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Personal Statement

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Any critiques are appreciated! This is my first time applying and my second draft of my statement :).


Fifteen years ago I closed my eyes on a warm day in June, so that I would not have to watch them drift away.  They were nineteen large white balloons, eighteen of them for every year my sister, Amy, was alive. That day would have been her nineteenth birthday. The last balloon was for us, her family, the remainder from a tragic division of a negligent plastic surgery procedure.  I watched my family plant a tree next to her grave that day, its feeble branches clutching at the sky. This was not the expected kind of death (not that it is ever expected), but the kind that disrupts every crevice and corner of living, the kind that shatters the soul, and later reshapes it.  My life was disrupted irrevocably.  I opened my eyes to the reality of watching the helium-filled ball hit the atmosphere, the last vestige of my childhood. I knew that life would never be the same, and I have spent every moment since trying to fill the hole Amy left behind her in my life and in my career.


We cannot change the past as human beings, but we can use the past to determine who and what we become. In all the uncertainty that followed my grief, I was able to come to one conclusion; I want to help people in their most difficult moments. My first experience with the world of medicine was during my junior year of college. I received my Wilderness First Responder certification (WFR) through a course offered at Penn State.  I discovered the physician assistant profession during my WFR course, and it was there that my passion for medicine began. The semester after taking the class, I went on a rock climbing trip with a few friends. My friend, Mike, fell thirty feet from the rock wall and started going into shock. If I had not received basic medical training, I do not know what would have happened. When I started working as a teacher, I began saving immediately for my prerequisites courses to go back to school. I began volunteering at CHOP last summer, reading to primarily low-income families in a primary care office, and this upcoming summer, I will become certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to further develop my practical skills.


Every Sunday for the past year, I have driven to ________ to visit patients in an IPU at a hospice. People often ask me how I deal with it, with dying.  They cannot comprehend how I am able to volunteer at a hospice every week without feeling depressed.  Honestly, I tell them it gives me a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I love working with people, and my experiences valuing and developing human connections as a teacher will make me a better health care provider. My own experiences with grief as a child compel me to connect with and comfort others during their darkest moments.  


When people in hospice tell me they have nothing to live for, it is such a jarring sensation, so lonely, so isolating.  I can only listen without judgment. A few weeks ago, I visited Melanie, a woman I have been sitting with frequently. I never know if I am going to see a patient again, but I often try to visit the people who have no family or friends.


“There’s nothing left for me. I’m ready to die,” the elderly woman gently held a small stuffed animal in her lap, a black dog. “This belonged to my friend – she died last month. Her husband gave him to me.” It is always difficult, knowing what to say, afraid that it is the wrong thing.  People know when I care, though. They can see through false pretense; they know authenticity.


“I’m here,” I said. “I care about you. I’m listening.” She gave me a faint smile. “I’m here with you, and I’m going to be thinking about you when I leave.” I held her hand that night, and we cried together.  She told me of the many great friendships of her life, and we laughed about her hiking expedition at Acadia National Park in Maine where they played kazoos all the way to the summit.  When I came back the next week, Melanie was gone.


I think about the hole in my heart often on the days I travel to hospice; I know it well, its deep corners and crevices.  I think about my sister, Amy, and I miss her down to my toes. I think about the tree we planted next to her grave. With every patient I visit, I throw a little more dirt into the hole, and I regain a small piece of what is missing. With every patient I read to, fresh leaves bud off from limbs, soaking up the sun. With every patient's hand I hold, I watch the branches on Amy’s tree blossom with a calling and reach higher into the blue June sky.

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Take out the ____ and put in something like "a city nearby" or some vague reference to what the _______ means.  It is just awkward.  


I feel like I can hear your heart of why you want to be with dying patients and their families but why PA vs a nurse, counselor or just a volunteer?  What does being a PA to the dying give you or allow to give to the patients that the others do not?

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I agree with the comment above, although you don't need to convey why you would want to be PA over other professions. However, you need a better connection between your stories, which were very heart warming btw, and why you want to be PA. What about being PA appeal to you? 

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