Most Common Themes in PA School Personal Statements

A few years ago, the PAEA, or the Physician Assistant Education Association, released an article detailing the most common subjects mentioned in Physician Assistant school essays.  As you can see from the image above, some of the most common words are "patients," "care," and "experience," among others.  It's important to note that these three areas are among the most important to focus on when brainstorming ideas for your personal statement subject matter.  

In addition to the word cloud, see the table above.  In this image, you can see which subjects those that ended up being accepted (or matriculated) into a PA program.  The most common theme discussed, by both those who were/were not accepted, in the personal statement is clearly experience.  Your resume can only give the reader a finite amount of information.  It's the responsibility of your personal statement to fill in the blanks.

The absolute MOST COMMON themes discussed in personal statements are as follow:

  • Altruism and desire to help people
  • Challenges or hardships
  • Key accomplishments
  • Personal Characteristics
  • Positive perception of PA career attributes
  • Role models
  • Religious or spiritual quest

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The full article discussed above can be downloaded at the PAEA website HERE

Forister, J. Glenn. "Thematic Analysis of Personal Statements in Physician Assistant Program Admissions." The Journal of Physician Assistant Education.  Volume 22 Number 2.  2011.  6-12.