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This is copied from paadmissions "Ask a PA Admissions Director." I found it hiding in the bowels of that forum (page 81), and I figured placing it here would make it very handy for those perusing personal statements and seeking advice. Posted 20 May 2014 - 02:46 PM Hi guys! I've put together some hints for writing a good personal statement below. These hints were gathered from several medical school websites and from our own experience with our program. Hope this helps! The personal statement is required as a part of any application to PA school. Many applicants make writing a personal statement a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Below are helpful hints and topics to avoid that can help you write a good personal statement. Topic: Why you want to be a PA? Personal Statement Helpful Hints: · Engage the reader and create interest. · Get to the point. There is a character limit for personal statements. One page is usually all it takes to make your point. · Avoid using flowery language and/or big words throughout your statement. · Make sure the statement is structured in a logical order and flows nicely so it is easy to read. · Do not restate your resume. · Incorporate how your healthcare experience and non-healthcare experience (academics, volunteer, and leadership positions) prepared you for PA school. · Be insightful and analytical about your understanding of the role of the PA. Use your clinical experiences to draw this conclusion. · Call out the elephant in the room. If you had a “hiccup” in your academic career, you should BRIEFLY address it (i.e. death in the family, immaturity factor, poor study habits), state what you did to overcome it, and what you have done to sustain an upward trend in your academic performance. · If you have a strong desire to enter a certain field of medicine, explain why. For example, if you want to go into primary care, what have you done to prepare yourself for this field (i.e. clinical experience opportunities, skill sets, are you from a disadvantaged background, etc.), and the challenges PAs face, if any in the particular field. · Have more than one person review your statement. An advisor, career services representative, or a writing center are good resources to utilize. · Avoid contractions. · Avoid acronyms that the common person would not know (this is especially true for military applicants). Qualities to Portray · Maturity · Reflectiveness · Honesty and integrity · Clarity of thought · Passion · Individuality · Positivity · Logic · Distinctiveness · Commitment · Ability to relate to diverse people · Insight into the chosen health profession · Compassion and empathy · Genuineness and sincerity · Leadership · Insightfulness · A realistic perspective · Lessons learned · Self-awareness Themes to Avoid · Clichés: Avoid starting a statement with a famous quote or with cliché’ filler statements like: “I want to be a PA because I like science and I want to help people...” “Ever since I was five I played with my mom/dad’s doctor’s kit..” “I loved to play the game Operation as a child and that sparked my desire to be a PA...” “As I watched my beloved family member pass away, I knew then I wanted to be a PA...” · Restating your resume’: We have already read the majority of your application up to this point, so do not retell your life story again. · Story Time: Limit your personal stories about a patient or incident in the clinic to ONE no more than TWO. The statement should focus more the topics mentioned above. · The “epiphany into medicine”: Your pursuit of the PA profession should be based on your adult experiences up until this point, NOT an instantaneous realization. · Manifest Destiny: You have not always known you want to be a PA and the fact that someone tells you “you’ll make a great PA one day” does not justify why you should be a PA. · Grandiosity: Claiming that you plan to eliminate all the healthcare problems in an area is not realistic and shows a grave lack of understanding of the profession. · The “humble brag”: Of course you’re special, but claiming “you probably do not see many applicants like me” is not only arrogant, but is likely untrue. We’ve seen it all! · Remember your audience: Remember people do have other biases and views that may not agree with yours so avoid controversial topics and statements that could offend someone. Also, remember the admissions committee can be made up of all types of members of the healthcare team. Avoid statements like “I want to be a PA because PAs spend more time with their patients in comparison to physicians.” These types of situations are not always true and you do not want to stereotype an entire profession when you’ve only been around .00000001% of them. · “I am a victim”: Victims are never attractive applicants and any difficulties along the way should be dispassionately addressed. These explanations should be brief and also address what you have done to overcome the situation and what you learned from it. · Excuses: Never, ever blame anyone else for difficulties in your life or academic career. Topsy's 2 cents: Show, don't tell. Don't tell me you're great at multitasking. Show me! Describe it instead: "Despite having to care for my ailing mother at home, work the graveyard shift at the hospital, and help victims of abuse at the women's shelter, I still managed to keep my by grades by merely studying instead of sleeping." What makes the PA profession personally meaningful to you. Do not reiterate catch phrases like autonomy, flexibility, and all those other words that you can find on countless websites/blogs. Do mention personal things you've seen! Like the time you shadowed a PA talking to a family who was strapped for cash, and the PA was sensitive and attentive enough to notice the dilemma and was kind enough to provide their family with ample samples. Again, show, don't tell. Overall, a great personal state can be achieved by getting the reader think - yes. I want to meet the person who wrote this.
While I put on my isolation gown, I wondered why the Pediatric Department requested me to volunteer a few additional hours for them. My two assigned departments included the Pediatric Diabetes Center and the Emergency Department so this was unusual. A nurse directed me to a patient’s room that seemed to be occupied by a small six-month-old baby girl. “Here is your patient for today. She is a 2-year-old abused and undernourished little girl. She cannot talk yet or stand up on her own. Just keep her company.” I was astounded that a 2-year-old was this small and fragile. As I gently held her in my arms, she looked up at me with me with her big, beautiful, blue eyes. Holding her in my arms was the first time I saw her look comfortable and safe. Only two people made this tiny girl tremendously ill but an entire team was assembled to assist in her recovery. Numerous people came into the room including physicians and their assistants, nurses, and social workers. At this moment, I realized that the all of these people were not only helping heal this child but also advocating in her behalf, showing her compassion, and giving her a better life. They were working as a well-collaborated team to save their patient’s lives. This is one team that I wanted a lifetime membership to. The hospital was my home during the roughest times of my life. Throughout my childhood, I lived every day in fear of my own father. Each day prior to his arrival from work, my mother and I ran through the house making certain there was not a speck of dust in sight. If his inspection did not pass we were reminded that we were “worthless and lazy,” to put it nicely. My life was always on the edge. Finally, my parents divorced when I was 13 years old. The fear never ended and the court hearings continue to this day. On my mother’s days off we would still visit the hospital she worked at as a pediatric nurse. As my mother talked to the patient’s parents, I got to bond with the kids. I eventually realized that every time I was there, they smiled and laughed as we played together. The pain left their faces. One girl my age became one of my best friends. She wore my old costumes for Halloween, I brought her Happy Meals from McDonald’s and in return she provided me with friendship. I was never told that she was dying right before my eyes. Eventually, she lost her fight with cystic fibrosis. Her mother talked to me afterward, thanking me for the relief I gave her child. This gave me motivation and ever since, I knew that I wanted to help people just like this amazing girl for the rest of my life. The hospital is a place I know that I am not “worthless.” The lively hospital environment draws me in and helping others get well enough to get back to doing the things they love is rewarding. Since I did not have any training or certification to work at the hospital, I spent time volunteering there. I learned other places in the hospital other than the pediatric floor. I enjoyed the fast pace setting of the emergency department. Typically, this department is known to come with bad news but I learned that for all of the bad news, something good comes along. In one day, I watched someone end their life while I watched a couple bring another one into the world. Each year, I spent hours baking delicious treats for the hospitals bake sale. I even volunteered at the yearly telethon held by OSF St. Francis Children’s Hospital. The medical field also is an unusual job because not only do you learn new information from your co-workers and patients but you also get to be the teacher. My experience in the medical field as a volunteer showed me that being a physician assistant will give me the opportunity to share my compassion, care for others, and work with a medical team to solve problems to the best of my ability all while forever furthering my education. My 18-year old sister, Morgan, who I am now the legal guardian of, along with my mother, has special needs. Her disability never holds her back but others unwilling to understand Autism do. Each day I advocate on her behalf and fight for her rights. Morgan attends a summer camp with other children that have a variety of disabilities. I have had the privilege of working with a diverse group of some of the most special and inspiring people in the world. Almost all of the children, including my sister, had another problem that they often have to visit doctor’s offices and hospitals for. My ability to understand the complexity of their conditions and believing whole-heartedly that they should be treated with respect assures me that I am ready to work with a diverse group of people when I become a physician assistant.