In this special week-long introductory session of the personal statement workshop, we are pulling essays submitted from the comments section through our free essay submission process and providing you, and our users, with a more thorough analysis of their essays.
Since examples often make better teachers than words, pay close attention. You may find just the advice you were looking for.
We will present you with the original essay and then our suggestions.
Use this as a guide to see where you can improve your own writing and of course, as always, respect the work of others. It should go without saying this is not yours, so don’t plagiarize.
Essay 1: A Physician Assistant Changed My Life
The patient was an 8-year-old boy, dizzy, scared, and angry.
His hearing aids weren’t working for him and the world was a cacophony of distorted sounds that made him unwilling to spend time communicating with his family, teachers, and friends.
But on this day his physician assistant kneeled down to his eye level, and communicated with him slowly, by writing his thoughts on paper and by mouthing his words so the patient could understand, to ask what was wrong. The physician assistant made the patient feel safe through his clinical empathy and bedside manner. His treatment helped the patient get better and feel happier.
The patient was me. The physician assistant was Danny Kamlet. Danny had no way to understand the chilled isolation I felt as a hearing impaired youth; when I desperately wanted to hear the joke everyone laughed at, the teacher’s explanation for the math problem on the board, or to flirt with the cute girl. Teachers had said I was a poor student when the reality was that I couldn’t read their lips and understand them as they faced the blackboard and lectured. Many of my hearing-disabled peers, unfortunately, didn’t graduate high school or college but I persevered due to the compassion, communication, and resourcefulness of my mother and health care providers like Danny.
My mother supported my deaf brother and me by herself; if one of our hearing aids broke, she took out mortgages on her house so that we could get another one. She read with us every night to help us learn what we didn’t in school, instilling in me an appreciation for hard work and education so I could thrive. I learned to compensate by studying with other students, and communicating with my teachers so that I can excel in my courses.
Danny and other health care providers helped change my life for the better through empathetic communication in addition to their medical knowledge. A few years ago, after I finished my sophomore year of college, my doctor and audiologist helped me receive financial support to get cochlear implants that have greatly improved my hearing and quality of life. After college, my physician assistant Michael Johnson used his inquisition in a general checkup to find that I was losing eyebrow hair and was consistently fatigued. He surmised that I might have hypothyroidism and low vitamin D blood levels and subsequent tests confirmed this to be true. His prescription of Levothyroxin and my supplementation of vitamin D have helped to improve my energy, mental acuity, and metabolism.
Because of my amazing health care providers, I’ve grown so much as a person and student in recent years. With my improved hearing, I’ve taken up new hobbies that I previously would have avoided, such as blues dancing. In the 47 credits I’ve completed after receiving treatment for hypothyroidism and upgrading my cochlear processors, I’ve excelled with a GPA of 3.76. I owe so much of my improvement to the care of my physician assistants.
In the model of compassionate giving set by my health care providers, I’ve tried to live my life doing what I can to help those that are less privileged. I’ve helped other deaf people get disability benefits so they can afford critical equipment upgrades. I spent time in college baking bread for the abused women of Safe Harbor through a group called Baked Benevolence. I asked my friends to give my twenty-first birthday gifts to my run-a-thon effort at my college, and raised over 200 dollars for abused children of Knox County. I will never completely understand the gamut of emotions that abused children and women have gone through but I empathize with them having uncertain health and understand how to communicate and help them. By contributing to their lives, I found fulfillment as a member of a healthy community; treating individuals of all backgrounds with respect and grace.
This is why I want to be a physician assistant! I want to communicate and empathize to help the scared and confused patient feel safe and informed. I want to give comprehensive examinations that get to the root of each symptom and communicate how to afford and administer treatment. I want to help underserved populations receive the full extent of health benefits possible. As someone who overcame a disability through excellent health care, I dream of helping other underserved populations receive the best health care possible.
Suggestions and Revisions
By: Sue Edmondson (The PA Essay Collaborative)
A Note to Josh:
The opening two paragraphs of your essay are excellent. They grabbed my attention immediately, and made me want to keep reading. That’s your goal!
You could eliminate a few words to make it flow better. For example, here’s a revised sentence.
I’m guessing you won’t miss any of the deleted words.
You don’t need the third paragraph at all. It’s lucky that you have such a wonderful mom, but the information about her doesn’t help the admissions folks know you better. Omit it and use the space to elaborate on your qualities and skills. The problem continues in the fourth paragraph.
It’s good to explain that health issues impacted your grades (Admissions Directors want to know why they weren't good), but the details aren't necessary.
Take this revised sentence for example: “After College, my physician assistant Michael Johnson used his intuition and skills to discover I suffered from hypothyroidism. His diagnosis and treatment have helped to improve my energy, mental acuity, and metabolism.” It says everything the reader needs to know.
While it’s great that you do amazing volunteer work, you’ll need to explain how those experiences contribute to the skill set you’ll need as a PA.
Delete many of the details and focus on things akin to your statement: "I will never completely understand the gamut of emotions that abused children and women have gone through but I empathize with them having uncertain health and understand how to communicate and help them. By contributing to their lives, I found fulfillment as a member of a healthy community; treating individuals of all backgrounds with respect and grace, treating individuals of all backgrounds with respect and grace.”
Your ability to empathize and communicate with those less fortunate is well established. What else have you learned? Has the volunteer work increased your leadership or decision-making skills? Your ability to work as part of a team? Have you needed to remain calm when shelter clients are upset?
I’m assuming you don’t have job or shadowing experience in the medical field because it’s not in your essay, so you’ll need to beef up skills you've acquired in other aspects of your life.
What you also need to do is explain more specifically why you want to be a PA. There are a million things you could do to help people in the way you mention in your last paragraph — many in the medical profession. Why not be a nurse or a doctor?
Your job is to convince the admissions folks that being a PA is the only option that interests you and to show that you have much to offer their program.
Go back through your essay and scrutinize every sentence. Does it help Admissions Directors and faculty know something new about you? If it doesn't, out it goes.
By the way, ditch the exclamation point. Never use them in essays. Your words should be the exclamation point.
Best of luck,
Now you can have extra peace of mind
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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?
- 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
- 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
- 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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