While there are many different ways to approach writing a personal statement (PS) for your PA application, I am including a successful example here. The character limit for the CASPA application PS is 5,000 characters with spaces.
In this essay, you are responding to the question, “Why PA?” To write a compelling essay, take some time to reflect on this question. After reading the essay below, you’ll understand why this student was accepted into a PA program. The student has given permission for it to be shared publicly. All personal identifiers or details have been removed to protect the privacy of the student.
Sample PA Personal Statement:
I was nine years old and in the middle of Mrs. Russell’s third grade class when my stomach began to itch uncontrollably. I remember thinking to myself, “Did I get bitten by a bug?” Completely distracted by the incessant itching, I asked Mrs. Russell if I could go to the nurse’s office. When the nurse lifted my shirt, I saw the biggest “bug bites” I had ever seen covering the majority of my stomach. She quickly called my mom who took me to several different doctors as the “bug bites” continued to spread all over my body. None of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me until I saw a Dermatology PA. He immediately diagnosed me with a delayed allergic reaction. He gave me a medication that almost immediately made the hives disappear. I no longer struggled to open my eyes! It was like magic! To this day, I still have no idea what caused that allergic reaction, but I am grateful for this experience because it introduced me to a PA who continued to touch my life and cultivate my interest in medicine and healthcare.
Year after year, my love of learning continued to flourish. I began taking gifted classes in math and science in the fifth grade and continued to take honors and advanced placement classes when I reached high school. In addition to my studies, I also began to play volleyball and softball. Through these sports, I learned the skills that a textbook could not teach me, such as accountability, integrity, teamwork and leadership. Through my academic achievements, active participation in numerous school clubs, and leadership role as the captain of my volleyball team, my high school nominated me to participate in a National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) in the summer of 2009. I attended lectures by a PA, a nurse, a chiropractor, a veterinarian and several physician specialists. In addition to the lectures and countless group activities, I visited several medical facilities. In one of the labs, I saw a table displaying human organs infected with different diseases and cancers. To my surprise, I was eager to touch them and learn why the people they once belonged to could not have been saved. From that experience on, I became determined to pursue medicine.
My interest in the PA profession quickly became a driving force in my life after my mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Melanoma in February —-, and quickly passed away in October of that year. I was devastated upon hearing her diagnosis. How could this happen when she went to the Dermatologist every three to six months? The same Dermatology PA who had healed me with his “magic pills” spent a significant amount of time with my mom after her diagnosis. He met with her and my dad following a long day of seeing patients, to determine if he had missed something in her regular exams. He also made himself available to my entire family, recommended specialists and experimental treatments. He explained everything we did not understand along the way. It is because of the compassion, sincerity, and care he provided to my mom and my family during this difficult time that I became certain I wanted to pursue my love of medicine as a PA.
Throughout my undergraduate career as well as the time since I graduated, I have continued to explore the medical field to learn as much as I can about becoming a PA. Through countless hours of shadowing and volunteering as a medical assistant at ——— Dermatology, I have learned how crucial teamwork, effective communication, detailed note taking, and compassion are for effective patient care. There have been numerous instances where doing a simple and nearly painless biopsy could have turned into a serious and most certainly uncomfortable medical situation. By taking thorough patient histories, accurately noting any allergies, and verbally communicating these notes with the practitioner, I have been able to ensure that patients receive the best care possible while averting any avoidable crises.
Every challenge and opportunity that I have encountered since I was the itchy little girl sitting in Mrs. Russell’s class has brought me to this decision. My mom’s passing has only made me more passionate about this profession and has given me a new appreciation for life that I hope to share with my patients and community. With my love of learning and helping others as well as the skill set I will gain from a PA program, I am certain that I will have the tools needed to become a valued member of a larger care team. I am eager to see how these opportunities will positively impact not only my life, but also the lives of others.
Components of a Successful Physician Assistant Personal Statement
This essay is exceptional for three main reasons, among others:
1. It’s presented from an angle that specifically explains why PA from the first paragraph to the last.
The student directly responds to the essay prompt. Each paragraph represents a different reason why becoming a PA is the only profession for this student. In reading it, you gain a sense of gratitude to this field of medicine, dedication to it and personal growth towards it. It’s honest and well written. For these reasons, the student was invited to interview and received an acceptance.
2. The student demonstrates a pattern of behavior that supports this educational goal.
In my experience, past behavior predicts future behavior. This student shares a pattern of behavior that aligns with the work and responsibilities of a PA. With a love of learning and teamwork, as demonstrated by the activities described above and how long term the student’s involvement has been in them, you can see how well this student will fit into the role of a PA. The student also reveals how much effort has gone into preparing for this career path.
3. There is a balance of personal motivations and professional goals represented in the essay.
By maintaining a balance in representing personal and professional motivations, the student expertly convinces the reader why this career path would be so meaningful on multiple levels. From her own interactions with the profession to her preparation for it, the reader gets a sense of the variety and depth of her commitment. Every other paragraph moves from personal to professional motivations and culminates in the conclusion in which she brings these two threads together to create a strong conclusion.
View our Physician Assistant CASPA Application Package for help creating an exceptional application and personal statement that will get you accepted to the PA program of your dreams.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• From Example to Exemplary, a guide to writing outstanding application essays
• How to Get Accepted to Physician Assistant (PA) Programs
• Andrea Benedict: Life as a Physician Assistant [Episode 234]
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