In this sixth installment of our special week-long personal statement workshop, we continue to pull essays submitted from the comments section through our free essay submission process and provide you, and our users, with a more detailed analysis of their essays.
This sixth submission is by Lindsay. It starts with a story of her time spent in the ICU recovering from life-threatening multi-organ failure at the age of 19, her road to recovery under the care of a compassionate doctor, finding her passion in the operating room of an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon and ultimately, her desire to become a Physician Assistant.
We will present you with her original essay and 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 essay, so don’t plagiarize.
Essay 6: “Although it was a difficult time in my life, it was also one of the most important.”
I woke up with a tube down my throat, unable to speak, overwhelmed by voices all repeatedly saying my name. Over all of them I heard my mom, “Lindsay, squeeze my hand if you can hear me”, so I did, but that’s where the memory ends. That’s where a week in the ICU and road to recovery began. I would come to learn that I had suffered a heat stroke while running a half marathon on a scorching July morning and my organs began to shut down. Although it was one of the more difficult times in my life, it was also one of the most important, as it helped solidify my desire to become a Physician Assistant and to change lives like one doctor changed mine.
Long before my accident, I had the opportunity to shadow an Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon. Over the years, I’ve gone into the operating room with him dozens of time, compiling hundreds of hours, but I will never forget the very first surgery I saw. It was a middle-aged man undergoing an ORIF of his fractured humerus. For the surgeons, it was a run-of-the-mill surgery, just another Monday. But for me, it was the first day of the rest of my life. A wide-eyed 18-year old surrounded by blue sterile fields, drills and screws, I knew where I wanted to direct my life. That was when I decided that a career in the medical field was the only option for me. During numerous visits to the OR, I watched the attending surgeon, the residents, the PA and the nurses. The way they worked together reminded me of my high school track team when we ran a relay race, they passed the tools between members, each doing some of the work to achieve a common goal. At this point, I was not entirely sure what a PA did. The more I observed, the more I began to notice that the PA is a crucial part to the relay team; an extension of the team of doctors. The doctors pass the PA the baton and they shoulder some of the work so that as doctors they can focus on their specialties. It allows the entire relay team to reach their goals and creates the safest, most effective approach to patient care. Much like being a part of the 4x800m relay team, I could see myself fitting into the medical relay team as the PA, the middle leg, the extension between the doctors and the finish line of helping the patient.
Following my heat stroke was a weeklong stint in the ICU at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital. During this time I was scared, sad, confused, defeated. My organs had begun to fail and were slowly recovering, which left me exhausted. I could barely stand, let alone walk, and had more lines in me than I could count. One doctor helped me through it all. Dr. Stepke, a gastroenterologist, was at my bedside every day, as my liver had the worst injury. Not only did he provide me with extraordinary medical care, but with the mental and emotional support that I needed. I was told I would be on bed rest for six weeks and limited physical activity for six weeks after that. For a runner, this was awful. The compassion and empathy that Dr. Stepke had for me soars above any other health care worker I’ve ever come across. I was 19, in the hospital, scared, and he made me feel like everything was going to be okay, like he truly cared for me and that he understood how I was feeling. I followed up with Dr. Stepke weekly for six weeks and he never wavered in his support during my recovery. There is something so invaluable about learning first hand the effects that your potential career can have on someone. My relationship with Dr. Stepke was another reassurance that I was meant to be a PA. Since then, every step of the way on my journey towards becoming a PA, I have always strived to make every patient feel how he made me feel: supported, cared for, and understood.
In more than two years working as a CNA, there is one patient that stands out. Her name was Laura, a 37-year-old admitted with a GI bleed. Laura was an alcoholic with dozens of medical problems stemming from her drinking and I would quickly come to realize that she was nearing the end of her short life. Suddenly her care became so much more than the medicine. I cared for her mentally and emotionally, as Dr. Stepke had done for me, while she slowly accepted what was going to happen, while she and the Child Life Specialist told her two young sons, while she was no longer able to walk on her own. This was the hardest time in her life. She was defeated, depressed, dying. After two weeks of working with Laura almost every day, she was discharged. Laura died two days later in the comfort of her home surrounded by family. In my time with her, I did my best to provide her with the empathy and compassion that I had once felt from Dr. Stepke. In my time as a CNA, I’ve learned communication, working as a cohesive team, patience and improvisation, but working with Laura taught me so much more. Through her, I learned about the importance of holistic medicine, in taking care of the mind, body and soul. This can best be achieved by working together as healthcare professionals, passing the baton and ultimately crossing the finish line as a team.
First, I observed and saw I wanted to be a Physician Assistant. Then, I was the patient and felt that I wanted to be a Physician Assistant. Once I felt the impact an incredible doctor can have on a person, I adopted those practices into my own role as a CNA. And once the two came together, working as a team to care for someone in such a vulnerable state, like I had once been, I saw the rest of my life unfold as a Physician Assistant.
Suggestions and Revisions
By: Sue Edmondson (personal statement collaborative)
This is an excellent start to your personal statement. Your descriptions are vivid — I can picture you perfectly in the ICU, and that’s exactly what you want your readers to do.
In the third paragraph you lose your focus. The goal is to let Admissions Directors and faculty why you want to be a PA. When I read this, I saw no connection between your interactions with Dr. Stepke and wanting to be a PA other than he showed unwavering support. Why did your relationship with the doctor make you want to be a PA? You never say and you need to. Why not be a doctor instead? Compassion and support are a small part of a PA’s job. You could omit most of that paragraph and just use the following:
In your paragraph about Laura (which overall was excellent) omit the references to Dr. Stepke. You don’t need them. This sentence would then read:
Leave this sentence out completely: “In my time with her, I did my best to provide her with the empathy and compassion that I had once felt from Dr. Stepke.” It’s redundant for one.
Use the extra space to reinforce why you’ve chosen to pursue the PA profession as opposed to any other. Then you’ll be able to make your conclusion stronger. It’s weak as it stands now. Saying that you “felt” you wanted to be a PA isn’t compelling.
I hope this helps.
Best of luck.
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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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