Will I find a job as a PA after COVID?

Six months ago, this question wouldn’t have even been on my radar. Healthcare jobs in general have been on the rise for decades, and PAs continue to hold one of the top positions in regards to job outlook. 

But then COVID happened. And as horrible as it’s been to watch thousands lose their lives to this novel virus, including our healthcare colleagues, it’s also devastating to see the impact it’s had on PA and healthcare employment. 

In April alone, healthcare employment declined by 1.4 million jobs. About 448,000 of those were physician and other healthcare offices. The feedback I’m receiving from PAs, new grads, and our community online is not great. Positions are being furloughed, hours and pay are getting cut, and hiring freezes are in place. 

Here are a few comments I received on Instagram when I reached out about this topic: 

ENT PA in Chicago… furloughed for 8 weeks. Hoping to get back ASAP!

Practicing NP in Texas, I work outpatient in internal medicine and patient numbers have dropped tremendously in the past few weeks but we’re hoping numbers increase soon as the stay home orders are lifted. NPs and PAs are very much needed and while most places are not hiring right now, they will in the coming months. Stay hopeful new grads and congratulations!

PA with 12 years experience and poor/ironic timing of contract ending. Everyone seems to be on a hiring freeze… (Including leads from months ago). I’m sure it will rebound, but uncertain how quickly.

New grad in Salt lake City Utah, applied to over 20 positions right around when this all started. I heard back from one of them, got an interview, and signed my contract last week. I imagine over the next month I’ll start hearing from all the other positions, but who knows. I’m just grateful I got a job so quickly after graduation. I still have very high hopes for our field!

I graduated last August, it took me six months to find a job and moving about 1,200 away from home ( I am from South Florida which is saturated with APPs). Then 3 months of credentialing, and just now finally getting my license which was taking longer than expected to process due to delays caused by Covid-19. I am now starting a few weeks after my expected start date, which is fine because things can still be worse. I have a job and look forward to learning as much as I can in order to grow as a PA. I think there will be jobs out there, but one is going to have to widen their search. To new grads, keep your head up and continue to push through this uncertain time.

I just graduated and have been searching for jobs for a while now. I had an interview and was in contact with a few places before COVID hit, but all hiring processes were put on hold. Trying to expand my interests for now to get a job, but I’m hopeful that more jobs will be available over the next few months

Emergency Med PA, hours cut to 8 hour shifts and company on a hiring freeze to ensure the current PAs and MDs get enough hours to reach base pay.

I’m in NYC, just graduated Friday. Under normal circumstances 3/4 of my class would have been contracted before graduation. Now it’s only about 1/4. I have been applying to orthopedic and surgical position. I am getting interviews and advancing to the last stages however I am getting told that the hospitals are on a hiring freeze and they’re doing all these virtual interviews proactively. They can’t tell me when they would be contacting about the job I am applying for. It’s very difficult and frustrating. I understand everything that’s happening and fortunately my family has not been affected. It’s definitely concerning as a new grad because once there is this “surge” are they going to be willing to train a new grad? Will I get the salary I would have prior to covid? Very anxiety ridden times

Graduated in March and have not seen many job opportunities in KY. Since COVID-19 I never saw any new job postings until now. And they are SLOWLY appearing.

Set to graduate from pa school in July in Pittsburgh, Pa. There are hiring freezes and the process is slow here too.

Derm PA in Ohio, been working for almost a year. Our office had to close temporarily, and I’ve been furloughed for 8 weeks so far. The more senior providers are back, but volumes are low and new safety protocols are still being perfected. I hope to get back to work this summer. 

I’m in fam Med and I have had hours and pay reduced. It’s better than no job at all but wondering when it’ll get back to normal. There does seem to be more patients than during lock down but still low. It’s been about 1 month since the reduced schedule.

New grad in SoCal. Been STRUGGLING to find a single bite for jobs. Applied to well over 100. I have a possible urology job lined up but it’s a far drive. Better than nothing I guess?

New grad in Chicago. Began applying to jobs back in October before graduating and only once passing PANCE and getting my IL license did I start getting interviews, about February. Was in the midst of interviewing for 2 separate jobs in March when everything hit and all hiring was frozen. There have been basically no jobs being posted since mid March in Chicago.

These are only a few of the many comments I received.

For new PA grads, I know this has been a gut punch. It’s not what you had planned after graduating with thousands of dollars in student loan debt. 

Most people agree at some point, volume will start to pick up again as we start seeing patients who have been put on hold for non-urgent visits and procedures. We may even see a surge. 

We also know the physician shortage was present before COVID and will be present after. There is still a need for quality and affordable healthcare. PAs were and will continue to be part of the solution.

So what can you do now?

Remember why you’re here. You’ve worked this hard and your resilience will pay off. Don’t lose hope now. 

Know your resources. Particularly when it comes to your student loans and how repayment is affected. Check out this link for student loan FAQs.

Be patient, but be willing to stretch yourself. You may need to consider locations and specialties that weren’t on your radar pre-COVID. In most cases, having a job is better than not having one. Not always, so make sure you know what’s best for you. But know you may have to settle for something that isn’t your dream job if you want employment. Just remember, nothing is permanent. 

What do you do going forward? 

Learn from our mistakes. What I mean here is don’t think PAs or healthcare jobs are invincible. I admit I did. 

Save wisely for a rainy season such as this. I’m so thankful for having paid off my student loan debt early in my career. I don’t say that to brag, but I’m passionate about PAs having financial freedom from debt and today’s landscape is exactly why. 

Consider having a second stream of income to make yourself more financially stable and versatile. PRN jobs and side gigs are great for this. Did you know the average millionaire has seven streams of income? When one goes away, there are plenty to fall back on. I’m not saying you need seven jobs, but consider having more than one stream of income, even if it’s small. 

Lastly, trust yourself. If being a PA were easy, everyone would do it. It’s not easy to get here. You’re smart. You’re resourceful. You’ll get through this and figure it out. Just trust yourself. 

If I can help or answer questions in any way, feel free to contact me at rebekah@allthingspac.com

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