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The personal statement is required as a part of any
application to PA school. Many applicants make writing a personal statement
a daunting task, but it does not have to be. Below are helpful hints and
topics to avoid that can help you write a good personal statement. Topic:
Why you want to be a PA?
Personal Statement Helpful Hints:
- Engage the reader and create interest.
- Get to the point. There is a character limit for personal statements.
One page is usually all it takes to make your point.
- Avoid using flowery language and/or big words throughout your statement.
- Make sure the statement is structured in a logical order and flows
nicely so it is easy to read.
- Do not restate your resume.
- Incorporate how your healthcare experience and non-healthcare experience
(academics, volunteer, and leadership positions) prepared you for PA
- Be insightful and analytical about your understanding of the role
of the PA. Use your clinical experiences to draw this conclusion.
- Call out the elephant in the room. If you had a "hiccup"
in your academic career, you should BRIEFLY address it (i.e. death in
the family, immaturity factor, poor study habits), state what you did
to overcome it, and what you have done to sustain an upward trend in
your academic performance.
- If you have a strong desire to enter a certain field of medicine,
explain why. For example, if you want to go into primary care, what
have you done to prepare yourself for this field (i.e. clinical experience
opportunities, skill sets, are you from a disadvantaged background,
etc.), and the challenges PAs face, if any in the particular field.
- Have more than one person review your statement. An advisor, career
services representative, or a writing center are good resources to utilize.
- Avoid contractions.
- Avoid acronyms that the common person would not know (this is especially
true for military applicants).
Qualities to Portray
- Honesty and integrity
- Clarity of thought
- Ability to relate to diverse people
- Insight into the chosen health profession
- Compassion and empathy
- Genuineness and sincerity
- A realistic perspective
- Lessons learned
Themes to Avoid
- Clichés: Avoid starting a statement with
a famous quote or with cliché' filler statements like:
- "I want to be a PA because I like science and I want to
- "Ever since I was five I played with my mom/dad's doctor's
- "I loved to play the game Operation as a child and that
sparked my desire to be a PA..."
- "As I watched my beloved family member pass away, I knew
then I wanted to be a PA..."
- Restating your resume: We have already read the
majority of your application up to this point, so do not retell your
life story again.
- Story Time: Limit your personal stories about a
patient or incident in the clinic to ONE no more than TWO. The statement
should focus more the topics mentioned above.
- The "epiphany into medicine": Your pursuit
of the PA profession should be based on your adult experiences up until
this point, NOT an instantaneous realization.
- Manifest Destiny: You have not always known you
want to be a PA and the fact that someone tells you "you'll make
a great PA one day" does not justify why you should be a PA.
- Grandiosity: Claiming that you plan to eliminate
all the healthcare problems in an area is not realistic and shows a
grave lack of understanding of the profession.
- The "humble brag": Of course you're special,
but claiming "you probably do not see many applicants like me"
is not only arrogant, but is likely untrue. We've seen it all!
- Remember your audience: Remember people do have
other biases and views that may not agree with yours so avoid controversial
topics and statements that could offend someone. Also, remember the
admissions committee can be made up of all types of members of the healthcare
team. Avoid statements like "I want to be a PA because PAs spend
more time with their patients in comparison to physicians." These
types of situations are not always true and you do not want to stereotype
an entire profession when you've only been around .00000001% of them.
- "I am a victim": Victims are never attractive
applicants and any difficulties along the way should be dispassionately
addressed. These explanations should be brief and also address what
you have done to overcome the situation and what you learned from it.
- Excuses: Never, ever blame anyone else for difficulties
in your life or academic career.