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I have always had joy in serving the less-fortunate. When I found out about the Physician Assistant (PA) profession, I found a rewarding and impactful field that gives me the opportunity to care for underserved communities and the privilege of closely interacting with many patients. It will allow me to engage with doctors, from primary care to the ER, to become a well-rounded healthcare provider to treat the needs of the society. Having the PA field as the end goal, I excelled at my surgical technologist (ST) and science classes in my postgraduate education and proved that I could handle the challenge of medical courses despite what my undergraduate GPA might indicate. In my time as an ST at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, I have gained experience in OR procedures, but I have always been more intrigued in what happens to the patients before and after surgery. This interest was exemplified when a patient fell from her gurney after surgery and was sent to PACU, thus leaving me helpless and unaware of her condition. Through this and more experiences, I realized that becoming a PA will expand my scope in practicing medicine, and it will let me collaborate with doctors in service to society.


A PA is known for being more like than unlike a doctor but at a lower cost. Becoming a PA will give me the skills to provide care to communities that normally cannot afford it if doctors were the only providers. Volunteering at a health fair in Anaheim, CA, made me aware that people travel hours for free medical care. One patient told me that her family had slept in her car the night before and had waited in line for hours the next morning to receive simple care. Her family received medical and dental care that day and later on she told me that “miracles do happen.” Providing affordable care especially for the disadvantaged and being clinically versatile to society’s needs is a miracle nowadays, and the role of a PA in healthcare is to perform these miracles.


Knowing that medicine is a team effort, the addition of a PA’s patient centered role will enhance the patient’s experience. In my time shadowing PAs, I admired the collaborative link that was based on shared knowledge between the PA and the attending MD. While shadowing Thai, a surgical PA, who was having a consultation with the surgeon over a patient’s treatment plan, the MD decided that the patient should undergo knee surgery. However, Thai, who was more familiar with the patient’s progress in physical therapy and his doubts about surgery, performed tests that required the patient to move his knee in certain ways. Afterwards, Thai suggested that the patient continue a more hands-on physical therapy plan for the next 6 weeks with the addition of regular cortisone shots. After more consultation, the MD agreed with Thai’s suggestion and changed his initial plan. Thai’s duties became my fascination – from his collaborative efforts to his interactions with the patient’s progress and his empathetic adjustments of the care plan - affirmed that I wanted to pursue a career as a PA.


After seeing a PA’s duties through shadowing, I became better informed in patient recovery progress. While shadowing Nathalie, a surgical PA, I saw the world outside surgery and admired the long-term benefits of continued patient care. In one instance, after a spinal disk resection, drains to control bleeding were left in the patient. The overseeing role that Natalie performed by monitoring the drain discharge, symptoms, and encounters the patient had with the medical team stood out to me. I observed how Natalie interacted with a physical therapist to understand the patient’s progress through rehabilitation and was informed on how many steps the patient walked post op. I witnessed the rewards of seeing her patient’s progress through her care and her educational duties that consist of informing the patients about at-home care and possible causes for pain. These are duties that leave room for the PA to perform autonomously and make the patient’s life more worth living.


In my shadowing experience, patients neither questioned the PAs’ decisions during their rounds nor left with unanswered questions. Because of this I realized that PAs, because of their important role in treating and educating patients, have the duty to provide high quality care. A relationship of complete trust can only be established if a considerable amount of time can be spent with the patient. MDs have a lot on their plate (e.g. treating the patient and being responsible for working on paperwork and administrative tasks), so having well-trained PAs is crucial to ensure that the level of patient care does not decrease. I was inspired by one surgical PA whose personal goal stuck with me: to be the last face her patients saw when they underwent anesthesia. To make an impact on someone’s life, you must be the face patients will remember for putting in extra time and effort into caring for them. I am devoted to become that face.

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The very first sentence: show, rather than tell, how you find joy in serving the underserved. And at the risk of sounding crass accidents happen to patients all the time, in and out of the hospital. The patient you mentioned who fell from the gurney, if you were close to him/her or if they were a special patient to you, definitely explain it here. As is, you are better off leaving out the entire anecdote.


I like the second paragraph where you talk about your time volunteering at the health fair.


And I understand where you're coming from but to my (untrained) eye the essay feels like a lot of rehashing of a PA's duties. There's also a lot of "inside looking out" and passive thought processes; we don't see a lot of personality or passion.


Some of the words and sentence structures are awkward, i.e. "---and make the patient's life more worth living" can be changed to, "---and improve the patient's quality of life." Definitely have more people proofread this. Best of luck to you.

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I agree show more than tell that you like to do these things like serve.


Also, do NOT put in "a pa is lower cost" sentence. Just DON'T. They want to see the PA profession respected, and this comes off as not educated about the profession. 


Have you done anything other than shadow? I feel like I read shadow a lot vs. being active in care.


Best of luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for all your input and help. I really appreciate that you took the time to evaluate my statement. I actually received 9 interviews with this draft after applying to 15 programs which shows that EVERY assistance that is being provided here has to be taken with a grain of salt. I am sure that you are sharing the view with a lot of people that my statement might not be sufficient enough for PA school, so I am really glad that there are others who think otherwise.

I was actually discussing the "lower cost" statement with my coworker who is a PA because I was very proud of this statement when I formulated it. She was not sure why other people would get offended by that statement because it is a true statement and she is proud of this fact. Even PA Professional (AAPA's magazine) describes the PA profession as a lower cost but high quality alternative to doctors.


Yes there are a lot of other factors that come into play when receiving an interview but the personal statement is definitely one of the most important aspects of an application.

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