Over at Inside PA Training Paul wrote a wonderful blog post about the common pitfalls that many PA school applicants fall victim to while preparing their PA school essay.
Common Physician Assistant Essay Pitfalls
- Lack of specificity
- Weak conclusion
- No theme
- Boring introduction
This is an excellent list because several years ago while I was applying to PA school, I proved how adhering to each one of these elements was a guaranteed formula for failure.
I wrote a blog post a while back about how to get into the PA school of your choice. Part of my recommendation was to throw caution to the wind and apply with your heart and not your mind. This, as you know, is easier said than done.
Every one of the above pitfalls is what happens when you “think” too much.
The Six Hundred Words (or less) that Changed my Life
I applied to five PA schools in 2001 (prior to The Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).
First, I used an essay that I thought gave the review committee everything they would need to see that I was a stellar applicant. It showed my strengths, brown-nosed a bit, and proved that I had the pedigree to be a wonderful healthcare provider.
But, as you will see, it lacked heart, honesty, passion, and most of all . . . grit.
I received my fourth rejection letter as I was completing my application for the University of Medicine and Dentistry (UMDNJ). I was demoralized.
That night I sat down at my computer and composed what would become the 600 words that changed my life forever. I had not read them for over 11 years until this morning.
I had never taken the time to go back and see what made the difference. What had made the essay I sent to UMDNJ different from the previous four flops? I was thinking about this list of essay pitfalls this morning and decided to go back and see if I could find my original essays. I was delighted to find all of them, they brought back strong feelings and wonderful memories.
I am going to share with you both essays. The one that worked, the one that didn't, and I want you to guess the winner. Avoid the urge to reveal the answer, reading through both essays will help you as you sit down to write your personal statement.
When I applied to UMDNJ (Rutgers) I was 0.1 points below the minimum GPA requirement to even consider sending an application. The fact that they opened my application and offered me an interview was a miracle. Yet, I was admitted just a week after my trip to New Jersey.
Where were those other 4.0 Ivy leaguers I met during my interview? They were placed on the waiting list.
I am not trying to gloat, but I want to point out that the essay may be the single most important thing you do. It is the reason I was accepted to PA school.The most extraordinary stories come out of things grounded in the ordinaryClick To Tweet
Two PA School Applications Essays: Why Do You Want To Be a PA-C?
PA School Essay # 1
Why Do You Want to Be a Physician Assistant?
Every day is a gift to be embraced wholeheartedly. It is our job to fill that day with a hopeful and meaningful purpose. It has been said that “the most important thing in life is to live your life for something more important than your life” William James. It is deeply rooted in this philosophy that I desire to become a physician assistant (PA). I hope to provide quality healthcare to the underprivileged, an area of medicine, which I have noted to be dramatically underserved.
I became involved in health care four years ago to help finance my college education. I worked as a medical record clerk in the University of Washington health clinic. In addition to delivering medical records, I assisted the hospital staff in a variety of activities. I loved working with the staff and admired how well they operated as a team. I desired more direct patient care and in January 1998, when a student position opened in the lab, I jumped at the opportunity. In a few weeks, I was drawing blood, interacting with patients, and helping with a variety of technical procedures. I loved what I was doing. The patients were often uneasy when facing a needle for the first time. I was able to comfort them, help them to smile, and ease their nervous tensions. My job required that I work throughout the various University hospitals. This provided an opportunity to work within a variety of settings, and with people of all ages. Whether it was doing morning rounds in labor and delivery or working in the campus health clinic, one thing always remained the same; I found great satisfaction in caring for patients and learning of their needs. I felt a career in medicine was truly for me.
While working at the clinic I discovered the PA profession. I have always enjoyed the complexities of science and have been fascinated by a career in medicine. In pursuit of this goal, I decided to speak with one of the resident doctors in the clinic. She introduced me to the role of Physician Assistant. After that, I immersed myself in research. I was surprised to learn that many people with whom I worked were Physician Assistants. I met with hospital staff, nurse practitioners, Physician Assistants, and physical therapists. I regularly visited the PA at the clinic and admired his significant level of patient interaction and his ability to work both autonomously and alongside other physicians and nurses. I admired the PA program’s flexibility and versatility, which would allow a change of specialties if I desired. I began to focus my attention on becoming a PA. Being an independent thinker, as well as a people-oriented individual; I feel that I am well suited, not just for a career in the medical field, but for a lifetime career as a Physician Assistant.
PA School Essay #2
Why Do You Want to Be a Physician Assistant?
As a child, every day, I would swing on the swing set in the backyard of my house. I would sit there for hours, without a care in the world simply singing songs and swinging back and forth. On that swing, I felt untouchable. Like a bird in flight, my only cares were that of the sky and the beauty of each adjoining minute. In the swing’s gentle motion, I was overcome with a sense of peace.
We wake one day and find that the swing no longer exists. Our backyard has been rebuilt and the ground, which had once supported our youth, has been transcended. We search again for the swing, longing to find a resemblance of that peace. We hope to find it each day, as the product of our life and of our career.
A woman smiled at me one day, her name was Margaret. The wrinkles on her face told a story and, in her hands, there played a motion picture. She sat crouched in a wheelchair; I sat on a stool beside her. I had been working as a phlebotomist in the University Clinic for two years. I was a friend of Margaret’s because every Wednesday at six she would arrive at the clinic for her routine blood work. Everybody liked Margaret; she used to tell us stories of her childhood and her husband who had given his life to the war. She had grown especially fond of me because “I had freckles like her grandson.” She used to come alone, but had grown weaker; this was the first time her daughter had accompanied her. Her daughter looked tired and spoke softly, “The best vein is in her hand” she explained, “it doesn’t hurt her there.” I gently placed my hand on hers, and it was cold. She looked to me and through the cold touch of her hand poured the warmth of her heart. “It’s about time for dinner don’t you think mom”, said her daughter. The clock rang six and I agreed. “The medicines have been making her sick; she sometimes has troubles keeping her food down.” I looked closely at her face; it was thin and drooped to her chest. I realized that Margaret was unable to speak. “Margaret, can you make a fist for me?” “Just like last time.” She clenched tightly. I withdrew the needle and collected a small sample of blood. She raised her head and with her frail hand, gently placed it on mine. I looked again to her eyes while placing a bandage on her hand. It was warm now. “Time for dinner mom”, replied her daughter. I smiled and waved goodbye “Margaret, I will see you again next week.” She raised her head and smiled. Without a word, she made perfect sense. I never saw Margaret again.
In the memory of Margaret and every patient who has individually touched my every day, I have regained a piece of the backyard swing that I loved so much as a child. I have been directly involved in health care for four years. Every day has brought great joy. To be a part of a person’s day is a wonderful blessing. Certainly, there are many pleasures in life. But, for me, none is greater than that which we find in the healing touch of another. As the eternal motion of the swing, it is in this that I find great peace.
Which essay is the one that got me an acceptance letter?
The difference: One is written from the heart, the other is full of clichés, lacks specificity, has no theme, has a boring introduction, and a weak conclusion!
The personal statement is a great way for you to really expand upon who you are, why you are interested in being a PA, how you got to this point, and why you think you are a good fit. It is an excellent opportunity to really speak about the person you are. Be honest - write it yourself! We do read these very carefully. - Elissa Love, BCM PA Program in Houston
As you sit down to write your PA school application essay remember this example.
In life, almost nothing ever goes to those who try to blend into the crowd. Your PA School application essay should be different, reflect who you really are, and not pander to what you think other people want to hear. This is a rule of thumb not just for your essay and for applying to PA school but for life in general.
As you write dig deep, don't hold back, and believe in your words. Set your noisy mind aside and try to find that place inside your head where your heart resides. This is where you will separate yourself from the crowd, this is where your journey to PA both begins and ends!
Bonus: PAEA Application Essay Do's and Don'ts
View all posts in this series
- How to Write the Perfect Physician Assistant School Application Essay
- The Physician Assistant Essay and Personal Statement Collaborative
- Do You Recognize These 7 Common Mistakes in Your Personal Statement?
- Prerequisite Coursework: How to Design the Perfect Pre-PA School Curriculum
- Healthcare Experience Required for PA School: The Ultimate Guide
- 7 Essays in 7 Days: PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 1, “A PA Changed My Life”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 2, “I Want to Move Towards the Forefront of Patient Care”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 3, “She Smiled, Said “Gracias!” and Gave me a Big Hug”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 4, “I Have Gained so Much Experience by Working With Patients”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 5, “Then Reach, my Son, and Lift Your People up With You”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 6, “That First Day in Surgery was the First Day of the Rest of my Life”
- PA Personal Statement Workshop: Essay 7, “I Want to Take People From Dying to Living, I Want to Get Them Down From the Cliff.”
- Physician Assistant Personal Statement Workshop: “To say I was an accident-prone child is an understatement”
- 9 Simple Steps to Avoid Silly Spelling and Grammar Goofs in Your PA School Personel Statement
- 5 Tips to Get you Started on Your Personal Essay (and why you should do it now)
- How to Write Your Physician Assistant Personal Statement The Book!
- How to Write “Physician Assistant” The Definitive PA Grammar Guide
- Secrets of Successful PA School Letters of Recommendation
- 101 PA School Admissions Essays: The Book!
- 5 Things I’ve Learned Going Into My Fourth Physician Assistant Application Cycle
- 7 Tips for Addressing Shortcomings in Your PA School Personal Statement
- The #1 Mistake PRE-PAs Make on Their Personal Statement
- The Ultimate PA School Personal Statement Starter Kit
- The Ultimate Guide to CASPA Character and Space Limits
- The GRE and PA School: The Pre-PA Advisor Series
- 10 Questions Every PA School Personal Statement Must Answer
- 5 PA School Essays That Got These Pre-PAs Accepted Into PA School
- 7 Questions to Ask Yourself While Writing Your PA School Personal Statement
- 101 PA School Applicants Answer: What’s Your Greatest Strength?
- 12 Secrets to Writing an Irresistible PA School Personal Statement
- 7 Rules You Must Follow While Writing Your PA School Essay
- You Have 625 Words and 2.5 Minutes to Get Into PA School: Use Them Wisely
- What’s Your #1 Personal Statement Struggle?
- 31 (NEW) CASPA PA School Personal Statement Examples
- How to Prepare for Your PA School Interview Day Essay
- Should You Write Physician Associate or Physician Assistant on Your PA School Essay?
- Meet the World’s Sexiest PA School Applicants
- PA School Reapplicants: How to Rewrite Your PA School Essay for Guaranteed Success
- How to Write a Personal Statement Intro that Readers Want to Read
- PA School Reapplicant Personal Statement Checklist
- How to Deal with Bad News in Your Personal Statement
- Inside Out: How to use Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling to Improve your PA Personal Statement
- Ratatouille: A Pixar Recipe for PA School Personal Statement Success
- Personal Statement Panel Review (Replay)
- Mind Mapping: A Tool for Personal Statements, Supplemental Essays, and Interviews
- Start at the End: Advice for your PA School Personal Statement
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I think your second essay is a much more sincere, mature and thought provoking essay. That being said, your inappropriate context of the word “weather” in your first essay could be a reason you were overlooked. Correct spelling, wrong context.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
Hi, Danielle, you are absolutely right. In fact, there is more than one glaring error in that first essay. It took some willpower to avoid correcting these errors before I posted my essays online but I figured it was a good teaching point. I must say though I am impressed, after all the years I have had this post and these essays published online you are the first to ever mention the spelling/grammar mistakes. And they are so very important!!!
If I was Willy Wonka, I would give you the golden ticket:-)
I’m looking for feedback on what to cut out of my personal statement, its over 800 characters too long, but I felt like each paragraph was important. Thanks in advance!
“Rummy!” He bellowed between labored breaths. Tom’s face was pale and beads of sweat lined his nasal cannula as he stifled back laughter. I was, once again, lost in the rules of yet another new card game Tom was teaching me. “You have got to be aware of the cards other people can have in their hand,” he reminded me, as he tallied up his points to pull ahead. A nurse snuck in the room between games to test Tom’s blood glucose and oxygen saturation. As I shuffled the cards I saw the look of concern on her face. “I think we can pick up where we are for next week Tom,”I suggested. “And hopefully I’ll be better at Rummy by then anyway”. Tom passed the following day, unknowingly leaving me with a lot more knowledge than how to play euchre or Texas hold ’em.
I began volunteering with Southern Care Hospice with the expectation to learn more about palliative and end of life care; instead, I gained insight on primary care through a friendship with an Indiana farmer.Tom was dealt what he taught me in Texas Hold ‘em as the “poor farmer’s hand”. It was easy to look at Tom the first day and see an obese man who made lifestyle choices that led to his poor health, but with each week I learned more about the trials in his life that landed him in his hospice bed. Growing up in a small rural community, Tom lacked reliable access to medical care and often went without doctor’s visits. As a result, his diabetes was poorly treated and resulted in a cascade of medical complications.While I knew I couldn’t solve all of these issues for people like Tom, I strived to to help help those who fell into the healthcare disparity gap.
Multiple times growing up, life only dealt my family wild cards. Job loss, followed by lack of insurance became a reoccurring game I was accustomed to losing. The norm quickly became visits to urgent cares and emergency departments for any of my medical needs. It was here that I was first introduced to the PA profession. What I once viewed as misfortune actually introduced me to the influential role of a physician assistant.
I shuffled through the deck of healthcare professions before drawing the card for the PA route. Intrigued by medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, I began shadowing each to note the similarities yet distinct differences in each. Despite making the choice to become a PA early in my undergraduate career, my decision became clairvoyant as my senior year came to a close and I met a physician assistant named Julie, an interventional cardiologist at the hospital I worked at.
A tiny, 90 year old woman sat upright in bed, squinting towards Julie and I as we walked in the door. Julie carefully and meticulously described the heart cath procedure the surgeon would be performing, patiently answering each question that arose. When the patient didn’t understand the anatomy of her coronary arteries, Julie pulled out a dry erase marker and began to sketch the left anterior descending and left circumflex arteries, adding a tiny stent within the vessel for example. Each time Julie entered a patient’s room, she went the extra inch—whether it was letting a patient hear their heart murmur through her stethoscope, or drawing out the anatomy of a heart cath procedure. Julie played an integral role in a team of cardiologists, filling in the gaps for busy doctors and working with nurses to ensure each procedure was smooth and flawless. Through Julie, I saw the level of responsibility, patience, and compassion required to practice as a PA, further cementing my desire to fulfill that role.
I pursued a more tangible role in healthcare as a Rehabilitation Technician at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Here, the intricacies of patient care surfaced as I saw the collaboration among all professions to provide a high standard of care. While I primarily assisted physical and occupational therapists, I frequently consulted with nurses about a patient’s status before a rehab session, or helped a doctor maneuver a patient out of bed for assessment. The patient’s overall physical and emotional health was impacted by the successful collaboration of the entire healthcare team. Even though I enjoyed being a part of that, I yearned for the responsibility to asses, diagnose, treat, and hold a level of autonomy for my patients.
Overall, my undergraduate career provided me the insight on what defines a PA, but also geared me towards becoming a successful PA student. Juggling multiple jobs to cover the remaining costs of undergrad, I mastered multitasking and thrived in a stressful environment. I excelled in prerequisite coursework, eventually becoming an undergraduate teaching assistant for physiology. Although I enjoyed teaching physiology material, I cherished the opportunity to teach others about the PA profession. As Pre-PA Club President, I was able to advise, guide, and fuel my classmates desire to enter the field. My aspirations are to not only become a PA, but eventually utilize my proclivity to teach as a PA preceptor and educator one day.
The decision to become a PA wasn’t instantaneous, but instead a premeditated journey over the last handful of years. This path taught me the integral role PAs can have on high-quality patient care in a system strained with primary care providers. It showed me the crucial and overlooked qualities of compassion and patience that the job demands. Teamwork in healthcare became not only enjoyable for me, but a necessity for putting my patient’s needs first. Looking back, I can’t imagine choosing another career route that didn’t lead me to these encompassing experiences. Lastly, this journey introduced me to Tom and how to play Rummy. If there’s one thing I’ve taken away, it’s that everyone is dealt a different hand of cards in life. The least I can do is be there for those who are dealt a bad hand.
“You are such an old soul” is something I hear quite often from friends, family, and acquaintances. This perception from so many is in fact a product of valuable life experiences that begun at a very young age. “Mommy, are you going to die?” I asked my mother who was becoming more frail from treatments from stage 2 breast cancer. At seven, I was trying to understand many things, such as why we moved into my grandparents’ house, why my father was moving somewhere else, but most importantly why my mother, who was the most important person to me, was losing all of her hair and becoming too weak to care for me as she once had. My grandparents picked up the responsibilities for my mom while she underwent six months of chemotherapy treatments and 36 radiation treatments. My grandfather became my biggest support during this hard time, and stepped up when I needed him the most.
My grandfather was my male role model during those formidable years of my parents’ divorce and my mother, his daughter, was fighting cancer. Grandpop picked me up every day after school, helped me with my homework, and teased me until I couldn’t take it anymore. I cherished every moment I had with him. I was only nine when my grandfather suffered from a serious stroke that left him without his speech, loss of strength, and issues with coordination. He was devastated and I watched him become more and more frustrated while seeking out different treatments to aid in his healing process. Watching him try to recover from the stroke was difficult. I just wanted to help him, and understand why he could no longer speak or why he stopped teasing me relentlessly. As the years went on, my grandfather never fully recovered and he forever lost his ability to speak, but I watched him fight every day to live as normal of a life as he could. He passed away when I was sixteen and although I was not able to help my grandpop, observing the difficulties he went through has made me more determined than ever to choose a career that will allow me to care for others as I had wanted to with my grandfather.
James and I clicked right away while I was working as a rehab technician for an inpatient rehab facility. I was supporting him while we practiced gait with the walker, we discussed many topics that reminded me of my grandfather. As our session ended, I took him back up to his room and told him I would see him next week, but little did I know it would be weeks before I saw him again. As I was walking through the gym just a few short weeks later, I noticed a man sitting in a wheelchair looking sad, in pain, and uncomfortable. As I walked closer to the gray looking man, I noticed it was James. I lit up with joy and asked how he was doing. He looked at me with a frown and could only grunt in response, and it was then I realized he had suffered a stroke. I started to talk with him about all the things he loved such as fishing, and the beach. He started to smile, and this encouraged him to keep going even though he was frustrated and in pain. Every shift I would stop by to talk to James and ask how he and his wife were doing. I would stay and talk with him for a while knowing he would appreciate it. So often many people would not know what to say to him because he could not respond back appropriately. One day his wife acknowledged how well I worked with him, and how appreciative she was of me. With tears filling up my eyes, I told her the story of my grandfather, and how he also suffered a stroke that left him without his speech. I told her that although at times things were difficult for my grandfather, he was always strong and learned to live with the diagnosis for many years to come. James regained his strength and was able to be discharged, and on his last day I went up to his room to say one last goodbye, I gave him a hug, and as I pulled away he looked at me and muttered thank you to the best of his capabilities. I smiled back and told him to take care of himself, and that I would miss him. Before I left, I thanked him and told him how thankful I was to be a part of his journey, and how he helped me grow stronger as a healthcare professional.
Being an old soul can mean many different things to different people, but to me it means experience. When people hear my story of my childhood they are very sympathetic. Often I have to explain that even though it was hard, there was many things I gained from my experiences. They say you have to experience sadness to enjoy happiness, and my happiness was being able to see my very strong mother beat breast cancer and be in remission for the past sixteen years. My happiness is being able to have a close bond to my grandparents that some grandchildren can’t say they have. My experiences at a young age from my mother and grandfather being sick to my experiences as a rehab tech have guided me on an amazing journey of finding out who I want to be as a grow older, and that dream would to be a physician assistant.
Thank you for your help!
I want you to meet Donna*. She has been through so much. Four back surgeries. Physical therapy. Countless injections. Long-term opioids. Ten years of constant pain. Unfortunately, Donna is my typical patient, and we are nearing the end of the road. There are very few options left for Donna if this treatment does not work.
Today is Donna’s procedure. When I met her at the office, she was draped in turquoise jewelry and a floral print dress, undoubtedly a free-spirit of the 60’s. Now, she is wearing a paper gown, and she seems alone and anxious. I make an effort to be warm and confident as we discuss the procedure, hoping to put her at ease. She has post-laminectomy syndrome. Twenty-four hours a day, Donna has intense low back pain that radiates down both legs. She has trouble sleeping, walking, and cannot play with her grandchildren. I review the procedure with her and what we hope to accomplish for her. “I just want to get off the pills,” Donna proclaims, a little forlorn. “We are going to do our best,” I promise her and grasp her hand before leaving her room. I hope we can deliver.
Donna is here today for a spinal cord stimulator trial and I am her clinical specialist. At one time, her physician could manage her chronic pain with opioids and injections, but after a decade their efficacy has waned and the opioids leave her hazy and lethargic. If the spinal cord stimulator does not work, she will likely remain on opioids for the remainder of her life. During the procedure, the physician and I work as a team to deliver an electrical stimulation to the nerves carrying the pain signal to the brain. The procedure sounds simple, but is often wrought with challenges that must be overcome in order to produce a successful outcome. In Donna’s case, she has significant fibrosis in the epidural space from her previous back surgeries which means the physician is unable to place the leads in an ideal position. By examining the fluoroscopic imaging and using Donna’s feed back, I am able to generate a field which provides Donna with the desired therapy. Donna will return on Friday to have the trial system removed and assess the pain relief she experienced.
* * *
My love of science began with the ocean. As a child, our spent every available hour at the beach. Playing in the waves, digging holes and dams in the sand, watching the coastal flora and fauna interact in their environment fed my curiosity of the natural world. As I began my education, I enjoyed history and literature, but the sciences always peaked a special interest. In elementary school, our yearly field trip to the aquarium was my favorite day of the year. In middle school I won the science fair with my analysis of fire-retardant baby clothing. In my sophomore year of high school, I met the teacher who influenced my the most, Dr. Price, my AP Biology teacher. I knew I wanted to succeed in AP Biology but Dr. Price refused to hold anyone’s hand. My success or failure would be my own. At the end of the year, we all took the AP exam. I still vividly remember opening the results and seeing the “5.” It gave me the confidence that I could pursue a career in the sciences. As I began courses at the University of California – Santa Cruz, I decided to study biochemistry because it would provide me with a deep understanding of biological systems. Our biochemistry program was rigorous, working full-time made it more so. After graduating, I considered research and volunteered in a marine biology laboratory. The subject matter was fascinating but found the daily operation uninspiring and inert. I always considered a career in medicine, so when I was offered a position as a clinical specialist I jumped at the opportunity.
The two years as a clinical specialist were the toughest and most rewarding of my life. The role of CS was multi-faceted. I was a member of a collaborative surgical team, where I learned to think critically in stressful situations. I was responsible for educating clinicians on new technologies, which taught me the importance of lifelong learning in medicine. I worked closely with patients, which taught me compassion is as important as clinical skill. I learned I loved working with patients. The long hours, challenging surgeries, and tough programmings were made worthwhile when I saw a patient transformed into the vibrant person they once were. I was ecstatic to help my patients, but I wanted to offer them more. I decided to explore other careers in healthcare and saw PA as a perfect fit. A career as a PA would provide me the opportunity to expand my clinical skills and focus on treating patients like Donna.
Donna’s trial was successful. She was implanted two years ago. Her pain has decreased 80% and she rarely needs pain medication. We stay in touch. I send her photos of my infant son and she tells me to enjoy this rare time with him. And she tells me how much fun it is playing with her grandchildren.
*name has been changed
It was summer time and all the kids were off school. I was only 12-years old and that day I was in charge of looking after my little sister and cousins. They started playing with my fathers old concrete making machine and, at one point,I heard my sister screaming from inside the house. Two of her left hand fingers were caught in the machinery and were cut very badly.
My family is known for being afraid of blood. They freeze and almost faint when they see blood; especially my mother. Good thing she was not there at that moment because she would scream more than my sister.
As soon as I saw my sister’s hand, I got her inside the house. I cleaned her hand and ran to the cabinet where we had a few medications and got the iodine bottle and some compresses. I poured some iodine on her fingers and wrapped them very quickly.
The reaction to my sister’s accident was the first push for me towards medical school, but, at that moment, I did not put much thought into it.
As a child raised in Albania, I come from a small and poor family, but it never stopped my parents from making school the priority for me and my little sister.They worked very hard so they could afford our education. When I finished high school, I had the opportunity to go to nursing school in Albania for a few months. I will always remember the time when my parents found out that I was accepted to nursing school. I could see their happiness and how proud they felt.
During the time that I applied for nursing school in Albania, I also completed an application for coming to the United States as an international student. A couple months after I started nursing school, I received a confirmation that I was accepted. It was a great achievement and a privilege for me. Once I came to United States, I began English as a Second Language courses at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma.
One year after I had entered the U.S., I met my husband. Not too long after we met we moved in together. We were both very young and both full-time students.
In order to afford a living and to continue our studies, we both had to work very hard. We continued to be full-time students, as well as worked full-time and part-time jobs. It has been hard and sometimes it felt impossible, but we have tried to do our best. Soon, the time for studying was shrinking and we were having a hard time to keep up with good grades and trying to survive with the rest of our living expenses. The struggle we had in our personal life affected my grades and, as a result, my GPA; but it did not make me stop and give up on my studies.
My interest was still science and the medical field. Like the first time I came to the U.S., I still wanted to continue onto medical school. During the time that I was taking science classes, a family friend pointed me towards the physician assistant career path. Once I had heard of it, I decided to talk to one of the advisors at school and learn more. The advisor encouraged me to shadow a physician assistant and see the type of responsibility they had compared to physicians.
I started shadowing a physician assistant at Kaiser Permanente hospital in the emergency room for few hours a week, for about two months. Within the first hour of shadowing the physician assistant, I was amazed with her work. The way she interacted with patients, along with the way she worked with doctors, nurses, and the rest of the team was amazing.
During the time I was shadowing the pa, a patient came in with an epidermoid cyst on the scalp that was leaking and causing the patient a lot of pain.
The pa asked me to assist her at that moment and I jumped at the chance and was ready for whatever would happen. I assisted her as she cleaned the wound and medicated it delicately, trying not to hurt the patient. Once the pa was finished with the patient’s wound, she made sure the patient was feeling better and recommended for the lady to follow up with a doctor. Minutes later, the patient left feeling better and that was as a result of not only the great work pa did, but also as a result of a warm, personable, and reassuring attitude of the pa. Since that day, I have admired the work they do and the way they care for patients.
A career in medical field is not easy and it requires a lot of work, patience, passion and dedication. Throughout the years I have been in U.S. and worked; I have been noticed and I have proved that I am a very hard working person and very dedicated.
It is true that my GPA is not where it should be, but that is not what defines me.
I hope that Admissions will see past my mediocre GPA and give me the chance I deserve. Give me the chance to join the great team of physician assistants and help patient’s feel better.
Sheri He says
I was wondering if you could help with these questions. I came up with some answers but I wanted a PAs point of view. Please add on if you have any idea.
What potential challenges do you see associated with the future of the PA profession? How would you address these challenges? (you will be limited to 2000 characters—about 300 words)
Where do most PAs go after school. Family medicine So what about other subspeciaties?
Increase number of people, training program match attending not in other hospital settings, More subspeciality training
Broaden their knowledge – short time period with limited pt interaction
Knowing the boundaries of each PA’s scope of practice
Education and experience- continue medical experience
State law- most states now allow the detail of each PA’s scope of practice to be decided at the practice level
Policies and employers and facilities
Needs of the patients and practice
Physician Assistant name
Q17. If you could pass a law that would help PAs, what would it be? Briefly tell us why you would pass the law. (you will be limited to 2000 characters—about 300 words)
Increase the number of seats in each class
As the patient began choking, the knowledge of the appropriate response rushed in on a wave of adrenaline. The decision to wait and make sure her airway was completely obstructed felt paradoxical to the urge to act immediately. As her coughs ceased and she became unable to vocalize a response to my inquiry of whether she could speak, it became clear that the Heimlich maneuver was necessary. I instructed the other patients to clear the immediate area and wrapped my arms around her waist as I had learned, thumb side in above the navel. I began abdominal thrusts—one, two, three thrusts before the object dislodged. In the moment, I was simply relieved that the patient was safe. Upon reflection, I was mystified by my ability to take charge of a situation and employ a technique that had only ever been presented to me hypothetically. Seeing her recover and realizing firsthand that life can evaporate in a few brief energetic moments, I realized something important about the core of my purpose in life: helping people with direct action is the only thing that makes me feel alive. The experience solidified my resolve to attain the knowledge I need to be a leader in critical situations.
As a child, I wanted to be a healthcare professional. Even with a lack of understanding of the intricacies of what that entails, I imagined what it must be like to have people rely on you in their times of greatest need and to actually be able to meet those standards. Striving for academic achievement and involvement in high school revealed its worth when I received full tuition to the University of Southern Mississippi. I entered with premed path in line with what I had desired for years. However, with my education fully funded, I decided it would be beneficial to diversify my focus and ensure that my desire for a healthcare career was more than a prescribed fantasy that I had claimed without considering alternatives. I enrolled in business and journalism classes to quickly find that, while interesting, these subjects did not inspire any sort of passion. I then pursued psychology and fell in love. As an introspective person, gaining a framework for analyzing cognition and behavior was immediately appealing. I worked hard in my courses and wrote an undergraduate thesis about adolescent narcissism’s relation to motivation. And yet, as much as I enjoyed the subject matter, the intrigue of the medical field had not subsided.
Researching healthcare careers that related to psychology, I found occupational therapy as a prospect. Having completed anatomy and physiology courses, I began shadowing occupational therapists at Wesley Medical Clinic to understand what it really meant to be an occupational therapist. Though interesting and respectable, I realized that this path strayed too far from my interest in human abnormal behavior. It would not satisfy my desire to analyze mental illness and help those suffering from it both psychologically and physiologically. Not long after, I spoke to a physician assistant about her profession. I then spoke to others and all vocalized career satisfaction in almost every aspect I could imagine. Through research and conversations and my experiences at South Mississippi State Hospital, I understood with clarity that my search for a career that fit my values and interests was not in vain. I would do whatever it took to become a psychiatric physician assistant.
Irene Fenswick says
Stephen, your second essay is awesome! Unfortunately, physician assistants essays are as a rule full of clichés and a weak introduction and conclusion. Sometimes It seems that people do it on purpose as they think that it should be like that. I loved this article as you have provided two samples and the reader can compare and decide which one would work for them. Great job!
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
You hit the nail on the head with your comment. I think people do what feels safe (myself included). Sometimes this works out, and we are rewarded for our efforts – especially if you have an application that shines in other places. Sometimes (possibly) PA schools like “safe”. But “safe” (as it was in my case) can leave you with a stack of rejection letters. The personal statement is the only chance we get to reveal our personalities, so it should be used wisely.
I have read and helped edit over 1300 essays through our editing service. It is awesome to see the variety and diversity of essays we receive. I used to think that it would be like music, you can only come up with so many rhythms until suddenly you have heard them all. But just like music, you can take a common rhythm, with a 4/4 beat and add your voice, your own unique sound. And when the admissions committee presses play, it is music to their ears 🙂
Take care and thanks for the wonderful comment!
Callie Munson says
My personal statement is the most challenging writing assignment I have ever had. It is forcing me to reflect on my motivations, my strengths, and my weaknesses. My academic history, volunteer work, and job experiences only tell what I have done, not who I am. So, how do I convince you that I warrant an interview? In my daydreams, it is with a perfect personal statement which would flow from my fingertips harmoniously. Instead I wrote 800 word drafts and deleted them. “Please explain why you are interested in being a PA” played like a broken records in my thoughts. I could not grasp the right story. But, I was writing narratives, not an exposition. I want share with potential colleagues why I believe in my aspiration to become a PA.
As a medical assistant of North Bend Medical Center (NBMC) in Coos Bay Oregon, I am exposed to several aspects of health care. Collaboration of clinical and non-clinical healthcare members is crucial in meeting those needs. My observations of physicians, mid-level practitioners, care coordination, quality control, and clinic staff forming committees to address barriers to care supports this.
I am one of those members on a committee to meet standards of care for the Patient Center Primary Care Home Program (PCPCH). PCPCH’s standards of care are accessibility, accountability, comprehensiveness, continuity, coordination and integration, and patient and family centered care. Currently, my committee role is to provide feedback on certified workflows in the office.
I want to fulfill these standards of care a NBMC by returning as a primary care PA. This model is team based and PA’s assume a leadership role. I value collaboration and work well in this environment. My employment background as a medical assistant in Coos County will provide unique insight in the community specific needs for patient care. For example, my current provider and I are piloting a contraception use questionnaire to determine women’s reproductive needs and providing the appropriate resources depending on her stage of life.
Physician assistants improve access to care and provide comprehensive and accountable care. Providing accountable care requires understanding pathophysiology, pharmacology, and the art of diagnosis. My background in biology provided me with a basic foundation, but I am ready to expand my scope of practice. Instead of phoning results to patients or scheduling an appointment, I want to complete a work up and create a treatment plan with patients. We must provide patients with accurate information about their health.
This profession offers me an opportunity to engage in lifelong learning by means of collaboration with a supervising physician and other team members, exposure to patient population needs, and access to CME. My current scope of practice contains these same elements: I collaborate with various members of the healthcare team, implement change for results, and want to pursue further education. These skills will serve me well as physician assistant.
Requesting comments on my personal statement draft. Thanks!
Stephen, your second essay made me cry. I love it. What comes from heart goes to heart. Thank you for sharing your essays.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
Hi Maryam, thank you for taking the time to leave such a kind and thoughtful comment!
I am glad to see validation for my instinctive reaction regarding the application process—particularly the essay. I certainly wouldn’t want to present yet another cookie-cutter essay that only stands out from the crowd because the dice just happened to come up in my favor.
Off-the-cuff writing is my forté, and while I certainly appreciate the ability to write a polished essay, I find that as I’ve gotten older I would rather communicate in a more conversational and relaxed tone. That’s certainly the type of doctor I would like to be, and to which I am drawn. People are not spell-checked in the real world.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
Hi David, I think a good example of this is the now famous “Costco Essay” by high-school senior Brittany Stinson. It combines a polished essay with not necessarily “off-the-cuff” writing, but may more what I would call “balls-out” writing. It seems like it takes courage to stray from the status quo, but in fact it is the path of least resistance!
olivia fair says
College admissions essays definitely do not need to be so fraught or serious. The (fairly elite) college I went to accepted me with an essay about the hardships of finding a prom date when you attend an all-girls’ high school and are a huge dork. Another student in my year–allegedly–wrote his essay on a sneaker. I worked high school admissions for a few years and I can tell you it can be super boring looking over the same cookie cutter applications. A little humor–as long as it’s well written–can go a long long way.