required to talk to and help people highlights effective communication skills. Other important qualities needed in this profession include empathy, teamwork and commitment – try and draw on your experiences to think of when you have utilised these skills.
Research the university
There are many different ways to approach the question of why you have chosen this particular university. When answering this, it is important to consider both the course, and university life as a whole. For each interview, make sure to research the course the university is providing. Information that you should be aware of includes potential modules you may have, the structure of the course or the teaching style. In addition to this, you may want to think about any extracurricular activities you would be interested in at the university, to show that as well as the academic side, you would want to make the most out of university life. Often the student union website will have information on this – you should be able to look at the different societies and clubs available.
Be aware of the challenges of this profession
Any healthcare profession will have its difficulties. Caring for patients is a significant responsibility, and therefore requires both academic and emotional commitment. The training required is relatively extensive, for example, with the National Physician Associate Assessment being a particular challenge graduates face. Regarding treating patients, it is natural that – similarly to other clinicians - Physician Associates do form a relationship with patients, and often this can be difficult if the outcome is not positive. This can be emotionally demanding, and does require a degree of strength and resilience.
Keep updated on the current affairs in healthcare
You will be entering the healthcare profession; therefore, it is important that you have a good understanding of the NHS. This includes the structure of the healthcare system, but also any current affairs or topics that are relevant or affect the NHS. Furthermore, being aware of the fundamental principles of the healthcare system is vital. This includes the pillars of medical ethics – autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice – as well as the ‘6Cs’. These are a set of values required for all health and social care staff, and are as follows: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.
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