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Stil an early draft, critiques welcome

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*edit* This was my final draft, and I've had two acceptances so far. Still waiting to hear back from a 3rd interview.


New experiences are what keep life interesting for me. After many years making my living as a pastry chef and cook I was ready for something completely different, and hungry for an intellectual challenge. News reports indicating that secure, good paying jobs were plentiful in healthcare resonated with my pragmatic nature and set me on the road to a Bachelor’s degree.



Initially I was unsure of my ability to succeed in the challenging coursework required of a pre-health student. I was delighted to find that not only do I have the necessary aptitude, but also find it fascinating. Learning the principles of biology and chemistry gave me a fresh perspective for understanding the world. This sparked curiosity that led me to research the microscopic life in my fish tank for a biology project, eschewing other, less work intensive options. Anatomy and physiology (A&P) scared me, as classmates called it as the hardest class ever. I loved it so much that I sat in on the entire year of lectures a second time. Working in the surgical pathology lab at Oregon Health and Science University has allowed me to further my A&P study by continually exposing me to unfamiliar terminology and providing the opportunity to observe and ask questions while interesting specimens are being processed.



While completing my undergrad, I researched healthcare career options many times. Becoming an MD would require too intimidating an amount of both time and money. My preference for studying biology over chemistry, frustrations with organic chemistry, and numerous stories of pharmacists who were bored with their jobs ruled that option out. There was nothing about nursing that particularly appealed to me; and my aunts, who have been nurses for many years, were very encouraging when I mentioned my desire to become a physician assistant (PA). But the factors unique to the profession that really cemented my decision relate to my experiences in the kitchen.



The most enjoyable elements of my culinary career are also my strongest draws toward PA school. I left cooking school with a broad base of skills that allowed me to transition between a vast array of job opportunities; baking offered more autonomy, cooking let me work as part of a team. Every company had its own unique character, and each position allowed me to build different proficiencies. Eventually I found a crew of co-workers who became like a second family at a company whose tagline, the friendliest store in town, translates to: be good to people. They were good to me, we developed into a strong, productive team, and I stayed for nine and a half years.



Working as a PA, the ability to transition between primary care and a long list of specialties translates to a vocation with seemingly endless options. My shadowing experiences have shown me that what your day looks like varies greatly depending upon where you are practicing and the patient population you are serving. My working experience indicates that the possibility to explore various work environments until I find the niche that suits me, all the while striving to treat each patient with compassion, is likely to translate to a career where I could be satisfied for many years.



Being responsible for the health and well-being of others is serious business, and inspired fear at the beginning of every shift for my first six months of working as a certified nursing assistant in a post acute rehab skilled nursing facility. The people whom I was to care for were vulnerable, having just been released from the hospital following serious illness or injury. But my time there has been incredibly valuable, as it has helped me realize that I have some skill at building a rapport and communicating about medical issues in a way that those with little scientific knowledge can understand. Also, the factors causing me to have some trepidation about a career in healthcare—being squeamish about bodily fluids, stressful interactions with challenging personalities—were outweighed by the satisfaction derived from helping people on their road to recovery or putting them at ease in a frightening or uncomfortable situation.  



In addition to the struggles of learning my way around each new kitchen, succeeding in difficult science classes, cross training in the lab, and treating even the most grumpy nursing residents with kindness, my preparation for graduate school has included more than a decade of committed yoga practice. It has provided me thousands of hours of practicing self-awareness and shown me that we often have no idea what we are capable of—with time, consistent effort, and a bit of help, amazing things are possible. If I am fortunate enough to be granted admission, I fully expect that completing a physician assistant program and the steep learning curve to follow will be the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced, but am confident that the culmination of my previous experiences has prepared me well.

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