PA Salary / Interview Info

When I first interviewed and negotiated for my salary, I had absolutely no idea what to ask for. So I’m compiling a list of questions that will be good to have on hand before your first interview!

Check out these relevant posts as well:

  1. New Grad Job FAQ (in this one I interview classmates and how they got their jobs)
  2. My Journey Getting a Job as a PA
  3. PA-C New Grad Job FAQ

Okay let’s get to it! This post is geared specifically toward family medicine as that is my specialty, though I’m sure some of it also applies to other realms of medicine.

There are so many ways beyond salary that you can monetize. And this doesn’t specifically mean values in a paycheck. Time, mental health, and work life balance are incredibly important in healthcare, especially when the burnout rates are so high.

Salary/benefits questions:

  • Are RVUs available and how often do providers receive these incentives throughout the year? What is the average made by a PA when in a fully ramped up schedule?
    • note: at my job, I do not track RVUs. This is done through billing. I am, however, responsible for doing my own billing. May be useful to ask if this is expected of you in your job?
  • How long does it typically take to start seeing RVUs? Can you give me an idea of how many patients I’ll be seeing in a day to start making RVUs?
    • note: someone sent a message that said “My productivity bonus would kick in after about 23, 99214 visits per 9 hour day.”
      • Note: a 99214 visit is one where you’re prescribing medication, spending >30 min on a patient or they were pretty complex (has a new complaint with a potential for significant morbidity if untreated or misdiagnosed, has three or more old problems). If you are expected to see 23 patients a day, and most 99214 visits take 30 minutes, that’s a 11.5 hours work day, not a 9 hour work day.
  • Are bonuses available for PAs?
    • note: bonuses and RVUs are different. In my clinic, only MDs make bonuses. PAs get RVUs based on productivity. May be useful to clarify that in the interview process.
  • What are the matching contributions to retirement funds, ie 403b and 401k?
    • note: I went over my benefits with my financial advisor and am so glad I did. Q+A with her in this post.
  • What is PTO like? What holidays will I be expected to work? Are holidays considered part of PTO (ie does holiday time automatically come out of my PTO time) or are they separate? If I don’t use all of my PTO can I cash any of it out?
  • Is sick time considered part of PTO or is it separate?
  • What do you give for CME compensation?
  • If I plan to stay in this job long-term, what should I expect for annual raise. Can you give me an idea of what a 0-1 year PA makes vs a 4-5 year?
  • If there is a bulk increase in starting salary, how will I be factored into this?
    • For example, when I started working, there was a PA who had been there for 2.5 years who started when the starting salary for new grad PAs was around $85K. When I started working, this value had been adjusted and my starting was ~$92K.  This means she was only making slightly more than me in base pay despite having 2.5 more years of experience under her belt!!

Mental health/time questions:

  • Do you have a model in place to help prevent provider burnout?
  • I see the posted contracted hours are ____. Is this realistic with what most providers are putting in?
    • note my contracted hours are: 8-5 with an hour for lunch break. I usually work through lunch catching up on notes and stay until 6pm to finish up seeing patients and writing notes.
  • What speciality care is available? Are e-consults available?
    • this is HUGE! Especially if your scope of practice is so broad and you have to know a little about a lot. Like a lot, lot, lot. I recently listened to a podcast that noted family med providers use 800+ ICD-10 codes. That scope of practice is incredibly vast and it’s nice to have resources when you get stuck or have a very niche question. Knowing what specialty resources are available to you is a great question to have. My job has something called “e-consults” where we can send a question to a cardiologist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist, dermatologist and they’ll chart review and get back to your question. It’s great!!
  • What is the work flow for MyChart messages and results?
    • Not every system uses Epic, but it’s a common EMR. If you don’t use Epic ask which EMR that office uses and if there is a portal where patients communicate with the care team. In family medicine, technically patients can reach care teams at any time. There’s a lot of extra work beyond seeing patients, including responding to these messages and doing result calls. At my clinic, nursing helps with these messages which saves a ton of time and is super helpful! It’s useful to know what the expectations are and if you will have any assistance with that part of the patient care process.
  • When others in the clinic are away, what are expectations for coverage?
    • In my clinic, PAs work on care teams with MDs. The expectations is that PAs cover for MDs when they’re away. If the PA isn’t available MDs will ask others, but first line of coverage is typically PAs.
  • What is allotted for admin time?
    • admin time is when you do all the extra stuff! messages, results, forms, referrals, connecting with specialists, returning calls, etc!
  • Are there other tasks in the office that PAs are responsible for?
    • In my clinic, PAs are tasks with signing prior authorizations. Important to ask what exactly is in your job description beyond direct patient care.
  • Is there any form of asynchronous work that’s part of the job title?
    • In my clinic, there is a support provider of the day that is usually a PA. This person gets extra things sent to them that need more urgent attention – think: med refills, consulting with nursing about triage calls, signing forms – really anything that comes in for the day, even if the patient is not on your schedule and you don’t work on the team of the patient’s PCP. This is considered “asynchronous” as it takes away from your scheduled patient care. It’s good to know if this is included in your workflow as it is extra work!
  • Are there opportunities for me to expand or change my practice within this company?
    • The grind of family med is the repetition. It’s wonderful but hugely draining and the burnout rate is ridiculously high. What seems to work well for providers in my clinic is variety. Some MDs rotate through internal medicine, some precept the residency program, some also work as OB providers, and some do a session a week at our reproductive health clinic. This obviously looks different for PAs. I’m hoping to start group visits which will take up a session. A few other PAs in the clinic do a session at a neurology botox clinic doing injections for migraine. And one PA does a session in an ortho clinic that’s available specifically for back pain. Variety is the key to longevity!

For new grads:

  • What is the ramp up process like? What is the timeline that is expected of me to be fully ramped up? (my process here)
  • Is it common to set up weekly meetings with supervising physicians to review complex patients or are they typically too busy for that?
  • Are there dedicated team meetings with the entire care team for wrap-around patient care?
  • Will I have the opportunity to learn new procedures in this job? If so, will I be allowed to block time in my schedule for learning or is that expected to occur on my own time?

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