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  1. Hello all! I took the GRE in May and received a 153 on quant (49%tile), 152 verbal (54%tile), and I did pretty bad on the writing- 3.0 (15%tile). I was wondering how bad it would hurt my application to have a 3.0 on writing. I have ~2700 relevant PCE hours, over 1,000 HCE hours, 3.68 cGPA, 3.53 sGPA both GPAs are an upward trend. Should I be too worried? I definitely plan on taking the GRE again if I don’t get accepted this year. Anyone have experience applying with low GRE and still getting accepted? thanks!!
  2. This week, I am continuing my series on the most common personal statement mistakes. If you didn’t catch part one, check it out here. Below, you can find five more mistakes that applicants make when writing their personal statements. Writing About Something That Makes You a “Good Applicant” - Referencing being a “strong applicant” in a personal statement is not something I am a huge fan of. Your goal throughout your academic and clinical experiences should be to build a foundation that will make a better PA student and a stronger PA. It should not be about checking off boxes just because you think that it's what adcoms want to see. Don’t list off your extracurriculars in your personal statement, including things because you feel that they make you a “more competitive” applicant. This essay is not a resume. Instead, write about experiences that you’ve had that are central to your decision to pursue this profession, not about those that you think adcoms want to hear about. Addressing Difficult Topics the Wrong Way - To include or not to include… that always seems to be the question. Whether it’s bad grades, mental health issues, struggles with addiction or other life tragedy, it’s hard to know what should be addressed in a personal statement. I find that when applicants choose to include difficult topics, they focus too much on the negative without emphasizing the positive while including lots of unnecessary details. They often don’t even mention how their experience was relevant to their journey towards the PA profession at all. The big takeaway here is if you are going to touch on a difficult topic in your personal statement, make sure that it's an integral part of your journey before dedicating characters to it. If you have decided to include it, the best thing you can do is be concise about shortcomings/difficult subject matter/etc. Don't dwell on the negative. Instead, emphasize how you addressed the issue whether it's mental health, grades, chronic illness or whatever other issue or circumstance you experienced. Did you grow from it? Did it push you towards the profession more? Did it motivate you to change something? Explore that. Forcing the Reader to Read Between the Lines - I can’t tell you how many times I highlight a sentence and make the comment, “Why?” Applicants will often say something like, “Being a paramedic/scribe/MA/EMT made me want to become a PA. It was a great experience.” But, why?! What exactly was it about this experience that drove you to pursue your goal of becoming a PA? When sharing your experiences, make sure you say exactly what you want to say. Don’t force the reader to make inferences about your feelings and insights. Using Passive, Questioning Language - This one seems minor but it can change the entire tone of your essay. Let me give you an example - “Some of my grades in my undergraduate career were not stellar, but I think that with my recent successes I am likely more prepared to take on PA school. I know it will be a challenge but I feel I could be ready.” Try to avoid using terms like, “I feel… I think… Could… Would... Probably… Likely…” when projecting your future success. Be certain of yourself in your language and your tone. Reframing this and emphasizing some stronger language - “Although I occasionally struggled early on in my undergraduate career, my more recent successes are a reflection of my true academic ability. PA school will be a challenge, but I know that I am ready and more prepared than ever to take it on.” In this iteration, you’ve said that your recent successes are reflective of your abilities, not that “they might be.” You have said that you “know” you are prepared to handle PA school as opposed to just “thinking” you could be ready. Flowery Language - Last, but definitely not least, flowery language. This one is an essay killer. “The morning was crisp and bright when I stepped out my creaky, old door. I noticed the beautiful, pink rose sprouting from the green bush, covered with dew droplets on petals that were as bold and stunning as they were fragrant.” This is drowning in unnecessary descriptors. Please, don’t do this. Adcoms don’t want to read this. You probably don’t even want to read this. It’s all filler. Tell an engaging story but avoid using flowery, overly descriptive prose that says absolutely nothing while taking up an offensive amount of characters. Be concise and intentional with your writing.
  3. The Finer Details of the Personal Statement By Hannah Turner Writing is a special form of masochism. You construct something you’re deeply proud of, fretting over the mechanics of each sentence and the placement of every word, only to ask peers and editors to tear it apart completely. You take in their criticisms, ditch the bad ideas and get right back to work on the next draft. Along the way you have to let go of concepts that you were deeply attached to, and it hurts. In the end, the writing process is satisfying in its own right - in search of perfection you can create something really remarkable. The personal statement is an especially challenging form of writing, mostly because it’s so… deeply personal. The ideas and words that you choose to share are reflective of who you are; not only is it difficult to write about and articulate your own personal experiences and feelings, but you then have to submit this material to the editing process, which at times can be brutal. When applying to PA school, the personal statement is a challenging rite of passage that each of us must endure. So, what exactly is the PA school personal statement? At first glance, the parameters appear to be simple - it’s a 5,000 character essay which asks the question “Why are you interested in being a PA?” Although this question seems direct, there are nuances to the essay that are left unstated. First and foremost, implied in any personal statement is the idea that this piece of writing should explain who you are. That means that this is your chance for the admissions committee to get to know you. In addition to answering “Why PA?” and “Who are you?” your personal statement should also chronicle your background, experiences in healthcare and understanding of the PA profession. Although the prompt asks a singular, unassuming question, it quickly becomes a complicated web. A good personal statement will integrate the answers to all of the stated and unstated questions seamlessly. A big piece of understanding the personal statement is recognizing how programs utilize this portion of your application. The admissions committee will have your transcripts, summaries of clinical, volunteer and non-healthcare work experiences, information about awards or scholarships and explanations of any extracurricular activities. Although this is a major part of your application, a lot is left unsaid. They have your resume, but that doesn’t encompass who you are as a person. Are you are deeply passionate about caring for the medically underserved? Do you have a desire to work in primary care so that you can give back to your community? Tell the admissions committee about it! Here is your big opportunity to shine and leave your mark. The personal statement can also give you the chance to discuss any personal issues, discrepancies in your application or bumps in the road. Some applicants choose to address their upbringing or any disadvantages they experienced in their childhood and adolescent years. Others will briefly touch on academic struggles and extenuating circumstances they dealt with that caused disruptions in their coursework. The floor is yours to expand on anything you feel isn’t clear. Writing your personal statement will almost certainly be challenging, but it’s a necessary evil. This essay will allow admissions committees to understand who you are and what has been driving you towards the PA profession. It will give them an idea of what was happening in all of the space between the lines of your resume. Be genuine and get personal, because the personal statement can make or break your application. No pressure. For tips on writing your personal statement, check out this article about the five steps that make the process easier.
  4. I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread for people to post their successful CASPA essays so that new applicants can get a better idea of what schools are looking for as they write their own. I will begin by posting a link to mine below (it is posted in my blog). Please comment with your own examples if you are an accepted student. My CASPA Personal Statement (as an example)
  5. I am having trouble with starting my personal statement. People keep telling me to start it off with an experience or anecdote to draw the readers in..There is not just ONE experience that sparked my dream of working in the medical field. I feel as though the various experiences I have had collectively have drawn me into the medical field. Here are a few topics I was thinking of starting my personal statement with..Please give me any feedback! (I am interested in specializing in dermatology, but by no means am I committed to this specialty!!) 1.) I currently work as a medical assistant in dermatology..maybe I could talk about some of the experiences I have had doing this such as surgery, dealing with patients, etc... 2.) My personal history of malignant melanoma, and how that led me to volunteer for the melanoma foundation, become a public speaker and tell my story to educate/raise awareness to young adults/teens...now I work as a derm medical assistant 3.) (Completely unrelated to derm) Worked in a nursing home and happened to be at the right place at the right time when a resident was having a stroke...(this was an experience to remember, but not my topic of choice) I would then discuss shadowing PAs and MDs and why I want to be a PA....bla bla bla Please let me know what you think! I am lost right now! I appreciate your help!
  6. Wanted: Social Media Coordinator! First Rounds is seeking a motivated PA student to serve as social media coordinator for 2016-2017. The position is a 1-year commitment with the option to extend the role for a second year. Duties include, but are not limited to: 1. Consistently create engaging content for social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter 2. Keep up-to-date with additional news and opportunities for PA students that are relevant to the FR audience 3. Increase FR brand awareness to PA students and programs nationwide 4. Possess outstanding written communication skills. 5. Effectively utilize humor and wit while maintaining a professional tone in written content 6. Commit to the role of assistant editor October 2016-2017. 7. Be flexible with scheduling, be adaptable, and communicate effectively with the entire team If you are a proactive, current PA student with a strong interest in social networking opportunities, please send a resume or CV with your name, PA program, graduation date, and a short summary of why you would be a great FR social media coordinator to FirstRoundsSubmission@gmail.com. Please include 1-3 examples of your social media interactions. The position includes an optional $400 reimbursement stipend to attend the 2017 AAPA Conference in Las Vegas. Deadline for applications is September 30, 2016. Interviews will be held at the beginning of October. Requirements: 1. Must be a current PA student in good standing with an ARC-PA accredited PA program 2. Must be a current member of AAPA 3. The selected candidate must have at least one year remaining in school as of October 2016. (i.e. graduation date of October 2017 or later) * Those with prior social media experience will be given preference, but it is not required. ​Check out the original post on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/firstrounds/photos/a.459401247586706.1073741828.458562654337232/498591923667638/?type=3&theater
  7. First Rounds - PA Professional's student news section - is now on Facebook! Like our page, then click see first and turn notifications on to stay up to date with the latest call for submissions as well as other upcoming opportunities. http://www.facebook.com/firstrounds First Rounds Published quarterly, First Rounds (FR) is PA Professional magazine’s student section written for PA students by PA students. Our mission is to expand student involvement outside of the classroom and foster additional opportunities and interests beyond medicine. We give students a voice and a place to share their experiences with current and future PAs and students.
  8. 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!
  9. Hey everyone! Katie from Alabama here. I am an RT (2 years experience) trying to get into PA school. I am struggling with this personal statement. I somehow ended up writing TWO... they are completely different (in my eyes) I would love any input you guys have as to which one the admissions committee may value more! I'm not exactly looking for help editing them (though I would gladly accept because I definitely need it) I am just trying to decide which one is worth me continuing to work on...Thank you so much!! -Katie PS # 1: My interest in medicine began at a young age. I was first introduced to the health care field as I regularly made visits to the emergency room being a carefree child. As the years passed and I grew older, I began to consider different roles within this field. I decided I wanted to be a nurse so I could care directly for patients. I had every intention of being the best nurse any patient could have. I knew it was perfect for me because I enjoyed communicating with people and I felt like I could make patients feel more at ease even though they were going through a medical crisis. I had the opportunity to shadow a family practice nurse at a local doctor's office and realized that the nursing profession wasn't for me. I didn't give up here, searching for other modalities in health care, I shadowed a dermatologist and her team. During my time shadowing, I was introduced to the profession of Physician Assistant. I was very much impressed that a PA can see their own patients, treat and diagnose them, and still rely on the physician’s knowledge when needed. This experience with aPhysician Assistant solidified all my desires of working in medicine. I knew that choosing this as my profession would allow me to interact with patients closely and be a vital asset to the medical field. My passion for learning more about the human body intensified when I took an elective course at my junior college. The course wasHuman Gross Anatomy and Pathology which consisted of mostly cadaver dissection. What seems gruesome to most people was completely fascinating to me. I eagerly attended class every day because I thoroughly enjoyed studying human anatomy. I loved being able to physically touch the muscles, bones, and organs of the cadaver. Although anatomy books provide pretty realistic illustrations of anatomical features, the experience of direct examination of cadavers enhanced my interest in learning. The fifteen weeks I spent dissecting my cadaver was only the beginning to a lifetime passion I have for learning more about medicine and the human body. Naturally, I began pursuing an undergraduate degree that would allow me to be as involved in patient care as possible. I continued my education at the University as a Respiratory Therapy major. The program coursework gave me valuable knowledge about the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, while the clinical requirements allowed me to gain hands on experience dealing with a variety of patient ailments. Transitioning from a student to a young professional, I began my career as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) at the state’s only pediatric specialty hospital. Here, I work in a level IV NICU caring for a wide range of patients including extreme prematurity to infants requiring surgery. I manage artificial airways, conventional and high-frequency oscillatory ventilators, nitric oxide administration, and blood gas interpretation. Working in an intensive care unit matured my ambition to become a physician assistant. I often assist doctors and with intubations, codes, and bedside surgeries which only makes me aspire to do more in the realm of health care. The valuable experience I have gained as an RRT will undoubtably aid in my journey to becoming a PA. I am choosing a career as a physician assistant because I am passionate about medicine. I am eager to learn more about the human body and excited to share my knowledge with future patients. Deciding at a young age to work in health care has granted me with the ability to stay focused on this career goal throughout life. My work as an RRT has allowed me to stay dedicated to patient care and gain valuable experience along the way. With the knowledge gained from the physician assistant program, I know that I will be able to provide the best quality care for my patients. PS #2: She was the first patient that I truly loved. Big brown eyes, beautiful curly brown hair, and a smile that would melt your heart. She was everybody’s favorite, her name was Baby A. Her mother referred to their time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as a roller coaster ride, the only thing for certain was the uncertainty that each day would bring. I had only been working as a respiratory therapist in the NICU a few weeks before I met Baby A and her mother. I took a liking to them from the moment we met. The mom was young and was going through some family issues, so I instantly became someone she felt comfortable talking to. I spent a lot time in Baby A’s room, monitoring her ventilator and respiratory treatments, as well as keeping up my relationship with mom. Each passing day, her condition would change, some days were improvements and some days were setbacks. For seven and a half months Baby A would fight for her life, being an inspiration to everyone who met her. Months later, I remember her mom tapping me on the shoulder as I was charting. Tears in her eyes, she was about to have to make the hardest decision any parent has to make. Baby A was not improving and hadn’t over the past few weeks. Doctor’s gave her mother the new prognosis and she chose what was best for her daughter. I stood there with her and hugged her and cried with her. No words to say, just showed the love and compassion I had for her. Was this okay? Was this allowed? The questions popped in my head as I held the mother in my arms. The only thing I knew for certain was that it felt like the right thing to do. The right thing to do at this moment was to show a human response for a very real human emotion. And that was okay. I have learned through this experience that health care isn’t always about saving the day or healing the sick, but rather being there to comfort the patient and their families. I am choosing to become a physician assistant because I want to combine my passion for helping people and my love for medicine. I know that I obtain all the characteristics needed to pursue a career as a PA, and with the knowledge gained from this program, I will be able to provide the best quality care to my patients. In memory of Baby A and other patients who have touched my life, I want benevolence to be a distinct characteristic in my approach to health care. I want to heal others with my knowledge as well as with the empathy I show them. Thank you again.
  10. If you need help with your personal statement or would like to have it professionally edited, you should try www.codeblueessays.com . I was very happy with the help they gave me. I liked that the editors are in the medical field, so they understood what I was talking about in my personal statement.
  11. I’ve struggled for many years towards trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Medicine had always being an interest for me and I thought of becoming a doctor, but quickly learned that it does not suit me as the individual that I am. I wanted to work in a field of medicine that took on an ample of responsibility like a doctor but that takes a different approach towards patient caring. Physician Assistant fits that perfectly because it allows the individual to work in a setting that is both driven and humbling. I’ve seen great characters in the few of the PA I’ve shadowed. The patience that they demonstrate towards their patients and their humbling spirit when interacting with their supervising physician. My interest for medicine derive from my love of patient caring. That is what drove me to do what I am doing now, EMT. During the brief moments that I spend with my patients, I try my very best to make them count. I put great effort towards treating my patients with compassion, care, and respect. I understand that my scope of practice is very limited on what I can do for their better health, but all I can do, I do. The thought of changing someone mood if only for a second just by showing to them that you do really care about their health makes a great difference. Though patient caring is a great deal for me, I wanted more responsibilities around the health fields such as prescribing medicines and diagnosing. During my volunteer experiences at Caridad Center, I gained a great perspective on why I so desire to become a PA. I first started to just volunteer at Caridad offering my services on doing whatever they wanted me to, but soon I got certified as an interpreter for Creole speaking patients who needed the help. It was such a blessing to my heart to be able to help those who absolutely could not help themselves. I could not do much for them in other areas of their lives but doing what I can for the moment felt amazing. As a Haitian immigrant myself, I was able to better relate to them. My heart goes out to all immigrants because just a language barrier can stop them from so many opportunities that can be given to them. I remember when the tragedy of the 7.0 magnitude hits Haiti and how my house in United Stated took an emotional quake on its own. We could not sleep or rest until we heard from the family members we have in Haiti. That semester for me was just as startling and it shocked me a lot academically. It was the worst semester that I went through and my grades took a deep plunge. I don’t use that as an excuse but more of an explanation. So much of my past has shaped me into the person that I am today. I grew up in the city of Port-Au-Prince in the island of Haiti. My dad left for better life to the United States when I was only two years old. My mother left also to the US when I was only four. I was then left to stay with my aunt and uncle under not the best of care. My aunt brought family members form the country to stay at my parents house. At times there could be over 20 of us staying in the same house using the resources my parents were sending from the states. It was not until the age of 10 that my parents were able to fly me to the United States and I was able to be one with this wonderful country and its endless possibilities. These possibilities are what make it possible to pursue a career in Physician Assistant with a strong passion unlike anything else I’ve pursued. My determination, perseverance and my faith are my best weapon towards achieving my goals and they have not let me down.
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