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Don't hold back!

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#1 bradford.clark



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Posted 13 February 2017 - 03:53 PM

“I got you man, hang tight! They’re just around the corner,” I lied. The moped lay several meters from the pair of us while a friend called 911. I had basic First-Aid knowledge so my first thought was to “stabilize the head,” but The Red Cross training did not prepare me for this. The blood sank between my fingers, carrying bits of brain matter that stuck to the hair on the back of my hand. His body convulsed with random twitches and his crossed-eyes looked through mine. My face was solid. I knew I would be the last person this old man would ever see; I couldn’t show him the terror that I felt. As he drifted away in my hands the ambulance arrived. An EMT got out and told me “It’s okay man, you did everything you could’ve done.” In my head I thought, “Did I?”


As a young adult midway through my college career, I felt the angst of not knowing my destiny commonly shared amongst my peers. Having someone die in my hands put my life into perspective as this was my first connection with a patient, and something told me it would not be my last.


PA shadowing in the Emergency Room and Surgical department opened a new door for me. As rapid as the physicians, my PA, “Shawn,” met patient after patient; suturing ripped stitches, directing nurses and attendees through a cardiac arrest, resetting ulnar fractures and making their own diagnoses.


One of my shadowing experiences brought me to “Ted”, a 45-year-old, heavily obese man who had his leg amputated due to a diabetic neuropathy. Ted had been in the hospital for 130 days while the surgical team treated the infection that persisted around the amputated site. Shawn informed me that they had taken the risk of infection by cutting below the knee, where if they had cut above the knee they predicted Ted would have been able to go home much sooner. I did not understand why they had taken this gamble, but Shawn told me that they thoughtfully took into account the patient’s quality of life. He explained that an amputation above the knee requires more energy for maneuverability, and since Ted didn’t exactly have the BMI of a ballerina, they deduced that this procedure would allow him to move easier on his own with less effort. I can not say Ted was my most exciting shadowing patient. As a Medical Scribe in the ER I’ve met prisoners who had given themselves enemas or swallowed four pencils, victims of motorcycle crashes and schizophrenics who thought the moon was the Death Star. But meeting Ted taught me the most important aspect of PAs that sets them apart from other professions, which is the quality of care they are able to provide.       


The encounter with the moped patient taught me early on the importance of “cutting below the knee” for each patient. While I reflect on that night, there may not have been anything different I could have done. Perhaps just being there with him in his darkest hour was enough. A hand to hold or someone to tell him that I’m doing everything I can to help, and mean it. I think that’s what real quality care means, which is the standard a patient should expect when they see me in the back of the ambulance or in the hospital.


Teaching and learning has always had a place in my heart. Experience as a summer camp director and substitute teacher shows the parallels it has to being a PA. It’s their responsibility to teach their patients about healthy practice and treatment plans while speaking to the level of the patient and keeping the patient’s best interests in mind.  


When I started school at Arcadia University, I endured the long, hard hours that came with being a varsity college athlete and some of my grades suffered because of this time-commitment. I took action with these poor grades and retook them later on in my college career and received much higher marks. I do not believe in settling for less and felt myself losing the potential I sought for when I started my college path. I decided to transfer to the University of New Hampshire and as a result my grades improved and I participated in more extra-curricular activities such as Army ROTC, intramural soccer and part time work in the Emergency Room.


“We are a leader amongst leaders,” one PA told me. Throughout my education I could have been consumed by college’s temptations, but my mind was focused. I could have been a follower, but I was different. Empowered with compassion to help others the Army ROTC program taught me to solve problems, certifying as an EMT taught me to trust my skills, and shadowing PAs on weekends taught me teamwork and compassion. Striving to set myself apart from others required a lot of self-confidence, and as a PA I’m going to need it the next time somebody tells me, “It’s okay, you did everything you could’ve done.” I’ll be able to say, “I did.”


#2 kmf248


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Posted 14 February 2017 - 05:26 PM

Here are some revisions I would make from first glance:


-Eliminate your introduction and rewrite it. Just say seeing someone die prompted your interest in a medical career. Add some other points about your journey.

-You speak too much about Shawn in the fourth paragraph. PA schools want to know about YOU, not Shawn.Rather talk about traits that interested you about the PA profession and how Shawn's role in healthcare made you want to enter the PA profession.

-Connect your teaching and learning paragraph to your paragraph about compassion.

-In your academic paragraph mention why you would be a good fit for PA school. How have you grown since your transfer? How will you do well academically in the rigorous curriculum?

-Change your concluding paragraph to make it stronger.


Also, I still do not know why you want to be a PA. What is it about this profession that makes you want to enter it? Why not nurse? Why not NP? Why not MD or DO? 

#3 runforhotdogs


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Posted 15 February 2017 - 01:51 AM

You know, I am not trying to be mean here. But, cut out the superlatives and making giant connections when there isn't one. You are not writing a cheesy Hollywood screenplay because that's what it reads like. It reminds me of those cheap Roger Corman movies on Showtime. You know, the ones where the bimbo secret agent, ties a bandana on her head, and kicks butt (while taking 5 minutes to do a 360 roundhouse) in a low-cut blouse. Then they show exciting chase scenes with little RC helicopters and boats because they couldn't afford the real thing. But, I digress.


If you must stay the course, I'd stick in more commas, use more semi-colons and periods, to break up your run-on sentences. I am going to assume this is your actual personal statement. Take it in to the writing center and let them help you correct it. For example, "teaching and learning has always", should be "teaching and learning have". You are describing two things and combined them with "and". It's better to have a correctly punctuated and grammatically correct statement versus one filled with superlatives and action while full of errors. Honestly, I cringe when I see people trying to be too original. Have a good story to tell something about yourself, no need to think you can wow them. Unless you have been a medic in the Middle East, I doubt you will be able to speak medicine to someone who practiced it and is reading your statement. You start with too many sentences that don't really provide an explanation.


Okay, you are a leader among leaders. Or is this just a random statement. So, what made you a leader? By not succumbing to college's temptations? What temptation? Did you go out and start a charity? Build libraries and stock them with books in Africa? I use these examples because someone close to me actually did both as an undergraduate. Now, that's leadership. Choose your words wisely and read them before you think they are as important as you think. How does shadowing a PA teach you compassion and teamwork? It might show you compassion and teamwork but you didn't do anything to gain experience as part of a team or provide compassion. See the difference?


Also, I agree with the post above me. What sets the PA to be such a great quality of care? My personal experience with a PA was that I'd kick the PA's arse who sewed up my lip for not being able to keep the anesthetic in the lip, versus the doctors I saw sewing people back from accidents in the ER.

#4 HanSolo


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Posted 17 February 2017 - 01:45 PM

Hi Bradford,


I'm in the throes of writing my statement as well. I thought I could share a few tips for you to help you along. 


- 1st paragraph: Way too informal. Even the opening of, "I got you man," makes me wonder if this was how you would talk to someone in an emergency. In reality it would probably come across differently than it does on the page. If I was on an adcom, I would stop reading right here. 


- A lot of things seem like they were drawn out of longer bullet points about experiences you wanted to put down. However, they aren't really connected that well. Consider rearranging how you present some events and try to make one paragraph flow to the next.


- "But meeting Ted taught me the most important aspect of PAs that sets them apart from other professions, which is the quality of care they are able to provide." You do realize an MD might be reading your statement. This implies they provide lesser quality care. Cut it.


- I don't understand your "low grades" paragraph. You were too busy as a college athlete, so you transferred to another institution where you picked up a bunch of activities to make you just as busy yet somehow you did better? If you were unfocused or just didn't care that's fine. Also, if your grades weren't absolutely abysmal, then I wouldn't even say anything about it. Let your transcript speak for yourself.


- There's just too much going on here. Show us don't tell us. Pick three, maybe four things you want to focus on. Based on what you have provided, I would suggest shadowing is one experience, teaching could be another (you mention the connection between PAs and teaching, but you don't give any details at all), and maybe demonstrate some of those problem solving skills you mention that you gained from working in ROTC. 


Are you still at UNH? They may have a writing center staffed with folks that see these things all the time. 


Best of luck.

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