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Reviews/Advice please!! :)

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This is my PS for the CASPA... does anyone know- does the 5000 character limit include spaces? I have a lot of editing to do in that case- it's 4800 characters w/o spaces otherwise. I would appreciate any constructive criticism or advice! THANKS!!!



The fall was abrupt, unexpected. I lay on the hard, frigid ski slope, screaming in pain. Disheartened, I nodded as the doctor informed me that I had torn my ACL. I underwent reconstructive surgery and devoted months to my physical therapy requirements. Although recovery was slow, perseverance paid off; my injury is now a distant, yet vivid, memory. However, the interest in medicine that developed throughout my healing process grew rapidly, and six years later, it is a passion.


My experience at the MN State High School Ski Meet in 2006 inspired me to explore careers in healthcare- specifically orthopedics- in my time preceding college. I volunteered as an emergency department triage assistant throughout high school; in college, I was promoted to an internal ED position in which I had increased patient contact and more responsibility. I was able to interact with medical professionals and patients of all medical conditions, allowing me to see what a medical job was truly like, instead of the glamour seen on television shows. Despite the chaos of the emergency department in which I was stationed, I loved the ability to assist patients and nurses, helping the busy ED to run smoother. I chatted with physicians and physician assistants whenever possible, inquiring about pros and cons of their jobs, educations, and more.


My true interest in a career as a physician assistant began somewhat haphazardly in college, during a shadow of an orthopedic surgeon. While waiting for him to complete some paperwork, I conversed with his PA. She compared and contrasted various components of her career to his: their daily activities, educational requirements, patient contact ratios, time and duties in the operating room. Almost all of what she said appealed greatly to me. A few weeks later, I shadowed her, watching with excitement growing inside me, as she saw fifteen patients, read x-rays, gave a cortisone injection, and later assisted comprehensively with a total hip replacement. After research and more shadows of various PAs, I am confident that a career as a physician assistant is right for me.


At St. Olaf, I worked as a student medical assistant in the athletic training department, where I was responsible for the health of the women’s soccer team and the baseball team, in addition to the hundreds of other athletes frequenting the training room. I performed ultrasounds and electrical muscle stimulation, taped myriad joints, and provided immediate help for injuries attained in practice or in games. Although athletic training was an option for me, my work helped me grasp my passion for patient care in a healthcare setting; in the long run, I can see myself in an operating room much more than on the sidelines of a field.


In January my junior year, I was privileged to have the opportunity to travel to Peru on a medical and dental missions trip with physicians, dentists, and a select group of classmates. I embarked to Peru prepared with the knowledge of anatomy and physiology and a vague understanding of the culture, unaware of the effect the trip would have on my life. We traveled to orphanages in Cusco and an indigenous community in the Andes; I was able to assist with physical exams, surgical dental procedures, and educated people (in Spanish) on proper dental hygiene and ways to take care of their bodies. Although the hands-on medical experience was inimitable and unforgettable, perhaps the most beneficial part of the trip was the satisfaction that I received knowing I had made a difference in people’s lives. The treatment for an infected leg wound was relatively routine; it was the hug and the sincere thanks that I received for my assistance that made me embrace my passion for medicine. To see the direct results that I engendered coupled with the evidence of a life changed for the better- even if in a small way- was irreplaceable. The experience helped me to confirm my career goal of becoming a physician assistant, where I would continue to be able to impact people’s lives.


Additional coursework provided me with the understanding and knowledge required for the medical field, including Medical Anthropology and Health Care Economics. The courses gave me better insight as to what to expect as a physician assistant in today’s healthcare world. Despite my rocky relationship with chemistry, I have always worked incredibly hard to succeed in school. My persistence has instilled in me the motivation, self-confidence, and determination that I will also need in physician assistant school. Various other experiences compile my well-rounded background; in all positions I have held, an interest in people and/or healthcare is evident. Over the years, I have held leadership positions in my work as a student medical assistant, a figure skating coach, and a nursing assistant. Years as a nursing assistant in a nursing home have provided me with valuable experience as a team member and yet independent worker; in this position I have had to remain stable and work efficiently in times of turmoil and learn to adapt to all residents’ personalities or any obstacles that may come my way. The job is definitely not an easy one, but the experience I’ve gained has encouraged me that I am able to successfully take on anything as a physician assistant.


In my case, the saying “Sometimes the worst in life brings out the best in life” was true- if I hadn’t torn my ACL, perhaps I never would have stumbled into the healthcare field. I am confident that I am ready to take my education to the next level, and that I have the emotional and mental capacity of doing so. My rigorous academic career, along with various jobs, abroad experience, and shadowing experiences in healthcare, have all provided me with the background that I need to excel in physician assistant graduate school, and later as I am employed.


Thanks for reading!!

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sounds pretty good to me...a bit wordy and "flower-ly" but that is an easy fix with some editing.


So the reader digest version of what I retained in my once over read I know you found medicine through an injury, found employment in the field, dissected through the variety of fields of medicine and found PAs. You shadowed, gained HCE, probably have a blip on your academics with chemistry but otherwise are a fairly solid student. You traveled abroad, assisted with medical care in remote area of Peru, and taught dental care in spanish so I am assuming you speak spanish fluently, or at the very least, have a solid grasp of it. Sounds to me that you have done some due diligence and appear to be fairly focused.


I find myself asking "why not med school?" but am not sure the PS is the place for that discussion.


Good luck to ya

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Thanks Steve... to answer your Q- why not PA school? ;)

To make a long answer very short... I shadowed a lot of ortho surgeons and ortho PAs and I found that I loved the PA track a lot better- 2 years vs. 8+, more free time, a little more actual patient time, etc. etc. A few very surface-y things but add those to everything that PAs can do that doctors also do... why NOT go PA? :)

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it goes down a personal decision matrix that each person needs to consider for themselves. But some aspects could include the inability to write for certain drugs, perform certain procedures, own your own clinic/practice (all state dependent). In the world of earning potential, the average PA makes around 85,000/yr. Extrapolate that over 40 years and it equals to 3.4 million dollars. Average physician makes around 250,000/yr. Over 40 years that is 10 million dollars. By not pushing through for just a few more years, most of which is in a clinical setting, you walk away from 6.6 million dollars in earning potential. Others have posted here that the federal requirements for didactic training for PA is 2000 hours....2600 for doctors. 600 more hours, (less than 7 extra classroom months) for over 6 million more dollars...


But I get it..money isn't everything and all that jazz. At 38 with three kids, a wife, a mortgage, a horrible habit if having fallen into the routine of having free time, and a burning desire to retire in my early 60's, I find myself intimidated about the aspect of spending the next 10 years in an academic setting. If I was in my 20s though, I'd think long and hard about it.

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