In the world of healthcare, Robert Blumm is highly respected as one of the original PAs. Still practicing full time in his New York office, his commitment to the field has never wavered; he’s witnessed firsthand the evolution and advancement of the profession over 44 years while advocating across the nation.
As he begins to contemplate his ensuing retirement, Blumm has shown a fervent desire to aid those just embarking upon their career. If you’re currently considering a career in healthcare or just getting your start as a budding PA, there’s no one better equipped to prepare you for what lies ahead than Robert Blumm.
After almost half a century in the field, Robert Blumm is one of America’s most experienced and most respected PA. Starting out in the post-war era following Vietnam, Blumm blazed the trail for a new profession that had never before existed in traditional medicine. When Duke University implemented the first ever PA program, Blumm’s extensive training and experience as a combat medic allowed him to skip the schooling altogether; he was grandfathered into the profession in 1972.
Today, Blumm’s days are spent seeing patients, writing textbooks, and working as an advocate for the PA profession. Traveling the nation, Blumm speaks at 40 events each year; sharing his life lessons and professional experience while helping both new and experienced PAs to sharpen their skill set.
What You Need to Know- According To Blumm:
- Be ready for some serious schooling.
PAs can come from a number of different medical backgrounds; nurses, EMTs, and radiology technicians wishing to further their career are all drawn to the field. You must have prior medical experience, in some cases up to 2000 hours, before you can even be accepted into an accredited PA program, and most programs demand that you come in with a 3.78-4.0 GPA.After three years of schooling (one didactic year and two years of rotations), you are eligible to take the PANCE, a 300-question test administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). In 1o years, Blumm believes that PAs will be required to matriculate through a doctoral program as the profession continues to evolve.
- You can have a life outside of work.
Today, 70% of PAs are female. According to Blumm, many of these women may have chosen to become physicians but were conflicted with their personal desire to have a family and a life outside of their career. “As a physician, that’s just not possible,” he continues. Unlike doctors, PAs can work a standard 40-hour workweek while performing 90% of a physician’s scope of work. With 20% of primary care physicians forecasted to leave their specialty by 2020 due to federal guidelines affecting pay rate and excessive paperwork, PAs will continue to be in demand for many years to come.
- You must never stop learning.
Blumm believes that today’s students are the best and the brightest, but there’s no substitute for experience in the field. While education is a guideline, experience is an intuitive, automatic response that only kicks in after many years of practice. “Keep learning every day. It takes three lifetimes to become a good PA.”
- Getting a job is easy.
The laws of supply and demand currently give new PAs the upper hand in the job market. But, while you may be in demand, don’t let it go to your head. New PAs should be confident but never egocentric in interviews. While it’s perfectly okay to confidently negotiate when offered a position, be mindful of your demeanor, and remember that interviews don’t end until the hiring paperwork is complete.
- Choose your specialty wisely.
New PAs should start in a hospital or primary care position to develop a comprehensive understanding of the field. As you decide what you want to specialize in, you can make lateral transitions based on your preferences and your unique skills. “Be mindful that you are always being observed,” adds Blumm. If a plastic surgeon sees that you have a good demeanor in working with patients and are highly skilled in ER suturing, he/she may approach you with a job opportunity.
- At times, you will feel like the copilot.
Blumm went into the profession at a much different time in medical history, and he was prepared to take the backseat as a PA. As education advanced, however, newer PAs realized their curriculum was only twelve academic hours less than a physician’s and began wanting equitable treatment. After seven years of practice, PAs may have trained in every aspect of primary care and want the same (or similar) respect as their collaborating physicians. In some scenarios, you may feel like the copilot, but the profession is always changing.Currently, the AAPA, state and specialty groups are working with Congress, state senators, and medical societies to help bring about significant change within the field. While some people believe that independent practice is a dream, Blumm believes that in the next five years a majority of PAs will be practicing independently.
Why Become a PA?
If you value the ability to make a true difference in the world and are able to demonstrate empathy, the PA career may be right for you. Throughout the course of his lengthy and accomplished career, Blumm says that he’s never had a boring day. “Every day is exciting.” What more could you ask for?