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Sample Pa Admission Essays

First Draft:

Physician Assistant Essay

Imagine a person can live healthy from the day he/she born until they die. How great it would be if they can go after the passion they have and help the world with their unique abilities. For instance, Late Mr. Steve Jobs, who doesn’t know him, a cofounder and CEO of Apple,Inc, who gave the technology a new direction that we all use it now in the form of smartphone and many more. He diagnosed of pancreas neuroendocrine tumor in 2003 and died in 2011. Now, it is a fact that we all will die when time comes but until that time, we have a choice to be healthy so that we can help the world by our unique abilities and follow our passion. My passion is that I want to increase all of my patient’s healthy years in their lives and that is why I would like to get into a physician Assistant school.

I was born and raised in _______, located in west coast of India. I came to the United States with my family in 2001. My uncle was a respected physician in Indian which influenced me and I decided to fulfill my career in the field of medicine. I spend my four years at _______ University in biology major. As I was about to start my last semester, I got admission into ________ Medical University, ________ where I earned my medical degree.

Financial situation plays a major role in one’s life so does mine. Everyone knows about lowest economy in 2008 and it hit so many people including me. I stopped getting loan during my fifth semester of my medical school. At same time my parents lost their jobs and situation came down for our survival. Because of financial stress, I just could not work hard which is the reason for my low performance in United States Medical Licensing Examination and I could not get into medical residency. I have cleared USMLE step 1, step 2 and even step 3 which is usually be taken after medical residency but I have cleared it which proves not only that I will excel the physician assistant school but also physician assistant as a career wise.

While at ________ Medical Center in New York, I saw a patient who was suffering from kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. His treatment was successful, but I realized he harbored a deeper and far more dangerous condition: ignorance. Whether he hadn't listened, hadn't comprehended, or wasn't fully informed during his initial diagnosis, he had no clue of the effects of his disease. After informing him his kidneys had just failed, and that next time he could suffer from neurological problems, ulcers, infections, and even the loss of a leg or his life, he agreed to start taking his medication on a regular basis, without fail. The majority of these complications are preventable. Most patients are simply uneducated. They neglect their regular checkups, forget to take their meds, and end up with severe cases of otherwise treatable diseases. I want to offer them proper education; I want to work with them on their overall health; I want to work from the start with my patients. Having a disease is one thing. Understanding and treating its expression is another.

I am working hard to achieve my goals and dreams, but somehow I sense it is not enough. I seek a physician assistant school that will direct me to be the best I can be, push me beyond my perceived limits, expand my knowledge, and help me to become a competent Physician Assistant worthy of his esteemed profession.

As a contributor on a multidisciplinary team of health care providers, I pledge to strengthen my clinical skill set, broaden my knowledge base, and help my patients achieve an optimum state of health. I want to use my abilities to build a better healthy world by increasing healthy years in my patients’ lives and offer my passion, my strong work ethic, my dedication and perseverance, my current skills and knowledge, and my unbending commitment to becoming a PA.

Final Draft:

I was born in ______, ______, India. My uncle was a respected physician in India and, following his lead, I decided to fulfill my career in the field of medicine. When I was 17, my family moved to the United States, and I faced the difficulty of learning a new language and immersing myself in a foreign culture. I spent my four years of undergraduate study at _______ University as a biology major. As I was about to start my last semester, I got accepted into ________ Medical University where I later earned my medical degree. During the first semester of medical school, I found that many of my colleagues quit due to the heavy workload but I am not a quitter. I am dedicated, goal oriented, and do not give up until I achieve what I set out to do.

Despite my determination, as a student I realized how big of a role finances play in one’s life. I stopped receiving student loans during my fifth semester of medical school. Next, both of my parents lost their jobs.  I saw many of my peers withdraw under the same financial burden. “A task accomplished without challenges was never a task to begin with,” my father would say to me; his constant reminder to never give up.  Fueled with these words, my faith, my own determination, and an overwhelming desire to practice medicine, I carried on. Due to the financial stress, I had to take multiple leaves of absence. Despite the circumstances I have completed USMLE step 1, step 2 and even step 3, which is usually taken after medical residency, which I believe shows I have the medical knowledge needed to excel at physician assistant school.

Because of the multiple leaves of absence, I have been unable to get into medical residency and unable to pursue my career as a physician. But my determination and passion won’t allow me to quit. My sister is a Physician Assistant and after she introduced me to the role, I immersed myself in research. During my clinical rotations, I worked with many Physician Assistants and admired their significant level of patient interaction and their ability to work along with physicians and other staff members. One thing I really like is that Physician Assistants can work in a variety of specialties to help facilitate patient care in underserved areas

I know that the PA profession is a growing and demanding career but also know that the future of the profession very secure. PA’s will help bridge the physician shortage gap, particularly in underserved areas, something that appeals to me as someone who wants to practice primary care. As a PA, I will be able to achieve my goal to increase the healthy years in all patients. I have no doubt that I want to pursue my career as a Physician Assistant and am eager to fulfill my dreams and earn respect from my patients as well as my colleagues.

While working as a medical student at ___________ Medical Center in New York, I saw a patient who was suffering from kidney failure due to complications from diabetes. His treatment was successful, but I realized he harbored a deeper and far more dangerous condition: ignorance. I have had a great experience about establishing and maintaining relationship with patients and using that, I was able to educate this patient about his conditions, complications, and how to improve. Having a skill for communication and building a good rapport with not only patients, but also with my colleagues is just one tool I hope to utilize in my practice as a future PA.

My passion toward medicine has been growing since my clinical rotations in medical school. I was fascinated learning about patient interaction, diagnosing patients and how to come up with treatment plans. Whenever a colleague was sick, I always was ready to cover for them, because I knew the more time I spent in training, the better practitioner I would become. Therefore, I worked very hard for my patients, my residents, and my attending physicians to make the whole team look good.

During my gastroenterology elective, I was chief student and team leader, making sure that every task had been done properly. I excel in leadership roles and can multitask successfully. I also have great experience in research publications. I worked as a research assistant at University of ________ in the Neurology Department and have published four articles in the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting 2014.

As a contributor on a multidisciplinary team of health care providers, I pledge to strengthen my clinical skill set, broaden my knowledge base, and help my patients achieve an optimum state of health. Having clinical knowledge, communication skills, the ability to multitask and lead the team, as well as dedication toward my profession, I do believe that I would be an excellent Physician Assistant candidate. I offer my passion for the Physician Assistant profession, my strong work ethic, my dedication and perseverance, my current skills and knowledge, and my unbending commitment to never give up.

You've written your essay.

You know what you want to say.

But will the admissions committee get your message?

You've read through countless PA school essay samples. You've chopped and changed the order of the paragraphs. You've polished each sentence.

After all that hard work, you’re still not sure whether your essay flows along nicely. Will readers stumble over a paragraph? Or effortlessly glide through your text?

Creating a hypnotic flow doesn't have to be so difficult.

Let’s have a look at 7 of the most common mistakes I see people make while reading and editing PA school applicants’ essays.

We will also discuss how to correct them.

* The following was written by Duke Pasquini – Physician Assistant Essay Collaborative editor.

1.  Most Essays are too long

You want to tell everything about your life, and you hate leaving anything you think is important out.

How to correct this:  If you are on the admission committee and are reading your 75th essay in three days, would you rather read a short concise essay or a long rambling one?  I think you already know the answer.  I refer to this as “Don’t get lost in the library.”  You don’t want who you are to get lost in too many details.  You don’t want to be just another book on the library shelf.

2.  Paragraphs are too Long

How to correct this: Always put yourself in the admission committees place.  If you look at an essay and see large blocks of text, are you inclined to think, “Oh, this will be an easy read.”  OR  “This is going to be a hard read.  Look at all those words crammed into two or three long paragraphs.”   You want to make a good first impression on the reader before they ever begin reading your essay.   Create more open space by using shorter paragraphs.  Break long paragraphs into shorter ones.

3. Applicants Prefer Telling

You want to tell the reader every wonderful thing you've done in a long list of accomplishments rather than showing them.  This is similar to number 1, but let me explain further.

How to correct this:  A picture is worth a thousand words.  You need to paint a picture for the reader that will make them identify with you and the patient.  This requires an anecdote.  Tell them about Johnny (be sure to use his or her name) who came into the hospital unconscious.  You came into his room every day and said a few words to him, and one day you came in, and he was awake, or he died or moved his fingers or toes or whatever.  Tell us what Johnny looked like and how you felt when he awakened or died.  Did you feel like you failed him or that it was the first time you faced death.  All these things will grab the admission committee’s attention.  Always remember the admission committee has read a lot of these essays and you want yours to stand out from the rest.  Refer to #5 below for a more detailed example.

4. Applicants Love to Talk in Glowing Platitudes

What is a platitude?  A platitude is a remark or statement, especially one with a moral content, that has been used too often to be interesting or thoughtful.

Synonyms:  cliché, truism, commonplace -  trite, hackneyed, stock phrase.

Here are a couple of examples:

The first is a statement by a teacher who is applying for a teaching certificate.  Sometimes is it easier to recognize platitudes in a field other than your own.

The second is an example of a statement filled with platitudes from one of our PA School applicants.

Example 1: 

The example below is from someone who wants to be a teacher.  I’m using it because I think it’s an excellent example of what I’m talking about.  You probably won’t want to finish reading it.  The point is, don’t write like this when you’re writing your PA essay.

My goals are to consistently and continuously better myself as a teacher.  To help achieve this goal, I am constantly looking to my peers for suggestions and will continue my personal strategy to their emulate creativity, procedures, methods, and techniques that I witness or hear of; my current master teacher serves well as an example of how much there is that I can learn.  My desire is to be the most effective and proficient teacher I can be.  Charged with curriculum that is extensive in classroom time that is limited, I commit myself to achieve the best functioning classroom possible and through my experience as a student teacher, I have seen the benefits of this; through my experiences as a substitute teacher, I have witnessed the deterrents to learning in environments with discipline and behavior are not properly handled with effective routines and procedures.  The classroom is a learning community and needs to be addressed as a joint effort of students and teacher.  The developmental ages of the students being taught needs to bear great consideration when implementing instruction, I will continue my efforts to understand my students, their motivations, and their shortcomings to the best of my ability.  I will continue educating myself, not just in content, but in strategies and means to differentiate and modify so that each individual child placed in my care stands the best opportunity to learn to their maximal abilities.

Example 2:

I have always wanted to be a PA since I was a child.  It is the type of profession that will allow me to help people and helping others is the highest calling anyone can have.  I have had this desire in my heart for many year beyond my childhood.  The medical field offers a person a chance to make a difference in a person’s life.  The PA is given a chance to feel like they have made a positive difference in a patient’s life every day.  This is why I want to be a PA.  PAs also have the advantage of working as a team member with a doctor.  I like the idea of having a mentor to guide me.  I am a willing learner.  Patients need someone with patience.  This is something I have in spades.  If given the chance to become a PA, I will bring enthusiasm, love, and a caring heart to the job.

Note:  All this may sound great to the writer, but there isn’t one example that would lead the reader to believe the applicant is capable of doing any of what he/she says they can do or shows they actually believe in the statement they wrote.  They are just generalizations that sound good but mean nothing.

As Shakespeare said in the final soliloquy in Macbeth, It is "a tale… full of sound and fury signifying nothing"

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

- Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

How to correct this:  If you are on the admissions committee, would you ask this person to come in for an interview?  Did they create any images in your head or show you how they will do all the things they say they will do?  No, they just put a bunch of words on the paper that sound good, but in the end, makes the reader believe they’re just trying to impress them with glowing platitudes that say nothing.  What the reader will probably ask is so what?  And who cares?

5.  Poor First Paragraphs

The first paragraph has to grab the reader’s attention and give them some idea of what will follow.  It is great if you can lead with an anecdote that summarizes what is in the rest of your essay.

Here’s a bad example.  “I want to help people and save lives.  Becoming a PA will give me a chance to do that.  One of my best qualities is that I take the initiative and don’t stand back and wait for someone else to do what needs to be done.  As a PA I will also be helping families who could have lost a loved one if I hadn’t been there to help.”  This is filled with platitudes.

Here’s a good example of an anecdote that shows the same thing.  “I heard a car crash and ran out of the restaurant to see what happened.  A man was lying on the ground and wasn’t breathing.  His wife had her arms around their two little boys and was screaming, “Someone, please help.”    People gathered around, but no one did anything.  I ran to him, gave him chest compressions, and mouth to mouth resuscitation.  I had never done this before, but I kept him alive until the ambulance arrived, they restarted his heart and took him to the hospital.

Let’s examine what the anecdote tells us:

  1. There is an accident.
  2. No one did anything.
  3. You take the initiative to do something.
  4. You saved the man’s life.
  5. You kept a woman from becoming a widow.
  6. You kept the children from losing their father.

You said all of that in the anecdote.  Your theme for the rest of the essay could easily be how you take initiative (shown through other examples) and how by being a PA you can save lives and help families.

The bad example paragraph said the same thing, but what a difference.  Which one would grab your attention?  Which applicant would you call in for an interview?

6.  Incorrect use of the Word I:

How to correct this:  You want to avoid the use of the word I in most cases, but not in all cases.  You don’t want to say “I did this” and “I did that.”  “I am a dedicated person who will give everything to the job.”  “I am hard working and resourceful.”  “I inspire my co-workers with my dedication to my job.” etc.  What you want to say is “I spent three months working in an orphanage and the children inspired me with their cheerfulness.”  OR  “I had no idea the experience would change my life.”  OR “I have often failed, but failure has made me better at what I do.”

 7. Incorrect use of Contractions, Poor Grammar, Punctuation, or Spelling

How to correct this:  It is only acceptable to use these when you quote someone.  For example:

Johnny said, “And I ain’t going to eat none of this hospital food cus I didn’t ask for it, don’t want it, and won’t eat it even if you force me to.”

We used “ain’t, began the sentence with a conjunction, ended the sentence with a preposition, shortened because to cus, and used the contractions didn’t and don’t.”  This is acceptable in a quote but never in the body of your essay.

As you can see, I’ve broken many of these rules myself, but I have the freedom to do so because I’m not applying to PA school.

I wouldn't call these the seven deadly sins of writing the PA essay, but they are the most common and often fatal mistakes I’ve found in reading and editing essays. 

This was a guest post by Duke Pasquini

If you are struggling to write an effective personal statement or you have an essay that is in desperate need of help, consider signing up for our Physician Assistant personal statement collaborate.  We have worked with 100's of applicants to date and the results have been amazing.

 If you are interested, you can read more about the essay collaborative or submit your essay for review here.  We have helped many applicants not only complete their essays but actualize their dream of admissions to PA school. Which is why we do this in the first place.


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

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