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non traditional student, 2nd draft-give me the good the bad and the ugly

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HI!  Any thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks.




As we sat in a window lit room, many of the Kazakh village women began to wander in and find their spot around the long, low table.   When everyone had settled, the American pediatrician and I began to teach them about women’s health, childbirth and infant care.  We had promised a free clinic after the lesson so the women were eager to stay and listen.  Over time, we found that what little education they had was passed down from the women in their family or from the old Soviet system.  As we listened to these women and their stories, it became clear that their lives were complicated and worse off because of misinformation and lack of modern medical knowledge.  Worldwide, this care and knowledge is often inaccessible.  As a physician assistant, I would not have to wait for them to come to me; I would be able to go to them. 



At one time, the Soviets were leader among the scientific community but that time had passed and Kazakhstan was now filled with outdated information and medical licenses that were bought instead of earned.  For instance, if a doctor noticed a newborn’s stool was not fully formed, the new mother was told to stop nursing because her milk was “bad.”  Because she wanted to do the best for her baby, the mother obeyed, only to be left with the hardship of trying to create a homemade gruel because she could not afford store bought formula.  The babies were often weak and failed to meet milestones.  Infants, red faced, sweating and crying, were swaddled in wool in the hot arid summers because of fear that the baby would become cold and fall ill.  Antibiotics were prescribed for the common cold and flu.  Not only did this waste a portion of what little money they had, it was useless to treat the infection.  Children had no dental care and were given candy to the point in that they stopped eating table food.  Their teeth were black and rotten often by the age of five.  Tuberculosis and brucellosis were rampant because the local cows were sick with the diseases and farmers lacked the resources to maintain healthy livestock.  Because local teaching stated that eating dog fat would cure tuberculosis, the disease continued to spread.    Over the seven years that we served as overseas missionaries, I was continually struck with the fact that good health care comes not just from treating those who are sick but from making sure that each person understands health, prevention and had access to basic care. 



In 2005, my missionary term was ending and I knew that I was going to have the opportunity to pursue a medical degree upon returning to the states.  Our team’s American pediatrician and I talked at length about the possible career paths that I could pursue.  In that discussion, she introduced me to the existence of the Physician Assistant (PA) profession.  A team based model that had the flexibility to practice with varying specialties struck a chord with me.  It would allow me to build upon what I had been doing in Kazakhstan, giving me the knowledge and credentials not just to assist, but to actually treat patients myself. 



Now is the right time for me to pursue this degree.  Although I began to pursue my education as soon as I returned from overseas, my own family situation put those plans on hold.  At the age of four, one of my sons began to display behavior that was out of the ordinary.  It being my third child, I was used to temper tantrums and meltdowns, but these were different.  By the age of five, his symptoms were so severe that I sought medical attention for him.  For the past 8 years, I have been managing his disorders.  Countless hours have been spent managing his behavior, his meltdowns, and his medicine.  One year ago, my oldest was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  I have helped him work through fears and panic attacks, while challenging the obsessive thoughts and actions that plague him.  Up until now, I felt that pursuing a career would have been selfish and irresponsible.   My first priority is to the health and well-being of my family.  Through time, maturity and medicine, my family is now stable, allowing me to begin to pursue my own career path again. 



On the surface, it may seem that I have not obtained many patient care hours since returning to the States.  The patient care I have been giving is not typically listed on applications because there is no supervisor or organization.  It is not a paid position or one that earns achievements or accolades other than a colorful drawing on the refrigerator.  It is the position of a mother of four, a sister and daughter who has helped her family with medical crises as they have occurred.  I have bathed, fed and cared for my mother-in-law after her open heart surgery.  I have helped care for my nephew as he prepared for tests and surgery due to complications of ulcerative colitis.  I have cleaned and cared for countless cuts, bumps, bruises, nose-bleeds, splinted broken fingers and wrapped sprains.  I have taken blood pressures, blood sugar readings, temperatures, and respiratory rates.  I enjoy the puzzle of putting symptoms and diagnosis together, even when the issue is not straightforward.  For years, I have researched medical issues and counseled family members dealing with hypertension, diabetes, hypothyroidism, Meckel’s diverticulum, ADHD, OCD, DRESS syndrome (due to a severe reaction to Zoloft), depression, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts, ulcerative colitis, J-pouch surgery, broken bones, Shingles and autism.  I have found that medical terminology and diagnoses are complicated and confusing to patients.  With each new medical crisis, I found myself pouring over medical articles in order to help them understand what they are facing and how to proceed with the treatment prescribed by their doctors. 



For the past 6 months, I have been retaking the prerequisite classes required by the program.  It has been a good test to see how studying and commuting would affect our home.  Despite having to manage my home and children, I have been able to excel in each of the classes.  My children have stepped up to learn how to cook and to help with the house and each other.  With my husband’s support, we are ready for the challenges of PA school.  I am determined to gain the knowledge and the credentials to serve others in a professional capacity both in America and overseas. 



The underserved populations of the world are suffering from want of modern medical care.  They need education, preventative care as well as treatment.  I have enjoyed applying my lay-education, instincts and research to serve my world, but I am ready to expand my service with the knowledge and credentials offered by the PA degree.  I want to exercise my voice and discretion in diagnosing and treating patients. 


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The good:


Your opener is strong, and you close the paragraph by tying in something very important: a specific understanding of how you see yourself as a PA.  Excellent.


You put emphasis on your eastern experiences with medical practice.  +1.


You are descriptive but not wordy.  Good job there.



The Bad:


A google word counter rates your statement at over 6000 characters.  You are allowed 5000 and may want to keep it lower than that.



The ugly:


Your current patient care experience shouldn't be counted as HCE as you are explaining it.  You could never be objective in this experience which is why it should not be described as such.  Take out the opener for this experience and instead use this paragraph explaining that the reason you are not pursuing HCE right now is because you've been caring for your family.  Family comes first and no one will ding you for focusing on this instead of yourself and your own goals.


Be wary of listing specific medical jargon...you can either explain what it means, write out the acronyms, or just reference the number of conditions.


The second-to-last paragraph should be reconsidered, and possibly merged with the last paragraph.  It seems a bit meandering, like you are unsure of how to close out your narrative; the part about your family preparedness is a bit out-of-character with the overall tone of your entire ps...perhaps take this part out to help you meet the character limit.


It needs work, that's for sure, but you are on your way to an excellent personal statement.

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This would be a good lecture on health care problems in Kazakhstan but it makes a lousy PS. You really need to distill this down to what about your experience makes you want to be a PA. You actually say it but it gets lost in the body of the lecture.

You are missing the point about HCE. It's nice that you have learned a lot on your own and been a good mother/wife/daughter/neice and whatever, helping your family. HCE is about showing that you can be successful as a paid member of a Healthcare team treating parients you are, otherwise, unattached to. Treating your kids doesn't count though your kids might be one reason you want to be a PA.

You also make it appear that you want to run back to Kazakhstan to treat the underserved there. Not a good strategy. Many PA schools want their graduates to serve the local population.

Stick to why you want to be a PA; What inspired you; Why you would be a good PA and what you have done to prepare yourself. Parts of the statement are very good but too much of it is irrelevant.


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