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Not PA Specific enough? -First Time applicant please help!

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Hey everyone,


     So I'm applying for my first time and this is pretty much my first draft. I had my coworker who just got into PA school check it out and he said I am talking too much just about the things I did opposed to specifically why I want to be a PA and not a physician. I would really appreciate some feedback! I posted something earlier without any responses so even anything brief I would really appreciate.


Thanks a lot!




            My passion for medicine arose from one of my other greatest passions: surfing. One day while I was surfing I looked back and saw a large wave about to crash on me, as it did I felt a horrific pop in my knee. When I reached the surface I immediately noticed a deformity of my patella. I floated helplessly in excruciating pain as waves crashed on me, and I screamed for help. Another surfer came and carried me to the beach where a man was waiting. He stated “I’m an ER doctor, I’m here to help you.” He proceeded to calm me down and explained that If I wanted, he would pop my patella back into place. I told him to do it and immediately I was relieved from the pain. At that moment I realized I wanted to help people like this man helped me.

            Out of high school I did not get into a university that I wanted to attend. I decided to stay in my hometown, attend community college, and continue to work as a kitchen supervisor. My mother was a respiratory therapist since she was 19 so I looked to her for advice to acquire some health care experience. She suggested that I volunteer at the local hospital. As a volunteer I did small tasks like bring patients food and blankets and often I would talk with patients who were alone in the emergency room and wanted to be comforted. This is where I began to realize how important showing patients attention was, and how much they valued this.

            After two years back home, I moved to Los Angeles and attended a community college in hopes of having a better chance at getting into UCLA. In need for a job, I decided to get my phlebotomy certification so I could maintain that patient interaction which I enjoyed.  After being certified, I volunteered for a month in a clinic that was in a very low-income area where the patients where primarily spanish-only speaking. With a decent background of Spanish, I was able to continue communicating with patients while also improving my Spanish. While looking for jobs, I received a call for an interview for a job as an ER scribe. I was excited at this opportunity because I had heard great things about the vast amount of information and exposure that scribes acquire in the ER. 2 months later I was accepted to UCLA as a biology major.

            Working as a scribe is where I really learned about the practice of medicine, and the role of a PA. After over 2 years in the ER I have seen over 4,000 different cases ranging from lacerations and fractures, to STEMIs and strokes. I was able to observe and document the entire patient stay from initial interview and exam, procedures, diagnosis, all the way to disposition. I would work with some physicians who would see up to 40 patients in an 8-hour shift, while others would see under 10. It was easy to see that patients were much more satisfied with their stay when they physician spent more time with them. As a scribe I was able to help with this immensely because the physician would spend less time charting, and more time with the patient. Often I would also reassess the patient for the doctor and report back to the physician.

            For the last 6 months as a scribe, I worked as a lead scribe, and helped implement a scribe program in a hospital that had never had scribes before. I loved this experience because I was able to teach physicians and PAs how exactly to utilize their scribes in order to be more efficient. Once the providers realized how much we could help them, it was great to feel like a valuable member of the team. Another exciting thing about working in this new hospital was that I had never worked with PAs before. This role was very appealing to me because as a scribe I enjoyed working closely with physicians, but at the same time I admired the decision-making and critical thinking skills that the ER PAs employed. I also realized that many of the PAs made an effort to spend a lot of time with the patients because they realized how much the patients valued this. The PAs made an effort to personalize with the patients and this was something I enjoyed doing as a volunteer and a phlebotomist. Another observation in the ER was that many of the patients did not have PCPs, and so they used the ER as a clinic. Occasionally I saw PAs come to the ED who were PCPs for patients, and this seemed like an ideal solution for a shortage of primary care physicians.

            All of these experiences have led me to the desire to practice as a PA. As a scribe I was able to be part of a team that effectively not only treated, but satisfied patients. The flexibility of practicing as a PA would give me the ability to fill the need for primary providers but also still have the option of practicing in the ED. As a PCP I could maintain a strong personal connection with patients over a long time span or practicing in the ED I could service a larger quantity of patients while maintaining a similar connection with patients with urgent needs. Whatever scope of medicine I fall into, my goal is to be practicing as a PA. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Your PA friend is correct. You should focus more on why you want to become a PA. You have done a great deal talking about what you have observed.

Try this:

  • Elaborate on your scribe experience --how did you feel talking to the patients one on one and what have you learned in terms of medicine from this experience.
  • Talk more about working in the underserved clinic (how did that make you feel about providing for those in great medical need)
  • ALSO, try to stay clear of what most applicants include in their personal statement: "physicians are rushed" etc etc etc.
  • You did a great job stating that PAs are sometimes PCPs, why do you think that? *hint - it's the main purpose of the profession*
  • Put some emotions and feelings into your essay.
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The advice i have given probably 4 different times in the past few days. Do not badmouth the physicians. If you have nothing positive to say, do not say anything. Keep it as a rule fo you PS.

Your essay is not bad...but appears as if too long, and just not not very exciting. So, rewrite with the advice above.

Also, may be a bit less about scribe...it is not accepted as HCE everywhere, so, keep that in mind.

Good luck

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I agree with previous posts. Pretty vague. Could substitute nurse practitioner for PA easily. I would edit out more of the previous personal journey to PA and focus more on the current journey as to why it should be PA and not NP/DO/MD. 

Furthermore, if you want your essay to really sing, begin with the surfing story. Then give details why surfing is relevant to other aspects besides the sport - life experiences, PA, etc. And then BAM, braid together the similarities between surfing/PA and you're golden. It could read beautifully, and I guarantee that the majority of applicants couldn't even begin to write something similar. Plus, it could give the interviewers a good concept to grasp onto during interviews (tell us more about being a surfer and how that applies to your professional career as a PA). hahah I'm just guessing. But I wouldn't be surprised if surfing is something that could pique their interest, and bring you in for an interview. G'luck!

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