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Supplementary Statements - First Draft

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These two essays are for the MEDEX supplemental statements. I have thick skin, so feel free to be very critical!


Please compose a personal narrative statement that answers the above questions. Personal statements allow MEDEX to get a greater understanding of your experience and personal character. Keep in mind that we will have your CASPA personal statement and we do not want a duplication of the CASPA statement. Please limit this personal statement to 1000 words. Remember to format the statements with a space between paragraphs.


1. Based on the MEDEX mission statement, tell us how your values and experience make you a good fit for MEDEX.

2. Describe how your experiences working with, talking to, or observing physicians, PA's or NP's have convinced you that the PA profession is the right health care role for you.

3. What are the biggest challenges you face by returning to school and what will you contribute to your MEDEX classmates?

4. Do you believe your academic history accurately reflects your ability to successfully complete PA school? Please explain.


In the summer following my sophomore year of high school, I read a front page article in the newspaper about how Jimmy Carter was coming to our town to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. I had lots of experience with construction having taken building trades classes every year starting in junior high school. I knew little of Habitat for Humanity, but reading the article had me intrigued. If nothing else, I thought, when else would I get to meet a former President?


I spent a full week working on former President Carter’s project in which we built seven houses from the ground up. I didn’t realize it then, but that week set the foundation for my own life of service.


During that week, I had the opportunity to work side-by-side with the families who would be living in those houses. I lived in a middle-class suburb near Jackson, Mississippi and hadn’t ever spent time in the poor neighborhoods in the city. Spending a week talking, working and laughing with some of the poorest people in our city forever changed my opinion of those less fortunate than me.


After the Carter project was complete, the site supervisor pulled me aside. He’d been impressed by my construction knowledge and how well I got along with the families and other volunteers. He offered me a position as a permanent member of the staff.  I gladly accepted and spent the next two years leading volunteer teams in the construction of over 100 homes.


Since that time, I’ve had a lasting relationship with Habitat for Humanity having volunteered on home builds in three different states. Though my work and school schedules often took me away from volunteer work, I’ve always gone back every time I get the chance.


It is that experience in high school that prepared me for a life of service to others and has helped me relate with those less fortunate. MEDEX, as well as the physician assistant (PA) profession as a whole, is dedicated to delivering health care to underserved populations and I’ve long shared that same dedication to service.


"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”, a quote attributed to Socrates, was the opening statement I regularly used for a leadership development course on continuous improvement that I taught for the Navy. My point being that the moment a person believed he or she knew everything about his or her profession was the moment he or she began down the path of professional failure.


In the military, we related the Dunning-Kruger effect of inability to recognize one’s own incompetence directly to a decrease in performance driving us to incorporate the concepts of self-evaluation into our team training. The resulting focus was on constantly evaluating one’s own performance and looking for areas for improvement.


Applying these concepts to the PA profession, feeling secure in your knowledge leads down the path to inadequacy. To feel that one knows everything there is to know about health care is to disregard the complexity of the human body and how little we actually know. I believe strongly that the healthcare practitioner must be humble and recognize that medicine is constantly evolving as we learn more, occasionally with complete paradigm shifts as we discover that a previous assumption was incorrect. It is that humility that drives the motivation to be a true life-long learner.


I was very fortunate to have a fantastic shadowing experience that exposed me to a wide variety of heath care settings within Harrison Medical Center (HMC). I was able to observe both hospital and clinic settings and PA’s in nearly every aspect of health care provided at the hospital.While I spent the vast majority of my shadowing time observing the work day of PA’s throughout HMC, I took a bit of time each week to speak with non-PA’s about their experiences with the PA’s on staff.


The responses I received were overwhelmingly positive. The doctors spoke of how the presence of PA’s reduced their workload and allowed them to focus on their most complicated cases. Patients spoke of how much their wait times at appointments had been reduced since HMC began increasing their PA staff.


The most enlightening discussion I had about the PA’s was with the human resources staff. HMC is in the process of substantially increasing their PA staff numbers. While I had observed a positive influence on patient care quality and heard from patients about improved service and decreased wait times, human resources had the data to back up those observations and their current goal of doubling their PA staff is a direct reflection of just how positive that influence has been.


Seeing the incredibly effect the PA team at the hospital was having on patient experience and quality of care along with the opinions of the doctors and human resources staff further convinced me that PA is the right career path for me.


The biggest challenge I will face returning to school is shifting from my current school experience as a part-time undergraduate student back to a full-time graduate student. I will meet this challenge by using using the time-management and study habits that I developed previously as a graduate student to keep up with the work load and higher work quality expectations of graduate-level college work. I have also saved enough money that I will not have to work during PA school as I did during my previous college experiences.


I will contribute my previous graduate school experience, work experience in health education and rehabilitation, and six years as a Navy instructor and Master Training Specialist to help create a positive class atmosphere that uses our diverse health care experiences as a basis for productive class discussions, and provides willing assistance to others.


My academic record accurately reflects my ability to successfully complete PA school. As my transcripts show, my academic performance continuously improved as I matured as a person and as a student.


Despite some minor missteps as a young student, I completed both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees with high GPA’s under challenging conditions. I completed both degrees while working full-time. I also completed my master’s degree under difficult conditions, working full-time and raising my infant daughter at home; including a full semester that I completed while she was living full-time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit having been born nearly three months early. 



Total current word count is 1,040, so I'm very close on length. My current major self-critique is that I should add a summary paragraph at the end. 


Please limit this personal statement to no more than 500 words.

Which aspect of your professional or clinical Military experience prepared you to enter the MEDEX program and become a Physician Assistant?



I walked through the doors and onto the tarmac. There sat our tiny airplane, dwarfed by the passenger jets that taxied by to other gates. Inside, there were two seats in the rows on one side and one seat on the other. There were only seats on the entire plane. The plane shook violently as it leapt into the air. I watched below as my city shrank below us and I left behind everything I’d ever known.


I grew up in a middle class suburb of Jackson, Mississippi. As with most kids, I grew up only knowing of the environment in which I lived. We were a large family, so we didn’t travel for vacations. When I left for the Navy, I stepped onto an airplane for the first time.


Late that night, we stepped off the bus and were shuffled into a large barracks building. We’d arrived too late at night to be processed in, so we just sat on the floor in an empty building waiting for morning.


Everyone looked exhausted. It was 2am. It was dark in the room and I could barely see the others who were there with me. A dark figure sat a few feet from me. Hoping to pass the time, I leaned in his direction and said, “How was your flight?”


He said something I couldn’t understand in reply. “What’s that?”, I said. He repeated himself, but I still didn’t catch what he said.


“You from Puerto Rico, too?”, another voice asked. “Nah, Bermuda” the man next to me replied. And there we sat. Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Mississippi. I leaned back against the metal bed frame and tried to fall asleep.


“Diversity.” It was still before lunch on our first day in boot camp. “Diversity,” our company commander said again. Nowhere else in the world are you going to work with as diverse a group of people than you will here in the Navy”. He was right. And 20 years later at my retirement, I hadn’t forgotten his words.


I spent a lot of time reflecting on my career as my retirement approached. I’d been in a senior leadership position for nearly 10 years and my retirement ceremony would be the last time I’d address those who had helped me achieve the success I’d had in my career and both those junior and senior to me had helped me along the way. If I had to condense everything I’d learned in my career into a 10 minute retirement speech, what did I want to pass on?


Respect. Of course! Naturally, respect for those senior to you, but also respect for those who are junior. Respect for the background, beliefs, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or rank of everyone around you. “If you can just respect everyone around you as a human being,” I said, “you will always be successful.”


That was my advice to them and to myself. If I can carry on that respect for others into my PA career, I will always be successful. Regardless of whether the patient is young or old, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, gay, straight or trans, male or female. Regardless of who the patient is or where he or she came from, if I can just treat each and every one of them with the basic respect that we all deserve as a fellow human being, then my military experience will have prepared me to be a successful physician assistant. 


Current word count is 577, so I do need to do a little trimming.

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