Tips on Starting Your PA School Personal Narrative

The most difficult part of writing your personal narrative is getting started.  It can be difficult to begin if you’re unsure of what you want to include or the order in which you’d like your content to appear.  If you find yourself having trouble starting the process, try using some of the following techniques to jump start your writing process.

1. Free Writing
Free writing involves literally writing down anything that comes to mind.  This can be done as a stream of consciousness where you’re writing your thoughts as they come to mind for a set number of minutes- as long as you keep the keys tapping or the pen moving, you’ll in in good shape.  You’ll be able to then go back over what you’ve written and either edit it down into a readable format or cherry-pick ideas and develop them into full thoughts.

2. Chronological
The second method helps you tell your story in the order that the events have happened.  For example, if your first job involved customer service and you found that you enjoyed working with people, you could start with this experience as the start of your appreciation for working with people.  You can then follow up on this with some of you first health care experiences.  Essentially, this technique can help you connect your earlier experiences with your most recent ones to help set the foundation for your interest in working with people as a care provider.

3. Storyline
The storyline technique uses a basic storyline as the framework for your narrative.  First, list several key points that you want the reader to know about you- this will be the start of your short narrative and will help you maintain focus on where you want your story to go.  Next, choose three or more items on your list that reveal who you are and convey why you want to be a physician assistant.  If you have a hard time coming up with three items, think about your past experiences.  Is there a particular event that motivated you to pursue a career as a PA? How about an inspiring person or moment that influenced your decision to pursue a career as a direct care provider?  Whatever it may be, try to harness it for your story.

The key points of any story seek to answer the who, what, where, and when.  It’s up to you to use the answers to these questions to illustrate the event details, motivations, and journey so that the why ends up being the conclusion to your story.  Think in terms of a very short story (5-10 lines total) that focus on your key points and, once you have this short story in place, begin expanding and including detail.

Here’s an example of a very short story:

“It was the summer of 1982.  Little did I know it would be the last summer vacation I would spend with my father.  I was only eighteen and on family vacation when my father suffered a stroke.  The experience led me to the most profound decision of my life.  His difficult experience inspired me to help educate people about good health through diet, exercise, and consistent preventative health care.  I became an EMY and then a surgical technologist.  Still, I wanted to do more to help people and their families avoid the pain of a tragic and preventable loss, and that is why I decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant.”

Who: the storyteller’s father
What: a stroke
Where: summer vacation
When: the summer of 1982

Not only did the author hit all of their key points, but they also addressed the event details and their motivation for becoming a PA.  All of these combined led to the conclusion of why they wanted to become a PA.

Through any of these three techniques, you’ll be able to get a jump start on the process of writing your personal narrative and will have some great content to expand on.  Just make sure your narrative clearly explains who you are and why you want to be a PA, otherwise you’ll miss the entire purpose of writing your narrative!