So many PAs I meet are unsatisfied with their careers.
I have met many a mid-level practitioner who has become entangled in a web of profit driven, incentivized by the numbers healthcare. They have forgotten why they became a PA, to begin with.
We all become PAs with a great desire to help people, but it often doesn't end that way.
PA Jekyll and Mr. Hide
The transformation happens sometime around graduation... Once the salary figures start being tossed around.
People change in ways I cannot even describe. It's all about competition, numbers, salaries and benefits. It is all about me and less about what all your wonderful skills can do to help your patients.
This is why you went into medicine. I challenge you never to forget this.
We can all succumb to social pressures, and after a while when money and profit run dry we are left unsatisfied.
This level of dissatisfaction is measured by the degree to which you have succumbed to another pressure in life:
Social Pressures to Conform
This counterforce can be very powerful, you want to fit into a group. Unconsciously you feel that what makes you different is embarrassing or painful. Your parents often act as a counterforce as well. They may seek to direct you to a career path that is lucrative and comfortable.
If these counterforces become strong enough you can lose complete contact with your uniqueness, the reason you went into medicine, who you really are.
Your inclinations and desires become modeled on those of others. This can set you off on a very dangerous path, you end up choosing a career path that does not really suit you, your desire and interest slowly wane and your work suffers for it.
You come to see pleasure and fulfillment as something that comes from outside of work.
Because you are increasingly less engaged in your career you fail to pay attention to changes going on in the field, you fall behind the times and pay a price for this.
At moments when you must make important decisions you flounder or follow what others are doing because you have no sense of your inner radar or direction to guide you. You have broken contact with your destiny, the one you aspired to when you started PA school.
At all cost, you must avoid such a fate! The process of following your life task all the way to mastery can begin at any point in life.
The hidden force that drove you into a career in medicine, into this career as a physician assistant is always in you and ready to be engaged.
Three Steps to Realign With Your Goals as a Physician Assistant
First: Connect or reconnect with your inclinations.
The first step is inward, search the past for your inner voice, clear away the voices that confuse you such as parents or peers, look for an underlying pattern, a chord to your character that you must understand as deeply as possible.
Second: With this connection established you must look at the career path you are already on or about to begin.
The choice of this path or redirection of it is critical. To help in this stage you will need to enlarge your concept of work itself.
Too often we make a separation of this in our lives. There is work and then there is life outside of work where we find real pleasure and fulfillment. Work is often seen as a means for making money so that we can enjoy that second life that we lead. Even if we derive some satisfaction from our careers we still tend to compartmentalize our lives in this way. This is a depressing attitude because in the end, we spend a substantial part of our waking life at work.
If we experience this time as something to get through on the way to "real pleasure" than our hours at work represent a tragic waste of the short time we have to live. Instead, aim to see your work as part of something more inspiring as part of your "vocation." Your work is connected deeply to who you are, not a separate compartment in your life. If you do this you will develop a true sense of vocation!
Third: You must see your career or vocational path more as a journey with twists and turns rather than a straight line.
Choose a position that corresponds to your inclinations. Make a living and establish some confidence. Once on this path, you will discover other side paths that. Eventually, you will hit upon a field that suits you perfectly.
You will recognize it when you find it because it will spark that childlike sense of wonder and excitement, it will feel right. Once found everything will fall into place, you will learn more quickly and deeply, your skill level will reach a point where you will be able to declare your independence from within the group you work for and move out on your own.
In a world in which there is so much, we cannot control this will bring you the ultimate form of power. You will determine your circumstances, you will be the PA you wanted to be when you first visualized the stethoscope hanging around your neck.
Whatever you do, don't be a PA sellout. Be who you know you are called to be deep inside. If we do this we can transform the PA profession from just a career to the one place in medicine where patients, not profits, come first.
We transform our profession into a vocation, the way it should be!
Podcast (thepalife): Download (5.1MB) | Embed
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Email | RSS
You may also like -
Download Your FREE 300 PA School Interview Questions and Answers Workbook
Sign up below to receive your free 65 page 300 PA school interview questions and answers workbook.
Thank you for writing the article. I went into medicinie for the reasons you mention and graduated over 20 years ago. My entire career has been working where I said I wanted to work during my interview into PA school: “to work in the underserved community I grew up in”. Collegues have asked throughout the years, “do you still work at …?” In my younger years I could feel embarrased to admit I did work for the same organization year after year after year.. I feared they would think I had “settled”. But no I did not settle and I am doing what I set out to do. Thank you for putting it into words for me: “I have not sold out”. Lupe
I think a lot of people confuse growth with constant motion. You can grow exponentially at a single job that is challenging and has opportunities for learning. In fact I think you can be much more productive and effective.
I have been at the same community health center for 9 years now and I am realizing (like yourself) that I could probably end my career here. In health care continuity of care trumps almost everything. After 20 years at an organization I am sure you have developed a close bond with your patients. This understanding is worth more than the entirety of Harrison’s Textbook of Medicine. So you have not sold out, you have sold “in”… I still like the family medical model: That a home, both in medicine and in life… is where the heart is!
Best of luck, and keep up the awesome work!!!