Dermatology Medical Assistant to PA Student

I worked as a Derm MA for a few months before PA School started! It was a strange and unexpected blessing that came by way and I’m glad I have from derm experience because it’s proven itself quiet helpful in family medicine.

How did you get the job as a dermatology MA? Is there any credentialing/additional schooling? 

Funny story- I was at a PA school interview when I learned of the job. The girl in my interview group was from the same area as I was from and I got to know her. She herself, worked as a Derm MA and told me the practice was expanding to my hometown and was looking to hire. During this time, I was waitlisted at a school hadn’t heard back from another, AND I had graduated and moved back home. Basically, my life was in limbo and I had 0 control on where I would end up or what would happen essentially.  I got the office manager’s email, sent in my resume, and interviewed. Then viola, got hired.

What did you do?

Medical// I would bring patients into the room, get their chief complaint, HPI, and ROS. Then I would present to the dermatologist. Eventually, she would ask me what my  diagnosis was, and my treatment plan! It was really good preparation to start thinking of differentials before I started PA school. I would go into the room with the patient with her and document things on the EMR as she went through her physical exam, as well as the diagnosis and treatments. After the visit, she looked over the note and added things I missed, and sign off on orders and prescriptions.

Procedures// I assisted in shave and punch biopsies, cyst removals, desiccation and curettage for skin cancers, and the occasional Mohs procedure. I would also prep the patients for these procedures by administering lidocaine as well as draping the patient.

What were your hours?

Monday-Friday, 9-5 typically. On the days of Mohs procedure, the times would be a little different, based on when the surgeries were scheduled.

How did you balance work and school? Were you involved in anything else? 

This question doesn’t really apply since I was graduated. I was working as an EMT-B at nights, but I quit afterwards because the 12 hour shifts were killing my sleep and functionality in the mornings.

How did it help you before PA School (insights, application, interviews)?

The dermatologist I worked under was also chief resident of her class! Needless to say, she LOVED to teach. The way she taught it to me made me love dermatology in a way I didn’t expect. It was really great experience to get exposed to procedures and learn more about the clinical side of medicine instead of the pre-hospital setting I was accustomed to. It taught me about rapport, follow ups, and the importance of sunscreen! Overall, I feel the experience I gained made me a more well-rounded applicant. It gave me more patient contact, shadowing, knowledge, as well as way to continue to build my application if I didn’t get in the first time.

How has it helped you in PA school (didactic and rotations)? 

Didactic// We had a dermatology course and so working in derm definitely helped!

Rotation// I think being exposed to EMR has helped me feel more comfortable with the EMR at my rotation. Yes, every computer system is different, but it’s nice knowing you’ve done something similar before, and you can do it again. It’s way less daunting for sure.

What was your favorite part?

Discussing interesting cases with the dermatologist and giving samples! Not only is she a genius, she had wonderful bedside manners and generous with the samples.

Do you have any tips for pre-pa students? 

I think any hands-on, healthcare experience is great experience! You never know when it’ll come into play and help you in the future! I think it’s about getting your feet wet and seeing where life takes you. If you have an opportunity to work in a speciality that you don’t know much about or not interested in, I say GO FOR IT! You’ll learn so many different skills that will help you be a better provider and be enriched with knowledge.

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