New Graduate Syndrome
I feel obligated to warn you. I normally don't use this blog
for public service announcements but I learned of a disorder that all of you
will suffer from, if you haven't already. The good news: it doesn't last
forever and there is a treatment.
I am talking about New Graduate Syndrome (NGS). It affects
men and women of all ages after graduation from physician assistant school and
it is debilitating. The etiology of NGS is multifactorial and can vary in each
situation. However, most experts agree that it stems, in part, from No State
License Dysfunction (NSLD).
This primary pathology typically occurs early in the PA's
career but can also emerge later in life during geographic relocations. PAs
suffering from primary NSLD experience the inability to touch patients, perform
procedures or write prescriptions. In most cases, new PAs are unable to begin
work and collect a paycheck. One recent retrospective study linked this
disorder to an increased consumption of Ramen noodles.
A more severe form of New Graduate Syndrome occurs as a
result of No Physician Assistant National Certification Exam. Those with No
PANCE suffer further frustration and social stigma. New graduates who lack the
"-C" at the end of their credentials find they are easily mistaken for cities
and towns in Pennsylvania. For example, I spent a month explaining to confused
travelers that I am a person and not the city of Harrisburg, PA. No PANCE can
be treated by the administration of the national exam, though these treatments
cost nearly $500 each.
Even when No PANCE is successfully treated, the process is
far from over. No State License Dysfunction typically lasts for months while
PAs endure the lengthy therapy. This consists of a series of forms, notaries,
references, notaries for the references, background checks, fingerprinting and
Even when NSLD goes into remission (for only two years in my
state, after which time another round of therapy is needed), NGS rages on. PAs
working at hospitals will continue to experience symptoms until they receive privileging
or credentialing at their place of employment. This takes more applications and
forms leading to sequelae like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from excessive
Luckily, your future employer is in the business of treating
illness and disability. Many are willing to take in New Graduate Syndrome sufferers.
Good employers will reimburse fees for exams and applications. Great employers
will take you by the hand through the intimidating process. Excellent employers
will pay you while you orient to your new setting and await the completion of
all of these therapies.
I suggest finding an employer who specifically wants someone
with New Graduate Syndrome. Like many genetic disorders, there is an
evolutionary advantage to NGS in spite of all of the symptoms. New grads come
without previous habits, tendencies or clinical bias. They are easily molded by
their clinical environment and tend to adjust quickly to their setting. They
come directly from training and national board certification with the most
current and up-to-date knowledge. Employers who recognize this will deal with
the trouble of NGS in order to train the perfect PA for their position.