Key Networking Tips for Pre-PAs

Lessons from the first Pre-PA Virtual Mixer

Pre-PAs often come to AAPA seeking opportunities to connect with practicing PAs and PA students. Connecting directly with those who have been there and done that is a valuable way to gain insight into the PA profession, and potentially even open doors for opportunities in healthcare. But finding opportunities for professional networking can be daunting, especially for those who are still gaining experience and are early in their professional careers.

On December 6, AAPA hosted its first ever Pre-PA Virtual Mixer which aimed to connect future PA students with experienced AAPA members to pave their way to PA school success.

Communication is an essential skill for PAs that doesn’t always come easy. Event host Malatrice Montgomery, PA-C shared these tips on how to network and communicate with professionals, even as an introvert.

  • Get prepared before the event. Get ready to introduce yourself, your goals, and your motivations for becoming a PA.
  • Be authentic and present. Ask the person you are speaking with open-ended questions. For example, ask “How did you end up in that particular specialty?” or “What is the most rewarding part of your practice?”
  • Listen attentively, following up with curiosity and thoughtfulness. Go deeper into the conversation by following up on questions. For example, if you asked what PA program they attended, you could follow up by asking why they chose that program.

WATCH: Event host Malatrice Montgomery, PA-C shares tips on how to network and communicate with professionals, even as an introvert. (Video)
Members can access the full video recording here.

The event concluded with a thoughtful reflection on lessons learned. These are just a few of the key takeaways shared during the event:

CASPA Application Help:

  • Apply early. Don’t wait for the deadline.
  • Open an application now to explore! You don’t have to wait until your cycle.
  • CASPA fee waivers are real.
  • Break up the CASPA application by section to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Save everything that you write externally.

Financing your PA Education:

  • It’s never too early to start looking for scholarships.
  • Scholarships aren’t as rare as you might think. (Hint: Try NHSC, NCAA, NROTC, federal and state programs.)
  • Don’t be afraid of loans, but be aware of high interest rates.
  • You can always ask for more, but do not ask for too much.
  • Costs can stack up for supplementals and during clinical year. Make sure to save.

Gaining Healthcare and Patient Care Experience:

  • Connect with anyone and everyone.
  • Try your local chapters or constituent organizations.
  • Everything you do builds towards your experience as a PA.
  • The worst thing someone could tell you is “no.”
  • Experience can be gained in a volunteer setting, as well.
  • Prepare an elevator pitch for your personal introduction.

What to Expect in PA School:

  • Your growth during PA school will be tremendous. Be open to change.
  • Reading is essential, and memorization is too.
  • Practice time management and setting boundaries.
  • Nurture your relationships and take care of yourself.
  • Be flexible with your study habits. Learn how you study best.
  • During rough times, remember why you started.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.

Non-Traditional Pathways to PA-C:

  • Any experience can apply to being a PA. Understand how your experiences impact you as a PA.
  • There is no “traditional” PA.
  • Being “non-traditional” is more common than it seems.
  • Mentorship is key.
  • Do your best, don’t give up, and focus on your goals.