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Optometry school dropout wants to be PA - MUCH REVISED!!!

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I completely changed my first draft, if anyone read that. Regardless, any and all feedback welcome smile.gif i know there are a lot of narratives posted here, so if anyone wants to do a swap (i read yours, and you read mine), and provide genuine feedback, please let me know! Also the essay is far too longe (>1500 characters over) so if you see any fluff, let me know.



I was accepted and enrolled into the New England College of Optometry in 2007. I had had one year off after completion of my Bachelor’s degree, in which I had mainly been working in retail sales. I also shadowed an ophthalmologist prior to entering optometry school. Yes, I shadowed an ophthalmologist as exposure to optometry. Clearly ill-prepared and unwise, I did not do my diligent research prior to my graduate school entrance.


My grades consequentially suffered my first semester. However, I was fortunate to re-enroll with a fresh slate in the fall of 2008. I went in determined and my hard work started paying off – my grades drastically and my academics remained sound for two years. With each passing semester, however, I grew unhappier with the scope of the curriculum and the clinical experiences. I felt very limited and simply did not see a long term future as an optometrist. Grateful to having been given a second chance, however, I succumbed to staying in the program for two years for fear of failing myself, my family, and my support at school. The hefty cost of the two additional years of tuition relentlessly loomed over me, specifically because I did not want to eventually practice optometry. Ultimately, I made the most difficult decision I’ve had to make thus far – I removed myself from the program (in good academic standing; cumulative GPA>3.0).


At the time of my withdrawal, I knew I still very much wanted a career in healthcare – I just didn’t know in what capacity. In optometry school, my favorite courses had been anatomy, clinical medicine, and pharmacology. My interest in cadaver prosection in anatomy lab, in fact, surprised me. I had always thought deep down I had chosen optometry as a profession because it would be relatively “clean”. But as I studied all parts of the body, I discovered I was not squeamish and was enthralled with cadaver lab and my Netter’s textbook. I equally loved pharmacology, and was one of ten students out of ~110 who earned an A in the course. A medical doctor taught us in clinical medicine, but there was an always a heavy emphasis of ocular implications for all pathologies. It was clear to me that I desired a more encompassing education on the body and a more versatile clinical training.


In a quest for a more versatile career in medicine, I immersed myself in a breadth of healthcare experiences. Working as an aide to a neurologist, I have firsthand seen the impact of my contributions to patient care. By performing various screenings tests, taking medical histories, acting as a live medical scribe for electronic records and electromyography reports, I work collaboratively with the neurologist. For the first time, I established a meaningful long term rapport with patients.


Around the same time, I established a mentor in Dr. P, a practicing cardiologist, who was kind enough to allow me to shadow himself, as well as the echo teach, nurse, and medical assistant working in his practice. He introduced me to various hospital staff members at St. Margaret Mercy Hospital where I met Ramy, a neurosurgery physician assistant. In the operating room, I witnessed Rami assist in neck fusions, craniotomies, craniectomies (burr hole), and carpal tunnel release. In the office, Rami consults with the supervising neurosurgeon to establish initial diagnoses, evaluate CT scans, and discuss appropriate surgical options with the patients. The scope of his duties in both the office and OR illustrates a high level of trust and teamwork between physician and PA. He generally took upon duties that freed extra work from the neurosurgeon, and had a more significant role in addressing patient concerns.


Shadowing an emergency room PA and cardiac PA solidified my desire to purse the PA path. I appreciated that the overall contributions to the nature and quality of care provided by PA’s are widespread across different specialties. I enjoy the balance between practical procedural work and amount of direct patient care the PA’s provide. The notion that PA’s are not limited by universal tasks, are eternal students, and are able to choose a specialty and specialize on the job greatly appeal to me. The work of a PA allots for the establishment of a meaningful rapport with patients, and an extraordinary level of trust with the supervising physician based on merit. I am drawn to working in a profession which flourishes in this kind of duly autonomous and collaborative environment.


Finally, as there is no substitute for hands-on experience, I ventured to volunteer at the Nightingales Elders Enrichment Center in Bangalore, India in the fall of 2012. For three weeks, I provided day care and support to elderly patients with dementia. By far, partaking in caregiving was the most mentally exhausting but the most rewarding experience. I have developed an ability to maintain composure and react quickly under intense situations, and more importantly, I imbibed the value of a particular gentleness of care – from giving weekly manicures for a lady with sundown dementia, to playing card games with a gentleman with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, or simply assisting the nurse to bathe and dress patients. I felt like I was truly making a difference, at least in the ephemeral joy of the patients. The experience influenced me to volunteer here in the states, and I became a volunteer in the pediatric ICU at Advocate Christ Medical Center. Exposed to dealing with distressed patients and their families in India, I now felt confident with the sensitive nature of working in a pediatric ICU. I round on patients’ families to see if there is anything that would make their stay more comfortable, whether it be an empathetic ear for family members, or simply offering to make coffee or tea. I have learned that it is in nuances of good patient care lies real, tangible value.


Should I be accepted into your physician assistant program, there will be no ghosts of past errors. My decision to pursue the PA profession has been built upon a solid foundation of clinical, personal, and shadowing experiences. I have gained great clarity in the scope and mission of a physician assistant the past two years, as well as a great sense of self. My unyielding determination to succeed and proven ability to handle graduate level coursework will allow me to prosper in the rigorous program. I look forward to the start of this new journey and welcome all the challenges and expectations that lay ahead.

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I like where you're going with this, but you need to read each sentence aloud. There are some words missing (edits do that to everyone!) and you spell the neurosurgery PA's name differently (Ramy, Rami). Look at these small errors, because I think the tone and message are on the right track.

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