How we’re developing the next generation of physician assistants

For anyone looking to change careers, questions abound. Am I making the right decision? Will going back to school full-time pay off? What’s my dream job really like day to day? For MD Anderson employees looking to become physician assistants (PA), the answers are close at hand, because the institution has a team of mentors ready to share their experiences and guide current employees through the PA school application process. “The application process for PA school is selective and difficult. Only about a third of the applicants are accepted,” says Jocelyn Mitchell, who worked as a research assistant before linking up with a PA mentor. Mitchell is now a PA in MD Anderson’s Gastrointestinal Center.   “With a mentorship program like this, we’re helping aspiring PAs stand out during the application process and be successful in their new chosen field,” she says. Physician assistants: a growing profession MD Anderson’s physician assistant mentoring program began in 2013, as clinics were growing — and with them, the need for more advance practice providers. Today, MD Anderson employs 325 PAs – more than any other organization in the U.S. – and the growth continues. “It can be hard to find enough qualified candidates for all of our PA openings,” says Katie DeLucia, associate director in the PA office. “We began this program as a way to recruit from within and guide employees who want the opportunity for growth to get degrees and come back to MD Anderson as practicing physician assistants.” Each mentee is assigned a current PA as their mentor, and they meet monthly to discuss the mentee’s application to PA...