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Personal statement rough draft, I need feedback, please!

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I just finished my first draft. Are the ideas in my personal statement too general? Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks! Feel free to message me feedback or post it on this thread, anything you can offer would be great. Here it is:

 

I work in a psychiatric hospital.

 

When I mention this to those outside the always locked double doors, it often conjures up the widely adopted vision of sterile, concrete hallways and shackled beds. They think of needles, caretakers reminiscent of Nurse Ratched and some kind of indefinite, twisted eternal fate reserved only for the “insane.” We hear about the aggression, the suicide, the psychosis; we discuss the dangers of working with the mentally ill, and as a public body, chastise the treatment options that are available. As a technician on a psychiatric medical floor, I find this reputation repulsive; not only does it foster a misunderstanding of what we seek to accomplish, it instigates a negative attitude that promotes the public to treat those afflicted with mental illnesses differently. Often, the stigma associated with mental illness blinds people from understanding what being afflicted with mental illness means. We often don’t hear about are the difficulties that these people face in living with their illness; beyond medical histories, these are real people with their own joys and families and stories. Consider the man with Huntington’s, wheelchair bound for his own safety, whose father and brother were similarly afflicted with the disease, or the self-harming 30-year-old, arms covered in long, thin scars, whose psychological stressors eventually led him to a life on the streets. There’s the deeply religious mother of four amidst the throes postpartum depression, unable to even feed herself. When we step back, we do not see the whole picture, but instead the violence and injustice and sickness that exists. What people often miss is that psychiatric hospitals do not seek to confine these people, but instead aim to allow them to thrive. Amidst the darkness of mental illness, it can be difficult to find hope, to remember that people support you, and to recognize your own strength. It can be difficult to see, and sometimes impossible to believe, that there is hope, even in the most disparate of situations. The most rewarding aspect of working in this field is restoring that hope that has been lost within the throes of mental illness. It can be difficult to imagine the chronic despair of depression or constant torment from auditory hallucinations without experiencing them personally. I hope to never know what it is like to experience their pain, but what I do understand is that feeling listened to and cared about is perhaps the most effective medicine of all. There’s nothing better than seeing the eyes of a depressed woman light up as she reunites with her children upon her discharge, or finally meeting the man who was locked into a catatonic state for weeks, or helping a once bedbound patient walk again for the first time. This is why I love working in healthcare, and why I am pursing the physician assistant profession.

 

As a physician assistant, I hope to become more effective and more highly involved in the treatment of my patients, and continue to develop my clinical skills. I consider myself a continuous learner and have many interests inside and outside the medical field: I am a former collegiate athlete and a future marathoner, an advocate for environmentally responsible farming, a front-porch enthusiast, and an aspiring Francophone. Professionally, I am interested in several medical specialties, including pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry, international medicine, emergency medicine, and medicine for the underserved. These specialties in particular present social challenges in addition to medical ones, and through my mental health background I have gained a passion for lessening these barriers. My goal is to provide my patients with care that benefits them not only from a medical standpoint, but also form a relationship that allows patients to feel valuable and involved in their care. Working in mental health, my understanding of wellness has changed significantly. It seems that the distinction between physical and mental health is an abstract one, and that the complexity of medical treatment goes beyond the medicine itself. Ultimately, it is this understanding that drives me to become a physician assistant—there would be no greater reward than to be able to do meaningful work healing the wounded, emotionally and physically.

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Hey there, size matters :P 

That first paragraph is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too long. I didn't read it because my eyes and brain could only think "that's too much". Break it up first.

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Cut out the repetitive adverbs. Go back through and look at how many times you use "more" and "many". Also, speaking simply is more endearing and relatable than run-on sentences using esoteric verbiage are impressive. (see)

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I think this essay has GREAT potential and I am totally jealous of your HCE!!!!

With that out of the way, lets get down to it.  

I'll write my suggestions in red.

 

First, I agree with the other posters, the first paragraph is wayyyyyyy too long.  Try to limit your descriptions a little.

 

 I work in a psychiatric hospital.

 

When I mention this to those outside the always (take out always) locked double doors, it often conjures up the "widely adopted vision of concrete hallways, shackled beds and Nurse Ratched."  reads a little cleaner. Now you can take out the next sentence since you combined the two.  We hear about the aggression, the suicide, the psychosis; we discuss the dangers of working with the mentally ill, and as a public body, chastise the treatment options that are available. As a technician on a psychiatric medical floor, I find this reputation repulsive; I suggest finding a softer word for this.  I admire your passion but you are sort of telling all of us who make those assumptions that we are big jerks - don't potentially antagonize the admissions committee even if it is a valid point! How about using something like "I find this reputation sadly uninformed,"   not only does it foster a misunderstanding of what we seek to accomplish, it instigates a negative attitude that promotes the public to treat those afflicted with mental illnesses differently. Often, the stigma associated with mental illness blinds people from understanding what being afflicted with mental illness means. We often don’t hear about are the difficulties that these people face in living with their illness; beyond medical histories, these are real people with their own joys and families and stories.OK, here is where you begin to run off the rails.  I had to force myself to read all of this.  Very sad, I agree, but what I would suggest is to  skip all of this and go to the sentence that starts with "What people often miss is that psychiatric hospitals do not seek to confine these people, but instead aim to allow them to thrive" ….. Then recount a story that you personally witnessed.  Start with "For example, I met a man with …  who has problems with/... and it made a difference in my life….how?  And it all turned out great blah blah…. " Then end with the last sentence, "This is why I love working in healthcare, and why I am pursing the physician assistant profession"    and throw out the rest.  SLAM DUNK, BABY!!!  

Consider the man with Huntington’s, wheelchair bound for his own safety, whose father and brother were similarly afflicted with the disease, or the self-harming 30-year-old, arms covered in long, thin scars, whose psychological stressors eventually led him to a life on the streets. There’s the deeply religious mother of four amidst the throes postpartum depression, unable to even feed herself. When we step back, we do not see the whole picture, but instead the violence and injustice and sickness that exists. What people often miss is that psychiatric hospitals do not seek to confine these people, but instead aim to allow them to thrive. Amidst the darkness of mental illness, it can be difficult to find hope, to remember that people support you, and to recognize your own strength. It can be difficult to see, and sometimes impossible to believe, that there is hope, even in the most disparate of situations. The most rewarding aspect of working in this field is restoring that hope that has been lost within the throes of mental illness. It can be difficult to imagine the chronic despair of depression or constant torment from auditory hallucinations without experiencing them personally. I hope to never know what it is like to experience their pain, but what I do understand is that feeling listened to and cared about is perhaps the most effective medicine of all. There’s nothing better than seeing the eyes of a depressed woman light up as she reunites with her children upon her discharge, or finally meeting the man who was locked into a catatonic state for weeks, or helping a once bedbound patient walk again for the first time. This is why I love working in healthcare, and why I am pursing the physician assistant profession.

 

As a physician assistant, I hope to become more effective and more highly involved in the treatment of my patients, and continue to develop my clinical skills. I consider myself a continuous learner and have many interests inside and outside the medical field: I am a former collegiate athlete and a future marathoner, an advocate for environmentally responsible farming, a front-porch enthusiast, and an aspiring Francophone. What?  A francophone? As in, someone who speaks French?   While this is a diverse list, its sort of empty.  Like, what is it you liked about sports?  Are you competitive, do you like team sports, do you like being in a team environment, or are you just interested in being healthy? If thats so, say it. Why do you speak French? Do you like to travel, is your mother french, did you just take a lot of it in school?  This list tells me you are trying to show me you are well rounded, but it doesn't really get at the core of what kinds of things motivate you. If I told you I play the violin, I was on the ski team and I like to garden, it doesn't tell you much about me.  But if I say hearing and making classical music transports me to a place of beauty and so does planning and planting flower beds, you know something more about what matters to me: not only do I like beautiful things, but being involved in producing them is important, its more personal.  BTW, whats this about front-porch enthusiast?      Professionally, I am interested in several medical specialties, including pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry, international medicine, emergency medicine, and medicine for the underserved. I would skip the list and write simply "Professionally, I am interested in areas of speciality that present …  social challenges in addition to medical ones, and through my mental health background I have gained a passion for lessening these barriers. My goal is to provide my patients with care that benefits them not only from a medical standpoint, but also form a relationship that allows patients to feel valuable and involved in their care. Working in mental health, my understanding of wellness has changed significantly. It seems that the distinction between physical and mental health is an abstract one, and that the complexity of medical treatment goes beyond the medicine itself. Ultimately, it is this understanding that drives me to become a physician assistant—there would be no greater reward than to be able to do meaningful work healing the wounded, emotionally and physically.  

 

Love the ending - strong and concise.  Your passion for medicine, specifically psychiatry shines through and I think you have a great shot! Good luck

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I think the above commenter did a great job in critiquing your essay. There are a couple stylistic things about your phrasing that I would change, only based on my personal preference.

 

When I mention this to those outside the (I agree with the above commenter...take out the word "always") locked double doors (leave out the comma and "it") often conjure up the widely adopted vision of sterile, concrete hallways and shackled beds. 

I find this reputation repulsive (maybe offensive or to be untrue?) ; (I would take out not only does) It fosters a misunderstanding of what we seek to accomplish and it instigates a negative attitude that promotes the public to treat those afflicted with mental illnesses differently

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Thanks for the feedback everyone! I appreciate the honest feedback, especially coming from fellow applicants. I make most changes you guys offered, shortened paragraphs, and shifted the focus a bit (the PA I work with suggested I focus more on the profession in particular.) Here's what my third and (hopefully) final draft looks like:

 

I work on a psychiatric floor.
 
When I mention this to those outside the locked double doors, it often conjures up the widely adopted vision of concrete hallways, shackled beds and Nurse Ratched--a twisted, eternal fate reserved only for the "insane." We hear about aggressive, suicidal, psychotic people, people whose minds work differently than ours--people who are not like us.
 
As a psychiatric technician, I find this reputation sadly misinformed. It fosters a misunderstanding of the goals of psychiatric treatment, and creates a sense of separation between "normal people" and the mentally ill. Working on Saint Mary's Psychiatric Medical Unit, a hospital floor specializing in medical treatment for chronically and acutely mentally ill patients, I have gained a great deal of insight into the treatment of physical and mental illness and a tremendous amount of respect for those who face these illnesses. With so many negative stories circulating though the media, it's easy to forget that the mentally ill are real people--like all people, they experience sadness, pain and joy. They have families, struggles, and lives of their own. Consider the man with Huntington's, wheelchair-bound for his own safety, whose father and brother were similarly afflicted with the disease, or the self-harming 30-year-old, arms covered in long, thin scars, whose psychological stressors eventually led him to homelessness, or the deeply religious mother of four amidst the throes postpartum depression, unable to care for her child or herself. The struggles these individuals face are real, yet unimaginably complex; their backgrounds diverse, their need for help universal. It is from these individuals that I have gained a great deal of respect for the mentally and physically ill, and a desire to pursue the physician assistant (PA) profession.
 
As a PA, I hope to become more highly involved in the treatment of the mentally and physically ill. Currently, I work alongside professionals in many different roles:  nurses, doctors, PAs, and others. It is thanks to their medical expertise that therapy is possible, but the compassion that these individuals exemplify further motivates me to pursue the PA profession--they have challenged me to question my understanding of mental illness, to treat individuals with the highest level of compassion and respect, and to continue pursuing my own goals, professionally and personally. It is the ease by which they soothe anxiety, the sense of calm they lend during a psychotic episode, the hope they impart amidst deep depression that I hope to emulate. My admiration of the work these individuals do has motivated me to pursue the PA profession. By understanding illness, mental or physical, it can be better addressed; ultimately, I hope that this understanding will allow me to care for patients holistically and compassionately.
 
My motivation to become a PA has developed through my experiences, but I have an intrinsic desire to work compassionately with other individuals in order to find solutions to problems. I consider myself a continuous learner, a listener and a team player--all qualities that I hope will benefit my practice in the PA profession. I seek to challenge myself to better provide the people I serve, and challenge patients to make positive decisions to improve their own lives. My goal is to practice in medical specialties I feel present both medical and social challenges, specialties in which I believe my desire to promote mental and physical wellness will make the greatest impact. Currently, I am interested in pediatrics, psychiatry, international medicine, emergency medicine, and medicine for the underserved. Ultimately, my goal is to practice medicine in a manner that fully acknowledges the importance of a patient's medical issues, forming a trusting patient-provider relationship that promotes physical well-being, dignity and self-worth.
 
Through working with the mentally and physically ill, my understanding of wellness has changed significantly. The distinction between physical and mental health is an abstract one, and the complexity of medical treatment goes beyond medicine itself--for sutures cannot heal emotional wounds, and the most effective treatment is useless without a patient's participation and trust. We can only begin to ease suffering when we begin to understand its origins, and to understand its origins, we must be willing to listen. Ultimately, it is this understanding that drives me to become a PA--there would be no greater reward than to be able to do meaningful work healing the wounded, emotionally and physically.
 
 
Anything else before I submit? Thanks for reading it! :D

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