I’ve been helping pre-pa students for the past 2 years with their personal statements. During that time I’ve noticed some patterns that almost every statement I look at for the first time encompasses.
Lengthy personal stories
Personal stories can be really great to use in your statement. As long as they contribute to why you want to be a PA, will be a good student or professional. Also, keep them concise. I have read statements where their entire 5,0000 characters are simply a story. And I find myself thinking “ok that is nice but why do they want to be a PA? What will make them a successful student? If there is no purpose behind the story, it is simply only a story.
Sometimes when I am reading a statement I’m reading about a patient care interaction and then its like BAM something totally different and I have no idea why the direction changed so quickly . Even between paragraphs– your statement should have an organization and flow to it. It is different for everyone, but the order should make sense!
Not writing to your audience
I ask all of my clients the same question: who is reading your statement? The answer: An admissions committee. When you write your statement, if the words do not serve a purpose to the admissions committee they need to go— its just “fluff”. Do not lose direction or purpose at any point in your statement.
Not focusing on THE purpose
If you take nothing else from this article the most important point I attempt to get across to my clients is: the purpose of the personal statement. They are as follows:
- Why do you want to be a PA.
I mean SPECIFICALLY a PA. To be blunt no one cares that you are interested in medicine, want to help people or any other blanket/generic statement. Why do you want to be a PA as opposed to ANY OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSION?
- Why will you be a successful PA student?
Most schools receive approximately 1,000-1,500 applicants per CASPA cycle. Some more some less. However, statistics demonstrate that attaining acceptance to PA school is more difficult by the numbers than medical school at an estimated 1-2%. What makes you unique? What previous behaviors have you demonstrated that positively predict your ability to succeed in an arduous post-secondary program!?
- What will make you a successful professional?
Demonstrate examples of your past that you will carry forward to your career that will make you successful. Was there a situation in the past that you went above and beyond for a patient? How do you show empathy? Did you encounter challenges that required you to persevere and overcome obstacles? Draw connections to your previous experience and how it will apply to your success as a PA-C.
- Why do you want to be a PA.
Lack of assertiveness
Listen, I am on board with bragging about yourself is difficult–unless you are a narcissist of course. I promise you other applicants are putting it out there. DO NOT use passive language such as “I think I will….” Instead say “When I am a physician assistant student….” “When I reach this goal….” etc etc. If you show the admissions committee that YOU are confident YOU will attain this goal– they are more likely to believe it too! Get rid of the words: if, when, just, maybe, think and replace them with: can, will, know, certainty, etc etc.