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Personal Statement needing fine tuning

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(This version is only 88 characters too long so I need help trimming it down a bit as well as see if it truly answers why I want to be a PA. Thanks for any and all input!) 


I was working in the usually busy Sentara RMH Medical Center Emergency Department at just past four in the morning. There was only one physician running the department on what was shaping to be a slow night. It was then that we got word of inbound ambulances from a motor vehicle accident involving two teenagers and one middle-aged man. The radio crackled that the injuries ranged from minor to severe. As his medical scribe, I went with the physician to the first patient and helped logroll the bloodied patient off of the backboard and onto the bed for a CT scan. The stat scan showed an acute intracranial hemorrhage, a very critical, time-sensitive injury. He needed urgent transport by helicopter to a tertiary-care trauma center. Fortunately, the other two showed only minor injuries. During this frenetic time, another patient with stroke symptoms came in by yet another ambulance. A frantic family in hysterics trailed this patient. The patient was in her seventies, awake but not responsive. As I recorded the history and the physician’s findings, I noticed the mute woman's eyes following me around the room. Happily, she began to improve, and when she was able to manage short sentences, she told me that I looked like her grandson and that she liked my bright orange shoes. That was a connection – not a caregiver to a diagnosis, but a person to a person. It made me hope even more for her recovery.


I followed the physician through his fast-paced assessments of these and all the other patients that night. I efficiently jotted down for later transcription his evaluations for each of the patients, listening and learning to his differential diagnoses as well as the needed laboratory and radiologic studies. As he talked with the families, the nurses, and the specialist consultants about his assessment and plan, I watched closely to his manner and speech. After a busy couple of hours, each of the patients was where they needed to be having received the necessary stabilization and care. Once that shift ended, I knew that I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was excited to be working in this chaotic setting, helping physicians with diagnostics and treatment of patients. Mostly, I wanted to be there for the patients. Not the diseases or symptoms, but the person with the illness or injury.


My time working in the emergency department and in the outpatient laboratory gave me an interest in diagnostics and care planning process and the direct interaction with patients and families. Working as a phlebotomist, I often see patient’s laboratory orders and I would try to come up with differential diagnoses, intuiting the thought process behind the ordered tests. What was this physician thinking? Why these particular tests? Where could they lead the diagnostician? There were many laboratory tests of which I had never heard, so I would research each one in between patients. The more I investigated, the more fascinated I became with the problem-solving process that goes into figuring out a patient’s condition. When I would work as a medical scribe, the physician would not only list tests and studies to order but also explain to me why they were ordered. Being able to see the patient and connect the clinical problem with the tests ordered gave me the opportunity to pick up on clues as to what questions to ask and what studies are necessary. These are invaluable experiences that will make me a better clinician in my medical career.


Often patients talk to me of their medical histories and problems in intimate detail, seeing me in charcoal grey medical scrubs, symbolizing trust and security. They see me as caring and understanding, as someone who can help them through their crisis. Patients that came in weekly for blood work become very willing to share how their kidney transplant is going or how they almost bled to death internally from a fall while on anticoagulants. They asked me questions such as the difference between Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Hodgkin lymphoma, expecting that just because I held the needle, I also held all the answers like I was their doctor. This taught me a lot about what doctors tell them, what they do not tell them and what the patient with no medical knowledge feels about it. It also imbued me with the great sense of responsibility that trust requires. I must live up to their needs and I must be sensitive to their experience of the disease, not just the disorder.


These interactions have taught me that there is more than “Patient presents with…” These are human beings with whom I can and must make a connection with. Becoming a Physician Assistant would give me the opportunity to make an impact with that connection, both by teaching them and by them teaching me. This is something that cannot always be done when there is high acuity, a crush of patients, and limited staff. Still, I want to be that person rushing about at four in the morning, working with harried physicians, managing the chaos, taking care of sick people, and waiting for that next ambulance to light up the glass doors with flashing lights.

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