Entries Tagged as 'PA Life'

Beauty Seminars: April 30th and May 1st

posted on: April 18, 2014

So many patients will ask me, “When should I start worrying about my face?.  My answer: “It’s never too early to start.” But WHERE do you start? You would not believe some of the BS my patients are told by the sales girl at their local beauty store/cosmetic counter about skin care and procedures. I will be separating fact from fiction for you.

I’m doing two beauty seminars soon to teach you everything you need to know about various cosmeceutical products, sunscreens, chemical peels, Botox, Fillers, Micropen Treatments, Dermaplaning, leg vein treatments, pore size treatment, wrinkle treatments, laser treatments for brown spots, acne, blood vessels and much more!

I’ve broken up my beauty seminars into age groups (because someone in their 20’s is going to be focused on different treatments than someone in their 50’s.)

If you are in the Upland area come and see me!

Register Here:

Beauty Seminar: Wednesday, April 30th. Anti-aging in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s

Beauty Seminar: Thursday, May 1st: Anti-aging in your 50’s and 60’s+


Daily Thank You Cards

posted on: April 11, 2014

With the invention of emails and text messages I find a hand-written thank you note to be a breath of fresh air and is always a nice surprise. One of my New Years Resolutions was to write a thank you note to one person daily. I found it was a little difficult to keep up on the weekends so I modified it to Monday-Friday when I’m at the office. Like most things in life, establishing a routine has helped me keep on track. I arrive to my office 10 minutes early and start my morning off by getting a note finished first thing in the morning. This is to ensure I don’t forget about it once the hustle and bustle of the day gets going and it puts me in a good mood.

In the beginning, I must admit it was hard to think of 5 people a week to “thank” but once I got a few weeks under my belt it was actually pretty easy. Now, when I say thank you note it’s not a traditional “thank you for my gift…” kind of thing. I like to think of them as appreciation or affirmation notes. I send many cards to my patients. While a patient may come in for a simple rash, often times they will share very intimate details about their life including recent deaths in the family, hardships with sick family members, financial struggles and other general stresses in life. I think people just need to vent sometimes to a neutral party. I will often send these patients a note of encouragement letting them know I am thinking about them.

In addition to my patients I have sent cards to people like my dry cleaner, hair dresser, daughter’s preschool teacher, etc… In any line of work people are so quick to point out any negatives and less often praising positive work that you do. Writing a thank you note is a simple way to show gratitude to those who have made a difference in your life. It also allows me to feed my obsession for cute stationary 🙂


Hand written letter vs email

Tips On Getting Into PA School: Part 2- Paid Hands-On Experience

posted on: March 18, 2014

PA Orthopedic Rotation Ortho

Orthopedic rotation during PA school at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center where I put my Cast Tech knowledge to good use

So you decided you want to go to PA school? Well between trying to finish your pre-requesits, get some volunteer experience, pay your bills and manage your ever-shrinking social life these PA programs expect you to somehow get your “hands-on” paid working experience where you work directly with patients. You start to do your research and start pulling your hair out when you realize almost all paid hand-on jobs require some sort of extra schooling, certificate or licence. How are you suppose to squeeze that in with your current schedule? Well I’m here to give you a few ideas about what kinds of jobs are out there for Pre-PA students.

{every state is different when it comes to licensing requirements and the amount of schooling to complete these programs, make sure you check with your state for exact laws and requirements. These are only a few jobs that can get you that paid hands-on experience. If you’ve had luck with another type of job let us know about it by leaving a comment below}

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)– Commonly employed in nursing homes or in a hospital setting, take vital signs, collects specimens for medical tests, assist with personal hygiene and feeding of patients who need assistance. Schooling time: 6 weeks (full time) to 4 months (part time). Pros: Short schooling and usually pretty easy to find a job. Cons: This is a tough job. I worked as a CNA for 2 1/2 months the summer after my Freshman year.  As a CNA in a nursing home you are responsible for getting your patients ready for the day, bathing, getting dressed, feeding, ect… For me this was “back-breaking” work often with a large patient load.

Phlebotomist- People trained to draw blood from a patient for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research. Schooling Time: 4 weeks- 4 months. Pros: Short schooling, usually easy to find job. Cons: Limited variety of medical treatments observed.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)- EMTs are clinicians trained to respond quickly to emergency situations such as medical issues, traumatic injuries and accident scenes. Often employed by ambulance services, hospitals, fire departments, schools, etc… Schooling Time: 3 weeks-4months. Pros: Exciting variety in medical situations you will be exposed to. Cons: Not for the faint of heart, involved in traumatic and emergency situations.

Medical Assistant (MA)- Typically work in a doctors office, check-in patients, take vitals, preform injections, handle instruments, collect specimens for lab testing, etc… Schooling Time: 6-9 months Pros: works directly with a physician/PA and is exposed to a variety of medicine. Cons: Long schooling process. Can be difficult to find part-time Medical Assistant jobs. *you can sometimes find a MA job without a certificate if they are willing to train you. I was able to do this. Check with your state for specific regulations. 

Medical Scribe- A Medical Scribe is essentially a personal assistant to the physician/PA performing electronic dictation and gathering information for the patient’s visit. Schooling Time: 1-4 months. Pros: Literally see everything the practioner sees, you become very familiar with medical terminology. Cons: Not exactly “hands-on” as you are not touching patients but most PA programs accept this as paid hands-on experience.

Elderly Caregiver- Help the elderly in their own homes with taking medications, daily hygiene, running errands, etc… Schooling Time: CPR Course; 1 day.  Pros: No schooling necessary. Flexible part-time or full-time work. Cons: Not as “medical” as other jobs.

Cast Technologist- Works in a hospital or private office setting with an orthopedic surgeon applying casts to patients. In an office setting you work as a medical assistant but also apply casts. I am partial to this job because this I worked as a cast tech for a year between undergrad and PA school. Schooling: 1-3 day casting work shop + possible medical assistant schooling requirement. Pros: FUN job (if you like hands on stuff). I loved casting, working with my hands, cutting of casts , etc… While I currently work in Derm I have always found Orthopedics so interesting. Cons: Limited job availability.

My best advice is not to wait for one of these jobs to pop up on craigslist or monster. Network, pound the pavement and get your name out there! Get your resume in tip-top shape but also provide a cover letter indicating you are a pre-pa student and are highly motivated for the job and why YOU are the best one for the job (even if you have zero experience). I was able to find a Cast Tech job, zero experience and they knew I’d likely be leaving in a year. I did that by networking. Many medical jobs are not posted anywhere. While you may only get 1-2 call backs from dropping off 100+ resumes you only need that one job to get that experience you need.

Tips On Getting into PA School: Part 1

posted on: March 3, 2014

USC Keck white coat ceremony Physician Assistant PA{Me and the hubby at my White Coat Ceremony in 2007}

I’ve had a lot of inquiries by Pre-PA students on tips on getting into PA school. I’m no expert on PA program admissions but I applied and got in so I must have done something right. Since graduating I’ve mentored about 2 pre-pa students per year and have a 100% on their acceptance rate, so here are some tips that can be helpful in getting you into PA school.

Narrow down the programs you’re going to apply to. Every program has different requirements for their applicants including class prerequisites, minimal number of hands-on hours, volunteer hours, etc… One program may require Spanish while the next requires Genetics. Knowing what prerequisites you’re up against will help you better plan your class schedule. You would hate to either take an extra year to wait to apply because you have to take one more class or not applying to a program because you’re missing a class or two.

Line up those paid hands-on medical hours. Even if a program does not “require” hands-on hours it will make you a much more competitive candidate if you do have them. I think this is the hardest part of applying to PA school. Most states require some sort of license or certificate to work in an “hands-on” capability. This is can be frustrating because on-top of working on your bachelors degree you have to find time to squeeze in more schooling to get a license for a profession that you’re only planning on using for a short time. Common hands-on jobs PAs have prior to attending PA school include: EMT, Phlebotomist, Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Physical Therapy Assistant, etc… I recommend researching these professions and seeing if the classes will fit in your school schedule or your summers off. I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant and a Cast Tech for an Orthopedic Surgeon prior to PA school. I’ll give some more information about how I got those jobs in a future post.

Don’t forget to Volunteer. In addition to having paid hand-on medical hours having medical volunteer hours will make you a more competitive candidate. Luckily these are easier to obtain than paid hands-on hours. Most hospitals have volunteer programs that easily satisfy this requirement. It is better to have a weekly, ongoing volunteer commitment vs just picking up a few hours here and there. I started volunteering HERE in high school as a junior volunteer and racked up over 300 hours with my weekly 3 hour shifts. I volunteered in pediatrics and loved every minute of it. I mostly played with the patients, brought them toys and video games, did paperwork and other odds and ends. When I went away to college I was able to get a volunteer position at St John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. I really wanted to work in the ER and the only weekly shift they had open was Fridays from 4- 7pm. So every Friday afternoon I trekked my way through LA traffic to put in my time. I learned so much during these short 3 hours shifts. My favorite tip I learned from an RN there was that if you have a patient that was pretty stinky you can soak a washcloth in Listerine Mouth Wash and put it next to their bedside and the room smells minty fresh. Such a simple fix! In addition to these weekly commitments I found various health fairs, medical conferences and weekend medical missionary trips to Mexico to add some variety to volunteering experience.

Look for Pre-PA programs. There are a programs that are focused on giving pre-pa students the ability to work directly with Physician Assistants and witness first what exactly a PA does. The program I am most familiar with is the Physician Assistant Helper Program at LAC+USC. This amazing program allows you to work with PAs at LA County Hospital in the ER. While I applied and was accepted into this program I had finished my undergrad and got a job with an Orthopedic Surgeon near my parents house so I decided to move home and take the job there. The hour commute to LAC+USC did not work with the open shifts. I do know many people who volunteered with this program and have told me that it was such a wonderful experience. Do some research and see if any of your local hospitals or PA programs have something like this.

Are you a PA or currently in PA School? Comment below with your advice for Pre-PA students!

Next Week Look For: Tips on Getting into PA School Part 2- How to really get that paid hand-on medical experience

Our little guy is 1!

posted on: February 20, 2014

Where does the time go? I cannot believe it was a year ago when I was sitting on my couch and my husband looked at me and asked, “what do you want for your 30th birthday?” I told him pretty directly “to have this baby” (oh, last month of pregnancy why are you so difficult?) He may have been 2 days late but he was the best birthday present a girl could ask for. My sweet little Drew is now one years old and and like everyone says, the time is just flying by. Being a mom is one of the toughest jobs a person can have, but it’s rewarding, oh so rewarding. I don’t think I’ve slept more than 6 hours straight in over 4 years between pregnancy insomnia, midnight feedings, potty training and everything in-between, but when I get an open mouth kiss from Drew or when Elle runs up to me and give me “huggies” and tells me, “mom, I love you so much” all of the exhaustion and frustration just seems to melt away. I cannot imagine my life any other way at this point. Let’s see what this next year has in store for us 🙂

mother son balloon birthday picture

elle daughter picture  mother son sunset picture

denim toddler girl picture

Brother sister blue eyes tutu

brother sister firetruck picturePhotos by: Lori Dorman

My experience as a Sorority Advisor

posted on: February 17, 2014

It all began over 10 years ago when I was a freshman at Loyola Marymount University. As a freshman, I wanted to meet more friends and ended up joining a sorority, Alpha Phi, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had my fun in college attending sisterhood events like the Price is Right, exchanges and formals. If you were ever in a sorority you know there is so much more than just activities with fraternity men. I was highly involved in service and our philanthropic event Aphiasco, a live and silent auction benefiting the Alpha Phi Foundation which raises awareness for women’s cardiac health. I also held the position of New Member educator (aka pledge mom) in charge of teaching new members about the values and rich history of our organization.  After graduation I started graduate school and got married. While my life was hectic being in the depths of PA school and being a newlywed I still felt like my life was missing something. I reached out to the Executive Office of Alpha Phi to see about volunteer positions. They let me know that there was a position open at my Alma Matter for a Recruitment Advisor. While I never held a recruitment position while an undergrad I thought it would be a good fit knowing my love for crunching numbers, extracting data and all around event and party planning. It was different enough from medicine to give me that “break” I desired. Now 5 years later with 4 recruitments under my belt I couldn’t imagine my life without being involved in Alpha Phi. I have met so many amazing women from across the country, traveled around the country for various conferences, conventions and meetings. I have most recently been involved with The Alpha Phi Foundation’s Take Heart, Take Part initiative to train 20,000 women life saving CPR. It’s a fun way that I have been able to incorporate my medical knowledge into my Alpha Phi volunteer work. While I have adjusted the amount of time I volunteer after having my 2 kids I still find time for Alpha Phi because I love it so much.  I’ve cut down on my out of town trips and find my self doing more conference calls versus in person meetings or working on things after my kids are asleep. My husband did think I was a little crazy when I took my 3 week old son to recruitment last year and still oversaw things all weekend (hey, you don’t sleep during recruitment or with a newborn so it worked out pretty well).  I believe whether you work, you’re a mom, or in school, taking that extra time to volunteer with an organization which you firmly believe in brings so much fulfillment to your life. It could be a sorority, a charity, your kid’s school, your church, etc… Sure, life is hectic, being a working mom I get it. For me, taking those few hours a week to do something I truly enjoy makes a world of difference in feeling a little more complete.


USC Alpha Phi CPR TrainingCPR Training at USC Alpha Phi


Alpha Phi Advisor of the yearAmazing moment being awarded Outstanding Advisory Board at the Alpha Phi Convention 2012


LMU Alpha Phi Recruitment Loyola Marymount University Alpha Phi during this past spring’s recruitment


How to Survive an ER Visit (Especially With a Child)

posted on: January 20, 2014


My make-up bag providing Drew about 30 minutes of entertainment

I’m writing this post as I’m laying in a gurney at my local ER while my 1 year old sleeps on my chest. While I currently work in a Dermatology office I’ve had a little bit of ER experience. During my 4 years of undergrad I volunteered weekly at a very busy Los Angeles emergency room. We saw everyone from Movie stars to 12 year old gang members. During PA school I also did an Emergency Room rotation. After sitting here for a few hours with my little guy I realized there are a few things that can make your ER visit just a little bit easier. Hopefully you will never need to use these but if that time comes here are some tips to make your ER visit as tolerable as possible.

1. Don’t even think about looking at the clock. An ER visit takes a LONG time. Even something very simple will cost you at least a few hours there. The first nurse you see will be the triage nurse. She is evaluating each patient deciding who should be seen first in order of severity. While you may have been there for an hour already, they may take the person who got there 5 minutes ago first because they need attention first. Once you get back in a room it still takes a long time to see the doctor, get tests ordered, get medications etc…

2. Your Nurse is your friend. You will be assigned a nurse that will be with you throughout your visit. The doctor/PA/NP will come examine you, order tests, or medications but your nurse is there to make sure everything is taken care of. While they probably can’t answer how much longer it’s going to be they can help you with little things to make your stay more comfortable. First, try to be nice to them. They get you’re in pain/stressed/scared but remember you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Things you could ask your nurse for:

  • Snacks, juice, ice water: this is really dependent on your medical condition, but if you’re hungry then speak up! You may be restricted from food but if you’re not they usually have a fridge with some snacks/drinks in it or can possibly order something from the cafeteria.
  • Warm blankets: I’ve always said my dream house would include an industrial blanket warmer in my house. Hospital gowns are horrible so ask for a warm blanket to make your (long) stay more comfortable.
  • Bottles, sippy cups, diapers, tampons? Oh ya, we got that. In the craziness of deciding you needed a trip to the ER did you forget some of your life essentials? Don’t fret. You’d be surprised what you can find at the ER, and if they don’t have it they may be able to find it somewhere in the hospital. Just ask, the worse thing they can say is no.
  • Odds and Ends. Nurses are people too. My sweet nurse just let me use her iPhone charger to give me an extra hour of life on my phone (score!). Again, just ask, most of the time if they can help you they will.

3. Save the emergency rooms for emergencies. There are lots of things that can be taken care of by your local primary care office/urgent care. Have a rash? Need Stitches? Shingles outbreak? These are common things that may send you to an emergency room, but I have same day appointments available for those type of conditions. You’ll get in and out much quicker if you find an office that will treat your problem.

If you’re wondering my little guy is doing just fine. He managed to wiggle his way out of a high chair and bumped his head pretty good on the floor. He made it out with a big bump on his head, some saltine crackers and a hospital bracelet for the baby books, all in a reasonable 3 1/2 hours.



What’s In My White Coat

posted on: January 9, 2014

What's in my white coat picture

The medical white coat has a lot of history behind it. Physicians adopted the white coat from scientists to emphasize the transition to the more scientific, modern medicine approach from the quackery of 19th century medicine. The modern white coat was also introduced as a symbol of cleanliness. Depending on the facility/speciality you encounter you may find your provider wearing scrubs, a white coat, business attire or flip-flops and shorts like one OB/GYN I rotated with (delivering babies=messy. so… no thanks). I choose to wear business attire and my white coat about 80% of the time. The other 20% you’ll find me in scrubs depending on what procedures I’m preforming that day. I love my white coat because I can store so much stuff in all of the pockets. Here is what you can find in my white coat.

1. This is my “third eye”. This Dermlite allows for magnification and illumination of different areas of my patient’s skin. It helps me determine if what you have is a normal mole or something more concerning.

2. Dior ‘Addict Lip Glow’ Reviver Balm. I love how this balm lightly moisturizes your lips and gives your lips a nice pink glow.

3. Altoids Smalls. No one likes PA in their face with bad breath.

4. A Pen. I usually have 2 in my pocket as I’m bound to leave one somewhere through out the day. I love this cute one from jcrew.

5. Prescription Pad. Did you know Physician Assistants can write prescriptions? My office still works off of paper charts (vs electronic medical records) so I need my prescription pad right at my side as I write many prescriptions every day.

6. My iPhone. I use my phone for everything from taking pictures to looking up dosages of medications on my epocrates app. Love this cover from jcrew.

7. I have a few white coats but my favorite one is my Estie Lab Coat by Medelita. It has a fitted style that is less boxy than unisex lab coats.

8. My business cards. I find it’s harder for patients to remember the first name of someone (which most PAs go by) vs Dr. _____. Often at the end of a visit the patient will ask, “what was your name again?” I usually will hand them my business card so they’ll remember my name if they need to make another appointment.

California Sunset and Flower Crowns

posted on: January 6, 2014

When you have kids it seems like you can never have enough pictures, but capturing a good family photo isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  These pictures were captured in about a 20 minute time span (that’s a pretty good stretch for a 1yr old and 3yr old to last before having some kind of meltdown). I love Drew’s fuzzy hair that cannot be tamed and Elle’s ever so serious face.

Flower Crowns: I made from this tutorial

Photos: Kristina Michelle

Mother Daughter Rain Boot pic at sunset IMG_9170 toddler sunset picture rain boots mother daughter hunter rain boots picture sunset mother daughter sunset picture flower crowns headbands mother son picture sunset flower crown mother son picture sunset flower crown hunter rain boots mother children rain boot picture sunset family picture at sunset mother son picture at sunset  IMG_9433 brother sister family picture at sunset father son picture at sunset mother daughter picture at sunset Mother daughter picture at sunset

What is a Physician Assistant?

posted on: November 15, 2013

Are you a Doctor?  No

Are you a Doctor in training?    No

Are you the a Nurse?     No

Are you a Medical Assistant?   No

These are questions I commonly get asked about my profession so I wanted to give a straight forward description of  what a Physician Assistant is and does.

What I do: As a dermatology PA I evaluate, diagnose and treat patients. I can write you a prescription for medications. I do full body skin exams for skin cancer checks, preform procedures like injections, skin biopsies, minor surgeries, laser treatments, Botox, Fillers, and much much more.

Education: I have my Bachelors of Science in Biology and my Masters Degree in Physician Assistant Studies. I was formally trained in Dermatology by the Physicians in my office.

Here are some other commonly asked questions about Physician Assistants:

1. What is the difference between a physician and a physician assistant?

The main difference between a physician and physician assistant is the amount of time spent in training. Physicians spend more time in school and also have to go through internships and residencies. Physicians can practice independently while PAs work with physicians and are ultimately under the physician’s supervision.

2. What does PA-C mean? It means physician assistant-certified. It means the person has graduated from an accredited program and has passed testing by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

3. How long have PAs been around? Since the 1960s physician assistants have helped expand the delivery of quality medical care.

The most important thing is finding a provider that you feel comfortable with, whether it’s a Physician, PA, Nurse Practitioner, etc… We all work as a team to provide the best care for our patients. I love my job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

 Erin Jensen Physician Assistant