There’s plenty of ground cover in your PA school essay.  But it’s not all about what goes in.  Here are 11 things that definitely should not go into your PA school essay.

  1. Writing about how you want to be a doctor after being a PA, or would prefer to be a doctor to being a PA, but can’t get in, can’t afford it, are too old, or anything similar.  Even if this is true (and if it is, you need to do a lot of soul searching before launching into the PA application process) sharing it is just a bad idea.  Physician assistants don’t see themselves as wanna-be doctors, baby doctors, or the-closest-thing-to-being doctors.  They are a proud and skilled bunch, who almost always would prefer to be physician assistants to anything else – including a physician.  Sharing your past or present desire to become a physician in your PA school essay will only call your commitment to the PA profession into question.
  2. Your political or religious beliefs.  The trouble here is that you never know what type of person might be reading your PA school essay.  If you are a republican, your reader might be a democrat.  Religion caries the same risk, but usually in the form of the reader being nonreligious or atheist, as opposed to possessing faith as you do.  Better to steer clear of this area.
  3. Discussing your MCAT/GMAT or other test scores.  As in number 1, above, you aren’t applying to be a physician or a manager.  Don’t think that your high medical college admissions test score will have them saying, “Wow.  She must be smart.  Let’s admit her!”  Instead, they’ll say: “So why is she applying to be a PA?”  The only possible exception to this rule is if you attended a medical school and chose not to continue.  In this case, your reasons for doing so could be very important.
  4. Long explanations of problem areas on your application.  If you must explain a weakness, do it the right way, and be brief.  If you launch into a lengthy explanation, your PA school essay will only draw more attention to the problem.
  5. Any talk of salary.  The only thought this will invite in an admissions officer is that you are doing it for the money.  Obviously, a good salary is a major motivation for applicants.  But talking about it in your PA school essay can only hurt your application.
  6. Talk of how medicine is the only subject that interests you in school.  There’s more to being a PA than medicine.  PAs counsel patients, manage clinics and hospital units, write notes and articles, communicate with insurance companies, and much more.  Their work is multi-dimensional, and this line of thought shows you to be one-dimensional.
  7. Humor that criticizes others.  It’s great to share a funny anecdote, but the only safe person to poke fun at is yourself.
  8. Talk of being a PA because it is easier/quicker than becoming a physician (or anything else).  First off, there’s nothing easy about PA school.  Second, though it’s two years shorter than medical school, there is an expectation that as a PA you will be lifelong learner, because you can’t master anything in two years.  Implying that you like to cut corners or take the path of least resistance in your PA school essay says nothing positive about your character.
  9. Sharing your desire to work simultaneously as a PA and something else (massage therapist, psychologist, etc.).  A few braves souls are multi-talented, but at this point you don’t know squat about being a PA, and to claim you can do it along with something else as well is cocky beyond repair.  It could imply that you lack focus, or are applying on a lark.  Wanting to “dabble” in medicine shows you don’t take it very seriously.
  10. Criticizing the PA profession in any way.  Sound crazy that anyone would?  It happens all the time.  Keep your non-positive opinions to yourself, Ms. Know-it-all.  They don’t want to hear them.
  11. Sharing any personal problems that you have not overcome, or at least learned to deal with.  There’s nothing wrong with having problems.  But if your life is an ongoing, whirling, sucking vortex of depression, don’t bring it up in your PA school essay.  If you lost both your legs to a landmine and haven’t accepted and dealt with it, don’t bring it up.  If you’re in the middle of a painful divorce, don’t bring it up.  PA school is intense and admissions officers avoid admitting anyone who might become overwhelmed by the combined stresses of school and personal problems.