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I'm a second time applicant and would love to get some feedback on my personal statement to submit for this round.  Thanks so much for reading/reviewing!  If you have a PS you'd like feedback on let me know in a comment and I'd be happy to return the favor. Part of me wants to shorten it a bit but I also feel like each paragraph is necessary to 'tell my story.' 

Suddenly, I’m enveloped into an embrace with an elderly woman; we maintain our stance for several minutes without parting. When we finally divide, I am held at arm’s length. The remnant of tears trace down the side of her cheeks as she speaks softly. “It will be okay, thank you.” Her words are reassuring, although I am unsure if they are truly allocated for me.

We had attempted to resuscitate her husband in the emergency room for an hour without success. It wasn’t the sudden loss of life that caught me off guard, but the magnitude of the heartbreak I felt for the woman’s family that continues to resonate with me. This experience is part of what has made me realize that providing care within my community drives my passion to become a PA.  

After six years of climbing the corporate ladder I came to the realization that I was spending the majority of my day agonizing about a bottom line rather than truly serving our clients. My position required hours of analyzing medical records in preparation for trial. I would become engrossed during my review researching patients’ diagnosis and treatment options. I received the privileged, behind-the-curtain, opportunity to discuss their plans of care directly with physicians during depositions. This experience made me interested in medicine. During this time, I also began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, which is where I had the experience that inspired me to change career paths altogether.  

It was a blistering summer day and we were in the final stages of restoring a dilapidated home. My few short months of involvement with Habitat for Humanity were beginning to feel more fulfilling than my corporate. I was wearing a blue hard hat and Habitat shirt which was stained with streaks of grey paint from the day’s work. The home owner, Valerie, waved me over for a cold glass of lemonade which I graciously accepted. As I sat down to enjoy a break from the heat, she relayed the story of how she became the recipient of Habitat’s philanthropic efforts.

Valerie, a single mother with two smaller children, described her youngest son’s severe disabilities, which had left him confined to a wheelchair. She discussed the difficulty of maintaining a job while tending to her son’s full time needs. She went on to explain the many hardships the family had as a result of financing his costly medical treatment. The paint brush in my hand almost seemed to shrink in size as I realized how minuscule my contribution to the community actually was. That day, with Valerie’s story burning in my head, I returned home and enrolled in school to become an EMT. 

I could not have fathomed that I would pursue a career in health care, and it is due to my trials and tribulations since completing my undergraduate work that health care has become an interwoven part of my identity. During my undergraduate program, I became discouraged, pursuing unfulfilling majors in multiple career paths. I lost my way during this time and felt disheartened with my education. Since I ascertained my devotion to become a PA I have excelled in my prerequisite course work and contributed over 1,000 hours to the underserved within my community while maintaining a full-time job. 

While volunteering at Puget Sound Christian Clinic I began to realize the restrictions of my EMT license.  I lacked the education necessary to fully care for my patients that required ongoing medical treatment.  I was provided with the opportunity to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team and had my first interactions with a PA. My path to becoming a PA was illuminated after observing our PA’s calming demeanor when faced with managing patients chronic medical conditions while navigating difficult language barriers.  

Recognizing the limitations of my EMT license, I strive to assist my patients at a higher level of care and offer greater support to the underserved as a PA. I look forward to using what I learn in a Physician’s Assistant program to lessen the burden of health care expenses for individuals like Valerie and continue to connect to their families in my community in their times of hardship. 

 

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General comments (don't take these too harshly/personally, just trying to make it better):

  • You're PS is too unfocused, and talks about way too many things in your life. Because of this, it doesn't really have a clear theme and is hard to follow
    • You talk about: 1) an ER encounter you had, 2) being disgruntled working at a job, 3) how you got initially interested in medicine, 4) your volunteer opportunity at Habitat for Humanity, 5) an excruciating long story about Valerie and her son, 6) how you had no idea what you were doing in college, 7) how deciding on pursuing the PA profession made you excel in your academics and your PCE/volunteering/jobs,  8 ) getting your EMT license, 9) how you felt limited by just being an EMT 10) experiences with PAs, 11) how you want to give better care for your patients which is why you want to become a PA, 12) a random last sentence about Valerie and how it sort of relates to your motivations for becoming a PA
    • Honestly no one is going to remember or have time to dissect all of these different directions that your PS is taking us. Furthermore, none of these elements connect at all in any way and it seems like they are sort of just "empty" words that don't have much meaning/weight. With that being said, it do
    • If your life story was a whole pie, only serve a slice of that pie, and only serve the slice of that pie that is relevant towards describing 1) why you want to become a PA specifically, and 2) why you would be an excellent PA. 
      • You wrote all of these words and I still have no idea why you are pursuing the PA profession specifically, as opposed to any other healthcare position (MD/DO/RN/NP/DNP/PT/OT) where you can also help patients. 
  • Critical error: DO NOT USE CONTRACTIONS (I'm, wasn't). This is a professional piece of writing that is going to be read by professionals.
  • Critical error: DO NOT CALL THE PROFESSION "Physician's Assistant", also DO NOT CAPITALIZE IT ALSO. It is physician assistant. You will get auto-rejected for this mistake/severely judged.
  • Generally it is just not a well-written personal statement and needs revision and more focus and needs to stick to the prompt (why you want to become a PA and why you would become a fantastic PA). That is all that matters. No one is going to care about some ER encounter/your volunteer experiences/your trials and tribulations/basically anything you write about if they have nothing to do with why you want to pursue the PA profession and how your past experiences have shaped you into becoming a fantastic future PA.
    • Note: this is not me saying that these personal experiences you have written aren't important in your journey to becoming a PA, I am just saying that at its current state, your writing does not exemplify/demonstrate why you want to become a PA and why you would become a fantastic PA.

More specific comments (let me dissect your essay):

"Suddenly, I’m enveloped into an embrace with an elderly woman; we maintain our stance for several minutes without parting. When we finally divide, I am held at arm’s length. The remnant of tears trace down the side of her cheeks as she speaks softly. “It will be okay, thank you.” Her words are reassuring, although I am unsure if they are truly allocated for me.

We had attempted to resuscitate her husband in the emergency room for an hour without success. It wasn’t the sudden loss of life that caught me off guard, but the magnitude of the heartbreak I felt for the woman’s family that continues to resonate with me. This experience is part of what has made me realize that providing care within my community drives my passion to become a PA." -Not impressed by the hook/story. Does not relate to anything else you said in your PS. Do not use contractions. Very cliche.

"This experience is part of what has made me realize that providing care within my community drives my passion to become a PA." -So non-specific and cliche, especially when this statement could have been applied to any other healthcare profession (MD/DO/RN/NP/PT/OT/etc.) You can provide care within your community by doing any of these jobs. So why PA specifically? 

"After six years of climbing the corporate ladder I came to the realization that I was spending the majority of my day agonizing about a bottom line rather than truly serving our clients." -Do not put any type of negativity in your essay. It just sounds like you hated your previous job. There are more tactful ways of addressing issues/difficulties you've faced in other professions. 

"My position required hours of analyzing medical records in preparation for trial. I would become engrossed during my review researching patients’ diagnosis and treatment options." -Sounds like you are copying parts of your résumé/CV, which is inappropriate for the personal statement, especially when it does not relate to why you want to be a PA 

"I received the privileged, behind-the-curtain, opportunity to discuss their plans of care directly with physicians during depositions. This experience made me interested in medicine." -Also part of your job description/résumé. Why specifically was this important besides that it got you interested in medicine?  

"During this time, I also began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, which is where I had the experience that inspired me to change career paths altogether.  

It was a blistering summer day and we were in the final stages of restoring a dilapidated home. My few short months of involvement with Habitat for Humanity were beginning to feel more fulfilling than my corporate. I was wearing a blue hard hat and Habitat shirt which was stained with streaks of grey paint from the day’s work. The home owner, Valerie, waved me over for a cold glass of lemonade which I graciously accepted. As I sat down to enjoy a break from the heat, she relayed the story of how she became the recipient of Habitat’s philanthropic efforts.

Valerie, a single mother with two smaller children, described her youngest son’s severe disabilities, which had left him confined to a wheelchair. She discussed the difficulty of maintaining a job while tending to her son’s full time needs. She went on to explain the many hardships the family had as a result of financing his costly medical treatment. The paint brush in my hand almost seemed to shrink in size as I realized how minuscule my contribution to the community actually was. That day, with Valerie’s story burning in my head, I returned home and enrolled in school to become an EMT." -Way too long of a story. Also the story is super cliche and doesn't really get into your specific motivations for pursuing the EMT profession (let also the PA profession, which is what this essay is supposed to be about). This essay is not about Valerie, or her son. This is about WHY YOU WANT TO BECOME A PA AND WHY YOU WOULD BE A FANTASTIC ONE. Make it FOCUSED ON YOU.

"I could not have fathomed that I would pursue a career in health care, and it is due to my trials and tribulations since completing my undergraduate work that health care has become an interwoven part of my identity. During my undergraduate program, I became discouraged, pursuing unfulfilling majors in multiple career paths. I lost my way during this time and felt disheartened with my education. Since I ascertained my devotion to become a PA I have excelled in my prerequisite course work and contributed over 1,000 hours to the underserved within my community while maintaining a full-time job. " -Super cliche. Also way too many flowery/emotional/unnecessary words ("could not have fathomed", "trials and tribulations", "interwoven part of my identity", "lost my way", "disheartened", "ascertained my devotion"). Also do not list you worked >1000 hours in an underserved setting, that is very inappropriate for the personal statement. 

"While volunteering at Puget Sound Christian Clinic I began to realize the restrictions of my EMT license.  I lacked the education necessary to fully care for my patients that required ongoing medical treatment."  -Just being devil's advocate, but what happens if you are a future PA, and you do not have the education (for example, compared to trained MDs/DOs) to fully care for your patients because they are very critically ill with many complex comorbidities that you have not been accustomed managing as a PA since you've only got 2-3 years of education versus 8+ years as an MD/DO? Would you then go pursue an MD/DO so that you can get the full education/training to fully care for your patients? (I'm just being picky, but just trying to point out the cliche-ness of the whole "lack of adequate training/knowledge" aspect of any job). 

"I was provided with the opportunity to collaborate with an interdisciplinary team and had my first interactions with a PA. My path to becoming a PA was illuminated after observing our PA’s calming demeanor when faced with managing patients chronic medical conditions while navigating difficult language barriers." -You can also manage patients' (this is the appropriate punctuation, not "patients") chronic medical conditions by being an NP/DO/MD. This is not specific to the PA profession at all. You also can navigate through difficult language barriers as an interpreter, so why PA? 

"Recognizing the limitations of my EMT license, I strive to assist my patients at a higher level of care and offer greater support to the underserved as a PA. I look forward to using what I learn in a Physician’s Assistant program to lessen the burden of health care expenses for individuals like Valerie and continue to connect to their families in my community in their times of hardship." -PAs have limits in patient care as well. You can assist patients in many healthcare roles, so why PA? DO NOT CAPITALIZE physician assistant, and definitely DO NOT CALL US a physician's assistant. You can connect to families in your community in their times of hardship in many other roles besides the PA profession. 

So I have to keep asking you... why specifically PA? 

 

Anyways, hope that me overanalyzing/dissecting your current PS helps you come up with a better essay! Don't take any of these comments personal, they are mainly just thinking points/points of contention that potential readers in any ADCOM would think of when trying to deny you an interview to their program. Remember, they are trying to find any reason to deny giving you an interview, as there are many many competitive applicants! Good luck. Feel free to comment if you need me to elaborate on anything I've said (For reference, I got 9 interviews and I am going to my top choice this year)! 

(I also hope this helps anyone else trying to write their own PS as I touched on a lot of points that could be applied to other people writing their drafts of their essays).

 

Edited by scankidofhell
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I like reading stories so I was (somewhat) engaged with reading your personal statement. With that said, your PS has too many stories and honestly they are stories that do not answer the question of why PA. I would start from scratch and really try to hone in on maybe 1-2 themes so your PS can be more cohesive. I personally would take out the Habitat for Humanity story, being on the corporate ladder, and your undergraduate pathway. They don't add anything valuable (I don't mean to be harsh) to who you are as an applicant and a future PA. Also, the only bits that were about the PA profession was when you encountered one. Maybe expand on that experience or touch more on your EMT experience (maybe about skills, compassion, etc vs downright saying you couldn't really help the overall outcome of the patient). I can also understand your reasoning for putting the opening story but it doesn't contribute anything other than some drama. The amount of times I read PS openings with a similar story to yours, makes it boring and not unique. Additionally, have a conclusion that is STRONG and is able to tie in all of the themes you incorporate into your PS. The conclusion is more important than the introduction (at least in my opinion anyway).

 

Please don't take my advice personally! I went through many drafts (and weeks) before coming up with my final PS. Make sure every word and every sentence is valuable to who you are as an applicant and how it is applicable about why you want to be a PA. Be specific about the PA profession, otherwise what you write may also be applicable to any other healthcare position. Best of luck!

(For reference, I'm a first time applicant going to my top choice! 🙂 )

Edited by aba51

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Hi @smile4fun

You can send your PS over to my email acceptedPAstudent@gmail.com.

I am a first round applicant who's been accepted to multiple PA schools and more than willing to edit and review your PS. This also goes for anyone else reading this post. 

I do appreciate a small donation as gratitude for my time spent reading and reviewing your PS, as well as any kind words on my forum post.

Hope to speak with you soon,

Hailey

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