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  1. I hope this is it! I am now below the character limit and I feel that I have included everything I wanted to portray, I just need some grammar nazis to find my mistakes!!! Thanks for any help :) **PS- if there's something you think needs more clarification or rewording, please tell me** As a teenager without health insurance, I spent many years ignoring symptoms or making do with remedies I already had at home. My go-to was some leftover menthol cough drops in my tea to help open my sinuses and soothe my throat. Thankfully, I was generally healthy and could manage by going to the health department once a year. I understand why someone would rather ignore his or her symptoms than see a doctor. I dreaded going to the health department because I never knew if I would see the same provider. Many see preventative care as a luxury, and overlook how it could save their heart, foot, or even life. Some feel like they do not connect with their provider or cannot understand them. Sometimes, it comes down to what is more important right now: eating today or diabetes tomorrow. These observations led me to pursue healthcare, where I hope to provide stability for the underprivileged and financially burdened. Spending ten years in healthcare has allowed me to interact with a variety of providers. With this exposure, I have realized that it is to a physician assistant (PA) that I relate. PAs help close the gap of disparities within healthcare by providing an affordable means for treatment. Also, through its supportive nature, the physician-PA team uses the skills of each provider to improve patient care and experiences. Additionally, the well-rounded training that PAs obtain allows them to adapt to the needs of their community and even carry their skills globally. All these reasons are important to me, having seen many of these issues firsthand. After high school, I became a pharmacy technician. This position solidified my interests in medicine and helped me appreciate the impact of patient education. I remember patients requesting refills for medications they could neither name nor state their use. Once, an elderly man came in with a baggie full of empty pill bottles, the labels almost illegible. Upon further inspection, we noticed that he had redundant medications and a variety of providers. We sat down with him, consolidated his medications, and then explained to him the importance of seeing a single provider. This was a common occurrence in the pharmacy, and I always made a point to educate these individuals. I wanted more contact with patients and later began working in registration at an emergency room. I saw those without insurance sit hours to be seen for fevers and headaches. Coming from this environment as a teenager, I understood that this was the primary care experience for many. Also recognizing this, one PA in the ER paid extra attention to these patients. I watched him go over each medication not only to rule out drug interactions, but also to explain their uses. When his patients returned, instead of asking for "the little blue pill," they confidently asked for their blood pressure medication. I admire his respect for patients, and it inspired me to also advocate for them. Once, I noticed a patient was anxious over the cost of a medication they had just been prescribed and coordinated with his provider to supply him with samples and coupons. Later, I became a patient care technician on the cardiothoracic surgery unit. This position gave me the chance to more closely see the connection between patients and their caregivers. One morning as I was assisting a patient to the bathroom, she began sweating and complaining of blurred vision. Alarmed, I checked her blood sugar; it was 37 mg/dL. With the nurse at my side, we helped the patient to bed and gave IV glucose. I am happy to have quickly recognized these symptoms and reacted. Moments like this showed me that I want to not only treat patients, but also diagnose. Becoming a PA will be difficult, but I am confident in my time- and stress-management skills. I have held many jobs while attending university full-time. I recall getting off work, eating in the car on the way to class, and coming home to study all night. This continued throughout my college career and although it was tough balancing several obligations simultaneously, I was always proud to have successfully completed each semester. I have always known that the best tool for succeeding under stress is a strong support network. This was tested during my sophomore year when I lost my cousin to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Never dealing with death before, I was unable to cope with losing my best friend; eventually, I failed two semesters. Reflecting upon this hardship, I drew from the support of my family and friends to push forward. I succeeded in retaking these semesters and continued to excel in my studies thereafter. My experiences at the pharmacy, reception desk, and on the unit have helped me value what people contribute to a team. Our backgrounds and various skills allow us to provide better care through integration and empathy. Since my days at the health clinic, I have seen the needs of the underprivileged, and becoming a PA is my next step as a patient educator, supporter, and advocate. Thanks everyone!
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