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  1. This will be my second year applying, and I have completely changed my essay based on a significant life experience in this past year. The main theme I want to portray is the impact of a PA role model, the challenges and hardship of a personal injury and the positive impact that the PA career has on my life. The story was initially much longer, with more detail and explanation, but I feel this draft is stronger and more to the point of why I want to be a PA. I appreciate any comment or criticism that can be provided. I carefully propped myself up to the side of the hospital bed, using every ounce of strength left after two long days of immobility following the surgery. It was finally time to take my first assisted steps after the procedure, yet doubt about a successful recovery crept into my mind and distracted from the task at hand. The diagnosis of two lumbar disc herniations, spinal stenosis and disc degeneration appeared to be a constant road block at twenty two years old. Would this effect not only my future in health care, but my ability to live a normal life? As I snapped back into focus, two nurses wheeled the walking aid to my side. Like all challenges, each step would require patience and dedication in order to be successful, but I would come to find out that these steps do not have to be taken alone. Prior to my discharge from the hospital, I met with several members of the medical team to go over the restrictions I would face during the first month of recovery. Jenn, a physician assistant who had worked closely with my surgeon during prior office visits, knew of my experience with orthopedic injuries as an athletic trainer. After explaining the initial success of the procedure to my family, she left me with a single piece of advice: “Treat your spine as a case study and assess each day as if you were the clinician”. Unfortunately, it took two weeks of bedrest feeling sorry for myself until I took those words into action. I began to take detailed notes, describing the degree or change of my symptoms each day. When Jenn would call to follow up on my status, she answered every question or concern, and would direct each phase of healing and rehabilitation that I completed. Instead of harping on setbacks, she helped guide my attention on the long term goals that were set. Finally, after dedicating hours, days and months to complete the necessary stages of rehabilitation, I had reached the halfway point in the set surgical timeline. Like prior visits, this meant that x rays would be taken to measure the degree of fusion between the vertebrae. As the images popped on the screen, excitement radiated from both my doctor and Jenn. They explained that healing was “on schedule”, and there were no complications with the hardware. It was not until I left the building that I realized the magnitude of what those tests represented for my future quality of life. As the patient, I trusted these individuals to make the necessary decisions to ultimately live unimpeded and pain free. While the procedure may have been the catalyst, it became clear that if not for the personal connection that Jenn had made, I may not have been as dedicated to follow the rigid protocol and focus on the long term outcome. Despite having numerous patients, she appeared to be entirely dedicated to my success. If not for that relationship, the direction of my life, both physically and professionally may have been drastically different. Jenn showed me how to be compassionate for others, patient with my physical limitations and committed to reach my ultimate goal of normalcy. As a physician assistant, a single day of work could make a lasting impact on a patient’s life, and now that I am physically capable, I strive to create that same experience for others.
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