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  1. I just finished my first draft. Are the ideas in my personal statement too general? Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks! Feel free to message me feedback or post it on this thread, anything you can offer would be great. Here it is: I work in a psychiatric hospital. When I mention this to those outside the always locked double doors, it often conjures up the widely adopted vision of sterile, concrete hallways and shackled beds. They think of needles, caretakers reminiscent of Nurse Ratched and some kind of indefinite, twisted eternal fate reserved only for the “insane.” We hear about the aggression, the suicide, the psychosis; we discuss the dangers of working with the mentally ill, and as a public body, chastise the treatment options that are available. As a technician on a psychiatric medical floor, I find this reputation repulsive; not only does it foster a misunderstanding of what we seek to accomplish, it instigates a negative attitude that promotes the public to treat those afflicted with mental illnesses differently. Often, the stigma associated with mental illness blinds people from understanding what being afflicted with mental illness means. We often don’t hear about are the difficulties that these people face in living with their illness; beyond medical histories, these are real people with their own joys and families and stories. Consider the man with Huntington’s, wheelchair bound for his own safety, whose father and brother were similarly afflicted with the disease, or the self-harming 30-year-old, arms covered in long, thin scars, whose psychological stressors eventually led him to a life on the streets. There’s the deeply religious mother of four amidst the throes postpartum depression, unable to even feed herself. When we step back, we do not see the whole picture, but instead the violence and injustice and sickness that exists. What people often miss is that psychiatric hospitals do not seek to confine these people, but instead aim to allow them to thrive. Amidst the darkness of mental illness, it can be difficult to find hope, to remember that people support you, and to recognize your own strength. It can be difficult to see, and sometimes impossible to believe, that there is hope, even in the most disparate of situations. The most rewarding aspect of working in this field is restoring that hope that has been lost within the throes of mental illness. It can be difficult to imagine the chronic despair of depression or constant torment from auditory hallucinations without experiencing them personally. I hope to never know what it is like to experience their pain, but what I do understand is that feeling listened to and cared about is perhaps the most effective medicine of all. There’s nothing better than seeing the eyes of a depressed woman light up as she reunites with her children upon her discharge, or finally meeting the man who was locked into a catatonic state for weeks, or helping a once bedbound patient walk again for the first time. This is why I love working in healthcare, and why I am pursing the physician assistant profession. As a physician assistant, I hope to become more effective and more highly involved in the treatment of my patients, and continue to develop my clinical skills. I consider myself a continuous learner and have many interests inside and outside the medical field: I am a former collegiate athlete and a future marathoner, an advocate for environmentally responsible farming, a front-porch enthusiast, and an aspiring Francophone. Professionally, I am interested in several medical specialties, including pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry, international medicine, emergency medicine, and medicine for the underserved. These specialties in particular present social challenges in addition to medical ones, and through my mental health background I have gained a passion for lessening these barriers. My goal is to provide my patients with care that benefits them not only from a medical standpoint, but also form a relationship that allows patients to feel valuable and involved in their care. Working in mental health, my understanding of wellness has changed significantly. It seems that the distinction between physical and mental health is an abstract one, and that the complexity of medical treatment goes beyond the medicine itself. Ultimately, it is this understanding that drives me to become a physician assistant—there would be no greater reward than to be able to do meaningful work healing the wounded, emotionally and physically.
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