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Personal statement...too risky?


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I've been in veterinary medicine for 16 years prior to my deciding to pursue PA. I feel that needs to be addressed in my personal statement. There are many reasons I chose to leave veterinary medicine, and two of those are the terrible debt to income ratio and the high incidence of depression and suicide. Some people have told me I shouldn't discuss money or suicide because they are too negative and maybe controversial. I feel I'd be dishonest if I didn't include that. Thoughts?

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Too risky. Don't do it. You do not have to feel like you're dishonest for not including it as your personal statement really just needs to answer two questions: why you want to become a PA and why you would become a fantastic PA. You can definitely use your veterinary experiences over the last 16 years to exemplify this, and a matter of fact, these experiences would probably make you stand out from the crowd, which is what you want. 

I would say as a reader and on an admissions team, reading statements such as "I chose to leave veterinary medicine" because of "terrible debt to income ratio and the high incidence of depression and suicide" would probably turn me off and not offer you an interview. Just say that out for a moment and repeat it to yourself and you'll understand why that just sounds off-putting and very negative. You do not want to come off as a negative person in your personal statement, regardless of whatever past hardships you have endured. 

As an ADCOMS reading your paper, I would question your commitment to any profession if you wrote your essay in that type of tone, regardless if you were being truthful and not dishonest. There are ways to address your desire to leave veterinary medicine that can be painted in a more positive light instead of blaming it on low ROI and high depression/suicide rates. Addressing this in the interview would be a better place to do that instead of on the personal statement. Medicine in a nutshell is a high stress job, so the PA profession would also probably have somewhat similar stats on depression (though I do not believe that there are formal studies that were done geared towards specifically PAs). Anyways, you probably get my viewpoint by now (this is coming from a person who has gotten 9+ interview invites this cycle + accepted at my top choice).

Main things to do in your personal statement:

  • Be positive
    • No phrases such as "I chose to leave veterinary medicine" because of "terrible debt to income ratio and the high incidence of depression and suicide"
  • Be unique
    • Use your veterinary medicine experiences to exemplify this!
  • Answer the prompt questions: why you specifically want to be a PA and why you would be a fantastic one

Please let me know if you want to see an example of a stellar personal statement (mine)!

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I grew up with horses and though I did not work in veterinary medicine, much of my personal statement was focused on how my experience and exposure to veterinary medicine led me to pursue being a PA and how it strengthened me, rather than focusing on why I didn't want to be a veterinarian. Use it as a positive thing!

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