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Rough rough draft for my personal statement essay-am I in the right direction?


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I would like some initial feedback on my rough draft... I have just begun writing it and before I continue editing I want to know if I'm going in the right direction or if i need to completely re-direct what I'm writing about. Any advice would be greatly appreciate, please be critical!! I won't be offended as this is the very beginning of editing. 

 

“Ahh, there’s a familiar face!” Those are the words that are forever embedded in my head. As I entered an Alzheimer’s patient’s room, I knew in that moment that was exactly where I needed to be. I enjoyed building momentous connections with my residents, but I especially looked forward to interacting with her every time I went into work. Caring for her made my work feel more meaningful and less like work. We picked out outfits together, combed her hair, and helped her apply her favorite shade of lipstick. She entertained me with stories of her past and showed me pictures of her and her family. I listened as she talked and even though her sentences did not make sense, I listened anyways. At the end of the day, I would say good night and assure her I would be there when she woke in the morning. She didn’t know who I was, or so I thought. I often had to remind her of who I was or why I was helping her. I left work for a month as I studied abroad. Although I enjoyed my experience, I could not wait to see her. I often wondered if she even knew I was gone. I returned to work and walked right to her room. That’s when she peered up from her recliner, smirked, and then she said those words to me. “Ahh, there’s a familiar face!” My heart smiled, and nearly brought a tear to my eye. I was stunned. Although she had severe memory loss, and could barely remember her children’s names at times, she instantly recognized my face after one month of being gone. The care that I gave to her could never compare to what she had given me. She gave me clarity, direction, and a sense of purpose. To this day, it is the one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever felt. From that day forward I understood that my compassionate care could positively make a difference in other’s lives. I realized that I was destined to provide the best care I possibly can for those who cannot always care for themselves.

Although that was an important turning point in my journey, I have been exposed to a multitude of situations and experiences that have guided me towards the decision of wanting to become a physician assistant. My interest in medicine and the human body sparked at a young age when I could not get enough of 6th grade biology. And after working as a dietary aide in a nursing home during high school, I began to understand my strong desire of caring for others. Fast forward to college where I declared nursing as my original major. I quickly realized I wanted something different, but I was still very unsure. With the pressure of deciding on a major I opted to Community Health Education. It exposed me to the public health side of things, but I realized I was not as interested in that as I initially thought due to the lack of medicine and hands on care involved in the profession. I enjoyed providing patient care at my PCA job, and my science courses intrigued me. It only made sense that I belonged in the medical field. I continued with my degree as I was already over halfway finished. That’s when I discovered what a physician assistant was and what it took to be one. Looking back, I recognized I did not want to become a nurse because I wanted to be the one diagnosing the patient and coming up with a care plan. I knew I did not want to be a doctor because I could not possibly specialize in one thing because of my many medical interests and curiosities. I have always enjoyed women and children’s health, emergency medicine, dermatology, geriatrics, and pediatrics. This career would allow me to be as versatile and flexible as I wanted. A career as physician assistant seemed to fit well with my interests and personality. I could care for others, build meaningful connections, and be a decision-maker all while fulfilling my passion of health, medicine, and the human body.

 So, with the relief and excitement of finding out exactly what I wanted to pursue, I took as many prerequisite courses as I could take in the next two years of college, joined the pre-physician assistant club, and began shadowing. I shadowed an emergency department physician assistant as well as one on a cardiology unit. Seeing how their role worked in a patient’s care experience appealed to me in more ways than one. They diagnosed, treated, and prescribed. They consulted with physicians as needed, and worked with nurses, techs, and social workers to gather appropriate plans of action.

 

(I plan on placing a specific interaction/experience I've had with a PA here. Still deciding on what one I want to write about). 

 To me, a physician assistant should present open mindedness while building connections with ease, they should analyze a medical situation from a multitude of standpoints, make educated decisions while accommodating a patients needs, provide individualized care, work well in a team setting, and feel confident in their decisions while not being afraid to consult with their team. I am currently an emergency department technician where I interact with doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers every day. I help the providers with anything I can. Whether it be doing an EKG on a patient in triage with chest pain, bagging an intubated patient while my colleague performs CPR, drawing blood, assessing vitals on a baby with a fever, splinting, dressing an elders wound from a fall, assisting in sedations, cardio versions, lumbar punctures, and countless other tasks. I have gained an immense amount of skills and knowledge thus far, and it has only driven my excitement and passion to become a physician assistant.

In my 23 years of life I have been given opportunities and experiences that provided exceptional personal growth and understanding of who I am. I know what situations I thrive in, and what situations that may not suit me as well. I understand my strengths and weaknesses. I understand the importance of taking on new challenges for a chance of improvement. I understand that failure is okay and can always offer a learning experience. I have a lot yet to learn, but what I do know is that I have the characteristics, skills, knowledge, and drive to allow me to succeed in a physician assistant program to become a exceptional physician assistant. With over 3,000 patient care hours and counting, it always comes back to those moments. Whether it is helping an elder get ready for the day, putting a splint on a college student who got injured at the rec center, or rushing a code blue down the hallway of an ER, helping those who cannot help themselves offers such an indescribable and rewarding feeling. Continuing my career in the medical field as a physician assistant is exactly where I picture myself. Where I can continue my personable patient care and be that familiar face.

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Hello, I am glad to help. For starters, I recently got accepted to my top choice PA program, and received 8+ interview invites this past cycle. I believe I received many invites because of the way I communicated with my personal statement and on the CASPA application as a whole. I am going to grill your PS because it is really bad right now (which is fine because it is a rough draft). Please don't take my comments personally, but if you want to improve, I really recommend that you scrap mostly everything and start brainstorming from scratch as your whole essay doesn't tell me anything about your desire to become a PA. You have no clear theme and your essay reads without any flow or structure. Here are some comments:

1) Most important thing: way toooooooooo long, CASPA only allows for 5000 characters, yours is over 6700.

2) First paragraph: Your story in the first paragraph is too generic, too long, and doesn't really add much to why you want to be a PA. I would completely scrap it (imagine how many applicants write these types of personal anecdotes and how jaded and tired ADCOMS are reading all of these similar stories). I think it is a good idea to have a hook/short story at the beginning of your essay, but it needs to be written in a more concise, more applicable, and more engaging way. 

3) Second paragraph: Your 2nd paragraph is just bad. It doesn't relate to anything you said in your first paragraph (your story). No one cares about your whole life story from your initial 6th grade interest in biology leading up to deciding to pursue the PA career. Yes, definitely explain why you want to be a PA and why the profession is AMAZING, but don't go about telling every single step of your journey, because no one has time to read it. Also, it is very generic (once again). For example:

"My interest in medicine and the human body sparked at a young age when I could not get enough of 6th grade biology." -who cares????

"And after working as a dietary aide in a nursing home during high school, I began to understand my strong desire of caring for others" -Okay... but HOW??? Show, don't tell.

"I enjoyed providing patient care at my PCA job, and my science courses intrigued me. It only made sense that I belonged in the medical field." -Nothing is making any sense about why you belong in the medical field.

"This career would allow me to be as versatile and flexible as I wanted. A career as physician assistant seemed to fit well with my interests and personality. I could care for others, build meaningful connections, and be a decision-maker all while fulfilling my passion of health, medicine, and the human body." -Imagine how many other applicants write that the PA career offers the most amount of flexibility and how it fits in with your personality. Yes, it is good to include it, but you should give SPECIFIC examples on WHY you like that type of flexibility and WHY it specifically fits to your personality. 

4) Third paragraph: Sounds like you are just copying everything that ADCOMS would read from your résumé/CV/job experiences. Not appropriate for your personal statement.

5) Yes, please do put a specific experience you had with a PA and how that relates to your wanting to pursue the profession

6) Your last 2 paragraphs are also bad. First of all, you put an apostrophe on physician assistant ("...I interact with doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses..."), so that will automatically reject you from schools. 

"I am currently an emergency department technician where I interact with doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers every day. I help the providers with anything I can. Whether it be doing an EKG on a patient in triage with chest pain, bagging an intubated patient while my colleague performs CPR, drawing blood, assessing vitals on a baby with a fever, splinting, dressing an elders wound from a fall, assisting in sedations, cardio versions, lumbar punctures, and countless other tasks. I have gained an immense amount of skills and knowledge thus far, and it has only driven my excitement and passion to become a physician assistant." -Once again, stop listing all of your responsibilities of your jobs. You will be able to do that in another section of your application. The personal statement is not a place to waste your words.

" In my 23 years of life I have been given opportunities and experiences that provided exceptional personal growth and understanding of who I am. I know what situations I thrive in, and what situations that may not suit me as well. I understand my strengths and weaknesses. I understand the importance of taking on new challenges for a chance of improvement. I understand that failure is okay and can always offer a learning experience. I have a lot yet to learn, but what I do know is that I have the characteristics, skills, knowledge, and drive to allow me to succeed in a physician assistant program to become a exceptional physician assistant. With over 3,000 patient care hours and counting, it always comes back to those moments. Whether it is helping an elder get ready for the day, putting a splint on a college student who got injured at the rec center, or rushing a code blue down the hallway of an ER, helping those who cannot help themselves offers such an indescribable and rewarding feeling. Continuing my career in the medical field as a physician assistant is exactly where I picture myself. Where I can continue my personable patient care and be that familiar face." -Once again, SO SO SO GENERIC. Also, don't list that you have >3000 PCE hours in the personal statement...

 

 

Anyways, these are only general comments about your essay, as more specific comments wouldn't help as this essay should be completely scrapped. I think what would be best for you to do is to brainstorm why you want to be a PA, what relevant experiences you have had in your life that led you to choosing the PA path (BE SPECIFIC, not just the general "oh I was a CNA and it made me want to be a PA"), and have a theme to your PS. Right now, your personal statement just seems like a glorified résumé/CV with too many generic phrases. 

Also, I think that reading other successful applicants' personal statements would really help you get an idea of how to write your own. Let me know if you want me to send you mine as I am happy to share. 

Probably too much information load for one post, so I will stop there.

 

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Hi, 

I was also accepted to my top choice this cycle. The post above pretty much hit the nail on the head, and I as well would recommend that you consider starting over completely. Some things that helped me take my first draft to my final..

1. Your PS should read like only you could’ve written it. Like the post above said, yours is very generic. This is the only chance for admissions to know about YOU and what you alone can bring to their class. 

2. As stated above, yours is much too long. You have so many lines that do absolutely nothing for you. 5000 character truthfully isn’t all that much, and you have to convey why you have chosen your life’s profession within that limitation. You can’t waste any characters saying something that doesn’t directly relate to how you chose PA or why you’d make a great PA. Everything in that first paragraph from “We picked out lipstick” to “why I was helping her” is an example of this. 

3. You need to pick maybe 3-4 topics that you want to focus on..maybe brief story about a patient, an interaction with a PA, explain a bit about your healthcare experience, and then a wildcard topic that is unique to you. Right now your essay has no direction or structure and you need to find a focus. 

I know my rough draft compared to my final draft were night and day difference in terms of quality, so don’t worry! I as well would be willing to send you my final PS if you’re interested in reading it. I know looking at successful ones really helped me in perfecting mine. 

Good luck! 

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14 hours ago, scankidofhell said:

Hello, I am glad to help. For starters, I recently got accepted to my top choice PA program, and received 8+ interview invites this past cycle. I believe I received many invites because of the way I communicated with my personal statement and on the CASPA application as a whole. I am going to grill your PS because it is really bad right now (which is fine because it is a rough draft). Please don't take my comments personally, but if you want to improve, I really recommend that you scrap mostly everything and start brainstorming from scratch as your whole essay doesn't tell me anything about your desire to become a PA. You have no clear theme and your essay reads without any flow or structure. Here are some comments:

1) Most important thing: way toooooooooo long, CASPA only allows for 5000 characters, yours is over 6700.

2) First paragraph: Your story in the first paragraph is too generic, too long, and doesn't really add much to why you want to be a PA. I would completely scrap it (imagine how many applicants write these types of personal anecdotes and how jaded and tired ADCOMS are reading all of these similar stories). I think it is a good idea to have a hook/short story at the beginning of your essay, but it needs to be written in a more concise, more applicable, and more engaging way. 

3) Second paragraph: Your 2nd paragraph is just bad. It doesn't relate to anything you said in your first paragraph (your story). No one cares about your whole life story from your initial 6th grade interest in biology leading up to deciding to pursue the PA career. Yes, definitely explain why you want to be a PA and why the profession is AMAZING, but don't go about telling every single step of your journey, because no one has time to read it. Also, it is very generic (once again). For example:

"My interest in medicine and the human body sparked at a young age when I could not get enough of 6th grade biology." -who cares????

"And after working as a dietary aide in a nursing home during high school, I began to understand my strong desire of caring for others" -Okay... but HOW??? Show, don't tell.

"I enjoyed providing patient care at my PCA job, and my science courses intrigued me. It only made sense that I belonged in the medical field." -Nothing is making any sense about why you belong in the medical field.

"This career would allow me to be as versatile and flexible as I wanted. A career as physician assistant seemed to fit well with my interests and personality. I could care for others, build meaningful connections, and be a decision-maker all while fulfilling my passion of health, medicine, and the human body." -Imagine how many other applicants write that the PA career offers the most amount of flexibility and how it fits in with your personality. Yes, it is good to include it, but you should give SPECIFIC examples on WHY you like that type of flexibility and WHY it specifically fits to your personality. 

4) Third paragraph: Sounds like you are just copying everything that ADCOMS would read from your résumé/CV/job experiences. Not appropriate for your personal statement.

5) Yes, please do put a specific experience you had with a PA and how that relates to your wanting to pursue the profession

6) Your last 2 paragraphs are also bad. First of all, you put an apostrophe on physician assistant ("...I interact with doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses..."), so that will automatically reject you from schools. 

"I am currently an emergency department technician where I interact with doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, and social workers every day. I help the providers with anything I can. Whether it be doing an EKG on a patient in triage with chest pain, bagging an intubated patient while my colleague performs CPR, drawing blood, assessing vitals on a baby with a fever, splinting, dressing an elders wound from a fall, assisting in sedations, cardio versions, lumbar punctures, and countless other tasks. I have gained an immense amount of skills and knowledge thus far, and it has only driven my excitement and passion to become a physician assistant." -Once again, stop listing all of your responsibilities of your jobs. You will be able to do that in another section of your application. The personal statement is not a place to waste your words.

" In my 23 years of life I have been given opportunities and experiences that provided exceptional personal growth and understanding of who I am. I know what situations I thrive in, and what situations that may not suit me as well. I understand my strengths and weaknesses. I understand the importance of taking on new challenges for a chance of improvement. I understand that failure is okay and can always offer a learning experience. I have a lot yet to learn, but what I do know is that I have the characteristics, skills, knowledge, and drive to allow me to succeed in a physician assistant program to become a exceptional physician assistant. With over 3,000 patient care hours and counting, it always comes back to those moments. Whether it is helping an elder get ready for the day, putting a splint on a college student who got injured at the rec center, or rushing a code blue down the hallway of an ER, helping those who cannot help themselves offers such an indescribable and rewarding feeling. Continuing my career in the medical field as a physician assistant is exactly where I picture myself. Where I can continue my personable patient care and be that familiar face." -Once again, SO SO SO GENERIC. Also, don't list that you have >3000 PCE hours in the personal statement...

 

 

Anyways, these are only general comments about your essay, as more specific comments wouldn't help as this essay should be completely scrapped. I think what would be best for you to do is to brainstorm why you want to be a PA, what relevant experiences you have had in your life that led you to choosing the PA path (BE SPECIFIC, not just the general "oh I was a CNA and it made me want to be a PA"), and have a theme to your PS. Right now, your personal statement just seems like a glorified résumé/CV with too many generic phrases. 

Also, I think that reading other successful applicants' personal statements would really help you get an idea of how to write your own. Let me know if you want me to send you mine as I am happy to share. 

Probably too much information load for one post, so I will stop there.

 

I truly appreciate your honest feedback as this is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to see if I was in the right direction and you definitely helped me with that. Thank you! I will do a lot more brainstorming to make improvements because I understand the importance of it. thank you!! I may ask you for further feedback as I continue, if that's okay? Again, I truly appreciate it. 

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4 hours ago, lctexas4 said:

Hi, 

I was also accepted to my top choice this cycle. The post above pretty much hit the nail on the head, and I as well would recommend that you consider starting over completely. Some things that helped me take my first draft to my final..

1. Your PS should read like only you could’ve written it. Like the post above said, yours is very generic. This is the only chance for admissions to know about YOU and what you alone can bring to their class. 

2. As stated above, yours is much too long. You have so many lines that do absolutely nothing for you. 5000 character truthfully isn’t all that much, and you have to convey why you have chosen your life’s profession within that limitation. You can’t waste any characters saying something that doesn’t directly relate to how you chose PA or why you’d make a great PA. Everything in that first paragraph from “We picked out lipstick” to “why I was helping her” is an example of this. 

3. You need to pick maybe 3-4 topics that you want to focus on..maybe brief story about a patient, an interaction with a PA, explain a bit about your healthcare experience, and then a wildcard topic that is unique to you. Right now your essay has no direction or structure and you need to find a focus. 

I know my rough draft compared to my final draft were night and day difference in terms of quality, so don’t worry! I as well would be willing to send you my final PS if you’re interested in reading it. I know looking at successful ones really helped me in perfecting mine. 

Good luck! 

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!! I will be doing some major brainstorming and revisions. This is exactly what I needed. Thank you!! Once I get this next draft done I may reach out to you! 

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Hey there, 

I agree with the majority of what the above posters pointed out. A positive I found in your personal statement was the very small hint of a theme: caring for others / compassion. Although it's a cliche theme that's overused in a lot of applications (PA school, med school, nursing, etc etc), it's a start. Before finalizing my own personal statement, I wrote like 4 completely different essays before I was able to fully express and convey who I am as a person as well as a future PA. Keep brainstorming your past experiences, from life to healthcare exposure, and you should be able to come up with a story that is UNIQUE to you. No one enjoys reading a super cliched and bland essay (and I stopped like 1/3 of yours before I got the "blah blah blah" reaction), so you want to make yours stand out.

 

Some suggestions to keep in mind:

1. Be concise! Get straight to the point and don't be so extraneous with the information you put out, which was like 99% of your content. Each sentence should be valuable and descriptive to who you are and why would want to be a PA.

2. Don't restate your resume, or the resume of a PA. Adcoms will look over your resume that's part of CASPA so you don't have to repeat your responsibilities and skills in your essay. Adcoms also already know what a PA is so there's no sense in including what a PA does. 

3. Explore all of your experiences. You traveled abroad? Cool, what did you learn from it and how did it make you grow or how does it apply to being a PA (think of traits or characteristics). Worked with a variety of patients? Sure, did you get anything valuable from working with them or learned more about the healthcare system or today's society?

4. Maybe go with storytelling. You started your statement with one and I was kindaaa engaged. There was some information I didn't care about and then the succeeding paragraphs were definitely about info I didn't care about. The story can be followed through throughout the essay or you can tell individual stories that all tie into together.

5. Themes. Going with 1-2 themes will help tie in all of your paragraphs or stories together. You can expand more intelligently on compassion and caring for others but think of other experiences that conveyed the qualities.

 

It takes time and effort before you can feel comfortable and proud of your personal statement. It took me about 3 months to perfect it before I was ready to submit my application. With thousands of applications, really try to sell yourself and highlight your unique experiences/qualities so that adcoms can have a good impression of you and possibly extend an interview invitation to meet you in person. Because your personal statement can be your ticket to the interview and that interview can be your ticket to an acceptance.

Good luck!

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10 interview invites, 7 acceptances here. Like the first commenter, I'm certain this cycle went so well because of my personal statement. You've gotten some absolutely *incredible* feedback already! I just wanted to throw my $0.02 in! 🙂

Like others have already said, this is bland. Anyone could have written it. Before you start revising, I would recommend reading as many personal statements as you can. Noting what you like and dont like about others' work will help you apply the successful strategies to your own narrative. I found both PA and med school applicants' essays to be helpful. Then, I would start reflecting on patient care experiences that pushed you to become a PA. Telling specific stories about what you've seen, done, and felt will make all the difference.

It's also important to be selective with your stories. With so much patient care experience, you must have a million stories to tell. The tough part is narrowing down which are most impactful and showing different qualities that make you a great PA candidate. The stories don't have to be dramatic, but they do have to be genuine. I can tell your opening story is genuine, but it's far too long. Here's a fast example of how I'd cut it down: 

Ahh, there’s a familiar face!” As I returned from a month away, I wasn't sure my Alzheimer's patient would even recognize me - she had severe memory loss and could barely remember her children’s names at times - but she instantly recognized my face. I'd expected nothing in return as I spent hours listening to stories that occasionally didn't make sense and carefully applying her favorite shade of lipstick, but her words gave me a sense of joy and purpose. I left her room that day with a renewed desire to spend my life caring for patients like her, people who are slowly losing their memories but can still recognize compassion and love. 

See how that's going in a more personal, specific direction? I'd add another sentence showing how that experience motivated you to pursue PA school. Ask yourself, do I need this word? This sentence? This story? Can I be more specific? How can I show vivid details? 

As an example, my PS opened with a really simple story where I realized my current limits (also an ED tech!), then I told a story about actually assisting a physician during a baby delivery, then I talked about shadowing PAs and seeing how much they could do. I ended by discussing some grades within the context of leadership experience and tied it all together at the end. My point is that a series of stories is *so* much more interesting (to write and to read) than a list of responsibilities! Like another commenter mentioned, you'll list those responsibilities in your experiences section anyway. 

Like someone else commented, a PS isn't a brief task - I started on mine in August, went through over 100 drafts (I'm super obsessive) and finally ended up being happy with my final version a week before I submitted CASPA. Don't be discouraged!! One week I was happy with a draft, the next it was garbage and I was staring at a blank page. The process is tough but it will make your final work so much stronger 🙂 if you'd like me to read any future drafts let me know!

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On 11/20/2018 at 11:07 AM, Haleyj said:

I truly appreciate your honest feedback as this is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to see if I was in the right direction and you definitely helped me with that. Thank you! I will do a lot more brainstorming to make improvements because I understand the importance of it. thank you!! I may ask you for further feedback as I continue, if that's okay? Again, I truly appreciate it. 

Yes please feel free to contact me for more help. I am basically free until I start school next July! 

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