​​​Your PAth to Success!


Procrastination

Everyone procrastinates at times, and students have been known to procrastinate more than others. Rather than work, we surf the Internet, clean our closets, use social media, etc. While everyone procrastinates at times, it is estimated that 20 percent of all people are procrastinators. If you are one of those people, there is hope, but you will need to be disciplined.

Here are some tips:

  1. Estimate correctly. Some of us procrastinate because we’ve underestimated how long it takes to do something—and we know it. If you see a trend, adapt. In other words, if tasks usually take two times longer than you expect, schedule a task to take two times longer.
  2. Make a list, and set a schedule.
  3. Set realistic goals. As I have mentioned and will mention again later in this book, your essay will not be effective if you sit and write it in one session. So be realistic about what you can do.
  4. Promise yourself a reward when you complete your tasks.
  5. Repeat the mantra: “Just do it now!”


 Use a checklist to prepare for writing your essay:

  1. I have identified a specific location from which I can do my best writing.
  2. I have identified the best time of day for writing.
  3. I know several strategies for stimulating my brain to write.
  4. I have developed a schedule for completing my application essay.
  5. I created deadlines for completion of parts of my essay and proofing and editing.
  6. I know what to do to move beyond writer’s block.
  7. I know what to do when I am procrastinating to move myself to action.

 

Evolution of an Essay

When applying to PA school, consider your essay to be your ticket to the interview. A quality essay answers the question as to what motivates you to want to become a PA. The CASPA essay may be the most important piece of medical writing that you do in your entire career. When writing the essay, remember the following:
     Attention
     Interest
     Conviction
     Desire
     Close

  • Capture the attention of the reader right from the beginning. Admissions committee members read hundreds of essays each cycle and become bored with essays that don’t capture the attention of the reader instantly.
  • Create interest in your essay by telling a story or writing vignettes to keep the reader captivated.
  • Show conviction in your essay by giving plenty of supporting examples of why you are choosing this profession.
  • Create a strong desire in your essay that will compel the reader to want to learn more about you.
  • Close the deal by summarizing your essay with a strong finish that will entice the reader to score you high and ask you to come for an interview.


Writing a great essay can be extremely difficult for some applicants. After all, if you fail to connect with the reader on an emotional level, you will probably fail to receive an interview. Use my essay review and editing services to rest assured that your essay will be compelling, error-free, and ready to cut and paste into your CASPA application.

I’ve included a sample edit I performed for an applicant. The directions for the essay were clear:

Attach to this application a typewritten narrative of not more than two pages, explaining where you learned of the PA profession, what factors or influences led you to this career choice, and how you expect to fulfill your goals as a physician assistant.

Below is the original essay sent to AJR Associates (andrewrodican.com) for review and editing.

The Essay


Thinking Strategically / Understanding the Writing Process

One common misunderstanding about good writing is that it is the result of moments of inspiration. While these moments can be helpful, good writing is not the result of inspiration—rather, it is the result of hard work and numerous rewrites. So before you start, know that an effective essay will take some time.

Further, the best writing doesn’t just “happen” when you sit down. Good writing requires preparation and then multiple drafts. Be prepared to work through several drafts and sit through many writing sessions.

Preparation for good writing also requires forethought. Think about what you want to say, as well as how you want to say it; let an idea roll around in your mind a bit, and then try committing it to paper. Being strategic about writing can improve your chances of creating a winning essay.


Where to Write

​Some people need a quiet room with a desk. Others prefer a noisy coffee shop. According to a Chicago Tribune article entitled “Where Writers Write,” many famous writers have very specific requirements about their inspirational places to put pen to paper. Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love) needs a quiet, private space, preferably with a view. Jodi Picoult (author of numerous novels) writes in her attic office. Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow) writes in the spare bedroom of her apartment. And Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone and many others) prefers his finished basement for writing.

While you aren’t writing a novel, you still need to consider where you do your best thinking and writing and try to work in that setting each and every time you write. Your mind will automatically shift into writing mode if you follow a routine related to where and when you write. While this may seem like an unnecessary step in the writing process, remember that your PA essay has the potential to change the trajectory of your life. Spending a bit of time to think about space can be an important part of your process.


When to Write

It is important to think about when you should write. Some people like to write early in the morning, when they feel fresh. Others like to write late at night.

Don’t plan to write at a time when your creative brain has shut down (writing is a creative process, after all) or after you have just completed an intense mental task (e.g., a test). Think about when you do your best writing, and plan to work on your essay during that time.


Stimulating the Writing Brain

It’s happened to all of us. You sit down with a pen and paper or at your computer and…nothing. You don’t know how to start, and nothing is coming from your blocked brain. Never fear; even great writers need stimulation at times. Are you someone for whom reading stimulates your desire to write? Or does journaling get your creative juices flowing? Or maybe you find that quiet meditation gets you into the writing mood. Having a writing routine will help you when you begin writing your essay.

Here are some fun exercises to get your mind ready to write:

  1. Write down fifty adjectives to describe yourself.
  2. Write a paragraph or two about your life five years from now, when you are a successful PA. What do you like about your job? What do you enjoy about being with patients? What do you like about the practice of medicine?
  3. Write a fictional story about a PA hero or heroine. What would he or she do? Who are this PA’s patients? What do these patients think of your hero or heroine?
  4. Talk aloud (to yourself or a friend) about what you want to say in your essay or how you might start it. If you are a very verbal person, this can be a great way to get your writing brain engaged.
  5. Write one sentence each about five people you admire and what you admire about them.


     These are just a few examples of ways to get warmed up for writing. Just like in physical exercise, warm-ups can be helpful. The Internet is filled with suggestions for writing warm-ups, so if none of these ideas inspire you and you are still not sure how to start, check online.


Scheduling and Deadlines

Remember to also put yourself on a schedule. Create a timeline that includes deadlines for making an outline, completing a first draft, doing revisions, and finally finishing the essay. Put these deadlines into your cell phone calendar as reminders. Allow yourself adequate time for all creative processes, as well as revisions and edits. Often, starting at the end (the deadline) and working backward with your schedule will allow you to see the quantity of time you will need to dedicate to this task.


While deadlines can be hard for some people, they provide the structure for keeping organized. Remember to include in your schedule flexibility for personal and family emergencies, other work deadlines or commitments, computer problems, etc. The last thing you want to be in a position to have to do is miss the CASPA deadline.

Managing Writer’s Block

Finally, prepare for writer’s block. Even professional writers get stumped at times. If your writing gets stalled, it is probably your brain telling you it is time for a break—so take one.


Do free writing exercises, go for a walk, or get a cup of coffee or tea. In summary, distracting yourself for a minute or ten minutes can give the writing part of your brain enough of a break that it is fresh and ready to start again when you return.

Now read the same essay with edits made by AJR Associates (andrewrodican.com) to enhance the essay:

Corrections to paragraph one:

Deleted: All…around me is nothing but…a wide…brings…about a feeling of relaxation…the…,…it gets too dry from the warm July sun. arrives…at…and is…ing…so…he .Every…This lifestyle is common among the …my desire…can….Every…This lifestyle is common among the …my desire is…

I’m in the middle of an open field of alfalfa hay. The sweet smell of honeysuckle in the air relaxes me as I ride on the green John Deere. To my left, the hay has been raked in single-file rows, ready to be bailed. To my right is a blanket of hay needing to be raked to the right before the hot July sun dries it out. My father calls to me from the field entrance as he unhooks the gate to pull his blue Ford tractor and bailer through. There is more to do.

Corrections to paragraph two:

Deleted:  Every…This lifestyle is common among the…my desire…as a health care provider—another field I love Each summer my dad and I each spend about three hundred hours on tractors bailing hay for our cattle in preparation for the snowy winter months, a common activity for people in my community. I adore my small home town, and my dream is to return there to fulfill my other passion—to serve my community as a health care provider.

Each summer my dad and I each spend about three hundred hours on tractors bailing hay for our cattle in preparation for the snowy winter months, a common activity for people in my community. I adore my small home town, and my dream is to return there to fulfill my other passion—to serve my community as a health care provider

Corrections to paragraph three:

Deleted: and…making having brought me self-fulfillment…was;…after…himself said…”This job is not for you if you want…as a large animal…veterinarian, you will…all,…”…I decided against this career….I truly enjoy…and treating them for their illnesses, but the veterinarian route is not for me. Deep within,…I knew…I…had a desire to care for …and this nurturing characteristic of mine…potential…For …a…project…I thought this would prestigious and…In fact,…;however…I knew there was something missing ….Numerous hours…assisting all the University of Virginia Outpatient Pharmacy became…quickly.

Working on a beef farm has always fed my soul. I shadowed a large-animal veterinarian, thinking that veterinary medicine might be the right path for me, but the veterinarian cautioned me against the field if I wanted to raise a family because I would be on call day and night. Though taking care of animals appeals to my nurturing spirit, this experience shifted my focus to a deeper interest in taking care of people, which brought health care to my attention as a career. While in high school, I shadowed a pharmacist at Wytheville Community Hospital, thinking pharmacy might be a satisfying career. I pursued pharmacology until my sophomore year in college, when my experience at the University of Virginia Outpatient Pharmacy showed me that spending all day at a counter filling prescriptions and helping the pharmacist was simply too monotonous and isolated for me.

Corrections to paragraph four:

Deleted:  M…called me one day as I was walking to my Organic chemistry class…told…becoming a…ist… When she asked me why, I responded along the lines of, “I need…; that connection would keep a job interesting and challenging… …I have the passion for providing assistance directly to people.” Mentioned…immediately…I answered, “Med school is not for me. I do not want to go to school for that long. I do not want to have an enormous amount of debt upon graduation; and mainly, I do not want the liability a doctor is burdened with.” …P…A… That moment was when I first…a physician assistant… I was confused as to what a physician assistant did, so I began to do some research. Subscribed…to…email list…and attended a few meetings. I…Physician Assistant… …The…at one of the meetings was…college that had a Physician Assistant…P… He discussed…ed…Physician…Assistants… All of these characteristics of a physician assistant were appealing, and I knew…this career was what I wanted. Many discussions with my parents, family members, friends, and professors solidified that this profession was something I wanted to pursue…contacted…working…and she allowed me to shadow her…We discussed…pros and cons…;and we quickly determined this was a perfect career choice for me… …enjoyed watching…her interact with her patients, yet she had the security of knowing she could…for…aide when a case… …My humble , conscientious and ethical personality allows me to be independent, yet willing to consider other recommendations when necessary--essential characteristics that promote

A light bulb went off one day as I was speaking with my best friend. I shared with her that I was having second thoughts about pharmacy and that I craved more interaction with people. She asked if I had considered going to med school, but I had a litany of reasons why that was not for me, including the length of time it takes to finally be able to practice, the enormous debt I would accrue, and the liability doctors are burdened with. She said, “Why not be a physician assistant?” Though I hate to admit it, that was the first time I had even heard of the role, so I started doing my research. I explored the undergraduate Physician Assistant Club at the University of Virginia and soon fell in love with the idea of becoming a PA. At one club meeting, a speaker from a PA program explained how physician assistants work autonomously yet collaboratively with physicians. He highlighted the versatility of the career and described how PAs are in high demand, particularly in rural areas. Like a bolt of lightning, it struck me that this was the perfect path for me. I began shadowing a family physician assistant in my hometown, who spoke about the opportunities and challenges of being a physician assistant. I loved the fact that she had direct patient interaction while being able to refer questions to a physician when she needed further opinions. I knew that this balance of independence and collaboration suited my personality to a tee, but it was a personal encounter with health care that cemented my passion for the profession.

Corrections to paragraph five:

Deleted: …This diagnosis was a shock to his wife, son and me….scheduled,,,an…follow-up…My friend, being diagnosed with such an illness and knowing he would have to undergo these treatments, was…feeling sincerely scared and worried for… . Yet he had trust and…all of…rid…him of his cancer…His wife and son were putting all their hope in the doctors, nurses, and physician assistants as well….The head of their household, their rock and provider, was put in these medical providers hands. I am……resolute…, founded upon trust, faith and hope…hope and…as a practicing physician assistant and to give them and/or their…would…leave…with…satisfying and purposeful

Three months ago, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a shock to his family and friends. He was thrown into a blur of appointments for surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Worried about his potential for survival, he and his wife and son were left with no choice but to put their faith in the health care staff—from physicians to PAs to nurses—to save his life. I saw the difference made by the bedside manner of those caring for him, both positive and negative, and became even more passionate about establishing a caring, empathetic, and devoted patient-physician and family-physician relationship. For patients to put their trust in my hands will be a tremendous honor that will give me a tremendous sense of purpose each day.

Corrections to paragraph six:

Deleted:  long…-term…become…P…A…, practice…and…a…that…demands the best health care…This dream would give me

My goal is to practice as a physician assistant in my rural hometown in Southwest Virginia, building trusting patient-physician relationships and impacting the overall health of my community. As I drive by the lines of fields on my way to work as a PA, the sweet scent of alfalfa and honeysuckle will reassure me that I am right where I am supposed to be.

Compare the version above with the final draft of this essay edited by AJR Associates (andrewrodican.com):

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​All around me is nothing but a wide open field of alfalfa hay. The sweet smell of honeysuckle in the air brings about a feeling of relaxation as I ride on the green John Deere. To the left, the hay has been raked in single file rows, ready to be baled. To my right, is a blanket of hay needing to be raked in a line before it gets too dry from the warm July sun. My father arrives at the field entrance and is unhooking the gate so he can pull his blue Ford tractor and baler through.

Every summer my dad and I each spend about three hundred hours on tractors baling hay for our cattle in preparation for the snowy winter months. This lifestyle is common among the people in my community. I adore my small hometown, and my desire is to return there as a health care provider—another field I love.

Working on a beef farm and making hay have always brought me self-fulfillment. I shadowed a large-animal veterinarian thinking that was the right path for me; but after the veterinarian himself said, “This job is not for you if you want to raise a family because as a large-animal veterinarian, you will be on call all day and night,” I decided against this career. I truly enjoy taking care of animals and treating them for their illnesses, but the veterinary route is not for me. Deep within, I knew I had a desire to care for people and this nurturing characteristic of mine brought health care to my attention as a potential career. For a high school project, I shadowed a pharmacist at Wytheville Community Hospital. I thought this would be a prestigious and satisfying career. In fact, I pursued pharmacology until my sophomore year in college; however, I knew there was something missing. Numerous hours at a counter filing prescriptions and assisting the pharmacist at the University of Virginia Outpatient Pharmacy became monotonous quickly.

My best friend called me one day as I was walking to my organic chemistry class. I told her that I was having second thoughts about becoming a pharmacist. When she asked me why, I responded along the lines of, “I need more interaction with people; that connection would keep a job interesting and challenging. I have a passion for providing assistance directly to people.” She mentioned med school, but immediately I answered, “Med school is not for me. I do not want to go to school for that long; I do not want to have an enormous amount of debt upon graduation; and mainly, I do not want the liability a doctor is burdened with.” She said, “Why not be a Physician Assistant?” That moment was when I first heard of a physician assistant. I was confused as to what a physician assistant did, so I began to do some research. I subscribed to the undergraduate Physician Assistant Club email list at University of Virginia and attended a few meetings. I fell in love with the idea of becoming a Physician Assistant. The speaker at one of the meetings was from a college that had a Physician Assistant Program. He discussed how physician assistants worked autonomously yet collaboratively with physicians. He highlighted versatility and described how Physician Assistants are in high demand, particularly in rural areas. All of these characteristics of a physician assistant were appealing, and I knew this career was what I wanted. Many discussions with my parents, family members, friends, and professors solidified that this profession was something I wanted to pursue. I contacted a family physician assistant working in my hometown, and she allowed me to shadow her. We discussed the pros and cons of being a physician assistant; and we quickly determined this was a perfect career choice for me. I enjoyed watching her interact with her patients, yet she had the security of knowing she could refer to a physician for aide when a case needed further opinions. My humble, conscientious and ethical personality allows me to be independent, yet willing to consider other recommendations when necessary—essential characteristics that promotes quality health care.

Three months ago, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with Squamous-Cell Carcinoma. This diagnosis was a shock to his wife, son and me. He scheduled an appointment for surgery, follow-up radiation, and chemotherapy. My friend, being diagnosed with such an illness and knowing he would have to undergo these treatments, was feeling sincerely scared and worried for his survival. Yet he had trust and faith in all of the health care staff to rid him of his cancer. His wife and son were putting all of their hope in the doctors, nurses, and physician assistants as well. The head of their household, their rock and provider, was put in these medical providers hands. I am passionate about establishing a caring, empathetic and resolute patient-physician and family-physician relationship, founded upon trust, faith and hope. For patients to put their hope and trust in my hands as a practicing physician assistant and to give them and/or their family members quality health care is a goal I long to fulfill; one that would leave me with a satisfying and purposeful feeling each day.

My long-term goal is to become a Physician Assistant, practice in my rural hometown in Southwest Virginia, and build a trusting patient-physician relationship that demands the best health care possible. This dream would give me a life-long feeling of what I experience when riding the John Deere, making sweet-smelling alfalfa hay on a warm, breezy summer’s day.

Instructions


  1. Click “Proceed to order” page
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  3. Select “Full Edit” on drop down menu
  4. In the box “Step 3” Type in PA school essay (Andrew Rodican Website), and any other comments you would like to enter.
  5. Click “Submit for editing”
  6. Look to the right corner, and see the price under “Document Added”
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I’m in the middle of an open field of alfalfa hay. The sweet smell of honeysuckle in the air relaxes me as I ride on the green John Deere. To my left, the hay has been raked in single-file rows, ready to be baled. To my right is a blanket of hay needing to be raked in a line before the hot July sun dries it out. My father calls to me from the field entrance as he unhooks the gate to pull his blue Ford tractor and baler through. There is more to do.

Each summer my dad and I each spend about three hundred hours on tractors baling hay for our cattle in preparation for the snowy winter months, a common activity for people in my community. I adore my small hometown, and my dream is to return there to fulfill my other passion—to serve my community as a health care provider.

Working on a beef farm has always fed my soul. I shadowed a large-animal veterinarian, thinking that veterinary medicine might be the right path for me, but the veterinarian cautioned me against the field if I wanted to raise a family because I would be on call day and night. Though taking care of animals appeals to my nurturing spirit, this experience shifted my focus to a deeper interest in taking care of people, which brought health care to my attention as a career. While in high school, I shadowed a pharmacist at Wytheville Community Hospital, thinking pharmacy might be a satisfying career. I pursued pharmacology until my sophomore year in college, when my experience at the University of Virginia Outpatient Pharmacy showed me that spending all day at a counter filling prescriptions and helping the pharmacist was simply too monotonous and isolated for me.

 A light bulb went off one day as I was speaking with my best friend. I shared with her that I was having second thoughts about pharmacy and that I craved more interaction with people. She asked if I had considered going to med school, but I had a litany of reasons why that was not for me, including the length of time it takes to finally be able to practice, the enormous debt I would accrue, and the liability doctors are burdened with. She said, “Why not be a physician assistant?” Though I hate to admit it, which was the first time I had even heard of the role, so I started doing my research. I explored the undergraduate Physician Assistant Club at the University of Virginia and soon fell in love with the idea of becoming a PA. At one club meeting, a speaker from a PA program explained how physician assistants work autonomously yet collaboratively with physicians. He highlighted the versatility of the career and described how PAs are in high demand, particularly in rural areas. Like a bolt of lightning, it struck me that this was the perfect path for me. I began shadowing a family physician assistant in my hometown, who spoke about the opportunities and challenges of being a physician assistant. I loved the fact that she had direct patient interaction while being able to refer questions to a physician when she needed further opinions. I knew that this balance of independence and collaboration suited my personality to a tee, but it was a personal encounter with health care that cemented my passion for the profession.

Three months ago, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a shock to his family and friends. He was thrown into a blur of appointments for surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Worried about his potential for survival, he and his wife and son were left with no choice but to put their faith in the health care staff—from physicians to PAs to nurses—to save his life. I saw the difference made by the bedside manner of those caring for him, both positive and negative, and became even more passionate about establishing a caring, empathetic, and devoted patient-physician and family-physician relationship. For patients to put their trust in my hands will be a tremendous honor that will give me a tremendous sense of purpose each day.

My goal is to practice as a physician assistant in my rural hometown in Southwest Virginia, building trusting patient-physician relationships and impacting the overall health of my community. As I drive by the lines of fields on my way to work as a PA, the sweet scent of alfalfa and honeysuckle will reassure me that I am right where I am supposed to be.