In this second installment of my 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.
This second submission is by Justine. It details her progression from an adolescent overcoming a heart condition to a pharmacy technician at the age of 19 discovering a love for medicine, a new-found focus in college and now, a desire to use her medical training to make a difference in the lives of others.
We will present you with the original essay and then our suggestions.
As always, use this as a guide to see where you can improve your writing, and respect the work of others. It should go without saying this is not yours, so don’t plagiarize.
Suggestions and Revisions
By: Sue Edmondson (The PA Essay Collaborative)
A note to Justine,
If there's anything positive to say about your diagnosis at age 15 is the tremendous insight it gave you about the medical profession. You're smart to open your essay that way. The other things you write about are good, too. It's important to explain why your grades weren't great, and to talk about your adult experiences. This is a very good start to your statement.
I say good start because there are some issue. Some are grammatical, such as using past tense and present tense in the same few sentences and placing quotation marks inside of punctuation. Other examples — writing the singular word doctor and then referring to the doctor as "their," and saying "foundation to" instead of "foundation of." Although these are fairly minor errors and very common, when I interviewed Admissions Directors and faculty, all said grammar errors could be fatal to the application.
There are two ways to really make your essay shine. One is structure and the second is content.
Structurally, you'd move the section about your shadowing experiences from the first paragraph to a new third paragraph. You'll have to change some of the way you've written your essay to make it work, but that's part of the process.
As to content, you'd shorten your first paragraph (I'll show you below) and use the extra space to write about your shadowing experiences. You'll do this for two reasons. One, every person from admissions I spoke with said, "Keep your personal story short. A few sentences is enough." Secondly, you want to show your readers that you know what it takes to do the job, and then tie your skills to some of those requirements. I'm not talking about making a list of PA job duties, but rather to describe a case or an overview of what you learned by shadowing, and how some of your personal skills (not clinical as you've already done that when describing your pharmacy work) fit in with the profession. Take out the "therefore" in your conclusion. It takes away from the strength of your sentence.
Here's the edited first paragraph, which is now two paragraphs. Notice that the first section is in present tense. It makes it real and compelling despite the lapse in time:
I'm sitting in the examination room of the cardiology office with tears slowly streaming. My father could read the sign of disappointment on my face as the cardiologist briefly explains my EKG results with what seems as indifference to my situation. At the age of 15 I am diagnosed with a heart condition called as Lown–Ganong–Levine syndrome.
Multiple procedures and four cardiologists later, I was forced to retire from competitive soccer and left without answers. The most frustrating part of this entire process was the lack of compassion and empathy from doctors who said, “Just stop playing soccer if that’s when your heart bothers you” and “Maybe you should find a new hobby." This insensitivity made me realize I want to be a person who provides admirable healthcare to patients in a caring way.
Look at your essay and see where you have extra words. There are many of them. Cut ruthlessly to make your essay as concise as possible and focused on the essentials.
Best of luck,
Are you struggling to find the right words for your essay?
- Are you looking to give your personal statement a final "polish" before you hit send on your CASPA application?
- Do you need somebody to proofread your essay for spelling or grammar errors (the proverbial "nail in the coffin" when it comes to your essay)?
- Do you need help with a supplemental application?
Don't wait any longer. We have interviewed PA school administrators from across the country to find out exactly what it is they are looking for in your personal statement. We work one-on-one with PA school applicants like yourself and customize your experience to fit your needs. We also have an excellent track record, i.e., our clients get into PA school.
We are currently accepting essays in all iterations. We have flexible pricing and can do everything from a single one-time edit to a full-service review that will take you from beginning to a finished product.
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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 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