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I had 7 interviews out of 11 applications. This was my personal statement

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So a little about my stats. I have a lower than average GPA (3.2 undergrad; 3.4 total CASPA after a year of post-bacc) with higher HCE (6 years EMS, nearly 2 years cardiac monitor technician, about 8,000 hours total). They always say a personal statement can make or break you. Obviously I have no way of knowing how any adcom felt about it, but if I've gotten interviews so far, it can't be bad, right? If it helps anyone at all, here's what mine looked like.


I focused on a powerful story of my first night of EMS to draw them in (pretty typical, but it was the best idea I had). Then, rather than go on and on about how glamorous the PA life was, I used a more rational, realistic approach. I really only spent a few paragraphs talking about the PA aspect. Not saying this is the best approach, but it's a data point for you to use in your own essay.


The formatting didn't want to transfer over so well, so I did the best I could with it.


My biggest piece of advice is to somehow make your essay stand out, preferably at the beginning. Adcoms are human too, and when your essay is the 68th one they've read in the past 2 hours, it's all too easy to want to glance over it.


Hope this helps!





        “Standby Waterford Rescue Squad, Waterford PD. Echo response.” The entire building became alive as the rest of the town’s residents were fast asleep. “EMS Dispatch to Waterford Rescue Squad. Echo response. [Address]. Thirty-six-year-old female. Cardiac arrest. 2328.”


            I had no idea what any of that meant, but we raced to the ambulance and headed to the scene. Our lights and sirens pierced the tranquil night sky. Minutes later we arrived with the police already present, trying to calm the distraught family. We quickly located the patient and moved her into the ambulance. Dan sat above the patient’s head, working on establishing a patent airway; John was next to her readying his medications. Meanwhile, I sat there, not knowing what to do.


Suddenly, John asked, “Mike, do you know CPR?”


Realizing the urgency of the situation, I quickly responded, “N-no, John, I don’t.”


“Okay, well I want you to put your hands here and push like this.” He began demonstrating the procedure on her chest. “Can you do that?” he asked calmly.


“Sure, no problem.” I placed my hands on her chest and began pushing. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but they weren’t stopping me, so I knew I was doing something right. My arms fatigued but I knew her life was more important than my temporary discomfort. I kept going as sweat dripped, then poured, from my face.


Despite delivering three shocks to the patient, she was still unresponsive as we arrived at the emergency department. Her fate was now literally out of my hands. The ER staff worked the patient for another five minutes before the doctor said “I’m going to call it. Time of death: 0003. Thank you all for your help.” I felt deflated after that night, but I knew we did what we could for her. I went home and reflected on what I just witnessed. “This was just day one. Is this really for me?” I spent a few days really dwelling on that question. When I came back the next week, Dan smirked, shook my hand, and said, “I’m a little surprised we didn’t scare you off. Welcome back!”


That first night of EMS helped to embed the mentality that medicine would be my passion. I loved the feeling of being able to help when others couldn’t. I knew I wanted to utilize my future medical knowledge and experience to educate, advocate for, and treat my patients to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, all the desire to help in the world doesn’t mean much if there is no foundation to back it up. I knew I had to advance further in medicine. So why the PA route?


I feel that medicine in our country is leaning more and more towards utilizing advanced providers like Physician Assistants, and will continue to do so in future years. There is a lopsided issue of an ever increasing number of patients combined with too few physicians, especially in rural areas. As our baby boomer population advances in age, so too will the demand for PAs. Doctors will always have a critical role in medicine, handling the toughest cases and surgeries, but Physician Assistants can handle a large amount of patients on their own to reduce the strain on the healthcare system and help facilitate more streamlined patient care. As for a potential specialty, I liked the personal interactions that are possible in family practice when I shadowed. I also really enjoy cardiology and electrophysiology from working as a monitor tech. Finally, I have a very strong desire to join the military as a PA to serve our country while practicing medicine.


I like the thought of being able to consult my supervising physician if needed, while still treating patients on my own. The most educated provider in the world can’t hope to know everything there is about medicine, and there will be times (ideally few and far between) where I simply won’t know the best course of action to take for a patient. Second opinions and MD consults greatly help with any uncertainty on my end and also make the patient feel more confident that I understand my limits as a provider, which instills trust on their end. This system allows for PAs to do what they were designed to do: to act as a pressure-release valve for the medical profession, meaning I can “take the load off” the physician, allowing more patients to be seen between the two providers.


The role of the PA is crucial in today’s healthcare system. As a PA, I will be able to utilize my current and future medical knowledge to treat patients to the best of my ability. In doing so, I can help alleviate some of the strain on the healthcare system by distributing the patient load. This benefits not only our providers but also our patients, and that’s the most important thing. As a PA, I can be an integral piece of the overall puzzle, blending empathy with scientific knowledge, to make their experience as seamless as possible. I feel that my extensive patient care experience, my upward GPA trend, and my knowledge of a PA’s role as a part of the healthcare team, make me an ideal candidate for PA school.

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Thanks for sharing this! I can see why you have been successful with your application thus far. Your essay is fluid, engaging, and overall gives an idea of who you are and where you see yourself in the PA field. Don't underestimate yourself because you seem like a great applicant! But, dang it, is this what I'm competing with?? If this is what the other applicants look like, then I have no chance at all. LOL. Great job though! I'm sure you'll get acceptances in no time and you'll make an awesome PA!


Thanks again for sharing! It really does help us and future applicants know what type of essay has worked.


Best of luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would call this above average. The "inspirational moment" essay is pretty standard... a great many people will describe a situation like the one with which you start your essay. The strength of your essay is that you keep that part short. I do not want to read 75% of an essay describing such a situation in detail, because I've read many others like that and most of us in healthcare have had a comparable situation when we started out. You could come across as a little scattered when you say you like family practice... and cardiology... and electrophysiology... but I don't think anyone realistically expects a PA student or pre-PA student to really know what specialty they're going to end up doing.


The last sentence,  "I feel that my extensive patient care experience, my upward GPA trend, and my knowledge of a PA’s role as a part of the healthcare team, make me an ideal candidate for PA school." - came across as confident to me and a good way of summing up your key strengths.

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