In this third 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 detailed analysis of their essays.
This third submission is by Gabe. It details his life growing up in a small town in Mexico, his time working with underserved communities and a particularly memorable patient encounter in a remote village of Guatemala that changed his life forever.
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 own writing, and respect the work of others. It should go without saying this is not your work, so don’t plagiarize.
Essay 3: “She smiled, said “Gracias!”, and gave me a big hug.”
I was sitting on a confining wooden chair in a small hovel surrounded by nursing students conducting a home visit. In front of us was sitting Jane Doe, a 25 year old patient from the clinic where I volunteered in a remote village in Guatemala. She was explaining to us how she had contracted HIV and how difficult it was to be under medical treatment while supporting her two fatherless children. Then I asked her was if the people in her village knew about her disease: “They would curse me, humiliate my family, and kick us out of the neighborhood if they found out that I have AIDS!” she exclaimed in a Spanish with a Mayan accent. She told us that she had almost died two years before when she acquired tuberculosis and her worst fear was that one day she would be too sick to take care of her children and mother. We listened to her, educated her about the importance of adhering to her HIV medications, and prayed together for her well-being. We also helped her children with their homework and gave the family some donations we had collected. The following week, Jane brought her kids to the clinic because they were sick. Because of the low quality public health system in the town, they waited almost four hours to see the doctor and one hour to obtain their prescription. I was helping in the pharmacy and when I gave Jane the medications she smiled, said “Gracias!”, and gave me a big hug.
Growing up in a small town in Mexico, I experienced a similar healthcare system. Every time I was sick, I would have to spend hours at the clinic waiting for the doctor to see me for only a few minutes. The medicine prescribed was always a very painful penicillin injection for a wide range of illnesses, but mostly for common colds. If that was unavailable, then I would get an Ampicillin shot which would be even more painful that I was unable to walk for hours. That was when my idea of becoming a clinician emerged. I knew there were ill people around the world waiting a long time to see a doctor and I could do something about it. After meticulous research on different health care professions during my undergraduate studies, I found physician assistant (PA) to be the career for me. As a PA, I will be able to balance medicine practice and patient care reducing the time patients have to spend in the waiting room. Faster care means less pain and patients are inclined to come to their appointments and build strong bonds with their providers.
From my work and volunteer experiences, I learned that it is imperative to establish deep relationships with patients to gain their trust and provide the proper care. As a PA, I will create these bonds with my patients similarly to what I have observed in all the PAs who I have shadowed in different specialties. Jane is seen at her clinic in Guatemala frequently and I have constant communication with her doctor about Jane’s condition. I have also presented this case to doctors at The Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at University of Maryland, School of Medicine where I work as a clinical research coordinator and they will advise on Jane’s medical intervention if necessary. The IHV is an archetype of institutions dedicated to serve the needs of the medically underserved communities. Our patients also share their stories with me when they come to the clinic for their follow-up visits, and unlike Jane, they have learned to overcome the extant stigma in our country. More importantly, they have the medical and moral support of healthcare providers, partners, friends, families, and the community. Unfortunately, there are many people who are oblivious to having serious medical conditions and need treatment. I want to concentrate on serving these communities by providing diagnosis, treatment, and education.
My current job is very rewarding and I have the pleasure of working directly under the supervision physicians from whom I learn extensively. I interact with patients with various health conditions who often ask me for medical advice but I am unable to assist them any further. When I become a PA, I will have the training and confidence to provide more service to our society as a healthcare provider. I will also enjoy lifelong learning since there will always be new ways medicine can improve life. I strongly believe that my past personal, work, and academic experiences have prepared me for the rigorous PA education your institution offers. I am prepared to dedicate my life to being physician assistant.
Thank you very much!
Suggestions and Revisions
You have an impressive resume and have chronicled it very well. You did an excellent job with just a couple of words — "confining wooden chair in a small hovel" of describing Jane Doe's living conditions.
Of course, I still have suggestions, including a couple of grammar/writing tips. First, when you include dialogue, preface it with a comma, not a colon. You don't need to explain that PA is the acronym for physician assistant.
Whenever you have the opportunity to use active verbs, take it. For example, here's a stronger way to write your opening two sentences:
You could leave out some details about your work with Jane and your childhood experiences to write more about your shadowing experiences. Omit the information about Jane's children entirely. It's wonderful that you helped them with their homework, but that information doesn't add anything here. As to their health care, when you talk about your own experiences as a child, you've made the point. It's like repeating a car chase scene in a movie. You don't need more than one. In fact, there are many places to cut or shorten sentences because you've made your point already. Read your essay carefully and be ruthless about taking out unnecessary words. There are many.
Your sentence starting with "After meticulous research" should be the start of a new paragraph. (I'm not sure if the formatting on the website changed your paragraphs, but they should be shorter rather than longer. Start a new one with "Jane is seen regularly," too). Then add more detail about why you want to be a PA as opposed to another field. Why not be an MD?
I love the way you tied your current job's limitations to your goal of becoming a PA. That's excellent.
You have a great start. All you need is a careful edit and a few additional sentences about your shadowing experiences to help your readers understand why the PA profession is for you.
Best of luck.
What is Your Worth?
It has been said that "Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment". This is our philosophy at the personal statement collaborative.
Our value is determined not by our success but by your success. Nothing compares to the feeling we get when we hear that you have received an interview or been accepted into PA school.
This is why we do what we do, it is why we dedicate extra hours, time and personal care to each of our clients. I have been in your shoes and I know how stressful and frustrating the process can be.
If you need help, we are here for you, as colleagues and as friends.
Don't miss a post in this series!
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- Stephen Pasquini PA-C
Photo credit: Pax on Both Houses
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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