Ever had to write a personal statement? It is one of the most frustrating and difficult things to write. You want to impress but not sound arrogant, you want to be able to express your passion yet not sound clichéd, there is so much you want to write but have only so much space, you want to include all of the above and make your personal statement stand out amongst other applicants. Where on earth do you begin?
Perhaps the first mistake I made was that I started surfing online to see what other people’s personal statements looked like. I read some brilliant ones and some with stories of life-altering experiences that I thought came from a fairy tale. When I sat down to write my personal statment, I was haunted by what I’ve read, I felt confined to write like some of the other people and I got no where with my personal statement. I scrapped every single line I wrote because it just wasn’t me. The personal statement didn’t reflect me, it didn’t come from my soul because I felt compelled to write within the boundaries of what others have written. I was subconsciously lured into believing that their way, their style, was the right way to write.
I could not have been more wrong.
I decided I needed to try a new strategy. I spent a week, away from other peoples’ personal statements. I compiled a list of traits and characteristics I wanted to share with the person who will be reading it. I wanted it to be genuine and to reflect my passion. With that in mind, I sat down with my laptop, opened up a blank word document and told myself:
Write what you feel and just let it flow. Forget what others have written. This personal statement is about you and you alone, so write in your own style, in your own way, there is no right or wrong. Just let the words pour out of you. Let. It. Flow. You can make changes, cut down, and edit later.
So I did exactly that, I wrote from my heart. I wrote what touched me, what first drew me into paramedicine, I wrote about the experiences that had captured me, I wrote about my experiences from work and about my favourite hobbies, I interwove it into one story because I felt like I was able to express myself best in the form of a story. I ended up with a personal statement that reflected my journey that brought me up to the point where I was applying for paramedic school and all the lessons I’ve learned in between. In fact, many elements and experiences are found in my previous posts in this blog.
The moment I realized that there is no right or wrong way of writing a personal statement was when I freed myself to express who I am. That was when my voice and emotions emanated through the words I had typed. It is important to remember that a personal statement is just that: It is a personal story. So tell it in your own style, in whatever way you wish to express yourself, because that is what makes your personal statement stand out from others.
Some guidelines I think are important to include involves the following:
- Why do you want to enter paramedicine/be a paramedic?
- What can you bring to the program? (experiences, personal qualities etc)
- Work experiences and skills that you have developed that will be an asset as a paramedic/paramedic student.
- Volunteer-pre-hospital care-related experiences?
- Hobbies and interests? (Shows you’re a well rounded person or have ways to destress etc)
- Where do you see yourself in the near future/your goals?
I have been debating whether or not I wanted to post my personal statement here for a couple of months. I was tentative because:
- It is personal.
- If others read it, it may skew the way they write theirs (read above).
The reasons as to why I would like to post it is because:
- It was a part of my “journey” so it belongs well to this blog.
- I wrote this personal statement for the application for the Primary Care Paramedic program, only to find out after all my hard work that they changed the application process and no longer requires a personal statement…so its just been sitting there collecting dust. That just makes me want to do something with it.
In the end, I decided to share my personal statement, and those who wish to read it can or those who don’t wish to, well no one is going to make you 😉
I never thought my path into paramedicine would stem from a simple story. I have always had a desire to help others, be it through teaching, mentoring, or simply lending a hand. When I entered university from high school I was unsure of what career path to take. However, through my undergrad as a Human Kinetics student, I discovered my love for anatomy and physiology, my curiosity for the human body, and my fascination on treatment and prevention of injuries and illnesses. It was at this crossroad in my life that my brother told me how his off-duty paramedic friend happened upon a car crash and helped keep the patient alive until further help arrived. That was my turning point. The idea of practicing paramedicine was perfect. I enjoy hands-on learning, being in challenging situations that require quick thinking, working in diverse environments, and gaining an insight into people’s lives. To explore my interest in paramedicine, I decided to talk to some paramedics about the field and do some ride-alongs.
My first real taste of the paramedical field was during the ride-alongs with a local ambulance station. We went on several Code 3 calls. However, the patient that impacted me the most involved a routine transfer. The elderly lady in her 90s only understood Cantonese, so I became the translator for the crew. I will never forget how her face lit up when she realized she had someone to talk to. During the call, the elderly lady shared a bit of her life with me. Fascinated, I listened patiently and kept her company. When we finally got her settled into her home, she didn’t want us to leave, but when we did say goodbye she whispered a “Thank you” into my ear. This call captured me because it was a good reminder that paramedicine isn’t just about airway, breathing and circulation. More importantly, it is about how we care for people. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that the biggest impact on a patient may be as simple as a genuine smile and a listening ear.
For the past four years, I worked part time at a community center with children age 3-12 years old. Despite being the children’s teacher and coach, I in return, have also learned a lot from the children and their parents. They have taught me how to be flexible and how to adapt to varying environments based on weather, behaviours, scheduling, and sudden equipment changes. One time, my assistant instructor who normally teaches a separate class called in sick 5 minutes before the lesson. I had to modify and change my lesson plans on the spot in order to accommodate the big skill and age difference of the students. It was in these challenging situations that I learned to make decisions quickly and creatively.
The five years I have spent in university provided me with a lot of knowledge and experience as a student. However, as a full time student who works part time, volunteers, and trains in capoeira (a Brazilian martial art), I believe some of the most invaluable skills university has offered me involved time management, thinking outside of the box, the ability to handle and persevere through difficult situations, and more importantly, how to relieve stress.
As my last year of university slowly neared, I further pursued my interest in paramedicine by volunteering with St John Ambulance (SJA) and taking courses such as Standard First Aid, AMFR, OFA3 and later EMR. With SJA, I had the wonderful opportunity to provide first aid to the public, from minor scrapes and bruises to asthma attacks, heat stroke and motorcycle accidents. Through treating patients and working with dispatch, my colleagues and other emergency service providers, I learned the importance of professionalism, sincerity, and good communication.
I am a very active individual and in my spare time I love combining my interest for photography with hiking, kayaking and biking. Some of these interests have trickled into my volunteering where I was one of eight lucky people in BC to be selected for St John Ambulance’s bike patrol.
Along with physical activities, painting and drawing also helps me relax and relieve stress. One of my favourite paintings titled A Paramedic Tribute has inspired paramedics and has since been archived and displayed at the BCAS Lower Mainland Regional Headquarters.
I believe the skills I have developed in the varying aspects of my life makes me a strong candidate for the Primary Care Paramedic program. Although it is impossible to predict the future and there are still many hoops and hurdles in my journey, my long-term goal is to eventually work as a flight paramedic in BC.