Writing the Personal Statement

Word on the street is that CASPA opens up in a few days! I’m feeling really old because I submitted my applications back in 2011, so I couldn’t tell you much about CASPA.  I do want to help pre-PAs in any way I can though, and writing has always been my forte. So I am going to give some advice about the personal statement.

This is your chance to convince the admissions committee that you are special and unique, and that you are an exceptional PA candidate. I truly feel that the personal statement, or as some call it the “PA narrative”, weighs heavily in the application.

The admissions committee has already reviewed your stats on CASPA. They are aware of your GPA and you plethora (or lack of) of healthcare experience.

Here are my two cents (well, ten):  

1.     Make sure to catch the reader’s attention in the first sentence/paragraph.

2.     Avoid clichés. We all want to help people. One that I personally think should be avoided is how one specific patient made you want to become a PA. Unless you have a terrific heartfelt story, just avoid it.

3.     Be sure to explain WHY you want to become a PA. I think that’s the prompt for the whole essay, right? This is critical. Why not a doctor? Why not a physical therapist, or a nurse? All of these professionals help people. All of them have some sort of level of autonomy. Specifically explain why you want to be a PA over any other type of healthcare professional.

4.     Describe what makes you uniquely you. The PA committee wants to know all about you! Pick a trait that friends, family members or coworkers always point out, and give some good examples of times when you portrayed that.

5.     Describe how your personal experiences have shaped you. Keep in mind you don’t have to narrow this down to only medically related experiences. They are seeking well-rounded applicants.

6.     If you are transitioning into healthcare from something completely unrelated, describe how your previous experience strengthens you as an applicant and why it makes you stand out from others. And if you can parallel these experiences to show how they will make you a terrific healthcare provider, go for it!

7.     Don’t be afraid to tell a story. Just make sure that everything ties together in the end and ultimately shows what a strong candidate you are.

8.     Don’t be afraid to explain a time when you messed up. Just emphasize how much you have matured and learned from it.

9.     Have as many people read it as possible. Get somebody to edit it for you, and then get somebody else to edit it again! Be open to suggestions for change. I cannot express enough how important this is!

10.  Do not submit it until you love it! Until then, keep on editing and changing things. Just make sure that in the end you love it and wouldn’t change a thing. Then you will know that you have an excellent personal statement and you will be baffled if you do not get invited for interviews :)

I hope this is helpful, and let me know if you have any specific questions!