First draft, unusual applicant

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Domke
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 pm

First draft, unusual applicant

Postby Domke » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:45 pm

Coming from nursing I am kind of an unusual applicant. Let me know what you think.

“You can’t do this! I’m going to sue you!” he screamed as his foot broke loose and connected with my shoulder. Luckily he had lost his shoe in the preceding scuffle and was unable to get a clear shot at me, a few days later I would notice a small bruise on my arm, but no significant damage. “I’m going to sue your ass” he bellowed again, as the restraints were applied and we stepped away from the patient. Working on a psychiatric unit you didn’t expect the patients to be rational, but I was always surprised at how often they threatened us, the hospital, their doctors, and sometimes even God himself with a lawsuit. Most patients didn’t understand that it was the law itself that enable us to take care of them when they were mentally unable to. Every staff member had spent countless hours learning the details of mental health law. It should not come as a surprise that someone who spent that much time learning and working within law should want to apply to law school. Yet everyone who knows I’m a nurse says the same thing “why law?” my response is always the same “Why not?” Nurses and lawyers are actually very similar. We both work under stressful circumstances, we advocate for those we work for, we have to think on our feet, and most of the time we both put in 12 hour days.

Even as a child I loved debate. I don’t know if it was inherited by my grandfather who was a lawyer in suburban Wisconsin, or the fact I grew up in a family that fostered debate, but I often found myself shaping my values through discussion. Much to the frustration of my family and friends not only do I enjoy debate but I frequently change my position mid discussion. This has led to more than a few people say I could argue with myself. My ability to see a position from multiple viewpoints allows me to understand and argue against any position, a quality I believe to be important to anyone in the law profession.

Graduating from nursing school the only thing I knew about law was the old adage “If it wasn’t documented it didn’t happen.” I started becoming interested in law when I realized how much it impacted everything nurses do, from how many patients we can care for at a time to which patients stay in the hospital and for how long. While law has affected nurses, it affects patients even more. This was the most apparent when I cross trained for the job of utilization review. My job was to work with healthcare companies coordinating care for their patients in the hospital. I negotiated on behalf of the patient with the insurance companies. This experience taught me the importance of working relationships. What worked with one person did not work with others. Sometimes I was straight to the point explaining the patient’s symptoms and the doctors plan of care, sometimes it helped to chat with the insurance reviewer first. The most important attribute I learned from this experience was that building working relationships could have a positive impact on the people I was advocating for.

As a psychiatric nurse I had to think on my feet. When I showed up for work I never knew what was going to happen. Often I was a negotiator working to defuse tense situations. In a single moment our unit could go from quiet and easy to two guys physically fighting and an old demented lady deciding to take her clothes off in full view of two visitors. Sometimes patients would be admitted with minimal information unable to provide information due to their psychotic state. I had to be a detective calling the ED, family, and doctors to compile the patient’s history.

The most important role I played as a nurse was being a patient advocate. Advocating for my patients was the best part of my job, helping people who are unable to help themselves is why I became and nurse and what I plan to do as a lawyer. Unlike most people I know how to tell somebody something they do not want to hear. When faced with a difficult conversation I think about how I would like to be approached if someone was to tell me the same thing.

I love nursing but I miss working on big projects that will have a significant affect in the world for good. My experience as a nurse and EMT uniquely qualify me for law school. I am already able to think on my feet, advocate, and work long hours. I hope to combine these skills with those I will learn in law school to better serve those that are unable to represent themselves.

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jselson
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Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:51 am

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby jselson » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:53 pm

You were surprised to find that someone being forcibly restrained against their will might find such a trial unjust and believe they might have a remedy at court?

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Domke
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 pm

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby Domke » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:59 pm

jselson wrote:You were surprised to find that someone being forcibly restrained against their will might find such a trial unjust and believe they might have a remedy at court?


Guess I've been working in psych to long :oops: he was trying to slug a developmentally delayed man for "looking funny" just before we put him in restraints. Thank you.

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Ramius
Posts: 2005
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:39 am

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby Ramius » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:45 am

I had trouble even getting past the first paragraph. Your ties between nursing and law are incredibly weak, your reasons for law school seem superficial and your writing needs heavy editing. I nearly stopped right there, but felt I owed it to you to finish it and give a full critique, but there isn't much else to say. This was a weak attempt at a PS and I came away from it generally turned off by you as an applicant. IMHO, you need to scrap this and start over. Using your nursing background and experiences from it is a good approach to your statement, but this was not a good attempt at it. It's all tell, no show. It tries to make superficial connections between nursing and law throughout and really tells me nothing about you beyond you being a former nurse. You also fell right into a typical 0L trap: I've always loved to debate. Unless you are some champion of debate who has competed in it for years, you should leave this out. Otherwise I picture someone yelling at their friends and colleagues about mostly irrelevant topics over drinks and generally making everyone around you feel slight animosity toward you for it. It might not be fair, but without anything substantive to back up your love of debate, that's what I tend to assume. Most people who claim to love debating are really just people who like thinking they're right about everything. Finally, cut out the long hours crap. If you want people to think you work long hours, include the number of hours you worked per week on your resume (some schools even require it).

I apologize that this was a pretty harsh critique, but you have an interesting background but you completely failed to use it with this PS.

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Domke
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 pm

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby Domke » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:47 pm

Thank you for your honesty. I have always been terrible at personal statements, like most people I am uncomfortable talking about myself. I'm a little confused as to what my statement is supposed to be about. I spent a lot of time trying to link nursing and law because I feel like most people would want to know why I was changing fields. Is there anything I should keep or should I scrap the whole thing?

TLSCLB
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:16 pm

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby TLSCLB » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:08 pm

For the record, I think the previous commentator was a bit harsh with the whole "this is complete crap" critique. Some of the pitfalls he mentioned are accurate tho. I think everyone does the whole "I love to debate" thing, so I would drop that, and I would elaborate on why law school. You mention a lot of the skills you have that will help you do well, but the only actual reason (aside from why not) is that you miss big projects. That's not bad, but elaborate on it; tell me what kind of projects you want to work on and what law will do for you to enable you to work on those projects.

I'm no PS expert by any means (my own PS is in this forum and in need of much help, im considering scrapping it), but those are some pointers I think would really improve your PS.

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Domke
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2013 10:47 pm

Re: First draft, unusual applicant

Postby Domke » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:46 pm

After reading the TLS book on PS I've decided to scrap it. I need to focus more on my accomplishments and future goals. Thanks for the reviews.




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