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December 13, 2017 in
If you believe that this was a big deciding factor for you then by all means write about it. Make sure that you answer the prompt of why you specifically want to be a physician assistant and not another profession in the medical field. If this story can somehow tie into becoming a PA, it will hold more value than just the qualities of a healthcare provider you listed.
I applied this past cycle and was having the same question as you are. I am now 25, after going through recovery from age 20-21. I decided to include my experience in my essay, but to not put too much focus on it. I gave a synopsis of the severity of it and the struggles that I went through and then went on to focus on how it helped me to grow as a person, made me decide I wanted to work in patient care, and helped me recognize the importance of empathy in healthcare. I had quite a few people read through my essay-professors, coworkers, and friends of my family who were involved in writing and/or medicine. The reviews I received were that, although the mention of 'eating disorder' made them uncomfortable, they felt that it was a strong and important part of showing who I am and how I got to where I am today. I ended up applying to 15 schools, received ~7 rejections (some didn't count my healthcare hours), received 3 acceptances (including my top choice) and withdrew my application from the rest (I had interviewed a few others but hadn't heard back yet). Overall, I think that if *you* think that the ED is an important part of your journey in getting to where you are today, both career-wise and as an individual, I think that you should include it. Stay true to who you are, but make sure you put the focus on the positives of the experience with very little mention of 'negatives'. As one reviewer told me after reading my 'over-dramatic' version of my essay: "tell them why they should choose you, not why they shouldn't".
Good luck with your essay!
kelzie's quote: As one reviewer told me after reading my 'over-dramatic' version of my essay: "tell them why they should choose you, not why they shouldn't"
Very well said! I think some applicants miss the point of the essay: tell me enough about you that I want to meet you and learn more. That you have overcome things to get where you are: good -- you'll have a lot to overcome to get through PA school. Excessive discussion of all of your weaknesses: less useful.
Your essay and LORs are the only unstructured information the faculty reviewer gets: the rest are lists of classes and tables of numbers. Don't miss a chance to make them want to know you better. If you find yourself dwelling in dark places in your essay (like telling me exactly how you got blackballed from a practice or exactly how much weight you've since gained), you've probably gone in a less-productive direction.
If your struggle had a significant effect on your decision to pursue a career as a PA, then by all means include it. But if you are simply mentioning your history in an attempt to gain some sympathy, I would recommend against it. Be sure to relate ANYTHING you include in your personal statement to your pursuit of becoming a physician assistant.
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