I am More
Before applying to Physician Assistant (PA) programs, I was actually pursuing an education in musical theatre. I wanted to make people happy and wow the crowds with a powerful song and see a sparkle in their eye when they laughed at my wicked jokes. My dad, on the other hand, wanted me to be a doctor. And with being a young woman raised in a sheltered family, I was almost forced to oblige to his orders.
I never saw myself pursuing medicine because the long work hours and the numerous required educational years did not appeal to me at all. So, the little rebel in me still enrolled in music classes, performed as leads in musicals, and flashed my jazz hands on stage. It wasn’t until my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and cardiac problems where I really began to understand what medicine was about.
Surgery after surgery, appointment after follow-up appointment, I came across a vast variety of medical providers. I saw how broken other individuals, not just my father, were in their darkest hours and how the community of healthcare providers worked around the clock to give them a glimmer of hope— even if it was just a small smile on their face.
Although my father’s continuous hospitalizations took a toll on my entire family, it was my time in the hospital during his recovery which opened my eyes to the physician assistant profession. As his surgical PA made his daily rounds, his vast knowledge, and commitment to informing my father and family of his care plan, resonated with me. I began to see sparkles of hope in my dad’s eyes— like the sparkle I saw in the eyes of the audience during my musical theatre days. This made me realize that as a future healthcare provider, I aspire to effectively educate patients in all spectrums of health as well.
In my undergraduate and graduate years, I struggled heavily with balancing it all: working full time, enrolling in full-time classes, leadership roles in academic/social clubs, and maintaining a healthy relationship. And though I was a fantastic leader, kicked butt with gaining those patient contact hours, and volunteering, it adversely took a hit on my GPA. Because of this, I was often advised to consider a different career path because my GPA couldn’t stand against other applicants with straight 4.0s.
This not only frustrated me but almost felt as though others were taking a hit at my capability. Sure, my GPA wasn’t the best, and I may not be the most outstanding test taker, but I knew that I was capable of critically assessing and diagnosing patients, given the proper education, and do so with compassion.
That’s when it hit me. I realized I am more than just numbers; more than my GPA. I am a leader. I am a team player. I am a philanthropist. I am a patient advocate. And it is SO IMPORTANT for other applicants to understand this as well. PA programs, and medicine itself, is not looking to spit out robots that can binge and purge information for exams; they’re looking for leaders who are ready to make a positive movement in medicine for their profession and for their patients.
Every applicant’s path in medicine is unique and should be highlighted. Your personal statement helps to portray a little taste of who you are as a person, a student, and a future clinician. I thank myPAresource for giving me the tools in aiding me to convey my personal story in a professional, meaningful, and powerful way.
You are more than that bad biology grade your freshman year. You’re an individual who preservers, no matter the circumstances. You are more than just a number. I still tell myself this as I walk into the testing room for every PA school exam. And I will continue to tell myself this I treat patients after graduation. It’s not about the grades; it’s about the patients.
Follow Jinal's journey through PA school on Instagram: @notoriouspa_c