Tips For Crafting A Winning Physician Assistant School Essay

Hello Future PA,

Here you are settling down to write your PA admissions essay. You have a lot to convey—your qualifications and special characteristics; your relevant experience and training; how you became interested in the PA profession; your caring and commitment; obstacles you’ve overcome and your growth as an individual; significant, relevant events in your life.

Here’s the hitch: you have to keep it at or under 5000 characters (sometimes even having to cram it into one page), and you have to make a lasting impression on the admissions officers, who are slogging through hundreds of similar essays.

Let’s take a moment to ask ourselves about the ultimate goal. It’s not really to write a great essay, or to get an interview, or even to get into the PA program, though those are all steps along the way.

The ultimate goal is to be a PA—something you presumably really care about, believe in, and have worked hard to achieve. The ideal essay will convey your conviction that you can accomplish and sustain all of these goals.

So with that in mind, pretend that you already have the interview, because—guess what?—this is your first interview of sorts. And now pretend that you’re speaking to someone who’s on your side, who believes in you and wants you to succeed—a friend, not a judge … someone who knows you and cares about you.

How would you approach that person? How would you talk to a good friend about these things?

Here are a few hints that, in fact, come naturally to most of us:

Keep it personal – Yes, there are certain requirements that everyone needs to fulfill, but you’re not a robot, and neither are the best PAs.

Keep it simple – Would you try to impress your close friend with unnecessarily fancy words? Would you normally speak that way? Probably not. Your goal would be to communicate clearly and effectively, so make that your goal here, too. After all, that is an important aspect of being a PA.

Keep it concrete – Avoid abstractions and generalizations. Also, you might know that you’re compassionate, committed, and qualified, but what proof do you have? Use plenty of detail, and make it interesting. You wouldn’t bore your friend, would you?

Remember those qualities and abilities you noticed in that PA who made such a great impression on you? What you admired in that PA is a reflection of you on some level—so let us know who you are through your thoughts, feelings, observations, words, and actions.

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