Personal Statement 101: Content

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Please explain why you are interested in being a Physician Assistant.  

This is an example of the type of prompt that is given for your CASPA essay.  An open-ended request for you to explain how you've come to the decision of your future career in 5,000 characters or less (including spaces and punctuation), which is basically one page.  

At this point you start to question what in the world you should write about.  How do you start?  Should you use a story?  Or a quote?  How do you convey that out of thousands of other applicants, you are most deserving of a spot?  All valid and tough questions.  I hope to give you some direction on coming up with exactly what you need to put into your personal statement.  

The purpose of your CASPA essay is to show who you are as a person.  From looking at your grades, achievements, and volunteer experience, an admissions committee can tell whether you have the potential to do well in a PA program academically.  They cannot tell if you are a compassionate person who truly understands the role of a PA and wants to serve others through medicine.  They also do not know what experiences you may have gone through to get to the point of applying to PA school.  

Some applicants overcome a lot of hardships on their journey to becoming a PA, while others haven't had those intense circumstances.  That's ok.  You don't need to feel inadequate in either situation, but embrace what you have done personally and use that to your advantage.  

Before trying to figure out how to start your essay or finish it, you need to take some time to evaluate what exactly you want to put in there and what you want to portray.  Your goals are to show: 

  • What exactly made you decide to become a PA? - Any specific experiences you've had?  How did you learn about the profession?  Who was the first PA you met?  
  • Why after deciding to become a PA, do you want to pursue it, and why does it fit you? - What have you seen while shadowing?  What good or bad examples of PAs or other healthcare professionals have impacted your decisions? 

I've created some worksheets to help you work through brainstorming for your personal statement.  You can enter your e-mail address below to download the worksheets for free!  

If you need more help with your personal statement, check out myPAresource to have your essay edited by a PA!  And you can use the code "thePAPlatform" for a discount!