Life as a PA

I'm a Physician Assistant in Critical Care, vlogger, and travel addict providing you an inside look at 'Life as a PA'!

Tips for Writing an Awesome CASPA Personal Statement

The CASPA personal statement. This is your ticket to the interview–your chance to get the admissions committee to say, “I want to meet this applicant in person.” Be prepared to spend many hours writing, rewriting, rearranging, editing, cutting, and polishing your essay. Give yourself at least a month to write and edit it before you plan on submitting CASPA, and–this is key–have several proofreaders. Allow ample time for them to make suggestions, and for you to consider and incorporate their advice. Don’t ask more than 3-4 people to look over your essay, because multiple editors can quickly become overwhelming–choose trusted writers and people in the medical field (especially a PA!).

Here are my biggest tips (approved by classmates) for your fantastic future personal statement.

In the years before:
I highly recommend keeping journals about all your medical experiences, both shadowing and working! I have countless documents chronicling my high school hospital volunteer days and my first surgery observation as a teenager, to my recent CNA jobs. Writing things down not only helps you process what you’re learning, it provides you with an invaluable resource to return to when you need to write application essays. Instead of trying to remember how you felt three years ago doing some job or exactly how a particular patient encounter went, you can go to your journal and read it. Often I will even copy pieces from my journals and edit them to fit into my essays, making sure I change identifying details. I can’t emphasize enough how useful these have been, not to mention fun to read!

DOs and DON’Ts of writing the actual personal statement:

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Emergency Medical Equipement Available On Commercial Flights

Have you ever been curious what medical equipment is available if you were involved in an in-flight medical emergency?  I’ll admit that I’m one of the last people to raise my hand when flight attendants ask for medical personnel to assist. However, I’ve been on two flights where I was the only medical provider.  After being involved in two in-flight medical emergencies within the same year, I decided to investigate this topic further.  Surprisingly, there is no medical provider on 10-25 % of all flights.  It is estimated that 44,000 in-flight medical emergencies occur yearly with 7.3% of them requiring diversion of the flight.  It’s quite a foreign feeling to be assessing and treating a patient in a nontraditional setting without your everyday equipment readily available.  So, in the unlikely event this happens to you, here is a list of the minimum medical equipment requirements for commercial flights carrying at least 20-30 passengers with at least 1 flight attendant on board per FAA guidelines:

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Attending the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Conference 2016

In recent years I have made every effort to attend the AAPA’s annual conference.  However, I spent my early years as a fledgling PA wondering what the conference was like and if it was worth the hassle of travel and added expenses.  I encountered very few PAs who stressed the importance of attending the conference, therefore, I assumed it should not be high on my priority list.  I was wrong.  A few years ago I attended my first AAPA conference and immediately craved more of the camaraderie felt during such an amazing gathering.  This year it was held in San Antonio, TX at an beautiful conference center with phenomenal keynote speakers, PA Kevin Lacz and Terry Stone.  Here is a recap of my week at the conference!

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DIY Cold Brew Coffee

DIY Cold Brew Coffee

I used to buy cold brew coffee (also called coffee concentrate) at the grocery store but then realized it is a hassle to stay stocked up and can become pretty pricey so I started making my own cold brew coffee about six months ago.  Once a week I make this using the recipe below and then use it for my morning iced coffee and protein shakes the rest of the week.  It’s extremely easy, inexpensive, and only takes about 5 minutes to make!

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What Is a Typical Day Like in the PICU?

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05:30: My alarm goes off which is the absolute worst sound in the world.

07:00: I receive checkout from the pediatric resident or PA/NP who covered overnight, discussing how each patient did, changes made, and any new admissions.

07:00-0900: I “pre-round” which entails examining all of my patients, assessing their clinical status, looking at newly resulted lab values, reviewing imaging studies, and deciding on a treatment plan for the day.

09:00-13:00:  Bedside multidisciplinary rounds occur with the attending, PA/NP, nurse, respiratory therapist, dietitian, pharmacist, and consulting services if available.  Bedside rounds consists of the PA, NP, or resident presenting their patient in an organized fashion, discussing them by systems, and stating their plan for the day.

13:00: Lunch

14:00-19:00: I spend the rest of the afternoon continually checking on my patients, reevaluating my treatment plan, ordering additional labs or imaging studies if needed, transferring patients, admitting new patients, dictating, and having fun with coworkers.  The ICU can actually be a pretty fun environment to work in.

19:00: I sign out all important information about my patients to the night resident or PA/NP then head home!  HOORAY!


Rose Gold Stethoscope Giveaway!


In celebration of the launch of my new website (even though it’s still heavily under construction) and to increase traffic to my non-indexed site to improve my SEO (I don’t know what that means but google tells me it’s uber important) I will be giving away a brand new ultra chic rose gold MDF stethoscope that I am OBSESSING over!  Yes, it may have a bit of a feminine flair, but if it’s not your style then I’m sure that you can think of one or two people who would love to receive it as a gift (wink, wink).  It is also available for purchase HERE.

To enter to win:

  1. Fill in your email address below so I can send you occasional love notes and website updates!
  2. Follow me on Instagram (@lifeasapa).
  3. Tag a friend who would also love this stethoscope under the Stethoscope Giveaway picture on my Instagram.
  4. The winner will be announced Saturday May 28th and contacted by email!

*This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

Update 5/29/16:
Thanks to everyone who participated!  The winner has been contacted by email.  Congratulations Krista from Iowa!  I’ll be doing another giveaway of this stethoscope again in the near future so stay tuned!

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Welcome to Life as a PA!

Life as a Physician Assistant

Are you interested in becoming a Physician Assistant?  Are you curious about what life is like being a PA?  Then checkout my YouTube channel for videos on these topics, and more!  You can also connect with me on Instagram (@lifeasapa) or on Twitter (@life_as_a_pa)!  New videos are uploaded every Sunday!