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  1. This is a very rough draft. I would just like to know if I am on the right track. Any editing is greatly appreciated. Thanks! “One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.”– Lewis Carol. I do not have a single, life changing moment that made me realize that I want to be a physician assistant. I do have many experiences that confirm the truth of Carol’s statement. Three of which are significant and led me to pursue a career as a physician assistant: Meeting Traci, the PA I met while observing an ACL reconstruction; Working with Ron, a patient I had as a physical therapy aide; and treating Charlie, the boy I spine boarded for a cervical injury. An opportunity as an athletic training student to observe an ACL and meniscus reconstruction was my first exposure to a PA. In the OR, the clank of the surgical tools, smell of the sanitary operating room mixed with my breath under the facemask, and banter of the medical team as they worked hooked me immediately. After an incision of the patient’s uninjured left knee to retrieve the patellar tendon graft, Dr. Smith said, “Traci, harvest the graft. Don’t make it too thick. The edges need to be as smooth as possible.” Traci carefully and confidently harvested the ACL graft from the patellar tendon. She worked with great precision as she molded it with a small pair of scissors. Occasionally, Traci consulted with Dr. Smith to make sure the size and shape of the graft were correct. That moment, that was it for me. I loved the independence she was given and the team based relationship between her and Dr. Smith. Before observing this surgery, I did not know much about Traci’s profession as a PA. Although half way through my undergraduate athletic training program, I began to explore the career of a physician assistant. The fact that PAs can specialize in many areas of medicine is appealing. Although I enjoy orthopedics, I am interested in other fields such as general surgery, pediatrics, and women’s health. (Need to expand on why I like this more than AT) My job as a physical therapy aide to assist patients with their exercises, educate on proper form, and apply modalities. Ron is mentally challenged and has severe loss of musculoskeletal motor control. He slowly scooted into the physical therapy clinic with his walker and two caretakers that Tuesday afternoon. He was wearing a bright red Red’s baseball t-shirt, a worn, blue baseball cap, athletic shorts, and black shoes, one of which had a heel lift. The endearing smile on his face and childish banter with the therapist and me lit up the room. Ron and I practiced activities I took for granted every day. Sitting in a chair from a standing position, and standing up again from a seated position, walking 10-15 feet with his walker, and standing without the walker. He would say over and over, “I did enough” when he was only half way through his repetitions. I could see the frustration in his big blue eyes; it was hard for Ron to stay focused. I promised Ron that if he did his absolute best and finished his exercises with me, we could watch baseball highlight reels during his rest periods. The sense of accomplishment Ron felt when he finished an exercise overwhelmed me with joy. I was proud of Ron for his diligence and hard work. Ron taught me the importance of listening, patience, compassion and understanding. Sincere connections with patients involve empathy and adjusting to individual patient needs. I will carry the lessons I learned from Ron into my career as a PA, just as I do now in my job as an athletic trainer. Pushed himself beyond his threshold During the third week of July this past summer, the entire hockey camp staff was standing on the ice over my shoulder as I held fully padded, little Charlie’s neck in cervical spinal immobilization. “Laney, what do you want to do? Should we call 911? Is he going to be OK?” I had seconds to make a decision that could alter the rest of Charlie’s life. I learned how to deal with spinal injuries in school, but had never done it in practice. I responded, “Yes, call a squad and tell them we have a cervical spine injury. It’s okay Charlie; you’re going to be fine, just lay still. I’m going to tell you a funny story about my dog, Digby.” That was it. I was not positive that Charlie had a cervical spine injury, but I was confident in my evaluation that he needed further care. Charlie laughed as I told him about puppy Digby’s fear of the plastic spoon. EMS and the other athletic trainer working hockey camp, Becca, showed up minutes later. When treating a possible spinal injury, the person immobilizing the neck takes the lead in the boarding process. This was my job in this situation. It is crucial to be able to lead and work with the medical team at hand to prevent further injury. “OK on 3 we are going to roll Charlie. Please slide the board under his back when we roll him. 1, 2, 3, roll. Great job. Those near Charlie’s legs can apply the securing straps while those of us near his upper body will apply the C-collar and chest straps. Excellent, thank you for your help.” I was extremely nervous during this entire experience, doubting myself every second, but it reassured me that I will succeed as a physician assistant. I overcame my nerves and used the knowledge in which I was confident would provide the best quality care for Charlie. As an athletic trainer, the nature of injury in sports has molded me into a quick thinker. I enjoy working with others to achieve the best possible outcome, which I believe will transition well into my career as a physician assistant. I’ve had many experiences throughout my various healthcare jobs that led to my decision to become a PA. Traci, Ron, and little Charlie stand out among my experiences. The independence and teamwork Traci displayed in the operating room caught my eye for the PA profession. Ron taught me that having patience and empathy is crucial in gaining patient trust. Overcoming the doubts I had in myself and leading a situation I had never led before, taught me that I have a qualities to be a successful physician assistant. Becoming a physician’s assistant provides the opportunity to put Lewis Carol’s wisdom into practice; connect on a personal level, capitalizing on the relationship to provide truly patient-focused health care.
  2. "Excuse me, excuse me!" I cried out frantically, as I had just received news that my grandmother had been moved to a nursing facility due to her Alzheimer's condition worsening. I rushed over to the front nurse's station to ask which room she was in and was escorted to her room. Bright fluorescent lights lit up the hallway as I nervously gathered my thoughts on how I could greet my grandmother, the one who had raised me from childhood and became a second mother to me as well. I had brought over her favorite purple orchids in order to brighten her mood and with hope that maybe she could recognize the familiarity of the connection to me. To my relief, my grandmother recognized me instantly, and continued to recognize me till her last day in nursing care. Placing my grandmother in a nursing care facility was the most heartbreaking decision my family had to make, but we put in the effort to visit her every day. About eight months into her stay at the nursing home, she caught pneumonia which deteriorated her health in a blink of an eye. The nightmare didn’t just end here; the weakening of her body opened the door to other various health problems as well, which led to frequent visitations to the hospital. This is where I met my first physician assistant and grew profound respect for them. While my grandmother’s physician came in and out of her room for quick visitations, it was her PA that seemed to help close the gap of disparities in the healthcare system by providing a more personalized care to the patients. I was also able to recognize the clear and solid support that the PA provided in the context of the physician-PA framework. Her PA also first tended to my grandmother’s stomach abnormality and diagnosed the root cause of her abdominal distention and provided the appropriate treatment for it. I was very intrigued to see a mid-level provider take part in such crucial role between the supervising physician and the nurses, working as a collaborative team to ensure the highest patient care possible. Having worked as a buyer in a procurement department for three and a half years, I thoroughly loved the “team-based” approach with the head buyers and my vendors and customers. However, I had left the career as I’ve always felt that the satisfaction from thriving upon sales and profit wasn’t fully there for me. Witnessing my grandmother’s PA work with such compassion and professionalism towards the well-being of a human being inspired my initial interest in the profession. With this new ray of motivation, I recently became a clinical care extender volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange through COPE’S Health Solution, a program that is designed to give access to direct patient care to pre-health professionals, to see where I stood in terms of interacting and caring for the ill. My duties consisted of providing basic patient care such as feeding, bathing, taking their vital signs, and most importantly, providing unconditional love at their most vulnerable times. However, despite the satisfaction that I received from knowing that even a single minute of my time given to patients can have a significant positive impact in their lives, I also felt a sense of frustration due to the limitations of what I could provide for them as a volunteer. My determination to take my education and skills to the next step where I can provide more than just bedside care increased. I observed the nurses and their assistants and admired them for their recognizable diligence and compassion, but their roles still didn’t satisfy the goals that I was looking. On the contrary, I found it a blessing that I was able to encounter a handful of PAs on the floor who were able to answer many lingering questions for me that I had regarding their profession. I realized that being a PA is what would fulfill my dream in achieving the type of patient care that I wish to provide. Through the intensive and advanced PA training, I will provide medical care without having to be a physician, and still get to partake in a variety of tasks from diagnosing to giving physical exams to more specialized care such as assisting with surgeries. This is very appealing to me because I love doing a variety of different types of tasks that specialize in flexibility. Next year, I look forward to starting my education as a PA student. Overall, my interests and experiences have prepared me well to pursue a career as a PA. My strong academic background in science and extensive knowledge of the human body will help me excel in my PA school courses. Additionally, my sensitivity towards patients and interest in their well-being will allow me to become a compassionate PA. Volunteering at St. Joseph on various floors has also allowed me to learn the difference between each health provider and has also confirmed my belief that PA would be the best fitting for my personality and personal goals. I discovered my desire to counsel patients in maintaining proper health for preventive care as well, rather than just on post-care treatment. As a future PA, I am excited to work as part of a team that ensures every patient receives the care he or she needs in the most efficient and comfortable manner. I look forward to spending the new few years of my life learning from and growing with peers that have similar aspirations.
  3. "Excuse me! Excuse me!" I cried out, frantically, as I had just received news that my grandma had been moved to a nursing facility due to her Alzheimer's condition worsening. I rushed over to the front nurse's station to ask which room she was in and was escorted to her room. Bright fluorescent lights lit up the hallway, as I nervously gathered my thoughts on how I could greet my grandma, the one who had raised me from childhood and became a second mother to me as well. Would she recognize me today? Hopefully, these flowers aren't too much, I murmured to myself. I had brought over her favorite purple orchids, in order to brighten her mood and maybe she could recognize the familiarity of the connection to me. To my relief, my grandma recognized me instantly, and continued to recognize me till her last day at the nursing care. At the end of year 2014, my grandmother spent the last few months of her life fighting a debilitating case of pneumonia which also opened the door to other various health problems. Throughout her treatment, both her physician and the physician’s assistant took turns overseeing her treatment. This was my first actual encounter with a PA, and during this time I learned a great deal about what PA’s do to support their patients, particularly relating to the lung and kidney infections for my grandma. I found it extremely intriguing to see a mid-level provider take part in the important role amongst his/her supervising physician and the nurses, working as a collaborative team to ensure the highest patient care possible. Having worked as a buyer previously for 3.5 years, I thoroughly loved the “team-based” approach with the head buyers and my vendors and clients. However, I had left the career as I’ve always felt that the satisfaction from thriving upon sales and profit with wasn’t fully there for me. Witnessing my grandmother’s PA’s soothing compassion, professionalism, and accuracy with her treatment led me to develop interest for the profession. Inspired by the experience my grandmother had with her PA, I took a few basic science courses to test my interest in science and excelled in all of them. Taking Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology class further helped me discover my passion for the human body and the phenomenal importance of understanding it to lead healthy lives. It urged me to learn more about the medicine and the root causes of diseases and illnesses where I can actually help patient by treating and diagnosing them. I discovered my desire to counsel patients in maintaining proper health for preventive care, rather than just on “treatment.” To utilize this knowledge in a medical setting, I volunteered at the COPE’S Clinical Care Extender program in St. Joseph, a program that is designed to give access to direct patient care for pre-health professionals, to see where I stood in terms of interacting and caring for the ill. My duties consisted of providing basic patient care such as feeding, bathing, and taking their vital signs, but most importantly, showing the patients that everyone in the healthcare field is an extended family member to them that provide not only care for their illness, but also unconditional love at their most vulnerable times. However, despite the satisfaction that I received from knowing that even a single minute of my time given to patients can have a significant positive impact in their lives, I also felt a sense of frustration due to the limitations of what I can provide for them. I wanted to offer more than just bedside care. I observed the nurses and their assistants and admired them for their recognizable diligence and compassion, but their roles still didn’t satisfy the answers that I was looking for. I was curious as to why certain human beings were more prone to certain diseases and how each different individual’s body responded differently to certain treatments. Even though I felt that there was some sort of lackluster with my scope of volunteering at St. Joseph, I also found a blessing for me as I was able to encounter a handful of physician assistants on the floor who were able to answer many lingering questions for me that I had regarding their profession. I was able to realize that being a physician assistant is what would fulfill my dream in achieving the type of patient care that I wish to provide. I would have more power and control to assisting patients rather than just doing bedside care as a nurse. This shines a part of my personality because I love doing a variety of different types of tasks that specializes in flexibility. I could utilize my attention to giving medicinal help without having to be a doctor, and instead partake in diagnosing and giving the best therapeutic care from small needs like physical exams to bigger care like assisting with surgeries. This type of freedom in the healthcare world makes me love the idea of becoming a PA. As a PA, I will work as part of a team that ensures every patient receives the care he or she needs. I am excited to be a PA that makes a difference in the lives of others, and I look forward to spending the new few years of my life learning from and growing with peers that have similar aspirations.
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