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PS - Input Please! Trying to set myself apart

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I have gotten two VERY different pieces of feedback on my draft. One of which was from an academic advisor (who knows what the admissions committees are looking for) and the other was from a writing center advisor (who knows the structure and grammar). I am desperately trying to steer away from the majority of PSs I've read on here, such as "ever since I was young.." or a list of traits that I plan on demonstrating when I actually become a PA. So, what I'm trying to do here, is center all of those traits and reasons for wanting to be a PA around a story of a shadowing experience that I had. When the PA entered the procedure rooms, she took off her white coat. So I'm using that to say that this showed me she was a regular person just like anyone else, she did not use the coat as a physical representation of arrogance, etc. I know I should use basic sentences and get straight to the point, but if I only do that, the piece loses personality and ability to portray emotion. I know that the flow is pretty bad right now, but that's why I'm asking for help. I'm also over the limit a bit. Brutally honest opinions are appreciated!! Here it is:

 

The white coat ceremony: the day in which the delicacy of a future planned for, fueled by years of dedication and passion, is firmly grasped by a panel of professionals who believe in the apprentices and will solidify their paths to becoming physician assistants. As this white coat is draped over one’s shoulders, visual symbolism is emanated. It honors the end of a quest to the pinnacle of prestige, intelligence, trust, respect, and ascendency. A white coat enhances a patient’s sense of trust for their provider; that their provider has the knowledge to help them. A dream seemingly far from reach, I thought to myself for years, “Could it ever be possible for me to be the one chosen for such an honor?”

 

The summer before my senior year of college, I was given the opportunity to shadow a PA who specializes in hematology/oncology at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. She prescribed chemotherapy to patients suffering from ruthlessly aggressive cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I could feel the austerity in each room as I entered, but the PA’s comforting nature provided temporary relief. One patient and I shared the experience of our first bone marrow biopsy; for me, it was observing, for her, she was the recipient of the painful procedure. As soon as I walked into the cramped room, I could sense the austerity as the patient and family members, including her 5-year-old daughter, waited anxiously. They asked question after question, with feelings of apprehension, uncertainty, and bravery displayed on their faces. The PA explained that after she received the procedure, she would be admitted that very day for a month-long stint with chemotherapy. I would not only remember the biopsy method, but the volumes that were spoken from one particular act of the physician assistant. It is the first image that comes to mind when I contemplate why I chose to pursue this profession. She entered the room, prepared for the procedure, and removed her white coat.

 

I failed to realize my ignorance and distorted perception of the essence of the white coat until I pondered what I had just witnessed. By taking off her coat, the PA made the patient feel totally comfortable and unwound any pretense of superiority. She was at odds with a society uses professional uniform as a schism for social standing and intelligence. There was no longer a physical representation of separation between provider and patient; she valued each of their lives as much as her own. In that moment, I realized the type of physician assistant I would aspire to be and envisioned myself in the moment of my own white coat ceremony. Upon being adorned, I would not consider the coat to portray entitlement or imply competence, but rather be a pleasant reminder of hard work and of the duty I have to help people. As my time at the cancer center concluded, I reflected on the start of my journey and the culmination of experiences that have bolstered my unwavering passion to pursue this career.

 

Time spent mentoring underprivileged children as well as working with disabled patients has filled my heart with humility and fortitude. The way in which I have learned each personality: their essence, their spirit, their wants, needs; was by actively listening and simply spending time together. Three years as a shift leader at a rehabilitation home for the developmentally disabled and brain-injured has prepared me to thrive as an effective team player for both during and what lies beyond PA school. The incidental erratic and unpredictable behavior of the clients I aid has been a test of patience and cohesion amongst staff. All of the training, the mental list of protocols for crisis response, can at times be futile, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and adaptability.

 

I have never been able to see myself at a desk job, playing mindless computer games and pretending to look busy until the clock strikes five. What a waste of a mind; so precious, limitless, and capable to do great things. Instead, I am eager to demonstrate my tenacity by contributing to this rapidly evolving and brightly projected field. I anticipate establishing a respectful and trusting relationship with physicians, who will feel confident in my talents for the delivery of efficient and effective care. The essence of autonomy will allow me to achieve personal goals, avoid complacency, and increase awareness of and clear misconceptions of the PA profession. My belief is that a provider and patient must have a fiduciary relationship; a mutual ability to effectively communicate symptoms and diagnoses.  Going beyond the superficial, I desire to reassure those who put all of their trust for what is so out of their hands, into my hands. With a pursuit of personal mastery, I see change as opportunity, think systematically as part of the greater whole, and remain deeply inquisitive.

 

The time has come; my dreams of one day receiving my white coat hold the potential to become reality. With appreciation, I reflect on the invaluable lesson learned during my shadowing experience. It was the day in which I captured the true essence of what it means to be a physician assistant. If I am believed in and chosen to emblazon my own white coat, I vow to fulfill my duty to not only provide technical treatment, but also demonstrate empathy, solicitude, and parity with each patient I ameliorate.

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I like the word play. I like what you're getting at. 

 

I do understand that you're applying to graduate schools but I once read somewhere [vaguely remember reading it on a school's website] that you should be writing your PS as if you are talking to someone. Example; your explanation above to why you're taking a different approach seems to come more naturally than your actual personal statement. 

 

Maybe someone with more experience can shed light on that.  

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Your voice is buried. I honestly read two paragraphs without absorbing anything because I was very distracted by the wordiness of it all. In your opening paragraph (not the first of your PS, but first of the post), I could hear who you are and felt you had something to say. Put away the thesaurus and just free write and I have a feeling you will be amazed with what you come up with.

As I always recommend ...  read this out loud to yourself and to someone else. Sometimes this will help give you a different perspective. 

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I don't get it. I mean, I get what you're trying to say, but I feel like you are doing so in an overly complicated manner. Why do you want to be a PA and not something else? What do you have to offer that no one else can? How have your experiences shaped and moved you? Too many words, zero passion.

 

 

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Definitely loose the big words. If the admissions committee has to bust out a dictionary to get through your essay, they will probably just stop reading it. You seem to have a good story to tell... so tell it. Just remember to tell it as you and as if you were telling it to someone you know. Maybe try recording yourself talking as a way to get in touch with your true voice. Good luck and I look forward to reading your final draft!

 

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Totally agree with umbPA and all of the above: your style of writing in your intro to your PS is what you need to use. You need people to get a sense of who you are in 5000 characters. You do not need to convey how closely you keep a thesaurus next to your desk.

 

Food for thought: if you have to preface your PS introduction with an additional introduction, that's a bad sign.

 

I think maybe you might just have too many ideas that you want to put out there, and trying to shove them all in makes the overall theme muddled. If I were you I would just start over. I found it really helpful to get out all my ideas and anecdotes by quickly typing it all up, stream-of-consciousness style. From there, I had to use a harsh editing eye to decide what really fit my overall theme. 

 

So, your theme is that the simple gesture of taking off a white coat was so much more than the PA merely getting comfortable - it symbolized approachability, fearlessness when it comes to hands on medicine, etc. So talk about that! Skip the stuff about "what an honor" and "social schisms" or whatever. Don't talk so much about what it's not, but instead use some passion to what it is and what it means to you.

 

And do it in your own voice. If your theme is how approachable PAs are, you better show how approachable you are by your writing style and choice of words.

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