Picmonic Learning System

Physician Assistant: 7 Characteristics of an Awesome PA for 2021

Being a physician assistant is more than just showing up for school lectures, making fancy flashcards, and passing the PANCE (with maybe some help from Picmonic’s awesome visual study guides?). Being a PA is also about being in the right mindset for helping people. Aside from being able to recall your studies, working as a PA requires some strong personality traits and skills that will allow you to be the best version of yourself no matter what the day brings. Some characteristics will always be welcomed on the floor so we wrangled up seven of the most important traits that make for a successful physician assistant career.


Your are compassionate!It’s not surprising that one of the most important PA traits would be compassion. So much of your job is making sure people who aren’t feeling well and their family members are comfortable, treated fairly, and kept informed even when they’re not very nice. Having patience with your patients (no pun intended, but okay, a little bit pun intended) is key to having a long career as a great physician assistant.

Emotional Stability

Don't get stressed!It can get tough out there. Not everything will go well all the time. It will be stressful, especially on days you’re working with patients who are in critical condition and their family members who could get emotional about it. But, as a physician assistant, you can’t let that get to you. Do your best work and don’t let other people’s emotions shake your own. Stay level-headed and in control even when things are chaotic. This can be difficult, of course, but if you know what to look out for it’s easier to avoid.

Believes There’s No ‘I’ in Team…but Can Work Alone

Teamwork!While you will work in tandem with a physician most days, there may be times you work independently on patients. In these instances, you need to know how to work well on your own and have confidence in your decisions. However, more often than not you may find yourself working with a team of medical professionals and together you must find a way to bring your patients the best care available… ideally without arguing in front of them.

Dots the I’s

Dotting the I's and crossing the T'sDetail oriented people who can assess a problem quickly do very well as PAs. To effectively diagnose a problem, remembering your lessons from school is key. Did you know using Picmonic’s mnemonic study aids can help you recall up to 330% more than just studying with a textbook? That means when you see patients, you won’t miss a thing and you’ll get them on their way to feeling better in no time.

Adapts Like a Champ

Like a champ!Sometimes working in medicine requires rapid attention changes, relocating, and new responsibilities. That’s just how it works! A patient’s condition can change fast, leaving one plan on the floor and a new one being made up on the fly. The ability to adapt quickly to changes is a great attribute to have as a PA.


It takes bravery to be able to help people. Patients are often worried, as are their families, and you will be the one they look up to. You’re their Obi-Wan, if you will, and a lot of times you may end up seeing the patient more than their doctor, so don’t be afraid to make a note when you think something is wrong or even ask for assistance or a second set of eyes if you think you need it. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is ask someone for help.

Hard Working (synonymous with physician assistant)

Working hard!Working as a PA means you might have weird, wonky hours – and a lot of them. Having the want to work hard will make you an excellent PA. Your workload might be larger than you thought and you might be surprised by how physically and emotionally strenuous the job is, but having daily end goals will help you move through the day with purpose and poise.

Keeping these seven characteristics in mind will help you when you’re on rotations as a PA. Of course, to even become a PA you have to pass the PANCE. Sure, the test sounds scary, but with some help from Picmonic’s visual study aids you can ace the PANCE and be the best PA ever. Try it for free today!

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