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Sharing My PS (Accepted to Duke)

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I was blessed to have a very successful cycle and many of my interviewers said my personal statement was the most unique one they had read. 

“24-year-old male presents for follow up to discuss diagnostic results. Impression: No acute findings. Assessment: Chronic tension-type headache, intractable G44.221. Refer to ENT.” My eyes lazily glanced over the lines; I gave up reading progress reports long ago. I scheduled the appointment, faxed over my paperwork, and arrived at his office at 07:45 AM. “What a waste of time,” I thought when the receptionist politely informed me that today I would be seeing the physician assistant (PA). A young man opened the door, firmly shook my hand, and chuckled out, “Sorry I’m late, quite a file you have there, I knew I should have brought my glasses.” 

The bell struck [, bringing me back to present reality.] I was late for Terce. I sprinted to the chapel, slipped on my cassock, and stole into the last pew. I sat silently, but my heart was impassioned as I reflected on that encounter with Brian—the PA.

At that time, I was in my fourth year of formation at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and candidacy was steadily approaching; a definitive moment in which the candidate publicly announces his decided intention to be a priest. I had been wrestling with my decision for quite a while, and after that appointment with Brian, while sitting in a dimly lit chapel, an overwhelming sense of peace and clarity fell over me. I knew my decision. 

Before entering, I always had a desire to help others, as well as an affinity for medicine; so, I became an EMT and studied biology. However, inspired by the Christian mandate, “Leave everything and follow Me,” I sacrificed a career in medicine and purchased a one-way ticket to Denver to pursue a life of simplicity, poverty, and spiritual healing. 

I joined eighty-nine men from around the world who had given up marriage, family, status, and wealth for a life of radical service. I developed lifelong friendships and was afforded some inimitable experiences. I spent thirty days in absolute silence in the deserted plains of South Dakota; lived with and served those in abject poverty; visited the dying and imprisoned, and even taught the archbishop how to play Mario Kart. Despite fully immersing myself in formation, medicine had never left me. 

There were subtle, subconscious, influences at work, but ultimately it was my experience as a patient that brought me back to medicine. During those four years, I was plagued with skiing injuries, diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, and suffered daily headaches. My shelves were lined with medical textbooks, and I was treated by seventeen providers across twelve different specialties. It took months to schedule an appointment only to be disappointed in five minutes. Again, and again, I was simply seen as an ICD-10 or CPT billable code, until I met Brian. 

He was late because he was reviewing my case with the physician. Undeterred by my initial palpable annoyance, he took the time to listen to me and place his hands on me during the examination. I was not cured that day, but I was reminded of why I joined the seminary. I was never keen on preaching, and although eating raw potatoes every Friday had its appeals, the real reason was twofold: relational ministry and healing. Brian’s witness showed me that while these are fundamental aspects in the life of a priest, they were the undivided vocation of the PA. Supported by the bishop, and encouraged by the entire formation team, I stopped discerning priesthood after four years and flew back to Arizona to pursue medicine.

A little dust had to be blown off the old chemistry and biology books, but compared to philosophy and ancient languages, articulations and resonance structures were warmly welcomed. Hours were spent researching the different health care professions but ever since meeting Brian, I knew I wanted to become a PA. Working directly with them over the last two years as a medical scribe only solidified that desire. I witnessed their competency, unrivaled positivity, collaboration with the physician, and most importantly, focus on patient care. It was not a singular cinematic event that won my love for the profession, it was the subtle, seemingly routine things such as consoling a child before sutures, seeing an elderly patient’s face light up after finally guessing their mystery medication, perfectly pinpointing a patient’s pain, and being able to spend an extra couple of minutes listening to their stories.

G44.221. G89.4. Unfortunately, these ICD-10s may always be used. However, Brian viewed me through a different lens. He treated me as more than just a billable code. He continued to research my case with his partners, and together they eventually taught me how to control my headaches, but even more so, he reminded me of my original love for medicine—my love for the patient.

Sharing public because private messaging is full. 

(This is soley provided to help you see generate ideas and create your own .) 

Edited by byf8thpber
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I am applying to PA school this round and will be applying to Duke!! If possible I would LOVE  to read your personal statement essay for a reference example! Hope you are enjoying the program so far. My email is carolinebueche@gmail.com . 


Caroline Bueche

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Hi! First of all congratulations on your PA acceptance, that must be so exciting!

My name is Marina and I am a first time applicant this cycle. I saw your recent post on the personal statement forum and saw that you offered to send your PS for generating ideas/thoughts on writing our own PS. I would love to be able to read your PS for guidance.

My e-mail is: studentmarinadel@gmail.com


Thank you so so much, I appreciate it! Best wishes on your new journey in PA School!

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