Monthly Archives: January 2018

Top 5 Personal Statement Mistakes

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.  

  1. 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. 

  2. Abrasive/Abrupt transitions 

    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!

     

  3. 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.

  4. 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:

    1. 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 statementWhy do you want to be a PA as opposed to ANY OTHER MEDICAL PROFESSION?  
    2. 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!? 
    3. 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.

  5. 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.  
     

On the Obesity Epidemic and What People Don’t Want to Hear.

No one is going to like me for this article. Physicians, PA’s, NP’s, patients… basically all of America is going to hate me.
But, sometimes we need to hear things we don’t like. 
I’d like to start by saying that in America we are constantly bombarded with all types of consumption and choices.  Society at large has us set up to fail– to over consume in terms of nutrition and finances– and pretty much anything else. 
We are not set up to succeed in our health or wellness, which continues to spiral out of control through generations.  I read a statistic (several times) stating 80% of America is either obese or overweight.  I can’t remember the source; but, I started to pay attention to my patients and the general population at large and I mean– it seems pretty accurate.
Fast food, advertisements, portion sizes… hell even the size of our utensils are grossly enlarged to skew our perception of what we “SHOULD” (trigger word) be consuming and how much of it.
The number of subconscious decisions we make in a day regarding the food we choose to consume and what we spend our money on is basically innumerable.
We live in a society that values quantity and quickness over quality and mindfulness.  My response to this is: THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE.  It is not something that is going to change on a macro level.  It starts with each individual and spreads.
Now, here is the part no one is going to like.  We are all responsible for this. 
HOW?
Will power and responsibility is a thing.  We are all individually responsible for how we treat our bodies, minds and souls.  The nutrition and lifestyle we choose fits into all of these categories. Simply because society does not set us up to succeed does not give us an out to be obese, lazy and victims of our circumstance. 
We all have the power to make better choices.  Do it.
Health care providers: QUIT skipping the difficult conversations.  Patients need to hear that they are obese and what they are doing to their bodies by not honoring them with healthy choices. I’m not suggesting we start bombarding people with “hey you know how overweight you are? do something”. What I am suggesting is that we start having difficult conversations and lead by example. 
Is it difficult to sit in front of someone and tell them “you need to lose weight” and have that conversation?  Yes.  I do it 5-10 times per day.  No joke.
If you are skipping over the conversation you are part of the problem and not the solution. 
Modern western medicine teaches us in school to treat illness.  What I have learned in my time on earth and three years as a medical provider is that you have to learn to teach you patients to honor wellness.  That well-being is not a pill, it is not an overnight solution or a crash diet or diet pills (I simply tell people “no” when they ask for them).
Teach your patients wellness.  If you don’t know what this means I encourage you to learn. Learn and practice what it means to live a life of mindfulness and wellness.  Develop an understanding of proper nutrition– unfortunately we are NOT taught this in school and it is something I have learned through nutrition coaching.
SHAMLESS PLUG: If you are interested in a life overhaul that starts with honoring your body with nutrition visit Working Against Gravity at: https://www.workingagainstgravity.com/

DISCLAIMER: I do not receive financial incentives or anything by promoting them.  But by being a part of their group I did develop mindfulness and a nutritional habit that honors my body and wellness. My life changed because of the choice I made to work with WAG (working against gravity). 

I encourage all of my colleagues, future colleagues, physicians, nurses— or whoever you are— start with yourself.  If you transform yourself and learn, you have the capacity to help and transform another.  This change will not occur overnight;  but, I encourage everyone to be a part of change on a small scale so that changes at large can occur in the future ❤