- Medical School Application
Medical School Personal Statement Examples: 30 Best in
Including one that got six acceptances.
These 30 exemplary medical school personal statement examples come from our students who enrolled in one of our application review programs. Most of these examples led to multiple acceptance for our students. For instance, the first example got our student accepted into SIX medical schools. Here's what you'll find in this article: We'll first go over 30 medical school personal statement samples, then we'll provide you a step-by-step guide for composing your own outstanding statement from scratch. If you follow the strategy, you're going to have a stellar statement whether you apply to the most competitive or the easiest medical schools to get into .
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Article Contents 29 min read
30 stellar medical school personal statement examples, example #1/30.
I made my way to Hillary’s house after hearing about her alcoholic father’s incarceration. Seeing her tearfulness and at a loss for words, I took her hand and held it, hoping to make things more bearable. She squeezed back gently in reply, “thank you.” My silent gesture seemed to confer a soundless message of comfort, encouragement and support.
Through mentoring, I have developed meaningful relationships with individuals of all ages, including seven-year-old Hillary. Many of my mentees come from disadvantaged backgrounds; working with them has challenged me to become more understanding and compassionate. Although Hillary was not able to control her father’s alcoholism and I had no immediate solution to her problems, I felt truly fortunate to be able to comfort her with my presence. Though not always tangible, my small victories, such as the support I offered Hillary, hold great personal meaning. Similarly, medicine encompasses more than an understanding of tangible entities such as the science of disease and treatment—to be an excellent physician requires empathy, dedication, curiosity and love of problem solving. These are skills I have developed through my experiences both teaching and shadowing inspiring physicians.
Medicine encompasses more than hard science. My experience as a teaching assistant nurtured my passion for medicine; I found that helping students required more than knowledge of organic chemistry. Rather, I was only able to address their difficulties when I sought out their underlying fears and feelings. One student, Azra, struggled despite regularly attending office hours. She approached me, asking for help. As we worked together, I noticed that her frustration stemmed from how intimidated she was by problems. I helped her by listening to her as a fellow student and normalizing her struggles. “I remember doing badly on my first organic chem test, despite studying really hard,” I said to Azra while working on a problem. “Really? You’re a TA, shouldn’t you be perfect?” I looked up and explained that I had improved my grades through hard work. I could tell she instantly felt more hopeful, she said, “If you could do it, then I can too!” When she passed, receiving a B+;I felt as if I had passed too. That B+ meant so much: it was a tangible result of Azra’s hard work, but it was also symbol of our dedication to one another and the bond we forged working together.
My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems.
Shadowing physicians further taught me that medicine not only fuels my curiosity; it also challenges my problem solving skills. I enjoy the connections found in medicine, how things learned in one area can aid in coming up with a solution in another. For instance, while shadowing Dr. Steel I was asked, “What causes varicose veins and what are the complications?” I thought to myself, what could it be? I knew that veins have valves and thought back to my shadowing experience with Dr. Smith in the operating room. She had amputated a patient’s foot due to ulcers obstructing the venous circulation. I replied, “veins have valves and valve problems could lead to ulcers.” Dr. Steel smiled, “you’re right, but it doesn’t end there!” Medicine is not disconnected; it is not about interventional cardiology or orthopedic surgery. In fact, medicine is intertwined and collaborative. The ability to gather knowledge from many specialties and put seemingly distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.
It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.
Let's take a step back to consider what this medical school personal statement example does, not just what it says. It begins with an engaging hook in the first paragraph and ends with a compelling conclusion. The introduction draws you in, making the essay almost impossible to put down, while the conclusion paints a picture of someone who is both passionate and dedicated to the profession. In between the introduction and conclusion, this student makes excellent use of personal narrative. The anecdotes chosen demonstrate this individual's response to the common question, " Why do you want to be a doctor ?" while simultaneously making them come across as compassionate, curious, and reflective. The essay articulates a number of key qualities and competencies, which go far beyond the common trope, I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.
This person is clearly a talented writer, but this was the result of several rounds of edits with one of our medical school admissions consulting team members and a lot of hard work on the student's part. If your essay is not quite there yet, or if you're just getting started, don't sweat it. Do take note that writing a good personal essay takes advanced planning and significant effort.
We are here to help you articulate your own vision, passion, and skills in a way that is equally captivating and compelling!
Would you like to learn why "show, don’t tell" is the most important rule of any personal statement? Watch this:
I was one of those kids who always wanted to be doctor. I didn’t understand the responsibilities and heartbreaks, the difficult decisions, and the years of study and training that go with the title, but I did understand that the person in the white coat stood for knowledge, professionalism, and compassion. As a child, visits to the pediatrician were important events. I’d attend to my hair and clothes, and travel to the appointment in anticipation. I loved the interaction with my doctor. I loved that whoever I was in the larger world, I could enter the safe space of the doctor’s office, and for a moment my concerns were heard and evaluated. I listened as my mother communicated with the doctor. I’d be asked questions, respectfully examined, treatments and options would be weighed, and we would be on our way. My mother had been supported in her efforts to raise a well child, and I’d had a meaningful interaction with an adult who cared for my body and development. I understood medicine as an act of service, which aligned with my values, and became a dream.
I was hospitalized for several months as a teenager and was inspired by the experience, despite the illness. In the time of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, I met truly sick children. Children who were much more ill than me. Children who wouldn’t recover. We shared a four-bed room, and we shared our medical stories. Because of the old hospital building, there was little privacy in our room, and we couldn’t help but listen-in during rounds, learning the medical details, becoming “experts” in our four distinct cases. I had more mobility than some of the patients, and when the medical team and family members were unavailable, I’d run simple errands for my roommates, liaise informally with staff, and attend to needs. To bring physical relief, a cold compress, a warmed blanket, a message to a nurse, filled me with such an intense joy and sense of purpose that I applied for a volunteer position at the hospital even before my release.
I have since been volunteering in emergency departments, out-patient clinics, and long term care facilities. While the depth of human suffering is at times shocking and the iterations of illness astounding, it is in the long-term care facility that I had the most meaningful experiences by virtue of my responsibilities and the nature of the patients’ illnesses. Charles was 55 when he died. He had early onset Parkinson’s Disease with dementia that revealed itself with a small tremor when he was in his late twenties. Charles had a wife and three daughters who visited regularly, but whom he didn’t often remember. Over four years as a volunteer, my role with the family was to fill in the spaces left by Charles’ periodic inability to project his voice as well as his growing cognitive lapses. I would tell the family of his activities between their visits, and I would remind him of their visits and their news. This was a hard experience for me. I watched as 3 daughters, around my own age, incrementally lost their father. I became angry, and then I grew even more determined.
In the summer of third year of my Health Sciences degree, I was chosen to participate in an undergraduate research fellowship in biomedical research at my university. As part of this experience, I worked alongside graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, physicians, and faculty in Alzheimer’s research into biomarkers that might predict future disease. We collaborated in teams, and by way of the principal investigator’s careful leadership, I learned wherever one falls in terms of rank, each contribution is vital to the outcome. None of the work is in isolation. For instance, I was closely mentored by Will, a graduate student who had been in my role the previous summer. He, in turn, collaborated with post docs and medical students, turning to faculty when roadblocks were met. While one person’s knowledge and skill may be deeper than another’s, individual efforts make up the whole. Working in this team, aside from developing research skills, I realized that practicing medicine is not an individual pursuit, but a collaborative commitment to excellence in scholarship and leadership, which all begins with mentorship.
Building on this experience with teamwork in the lab, I participated in a global health initiative in Nepal for four months, where I worked alongside nurses, doctors, and translators. I worked in mobile rural health camps that offered tuberculosis care, monitored the health and development of babies and children under 5, and tended to minor injuries. We worked 11-hour days helping hundreds of people in the 3 days we spent in each location. Patients would already be in line before we woke each morning. I spent each day recording basic demographic information, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height, as well as random blood sugar levels, for each patient, before they lined up to see a doctor. Each day was exhausting and satisfying. We helped so many people. But this satisfaction was quickly displaced by a developing understanding of issues in health equity.
My desire to be doctor as a young person was not misguided, but simply naïve. I’ve since learned the role of empathy and compassion through my experiences as a patient and volunteer. I’ve broadened my contextual understanding of medicine in the lab and in Nepal. My purpose hasn’t changed, but what has developed is my understanding that to be a physician is to help people live healthy, dignified lives by practicing both medicine and social justice.
28 More Medical School Personal Statement Examples
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As one of the most important medical school requirements , the personal statement tells your story of why you decided to pursue the medical profession. Keep in mind that personal statements are one of the key factors that affect medical school acceptance rates . This is why it's important to write a stellar essay!
So let's help you get started writing your own personal statement. Let's approach this step-by-step. Below you will see how we will outline the steps to creating your very best personal statement. Check out AMCAS personal statement examples, AACOMAS personal statement examples and TMDSAS personal statement examples for more excellent essays.
#1 Understanding the Qualities of a Strong Med School Personal Statement
Before discussing how to write a strong medical school personal statement, we first need to understand the qualities of a strong essay. Similar to crafting strong medical school secondary essays , writing a strong personal statement is a challenging, yet extremely important, part of your MD or MD-PhD programs applications. Your AMCAS Work and Activities section may show the reader what you have done, but the personal statement explains why. A personal statement should be deeply personal, giving the admissions committee insight into your passions and your ultimate decision to pursue a career in medicine. A compelling and introspective personal statement can make the difference between getting an interview and facing medical school rejection . Review our blogs to find out how to prepare for med school interviews and learn the most common medical school interview questions .
As you contemplate the task in front of you, you may be wondering what composing an essay has to do with entering the field of medicine. Many of our students were surprised to learn that medical school personal statements are so valued by med schools. The two things are more closely related than you think. A compelling personal statement demonstrates your written communication skills and highlights your accomplishments, passions, and aspirations. The ability to communicate a complex idea in a short space is an important skill as a physician. You should demonstrate your communication skills by writing a concise and meaningful statement that illustrates your best attributes. Leaving a lasting impression on your reader is what will lead to interview invitations.
A quick note: if you are applying to schools that do not require the formal medical school personal statement, such as medical schools in Canada , you should still learn how to write such essays. Many medical schools in Ontario , for example, ask for short essays for supplementary questionnaires. These are very similar to the personal statement. Knowing how to brainstorm, write, and format your answers is key to your success!!!
You want to give yourself as much time as possible to write your statement. Do not think you can do this in an evening or even in a week. Some statements take months. My best statement took almost a year to get right. Allow yourself time and start early to avoid added stress. Think of the ideas you want to include and brainstorm possible ways to highlight these ideas. Ask your friends for ideas or even brainstorm your ideas with people you trust. Get some feedback early to make sure you are headed in the right direction.
All personal statements for medical school, often start by explaining why medicine is awesome; the admission committee already knows that. You should explain why you want a career in medicine. What is it about the practice of medicine that resonates with who you are? Naturally, this takes a lot of reflection around who you are. Here are some additional questions you can consider as you go about brainstorming for your essay:
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What is something you want them to know about you that isn't in your application?
- Where were you born, how did you grow up, and what type of childhood did you have growing up (perhaps including interesting stories about your siblings, parents, grandparents)?
- What kinds of early exposure to the medical field left an impression on you as a child?
- Did you become familiar with and interested in the field of medicine at an early stage of your life? If so, why?
- What are your key strengths, and how have you developed these?
- What steps did you take to familiarize yourself with the medical profession?
- Did you shadow a physician? Did you volunteer or work in a clinical setting? Did you get involved in medical research?
- What challenges have you faced? Have these made an impact on what you chose to study?
- What are your favorite activities?
- What kinds of extracurriculars for medical school or volunteer work have you done, and how have these shaped who you are, your priorities, and or your perspectives on a career in medicine?
- What was your "Aha!" moment?
- When did your desire to become a doctor solidify?
- How did you make the decision to apply to medical school?
As you begin thinking about what to include in your personal essay, remember that you are writing for a specific audience with specific expectations. Your evaluator will be familiar with the key qualities desired by medical schools, as informed by the standards of the profession. They will be examining your essay through the lens of their particular school's mission, values, and priorities. You should think about your experiences with reference to the AAMC Core Competencies and to each school's mission statement so that you're working toward your narrative with the institution and broader discipline in mind.
Review AAMC Core Competencies : The AAMC Core Competencies are the key characteristics and skills sought by U.S. medical schools. These are separated into four general categories:
Science Competencies : living systems and human behavior. ","label":"Science","title":"Science"}]' code='tab1' template='BlogArticle'>
You are not expected to have mastered all of these competencies at this stage of your education. Display those that are relevant to your experiences will help demonstrate your commitment to the medical profession.
Review the school's mission statement: Educational institutions put a lot of time and care into drafting their school's vision. The mission statement will articulate the overall values and priorities of each university, giving you insight into what they might seek in candidates, and thus what you should try to display in your personal statement. Echoing the values of the university helps illustrate that you are a good fit for their intellectual culture. The mission statement may help you identify other priorities of the university, for example, whether they prioritize research-based or experiential-based education. All this research into your chosen medical schools will help you tremendously not only when you write you personal statement, but also the rest of your medical school application components, including your medical school letter of intent if you ever need to write one later.
Just like the personal statement is, in essence, a prompt without a prompt. They give you free rein to write your own prompt to tell your story. This is often difficult for students as they find it hard to get started without having a true direction. Below is a list of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Use these prompts as a starting point for your essay. Also, they are a great way of addressing why you want to be a doctor without saying something generic.
- The moment your passion for medicine crystallized
- The events that led you toward this path
- Specific instances in which you experienced opportunities
- Challenges that helped shape your worldview
- Your compassion, resilience, or enthusiastic collaboration
- Demonstrate your commitment to others
- Your dependability
- Your leadership skills
- Your ability to problem-solve or to resolve a conflict
These are personal, impactful experiences that only you have had. Focus on the personal, and connect that to the values of your future profession. Do that and you will avoid writing the same essay as everyone else.
Admissions committees don't want your resumé in narrative form. The most boring essays are those of applicants listing their accomplishments. Remember, all that stuff is already in the activities section of the application. This is where you should discuss interesting or important life events that shaped you and your interest in medicine (a service trip to rural Guatemala, a death in the family, a personal experience as a patient). One suggestion is to have an overarching theme to your essay to tie everything together, starting with an anecdote. Alternatively, you can use one big metaphor or analogy through the essay.
Your personal statement must be well-organized, showing a clear, logical progression, as well as connections between ideas. It is generally best to use a chronological progression since this mirrors your progression into a mature adult and gives you the opportunity to illustrate how you learned from early mistakes later on. Carry the theme throughout the statement to achieve continuity and cohesion. Use the theme to links ideas from each paragraph to the next and to unite your piece.
Medical School Personal Statement Structure
When working toward the initial draft of your essay, it is important to keep the following in mind: The essay should read like a chronological narrative and have good structure and flow. Just like any academic essay, it will need an introduction, body content, and a conclusion. If you're wondering whether a medical school advisor can help you with your medical school application, check out our blog for the answer.
Check out our video to learn how to create a killer introduction to your medical school personal statement:
The introductory paragraph and, even more importantly, the introductory sentence of your essay, will most certainly make or break your overall statement. Ensure that you have a creative and captivating opening sentence that draws the reader in. This is your first and only chance to make a first impression and really capture the attention of the committee. Starting with an event or an Aha! moment that inspired your decision to pursue a medical profession is one way to grab their attention. The kinds of things that inspire or motivate you can say a lot about who you are as a person.
The broader introductory paragraph itself should serve several functions. First, it must draw your reader in with an eye-catching first line and an engaging hook or anecdote. It should point toward the qualities that most effectively demonstrate your desire and suitability for becoming a physician (you will discuss these qualities further in the body paragraphs). The thesis of the introduction is that you have certain skills, experiences, and characteristics and that these skills, experiences, and characteristics will lead you to thrive in the field of medicine. Finally, it must also serve as a roadmap to the reader, allowing them to understand where the remainder of the story is headed.
That is a lot of work for a single paragraph to do. To better help you envision what this looks like in practice, here is a sample introduction that hits these main points.
I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional chef. This was not just another far-fetched idealistic childhood dream that many of us had growing up. There was a sense of certainty about this dream that motivated me to devote countless hours to its practice. It was mostly the wonder that it brought to others and the way they were left in awe after they tried a dish that I recall enjoying the most creating as a young chef. But, when I was 13, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and I realized that sometimes cooking is not enough, as I quickly learned about the vital role physicians play in the life of everyday people like my family and myself. Although my grandfather ended up passing away from his illness, the impact that the healthcare team had on him, my family, and I will always serve as the initial starting point of my fascination with the medical profession. Since that time, I have spent years learning more about the human sciences through my undergraduate studies and research, have developed a deeper understanding of the demands and challenges of the medical profession through my various volunteer and extra-curricular experiences, and although it has been difficult along the way, I have continued to forge a more intimate fascination with the medical field that has motivated me to apply to medical school at this juncture of my life. ","label":"Sample Introduction","title":"Sample Introduction"}]' code='tab3' template='BlogArticle'>
In the body of your essay, you essentially want to elaborate on the ideas that you have introduced in your opening paragraph by drawing on your personal experiences to provide evidence. Major points from the above sample introduction could be: dedication and resilience (practicing cooking for hours, and devoting years to undergraduate studies in human sciences), passion and emotional connection (being able to create something that inspired awe in others, and personally connecting with the work of the grandfather's healthcare team), motivation and drive (being inspired by the role physicians play in their patients' lives, participating in volunteer work and extracurriculars, and an enduring fascination with the field of medicine). Depending on the details, a selection of volunteer and extra-curricular experiences might also be discussed in more detail, in order to emphasize other traits like collaboration, teamwork, perseverance, or a sense of social responsibility – all key characteristics sought by medical schools. Just like an academic essay, you will devote one paragraph to each major point, explaining this in detail, supporting your claims with experiences from your life, and reflecting on the meaning of each plot point in your personal narrative, with reference to why you want to pursue a medical career.
Your final statement should not be a simple summary of the things you have discussed. It should be insightful, captivating, and leave the reader with a lasting impression. Although you want to re-emphasize the major ideas of your essay, you should try to be creative and captivating, much like your opening paragraph. Sometimes if you can link your opening idea to your last paragraph it will really tie the whole essay together. The conclusion is just as important as the introduction. It is your last chance to express your medical aspirations. You want to impress the reader while also leaving them wanting more. In this case, more would mean getting an interview so they can learn more about who you are! Leave them thinking I have got to meet this person.
The narrative you construct should display some of your most tightly held values, principles, or ethical positions, along with key accomplishments and activities. If you see yourself as someone who is committed to community service, and you have a track record of such service, your story should feature this and provide insight into why you care about your community and what you learned from your experiences. Saying that you value community service when you've never volunteered a day in your life is pointless. Stating that your family is one where we support each other through challenge and loss (if this is indeed true), is excellent because it lays the groundwork for telling a story while showing that you are orientated towards close relationships. You would then go on to offer a brief anecdote that supports this. You are showing how you live such principles, rather than just telling your reader that you have such principles.
A lot of students make the mistake of verbalizing their personal attributes with a bunch of adjectives, such as, "This experience taught me to be a self-reliant leader, with excellent communication skills, and empathy for others..." In reality, this does nothing to convey these qualities. It's a mistake to simply list your skills or characteristics without showing the reader an example of a time you used them to solve a problem. If you simply list your skills or characteristics (telling), without demonstrating the ways you have applied them (showing), you risk coming across as arrogant. The person reading the essay may not believe you, as you've not really given them a way to see such values in your actions. It is better to construct a narrative to show the reader that you possess the traits that medical schools are looking for, rather than explicitly stating that you are an empathetic individual or capable of deep self-reflection. Instead of listing adjectives, tell your personal story and allow the admissions committee to paint the picture for themselves. This step is very challenging for many students, but it's one of the most important strategies used in successful essays. Writing this way will absolutely make your statement stand out from the rest.
While it may be tempting to write in a high academic tone, using terminology or jargon that is often complex or discipline-specific, requiring a specialized vocabulary for comprehension. You should actually aim to write for a non-specialist audience. Remember, in the world of medicine, describing a complex, clinical condition to a patient requires using specific but clear words. This is why your personal statement should show that you can do the same thing. Using large words in unwieldy ways makes you sound like you are compensating for poor communication skills. Use words that you believe most people understand. Read your personal statement back to a 14-year-old, and then again to someone for whom English is not their first language, to see if you're on the right path.
Ultimately, fancy words do not make you a good communicator; listening and ensuring reader comprehension makes you a good communicator. Instead of using complex terminology to tell the admissions committee that you have strong communication skills, show them your communication skills through clear, accessible prose, written with non-specialists in mind. A common refrain among writing instructors is, never use a $10 word where a $2 word will suffice. If you can say it in plain, accessible language, then this is what you should do.
Professionalism may seem like a difficult quality to display when only composing a personal statement. After all, the reader can't see your mannerisms, your personal style, or any of those little qualities that allow someone to appear professional. Professionalism is about respect for the experience of others on your team or in your workplace. It is displayed when you are able to step back from your own individual position and think about what is best for your colleagues and peers, considering their needs alongside your own. If a story is relevant to why you want to be a physician and demonstrates an example of how you were professional in a workplace setting, then it is appropriate to include in your essay.
One easy way to destroy a sense of professionalism is to act in a judgmental way towards others, particularly if you perceived and ultimately resolved an error on someone else's part. Sometimes students blame another medical professional for something that went wrong with a patient.
They might say something to the effect of, "The nurse kept brushing off the patient's concerns, refusing to ask the attending to increase her pain medications. Luckily, being the empathetic individual that I am, I took the time to listen to sit with the patient, eventually bringing her concerns to the attending physician, who thanked me for letting him know."
There are a couple of things wrong with this example. It seems like this person is putting down someone else in an attempt to make themselves look better. They come across as un-empathetic and judgmental of the nurse. Maybe she was having a busy day, or maybe the attending had just seen the patient for this issue and the patient didn't really need re-assessment. Reading this kind of account in a personal statement makes the reader question the maturity of the applicant and their ability to move past blaming others and resolve problems in a meaningful way. Instead of allocating blame, identify what the problem was for the patient and then focus on what you did to resolve it and reflect on what you learned from the whole experience.
One last note on professionalism: Being professional does not mean being overly stoic, hiding your emotions, or cultivating a bland personality. A lot of students are afraid to talk about how a situation made them feel in their personal statement. They worry that discussing feelings is inappropriate and will appear unprofessional. Unfortunately for these students, emotional intelligence is hugely important to the practice of medicine. In order to be a good doctor, one must be aware of their own emotions as well as those of their patients. Good doctors are able to quickly identify their own emotions and understand how their emotional reactions may inform their actions, and the ability to deliver appropriate care, in a given situation. Someone who is incapable of identifying their emotions is also incapable of managing them effectively and will likely struggle to identify the emotions of others. So, when writing your personal statement, think about how each experience made you feel, and what you learned from those feelings and that experience.
How to Write About Discrepancies and Common Mistakes to Avoid
Part of your essay's body can include a discussion of any discrepancies or gaps in your education, or disruptions in your academic performance. If you had to take time off, or if you had a term or course with low grades, or if you had any other extenuating circumstances that impacted your education, you can take time to address these here. It is very important to address these strategically. Do not approach this section as space to plead your case. Offer a brief summary of the situation, and then emphasize what you learned from such hardships. Always focus on the positive, illustrating how such difficulties made you stronger, more resilient, or more compassionate. Connect your experiences to the qualities desired by medical schools.
Emphasize your ability to persevere through it all but do so in a positive way. Most of all, if you feel like you have to explain yourself, take accountability for the situation. State that it is unfortunate and then redirect it to what you learned and how it will make you a better doctor. Always focus on being positive and do not lament on the negative situation too much.
Additional Mistakes to Avoid in Personal Statements:
Check out this video on the top 5 errors to avoid in your personal statement!
Step 3: Writing Your First Draft
As you can see, there is a LOT of planning and consideration to be done before actually starting your first draft. Properly brainstorming, outlining, and considering the content and style of your essay prior to beginning the essay will make the writing process much smoother than it would be you to try to jump right to the draft-writing stage. Now, you're not just staring at a blank page wondering what you could possibly write to impress the admissions committee. Instead, you've researched what the school desires from its students and what the medical profession prioritizes in terms of personal characteristics, you've sketched out some key moments from your life that exemplify those traits, and you have a detailed outline that just needs filling in.
As you're getting started, focus on getting content on the page, filling in your outline and getting your ideas arranged on the page. Your essay will go through multiple drafts and re-writes, so the first step is to free write and start articulating connections between your experiences and the characteristics you're highlighting. You can worry about flow, transitions, and perfect grammar in later drafts. The first draft is always a working draft, written with the understanding that its purpose is to act as a starting point, not an ending point. Once you've completed a draft, you can begin the revising process. The next section will break down what to do once you have your first draft completed.
You can also begin looking at things like style, voice, transitions, and overall theme. The best way to do this is to read your essay aloud. This may sound strange, but it is one of the single most impactful bits of writing advice a student can receive. When we're reading in our heads (and particularly when we're reading our own words), it is easy to skip over parts that may be awkwardly worded, or where the grammar is off. As our brains process information differently, depending on whether we're taking in visual or auditory information, this can also help you understand where the connections between ideas aren't as evident as you would like. Reading the essay aloud will help you begin internalizing the narrative you've crafted, so that you can come to more easily express this both formally in writing and informally in conversation (for example, in an interview).
#1 Did You Distinguish Yourself From Others?
Does your narrative sound unique? Is it different than your peers or did you write in a generic manner? Use your narrative to provide a compelling picture of who you are as a person, as a learner, as an advocate, and as a future medical professional. What can you offer? Remember, you will be getting a lot out of your med school experience, but the school will be getting a lot out of you, as well. You will be contributing your research efforts to your department, you will be participating in the academic community, and as you go on to become a successful medical professional you will impact the perception of your school's prestige. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, so use this opportunity to highlight what you bring to the table, and what you will contribute as a student at their institution. Let them know what it is about you that is an attribute to their program. Make them see you as a stand out from the crowd.
#2 Does My Essay Flow and is it Comprehensible?
Personal statements are a blessing and a curse for admission committees. They give them a better glimpse of who the applicant is than simple scores. Also, they are long and time-consuming to read. And often, they sound exactly alike. On occasion, a personal statement really makes an applicant shine. After reading page after page of redundant, cookie-cutter essays, an essay comes along with fluid prose and a compelling narrative, the reader snaps out of that feeling of monotony and gladly extends their enthusiastic attention.
Frankly, if the statement is pleasant to read, it will get read with more attention and appreciation. Flow is easier to craft through narrative, which is why you should root the statement in a story that demonstrates characteristics desirable to medical schools. Fluidity takes time to build, though, so your statement should be etched out through many drafts and should also be based on an outline. You need to brainstorm, then outline, then draft and re-draft, and then bring in editors and listeners for feedback (Note: You need someone to proofread your work. Bestselling authors have editors. Top scholars have editors. I need an editor. You need an editor. Everyone needs an editor). Then, check and double-check and fix anything that needs fixing. Then check again. Then submit. You want this to be a statement that captures the reader's interest by creating a fluid, comprehensible piece that leads the reader to not only read each paragraph but want to continue to the next sentence.
#3 Did You Check Your Grammar?
If you give yourself more than one night to write your statement, the chances of grammatical errors will decrease considerably. If you are pressed for time, upload your file into an online grammar website. Use the grammar checker on your word processor, but know that this, in itself, isn't enough. Use the eyes and ears of other people to check and double-check your grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Read your statement out loud to yourself and you will almost certainly find an error (and likely several errors). Use fresh eyes to review the statement several times before you actually submit it, by walking away from it for a day or so and then re-reading it. Start your essay early, so that you actually have time to do this. This step can make or break your essay. Do not waste all the effort you have put into writing, to only be discarded by the committee for using incorrect grammar and syntax.
#4 Did You Gather Feedback From Other People?
The most important tip in writing a strong application essay is this getting someone else to read your work. While the tips above are all very useful for writing a strong draft, nothing will benefit you more than getting an outside appraisal of your work. For example, it's very easy to overlook your own spelling or grammatical errors. You know your own story and you may think that your narrative and it's meaning make sense to your reader. You won't know that for sure without having someone else actually read it. This may sound obvious, but it's still an absolute necessity. Have someone you trust to read the essay and ask them what they thought of it. What was their impression of you after reading it? Did it make sense? Was it confusing? Do they have any questions? What was the tone of the essay? Do they see the connections you're trying to make? What were their takeaways from your essay, and do these align with your intended takeaways for your reader? Ideally, this person should have some knowledge of the application process or the medical profession, so that they can say whether you were successful in demonstrating that you are a suitable candidate for medical school. However, any external reader is better than no external reader at all.
Avoid having people too close to you read your work. They may refrain from being too critical in an effort to spare your feelings. This is the time to get brutal, honest feedback. If you know someone who is an editor but do not feel that they can be objective, try and find someone else.
Would you like 8 medical school personal statement tips? Check out our video below:
FAQs and Final Notes
Your personal statement should tell your story and highlight specific experiences or aspects of your journey that have led you to medicine. If your first exposure or interest in the medical field was sparked from your own medical struggles, then you can certainly include this in your statement. What is most important is that you write about what factors or experiences attributed to you deciding that medicine is the right career path for you.
Sometimes students shy away from including their own personal struggles and describing how they felt during difficult times but this is a great way for admissions committees to gain perspective into who you are as a person and where your motivations lie. Remember, this is your story, not someone else's, so your statement should revolve around you. If you choose to discuss a personal hardship, what's most important is that you don't cast yourself as the victim and that you discuss what the experience taught you. Also, medical schools are not allowed to discriminate against students for discussing medical issues, so it is not looked at as a red flag unless you are talking about an issue inappropriately. For example, making yourself appear as the victim or not taking responsibility.
All US medical schools require the completion of a personal statement with your AMCAS, TMDSAS or AACOMAS applications.
Medical schools in Canada on the other hand, do not require or accept personal statements. In lieu of the personal statement, a few of these schools may require you to address a prompt in the form of an essay, or allow you to submit an explanation essay to describe any extenuating circumstances, but this is not the same as the US personal statement. For example, when applying through OMSAS , the University of Toronto medical school requires applicants to complete four short, 250 words or less, personal essays.
Many students struggle with whether or not they should address an unfavorable grade in their personal statement. What one student does isn't necessarily the right decision for you.
To help you decide, think about whether or not that bad grade might reflect on your poorly. If you think it will, then it's best to address the academic misstep head-on instead of having admissions committees dwell on possible areas of concern. If you're addressing a poor evaluation, ensure that you take responsibility for your grade, discuss what you learned and how your performance will be improved in the future - then move on. It's important that you don't play the victim and you must always reflect on what lessons you've learned moving forward.
Of course not, just because you didn't wake up one morning and notice a lightbulb flashing the words medicine, doesn't mean that your experiences and journey to medicine are inferior to those who did. Students arrive to medicine in all sorts of ways, some change career paths later in life, some always knew they wanted to pursue medicine, and others slowly became interested in medicine through their life interactions and experiences. Your personal statement should address your own unique story to how you first became interested in medicine and when and how that interest turned to a concrete desire.
While your entire statement is important, the opening sentence can often make or break your statement. This is because admission committee members are reviewing hundreds, if not thousands of personal statements. If your opening sentence is not eye-catching, interesting, and memorable, you risk your statement blending in with the large pile of other statements. Have a look at our video above for tips and strategies for creating a fantastic opening sentence.
Having your statement reviewed by family and friends can be a good place to start, but unfortunately, it's near-impossible for them to provide you with unbiased feedback. Often, friends and family members are going to support us and rave about our achievements. Even if they may truly think your statement needs work, they may feel uncomfortable giving you their honest feedback at the risk of hurting your feelings.
In addition, family and friends don't know exactly what admission committee members are looking for in a personal statement, nor do they have years of experience reviewing personal statements and helping students put the best version of themselves forward. For these reasons, many students choose to seek the help of a professional medical school advisor to make sure they have the absolute best chances of acceptance to medical school the first time around.
If you have enough time set aside to write your statement without juggling multiple other commitments, it normally takes at least four weeks to write your statement. If you are working, in school, or volunteering and have other commitments, be prepared to spend 6-8 weeks.
Your conclusion should have a summary of the main points you have made in your essay, but it should not just be a summary. You should also end with something that makes the reader want to learn more about you (i.e. call you for an interview). A good way to do this is to include a call-back to your opening anecdote: how have you grown or matured since then? How are you more prepared now to begin medical school?
The goal is to show as many of them as you can in the WHOLE application: this includes your personal statement, sketch, reference letters, secondary essays, and even your GPA and MCAT (which show critical thinking and reasoning already). So, it’s not an issue to focus on only a few select experiences and competencies in the personal statement.
Yes, you can. However, if you used an experience as a most meaningful entry, pick something else to talk about in your essay. Remember, you want to highlight as many core competencies across your whole application). Or, if you do pick the same experience: pick a different specific encounter or project with a different lesson learned.
Once your essay is in good shape, it's best to submit to ensure your application is reviewed as soon as possible. Remember, with rolling admissions, as more time passes before you submit your application, your chances of acceptance decreases. Nerves are normal and wanting to tinker is also normal, but over-analyzing and constant adjustments can actually weaken your essay.
So, if you're thinking about making more changes, it's important to really reflect and think about WHY you want to change something and if it will actually make the essay stronger. If not your changes won't actually make the essay stronger or if it's a very minor change you're thinking of making, then you should likely leave it as is.
The reality is, medical school admission is an extremely competitive process. In order to have the best chance of success, every part of your application must be stellar. Also, every year some students get in whose GPAs or MCAT scores are below the median. How? Simply because they must have stood out in other parts of the application, such as the personal statement.
The ones that honestly made the most impact on you. You'll need to reflect on your whole life and think about which experiences helped you grow and pushed you to pursue medicine. Ideally, experiences that show commitment and progression are better than one-off or short-term activities, as they usually contribute more to growth.
This Ultimate Guide has demonstrated all the work that needs to be done to compose a successful, engaging personal statement for your medical school application. While it would be wonderful if there was an easy way to write your personal statement in a day, the reality is that this kind of composition takes a lot of work. As daunting as this may seem, this guide lays out a clear path. In summary, the following 5 steps are the basis of what you should take away from this guide. These 5 steps are your guide and sort of cheat sheet to writing your best personal statement.
5 Main Takeaways For Personal Statement Writing:
- Content and Theme
- Multiple Drafts
- Revision With Attention to Grammar
While a strong personal statement alone will not guarantee admission to medical school, it could absolutely squeeze you onto a medical school waitlist , off the waitlist, and onto the offer list, or give someone on the admissions committee a reason to go to battle for your candidacy. Use this as an opportunity to highlight the incredible skills you've worked and studied to refine, the remarkable life experiences you've had, and the key qualities you possess in your own unique way. Show the admissions committee that you are someone they want to meet. Remember, in this context, wanting to meet you means wanting to bring you in for an interview!
Dr. Lauren Prufer is an admissions expert at BeMo. Dr. Prufer is also a medical resident at McMaster University. Her medical degree is from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. During her time in medical school, she developed a passion for sharing her knowledge with others through medical writing, research, and peer mentoring.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
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Don't underestimate the power of the medical school personal statement to make a strong, positive impression on an admissions committee. Combined with your interview performance, your personal statement can account for 60% (or more) of your total admissions score!
Medical schools want to enroll bright, empathetic, communicative people. Here's how to write a compelling med school personal statement that shows schools who you are and what you're capable of.
Personal Statement Topics
Your medical school personal statement is a component of your primary application submitted via, TMDSAS (for Texas applications), or AACOMAS (NB: If you are applying to medical school in Canada, confirm the application process with your school, as not all application components may be submitted through AMCAS).
These applications offer broad topics to consider, and many essay approaches are acceptable. For example, you could write about:
- an experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine
- a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual
- a challenging personal experience
- unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits
- your motivation to seek a career in medicine
You'll write an additional essay (or two) when you submit secondary applications to individual schools. These essays require you to respond to a specific question. Admissions committees will review your entire application, so choose subject matter that complements your original essay .
Read More: Strategies for Secondary Applications
How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School
Follow these personal statement tips to help the admissions committee better understand you as a candidate.
1. Write, re-write, let it sit, and write again!
Allow yourself 6 months of writing and revision to get your essay in submission-ready shape. This gives you the time to take your first pass, set your draft aside (for a minimum of 24 hours), review what you’ve written, and re-work your draft.
2. Stay focused.
Your personal statement should highlight interesting aspects of your journey—not tell your entire life story. Choose a theme, stick to it, and support it with specific examples.
3. Back off the cliches.
Loving science and wanting to help people might be your sincere passions, but they are also what everyone else is writing about. Instead, be personal and specific.
4. Find your unique angle.
What can you say about yourself that no one else can? Remember, everyone has trials, successes and failures. What's important and unique is how you reacted to those incidents. Bring your own voice and perspective to your personal statement to give it a truly memorable flavor.
5. Be interesting.
Start with a “catch” that will create intrigue before launching into the story of who you are. Make the admissions committee want to read on!
6. Show don't tell.
Instead of telling the admissions committee about your unique qualities (like compassion, empathy, and organization), show them through the stories you tell about yourself. Don’t just say it—actually prove it.
7. Embrace the 5-point essay format.
Here's a trusty format that you can make your own:
- 1st paragraph: These four or five sentences should "catch" the reader's attention.
- 3-4 body paragraphs: Use these paragraphs to reveal who you are. Ideally, one of these paragraphs will reflect clinical understanding and one will reflect service.
- Concluding paragraph: The strongest conclusion reflects the beginning of your essay, gives a brief summary of you are, and ends with a challenge for the future.
8. Good writing is simple writing.
Good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language. Your essays should not be a struggle to comprehend.
9. Be thoughtful about transitions.
Be sure to vary your sentence structure. You don’t want your essay to be boring! Pay attention to how your paragraphs connect to each other.
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10. Stick to the rules.
Watch your word count. That’s 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS applications, 5,000 characters for TMDSAS, and 4,500 characters for AACOMAS.
11. Stay on topic.
Rambling not only uses up your precious character limit, but it also causes confusion! Think about the three to five “sound bytes” you want admissions committee to know and remember you by.
12. Don't overdo it.
Beware of being too self-congratulatory or too self-deprecating.
13. Seek multiple opinions.
Before you hit “submit,” ask several people you trust for feedback on your personal statement. The more time you have spent writing your statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. A professor or friend whose judgment and writing skills you trust is invaluable.
Read More: 12 Smart Tips for Your AMCAS Application
14. Double-check the details.
Always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. This goes for the rest of your application (like your activities list), too. A common oversight is referencing the wrong school in your statement! Give yourself (and your proofreaders) the time this task truly requires.
15. Consult the experts about your personal statement strategy.
Our med school admissions counselors can diagnose the “health” of your overall application, including your personal statement. Get expert help and guidance to write an effective personal statement that showcases not only your accomplishments, but your passion and your journey.
Want to get an edge over the crowd?
Our admissions experts know what it takes it get into med school. Get the customized strategy and guidance you need to help achieve your goals.
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2 Med School Essays That Admissions Officers Loved
Here are tips on writing a medical school personal statement and examples of essays that stood out.
2 Great Med School Personal Statements
A compelling medical school admissions essay can address nearly any topic the applicant is interested in, as long as it conveys the applicant's personality. (Getty Images)
A personal statement is often a pivotal factor in medical school admissions decisions.
"The essay really can cause me to look more deeply at the entire application," Dr. Stephen Nicholas, former senior associate dean of admissions with the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons , told U.S. News in 2017. "So I do think it's pretty important."
A compelling medical school admissions essay can address nearly any topic the applicant is interested in, as long as it conveys the applicant's personality, according to Dr. Barbara Kazmierczak, director of the M.D.-Ph.D. Program and a professor of medicine and microbial pathogenesis with the Yale School of Medicine.
“The passion that the writer is bringing to this topic tells us about the individual rather than the topic that they’re describing, and the essay is the place for us to learn about the applicant – who they are and what experiences have brought them to this point of applying to medical school,” she told U.S. News in 2017.
Rachel Rudeen, former admissions coordinator for the University of Minnesota Medical School , says personal statements help medical schools determine whether applicants have the character necessary to excel as a doctor. "Grit is something we really look for," she says.
Evidence of humility and empathy , Rudeen adds, are also pluses.
Why Medical Schools Care About Personal Statements
The purpose of a personal statement is to report the events that inspired and prepared a premed to apply to medical school, admissions experts say. This personal essay helps admissions officers figure out whether a premed is ready for med school, and it also clarifies whether a premed has a compelling rationale for attending med school, these experts explain.
When written well, a medical school personal statement conveys a student's commitment to medicine and injects humanity into an admissions process that might otherwise feel cold and impersonal, according to admissions experts.
Glen Fogerty, associate dean of admissions and recruitment with the medical school at the University of Arizona—Phoenix , put it this way in an email: "To me, the strongest personal statements are the ones that share a personal connection. One where a candidate shares a specific moment, the spark that ignited their passion to become a physician or reaffirmed why they chose medicine as a career."
Dr. Viveta Lobo, an emergency medicine physician with the Stanford University School of Medicine in California who often mentors premeds, says the key thing to know about a personal statement is that it must indeed be personal, so it needs to reveal something meaningful. The essay should not be a dry piece of writing; it should make the reader feel for the author, says Lobo, director of academic conferences and continuing medical education with the emergency medicine department at Stanford.
A great personal statement has an emotional impact and "will 'do' something, not just 'say' something," Lobo wrote in an email. Admissions officers "read hundreds of essays – so before you begin, think of how yours will stand out, be unique and different," Lobo suggests.
How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School
Lobo notes that an outstanding personal statement typically includes all of the following ingredients:
- An intriguing introduction that gets admissions officers' attention.
- Anecdotes that illustrate what kind of person the applicant is.
- Reflections about the meaning and impact of various life experiences .
- A convincing narrative about why medical school is the logical next step.
- A satisfying and optimistic conclusion.
"You should sound excited, and that passion should come through in your writing," Lobo explains.
A personal statement should tie together an applicant's past, present and future by explaining how previous experiences have led to this point and outlining long-term plans to contribute to the medical profession, Lobo said during a phone interview. Medical school admissions officers want to understand not only where an applicant has been but also the direction he or she is going, Lobo added.
When premeds articulate a vision of how they might assist others and improve society through the practice of medicine, it suggests that they aren't self-serving or simply interested in the field because of its prestige, Lobo says. It's ideal when premeds can eloquently describe a noble mission, she explains.
Elisabeth Fassas, author of "Making Pre-Med Count: Everything I Wish I'd Known Before Applying (Successfully) to Medical School," says premeds should think about the doctors they admire and reflect on why they admire them. Fassas, a first-year medical student at the University of Maryland , suggests pondering the following questions:
- "Why can you really only see yourself being a physician?"
- "What is it about being a doctor that has turned you on to this field?"
- "What kind of doctor do you imagine yourself being?"
- "Who do you want to be for your patients?"
- "What are you going to do specifically for your patients that only you can do?"
Fassas notes that many of the possible essay topics a med school hopeful can choose are subjects that other premeds can also discuss, such as a love of science. However, aspiring doctors can make their personal statements unique by articulating the lessons they learned from their life experiences, she suggests.
Prospective medical students need to clarify why medicine is a more suitable calling for them than other caring professions, health care fields and science careers, Fassas notes. They should demonstrate awareness of the challenges inherent in medicine and explain why they want to become doctors despite those difficulties, she says.
Tips on Crafting an Excellent Medical School Personal Statement
The first step toward creating an outstanding personal statement, Fassas says, is to create a list of significant memories. Premeds should think about which moments in their lives mattered the most and then identify the two or three stories that are definitely worth sharing.
Dr. Demicha Rankin, associate dean for admissions at the Ohio State University College of Medicine , notes that a personal statement should offer a compelling portrait of a person and should not be "a regurgitation of their CV."
The most outstanding personal statements are the ones that present a multifaceted perspective of the applicant by presenting various aspects of his or her identity, says Rankin, an associate professor of anesthesiology.
For example, a premed who was a swimmer might explain how the discipline necessary for swimming is analogous to the work ethic required to become a physician, Rankin says. Likewise, a pianist or another type of musician applying to medical school could convey how the listening skills and instrument-tuning techniques cultivated in music could be applicable in medicine, she adds.
Rankin notes that it's apparent when a premed has taken a meticulous approach to his or her personal statement to ensure that it flows nicely, and she says a fine essay is akin to a "well-woven fabric." One sign that a personal statement has been polished is when a theme that was explored at the beginning of the essay is also mentioned at the end, Rankin says, explaining that symmetry between an essay's introduction and conclusion makes the essay seem complete.
Rankin notes that the author of an essay might not see flaws in his or her writing that are obvious to others, so it's important for premeds to show their personal statement to trusted advisers and get honest feedback. That's one reason it's important to begin the writing process early enough to give yourself sufficient time to organize your thoughts, Rankin says, adding that a minimum of four weeks is typically necessary.
Mistakes to Avoid in a Medical School Personal Statement
One thing premeds should never do in an admissions essay is beg, experts say. Rankin says requests of any type – including a plea for an admissions interview – do not belong in a personal statement. Another pitfall to avoid, Rankin says, is ranting about controversial political subjects such as the death penalty or abortion.
If premeds fail to closely proofread their personal statement, the essay could end up being submitted with careless errors such as misspellings and grammar mistakes that could easily have been fixed, according to experts. Crafting a compelling personal statement typically necessitates multiple revisions, so premeds who skimp on revising might wind up with sloppy essays, some experts say.
However, when fine-tuning their personal statements, premeds should not automatically change their essays based on what others say, Fogerty warns.
"A common mistake on personal statements is having too many people review your statement, they make recommendations, you accept all of the changes and then – in the end – the statement is no longer your voice," Fogerty wrote in an email. It's essential that a personal statement sound like the applicant and represent who he or she is as a person, Fogerty says.
Dr. Nicholas Jones, a Georgia-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, says the worst error that someone can make in the personal statement is to be inauthentic or deceptive.
"Do not lie. Do not fabricate," he warns.
Jones adds that premeds should not include a story in their personal statement that they are not comfortable discussing in-depth during a med school admissions interview . "If it's something too personal or you're very emotional and you don't want to talk about that, then don't put it in a statement."
Medical School Personal Statement Examples
Here are two medical school admissions essays that made a strong, positive impression on admissions officers. The first is from Columbia and the second is from the University of Minnesota. These personal statements are annotated with comments from admissions officers explaining what made these essays stand out.
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Great Medical School Personal Statement Examples (2024) Insider’s Guide
A physician and former medical school admissions officer teaches you how to write your medical school personal statement, step by step. Read several full-length medical school personal statement examples for inspiration.
In this article, a former medical school admissions officer explains exactly how to write a stand-out medical school personal statement!
Our goal is to empower you to write a medical school personal statement that reflects your individuality, truest aspirations and genuine motivations.
This guide also includes:
- Real life medical school personal statement examples
- Medical school personal statement inventory template and outline exercise
- AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS personal statement prompts
- Advanced strategies to ensure you address everything admissions committees want to know
- The secret to writing a great medical school personal statement
So, if you want your medical school personal statement to earn you more more medical school interviews, you will love this informative guide.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
Medical School Personal Statement Fundamentals
If you are getting ready to write your medical school personal statement for the 2024-2025 application year, you may already know that almost 60% of medical school applicants are not accepted every year . You have most likely also completed all of your medical school requirements and have scoured the internet for worthy medical school personal statement examples and guidance.
You know the medical school personal statement offers a crucial opportunity to show medical schools who you are beyond your GPA and MCAT score .
It provides an opportunity to express who you are as an individual, the major influences and background that have shaped your interests and values, what inspired you to pursue medicine, and what kind of a physician you envision yourself becoming.
However, with so much information online, you are not sure who to trust. We are happy you have found us!
Because the vast majority of people offering guidance are not former admissions officers or doctors , you must be careful when searching online. Since we are real medical school admissions insiders, we know what goes on behind closed doors and how to ensure your medical school personal statement has broad appeal while highlighting your most crucial accomplishments, perspectives, and insights.
With tight limits on space, it can be tough trying to decide what to include in your medical school personal statement to make sure you stand out. You must think strategically about how you want to present your personal “big picture” while showing you possess the preprofessional competencies med schools are seeking.
When a medical school admissions reviewer finishes reading your medical school personal statement, ask yourself:
- What are the most important things you want that person to remember about you?
- Does your medical school personal statement sum up your personality, interests, and talents?
- Does your medical school personal statement sound as if it’s written from the heart?
It’s pretty obvious to most admissions reviewers when applicants are trying too hard to impress them. Being authentic and upfront about who you are is the best way to be a memorable applicant.
The Biggest Medical School Personal Statement Mistakes
The most common medical school personal statement mistake we see students make is that they write about:
- What they have accomplished
- How they have accomplished it
By including details on what you have accomplished and how, you will make yourself sound like every other medical school applicant.
Most medical school applicants are involved in similar activities: research, clinical work, service, and social justice work.
To stand out, you must write from the heart making it clear you haven’t marched through your premedical years and checking boxes.
The Medical School Personal Statement Secret
MedEdits students stand out in the medical school personal statement because in their personal statements they address:
WHY they have accomplished what they have.
In other words, they write in more detail about their passions, interests, and what is genuinely important to them.
It sounds simple, we know, but by writing in a natural way, really zeroing in on WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO, you will appeal to a wide variety of people in a humanistic way.
MedEdits students have done extremely well in the most recent medical school admissions cycle. Many of these applicants have below average “stats” for the medical schools from which they are receiving interviews and acceptances.
Why? How is that possible? They all have a few things in common:
- They write a narrative that is authentic and distinctive to them.
- They write a medical school personal statement with broad appeal (many different types of people will be evaluating your application; most will not be physicians).
- They don’t try too hard to impress; instead they write about the most impactful experiences they have had on their path to medical school.
- They demonstrate they are humble, intellectual, compassionate, and committed to a career in medicine all at the same time.
Keep reading for a step by step approach to write your medical school personal statement.
“After sitting on a medical school admissions committee for many years, I can tell you, think strategically about how you want to present your personal “big picture.” We want to know who you are as a human being.”
As physicians, former medical school faculty, and medical school admissions committee members, this article will offer a step by step guide to simplify the medical school personal statement brainstorming and writing process.
By following the proven strategies outlined in this article, you will be and to write a personal statement that will earn you more medical school interviews . This proven approach has helped hundreds of medical school applicants get in to medical school the first time they apply!
Learn the 2023 Medical School Personal Statement Prompts ( AMCAS , TMDSAS , AACOMAS )
The personal statement is the major essay portion of your primary application process. In it, you should describe yourself and your background, as well as any important early exposures to medicine, how and why medicine first piqued your interest, what you have done as a pre med, your personal experiences, and how you became increasingly fascinated with it. It’s also key to explain why medicine is the right career for you, in terms of both personal and intellectual fulfillment, and to show your commitment has continued to deepen as you learned more about the field.
The personal statement also offers you the opportunity to express who you are outside of medicine. What are your other interests? Where did you grow up? What did you enjoy about college? Figuring out what aspects of your background to highlight is important since this is one of your only chances to express to the med school admissions committee before your interview what is important to you and why.
However, it is important to consider the actual personal statement prompt for each system through which you will apply, AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS, since each is slightly different.
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2023 AMCAS Personal Statement Prompt
The AMCAS personal statement instructions are as follows:
Use the Personal Comments Essay as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Consider and write your Personal Comments Essay carefully; many admissions committees place significant weight on the essay. Here are some questions that you may want to consider while writing the essay:
- Why have you selected the field of medicine?
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What do you want medical schools to know about you that hasn’t been disclosed in other sections of the application?
In addition, you may wish to include information such as:
- Unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits
- Comments on significant fluctuations in your academic record that are not explained elsewhere in your application
As you can see, these prompts are not vague; there are fundamental questions that admissions committees want you to answer when writing your personal statement. While the content of your statement should be focused on medicine, answering the open ended third question is a bit trickier.
The AMCAS personal statement length is 5,300 characters with spaces maximum.
2023 TMDSAS Personal Statement Prompt
The TMDSAS personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your medical school application.
The TMDSAS personal statement prompt is as follows:
Explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. Be sure to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician.
This TMDSAS prompt is very similar to the AMCAS personal statement prompt. The TMDSAS personal statement length is 5,000 characters with spaces whereas the AMCAS personal statement length is 5,300 characters with spaces. Most students use the same essay (with very minor modifications, if necessary) for both application systems.
You’ve been working hard on your med school application, reading medical school personal statement examples, editing, revising, editing and revising. Make sure you know where you’re sending your personal statement and application. Watch this important medical school admissions statistics video.
2023 AACOMAS Personal Statement Prompt
The AACOMAS personal statement is for osteopathic medical schools specifically. As with the AMCAS statement, you need to lay out your journey to medicine as chronologically as possible in 5,300 characters with spaces or less. So you essentially have the same story map as for an AMCAS statement. Most important, you must show you are interested in osteopathy specifically. Therefore, when trying to decide what to include or leave out, prioritize any osteopathy experiences you have had, or those that are in line with the osteopathic philosophy of the mind-body connection, the body as self-healing, and other tenets.
Medical School Application Timeline and When to Write your Personal Statement
If you’re applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, do not assume your osteopathic essay should be the same as your AMCAS essay, with one osteopathy sentence thrown in for good measure. They are really entirely different animals, and it can be easy to spot an allopathic statement in osteopathic clothing. A top-notch AACOMAS personal statement will focus on osteopathy from start to finish. In writing your essay, it’s crucial to show you have a solid grasp of what osteopathic medicine is and how it differs from allopathic medicine, in its approach to treatment and patients. And carry those ideas all the way through the statement. There are some personal statements that can “fit” for both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools depending in your interests.
There are some personal statements that can “fit” for both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools depending in your interests.
Know the Required Medical School Personal Statement Length
Below are the medical schools personal statement length limits for each application system. As you can see, they are all very similar. When you start brainstorming and writing your personal statement, keep these limits in mind.
AMCAS Personal Statement Length : 5,300 characters with spaces.
As per the AAMC website : “The available space for this essay is 5,300 characters (spaces are counted as characters), or approximately one page. You will receive an error message if you exceed the available space.”
AACOMAS Personal Statement Length : 5,300 characters with spaces
TMDSAS Personal Statement Length : 5,000 characters with spaces
As per the TMDSAS Website (Page 36): “The personal essay asks you to explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. You are asked to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician. The essay is limited to 5000 characters, including spaces.”
Demonstrate Required Preprofessional Competencies
Next, your want to be aware of the nine preprofessional core competencies as outlined by the Association of American Medical Colleges . Medical school admissions committees want to see, as evidenced by your medical school personal statement and application, that you possess these qualities and characteristics. Now, don’t worry, medical school admissions committees don’t expect you to demonstrate all of them, but, you should demonstrate some.
- Service Orientation
- Social Skills
- Cultural Competence
- Oral Communication
- Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
- Reliability and Dependability
- Resilience and Adaptability
- Capacity for Improvement
In your personal statement, you might be able to also demonstrate the four thinking and reasoning competencies:
- Critical Thinking
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Written Communication
- Scientific Inquiry
So, let’s think about how to address the personal statement prompts in a slightly different way while ensuring you demonstrate the preprofessional competencies. When writing your personal statement, be sure it answers the four questions that follow and you will “hit” most of the core competencies listed above.
1. What have you done that supports your interest in becoming a doctor?
I always advise applicants to practice “evidence based admissions.” The reader of your essay wants to see the “evidence” that you have done what is necessary to understand the practice of medicine. This includes clinical exposure, research, and community service, among other activities.
2. Why do you want to be a doctor?
This may seem pretty basic – and it is – but admissions officers need to know WHY you want to practice medicine. Many applicants make the mistake of simply listing what they have done without offering insights about those experiences that answer the question, “Why medicine?” Your reasons for wanting to be a doctor may overlap with those of other applicants. This is okay because the experiences in which you participated, the stories you can tell about those experiences, and the wisdom you gained are completely distinct—because they are only yours.
“In admissions committee meetings we were always interested in WHY you wanted to earn a medical degree and how you would contribute to the medical school community.”
Medical school admissions committees want to know that you have explored your interest deeply and that you can reflect on the significance of these clinical experiences and volunteer work. But writing only that you “want to help people” does not support a sincere desire to become a physician; you must indicate why the medical profession in particular—rather than social work, teaching, or another “helping” profession—is your goal.
3. How have your experiences influenced you?
It is important to show how your experiences are linked and how they have influenced you. How did your experiences motivate you? How did they affect what else you did in your life? How did your experiences shape your future goals? Medical school admissions committees like to see a sensible progression of involvements. While not every activity needs to be logically “connected” with another, the evolution of your interests and how your experiences have nurtured your future goals and ambitions show that you are motivated and committed.
4. Who are you as a person? What are your values and ideals?
Medical school admissions committees want to know about you as an individual beyond your interests in medicine, too. This is where answering that third open ended question in the prompt becomes so important. What was interesting about your background, youth, and home life? What did you enjoy most about college? Do you have any distinctive passions or interests? They want to be convinced that you are a good person beyond your experiences. Write about those topics that are unlikely to appear elsewhere in your statement that will offer depth and interest to your work and illustrate the qualities and characteristics you possess.
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Complete Your Personal Inventory and Outline (Example Below)
The bulk of your essay should be about your most valuable experiences, personal, academic, scholarly, clinical, academic and extracurricular activities that have impacted your path to medical school and through which you have learned about the practice of medicine. The best personal statements cover several topics and are not narrow in scope. Why is this important? Many different people with a variety of backgrounds, interests, and ideas of what makes a great medical student will be reading your essay. You want to make sure you essay has broad appeal.
The following exercise will help you to determine what experiences you should highlight in your personal statement.
When composing your personal statement, keep in mind that you are writing, in effect, a “story” of how you arrived at this point in your life. But, unlike a “story” in the creative sense, yours must also offer convincing evidence for your decision to apply to medical school. Before starting your personal statement, create an experience- based personal inventory:
- Write down a list of the most important experiences in your life and your development. The list should be all inclusive and comprise those experiences that had the most impact on you. Put the list, which should consist of personal, extracurricular, and academic events, in chronological order.
- From this list, determine which experiences you consider the most important in helping you decide to pursue a career in medicine. This “experience oriented” approach will allow you to determine which experiences best illustrate the personal competencies admissions committees look for in your written documents. Remember that you must provide evidence for your interest in medicine and for most of the personal qualities and characteristics that medical school admissions committees want to see.
- After making your list, think about why each “most important” experience was influential and write that down. What did you observe? What did you learn? What insights did you gain? How did the experience influence your path and choices?
- Then think of a story or illustration for why each experience was important.
- After doing this exercise, evaluate each experience for its significance and influence and for its “story” value. Choose to write about those experiences that not only were influential but that also will provide interesting reading, keeping in mind that your goal is to weave the pertinent experiences together into a compelling story. In making your choices, think about how you will link each experience and transition from one topic to the next.
- Decide which of your listed experiences you will use for your introduction first (see below for more about your introduction). Then decide which experiences you will include in the body of your personal statement, create a general outline, and get writing!
Remember, you will also have your work and activities entries and your secondary applications to write in more detail about your experiences. Therefore, don’t feel you must pack everything in to your statement!
Craft a Compelling Personal Statement Introduction and Body
You hear conflicting advice about application essays. Some tell you not to open with a story. Others tell you to always begin with a story. Regardless of the advice you receive, be sure to do three things:
- Be true to yourself. Everyone will have an opinion regarding what you should and should not write. Follow your own instincts. Your personal statement should be a reflection of you, and only you.
- Start your personal statement with something catchy. Think about the list of potential topics above.
- Don’t rush your work. Composing thoughtful documents takes time and you don’t want your writing and ideas to be sloppy and underdeveloped.
Most important is to begin with something that engages your reader. A narrative, a “story,” an anecdote written in the first or third person, is ideal. Whatever your approach, your first paragraph must grab your reader’s attention and motivate him to want to continue reading. I encourage applicants to start their personal statement by describing an experience that was especially influential in setting them on their path to medical school. This can be a personal or scholarly experience or an extracurricular one. Remember to avoid clichés and quotes and to be honest and authentic in your writing. Don’t try to be someone who you are not by trying to imitate personal statement examples you have read online or “tell them what you think they want to hear”; consistency is key and your interviewer is going to make sure that you are who you say you are!
When deciding what experiences to include in the body of your personal statement, go back to your personal inventory and identify those experiences that have been the most influential in your personal path and your path to medical school. Keep in mind that the reader wants to have an idea of who you are as a human being so don’t write your personal statement as a glorified resume. Include some information about your background and personal experiences that can give a picture of who you are as a person outside of the classroom or laboratory.
Ideally, you should choose two or three experiences to highlight in the body of your personal statement. You don’t want to write about all of your accomplishments; that is what your application entries are for!
Write Your Personal Statement Conclusion
In your conclusion, it is customary to “go full circle” by coming back to the topic—or anecdote—you introduced in the introduction, but this is not a must. Summarize why you want to be a doctor and address what you hope to achieve and your goals for medical school. Write a conclusion that is compelling and will leave the reader wanting to meet you.
Complete Personal Statement Checklist
When reading your medical school personal statement be sure it:
Shows insight and introspection
The best medical school personal statements tell a great deal about what you have learned through your experiences and the insights you have gained.
You want to tell your story by highlighting those experiences that have been the most influential on your path to medical school and to give a clear sense of chronology. You want your statement always to be logical and never to confuse your reader.
Is interesting and engaging
The best personal statements engage the reader. This doesn’t mean you must use big words or be a literary prize winner. Write in your own language and voice, but really think about your journey to medical school and the most intriguing experiences you have had.
Gives the reader a mental image of who you are
You want the reader to be able to envision you as a caregiver and a medical professional. You want to convey that you would be a compassionate provider at the bedside – someone who could cope well with crisis and adversity.
Illustrates your passion for, and commitment to, medicine
Your reader must be convinced that you are excited about and committed to a career in medicine!
Above all, your personal statement should be about you. Explain to your reader what you have done and why you want to be a doctor with insight, compassion, and understanding.
Medical School Personal Statement Myths
Also keep in mind some common myths about personal statements that I hear quite often:
My personal statement must have a theme.
Not true. The vast majority of personal statements do not have themes. In fact, most are somewhat autobiographical and are just as interesting as those statements that are woven around a “theme.” It is only the very talented writer who can creatively write a personal statement around a theme, and this approach often backfires since the applicant fails to answer the three questions above.
My personal statement must be no longer than one page.
Not true. This advice is antiquated and dates back to the days of the written application when admissions committees flipped through pages. If your personal statement is interesting and compelling, it is fine to use the entire allotted space. The application systems have incorporated limits for exactly this reason! Many students, depending on their unique circumstances, can actually undermine their success by limiting their personal statement to a page. That said, never max out a space just for the sake of doing so. Quality writing and perspectives are preferable to quantity.
My personal statement should not describe patient encounters or my personal medical experiences.
Not true. Again, the actual topics on which you focus in your personal statement are less important than the understanding you gained from those experiences. I have successful clients who have written extremely powerful and compelling personal statements that included information about clinical encounters – both personal and professional. Write about whichever experiences were the most important on your path to medicine. It’s always best, however, to avoid spending too much space on childhood and high school activities. Focus instead on those that are more current.
In my personal statement I need to sell myself.
Not exactly true. You never want to boast in your personal statement. Let your experiences, insights, and observations speak for themselves. You want your reader to draw the conclusion – on his or her own – that you have the qualities and characteristics the medical school seeks. Never tell what qualities and characteristics you possess; let readers draw these conclusions on their own based on what you write.
Medical School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis for Inspiration
Below are examples of actual medical school personal statements. You can also likely find medical school personal statements on Reddit.
AMCAS Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #1 with Personal Inventory
We will use Amy to illustrate the general process of writing an application to medical school, along with providing the resulting documents. Amy will first list those experiences, personal, extracurricular, and scholarly, that have been most influential in two areas: her life in general and her path to medical school. She will put this personal inventory in chronologic order for use in composing her personal statement.
She will then select those experiences that were the most significant to her and will reflect and think about why they were important. For her application entries, Amy will write about each experience, including those that she considers influential in her life but not in her choice of medicine, in her application entries. Experiences that Amy will not write about in her activity entries or her personal statement are those that she does not consider most influential in either her life or in her choice of medicine.
Amy’s personal inventory (from oldest to most recent)
- Going with my mom to work. She is a surgeon — I was very curious about what she did. I was intrigued by the relationships she had with patients and how much they valued her efforts. I also loved seeing her as “a doctor” since, to me, she was just “mom.”
- I loved biology in high school. I started to think seriously about medicine then. It was during high school that I became fascinated with biology and how the human body worked. I would say that was when I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should be a doctor.”
- Grandmother’s death, senior year of high school. My grandmother’s death was tragic. It was the first time I had ever seen someone close to me suffer. It was one of the most devastating experiences in my life.
- Global Health Trip to Guatemala my freshman year of college. I realized after going to Guatemala that I had always taken my access to health care for granted. Here I saw children who didn’t have basic health care. This made me want to become a physician so I could give more to people like those I met in Guatemala.
- Sorority involvement. Even though sorority life might seem trivial, I loved it. I learned to work with different types of people and gained some really valuable leadership experience.
- Poor grades in college science classes. I still regret that I did badly in my science classes. I think I was immature and was also too involved in other activities and didn’t have the focus I needed to do well. I had a 3.4 undergraduate GPA.
- Teaching and tutoring Jose, a child from Honduras. In a way, meeting Jose in a college tutoring program brought my Guatemala experience to my home. Jose struggled academically, and his parents were immigrants and spoke only Spanish, so they had their own challenges. I tried to help Jose as much as I could. I saw that because he lacked resources, he was at a tremendous disadvantage.
- Volunteering at Excellent Medical Center. Shadowing physicians at the medical center gave me a really broad view of medicine. I learned about different specialties, met many different patients, and saw both great and not-so-great physician role models. Counselor at Ronald McDonald House. Working with sick kids made me appreciate my health. I tried to make them happy and was so impressed with their resilience. It made me realize that good health is everything.
- Oncology research. Understanding what happens behind the scenes in research was fascinating. Not only did I gain some valuable research experience, but I learned how research is done.
- Peer health counselor. Communicating with my peers about really important medical tests gave me an idea of the tremendous responsibility that doctors have. I also learned that it is important to be sensitive, to listen, and to be open-minded when working with others.
- Clinical Summer Program. This gave me an entirely new view of medicine. I worked with the forensics department, and visiting scenes of deaths was entirely new to me. This experience added a completely new dimension to my understanding of medicine and how illness and death affect loved ones.
- Emergency department internship. Here I learned so much about how things worked in the hospital. I realized how important it was that people who worked in the clinical department were involved in creating hospital policies. This made me understand, in practical terms, how an MPH would give me the foundation to make even more change in the future.
- Master’s in public health. I decided to get an MPH for two reasons. First of all, I knew my undergraduate science GPA was an issue so I figured that graduate level courses in which I performed well would boost my record. I don’t think I will write this on my application, but I also thought the degree would give me other skills if I didn’t get into medical school, and I knew it would also give me something on which I could build during medical school and in my career since I was interested in policy work.
As you can see from Amy’s personal inventory list, she has many accomplishments that are important to her and influenced her path. The most influential personal experience that motivated her to practice medicine was her mother’s career as a practicing physician, but Amy was also motivated by watching her mother’s career evolve. Even though the death of her grandmother was devastating for Amy, she did not consider this experience especially influential in her choice to attend medical school so she didn’t write about it in her personal statement.
Amy wrote an experience-based personal statement, rich with anecdotes and detailed descriptions, to illustrate the evolution of her interest in medicine and how this motivated her to also earn a master’s in public health.
Amy’s Medical School Personal Statement Example:
She was sprawled across the floor of her apartment. Scattered trash, decaying food, alcohol bottles, medication vials, and cigarette butts covered the floor. I had just graduated from college, and this was my first day on rotation with the forensic pathology department as a Summer Scholar, one of my most valuable activities on the path to medical school. As the coroner deputy scanned the scene for clues to what caused this woman’s death, I saw her distraught husband. I did not know what to say other than “I am so sorry.” I listened intently as he repeated the same stories about his wife and his dismay that he never got to say goodbye. The next day, alongside the coroner as he performed the autopsy, I could not stop thinking about the grieving man.
Discerning a cause of death was not something I had previously associated with the practice of medicine. As a child, I often spent Saturday mornings with my mother, a surgeon, as she rounded on patients. I witnessed the results of her actions, as she provided her patients a renewed chance at life. I grew to honor and respect my mother’s profession. Witnessing the immense gratitude of her patients and their families, I quickly came to admire the impact she was able to make in the lives of her patients and their loved ones.
I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine as my mother had, and throughout high school and college I sought out clinical, research, and volunteer opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of medicine. After volunteering with cancer survivors at Camp Ronald McDonald, I was inspired to further understand this disease. Through my oncology research, I learned about therapeutic processes for treatment development. Further, following my experience administering HIV tests, I completed research on point-of-care HIV testing, to be instituted throughout 26 hospitals and clinics. I realized that research often served as a basis for change in policy and medical practice and sought out opportunities to learn more about both.
All of my medically related experiences demonstrated that people who were ‘behind the scenes’ and had limited or no clinical background made many of the decisions in health care. Witnessing the evolution of my mother’s career further underscored the impact of policy change on the practice of medicine. In particular, the limits legislation imposed on the care she could provide influenced my perspective and future goals. Patients whom my mother had successfully treated for more than a decade, and with whom she had long-standing, trusting relationships, were no longer able to see her, because of policy coverage changes. Some patients, frustrated by these limitations, simply stopped seeking the care they needed. As a senior in college, I wanted to understand how policy transformations came about and gain the tools I would need to help effect administrative and policy changes in the future as a physician. It was with this goal in mind that I decided to complete a master’s in public health program before applying to medical school.
As an MPH candidate, I am gaining insight into the theories and practices behind the complex interconnections of the healthcare system; I am learning about economics, operations, management, ethics, policy, finance, and technology and how these entities converge to impact delivery of care. A holistic understanding of this diverse, highly competitive, market-driven system will allow me, as a clinician, to find solutions to policy, public health, and administration issues. I believe that change can be more effective if those who actually practice medicine also decide where improvements need to be made.
For example, as the sole intern for the emergency department at County Medical Center, I worked to increase efficiency in the ED by evaluating and mapping patient flow. I tracked patients from point of entry to point of discharge and found that the discharge process took up nearly 35% of patients’ time. By analyzing the reasons for this situation, in collaboration with nurses and physicians who worked in the ED and had an intimate understanding of what took place in the clinical area, I was able to make practical recommendations to decrease throughput time. The medical center has already implemented these suggestions, resulting in decreased length of stays. This example illustrates the benefit of having clinicians who work ‘behind the scenes’ establish policies and procedures, impacting operational change and improving patient care. I will also apply what I have learned through this project as the business development intern at Another Local Medical Center this summer, where I will assist in strategic planning, financial analysis, and program reviews for various clinical departments.
Through my mother’s career and my own medical experiences, I have become aware of the need for clinician administrators and policymakers. My primary goal as a physician will be to care for patients, but with the knowledge and experience I have gained through my MPH, I also hope to effect positive public policy and administrative changes.
What’s Good About Amy’s Medical School Personal Statement:
Paragraphs 1 and 2: Amy started her personal statement by illustrating a powerful experience she had when she realized that medical caregivers often feel impotent, and how this contrasted with her understanding of medicine as a little girl going with her mother to work. Recognition of this intense contrast also highlights Amy’s maturity.
Paragraph 3: Amy then “lists” a few experiences that were important to her.
Paragraph 4: Amy describes the commonality in some of her experiences and how her observations were substantiated by watching the evolution of her mother’s practice. She then explains how this motivated her to earn an MPH so she could create change more effectively as a physician than as a layman.
Paragraph 5: Amy then explains how her graduate degree is helping her to better understand the “issues in medicine” that she observed.
Paragraph 6: Amy then describes one exceptional accomplishment she had that highlights what she has learned and how she has applied it.
Paragraph 7: Finally, Amy effectively concludes her personal statement and summarizes the major topics addressed in her essay.
As you can see, Amy’s statement has excellent flow, is captivating and unusual, and illustrates her understanding of, and commitment to, medicine. She also exhibits, throughout her application entries and statement, the personal competencies, characteristics, and qualities that medical school admissions officers are seeking. Her application also has broad appeal; reviewers who are focused on research, cultural awareness, working with the underserved, health administration and policy, teaching, or clinical medicine would all find it of interest.
med school personal statement examples
Osteopathic Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #2
Medical School Personal Statement Example Background: This is a nontraditional applicant who applied to osteopathic medical schools. With a 500 and a 504 on the MCAT , he needed to showcase how his former career and what he learned through his work made him an asset. He also needed to convey why osteopathic medicine was an ideal fit for him. The student does an excellent job illustrating his commitment to medicine and explaining why and how he made the well-informed decision to leave his former career to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine.
What’s Good About It: A nontraditional student with a former career, this applicant does a great job outlining how and why he decided to pursue a career in medicine. Clearly dedicated to service, he also does a great job making it clear he is a good fit for osteopathic medical school and understands this distinctions of osteopathic practice..
Working as a police officer, one comes to expect the unexpected, but sometimes, when the unexpected happens, one can’t help but be surprised. In November 20XX, I had been a police officer for two years when my partner and I happened to be nearby when a man had a cardiac emergency in Einstein Bagels. Entering the restaurant, I was caught off guard by the lifeless figure on the floor, surrounded by spilled food. Time paused as my partner and I began performing CPR, and my heart raced as I watched color return to the man’s pale face.
Luckily, paramedics arrived within minutes to transport him to a local hospital. Later, I watched as the family thanked the doctors who gave their loved one a renewed chance at life. That day, in the “unexpected,” I confirmed that I wanted to become a physician, something that had attracted me since childhood.
I have always been enthralled by the science of medicine and eager to help those in need but, due to life events, my path to achieving this dream has been long. My journey began following high school when I joined the U.S. Army. I was immature and needed structure, and I knew the military was an opportunity to pursue my medical ambitions. I trained as a combat medic and requested work in an emergency room of an army hospital. At the hospital, I started IVs, ran EKGs, collected vital signs, and assisted with codes. I loved every minute as I was directly involved in patient care and observed physicians methodically investigating their patients’ signs and symptoms until they reached a diagnosis. Even when dealing with difficult patients, the physicians I worked with maintained composure, showing patience and understanding while educating patients about their diseases. I observed physicians not only as clinicians but also as teachers. As a medic, I learned that I loved working with patients and being part of the healthcare team, and I gained an understanding of acute care and hospital operations.
Following my discharge in 20XX, I transferred to an army reserve hospital and continued as a combat medic until 20XX. Working as a medic at several hospitals and clinics in the area, I was exposed to osteopathic medicine and the whole body approach to patient care. I was influenced by the D.O.s’ hands-on treatment and their use of manipulative medicine as a form of therapy. I learned that the body cannot function properly if there is dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system.
In 20XX, I became a police officer to support myself as I finished my undergraduate degree and premed courses. While working the streets, I continued my patient care experiences by being the first to care for victims of gunshot wounds, stab wounds, car accidents, and other medical emergencies. In addition, I investigated many unknown causes of death with the medical examiner’s office. I often found signs of drug and alcohol abuse and learned the dangers and power of addiction. In 20XX, I finished my undergraduate degree in education and in 20XX, I completed my premed courses.
Wanting to learn more about primary care medicine, in 20XX I volunteered at a community health clinic that treats underserved populations. Shadowing a family physician, I learned about the physical exam as I looked into ears and listened to the hearts and lungs of patients with her guidance. I paid close attention as she expressed the need for more PCPs and the important roles they play in preventing disease and reducing ER visits by treating and educating patients early in the disease process. This was evident as numerous patients were treated for high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes, all conditions that can be resolved or improved by lifestyle changes. I learned that these changes are not always easy for many in underserved populations as healthier food is often more expensive and sometimes money for prescriptions is not available. This experience opened my eyes to the challenges of being a physician in an underserved area.
The idea of disease prevention stayed with me as I thought about the man who needed CPR. Could early detection and education about heart disease have prevented his “unexpected” cardiac event? My experiences in health care and law enforcement have confirmed my desire to be an osteopathic physician and to treat the patients of the local area. I want to eliminate as many medical surprises as I can.
Texas Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #3
Medical School Personal Statement Example Background: This applicant, who grew up with modest means, should be an inspiration to us all. Rather than allowing limited resources to stand in his way, he took advantage of everything that was available to him. He commuted to college from home and had a part-time job so he was stretched thin, and his initial college performance suffered. However, he worked hard and his grades improved. Most medical school admissions committees seek out applicants like this because, by overcoming adversity and succeeding with limited resources, they demonstrate exceptional perseverance, maturity, and dedication. His accomplishments are, by themselves, impressive and he does an outstanding job of detailing his path, challenges, and commitment to medicine. He received multiple acceptances to top medical schools and was offered scholarships.
What’s Good About It: This student does a great job opening his personal statement with a beautifully written introduction that immediately takes the reader to Central America. He then explains his path, why he did poorly early in college, and goes on to discuss his academic interests and pursuits. He is also clearly invested in research and articulates that he is intellectually curious, motivated, hard working, compassionate and committed to a career in medicine by explaining his experiences using interesting language and details. This is an intriguing statement that makes clear the applicant is worthy of an interview invitation. Finally, the student expresses his interest in attending medical school in Texas.
They were learning the basics of carpentry and agriculture. The air was muggy and hot, but these young boys seemed unaffected, though I and my fellow college students sweated and often complained. As time passed, I started to have a greater appreciation for the challenges these boys faced. These orphans, whom I met and trained in rural Central America as a member of The Project, had little. They dreamed of using these basic skills to earn a living wage. Abandoned by their families, they knew this was their only opportunity to re-enter society as self- sufficient individuals. I stood by them in the fields and tutored them after class. And while I tried my best to instill in them a strong work ethic, it was the boys who instilled in me a desire to help those in need. They gave me a new perspective on my decision to become a doctor.
I don’t know exactly when I decided to become a physician; I have had this goal for a long time. I grew up in the inner city of A City, in Texas and attended magnet schools. My family knew little about higher education, and I learned to seek out my own opportunities and advice. I attended The University with the goal of gaining admission to medical school. When I started college, I lacked the maturity to focus on academics and performed poorly. Then I traveled to Central America. Since I was one of the few students who spoke Spanish, many of the boys felt comfortable talking with me. They saw me as a role model.
The boys worked hard so that they could learn trades that would help them to be productive members of society. It was then I realized that my grandparents, who immigrated to the US so I would have access to greater opportunities, had done the same. I felt like I was wasting what they had sacrificed for me. When I returned to University in the fall, I made academics my priority and committed myself to learn more about medicine .
Through my major in neuroscience, I strengthened my understanding of how we perceive and experience life. In systems neurobiology, I learned the physiology of the nervous system. Teaching everything from basic neural circuits to complex sensory pathways, Professor X provided me with the knowledge necessary to conduct research in Parkinson’s disease. My research focused on the ability of antioxidants to prevent the onset of Parkinson’s, and while my project was only a pilot study at the time, Professor X encouraged me to present it at the National Research Conference. During my senior year, I developed the study into a formal research project, recruiting the help of professors of statistics and biochemistry.
Working at the School of Medicine reinforced my analytical skills. I spent my summer in the department of emergency medicine, working with the department chair, Dr. Excellent. Through Dr. Excellent’s mentorship, I participated in a retrospective study analyzing patient charts to determine the efficacy of D-dimer assays in predicting blood clots. The direct clinical relevance of my research strengthened my commitment and motivated my decision to seek out more clinical research opportunities.
A growing awareness of the role of human compassion in healing has also influenced my choice to pursue a career in medicine. It is something no animal model or cell culture can ever duplicate or rival. Working in clinical research has allowed me to see the selflessness of many physicians and patients and their mutual desire to help others. As a research study assistant in the department of surgery, I educate and enroll patients in clinical trials. One such study examines the role of pre-operative substance administration in tumor progression. Patients enrolled in this study underwent six weeks of therapy before having the affected organ surgically excised. Observing how patients were willing to participate in this research to benefit others helped me understand the resiliency of the human spirit.
Working in clinical trials has enabled me to further explore my passion for science, while helping others. Through my undergraduate coursework and participation in volunteer groups I have had many opportunities to solidify my goal to become a physician. As I am working, I sometimes think about my second summer in Central America. I recall how one day, after I had turned countless rows of soil in scorching heat, one of the boys told me that I was a trabajador verdadero—a true worker. I paused as I realized the significance of this comment. While the boy may not have been able to articulate it, he knew I could identify with him. What the boy didn’t know, however, was that had my grandparents not decided to immigrate to the US, I would not have the great privilege of seizing opportunities in this country and writing this essay today. I look forward to the next step of my education and hope to return home to Texas where I look forward to serving the communities I call home.
Above all, and as stated in this article numerous times, your personal statement should be authentic and genuine. Write about your path and and journey to this point in your life using anecdotes and observations to intrigue the reader and illustrate what is and was important to you. Good luck!
Medical School Personal Statement Help & Consulting
If all this information has you staring at your screen like a deer in the headlights, you’re not alone. Writing a superb medical school personal statement can be a daunting task, and many applicants find it difficult to get started writing, or to express everything they want to say succinctly. That’s where MedEdits can help. You don’t have to have the best writing skills to compose a stand-out statement. From personal-statement editing alone to comprehensive packages for all your medical school application needs, we offer extensive support and expertise developed from working with thousands of successful medical school applicants. We can’t promise applying to medical school will be stress-free, but most clients tell us it’s a huge relief not to have to go it alone.
MedEdits offers personal statement consulting and editing. Our goal when working with students is to draw out what makes each student distinctive. How do we do this? We will explore your background and upbringing, interests and ideals as well as your accomplishments and activities. By helping you identify the most distinguishing aspects of who you are, you will then be able to compose an authentic and genuine personal statement in your own voice to capture the admissions committee’s attention so you are invited for a medical school interview. Our unique brainstorming methodology has helped hundreds of aspiring premeds gain acceptance to medical school.
Sample Medical School Personal Statement
Example Medical School Personal Statement
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Medical School Sample Personal Statements
These are real personal statements from successful medical school applicants (some are from students who have used our services or from our advisors ). These sample personal statements are for reference purposes only and should absolutely not be used to copy or plagiarize in any capacity. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements. Plagiarism is grounds for disqualification of an applicant.
Disclaimer: While these essays ultimately proved effective and led to medical school acceptances, there are multiple components that contribute to being an effective medical school applicant. These essays are not perfect, and the strengths and weaknesses have been listed where relevant.
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Sample personal statements.
“I love Scriabin!” exclaimed Logan, a 19-year-old patient at the hospital, as we found a common interest in the obscure Russian composer. I knew Logan’s story because it was so similar to my own: a classically-trained pianist, he was ready to head off to college in a month, just as I had the year before. Yet it was Logan who was heading into surgery to remove a recently-discovered brain tumor. Hoping to assuage his fears of the daunting operation, I lent him my iPod full of Scriabin’s music. Though the surgery began normally, a few hours later, Logan’s blood pressure started dropping, and he became unresponsive to monitoring provided by the surgical neurophysiologist. As the nurses scrambled to stabilize him, I finally heard the neurosurgeon ask, “Did we lose him?” These four terse words immediately unnerved me. Logan was in the most critical and uncertain situation I could imagine, while the iPod I had lent him, a reminder of the conversation we had just a few hours earlier, was eerily visible on the other side of the room. While Logan, fortunately, went on to make a full recovery after a successful surgery, I was not ready to hear those four frightening words.
Perhaps I was so unnerved by those words because of my experiences with my mother’s sicknesses. My father and I try to be mentally prepared to lose her any day. With a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis, my mother has struggled with suicidal tendencies for most of my life. Her other illnesses, including several autoimmune disorders and severe gastrointestinal problems, certainly hinder her from experiencing the joys of life. But what is most difficult for me and my father is her anger and violence when she is in pain. My father would remind me that I had to consider the sources of her feelings, however irrational, in order to communicate with her. Though my relationship with my mother has proved challenging, I am thankful for these experiences.
In medicine, I will be able to use these experiences to understand psychological barriers to wellness and to better empathize with the patients I see in the clinic. Unique life experiences like these helped when I met Enrique, a patient presenting with an unusually painful fungal infection on one of his toenails. Though he was aware that his condition posed no lasting threat to his health, the extreme pain of the infection made him apprehensive of treatment, a soak in Povidone-iodine solution. “How can I help this man?” I asked myself, “He is about to refuse a simple treatment for a painful ailment.” Hoping to calm him, I struck up a conversation in Spanish, which I learned while living for some months in Cuernavaca, Mexico. This was not enough. As he became increasingly uneasy about the impending treatment, I remembered a line from Federico García Lorca’s “Romance de la Pena Negra”: “…wash your body with the water of the lark / and leave your heart in peace.” As Enrique calmly placed his foot into the “lark’s water,” I was relieved to see that this was the encouragement he needed. I believe that my travels have helped me appreciate the cultural backgrounds of many patients and have prepared me to be an empathetic clinician.
While I have been prepared to address patients psychologically and culturally, my training in the lab has prepared me to address patients biologically as well. Having worked extensively in two different labs studying vaccine development and microbial pathogenesis, I have developed a desire to use bench research to improve clinical care. One particularly striking manifestation of this concept came at the beginning of my day at an internist’s clinic. Walking into the office, I heard a most unsettling sound—a distinctive, screeching, painful yelp audible throughout the clinic. I instantly knew what case I would be seeing next: Whooping cough. When I saw Brody, a toddler, I was arrested by a unique commiseration, one of both pity and curiosity. I knew exactly what was happening to Brody. I had spent the last two years performing research on the bacteria that caused the disease, Bordetella pertussis . Describing elements of the microbe’s pathogenesis and explaining how our research could improve vaccine efficacy was comforting to the family, and their response was encouraging to me as I continue my work. My research experiences have engendered a passion to be at the cutting edge of medicine, seeking always to improve patient care, so that in the future, I can come to a family like Brody’s with a better prognosis.
Though I may not have been prepared to hear those frightening words during Logan’s surgery, what I can say with confidence is that I am ready to begin the journey of a physician—the journey of a lifelong learner and a committed healer. I am ready to be challenged by difficult situations in the clinic, like Logan’s, because it is through those circumstances that I will learn and grow. I want to become a physician so that I can use my liberal arts education with my personal and professional experiences to meet medicine’s unique requirement of understanding patients psychologically, culturally, and biologically. I am ready to provide the most excellent patient care, empathetically and holistically appreciating my patients’ stories in order to serve them best.
The author masterfully weaves together multiple elements of his unique experiences in medicine to tell a compelling story. This an excellent example of “show, don’t tell”, whereby the author tells stories and takes the reader on a journey rather than simply listing what he did in the past.
For example, rather than explicitly stating that he did research on Bordetella pertussis, the author tells a story of a patient with Whooping cough and interweaves his research experience there, tying together a message of the future doctor’s interest in translational (from bench to bedside) research. Similarly, rather than explicitly stating he did experience A, and learned important lesson B and C, these themes are implied more indirectly. As a result, the essay reads smoothly as a story, and grips the reader.
The author’s voice comes through, transitions are smooth, the introduction engages the reader, and the story arc neatly comes full circle. The character limit was pushed to the limit (5,299) and the author made every word count. Fantastic essay.
The main reason why I want to go into medicine is because of a promise I made to my sister when I was eight years old. My sister, who was only a few months old, was aware I had been taking care of her while our parents were working late. Caring for her gave me a feeling of responsibility I had never experienced before. When my sister woke up with a fever, I felt helpless. Her doctor was able to take care of the most important person in my life by systematically ruling out possible causes for the fever while still helping my sister feel safe, allowing me to see the beauty of medicine. I made a promise to my sister to become a medical doctor, so I can take care of her and other people who cannot take care of themselves. Later, my mother explained to me that medicine had made my life possible because I had been conceived through in vitro fertilization. This reinforced my motivation to become a physician and encourages me to this day to come full circle and give back to the field that made my life possible by helping others in need.
I continued to pursue my dream of practicing medicine by volunteering in the Intensive Care Unit at the UC San Diego Thornton Medical Center, where I gained first-hand experience interacting with patients. While collecting laboratory samples from nurses, I talked to a patient who only spoke Spanish. As the interpreter had not arrived yet, I was the only Spanish speaker in the unit, and my Spanish was basic at best. I asked the patient about her day and family, which really lifted her spirits. This interaction taught me the importance of personal connections with patients.
Shadowing allowed me to learn the characteristics of a good physician. Before surgeries, I obtained the patient’s consent to let me observe the procedure while the surgeon went over the patient’s last minute concerns. One patient needed an Aortic Valve Replacement, and when I was getting his consent he told me he was a famous Italian singer. The surgeon asked him to sing his hit song, and I was amazed. The patient’s face lit up and all his worries faded before the surgery. Even though the patient was going to be heavily sedated, the surgeon still cared about the patient’s stress about the procedure and that really drew me to the profession and showed me that there is more to being a good doctor than just the technicalities or knowledge from textbooks.
Volunteering at a veterans’ hospital exposed me to a side of medicine I have only read about in the news. People who are underserved and undereducated who refuse medical care. I would call patients who could not go to any other hospital and try to convince them to have their eyes checked for diabetes symptoms in the Teleretinal Imaging department. One veteran answered my call with a groan asking why he needs to go to the hospital when he knows he does not have diabetes. I realized I had to explain to him that symptoms can develop well before the actual disease. This inspired me to help patients in underprivileged communities because some are not educated enough to know when something is wrong with their bodies.
I know if I am given the chance to practice medicine and serve as a leader in the African American community, I can deliver the same inspiration and become a role model for those who are disadvantaged. At UC San Diego I joined the Black Student Union where I was able to reach out to those who were unsure about pursuing a higher education. Speaking to high school students about my college experiences has improved my communication skills and ability to relate to diverse populations. I spoke about how college can open many more opportunities for these students and that there are countless resources and scholarships that can help them. I will use simple and direct communication to help patients understand their disease. Through this experience, I knew I wanted to practice medicine that is personal through interaction with minority communities. After these events, it is clear to me that I cannot give up on my dreams of becoming a doctor because when I rise I will also lift those around me with the same struggle.
In elementary school, I realized there was a lack of famous African-American physicians, so I asked my parents if they knew of anyone. My father told me about my uncle, Roy Harris, who grew up in the inner city, surrounded by drugs and gangs. In order to avoid these hardships, he joined the high school track team and continued running through college while pursuing his medical degree. I began running to remind myself of his inspiring story and, like him, encourage a change in the world so one day students will have more African-American doctors to emulate. I am currently one of the top athletes in the nation, an Academic All-American, and I hope to compete at NCAA Division II nationals next year. Running has given me the discipline to maintain a balanced life, provided me the focus to succeed in medical school, and given me the drive to work toward fulfilling my dreams. Most importantly, I made a promise to my sister, creating an unshakeable foundation of endless motivation that will encourage me even through the most distressing moments of my journey to become a physician. I will never give up nor surrender because I always keep my promises.
The author uses an anecdote to start and finish the essay, which is a common and effective way to create a story arc. He calls back to multiple experiences throughout his life, from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to bolster his resolve for pursuing medicine. His interesting background and stories, such as the promise he made to his sister, and his inspiration for picking up track, make for unique elements in this personal statement.
While the author does reflect back to multiple experiences, this comes across more as “telling” than “showing”. Compare this to the essay above to see the difference. The author has a common and repeating paragraph structure of 1) explain what the extracurricular or experience is, 2) recount a story related to said experience, and 3) draw lessons learned. While this structure gets the point across, it does not come across as engaging or compelling to the reader.
The author’s desire to give back to the African American community as well as his high aspirations are admirable.
At the beginning of the first Alternative Spring Break (ASB) meeting that I was leading in front of a group of nervous volunteers, I used an icebreaker, Two Truths and a Lie. Being a common face at my campus’s student activities, I have played this game perhaps one too many times. Unlike everyone else who had to take time to think about their interesting truths, I would say the same thing every time. “I want to be a pediatrician, I have alpacas, and I have llamas.”
I do not have llamas.
Growing up on a farm has given me great pride throughout the years and has driven my passion for service to my community, leading me to the goal of a career as a pediatrician. The farm is where I was first introduced to medicine. I would assist my father give shots to our animals, help our alpacas give birth to their crías, and talk with our family veterinarian about his treatment methods. The farm spawned in me a love for science which has shaped my career path, and my knowledge acquired through the farm has been a pleasure to share with people. My mother and I would visit the special education classrooms of different schools to show the kids presentations of the farm. We would lead demonstrations of us cleaning, spinning and crocheting the fiber to an involved and excited crowd of individuals. I have had numerous positive interactions with kids which has made me realize that there is no group I would rather work with more.
Our family farm became close with the few farms that were around us. We would help the alpaca farm 20 minutes from us shear their alpacas, and we once helped a small farm repair its fence that had been ravaged by a tornado. It felt good to be able to help people with things that not everybody has the knowledge to do. The farm helped shape my view of community into one of empathy which encompasses the spirit of being a physician. The joy I received from helping other farms led me to pursue community service opportunities at my university which I found first with ASB, a community service organization in which students dedicate their spring breaks to participate in meaningful service activities, and later as an AmeriCorps volunteer. When I signed up for my first ASB trip in my freshman year, I looked for a trip that involved helping kids. I knew I loved working with the younger population by assisting my mom at her home daycare and those presentations we gave to special education classes. The trip that caught my attention was to Pulaski, VA, which worked with a service organization called Beans and Rice. We would do fulfilling tornado recovery work in the morning, but I most looked forward to afternoons where we got to sit down and chat with kids about their days while helping them with their homework. I heard many stories from the kids about going to bed hungry or their parents being out of work. We were able to sit with whomever we wished during the kids’ lunch which I primarily spent with Chase, a boy who the other kids saw as an outcast due to his sexual orientation. My time with these kids made me realize how some people did not grow up with the strong sense of community that I knew at their age and inspired me to continue my work with their age group.
During my time in Pulaski, the director of the organization recognized my passion for working with kids and encouraged me to apply to AmeriCorps. I found a program in Lincoln, NE which allowed me to work with impoverished kids and share my passion of science with them under my given alias of T-Roy the Science Boy (not to be confused with my rival, Bill Nye the Science Guy). My relationships with the children I was working with grew fast, but one student made a significant impact on me. The second-grader was incapable of paying attention to academics yet had an amazing sense of humor. On the surface, his apparent developmental issues brought on by fetal alcohol syndrome resulted in hyperactivity and an inclination for angry outbursts. I spent time with him every day but came to the realization that, no matter how many times I was able to help him understand something, it did little to help his underlying health problems. Going to medical school will allow me to obtain the knowledge and skills I need to offer the ultimate service to people like my second-grade student—access to a healthy life.
With a strong desire to continue giving back to my community, I signed up to be a patient advocate in Baystate Medical Center’s emergency room. Here I was exposed to different health issues and many upset family members. It was my job to ensure the patients and their families were as comfortable as possible, but my job often morphed into one of a storyteller conversing with the families to get their minds off their difficult situations. Of course, the alpacas were a common topic of discussion since kids always love seeing the goofy haircuts we give them. My mother made this an easy task by uploading a video of us shearing the alpacas onto YouTube titled “Spit Happens”. A fitting name, no doubt. I have been blessed to share my farm-inspired sense of community with a broad range of different cultures from Nebraska to Virginia. I look forward to travelling to new communities as a physician while keeping my community-driven morals close, so alpaca my bags now.
This author is unique in his excellent command of humor. Note that this is a riskier approach and most applicants should avoid humor. In this setting, the humor certainly adds value to the essay, although this may be more off-putting to more traditional and conservative medical school admissions committee members. Overall, a high risk and high reward strategy, because when it lands, it makes for a compelling, unique, and entertaining read. Remember, admissions committees are reading through thousands of essays, and this comes as a breath of fresh air.
The introduction is brilliantly engaging and humorous, and entices the reader for what is to come. Clearly, this author has an interesting story to share and isn’t afraid to make you laugh.
While the essay is overall good, it could be improved in a few notable ways. First, the sentence structure and word choice can be tightened up in areas. The reader may find themself having to reread more than one sentence to understand what the writer is hoping to convey. Secondly, while the author does a great job highlighting a very unique and wide ranging background, showing more than telling would increase the effectiveness of this essay. Additionally, more emphasis and attention on “why medicine” and “why you would make a good doctor” would make this medical school personal statement more universally appealing (and less risky).
It’s not every day you help a kid become Iron Man. It happened for me during an internship at the NIH. I was responsible for designing the electronics and software for a portable robotic exoskeleton to help children expressing crouch gait due to cerebral palsy to improve their gait by retraining their muscles and neuron pathways. I saw the project as a fascinating technical problem and immersed myself in solving it.
Then I met Isaiah. Isaiah is a child with cerebral palsy expressing crouch gait with limited mobility. When Isaiah first began training on the robot, he became frustrated. As I watched him become exasperated using the device, it really hit me that I was creating a device for a real person, and the way we delivered his care was every bit as important to what we were doing as delivering an effective technical solution. As his confidence grew, I witnessed Isaiah, who could barely walk without the device, try to run. We even had to tell him to slow down! He asked if he could bring home the device because it made him feel like Iron Man. This experience crystalized for me my calling, to solve the challenging medical problems children face with love and a deep appreciation for their humanity.
I have firsthand knowledge of what it means to a child with serious medical problems to have loving physicians and nurses. When I was four, I received a heart transplant. Five years later, I fell ill with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Throughout these difficult and uncertain times, I was fortunate to have a clinical team whose positivity and humor made me feel like a normal kid despite the fact that I was facing grave medical problems. While these experiences were difficult, they gave me a perspective that I treasure because it gives meaning to every day of my life. This perspective is where my calling originates – to become a physician-engineer completely committed to the emotional well-being of each of my patients.
The engineering problems many children face are substantial, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to develop my skills in this area. As a part of the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design’s design team program I worked on two projects that taught me different aspects of the process of developing medical devices. The first project, NeoVate, gave me an overview of the design process of bringing medical devices to market. We developed a neonatal monitoring system for the developing world. We began with a needs assessment and then prototyped our solution to satisfy the specifications we developed. While I focused on the technical development, it was valuable to see other members create a sustainable distribution model because it helped me understand the step by step process by which an idea goes from concept to adoption in the medical field.
For the second project, TacPac, I was the team leader. On past teams I had a narrow focus on the technical development, but on TacPac I had to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the project and see the big picture in order to develop strategies to move the team forward. I learned how to create contingency plans by reaching out to our numerous advisors in many different specialties to build decision trees.
This project had an extra layer of meaning for me since we were developing an at-home monitoring system for tacrolimus, an immunosuppressant drug I have been taking for over twelve years. Currently, monitoring of this drug’s levels can only be done in a clinical setting. Our device allows patients to monitor their levels in the home, allowing for less inconvenience to patients and more data to make more informed clinical decisions.
While my engineering training developed my technical skills, the foundation of my heart and why I will pour myself into my vocation is derived from the love and care I received from my own clinical team as a child. I feel called to be of service to children with serious medical issues, just as my physicians and nurses were to me. One of my favorite volunteer experiences was when I was a camp counselor for Heart Camp, where I had previously been a camper. Heart Camp is a week-long camp for children with congenital heart defects designed to create an environment of fun, hope, and normalcy. This is one way in which I can use the difficult experiences of my childhood for good because it is easy for me to bring normalcy to these children’s lives since for me, it is normal.
Another volunteer opportunity that has had a tremendous amount of meaning for me is working with the Washington Regional Transplant Community to spread organ donation awareness by telling my story. Since I never received the chance to know my donor family, I use this volunteering as my way to say thank you.
I have enjoyed my engineering studies and my volunteering experiences have been of tremendous value to me, but I cannot wait to go to medical school. It is my desire to be a bridge between the technical engineering world and the direct delivery of care that only physicians can give. I feel it is my mission to use all of my experiences, both good and bad, to find innovative solutions to help the next Wonder Woman and Captain America thrive both physically and in every other part of their lives.
The superhero theme is unique, timely, and highly relevant to the author’s interest in pursuing a pediatric specialty. The author has a strong research background and ultimately was accepted to a highly ranked and research heavy institution, which is no surprise. While a significant portion of the body of the essay reads as “tell” more than “show”, some aspects of the personal statement use more effective story telling.
Deep interest in research, a unique background of being a lymphoma patient, and a palpable passion to help other kids who are suffering makes this applicant come across as a valuable asset to any research oriented medical school.
To further improve the impact of this essay, the author could remove one or two experiences listed in a more descriptive way and incorporate immersive stories to convey the significance and impact they had on him.
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Medical school personal statement examples.
Get accepted to your top choice medical school with your compelling essay.
THE TOP 10 MEDICAL SCHOOLS
HAVE AN AVERAGE ACCEPTANCE RATE OF 5.3%
A GREAT MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT IS KEY IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS
If you want to get into the best school, you need to stand out from other applicants.
U.S. News reports the average medical school acceptance rate at the top 100 med schools at 6.35% , but our med school clients enjoy an 85% ACCEPTANCE RATE .
How can you separate yourself from the competition successfully? By creating a great personal statement.
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Here we present medical school personal statement examples to give you ideas for your own essay.
Pay close attention to the consistent format of these effective personal statements:
ENGAGING INTRODUCTION / UNIFYING THEME / COMPELLING CONCLUSION
Give the admissions committee readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and a future medical professional. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading your essay.
Here's what you'll find on this page:
- How Sample Med School Essays Can Help You
- Before you Start Writing
- Writing Your Opening Paragraph
- Writing Your Body Paragraphs
- Writing Transitions
- Writing Your Conclusion
- Common Elements Between Personal Statements
Five Don'ts for Your Medical School Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Examples & Analysis
- Frequently Asked Questions
How can these sample med school essays help you?
You plan to become a physician, a highly respected professional who will have great responsibility over the health and well being of your future patients. How can you prove to the admissions committee that you have the intelligence, the maturity, the compassion, and the dedication needed to succeed in your goal?
The medical school personal statement examples below are all arguments in favor of top med schools accepting these applicants. And they worked. The applicants who wrote these essays were all accepted to top medical schools - most to multiple schools. They show a variety of experiences and thought processes that all led to the same outcome. However, while the paths to this decision point vary widely, these winning essays share several things in common.
As you read them, take note of how the stories are built sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, adding to the evidence that the writer is worthy of acceptance. This evidence includes showing a sustained focus, mature self-reflection, and professional and educational experiences that have helped prepare the applicant to succeed.
As you write your medical school personal statement , include your most compelling, memorable and meaningful experiences that are relevant to your decision to become a doctor. Each sentence should add to the reader’s understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and why you will make an outstanding physician. Your resulting essay will help the adcom appreciate your intellectual and psychological strengths as well as your motivations, and conclude that you are worthy of acceptance into a top medical school.
Techniques for creating successful medical school personal statements
Before you start writing your med school personal statement.
Before you start writing your medical school personal statement you will need to choose a topic that will reflect who you are and engage the reader. There are a few strong ways to proceed. Try freewriting with a few of the following topic ideas.
Why medicine? Do you have a personal experience that made you certain about being a physician? How, when, did you know this was the right career for you? Is there a doctor you know (or knew) who emulates an altruistic moral character, someone who won your deepest respect? Can you show this person in action or describe them as they model inherent qualities, those for which you will strive as a physician?
How has a clinical experience been a real growth moment for you? Can you tell that story? Sometimes a clinical experience is deeply personal, something experienced by you or by someone in your family. Sometimes a clinical experience is about a patient whose situation taught you something deeply valuable, something honestly insightful about what good care means, about humanity, about empathy, about compassion, about community, about advantage and disadvantage, about equity and inclusion.
Choose an experience outside the comfort of your own community, an experience where you were the outsider (uncertain, facing ambiguity) and this experience brought about a fresh, resonant understanding of yourself and others, an understanding that made you grow as a person, and perhaps brought about humility or joy in light of this geographical or cultural dislocation. Often this prompt includes traveling to other countries. Yet, it could work just as beautifully discovering people in close places that were previously unfamiliar to you – the shelter in the next town over, a foster home for medically unstable children, the day you witnessed food insecurity firsthand at a local church and decided to do something about disparity.
Read other successful personal statements in guides and publications. You can read sample personal statements that work here: medical school personal statement examples
The prompts above have great possibilities to be successful because they locate experiences that require better than average human understanding and insight. When we re-convey a moving human experience well, we tell a story that aims to bring us together, unite us in our common humanity. Telling powerful stories about humanity, in the end, presents your deeper attributes to others and demonstrates your capacity to feel deeply about the human condition.
Be careful how often you use the first person pronoun, though you may use it. Revise for clarity many more times than you might do in other writing moments. Choose precise vocabulary that sounds like you, and, of course, revise so that you present to your readers the most pristinely grammatical you.
Once you’ve looked at the sample medical school personal statements in the link above, try freewriting again according to one of the themes listed that applies to you. For instance, perhaps your prior freewriting aimed to describe a moment in your life that seeded your interest in medicine. Great. Save that file. Now, start again with a different topic, perhaps one from the linked page of sample personal statements. For instance, let your freewriting explore the time you traveled to another country to participate in a public health mission. What person immediately comes to mind? Hopefully this person is quite different from you in identity and culture. Make sure this comes across. Describe the scene when you first encountered this person. What happened? Tell that story. Why do you think you remember this person so vividly? Did the experience challenge you? Did you learn something deeper and perhaps more complex about humanity, about culture, about your own assumptions about humanity? Hopefully, you grew from this experience. How did you grow? What do you now understand that you did not understand before having had this experience? Hindsight may very well bring about perspective that demonstrates that you now understand the value of that human encounter.
Here is a cautionary bit of advice about writing about childhood. Yes, it is relatively common to have had a formidable experience in childhood about illness, health, healthcare, medicine or doctors. Right? Most of us have had at least one critical health issue in our own family when still a child. Sometimes it is absolutely true that a moment in childhood began your interest in healthcare.
One may have had a diagnosis as a child that turned one’s life path toward being health-aware. For instance, are you a juvenile-onset, Type I diabetic? Do you have a cognitive or physical disability? Were you raised in a home with someone who had a critical illness or disability? Did a sibling, parent or grandparent get gravely sick when you were young?
Upon writing-up any of these situations for your personal statement, there is a catch-22. For medical school application activities, the rule of thumb is “nothing from high school.” So why then is it sometimes a good idea to write about a childhood situation in a personal statement? The answer has to do with the uniqueness of your story and the quality of hindsight through which you narrate it.
Let us slow down for a moment on the issue of writing about childhood. Typically, traditional applicants to medical school are steadfastly dedicated to their academic and pre-professional aims. Science curriculum, especially pre-med curriculum, is demanding and rigorous, and it trains science students to excel in empirical thinking and assessment.
Sometimes, when asked to write a personal essay, hard core science students feel the rug pulled out from under them. Are you more confident and meticulous about action steps and future plans than you are confident about being a sage looking back on your life? Chances are your answer is “yes.”
Of course you can write; you’re a smart person and a very good student. Yet, writing a heartfelt, perceptive essay about yourself or an aspect of your life for an application to medical school is unnerving even as you understand why your application might benefit from story-telling. Yes, your application should benefit from your engaging, authorial presence in the essay. An application that lacks this is wholly at a disadvantage.
Perhaps you are gravitating to the choice to share a story about your childhood.
For instance, what if you sat down to free-write the following prompt:
Draft an essay about a childhood experience that ingrained medicine as one of your inherent interests. Do so in a manner that demonstrates the value of hindsight while telling it.
Is it hard to stay calm about this prompt right now even though this prompt is precisely what could make your personal statement successful? The idea of this prompt is what many successful applicants have written well, and you can too. Why not seek professional guidance for your personal essay? Accepted has consultants who advise applicants through this process. We advise you on the whole process of developing a successful idea for an essay, help you mine your experiences, outline your strongest ideas, and after you’ve written them up, edit your drafts. You can view these personal statement services here: Essay Package
Back to tips. The key to writing a personal statement that frames a moment in childhood well is to stand firmly in the present and stay descriptive and perceptive. Write up that experience trusting you have insight. Quite a bit of time has passed since then, and that distance has given you the opportunity to see things a little differently now.
Let’s presume you want to write about how as a child you had an older sibling with a cognitive impairment. You and your family witnessed time and again doors being shut, so to speak, on his ability to be included in school events or community events.
Free writing A: My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. He was never given field time in soccer games. When this happened, G cried. When this happened, I cried and felt hurt by how much time my parents spent trying to calm him down, eventually leaving the field, holding him close and bringing us back home, another Saturday wrecked.
Example A has no benefit of hindsight.
Free writing B (with some hindsight): My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. Most of the time, kids were kind to him. “Hey G, how are you, man?,” they would say and high-five him. Most kids greeted him, offered him snacks and a seat on the sideline blanket. It was touching to see him included and seen at soccer games.
Further hindsight: G was rarely played in the game.
Reflective comment: No harm would have been done in letting him play. It’s clear to me now how much more work we each need to do about inclusion. Community-based team sports are pretty good about extending kindness at the sidelines, but that is not the same thing as letting all kids play in the game. I am still grateful for every kindness extended to my brother, but perhaps letting him play in the game would have demonstrated to kids and parents alike a deeper message about the importance of inclusion over winning. The coaches meant no harm, but that is precisely how unconscious bias plays. Afterall, community by its very definition is about inclusion.
Standing tall on this matter brings out a maturity and vocabulary to master this kind of personal writing that Free Writing A lacks. You don’t want to go back in time and join your younger self and narrate from that perspective. The “return” to your former child typically results in replicating a childlike emotional capacity – and chances are, that’s not you anymore. You’ve seen more. You’ve grown more. You’re now formally educated. You’re more skilled at making connections between ideas and experiences. You can narrate a scene or circumstance and attach awareness of what you realize now it means – like the over-narratives of documentaries where the author sheds true insight about the meaning of past events.
Most traditional applicants to medical school are just a few years older than teenagers.
When hindsight brings great clarity and insight to the significance of an experience, we demonstrate a keener maturity and an understanding that in authoring an experience we have a responsibility to demonstrate how a personal experience becomes a valuable portal to understanding the situation of others. Hindsight done well can be a stunningly beautiful and engaging narrative skill.
Perhaps you would rather write about a clinical experience? If you write about patients, change names, change gender, change some context to assure anonymity. Nearly all healthcare workers are concerned about telling patient stories because we worry about appropriating someone else’s experience, or feel we may not have the right, literally since HIPAA set rules on patients’ privacy rights in 1996. We should be concerned about telling patients’ stories; however, how we tell them is key in honoring them. When we honor patients and convey their stories to others we demonstrate the reciprocity of the professional relationship. Physicians no longer have a prescriptive, patrician role. Physicians are no longer sole authorities. Physicians and patients establish a reciprocal relationship, a two way street wherein a physician steps into a space of illness with the patient and walks with them, with the goal of healing, curing and advocating for them. When doctors tell stories, they establish that patients matter, that these encounters matter, that doctors think about patients and often learn from them.
How we write patient stories is best done humbly, of course. We can narrate a story that becomes exemplary for its insight and empathy – after all, insight and empathy are desirable traits of a physician. Be sure to show rather than tell, most of the time. Be sure to capture the sensory detail of people and place. For instance, is the patient sitting on a blue plastic chair under ultraviolet lights in the waiting room of a free clinic? Is a woman with her gray hair twisted in a bun wearing a cotton hospital gown, waiting against a concrete wall in a tiny examination room with the door open? (Setting makes a character more real.)
Finally, your story perspective, what you see and understand, becomes another way of revealing who you are.
How to write your opening paragraph:
A strong opening paragraph for a story begins “several pages in.” A strong story begins with you, the narrator, already standing in the ocean with water splashing at your knees. This is called a hook: “D began to bleed after the second attempt to start an intravenous line.”
Then, get the basic narrative facts down, the 5 W’s, the who, what, where, when and why, so your readers will not be confused: “She was a patient in the infusion clinic in the cancer pavilion of a major Boston hospital. She came to the clinic for her first round of chemotherapy.”
What else about this moment engaged you? Did D come to her appointment alone via an Uber ride? Why wasn’t anyone with her? How did that make you feel? Did the two of you hold a conversation while you were trying to start an IV? Why do you think she started to bleed? How did she respond when she saw you were having trouble starting this IV? Why didn’t she have a Medi-port yet? Here, you are building fuller context for her story. Don’t race through the scene; rather, build it, slowing down time, using images and sensory details to “paint” with your words. Smaller details, necessary ones, help you portray D as an individual.
“Semper Fidelis was tattooed on her forearm. ‘Thank you for your service,’ I said.”
“‘This cancer thing,’ she said, ‘this is nothing.’”
“D’s comment set me back. She had triple-negative breast cancer. She had blood running down her arm to her hand, between her fingers and onto a stiff, white pillow case on which she rested her arm. Triple-negative breast cancer was much more than nothing. In fact, it was very serious.”
What questions came to mind that provide several ways of reading this moment? Write them down. For instance,
- Did D not know about the gravity of her diagnosis?
- Was she steely and tough yet informed?
- Did she live through something much worse while enlisted as a Marine?
The questions themselves may wander too much to serve your personal statement as a succinct essay, which it needs to be. However, the answers to those questions may be exactly the additional content you need to develop this story’s acumen and perception as you demonstrate how getting to know the patient is a critical skill in order to help her. And now a theme is starting to come through: a doctor treats a patient, not a diagnosis. Voilà!
Moving forward: How does a doctor reframe clinical assumptions in this instance? What does a future doctor learn from a circumstance like this?
Notice in the example above that the writing is active, uses details, and vivid language.
This writer has a palpable connection to the moment. One key to choosing one experience over another for your personal statement is how visual and vivid your recollection is. Often, moments worth mining for meaning are easy to recollect because they still have unresolved messages that need to be understood. Writing experiences helps us find their meaning, their sense.
Notice as well, the scene above captures a moment of ambiguity, a concept particularly difficult for many health science professionals to embrace because there are multiple ways of looking at and understanding something. Stories send empiricism into the wind. People are not solely empirical. There is the self that is the body, which can be understood empirically, but there’s also the self that inhabits the body, the thinking/feeling/being and perceiving self. Stories are not about right answers. Stories attend to sentience and explore humanity. Patients’ lives are rife with uncertain moments, uncertain decisions, uncertain treatments, uncertain consequences, and uncertain outcomes. How does a physician engage with health uncertainty, understand it, and navigate it through pathways of humanity rather than pathways of diagnosis?
How does health care challenge you to grow in humanistic ways?
How to write your body paragraphs:
Once you have written a compelling scene, it might be a good idea to reflect upon why you were drawn to write about this experience in particular before your proceed. How does this scene illustrate meaningfully something worth explaining about becoming a physician? For instance, D’s scene was illustrative of an unexpected shift in perception that mattered when treating a patient with a serious cancer diagnosis. This unexpected shift happened to you, not to her. D’s been living with herself aplenty. Her point of view surprised you, not her, and reveals an incongruence between her perspective on her illness and yours.
Brief moments of ambiguity like this one can make us talk to each other, make us want to do something, can bring us to explore some further niche, specialty or research. Perhaps D brought you to peruse PubMed to research “Issues in Clinical Practice when Caring for Veterans” to see if you could find articles to help you help D and other veterans. Perhaps D’s comment was so truthful that you now volunteer with a veterans’ organization to scribe their stories for a war history museum? This “call to action” is a worthy story in a personal statement. Tell D’s story and conclude it with empathy and action. (Taking action to help is a demonstration of empathy.) Mindfully showing the experience with D as a catalyst to a path of action to help those under duress -- in distress, in crisis, or adrift in inequity -- matters.
Perhaps, follow this conclusion with a brief explanation of what principles now guide your humanistic path to medical school as long as they are principles that matter to your choice schools.
Here are a few things to avoid in writing your medical school personal statement. Avoid talking about your scholastic path in preparation for medical school in your essay. The essay is not a place to reiterate scholastic achievements, for instance, a high GPA, academic honors, academic awards, publications, or MCAT scores because they’re front and center in other areas of your application.
Instead, frame your medical school personal statement around a formidable experience that directly or indirectly led you to pursue medicine. This could be a struggle that you’ve overcome that demonstrates your fortitude (the story of a sociocultural disadvantage or disability), the first time you deeply understood the ramifications of health care disparities you will not forget. Likely, this would be a personal story about yourself or a family member, a clinical story or a mission trip, or a story about a patient from some other volunteer work that you’ve done.
Additional topic ideas for your personal statement: What is a successful doctor? What does a successful life as a doctor look like? What happens to your understanding of best practices when a patient’s situation makes a best practice unrealistic, and what is the remedy? What epiphany, small or large, resides in you now since having mined a critical, clinical experience? Do you see a difference in the way you respond to patients since having had this experience? How has clinical experience matured you, deepened your awareness of living? If a patient experience became a catalyst for you to branch out or deepen your healthcare exposure opportunities, talk about that too. What opportunities? Why?
Writing effective transitions:
You are now ready to proceed to a conclusion that leaves your readers, the admissions committee, with a lasting impression of you – your life, your mind, your character -- as a 21 st century physician.
Chances are, you’ll need to transition from the previous discussion of a time in the past to squarely speak about yourself here and now or in a comment toward the future.
Can you sum up your main idea for the past experience? Consider the benefit of using a word or phrase -- thus, just as, hence, accordingly, in the same way, correspondingly -- and present your central idea again but only in a few repetitive words (called parallelism) or with synonymous words, creating internal unity in the essay.
Be careful how you do this. The phrasing should feel necessary and fluid rather than reductive or even worse, phrasing that sounds like filler.
The shift you’re making is from then to now, or from then to now and to the future as in “all this is to say.” Would you benefit from a fact, a quote, a statistic, or an informed prediction on the state of medicine, public health, or the future of medicine?
Transitional words can indicate:
- a process: first, second, next, finally…
- time: by lunch time, that evening, two weeks later…
- spatial sequences: down the block, two miles west, one bed over…
- logic sequences: likewise, however, evidently, in other words…
- meta-thought: as I say this, looking back, I have nothing left to say…
If grammar and idea flow are a concern, have a look at Accepted’s editing services: Med School Essay Package
A consultant will walk you through the inception of an essay, an outline, and editing from first through final drafts, including suggestions for idea development and transitions from one idea to another.
How to write your conclusion:
A strong conclusion for your medical school personal statement can highlight the relevance of a timely issue (for instance, the physician shortage in the U.S.), make broader inferences about something you’ve already discussed (for instance, the broader implications of a particular health care disparity), or a call to action that you now embrace (for instance, community-based work that you did during the pandemic that now has become a central interest). Altruism, or understanding another’s disadvantaged situation, should not be represented in your conclusion as “ideas alone.” Commitment to serve others is not solely aspirational (“As physicians, we must do everything we can about inequity"), but a strong conclusion puts ideals into action (“I have joined Dr. T’s research team to conduct qualitative research about how social strata paradigms impact health care inequity”). Action in the conclusion should be associated with an experience shown earlier in the essay and culminate as a demonstration that you have already begun shaping your path in medicine. You are not waiting to begin but have already begun facing the challenges and responsibilities of future physicians. This kind of conclusion shows vision, maturity, commitment and character.
If the story in the body of your personal statement is about an experience, the conclusion should show your growth since then and keep in alignment how you’ve grown with the medical school values and missions of the majority of schools on your list. So, if you’re applying to top-tier allopathic schools, your growth may be in the depth and orientation of your recent research, or in having established a tighter link between your clinical experience and research.
If you’re applying to osteopathic schools, your growth should be in keeping with the osteopathic schools’ values and missions on your list and include recent hands-on experience, something with specific tasks and responsibilities, rather than shadowing, since shadowing is often seen as passive experience. It may be that you’ve become a licensed EMT and will work as an EMT in a relevant region or state during the gap year. It may be that you’ve been certified and now work as a harm reduction specialist for a particular organization in a particular city or county.
If you’re applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, each personal statement should align with the academic orientation of each pathway. Using the same personal statement for both AMCAS and AACOMAS applications is rarely a good idea.
Accepted offers help with the whole application process: Primary Application Package
Other elements that each essay below have in common:
Accepted provides sample medical school personal statements with titles classifying types of narratives that have potential for success. Applicants do have some freedom of choice in what topic will serve their essay best. Why only “some” freedom in topic for this personal essay? Because this essay is one tool you will use to reach a professional goal.
Not all essays help us reach professional goals. Writers of effective essays must take into account who will read them. Think about who your audience is. In this case, it’s a medical school admissions committee – not a friend, not a parent, not a peer. How will you write an essay on the same topic, let’s say a lab experience that went from bad to revelatory? You’d tell this story quite differently to your lab mates than you would to your professor, than you would to the president of your university, than you would in a grant application.
Here’s what can happen when the “audience” isn’t considered sufficiently when writing about a passion. Let’s say you love playing soccer, and played on a Division 3 team as an undergraduate. Let’s say it didn’t matter to you that the team was Division 3 as long as it meant you could get on the field and play through your undergraduate years. It’s quite possible that one can write well about playing soccer, but one must do so in such a way that the reader really believes and understands the parallel between doing what you love and a future in medicine. Otherwise, the writer may very well convey that they love soccer. However, when written without the focus that medical school admissions committees will be readers, the essay could end up conveying that the narrator really wants to be a soccer coach, not a doctor.
So, there’s only some freedom in topic and some freedom in writing approach - and the two must make sense together in order to facilitate accomplishing your goal.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” to writing a successful medical school personal statement. There are, however, aspects to the sample essays on this site that stand out.
First, each personal statement example is authored by someone who knows exactly what story they’re telling. No matter what their first draft looked like, by the time the final draft is ready to go, all fuzzy draft moments have been made lucid and engaging. All sections of the essay should have the polish and the same goals.
- Why am I telling this in this way?
- To what ends does each scene or moment speak?
- Have I revised enough to make every sentence demonstrate strong writing skills?
Each sample personal statement emphasizes narrative control, engages with a direct voice, has conclusive things to show and say, demonstrates logical steps in idea development, and presents effective framing of the composition as a well-written form that displays strong writing skills.
Even when an essay includes a “bookend” structure (a narrative structure that begins and ends with X, with middle content about Y), the story of Y (i.e. a mission trip in Mexico) is the primary story framed by the X bookend story (i.e. the love of running) to give ballast to the context in which this writer wants us to understand the mission trip as well, as a parallel story of challenge, commitment, exhilaration, exhaustion and necessity.
The same is true for stories that contain contrasts. If you’ve traveled ten mile or ten thousand miles, it is quite possible you’ve encountered different assumptions than your own about health care, health care access, trust, understanding of middle-class or first-world beliefs about health, understanding beliefs from poor and disadvantaged communities, illness, health care in contrast with a different cultural standard than what you’re used to, different beliefs about health care access, and a lack of or cautious trust in deference to doctors. (See the “Nontraditional Applicant” and “The Traveler.”) The key to this kind of essay is first demonstrating the contrasts between the two realities (yours and the patient’s reality) and their relative assumptions. Second, demonstrate an understanding of beliefs amid the two experiences and aim to reconcile their adverse assumptions.
However you proceed with the paragraph by paragraph progression of your medical school personal statement, be sure to see how there’s deeper intuition or knowledge associated with how the ideas progress. Do not repeat yourself, or reiterate a statement or idea unless you are clearly doing so for rhetorical emphasis.
Then, kiss your draft goodnight. Let it sit for two or three days, and return to it time and again with fresh eyes – to trim, tighten, clarify, improve tone and intention, and importantly, to make sure you have direct regard for your audience, who it is, what they’re looking for, and how you are the person whom they seek, as you maintain a tone and direction consistent with your goals and what you’re seeking from an admissions committee.
Many students focus on their own or family members’ medical conditions in their personal statements. The essay sometimes reads like a medical history. Taking this approach can hurt your application for several reasons: It may alert them to conditions that could impact your ability to perform in medical school, indicate that you lack boundaries by oversharing , or suggest a lack of maturity in focusing only on yourself and family – rather than on helping others or serving the community.
Anything you share in your personal statement can be brought up in your interview. If you share details of painful events, losses, or failures that you have not yet processed or come to terms with, that disclosure could come across as an invitation for the reader to pity you. Accepting long-term changes in our lives transforms us; we are constantly evolving through our experiences. Until you have integrated this information into your identity, depending on how impactful it was, you may not be able to use the experience to shed insight on yourself quite yet. Use negative experiences that are at least a year or older depending on how long it takes you to process and reflect. Most importantly, use them to show growth and resilience , not to create pity.
- DON’T demonstrate a lack of compassion or empathy. One of the creepiest essays I’ve ever read – it still sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it – was a student’s description of how much she enjoyed anesthetizing and removing the brains of mice. Her intention was to share her love of science, research, and learning but the feverish glee with which she described these procedures lacked compassion for the creatures that lost their lives for her research project. This lack of respect for the sacredness of life made it an easy decision to reject her application. Research was probably a better path for her, especially since she wasn’t able to gauge the reaction her statements would have on her audience.
- DON’T bargain. The least fun essays to read are those that contain more promises than a politician’s speech. They include statements like, “If accepted into this program, I will….” The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you really want to demonstrate what you are capable of achieving during your medical education, give examples of what you have already accomplished . This approach is far stronger than making hollow promises.
- DON’T complain. Criticizing or pointing out the failures of healthcare professionals who have treated you or whom you have observed in the past will only reflect negatively on you. Since your application will be reviewed by doctors, as well as admissions professionals, it’s critical that you do not insult those from whom you are seeking acceptance. While it is true that medical mistakes and lack of access to care have devastating consequences for patients, their families and communities, identifying ways to improve in these areas without pointing any fingers would be more effective. By demonstrating your realistic knowledge of patient needs and sharing potential solutions, you can present yourself as an asset to their team.
Be careful what you write. Create a personal statement that is honest (not bitter), reveals your personality (not your medical history), and delivers a compelling explanation for your motivations for entering medicine (not empty promises).
Do you want our expert advice on your medical school personal statement?
Med School Personal Statement Consultant Dr. Mary Mahoney
Med School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis
Now let’s explore what you can learn from some of these outstanding sample med school essays.
Medical school personal statement example #1: Emergency 911
“Call 911!” I shouted to my friend as I sprinted down the street. The young Caucasian male had been thrown fifteen yards from the site of impact and surprisingly was still conscious upon my arrival. “My name is Michael. Can you tell me your name?” In his late twenties, he gasped in response as his eyes searched desperately in every direction for help, for comfort, for assurance, for loved ones, for death, until his eyes met mine. “Flail chest,” I thought to myself as I unbuttoned his shirt and placed my backpack upon his right side. “Pulse 98, respiration 28 short and quick. Help is on the way. Hang in there, buddy,” I urged.
After assessing the patient, the gravity of the situation struck me into sobriety. The adrenaline was no longer running through my veins — this was real. His right leg was mangled with a compound fracture; his left leg was also obviously broken. The tow-truck that had hit him looked as though it had run into a telephone pole. Traffic had ceased on the six-lane road, and a large crowd had gathered. However, no one was by my side to help. “Get me some blankets from that motel!” I yelled to a bystander and three people immediately fled. I was in charge.
But my patient was no longer conscious; his pulse was faint and respiration was low. “Stay with me, man!” I yelled. “15 to 1, 15 to 1,” I thought as I rehearsed CPR in my mind. Suddenly he stopped breathing. Without hesitation, I removed my T-shirt and created a makeshift barrier between his mouth and mine through which I proceeded to administer two breaths. No response. And furthermore, there was no pulse. I began CPR. I continued for approximately five minutes until the paramedics arrived, but it was too late. I had lost my first patient.
Medicine. I had always imagined it as saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, overall making life better for everyone. However, as I watched the paramedics pull the sheets over the victim’s head, I began to tremble. I had learned my first lesson of medicine: for all its power, medicine cannot always prevail. I had experienced one of the most disheartening and demoralizing aspects of medicine and faced it. I also demonstrated then that I know how to cope with a life-and-death emergency with confidence, a confidence instilled in me by my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, a confidence that I had the ability to take charge of a desperate situation and help someone in critical need. This pivotal incident confirmed my decision to pursue medicine as a career.
Of course healing, curing, and saving is much more rewarding than trying and failing. As an EMT I was exposed to these satisfying aspects of medicine in a setting very new to me — urban medicine. I spent most of a summer doing ride-alongs with the Ambulance Company in Houston. Every call we received dealt with Latino patients either speaking only Spanish or very little broken English. I suddenly realized the importance of understanding a foreign culture and language in the practice of medicine, particularly when serving an underserved majority. In transporting patients from the field to the hospitals I saw the community’s reduced access to medical care due to a lack of physicians able to communicate with and understand their patients. I decided to minor in Spanish. Having almost completed my minor, I have not only expanded my academic horizons, I have gained a cultural awareness I feel is indispensable in today’s diverse society.
Throughout my undergraduate years at Berkeley I have combined my scientific interests with my passion for the Hispanic culture and language. I have even blended the two with my interests in medicine. During my sophomore year I volunteered at a medical clinic in the rural town of Chacala, Mexico. In Mexico for one month, I shadowed a doctor in the clinic and was concurrently enrolled in classes for medical Spanish. It was in Chacala, hundreds of miles away from home, that I witnessed medicine practiced as I imagined it should be. Seeing the doctor treat his patients with skill and compassion as fellow human beings rather than simply diseases to be outsmarted, I realized he was truly helping the people of Chacala in a manner unique to medicine. Fascinated by this exposure to clinical medicine, I saw medicine’s ability to make a difference in people’s lives. For me the disciplines of Spanish and science have become inseparable, and I plan to pursue a career in urban medicine that allows me to integrate them.
Having seen medicine’s different sides, I view this as a multifaceted profession. I have witnessed its power as a healing agent in rural Chacala, and I have seen its weakness when I met death face-to-face as an EMT. Inspired by the Latino community of Houston, I realize the benefits of viewing it from a holistic, culturally aware perspective. And whatever the outcome of the cry "Call 911!" I look forward as a physician to experiencing the satisfaction of saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, and overall making life better for my patients.
Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #1: Emergency 911
This essay is one of our favorites. The applicant tells a story and weaves a lot of information into it about his background and interests. Note how the lead grabs one’s attention and the conclusion ties everything together.
What makes this essay work?
- A dramatic opening paragraph
This essay has an unusually long opener, but not only is it dramatic, it also lays out the high-stakes situation of the writer desperately trying to save the life of a young man. As an EMT, the writer is safe in sharing so much detail, because they establish their bona fides as medically knowledgeable. With the urgent opening sentence (“Call 911!”) and the sad final sentence (“I had lost my first patient.”), the writer bookends a particularly transformative experience, one that confirmed their goal of becoming a doctor.
- A consistent theme
The theme of a med school essay in which the applicant first deals with the inevitable reality of seeing a patient die can become hackneyed through overuse. This essay is saved from that fate because after acknowledging the pain of this reality check, the writer reports that they immediately committed to expanding his knowledge and skills to better serve the local Hispanic community. While not an extraordinary story for an EMT, the substance, self-awareness, and focus the writer brings to the topic makes it a compelling read.
- Evidence supporting the stated goal
This applicant is already a certified EMT, which serves as evidence of their serious interest in a medical career. In going on ambulance ride-alongs, the writer realized the barrier in communication between many doctors and their Spanish-speaking patients, which inspired the writer to take steps to both learn medical Spanish and shadow a doctor in a Mexican clinic. These concrete steps affirm that the applicant has serious intent.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #2: The Traveler
"On the first day that I walked into the Church Nursing Home, I was unsure of what to expect. A jumble of questions ran through my mind simultaneously: Is this the right job for me? Will I be capable of aiding the elderly residents? Will I enjoy what I do? A couple of hours later, these questions were largely forgotten as I slowly cut chicken pieces and fed them to Frau Meyer. Soon afterwards, I was strolling through the garden with Herr Schmidt, listening to him tell of his tour of duty in World War II. By the end of the day, I realized how much I enjoyed the whole experience and at the same time smiled at the irony of it all. I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.
Experiences like my volunteer work in the German nursing home illustrate the decisive role travel has played in my life. For instance, I had volunteered at a local hospital in New York but was not satisfied. Dreams of watching doctors in the ER or obstetricians in the maternity ward were soon replaced with the reality of carrying urine and feces samples to the lab. With virtually no patient contact, my exposure to clinical medicine in this setting was unenlightening and uninspiring. However, in Heidelberg, despite the fact that I frequently change diapers for the incontinent and deal with occasionally cantankerous elderly, I love my twice-weekly visits to the nursing home. Here, I feel that I am needed and wanted. That rewarding feeling of fulfillment attracts me to the practice of medicine.
My year abroad in Germany also enriched and diversified my experience with research. Although I had a tremendously valuable exposure to research as a summer intern investigating chemotherapeutic resistance in human carcinomas, I found disconcerting the constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research. In contrast, my work at the University of Heidelberg gave me a broader view of basic research and demonstrated how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit. I am currently attempting to characterize the role of an enzyme during neural development. Even though the benefit of such research is not yet apparent, it will ultimately contribute to a vast body of information which will further medical science.
My different reactions to research and medicine just exemplify the intrinsically broadening impact of travel. For example, on a recent trip to Egypt, I visited a small village on the banks of the Nile. This impoverished hamlet boasted a large textile factory in its center where many children worked in clean, bright, and cheerful conditions weaving carpets and rugs. After a discussion with the foreman of the plant, I discovered that the children of the village learned trades at a young age to prepare them to enter the job market and to support their families. If I had just heard about this factory, I would have recoiled in horror with visions of sweatshops running through my head. However, watching the skill and precision each child displayed, in addition to his or her endless creativity, soon made me realize that it is impossible to judge this country’s attempts to deal with its poverty using American standards and experience.
Travel has not only had a formative and decisive impact on my decision to pursue a career in medicine, it has also broadened my horizons – whether in a prosperous city on the Rhine or an impoverished village on the Nile. In dealing with patients or addressing research puzzles, I intend to bring the inquiring mind fostered in school, lab, and volunteer experiences. But above all, I intend to bring the open mind formed through travel.
Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #2: The Traveler
No boring repetition of itinerary from this seasoned traveler! This student ties their travels to their medical ambitions through the effective use of short anecdotes and vivid images. Can you sense the writer’s youthful disappointment during early clinical experiences and mature satisfaction working in the retirement home?
This applicant effectively links the expansive benefits of travel to their medical ambitions. By sharing vivid anecdotes from and reflections on these experiences, the writer enables the reader to easily imagine them as a talented physician in the future.
- An engaging opening that frames the storyline Many fine application essays open with imagery so vibrant that the writing could be mistaken for fiction. This essay is no different. We meet the writer in the setting of a nursing home overseas, where they question whether their volunteer experiences there will help them determine their career path. Notice how the first sentence reflects a worry, “I was unsure of what to expect,” but by the final sentence, the writer concludes with satisfaction, “I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.” With this framing, we appreciate the essay’s theme.
- Reflections on and contrasts about varied experiences in medicine The writer’s reactions to various encounters reveal a maturing mind-set: the “unenlightening and uninspiring” experience volunteering in a New York hospital versus the feeling of being “needed and wanted” in the nursing home in Heidelberg; the “disconcerting . . . constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research” versus the “broader view of basic research and . . . how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit” at the University of Heidelberg. These reflections demonstrate a thoughtfulness born of experience.
- How traveling has expanded his potential as a physician Of the five tightly constructed paragraphs in this substantial essay, the final two paragraphs home in on how travel has had an “intrinsically broadening impact” and stimulated an “open mind” to people and situations. This kind of sophisticated view is a desirable trait to adcoms.
- Out-of-the-box theme Although this essay’s foundation is built on the writer’s sincere and dedicated aspirations for a medical career, they allowed themselves the space to write about the broadening intellectual benefits of travel, linking those benefits to professional potential. Even when writing about children working in a factory in Egypt, this applicant brings an expanded mind-set and greater cross-cultural understanding that will no doubt benefit them in their career.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant
"Modest one-room houses lay scattered across the desert landscape, their rooftops a seemingly helpless shield against the intense heat generated by the mid-July sun. The steel security bars that guarded the windows and doors of every house seemed to belie the large welcome sign at the entrance to the ABC Indian Reservation. As a young civil engineer employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I was far removed from my cubicle in downtown Los Angeles.
However, I felt I was well-prepared to conduct my first project proposal. The project involved a $500,000 repair of an earthen levee surrounding an active Native American burial site. A fairly inexpensive and straightforward job by federal standards, but nonetheless, I could hardly contain my excitement. Strict federal construction guidelines laden with a generous portion of technical jargon danced through my head as I stepped up to the podium to greet the twelve tribal council members. My premature confidence quickly disappeared as they confronted me with a troubled ancient gaze. Their faces revealed centuries of distrust and broken government promises.
Suddenly, from a design based solely upon abstract engineering principles, an additional human dimension emerged – one for which I had not prepared. The calculations I had crunched over the past several months and the abstract engineering principles simply no longer applied. Their potential impact on this community was clearly evident in the faces before me. With perspiration forming on my brow, I decided I would need to take a new approach to salvage this meeting. So I discarded my rehearsed speech, stepped out from behind the safety of the podium, and began to solicit the council members’ questions and concerns. By the end of the afternoon, our efforts to establish a cooperative working relationship had resulted in a distinct shift in the mood of the meeting. Although I am not saying we erased centuries of mistrust in a single day, I feel certain our steps towards improved relations and trust produced a successful project.
I found this opportunity to humanize my engineering project both personally and professionally rewarding. Unfortunately, experiences like it were not common. I realized early in my career that I needed a profession where I could more frequently incorporate human interaction and my interests in science. After two years of working as a civil engineer, I enrolled in night school to explore a medical career and test my aptitude for pre-medical classes. I found my classes fascinating and became a more effective student. Today, I am proud of the 3.7 GPA I have achieved in competitive post-baccalaureate courses such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics.
Confident of my ability to succeed in the classroom, I proceeded to volunteer in the Preceptorship Program at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. I acquired an understanding of the emotional demands and time commitment required of physicians by watching them schedule their personal lives around the needs of their patients. I also soon observed that the rewards of medicine stem from serving the needs of these same patients. I too found it personally gratifying to provide individuals with emotional support by holding an elderly woman’s hand as a physician drew a blood sample or befriending frightened patients with a smile and conversation.
To test my aptitude for a medical career further, I began a research project under the supervision of Dr. John Doe from the Orthopedic Department at Big University. The focus of my study was to determine the fate of abstracts presented at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand annual meeting. As primary author, I reported the results in an article for the Journal of Hand Surgery, a peer-reviewed publication. My contribution to medicine, albeit small, gave me much satisfaction. In the future, I would like to pursue an active role in scientific research.
My preparation for a career as a medical doctor started with my work as a professional engineer. From my experiences at the ABC Indian Reservation, I realized I need more direct personal interaction than engineering offers. The rewarding experiences I have had in my research, my volunteer work at the Los Angeles County Hospital, and my post-bac studies have focused my energies and prepared me for the new challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead in medicine."
Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant
Here, an older applicant takes advantage of their experience and maturity. Note how this engineer demonstrates their sensitivity and addresses possible stereotypes about engineers’ lack of communications skills.
What works well in this essay?
- A compelling lead This story begins in a hot desert landscape, an unexpected and dramatic starting point. Can’t you just feel the heat and sense the loneliness of the remote Indian reservation? Equally powerful in this first paragraph is when the writer faces the need to suddenly and completely rethink their carefully planned approach to address the tribal leaders. Their excitement is dashed. Their confidence has plummeted. They are totally unprepared for the mistrust facing them and their plan, and they need to improvise –quickly. Who wouldn’t want to read on to see how they resolve this dramatic turn of events?
- Solid storytelling that leads to a satisfying conclusion This nontraditional med school applicant reinvents themself in this essay. After realizing that they want more human involvement and interaction in their work, they take this self-knowledge and show us the steps they took to achieve their new goal. The steps are logical and well thought out, so the writer’s conclusion that they are well prepared in every way for med school makes perfect sense.
- Evidence to support their theme Through taking prerequisite courses in medicine (and achieving high grades) to bedside hospital volunteering (which provides emotional satisfaction) to helping write a medical research paper (which provides a feeling that they are making a meaningful contribution), the writer offers evidence that they are well suited for their new goal of a career in medicine. Each experience shared is relevant to the writer’s story. Any reader will agree that the applicant’s future as a physician is promising.
- A thoughtful perspective From the opening paragraph, the writer shows their ability to adapt to new situations and realities with quick thinking and psychological openness. They assess each stage of their journey, testing it for intellectual value and emotional satisfaction. Journeys of reflective self-discovery are something adcoms value.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #4: The Anthropology Student
"Crayfish tails in tarragon butter, galantine of rabbit with foie gras, oxtail in red wine, and apple tartelettes. The patient had this rich meal and complained of “liver upset” (crise de foie). Why a liver ache? I always associate indigestion with a stomach ache. In studying French culture in my Evolutionary Psychology class, I learned that when experiencing discomfort after a rich meal, the French assume their liver is the culprit. Understanding and dealing with the minor – sometimes major – cultural differences is a necessity in our shrinking world and diverse American society. Anthropology has prepared me to effectively communicate with an ethnically diverse population. My science classes, research, and clinical experience have prepared me to meet the demands of medical school.
I first became aware of the valuable service that physicians provide when I observed my father, a surgeon, working in his office. I gained practical experience assisting him and his staff perform various procedures in his outpatient center. This exposure increased my admiration for the restorative, technological, and artistic aspects of surgery. I also saw that the application of medical knowledge was most effective when combined with compassion and empathy from the health care provider.
While admiring my father’s role as a head and neck surgeon helping people after severe accidents, I also found a way to help those suffering from debilitating ailments. Working as a certified physical trainer, I became aware of the powerful recuperative effects of exercise. I was able to apply this knowledge in the case of Sharon, a 43-year-old client suffering from lupus. She reported a 200% increase in her strength tests after I trained her. This meant she could once again perform simple tasks like carrying groceries into her house. Unfortunately, this glimpse of improvement was followed by a further deterioration in her condition. On one occasion, she broke down and cried about her declining health and growing fears. It was then that I learned no physical prowess or application of kinesiology would alleviate her pain. I helped reduce her anxiety with a comforting embrace. Compassion and understanding were the only remedies available, temporary though they were.
To confirm that medicine is the best way for me to help others, I assisted a research team in the Emergency Room at University Medical Center (UMC). This experience brought me in direct contact with clinical care and provided me with the opportunity to witness and participate in the “behind-the-scenes” hospital operations. Specifically, we analyzed the therapeutic effects of two new drugs – Drug A and Drug B – in patients suffering from acute ischemic stroke. The purpose of this trial was to determine the efficacy and safety of these agents in improving functional outcome in patients who had sustained an acute cerebral infarction. My duties centered around the role of patient-physician liaison, determining patients’ eligibility, monitoring their conditions, and conducting patient histories.
I continued to advance my research experience at the VA Non-Human Primate Center. During the past year, I have been conducting independent research in endocrinology and biological aspects of anthropology. For this project, I am examining the correlation between captive vervet monkeys’ adrenal and androgen levels with age, gender, and various behavioral measures across different stress-level environments. I enjoy the discipline and responsibility which research requires, and I hope to incorporate it into my career.
Anthropology is the study of humans; medicine is the science and art of dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease in humans. From my work at UMC and my observation of my father’s practice, I know medicine will allow me to pursue an art and science that is tremendously gratifying and contributes to the welfare of those around me. My anthropology classes have taught me to appreciate cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology. Firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition has taught me the invaluable role of prevention. Medical school will now provide me with the technical knowledge to alleviate a crise de foie."
[ Click here to view an excerpt from the original draft of this essay. ]
Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #4: The Anthropology Student
With a diverse background that includes anthropology studies, work as a certified physical trainer, and experience in clinical medical research, this applicant builds a strong case for their logical and dedicated choice of a medical career.
- An engaging opening that frames the storyline This writer cleverly uses an example from anthropology class, linking the description of a heavy, gourmet French meal to an appreciation for cross-cultural understanding that will be an asset during their medical career. Notice that the writer is not describing their own personal experience here but piggybacked on a class lesson to create a colorful, engaging opening.
- A solid variety of relevant experiences In this six-paragraph essay, the writer links their lessons from anthropology studies to a firsthand understanding based on observing how their surgeon-father related to patients, to becoming a physical trainer directly helping others, and then to two different kinds of medical research. Each experience builds logically and chronologically on what came before, adding to the substance of the applicant’s preparation for medical school.
- A powerful personal experience with a client In the third paragraph, the writer’s experience working with a patient with lupus is particularly strong and memorable. Their initial success with Sharon is followed by an almost immediate and radical decline in her condition. This is a moving anecdote that shows the applicant’s understanding of the limitations of medicine – and the power of compassion.
- An excellent summary paragraph that ties everything together The final paragraph isn’t the place to offer new information, and this one doesn’t. Instead, it reminds the reader about the strong foundation the writer built from academics to career and medical research. Readers will be persuaded that after these experiences and reflections, the applicant truly appreciates “cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology,” as well as the “firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition teaching the invaluable role of prevention.”
Don’t Write Like This!
As the time approached for me to set my personal and professional goals, I made a conscientious decision to enter a field which would provide me with a sense of achievement and, at the same time, produce a positive impact on mankind. It became apparent to me that the practice of medicine would fulfill these objectives. In retrospect, my ever-growing commitment to medicine has been crystallizing for years. My intense interest in social issues, education, and athletics seems particularly appropriate to this field and has prepared me well for such a critical choice...
I’ve been asked many times why I wish to become a physician. Upon considerable reflection, the thought of possessing the ability to help others provides me with tremendous internal gratification and offers the feeling that my life’s efforts have been focused in a positive direction. Becoming a physician is the culmination of a lifelong dream, and I am prepared to dedicate myself, as I have in the past, to achieving this goal.
Lessons from Don’t Write Like This
This is an excerpt from the original draft of the Anthropology Student’s AMCAS essay. We are not including the whole thing because you can get the idea all too rapidly from just this brief portion. Note the abundant use of generalities that apply to the overwhelming majority of medical school applicants. Observe how the colorless platitudes and pomposity hide any personality. Can you imagine reading essays like this all day long? If so, then imagine your reaction to a good essay.
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Med school personal statement FAQs
1. when should i start writing my personal statement for medical school.
Typically, traditional applicants who have a goal of submitting their AMCAS or AACOMAS application in June write their personal statement after they take the MCAT in March. Starting the prewriting for the personal statement earlier than that is fine too; however, if an applicant plans to sit for the MCAT in the early spring, writing a compelling personal narrative while preparing for the MCAT can often be too much. Both require very different kinds of thinking. The intensity of studying for the MCAT, and the empirical thinking it requires, can interfere with the imaginative brainstorming needed to find your topic and develop it.
Before focusing on the personal statement, look at all the elements of the primary application. As a whole, the personal statement, activities, MMEs, MCAT, transcript, biographical information and letters, will portray you. One element alone is not enough to bring out the whole you. It might help to strategize about how (and where) to highlight different elements of your background, experience, and character in the different parts of the primary application. Then work on the personal statement knowing what aspects of you are already represented in the other sections of the application. This way, each element adds value to the application and contributes to a more complete picture of you.
It makes sense to compartmentalize completing different parts of the application. Many applicants take the time they need to focus on one application component at a time, which seems to help them be thorough.
Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to write well. Exploring ideas in writing, developing those ideas, showing rather than telling a story, staying clear, writing fluidly, surmising maturely and insightfully, takes much more time than most people anticipate. So, don’t wait until Memorial Day to write your essay and intend to submit on June 1. Give yourself the churn time writing well needs. Also, give yourself time to put a draft down for a day or two and return to it when you’re able to read it afresh. Sometimes, we revise over and over again in one sitting to the point that we can no longer hear the story or its sense because we have been rehearsing and revising a draft to beat the clock. Doing this is a risky way to go about the personal statement. Remember, this essay should be a very impressive part of your application, not merely one more part of the application to finish. At the end of the day, the medical school personal statement is a window that allows others to see you, know you as a person, know you better and beyond your achievements.
2. How do I find the perfect personal statement topic? Does one exist?
Certainly, some ideas are better than others, and one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. However, there is no “perfect” topic. In fact, writing an essay with the approach of trying to out-psych this important application requirement is likely not the strongest way to find your best topic, nor is it the best way to engage your readers.
Instead, consider the following approach. What is an experience you’ve had that matters greatly in helping others understand who you are as a future physician? Why medicine, not in general, but for you, demonstrated by way of a story about an experience that directly ties to being a physician or indirectly demonstrates your sound character as it corresponds with human qualities medical schools desire. When we read what kinds of people medical schools seek, it’s easy enough to identify quite a few character traits that appeal to many schools: compassion, resiliency, adaptability, selflessness, inclusivity, and altruism among them. What experience, when written with key details and description, reveals who you really are?
3. How do you choose the right amount of personal qualities to list?
A strong medical school personal statement should not replicate other parts of the application, with the exception of it being a specific story that stems from a particular experience associated with one of your activities. Otherwise, there’s no listing in this essay. Unfortunately, some applicants do treat the personal statement as an opportunity to list awards, accolades, and experiences, paragraph by paragraph. Meanwhile, medical school admissions officers can see these awards and experiences in the Experiences section of the application. Rarely, if ever, does this kind of writing bring out voice, vision and identity. Instead, tell a true story, revised with care and precision, that shines with voice, vision and identity.
4. Are there any topics I should avoid for my medical school personal statement?
Certainly, one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. So, there’s a subjectivity in what to write and what not to write. Generally, however, there are some topics to avoid. Don’t write about a time you felt cheated, inconvenienced, frustrated or angry. Sometimes, secondary essay prompts will ask you about a struggle or a mistake, and for these answers, it’s best to show how you turned the situation around or keenly learned from it. Don’t get too caught in childhood. Many applicants do write about a time when they were not yet grown; however, don’t get swallowed by it. Write the scene and then stay in the present to demonstrate your maturity and worthwhile hindsight.
Remember -- no matter what the topic, tone matters.
5. What kind of experience should I include in my personal statement?
6. can the experience i use on my med school personal statement be from outside of college.
Absolutely. It is relatively common for applicants to only portray themselves as students, and this can be a problem. Sometimes, when applicants write about themselves as excellent students the tone of such a personal statement can sound boastful or pleading. Neither quality is advantageous.
Seeing oneself in any other light can result in a stronger “snapshot” of who you are, as long as the theme or topic of your personal statement still suits the intention of the application in the first place – demonstrating who you are as an appealing candidate for medical school. When we consider the writing task for the personal statement to be much more story-driven, readers go on a descriptive journey. What journey would you like to share?
7. Should I talk about challenges I’ve faced?
If other parts of your medical school application suggest a struggle – whether a lower MCAT score or a notable weak semester on a transcript – it might be advantageous to explain what happened and how you turned that situation around. Whether writing about a challenge in the personal statement or secondaries, the key is to demonstrate resilience. Applicants with physical or cognitive disabilities may choose to write about seeking assistance -- whether a doctor, therapist or a tutor -- and how learning alternative strategies helped them figure out how to attain higher academic achievement.
Sometimes challenges are circumstantial. Sometimes families face financial hardship (did the family breadwinner become unemployed and therefore everyone else had to work more hours, including you?), emotional stress (due to an ongoing illness, Covid-19, or a divorce?) or trauma (a death of a loved one, a house fire, a veteran/sibling returning home with PTSD). Sometimes an applicant has been a caregiver for someone in the family. Sometimes an applicant has taken a leave from school because of someone else’s struggles, or the emotional fallout on the applicant from someone else’s struggle – the loss of a childhood friend, for instance. Self-care is reasonable. We might need to share a life moment in order to frame the context of a life struggle, showing it in the context of responsibility rather than recklessness or immaturity. Showing how you stepped up in a challenging time can show that you are accountable and caring, as long as the story is told to these ends, rather than suggesting resentment or self-pity. Again, neither of these tones is advantageous, nor is blame.
Occasionally applicants have been challenged by a course or by a professor, a classmate or teammate and feel unduly subjected to bias. If there’s discrimination involved, that might be a story to tell. If there’s a personality clash, that might not be a good story to tell.
Finally, as any story of challenge moves along, it’s important to demonstrate what you did, what you learned, how you adapted, or what you now value from having had this life experience that you did not understand before.
Being a doctor is rife with challenges. In the end, your readers may come to understand how you are an insightful leader with great resilience or a compassionate, problem-solver.
8. How do I focus my personal statement to show that I want to go into medicine and not another field in healthcare?
Great question. On the one hand, it’s a good idea to demonstrate your compassion for others and empathy for people suffering from illness. On the other hand, these are favorable attributes for nearly all healthcare workers -- not only doctors -- but for physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and psychologists too. Since most applicants have done some shadowing of physicians, it’s not unusual for these experiences to contain moments of learning about being a physician through shadowing or through work in a clinic. However, the more clinical the story, the better especially if you’re applying to osteopathic schools of medicine. If you’re applying to allopathic schools of medicine, it’s possible you have some interest in being a researcher, so telling a story about working in a physician’s lab might demonstrate your insights into the value of research in light of disease or patient care. If you already have an affinity for a specialty, telling how you came to know this could be the way to go.
9. Do I introduce my desired field of healthcare in my personal statement?
Maybe. If you’re very committed and have demonstrated a trend in your activities from general volunteer work (older listings) to more specialized experience in a field of medicine (more recent listings), it may be a good idea to write up how you came to know one field of medicine was really your passion.
Bear in mind that announcing a deep interest in a particular field of medicine may make you “a good fit” or “not a good fit” for some schools. So, if you do write up a story about your desired field of medicine for your personal statement, be sure your list of schools corresponds with this. For instance, if you want to be an obstetrician and you convey this in your personal statement, be certain your schools have clinical exposure or better yet offer specializations in obstetrics, or a required rotation through a hospital for women, for instance.
Lastly, by no means must you announce a desired field of healthcare in your personal statement. You may be asked about your specialized interests in medicine in a secondary or in an interview, so it’s a good idea to think this through, but no, you don’t have to tackle this in the personal statement.
10. What should my character limit be?
The AMCAS and AACOMAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,300 characters with spaces. The TMDSAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,000 characters with spaces. It’s a good idea to use most if not all of this space for your personal statement. Also, try to avoid the temptation to use the same personal statement for AMCAS and AACOMAS. The osteopathic schools seek applicants who know and prefer an osteopathic orientation to medicine, so the AACOMAS personal statement should demonstrate your fit with osteopathic medicine, based on what story you choose to tell and how you tell it, or at the very least, in the conclusion.
11. How do I know when I’m ready to submit my med school personal statement?
I highly recommend getting feedback about this from a strong mentor, advisor or consultant. Accepted offers comprehensive consultation for every part of the writing process, from brainstorming, to outlining, to mentoring on ideas, and editing until a client has a solid final draft in hand, ready for submission. You can review these services here: Initial Essay Package
Generally speaking, when you’ve accomplished FAQ #2 and #3, avoided the pitfalls in #4, revised for clarity and quality of ideas, developed ideas engagingly, and meticulously revised for quality of writing, then, you may be done.
12. What if I don’t have enough space to discuss everything?
Then your topic is too large or unfocused, in which case you need to focus and narrow the scope of your essays. Or you have a bit of editing to do to eliminate wordiness, digressions, or overstatement Ultimately, you want your essay to be focused, clear, and engaging.
13. Should I personalize my personal statement to the med school I am applying to?
Only if you’re applying to one medical school. Otherwise, your personal statement will reach all schools listed in your AMCAS application or AACOMAS application. It is okay, however, to speak toward the ideals of your first choice, aspirational schools on your list. Other times, applicants choose to write toward the schools that are their safest bets.
Your secondary/supplemental essays will give you plenty of opportunity to show you belong at an individual school.
14. Can I talk about mental or physical health in my statement?
15. should i address any bad grades that i got in school.
Generally yes, as long as bad grades are truly bad grades. It’s likely that you do not need to address a rogue grade of B on a transcript. If you had a bad semester or two, the question becomes how and where to address them. The answer is an individual one dependent on the context. The one certainty: You definitely don’t want your entire application to be a rationalization of those bad grades.
See FAQ #7.
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The Medical School Personal Statement: How To Stand Out
Posted in: Applying to Medical School
Impressive GPAs and MCAT scores, research experience, physician shadowing, and meaningful volunteer work are only one part of a successful medical school application . You may meet all other medical school requirements , yet face rejection.
One thing can help you stand above the rest: A compelling personal statement.
The medical school personal statement is important because it highlights your hard work, your pre-medical school accomplishments, and why you’re a better candidate than everyone else.
In other words: Who are you, what makes you unique, and why do you deserve a spot in our school?
We’ve helped thousands of prospective medical students increase their odds at acceptance with better personal statements. Now, we’ll show you exactly how to do it.
Working on your personal statement? Speak with a member of our enrollment team who can walk you through the step-by-step med school application process from start to finish.
Table of Contents
What’s in a great med school personal statement.
An excellent medical school personal statement should contain:
- Passion for an area of the healthcare field.
- Storytelling that captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence.
- Emotion and personality to show (not tell) admissions committee members who you are.
- A unique answer to the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?”
A powerful personal statement shows that you are the kind of candidate who will make an exceptional physician and be a valuable asset to the school during your medical education. Additionally, it helps to distinguish your application from the many other students with similar MCAT scores and GPAs.
A weak personal statement would, in turn, have the opposite effect.
Not only does the personal statement weed out unqualified candidates, but it also serves as a foundation for many interview discussions and questions .
Admission committee members often only have a few minutes to review an application. Personal statements provide them with the right amount of information. Since it’s possible this is the only part of your application they’ll read, it needs to be perfect .
When writing your personal statement, you’ll also want to note the AAMC core competencies that are expected of all medical professionals. Some, if not all, of these competencies should shine through in your application essay.
The AAMC core competencies include :
- Interpersonal competencies: service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, and oral communication.
- Intrapersonal competencies: ethical responsibility to self and others, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, and a capacity for improvement.
- Thinking and reasoning competencies: critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific inquiry, and written communication.
- Science competencies: living systems and human behavior.
It’s important to show passion for something specific — a group of underserved people, a type of patient, the benefit of a particular area of medicine, etc. Your passion should be evident, non-generic, and authentic. Ask yourself, “What makes a good doctor?”
It’s crucial to avoid cliches in your personal statement, like claiming you want to become a doctor “to help people.”
Dr. Renee Marinelli, Director of Advising at MedSchoolCoach, warns that certain cliches may not truly represent meaningful experiences that influenced your decision to pursue medicine.
You may have decided to become a doctor from experiencing a kind physician as a child, but that personal experience doesn’t convey genuine passion. Your enthusiasm for medicine doesn’t need to originate from a grand experience or sudden revelation.
Your interest in medicine probably developed gradually, perhaps when you fell in love with psychology during college and volunteered at nursing homes. You don’t need a lifelong dream to demonstrate passion and become an outstanding doctor.
A memorable personal statement captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence, which you can do with an interesting personal story or anecdote. Including some creativity, ingenuity, humor, and character.
Immersing the admissions committee in your personal statement allows you to show , not just tell , how your experiences have impacted your journey to medicine.
Don’t repeat the data your admissions committee can read on the rest of your application — SHOW the passions and experiences that have led you to this field using a narrative approach.
Consider the following examples of statements about a student’s volunteer experience at a food pantry:
"“Through my work at the local food pantry, I came to understand the daily battles many individuals face, and it allowed me to develop deeper empathy and compassion.” “When I saw Mr. Jones, a regular at the kitchen, struggling to maneuver his grocery cart through the door, I hustled over to assist him. My heart sunk when I saw he was wearing a new cast after having been assaulted the night prior.”
Which do you think performed better in terms of conveying personal characteristics? Your personal statement is a deep dive into one central theme, not about rehashing all of your experiences.
3. Emotion & Personality
An engaging personal statement allows your unique personality and real emotions to shine through.
As Dr. Davietta Butty, a Northwestern School of Medicine graduate, avid writer, pediatrician, and MedSchoolCoach advisor, puts it, “I think the best personal statements are the ones that showcase the applicant’s personality. Remember that this is your story and not anyone else’s, and you get to say it how it makes sense to you.”
This is why storytelling is such an important part of personal statement writing. Your writing process should involve quite a bit of writing and editing to express emotion in a relatable, appropriate way.
A Note On Writing About Tragedy
One way you can show who you are is by expressing an appropriate level of emotion, particularly about challenging or tragic experiences. (But don’t worry — not everyone has a tragic backstory, and that’s perfectly fine!)
If you are discussing a tragedy, don’t go into an extended explanation of how you feel — show emotion and your personality while sticking to the plot.
Personal tragedies, such as the death of a loved one, can powerfully motivate a personal statement. In a field where life and death constantly clash, experiences with death might appear impressive qualifications; however, approach them cautiously.
Focus on the reasons behind your motivation, rather than the details of the tragedy. Explain how the experience impacted your medical career aspirations, including skill development or perspective changes.
How have you applied these new skills or perspectives? How would they contribute to your success as a medical student?
4. Why You Want To Be a Doctor
Becoming a doctor is no small feat. What journey brought you here?
Writing things like “I want to help people” or “I want to make a difference” won’t set you apart from all the other students applying for medical school .
Knowing who you want to serve, why you want to help them (in story form), and where you’d like to end up will show admissions officers that you are serious about your medical career.
After all, this career doesn’t just involve many years of post-graduate education — you need a significant motivation to see this career through. That’s what admissions committees are looking for!
Read Next: Medical School Interviews: What To Do Before, During & After
How long is a personal statement for medical school?
Your statement is limited to:
- 5,300 characters (including spaces) on the AMCAS application ( MD programs )
- 5,000 characters on the TMDSAS (Texas MD programs)
- 5,300 characters for AACOMAS (DO programs)
That’s roughly 500-700 words, or 3 double-spaced pages of text.
We typically suggest our students divide their personal statement into about 5 full paragraphs — an intro, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Pro tip: Do not type directly into the text box — if something goes wrong, you’ll lose all of your work. Write in another program first, then copy and paste the edited copy into the application text box.
Use a text-only word processing tool (TextEdit on Mac devices or Basic Text Editor on Windows), or type the essay into Microsoft Word or a Google Doc. Just remember to save the file as a *.rtf. This will eliminate formatting issues when you copy and paste the essay into the AMCAS box.
How To Write a Personal Statement For Medical School
Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion for medicine and your unique experiences. Be genuine, focused, and concise; your personal statement will leave a lasting impression on medical school admissions committees.
Some questions you may want to consider while writing your personal statement are:
- Why have you selected the field of medicine?
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What do you want medical schools to know about you that has yet to be disclosed in another application section?
In addition, you may wish to include information such as unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits. Comment on significant academic record fluctuations not explained elsewhere in your application.
With thousands of students, we’ve developed a nine-step process for how to write a personal statement that’s sure to get noticed. Follow these steps in order to uplevel your personal statement writing.
1. Choose a central theme.
Sticking to one central theme for your personal statement may sound tricky, but sticking with a central theme can give your statement more of a rhythm.
Here are a few examples to use when thinking of a central theme:
- What is an experience that challenged or changed your perspective on medicine?
- Is there a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual that has significantly influenced you?
- What was a challenging personal experience that you encountered?
- List unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
- What is your motivation to seek a career in medicine?
2. Choose 2-4 personal qualities to highlight.
Keep this part brief and highlight the strengths that will make you an exceptional doctor.
What sets you apart from others? What makes you unique? What are you particularly proud of about yourself that may not be explained by a good GPA or MCAT score?
Here are a few examples of quality traits great doctors possess:
- Good judgment under pressure
- Excellent communication skills
- Leadership skills
3. Identify 1-2 significant experiences that demonstrate these qualities.
In this section, you should include that these experiences exemplify the qualities above and outline your path to medicine.
The top experiences college admissions seek are research projects , volunteer activities, and mentorship.
Here are a few ways to narrow down what makes an experience significant:
- Which experiences left you feeling transformed (either immediately, or in retrospect)?
- Which experiences genuinely made you feel like you were making a difference or contributing in a meaningful way?
- Which experiences radically shifted your perspectives or priorities?
- Which experiences have truly made you who you are today?
Pro tip: If you’re still in your third year of pre-med and want to participate in more experiential projects that will support your future medical career, check out Global Medical Brigades . We partner with this student-led movement for better global health, and brigades are a transformative way to begin your medical career.
4. Write a compelling introduction.
Your personal statement introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. The first paragraph should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.
Check out this webinar for more examples of what makes a great introduction.
5. Use storytelling to write the body paragraphs.
Since the goal is to achieve depth rather than breadth (5,000 characters isn’t a lot!), focus on key experiences instead of discussing everything you’ve accomplished. Remember, you’ll have the Work & Activities section to share other relevant experiences.
Use the following five-step formula to elaborate on important experiences in the body paragraphs of your personal statement:
- Discuss why you pursued the experience.
- Mention how you felt during the experience.
- Describe what you accomplished and learned.
- Discuss how your experience affected you and the world around you.
- Describe how the experience influenced your decision to pursue medicine.
The best personal statements tell a story about who you are. “Show, don’t tell,” what you’ve experienced — immerse the reader in your narrative, and you’ll have a higher chance of being accepted to medical school.
6. Create an engaging conclusion.
Your goal is to make the person reading want to meet you and invite you to their school! Your conclusion should:
- Talk about your future plans.
- Define what medicine means to you.
- Reflect on your growth.
- Reiterate how you’d contribute to your school’s community and vision.
7. Use a spellchecker to proofread for basic errors.
Misusing “your” instead of “you’re” or misspelling a few important words can negatively impact how your personal statement is received. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be perfect on your personal statement.
Use Grammarly or a similar spellchecker to check for errors before completing your personal statement. You can also use an AI tool like ChatGPT for proofreading, although it’s more likely to make sweeping changes.
8. Edit your draft.
Editing your personal statement a few times over will benefit you in the long run. Give yourself time to write, edit, reread, and re-edit your personal statement before submitting it with your application.
You can use AI technology like ChatGPT for small edits or to help you add in information where you might feel stuck, but don’t rely too much on it.
9. Ask a few trusted people to read your draft.
Have at least one friend, family member, and at least one person who’s a medical professional review your draft. A professor in your pre-med program would be a great person to review your draft.
Be willing to receive as much feedback as your trusted people are willing to give. Don’t get caught up in obsessing over one statement you really like if all three of your readers suggest cutting it.
If you’d like a professional eye on your personal statement, consider a personal statement editing service. Our editors are medical professionals, often who have reviewed personal statements and applications submitted to admissions committees.
We’d love to help you craft a personal statement that’s sure to stand out.
30 Prompts To Inspire Your Personal Statement
Here are 30 prompts to inspire your personal statement:
- Describe a defining moment in your life that solidified your desire to pursue a career in medicine.
- Discuss a challenging situation you faced and how it shaped your perspective on healthcare.
- Reflect on a time when you made a meaningful impact on someone’s life through your actions or support.
- Explain your motivation for wanting to become a physician and how it has evolved over time.
- Describe a personal quality or skill that will contribute to your success as a medical professional.
- Discuss the importance of empathy and compassion in the medical profession and share a personal experience demonstrating these qualities.
- Reflect on a specific medical case or patient that inspired you and how it influenced your future goals.
- Share a story about an interaction with a mentor or role model who has inspired your path in medicine.
- Describe a time when you overcame adversity or faced a significant challenge in your journey to medical school.
- Explain how your background, culture, or upbringing has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
- Discuss a medical issue or topic you’re passionate about and why it’s important to you.
- Describe your experience working or volunteering in a healthcare setting and the lessons you’ve learned.
- Reflect on a time when you had to adapt or be resilient in a challenging situation.
- Discuss how your interest in research or innovation will contribute to your career as a physician.
- Share a personal experience that has shaped your understanding of the importance of teamwork in healthcare.
- Describe a leadership role you’ve held and how it has prepared you for a career in medicine.
- Discuss the impact of a specific medical discovery or advancement on your decision to pursue medicine.
- Reflect on your experience with a particular patient population or community and how it has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
- Share your thoughts on the role of social responsibility in the medical profession.
- Explain how your experiences with interdisciplinary collaboration have prepared you for a career in medicine.
- Describe a time when you advocated for a patient or their needs.
- Share your experience with a global health issue or project and how it has impacted your perspective on healthcare.
- Discuss your interest in a specific medical specialty and why it appeals to you.
- Reflect on a time when you encountered an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.
- Describe an experience that demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth.
- Share a story about a time when you had to think critically and problem-solve in a healthcare setting.
- Discuss how your experiences with diverse populations have informed your approach to patient care.
- Describe an experience that highlights your ability to communicate effectively with others in a medical setting.
- Reflect on a time when you demonstrated your commitment to patient-centered care.
- Share your thoughts on the importance of balance and self-care in the medical profession and how you plan to maintain these practices throughout your career.
Avoid These Common Personal Statement Mistakes
Avoid these 5 common mistakes students make when writing their personal statements:
- Clichés : “I just want to help people,” “from a young age,” “I’ve always wanted to,” and “for as long as I can remember,” are just some of the overused phrases in personal statements. Other clichés we’ve seen often include saying that you’ve wanted to be a doctor for your whole life, using overly dramatic patient anecdotes, or prideful-sounding stories about how you saved a life as a pre-med student. Eliminate clichés from your writing.
- Typos/grammatical errors: We covered this already, but the grammar in your statement should be flawless . It’s hard to catch your own typos, so use grammar checking tools like Grammarly and ask your readers to look for typographical errors or grammar problems, too.
- Name-dropping: At best, naming a prominent member of the medical community in your statement sounds braggadocious and will probably be brushed off. At worst, an adcom reader may think poorly of the person you mention and dismiss you based on the connection. If you do know a well-known and well-respected person in the medical field and worked closely with them, request a letter of recommendation instead.
- Restating your MCAT score or GPA : Every character in your personal statement counts (literally). Don’t restate information already found on your application. If your application essay is being read, an algorithm has already identified your prerequisite scores as being worthy of reviewing the rest of your application.
- Using extensive quotes from other people: This is your chance to show who you are. Quoting a philosopher or trusted advisor in these few precious characters takes away from the impact you can have. A single short quote might be okay if it’s highly relevant to the story you’re telling, but don’t go beyond that.
Should you use ChatGPT to help you write?
ChatGPT is a great AI tool to help you get your personal statement off the ground. However, since this is your personal statement, ChatGPT won’t be able to effectively write transitions or tie your personal statement together.
Only you can effectively convey what being a doctor means to you. Only you carry the experiences in your mind and heart that have compelled you to pursue this competitive profession. Don’t rely on artificial intelligence to fake those experiences — it will show, and not in a good way.
We’ve found that ChatGPT can help speed the processes of ideation, editing, and grammar-checking. If you’re not using it to emulate human experiences but just treating it as a helpful assistant, go for it!
When should you start writing your personal statement?
Begin writing your personal statement early enough to have months of reflection and editing time before your application cycle begins. We recommend writing your personal statement as the first step when applying to medical school , starting in December or January before applications open.
As you progress, anticipate revising multiple versions of your draft. Spend time reflecting on your life experiences and aspirations.
Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor and previous admissions committee member at GWU, recommends starting your personal statement in December/January if you plan to apply in May/June (you should!).
This gives you plenty of time to have others review it or to get professional personal statement editing services. It also gives you time to write multiple drafts and be 100% satisfied with your final essay.
9 Personal Statement Examples That Led To Med School Acceptance
We’ve included some of our favorite medical school personal statement examples below. Each of these was written by a student who was accepted at one or more programs of their choice.
1. Embracing Diversity: Healing Through Cultural Connections
Student Accepted to Case Western SOM, Washington University SOM, University of Utah SOM, Northwestern University Feinberg SOM
With a flick and a flourish, the tongue depressor vanished, and from behind my ear suddenly appeared a coin. Growing up, my pediatrician often performed magic tricks, making going to the doctors’ feel like literal magic. I believed all healthcare facilities were equally mystifying, especially after experiencing a different type of magic in the organized chaos of the Emergency Department. Although it was no place for a six-year-old, childcare was often a challenge, and while my dad worked extra shifts in nursing school to provide for our family, I would find myself awed by the diligence and warmth of the healthcare providers.
Though I associated the hospital with feelings of comfort and care, it sometimes became a place of fear and uncertainty. One night, my two-year-old brother, Sean, began vomiting and coughing non-stop. My dad was deployed overseas, so my mother and I had no choice but to spend the night at the hospital, watching my brother slowly recover with the help of the healthcare providers. Little did I know, it would not be long before I was in the same place. Months later, I was hospitalized with pneumonia with pleural effusions, and as I struggled to breathe, I was terrified of having fluid sucked out of my chest. But each day physicians comforted me, asking how I was, taking time to reassure me that I was being taken care of, and explaining any questions related to my illness and treatment. Soon, I became excited to speak with the infectious disease doctor and residents, absorbing as much as I could to learn more about different illnesses.
In addition to conventional medical settings, I also came to view the magic of healing through other lenses. Growing up, Native American traditions were an important aspect of my life as my father had been actively involved with native spirituality, connecting back to his Algonquin heritage. We often attended Wi-wanyang-wa-c’i-pi ceremonies or Sun Dances, for healing through prayer and individuals making personal sacrifices for their community. Although I never sun danced myself, I spent hours in inipis, chewing on osha root, finding my own healing through songs. In addition to my father’s heritage, healing came from the curanderismo traditions of Peru, the home of my mother, who came from a long line of healers, which involved herbal remedies and ceremonies in the healing of the mind, body, energy and soul. I can still see my mother preparing mixtures of oils, herbs, and incense while performing healing rituals. The compassion and care she put into healing paralleled the Emergency Department healthcare providers.
Through the influence of these early life experiences, I decided to pursue a career in the health sciences. Shortly after starting college, I entered a difficult time in my life as I struggled with health and personal challenges. I suddenly felt weak and tired most days with aches all over my body. Soon, depression set in. I eventually visited a doctor, and through a series of tests, we discovered I had hypothyroidism. During this time, I also began dealing with an unprocessed childhood trauma. I decided to take time off school, and with thyroid replacement hormones and therapy, I slowly began to recover. But I still had ways to go, and due to financial challenges, I made the difficult decision to continue delaying my education and found work managing a donut shop. Unbeknownst to me, this experience would lead to significant personal growth by working with people from all walks of life and allowing me time for self-reflection. I found myself continuously reflecting on the experiences in the hospital that defined my childhood and the unmatched admiration I had for healthcare workers. With my renewed interest in medicine, I enrolled in classes to get my AEMT license to get more experience in the medical field.
As my health improved, I excelled in my classes, and after craving the connections of working with others, I became a medical assistant. In this position, I met “Marco,” a patient who came from Mexico for treatment. Though I spoke Spanish while growing up, I had little experience as a medical interpreter. However, I took the opportunity to speak with him to learn his story. Afterwards, he became more comfortable, and I helped walk him through the consultation process, interpreting the physician’s words and Marco’s questions. This moment showed me the power of connecting with others in their native language. As a result, I began volunteering at a homeless clinic to continue bridging the language barrier for patients and to help advocate for the Latinx community and those who struggle to find their voice.
My journey to become a doctor has been less direct than planned; however, my personal trials and tribulations have afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people who have been invaluable to my recovery and personal development. Most importantly, I have seen the value of compassionate and empathetic care. Though I have not recently witnessed any sleight of hand or vanishing acts, what healthcare providers do for patients can only be described as magic. I look forward to bringing my diverse background as a physician and expanding my abilities to help patients in their path to healing.
2. The Calling to Heal From the Battlefield
Student Accepted to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, Yale SOM
I’ll never forget his screams of pain.
It was the first time I had heard a man cry for help, and it shook me to my core. It had been a long night of training in South Korea for me and my fellow Army Rangers. We were reaching the end, heavy with exhaustion, when my friend took the direct impact of an explosive to his leg. The shockwave momentarily rattled my sense of balance. Struggling to see in the dark, I switched on my headlamp. In that instant, all I could focus on was his face. His eyes darted back and forth, sweeping the surroundings for any semblance of help, but all I could do was stand there and watch as our medics treated him.
No amount of training prepared me to see a friend in pain. As I watched the helicopter fly him away, I couldn’t help but think— even though I’d gone through some of the best military training in the world, in that moment, I could do nothing for him. Fortunately, he is okay, but had there been no medic available, the situation could have ended with tragedy. That night, I realized that through a career in medicine, I could be more than just a bystander to suffering— I could be in the position to not only reduce unnecessary pain but to also help those affected by conflict and trauma be restored to the fullness of life.
Upon returning home from this deployment, I shifted my focus to developing my skills in trauma care. I completed various trainings on caring for casualties in a combat environment and preparing non-medic Rangers to provide self-aid or buddy-aid in the absence of a medical provider. In a final scenario-based training lane, I helped lead my team in the treatment and packaging of a trauma patient for evacuation, setting a record time in our company and earning a military medal. This achievement, however, was only the beginning. These trainings and my successes served as a foundation that I built upon to ensure I could provide life-saving care in combat situations. I continued to hone this skillset over my next two combat deployments as a machine gunner to Afghanistan, where, I was prepared to use these critical abilities to decrease mortality on the battlefield. In medicine, like in the army, the actual practice of one’s craft may be life or death. Therefore, evolving both dependability and proficiency during training is imperative in preparation for that final test, both in war and in medicine.
After leaving the military, confronting injury and trauma continued to be a reality. A year after exiting the service, two Army Ranger leaders whom I knew were critically injured on a mission overseas. One was my former team leader, who was shot in the neck, and the other was caught in an explosion that later resulted in a triple amputation. The relentless efforts of doctors and nurses is the reason why both of these brave men are alive today. Recognizing that without the diligent care of these medical professionals, these men would not have survived, I became ever more dedicated to serving others.
While in college, this dedication pushed me to routinely visit the West Haven VA Hospital to provide a community of support for the older, disabled veterans there. I first began visiting this hospital for my own medical care but witnessing the suffering of the other veterans at the hospital spurred me to return repeatedly not as a patient, but as a friend to my fellow veterans. As a veteran and student, seeing and hearing about the pain and loss of function experienced by many other veterans reminded me of the importance of advocacy in healthcare: to understand, to care for, and to fight for those who are unable to do so themselves.
I continued to see these effects of conflict while volunteering as a tutor to individuals from the Middle East who were affected by the very war I served in. Alaa lives in Syria and dreams of becoming a surgeon. Together, Alaa and I discussed chemistry, biology, and math. Despite his love of learning and dedication, the instability of his community, which was plagued by violence, often barred him from focusing on his studies and committing to a routine tutoring schedule. Although I’ll never intimately know the reality of growing up in a war-torn country, working with Alaa taught me to keep the bigger picture of healthcare in mind. It reminded me that a career as a physician would provide me with the capability to help those like Alaa who are affected by conflict.
When I reflect on medicine, I draw many parallels to my life in army special operations. The training is intense, the hours are long, and the structure is hierarchical. The mission, above all else, is to provide the best outcome for those around you. On my journey to a career in medicine, I plan to continue to add to what I’ve learned from my experiences so far: humility, empathy, dependability, communication, teamwork, and leading from the front. For over four years I lived by the Ranger Creed, and I plan to imbue the same ethos in serving as a physician— to keep myself mentally alert and morally straight, to shoulder more than my share of whatever task presents itself. In crossing from the path of a warrior to that of a healer, I hope to continue a life of service to improve the human condition and reduce unnecessary suffering in the world one person at a time.
3. Community-based Health and Empathy: Serving Underserved Communities in Crisis
Student Accepted to Weill Cornell
My path to medicine was first influenced by early adolescent experiences trying to understand my place in society. Though I was not conscious of it at the time, I held a delicate balance between my identity as an Indian-American and an “American-American.”
In a single day, I could be shooting hoops and eating hotdogs at school while spending the evening playing Carrom and enjoying tandoori chicken at a family get-together. When our family moved from New York to California, I had the opportunity to attend a middle school with greater diversity, so I learned Spanish to salve the loss of moving away and assimilate into my new surroundings.
As I partook in related events and cuisine, I built an intermixed friend group and began to understand how culture influences our perception of those around us. While volunteering at senior centers in high school, I noticed a similar pattern to what I sometimes saw at school: seniors socializing in groups of shared ethnicity and culture. Moving from table to table, and therefore language to language, I also observed how each group shared different life experiences and perspectives on what constitutes health and wellness. Many seniors talked about barriers to receiving care or how their care differed from what they had envisioned. Listening to their stories on cultural experiences, healthcare disparities, and care expectations sparked my interest in becoming a physician and providing care for the whole community.
Intrigued by the science behind perception and health, I took electives during my undergraduate years to build a foundation in these domains. In particular, I was amazed by how computational approaches could help model the complexity of the human mind, so I pursued research at Cornell’s Laboratory of Rational Decision-Making. Our team used fMRI analysis to show how the framing of information affects its cognitive processing and perception. Thinking back to my discussions with seniors, I often wondered if more personalized health-related messaging could positively influence their opinions. Through shadowing, I had witnessed physicians engaging in honest and empathetic conversations to deliver medical information and manage patients’ expectations, but how did they navigate delicate conflicts where the patients’ perspectives diverged from their own?
My question was answered when I became a community representative for the Ethics Committee for On Lok PACE, an elderly care program. One memorable case was that of Mr. A.G, a blind 86-year-old man with radiation-induced frontal lobe injury who wanted to return home and cook despite his doctor’s expressed safety concerns. Estranged from family, Mr. A.G. relied on cooking to find fulfillment in his life. Recognizing the conflict between autonomy and beneficence, I joined the physicians in brainstorming and recommending ways he could cook while being supervised. I realized that the role of a physician was to mediate between the medical care plan and the patient’s wishes in order to make a decision that preserves their dignity. As we considered possibilities, the physicians’ genuine concern for the patient’s emotional well-being exemplified the compassion that I want to emulate as a future doctor. Our discussions emphasized the rigor of medicine—the challenge of ambiguity and the importance of working with an individual to serve their needs.
With COVID-19 ravaging our underserved communities, my desire to help others drove me towards community-based health as a contact tracer for my county’s Department of Public Health. My conversations uncovered dozens of heartbreaking stories that revealed how inequities in socioeconomic status and job security left poorer families facing significantly harsher quarantines than their wealthier counterparts. Moreover, many residents expressed fear or mistrust, such as a 7-person family who could not safely isolate in their 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment. I offered to arrange free hotel accommodations but was met with a guarded response from the father: “We’ll be fine. We can maintain the 6 feet.” While initially surprised, I recognized how my government affiliation could lead to a power dynamic that made the family feel uneasy. Thinking how to make myself more approachable, I employed motivational interviewing skills and even simple small talk to build rapport. When we returned to discussing the hotel, he trusted my intentions and accepted the offer. Our bond of mutual trust grew over two weeks of follow-ups, leaving me humbled yet gratified to see his family transition to a safer living situation. As a future physician, I realize I may encounter many first-time or wary patients; and I feel prepared to create a responsive environment that helps them feel comfortable about integrating into our health system.
Through my clinical and non-clinical experiences, I have witnessed the far-reaching impact of physicians, from building lasting connections with patients to being a rock of support during uncertain times. I cannot imagine a career without these dynamics—of improving the health and wellness of patients, families, and society and reducing healthcare disparities. While I know the path ahead is challenging, I am confident that I want to dedicate my life to this profession.
4. Creating a Judgment-Free Zone with The Power of Acceptance in Healthcare
Student Accepted to George Washington SOM and Health Sciences, Drexel University COM
Immigrating into a foreign country without speaking a word of the language is a terrifying task for anyone. My mentee at Computers4kids, Sahil, came to the United States at seventeen and had been struggling to integrate with society due to the language barrier. Although I was born in the United States, I can empathize with the struggle he encounters daily, since both my parents and many members of my family have dealt with the same issues. Often, these barriers exacerbate mundane issues the immigrant population faces as they have difficulty finding people who can understand and care for them. Since I am bilingual in Farsi, when Sahil approached me with his driving instructions manual written in Dari, I thought I could teach him the rules of the road with no issues. I asked him to read the first sentence, but he diverted his gaze and mumbled that he did not know how to read. As I realized he seemed embarrassed by his illiteracy, I placed my hand on his shoulder and assured him that he could learn. I increased my weekly hours at the site to spend an equal amount of time on the rules of the road and on phonetics and reading. Within a few months, he was more comfortable greeting others around the Computers4Kids site and participating in interactive projects. Upon reflection, I appreciate the importance of creating a judgment-free zone that encourages learning and reciprocal care. Once Sahil noticed that I saw him no differently after learning of his illiteracy, he was ready and willing to work on the basics of language and reading, instead of solely memorizing words.
I did not realize how pivotal a judgment-free zone in a medical environment is until I worked at the University of Virginia Emergency Department as a medical scribe. Although I had scribed at a smaller hospital before, I had always strived for a position at a high-volume healthcare center and level one trauma center. Close to the end of a long shift, I walked into the room of a patient with the chief complain of ‘Psychiatric Evaluation’. A male patient with schizophrenia was hyperventilating and speaking through tears as he described seeing his deceased wife and daughter everywhere he looked. Between short breaths, he mentioned he was going to Florida to attack the person who “murdered his family”. The resident diffused the situation by acknowledging the patient’s feelings and suggesting that he stayed for psychiatric help instead of flying to Florida. Eventually, the patient agreed and was admitted. Seeing the resident create this judgment-free environment was eye opening, as the previously distressed patient was now accepting counseling. The powerful influence of acceptance can lead to valuable insights about patients’ lives, potentially increasing the range of care one can administer.
I decided to transition to primary care in the most recent fall season because I would be able to build a more personal relationship with families in my community. I began working at Union Mill Pediatrics and was finally able to serve the community I grew I up in. I was given the responsibility of acting as the primary contact for a few families with children who have autism. Dr. Maura and I perused the plan of care for one of these children, Ayaan, determined by the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), to ensure that set therapeutic goals were reasonable and generalizable. When I asked Salwa, Ayaan’s mother, about some of the goals set by her BCBA and the school, she mentioned they would repeat exercises he already knew how to complete. I informed Salwa of her right as a patient to bring up her concerns with Ayaan’s teachers. I was overjoyed when she updated me that she instructed Ayaan’s teacher to continue putting his hearing aid in despite Ayaan’s constant cries. Salwa explained that the tantrums would curb after two days, which proved to be true. Similarly to how I encourages Salwa to advocate for her son, I will advocate for my patients and help them develop confidence to speak about their needs. After finding her voice as the patient’s guardian, Salwa gained the confidence to ask about a support group as she faces difficulties raising Ayaan alone. After some research, I found a few active groups to send her. By proving to Salwa I had her best interests in heart, she opened up to me about her mental health issues, which enabled me to extend the appropriate resources her way.
I have witnessed the potential that physicians have at work to forever change a family’s quality of life by being open-minded and remaining judgment-free. As a physician, I will aim to provide for my community through attentive healthcare and community service. I will advocate for my patients with cultural, language or socioeconomic barriers to healthcare. Building a trusting relationship with my future patients can result in a more productive office visit and enhance my ability to administer holistic care. My goal is for patients to leave their visit with not only a reasonable plan of care, but also a greater appreciation of their health and their rights as patients.
5. The Intersection of Medicine and Creativity
Student Accepted to Hackensack Meridian SOM, Nova Southeastern CoOM/KPCOM
Growing up, I inherited a deep admiration for medicine. From my grandfather’s chilling stories as a forensic psychiatrist assessing mental fitness, to my father’s heroic accounts as a pediatric dentist operating on toddlers with severe tooth decay, I was enamored with the honor of healing. These exposures nurtured my natural curiosity and innate aptitude for the sciences. Yet my mother, who had studied dance and theatre, instilled in me a fervent love of the arts and creative practice. Following in her footsteps, I took up multiple musical instruments, attended a high school for the arts, and earned a degree in art history coupled with a dance minor. Still, my dream was to pursue medicine, and though it seems counterintuitive, my love of art has only facilitated my enduring love of science, reinforcing why pursuing a career as a holistic, health-centered physician is my deepest aspiration.
My affinity for the health sciences began in the dance studio, where I devoted many hours of my adolescence. Dance, insidious in its promotion of grotesque health practices, demanded that I limit my calories to 1,200 a day counting everything from ibuprofen to a stick of gum, and to dance through a severe hamstring tear. My conceptions of health were severely warped until college dance came to my rescue. These new progressive teachers uplifted dancers of all physical and cognitive abilities, distributed scientific journals on effective warm-up techniques, and abandoned conventional dance norms. I was disturbed by all the unlearning I had to do, but eager to reacquaint myself with my body and disseminate new knowledge. Thus, I was honored when dance again presented an opportunity in health, as I was hired to teach dance at my childhood summer camp. Here, I could separate my curriculum from unreasonable physical expectations and interpersonal competition. I found a fierce sense of joy and fulfillment from being an advocate for physical and emotional health, and I knew I wanted to continue helping others heal while also deconstructing my own negative health experiences.
These formative experiences in the arts profoundly supported my intellectual development, allowing me to thrive in science-based settings and ultimately prompting me to seek out colleges with robust research programs. At the University of Michigan, I had the privilege of participating in a campus research lab, undoubtedly resulting in my most valuable college experience. The world of scientific inquiry can be intimidating, but after a year of reading dozens of papers and learning novice lab protocols, I began my own independent investigation of zebrafish retinas. My goal was to uncover the mechanisms of retinal regeneration in fish, thus addressing vision loss. The excitement I felt in utilizing challenging lab techniques, working with animals, witnessing the culmination of my efforts through image analysis, and being a part of such life-altering research was unmatched. What once seemed like magic was now tangible; I was an artist helping craft the solutions to science’s unanswered questions. In the context of my multidisciplinary interests, my research reinforced the creative, humanitarian side of science, and that science was where I felt compelled to take action and build a career.
Art continued to deepen my passion for and understanding of medicine. The revolutionary approaches of my dance teachers modeled the importance of critique as it pertains to health. This was not a new concept to me; my high school art teachers had urged us to challenge institutional weaknesses. It was not until college, however, that I realized how this line of thinking intersects with medicine. Studying art history, I repeatedly encountered artists whose work tackled issues in health. Keith Haring confronted the AIDS crisis when society had turned on the gay population, and Marc Quinn confronted the disease of addiction in his self-portrait sculptures, made entirely of his own frozen blood. Art, I learned, is so often a response to disease, be it physical, mental, or sociological. These artists had been champions of health in light of its stigmas and politics; art thus fostered new intentions, instilling within me an ardent goal of social activism through medicine.
Art has contributed to my journey, and while it is not my ultimate goal, I hope to incorporate my artistically based insights into my work in science and medicine as a health and social justice advocate. I am driven to continue exploring these intersections, having compiled an entire portfolio on the connection between dance and science, researched disability in the arts, and pursued my personal interest in LGBTQ+ health advocacy by connecting with and shadowing a variety of gender care physicians. My intention to pursue medicine is personal, fulfilling, and pressing, and I take seriously the responsibility I will have as a physician to be a mogul for change in areas of healthcare that compromise the human experience. Further, my natural inclination towards science and involvement in academic research has instilled in me the confidence and skills necessary to be an effective medical practitioner. With this balanced mindset, I know I will contribute to a more ethical and well-rounded approach to healthcare.
6. Innovation in Medicine and a Quest for Discovery
Student Accepted to Johns Hopkins SOM, Washington University SOM, Hofstra Zucker SOM
As a notoriously picky nine-year-old with a penchant for grilled cheese, I was perplexed when I learned that my younger sister, Rachel, had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I felt a sting of betrayal knowing my comfort food was the culprit for Rachel’s terrible stomach aches. Yearning to understand how my favorite food was poisoning my favorite person, I developed an insatiable desire to discover the “why” behind Celiac. As Rachel’s doctor explained her disease, I was both fascinated that a simple protein could cause so much damage and inspired by the doctor’s compassion. He described every detail in a way Rachel would understand, addressed her every concern, and held her hand when she was scared. I wanted to be just like Rachel’s doctor so that I too could use science to decipher medical mysteries while also reassuring my patients that I would be their advocate and help them heal.
My interest in medicine drove me to learn more about what it meant to be a doctor. As a freshman in high school, I arranged a shadow day with Dr. M, a cardiologist. He taught me about echoes, showed me a pacemaker implantation, and in the midst of a cardioversion, even beckoned me over to press the button that discharged the defibrillator. I could not contain my excitement recounting how much I had learned during my first day in a clinical setting. From there, my curiosity skyrocketed and I embarked on a relentless pursuit to explore the spectrum of the medical field. I was moved by the supportive atmosphere of the NICU, struck by the precision involved in ophthalmology, absorbed by the puzzle-like reconstruction of Mohs surgery, and awed by the agility of cardiothoracic surgery. Between high school and college, I shadowed over a dozen physicians, cementing my interest and furthering my passion for a future medical career.
My college classes allowed me to immerse myself further in the study of the human body. Following my fascination with cancer, I secured an internship working on a melanoma immunotherapy clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health. I savored the stimulation, grasping new experimental techniques and developing assays; but my work took on even greater meaning when I learned that my grandfather had been enrolled in an early-stage immunotherapy trial himself while battling mucosal melanoma. Although immunotherapy did not heal my grandfather, I was immensely proud to be advancing the science years later. Through long nights and evolving experiments, I gave the trial its final push through an FDA approval checkpoint; ultimately, my contributions will help more grandparents go into remission. The most fulfilling moments came every Monday when I accompanied the leading physician scientists on their rounds. As I met patients, listened to their stories, and celebrated their improvements, the pulsating blister on my thumbpad from endless pipetting became akin to a medal of honor. Reflecting on these encounters, I wanted to continue driving scientific innovation, but I also wanted a more active and personal impact in the patient’s experience.
My desire to connect with patients brought me to Alliance Medical Ministry, a clinic serving uninsured, disadvantaged communities in North Carolina. I stepped up to lead efforts to organize a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, communicating personally with every eligible patient and arranging vaccine appointments for over a thousand people across the hardest hit areas of Raleigh. The experience became even more rewarding when I trained to administer vaccines, becoming a stable, anchoring presence from the beginning to the end of the process. One memorable patient, “Amy,” had not seen a doctor in years because of the associated financial burden. When she came to the clinic suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, she was not even aware of her diabetes diagnosis. While I waited with her for transportation to the ER, she expressed her fears about contracting COVID at the hospital. However, she emphatically dismissed my suggestion about receiving a vaccine. I listened intently to all her concerns. Not only was she worried about the vaccine infecting her with the virus, but also her history of being denied healthcare due to her socioeconomic status had instilled fears that she would not be taken care of should she have an adverse reaction. I took her hand in mine and reassured her of the clinic’s mission to provide care regardless of ability to pay. I further explained everything I knew about how the vaccine worked, its safety and efficacy, and how my body reacted when I received my own injection. I could not help but beam behind my N95 when days later, Amy returned, sat in my chair and confidently rolled up her sleeve for me to give her the protective shot.
I have grown by exploring the multifaceted world of medicine through shadowing, pioneering research to advance patient care at the NIH, and cultivating trusting relationships with patients from the vaccine clinic. As a doctor, my desire to be an innovative thinker and problem solver will fuel my unrelenting quest for discovery throughout a lifetime of learning. Most importantly, I aspire to use my medical knowledge to improve lives and establish meaningful patient partnerships, just as Rachel’s doctor did with her.
7. Transforming Pain into Purpose: Inspiring Change in the Field of Medicine
Student Accepted to UCSF SOM, Harvard Medical School
Countless visits to specialists in hope of relief left me with a slew of inconclusive test results and uncertain diagnoses. “We cannot do anything else for you.” After twelve months of waging a war against my burning back, aching neck and tingling limbs, hearing these words at first felt like a death sentence, but I continued to advocate for myself with medical professionals. A year of combatting pain and dismissal led me to a group of compassionate and innovative physicians at the Stanford Pain Management Center (SPMC). Working alongside a diverse team including pain management specialists and my PCP, I began the long, non-linear process of uncovering the girl that had been buried in the devastating rubble of her body’s pain. From struggling with day-to-day activities like washing my hair and sitting in class to thriving as an avid weightlifter and zealous student over the span of a year, I realized I am passionate about preventing, managing and eliminating chronic illnesses through patient-centered incremental care and medical innovation.
A few days after my pain started, I was relieved to hear that I had most likely just strained some muscles, but after an empty bottle of muscle relaxers, the stings and aches had only intensified. I went on to see 15 specialists throughout California, including neurologists, physiatrists, and rheumatologists. Neurological exams. MRIs. Blood tests. All inconclusive. Time and time again, specialists dismissed my experience due to ambiguous test results and limited time. I spent months trying to convince doctors that I was losing my body; they thought I was losing my mind. Despite these letdowns, I did not stop fighting to regain control of my life. Armed with my medical records and a detailed journal of my symptoms, I continued scheduling appointments with the intention of finding a doctor who would dig deeper in the face of the unknown. Between visits, I researched my symptoms and searched for others with similar experiences. One story on Stanford Medicine’s blog, “Young Woman Overcomes Multiple Misdiagnoses and Gets Her Life Back”, particularly stood out to me and was the catalyst that led me to the SPMC. After bouncing from doctor to doctor, I had finally found a team of physicians who would take the profound toll of my pain on my physical and mental well-being seriously.
Throughout my year-long journey with my care team at the SPMC, I showed up for myself even when it felt like I would lose the war against my body. I confronted daily challenges with fortitude. When lifting my arms to tie my hair into a ponytail felt agonizing, YouTube tutorials trained me to become a braiding expert. Instead of lying in bed all day when my medication to relieve nerve pain left me struggling to stay awake, I explored innovative alternative therapies with my physicians; after I was fed up with the frustration of not knowing the source of my symptoms, I became a research subject in a clinical trial aimed at identifying and characterizing pain generators in patients suffering from “mysterious” chronic pain. At times, it felt like my efforts were only resulting in lost time. However, seeing how patient my care team was with me, offering long-term coordinated support and continually steering me towards a pain-free future, motivated me to grow stronger with every step of the process. Success was not an immediate victory, but rather a long journey of incremental steps that produced steady, life-saving progress over time. My journey brought me relief as well as clarity with regard to how I will care for my future patients. I will advocate for them even when complex conditions, inconclusive results and stereotypes discourage them from seeking continued care; work with them to continually adapt and improve an individualized plan tailored to their needs and goals, and engage in pioneering research and medical innovations that can directly benefit them.
Reflecting on the support system that enabled me to overcome the challenges of rehabilitation, I was inspired to help others navigate life with chronic pain in a more equitable and accessible way. Not everyone has the means to work indefinitely with a comprehensive care team, but most do have a smartphone. As a result, I partnered with a team of physicians and physical therapists at the University of California San Francisco to develop a free mobile application that guides individuals dealing with chronic pain through recovery. Based on my own journey, I was able to design the app with an understanding of the mental and physical toll that pain, fear, and loss of motivation take on patients struggling with chronic pain. Having features like an exercise bank with a real-time form checker and an AI-based chatbot to motivate users, address their concerns and connect them to specific health care resources, our application helped 65 of the 100 pilot users experience a significant reduction in pain and improvement in mental health in three months.
My journey has fostered my passion for patient-centered incremental medicine and medical innovation. From barely living to thriving, I have become a trailblazing warrior with the perseverance and resilience needed to pursue these passions and help both the patients I engage with and those around the world.
8. Overcoming Bias, Stigma, and Disparities in Medicine
Student Accepted to University of Florida COM
Growing up as a Black woman, my family’s experiences with racial bias in medicine were central to my perception of doctors. From my grandmother’s forced electric shock therapy in the Jim Crow South that resulted in severe brain damage, to my father’s ignored appendicitis that led to a near-death infection after rupturing, every trip to the doctor came with apprehension. Will these strange men with sharp tools heal me or hurt me? This question repeated in my head as I prepared to undergo my first surgery to remove suspiciously inflamed lymph nodes at age 11. I woke up groggy from anesthesia with a negative cancer diagnosis but a blistering third degree burn. The surgeon had successfully removed the malignant masses but had left the cauterizing iron resting on my neck in the process. Today when I look in the mirror and see the scar, I am reminded of the troubling reality that myths such as black people having thicker skin and less sensitive nerve endings are still pervasive in the medical field. By challenging the systemic disparities in medicine that disadvantage minority populations, I vow to my inner child that I will be a different kind of doctor, a doctor who values the patient as much as the procedure.
My experiences with a variety of communities, minority and majority, stem from growing up in a military household that came with frequent relocations. I was exposed to a wide range of communities from an early age—rural Oregon to tropical Hawaii, industrious Japan to politicized D.C, sunny San Diego and finally to radical Berkeley where I began my pre-medical education. I chose to view medicine from an anthropological lens while at Cal and supplemented my coursework with community service. As co-coordinator of UC Berkeley’s chapter of Peer Health Exchange, my 9th grade students were, at first, mistrusting –even with my Angela Davis-esque afro, I was clearly not from Oakland and not quite old enough to be lecturing them. But it was the Good Samaritan Law lecture, during which students learned they would not face police penalty for calling 911 if a friend was in trouble, that I finally gained their trust. One student shared, “I always worried that I wouldn’t be able to call for help because I’m undocumented.” Later as a health advocate at UCSF, I encountered the same sentiment from families in the pediatric clinic who worried that accessing healthcare for a sick child might put their immigration or legal status at risk. I learned that to get to the root of barriers to access, trust is invaluable. Navigating marginalized spaces with cultural competency is an asset that I pride myself in.
I carried this foundation into my research and clinical work on HIV, a disease that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities and is often left untreated by the stigmas surrounding medicine for these communities. As an HIV PreP Navigator at the Oasis clinic, I was on rotation when a thirteen-year-old girl was referred to the clinic after testing positive for HIV. We analyzed her T cell count and viral load, and discovered she fit the AIDs criteria. In the following weeks, we worked on medication adherence, and as the girl’s CD4 count rose, so did her spirits and mine. Medicine is more than just a diagnosis and prescription—it is active compassionate treatment. It is holding steady when the entire ground seems to shake with the magnitude of an illness. It is being able to look a patient in the eye and truly see them despite the myriad of differences.
The disparities and differences in patient circumstances has been emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this disproportionate effect of the virus on minority communities, I worked at a COVID-19 testing facility in one of the most underserved and impoverished communities in the Los Angeles’ area. Assuring patients of the safety of Covid testing measures was a big part of the job. “Have you done it?” They would ask. “What about Tuskegee?” Being Black, I felt the burden of responsibility that came with these questions. How could I have such faith in medicine knowing the traumatic past? My response was simple, “I believe in the science. I can explain PCR testing to you if you like.” By eradicating some of the mystery surrounding these lab techniques, people felt more comfortable. The opportunity to serve as a trusted community leader by directly interacting with patients and working on a team with doctors, EMTs, and nurses amid an international crisis reaffirmed my journey into medicine.
Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” As an aspiring physician, these words have served as a motivating mantra. To “get off the ground” for me means to become the first medical doctor in a lineage of sharecroppers and farmers. Medicine has been my “sun” for as long as I can remember; its promise to bring light has kept me jumping at every opportunity. Like my grandmother, my father, and so many others, I have experienced disparity in medicine. The scars that mar our bodies are my constant reminder that there is much work to be done. I see medicine as the ability to directly enact that change, one patient at a time.
9. Navigating Personal Struggles to Become a Compassionate Physician
Student Accepted to Touro CoOM, Nova Southeastern CoOM/KPCOM
I fight the heavy sleepiness that comes over me, but before I know it, I am out like a light. Forty-five minutes later, I wake up with a sore throat, watery eyes, and an intensely cold, painful feeling plaguing my entire right leg. Earlier, my parents and I arrived at the Beckman Laser Institute for another treatment of my port-wine stain birthmark. Despite my pleas to not undergo these procedures, my parents still took me twice a year. As I was rolled into the cold, sterile operating room on a gurney, I felt like I was experiencing everything from outside of myself. Despite my doctor’s and nurses’ best efforts to comfort me, I felt my heart racing. Feelings of apprehension and fear of the unknown flooded my senses at the sight of beeping machines and tubes that seemed to go everywhere. As the anesthesiologist began to administer the “sleepy juice,” I felt sad, realizing that my birthmark was a permanent resident on my leg and that I would have to receive this treatment for the rest of my life.
As an adult, I am grateful my parents continued to take me to the laser institute. Starting treatment so early aided in the lightening of my birthmark, which did wonders to improve my self-confidence. However, I suffered daily, feeling like I constantly had to hide something about myself. I kept my secret from everyone except my parents. Despite there being several medical doctors in my family, I knew that any sign of illness or disease would be held against me socially amongst other Egyptians. My secrecy was made even more difficult by the advice of my doctor to avoid certain physical activities, as they could worsen the underlying pathology of the veins in my legs. On his advice, I only wore long pants and would not run with other children during recess and gym class. This all added to the isolation I felt growing up, not knowing anyone with a similar condition to mine. Even as a child, no amount of explaining or encouragement could make me understand the benefit of those painful laser treatments.
What eventually changed my perspective was the team of compassionate doctors and nurses who have been caring for me since I began this journey. I was particularly touched when one of my doctors shared with me that she had also undergone a procedure that she would be performing on me. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Not only was she a specialist in the field, but her empathy for what I would soon go through became a source of instant comfort and ease for me. I knew that what she said was heartfelt, and not simply an attempt to convince me to undergo a procedure. I realized then that one of the reasons I had felt so afraid was because I had been alone in what I was going through.
A few years later, I attended a conference held by the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, where a variety of specialists convened to discuss port-wine stain birthmarks and other related conditions. Once we arrived at the hotel where the conference would take place, I met a woman who had a facial port-wine stain birthmark. As we began sharing stories about our experiences with our condition, we connected over how difficult it had been to receive treatment. We both knew what it felt like to be told that the birthmark was simply a cosmetic issue, and that any form of treatment we received would have no corrective purpose, if it was even considered treatment in the first place. There was a certain sense of freedom that I felt in finally being able to talk about my illness with someone I could trust to understand. Thinking back to the doctor who connected with me over a procedure she had also experienced as a patient, I felt truly called in that moment to pursue my goal of becoming a vascular physician. My goal would be to become a source of comfort and familiarity for patients who struggle as I have, to give them the same relief that I experienced from finally being understood.
Despite the pains I went through, I now realize that the experiences I have had as a patient can help me better understand what it means to be a physician. By being an excellent listener and openly sharing my experiences with receiving treatment, I can foster an honest and safe physician-patient relationship. I believe this approach will not only comfort my patients, but also help them make informed decisions about their treatment. My commitment to this approach has also led me to choose a DO path for my medical career. Having researched the holistic treatment approach that a DO delivers, I realized that being treated by a DO would have done wonders for my self-confidence and overall health as a young patient. The aspects of my port wine stain that were always left untreated were the emotional and social side effects of my condition. As a DO in the dermatology or interventional radiology specialty, I hope to gain the tools to provide empathetic and comprehensive care to my patients that reassures them that they are not alone in their journey to better health.
Want to read a few more great samples? We also broke down the things that make these 3 personal statements excellent and compelling.
Other Resources For Personal Statement Writing
Do you want to learn even more about personal statements? Dive into these great resources!
FREE MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT WEBINARS
Preparing Your Personal Statement For Medical Programs Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Director of Writing & College Advising, Jennifer Speegle.
Creating the First Draft of Your Medical School Personal Statement Hosted by MedSchoolCoach advising and writing advisors, Ziggy Yoediono MD and James Fleming.
Where to Begin When Writing Your Personal Statement Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Associate Director of Writing and College Advising, Jennifer Speegle, Associate Director of Advising, Ziggy Yoediono MD, and Writing Advisor, Carrie Coaplen Ph. D.
The Medical School Personal Statement – What Makes a Great Intro and Why It’s Important Hosted by Director of Advising, Dr. Renee Marinelli, MD, Master Advisor, Dr. Ziggy Yoediono, MD, and Founder of MedSchoolCoach, Dr. Sahil Mehta, MD.
THE PROSPECTIVE DOCTOR PODCAST
Episode 2 – The Personal Statement
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Episode 76 – How to Tackle the Medical School Personal Statement
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Section 8 of the AMCAS® Application: Essays
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Expert Insight on 7 Features the Best Medical School Personal Statements Have
You have every reason to be confident as you begin applying to Doctor of Medicine (MD) programs , but remember to be thoughtful while completing each component. Your medical school personal statement is a particularly critical element that should convey what motivates you to become a doctor while showing you can clearly communicate in writing.
“It is your chance to show the university how awesome you are, how you are one of a kind, and how lucky they would be to have you at their school,” explains Kirsten Moon, a counselor who specializes in medical school admissions and founder of Moon Prep . She has plenty of insight on what makes a strong medical school personal statement.
7 Features of a stand-out medical school personal statement
Note that including each of the below elements is important for the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) personal statement, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) personal statement, and the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS) personal statement.
1. They’re truly personal
Before you start writing, take some time to reflect on why you are interested in becoming a doctor . Having a clear understanding of your motivations can help you determine how to frame your essay.
“The topic you select for your personal statement should feel easy to write about and express something truly special about who you are as a person,” Moon says.
Rather than listing out your achievements or your goals for the future, think about where you have been and why you have continued down this unique path.
2. They tell a story
Your story isn’t solely about attending school and getting good grades in your medical school prerequisite courses . Think about some memorable experiences you’ve had that relate to your goals in medicine. Discuss them with a mentor or your peers to determine which feels most compelling.
“Sometimes a ‘regular’ event in your life can serve as a great essay topic,” Moon explains. “Oftentimes, students try hard to think of monumental things that have happened to them and get stuck on finding a worthwhile topic.”
“Sometimes a ‘regular’ event in your life can serve as a great essay topic.”
3. They reveal your best qualities
Stand-out essays highlight your personal selling points. Ideally, your essay should speak to how you exhibit many of the 15 competencies the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) emphasizes.
“The essay is not a time to be modest,” Moon says. But she makes sure to caution students as well. “I am not saying to be boastful or arrogant. Use your story to highlight your good qualities.”
You may also want to speak to an area of specialization that piques your interest or a new topic you want to research during medical school . You might choose to show your analytical side by sharing an interesting perspective on a medical topic.
4. They get to the point
If you’ve ever researched medical school personal statement examples, you’ve likely noticed the essays that stand out to admissions teams clearly introduce the topic and tell a cohesive narrative. To achieve the same success, start brainstorming themes before you sit down to write. Try to align that topic with your personal story when writing, and be sure to end on a strong note.
“The closing paragraph is the second most important piece of your essay, right behind the opening paragraph,” Moon notes. “It must tie everything together.”
5. They have substance
“The essay is a time to show, not tell,” Moon says. “Many students spell things out in a blunt way in their essays. Instead, use your story to communicate the message you want the admissions staff to hear.”
There’s a character limit for your medical school personal statement, so there isn’t room for language that doesn’t add to the overall narrative. A strong editor should be able to help you point out the words or phrases that do not efficiently communicate the point you are trying to make, but you may also want to consider outlining before you begin writing.
Simply following the basic outline format for essays works well for a personal statement. Strive for clarity with an introduction, three to five supporting points, and a definitive conclusion. This personal statement format has become a go-to choice because it’s usually quite effective.
6. They grab the reader’s attention
Writing a compelling essay is about presenting relevant ideas in an interesting way. Word choice certainly matters, but the way you tell the story is far more important.
“Be sure to use action words and descriptor words,” Moon says. “Verbs and adjectives bring your story to life.”
Make sure the quality of thought is what drives your essay. Medical school admissions teams are reading many applications, and they want to be able to quickly understand what you are trying to say. Keep sentences simple and direct, and use words that say what you mean while engaging the reader.
7. They’re clean and professional
Even the most compelling medical school personal statement can fall flat if it is full of grammatical errors, sloppy paragraph structure, or punctuation mistakes. There’s no excuse for basic writing mishaps, so be sure to have multiple people check your work, and try to connect with an editor who can give you constructive feedback.
It’s never too early to start your research
While drafting your medical school personal statement, make sure you’re critically evaluating each of the programs you’re considering. Focusing on schools that meet your needs is just as important as putting together a strong application. Learn more about how to compare programs by reading our article “ How to Choose a Medical School: 9 Things to Evaluate Before Accepting .”
This article was originally published in October 2018. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2021.
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The Ultimate Medical School Personal Statement Guide: (w/ Prompts & Examples)
Writing an effective medical school personal statement.
You may be asking yourself why it’s important to write an effective medical school personal statement. Let’s look at the numbers.
According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in the 2019-2020 school year alone, 53,371 people applied to medical school. Of those 53,371 prospective students, less than 22,000 were accepted. This is an acceptance rate of about 41%.
Getting into medical school is pretty much the gold standard for any college student. People are impressed when you tell them you’ve been accepted into graduate school, and they get really excited for you when they hear you’re working on a doctoral degree.
When you tell someone you’ve been accepted to medical school, though, is when they really become impressed. That’s because not just anyone can make it into med school. It takes someone special who stands out from the crowd.
Numerous doctors, psychiatrists, and researchers will tell you that every generation, people are getting smarter . This is great for the human race as a whole, but it makes it that much harder for smart students to get into competitive programs.
It’s fine for you to have an exceptional GPA and great MCAT scores ( Read : What’s a good MCAT score ), but if every other person applying to med school also has those things, it’s not exactly going to set you apart from anyone.
Limited Spots vs. Numerous Applicants
Each year, a limited number of spots open up for prospective medical school students, and every year, an excessive number of students try to win those coveted spots.
Because they understand how competitive this process is, in addition to keeping their grades up and scoring high on the MCAT, these students also intern in prestigious placements and put in hours of volunteer and community service.
Chances are if you’re applying to medical school, you’ve done these things too. So how do you make sure that your application stands out from the thousands of others from equally qualified students?
You have to write an effective, well-written, and memorable medical school personal statement for your admissions essay.
The personal statement is the one place in the entire application packet where you get to tell your story and shine a light on yourself. This is the place where you get to explain exactly why you’re more qualified and/or deserving of a spot in med school than every other applicant.
That’s why writing the perfect med school personal statement is so important.
Medical School Prerequisites
Before you can even apply to medical school, there are several things you have to do first. If at the time of reading this article, you’re already in the process of applying for med school, you’ve probably already taken care of most of these things.
Feel free to use this as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Step 1: Choose the Right Major and Take the Right Classes
Traditionally, students who want to attend medical school major in one of the following subjects:
- Biomedical Sciences
Med school students can come from many different majors, though, including English, Sociology, Religion, and other fields.
The downside to coming to med school from one of these majors is that you may have to take a few extra classes to ensure you’ve taken the required courses for med school. For most schools, these include:
- English – 1 year
- Biochemistry – 1 year
- Physics & Physics Lab – 1 year
- Biology & Biology Lab – 1 year
- General Chemistry & Chemistry Lab – 1 year
- Organic Chemistry & Chemistry Lab – 1 year
- Various Upper-Level Science-Related Courses & Electives
Most of the science majors have all of these courses as part of their main curriculum, which is why most students hoping to go to medical school major in those fields.
Step 2: Take the MCAT or Equivalent Standardized Test
If you’re headed to medical school in the United States, you have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).
Read : What’s the MCAT?
If you’re going to medical school in the UK, you’ll most likely be required to take the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) instead. Other countries have their own versions of this test, but at their core, they’re all very similar.
They’re all standardized exams that test students’ knowledge of various fields. The majority of questions focus on the hard sciences, but there are other questions as well.
Some of these include questions about sociology, psychology, and questions to test your critical thinking and analysis skills. Be sure to check out your prospective schools’ required minimum scores for admission.
Step 3: Get Some Experience
During your undergraduate years, you’ll also want to be obtaining some real-world experience . Get out and do some volunteer work. Look for summer internships that place you inside doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals. Job shadow doctors, nurses, surgeons, psychologists, etc.
Get a job in medical research if possible. Do whatever you can do to be able to show the med school admissions teams that you have real, relevant experience in the field of medicine.
The Admissions Process
The process of applying to a medical school in the United States is a little different than the process of applying to a med school in another country.
For example, in many countries outside the United States, you have to apply to each different medical school individually.
In the United States, though, no matter how many schools you plan on applying to, it all starts in one place: the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) .
If you ever used the Common App to apply for colleges as an undergrad, you’ll have an idea of what it’s like to apply to med school using the AMCAS as a central application starting point.
Applying to medical school through the AMCAS is the first step in a two-step process. This application is your base application that gets sent out to all the medical schools to which you apply.
The AMCAS is a general, standard application. In it, you’ll provide colleges with all the basic information about yourself.
This includes the standard application information, such as your name, contact information, demographic information, education history, resume, transcripts, GPA and MCAT scores, etc.
You’ll then select the medical schools you’d like your application to be sent to, and you’ll be required to write your medical school personal statement.
It can take up to six weeks for your AMCAS application to be processed. During this time, the AAMC will be verifying your educational history and your course work.
After this process is complete, you’ll receive a copy of everything the AAMC verified on your application. If you disagree with something, you have ten days after you’ve been notified that your AMCAS has been processed to dispute it.
After that, your AMCAS application packet, along with verified course work and verified GPA, your list of work and/or volunteer experience and extracurricular activities, your MCAT scores, your letters of recommendation, and your medical school personal statement will be sent to each of the schools you expressed interested in attending.
It’s incredibly important that you enter everything exactly right the first time; otherwise, you could experience delays in processing. There are, though, a few sections on the AMCAS in which you’ll need to be especially careful.
The coursework section of the AMCAS is extremely detailed. You have to list each course you’ve taken, how many credit hours it was worth, your grade in the course, whether you withdrew from or failed the course, whether you took it as a duplicate course, etc.
This goes all the way back to your freshman year of college. Have your transcript on-hand while taking care of this part of the AMCAS because messing up here is the number one cause of processing delays .
Work/Activities (Extracurricular Activities)
In this section , you’ll be able to list any relevant work and/or volunteer/internship experience you have. You’ll also be able to list any awards or honors you’ve received and any extracurricular activities worth mentioning.
There is one catch though. You can only enter a maximum of 15 separate activities. Once you’ve hit the 15 activities, you can’t enter anything else.
For this section, it’s important to note that the quality of the experience is much more important than the “quantity” of experiences you list. If you’re the type of person that was a part of everything and has three pages worth of work, volunteer experience, and extracurricular activities to discuss, you’re going to have to pick the 15 most impressive ones.
Letters of Recommendation
Although you won’t be asked to include any actual letters of recommendation on your AMCAS application, you’ll be asked to provide the contact information for the people you have asked to write your letters. Choose your references carefully.
Your Medical School Personal Statement
This is arguably one of the most important parts of your application. This is the section that can make you seem personable and memorable as opposed to just another application in the pile.
For the medical school personal statement on the AMCAS application, you’re allowed 5,300 characters, which is approximately one page.
This may not seem like a lot of room in which to write your story, but when you remember that over 50,000 people sent in almost 900,000 applications last year, you’ll understand why the admissions committee members want you to be brief. Despite the brevity, though, you still have to make this statement count.
Submitting the AMCAS
Once your AMCAS application packet has been processed, it -along with your transcripts and letters of recommendation- will be sent to the medical schools you selected on the application. There’s a separate fee for each school, so double-check the cost before submitting to each new school.
These schools will look at your initial application, and then they’ll likely request some secondary information from you. This is the second step of the two-step process. Each school’s application process at this point is different. Some may send you a list of yes or no questions to answer and send back to them.
Others will require you to write a more detailed, in-depth personal statement. These secondary personal statements are your second chance to shine and stand out from the crowd, so don’t take this lightly.
Secondary medical school personal statements are one of the few times in life you really do get a second chance to make a first impression. If you do well here, you’ll likely be called in for an interview.
Now let’s discuss these personal statements in a little more detail.
What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is merely a statement – a short essay – that you write about yourself, your life, your story, your experiences, your goals, etc. For the AMCAS application, you’ll have a specific prompt to answer.
For the secondary school-specific applications, you’ll probably have different prompts to which you’ll be asked to respond.
In the rare case, a college asks you to write a second personal statement but doesn’t provide you with a prompt to guide your writing, there are several things you can include.
First of all, make sure you list the characteristics you possess that would make you a good fit for the medical field. Then talk about a time you demonstrated these exceptional characteristics.
Some qualities that make for a good physician are:
- Empathy and compassion
- Experience with and appreciation for diversity
- A strict code of ethics and a good moral compass
- A desire to serve and help others
- Good people and communication skills
- Kindness, a strong work ethic, and grace under pressure
It’s important to present these things like you’re telling a really good story. You can’t be dry and boring, or your application is likely going to be lost to the bottom of the pile.
You might also mention why you were attracted to the medical field in the first place and what your goals are after successfully completing medical school.
Talk about your passions and the things you hope to achieve once you’re an established physician.
Also: Check out the Best Laptop for Medical School Guide here
Medical School Personal Statement Prompts
Prompt 1: the amcas prompt – use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school..
Remember, for this particular personal statement, you’re only allowed 5,300 characters to thoroughly answer the prompt. That’s 5,300 characters, not words, and that does include spaces.
That doesn’t give you a ton of space to write about yourself, but regardless of that, you still have to find a way to make an impression with your statement.
In this small amount of space, you have two main goals. The first is to tell the admissions committee who you are outside of all the dry information they’re getting about you in your transcripts and scores.
You’re not just telling them who you are; you’re also telling them what it is about you that makes you deserve a request for a second application. You have to sell yourself to this committee and make them want to know more about you.
Secondly, you have to answer the prompt directly. The question asks why you want to go to medical school. You have to address that.
Otherwise, you’ve ignored the prompt completely, which shows the committee that you’re not great at following instructions and that you probably don’t have a clear idea of why you’re interested in med school.
The personal statement is the humanizing part of the application. You have to make the committee see you as a person with dreams, goals, and a desire to better the world somehow.
If the word count permits, talking about why you became interested in medicine in the first place is a great way to lead into why you’ve chosen medicine and what you plan to do with your degree once you’ve earned it.
You don’t have a lot of room here, so you don’t need to waste words with a long introduction or a humbling portion that talks about a weakness you’re hoping to overcome.
In this personal statement, it’s all about highlighting those strengths unique to you that would make you an excellent doctor.
Prompt 2: What aspect of [this school] appeals most to you?
While answering this question, you can easily showcase your specific interests in the field of medicine while also sticking to the prompt.
For example, if that school is well-known for its obstetrics program, and that’s the field you’re interested in pursuing, you can still use the format we’ve outlined above.
You start by talking about what got you interested in obstetrics in the first place, and then you transition into your plans for the future. Along the way, you talk about how and why that particular school’s obstetrician program is the perfect fit for you.
You can discuss the specific elements of the program you’re particularly excited about learning and address how the program will help you achieve your future career goals.
Prompt 3: Briefly describe a situation where you had to overcome adversity; include lessons learned and how you think it will affect your career as a physician.
This is a great opportunity for you to talk about triumphs in your life. It’s also a question that really allows you to showcase your positive characteristics and attributes.
You take a time in your life when you faced some hardship, and then you dive into talking about exactly how your strengths allowed you to overcome that hardship.
Be sure you explain how that particular situation shaped your morals and your worldview. What about that experience made you the person you are today, and how does that tie in with your goals for your future?
Once you’ve done that, you’ve tied it back into the general prompt and can follow the guidelines outlined above.
Prompt 4: Where do you see yourself in your career 15 to 20 years from now?
Honestly, this prompt is just another way of asking the AMCAS prompt of why you want to go to medical school, only with this one, you’re going to spend a little bit more time talking about your future goals than you do talking about why you became interested in medicine in the first place.
The format for answering this one, though, is just the same as answering the AMCAS prompt.
You’ll start by touching on those characteristics that are likely to make you a successful physician. You can then transition into what, specifically, you plan to do in the medical field and what inspired you to make that choice.
Then you move straight into talking about your after-med-school plans for your future. Be sure to answer the prompt though. Notice that it says “15 to 20 years from now.”
By then, you should be fairly well established and have a decent career. Talk about that point in your career, not the ‘fresh out of med school, first residency’ part of your career.
Standard Medical School Personal Statement Format
Despite the prompt you’re given – or whether you’re given a prompt at all – there is a general format you’ll use when writing your med school personal statement.
When it comes to the AMCAS statement, this format is a little different because you’re encouraged simply to type it up in the text box on the application.
With that in mind, you won’t be able to set margins or choose a font or anything like that. If you want to type your statement up in another window first, do it in something simple and format-free, like Notepad.
Otherwise, you run the risk of your essay not showing up as text in the text box. It may end up looking like gibberish, and you absolutely cannot edit that portion of your application once it’s been processed. It’s best just to type it in the text box and submit.
For the secondary essays and personal statements sent to each individual college, though, you won’t always have to type them in a text box. For these, you’ll use the same basic formatting guidelines, unless otherwise noted in the college’s specific personal statement instructions.
- Using MLA formatting
- Margins set at one-inch on every side
- 12-point font size (Arial/Times New Roman)
- Uniformly double-spaced
- No extra lines between paragraphs
- Use first-line indentation for new paragraphs
You’ll also use the same general formatting style in setting up the structure of your personal statement. As with most essays, you’ll have an introduction, some body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Again, this is only true of the secondary personal statements you receive from the individual colleges.
For the AMCAS personal statement, you won’t have a lot of room, so you’ll want to use introductory and conclusion sentences rather than paragraphs, leaving room for most of your actual information in the body of the personal statement.
Step 1. Introduction
Your main objective in the introduction is to catch the reader’s attention and make him want to keep reading out of interest rather than obligation.
In a general, “tell us about yourself” type of prompt, you’ll pick two or three of the qualities you possess that you feel would be most desirable in a doctor and mention how those three qualities are important facets of your character.
For other types of prompts, you’ll use your introduction to set the tone for your story. Whatever story you’re about to tell to answer the prompt, this paragraph is your lead-in. Set the tone and the stage for what you’re about to say, and let your body paragraphs follow smoothly and seamlessly after.
Step 2. Body Paragraphs
In this section, you’ll tell your story, and it truly does need to be a story. People who work in the admissions offices of medical schools are tasked with reading literally thousands of personal statements each year.
Many of these are full of anecdotes or overused cliches. Others are just horribly boring. It’s important that your story is entertaining, honest, and memorable.
Whatever story you were building up to telling in your introductory paragraph, now’s the time to tell it. There’s an old writer’s adage that says, “Show; don’t tell.” That’s what you need to do in your body paragraphs.
You must paint a picture for the reader. Allow him to see the story you’re laying out for him. This way, you’re engaging him in a story, not just talking at him.
Don’t assume this means being lengthy and rambling though. Always stick to the point, and don’t add a lot of unnecessary details.
Whatever the prompt, you also want to use these body paragraphs to work in something that talks about why medicine is your chosen field.
There are five main questions you should answer in the body paragraphs, even if the prompt doesn’t guide you to these questions specifically. They are:
- What was the experience that made you want to become a physician?
- How did you feel during this experience?
- What did you learn from it?
- How did it affect you, your community, and your worldview?
- What about it made you want to pursue medicine?
No matter what the specific prompt is – unless, of course, it’s something crazy like, “What’s your favorite color in the rainbow?” – you should be able to find a natural, organic way to work this into your medical school personal statement.
Step 3. Conclusion
In the conclusion paragraph, you’ll wrap everything up and make it all fit together neatly. This is the point where you change from ‘show; don’t tell’ to ‘state it boldly and explicitly.’
Restate those two or three main qualities you mentioned having. Then briefly, within one or two sentences, talk about your perspective on the event/story you told in your body paragraphs. Finally, once again proclaim your passage for the medical field.
Medical School Personal Statement Cliches to Avoid
We’ve already discussed some of the things you need to do while writing your personal statement for med school. Now let’s discuss some things you definitely should not do.
1. Don’t Rewrite Your Application
First of all, don’t simply repeat your resume and AMCAS application information. The admissions department has already looked through your application.
They already know what courses you’ve taken, what your GPA and MCAT scores look like, and what types of relevant experience you have. Don’t tell them all of that again.
This is your chance to be unique and tell them something they don’t already know about you. Don’t waste words on things they can read in your application packet.
2. Don’t Be a Snob
Highlighting your strengths and accomplishments is perfectly fine in your personal statement. You want to be impressive.
What you don’t want to do is come off as sounding like a pretentious snob who thinks he’s better than everyone else. You have to find the perfect balance between bragging about yourself and beating people over the head with how great you are.
3. Don’t Fill Your Personal Statement with Overused Cliches
Telling a short personal anecdote isn’t necessarily a bad thing; although you should be aware that many other people will start their personal statements in exactly the same way.
If you do use a personal anecdote, though, keep it to one. Don’t use one after the other after the other , and avoid cliches like the plague!
It’s okay to talk about your goals and how you plan to use your career in medicine to better the world, but you can’t just come out and say things like, “I want to make the world a better place.”
Of course, you do. We all want that. Saying it in those bald-face terms, though, just sounds silly. An article in US News recently discussed cliche topics to avoid specifically in medical school personal statements.
These included listing the reason you wanted to be a doctor as having anything to do with regular doctor visits as a child, overstating your “innate passion for medicine,” beginning a personal statement with a patient anecdote about “Patient X” and/or talking about how you saved someone’s life.
Other overused topics that have become a cliche in medical school personal statements are:
- The doctor who saved my life
- “I broke a bone when I was little, and the doctor made me feel better, so I’ve wanted to be a doctor ever since.”
- The desire to cure an incurable disease
- The desire to make a (usually deceased) family member proud
- Generic “I want to save lives” statements
- Coming from a long line of doctors
4. Don’t Victimize Yourself
It’s okay to talk about times in your life when you’ve overcome adversity, especially if that’s what the prompt asks, but don’t keep heaping on the bad.
Overcoming adversity is admirable, but discussing every injustice that’s ever been done to you in your life just makes you look like you’re whining and looking for special treatment because your life has been hard.
5. Don’t Talk Like a Thesaurus
If the admissions team has to look up the definition of words you’ve used in your personal statement, it’s ostentatious and derisory. ( See what I did there? Annoying, right? ) The admissions department is looking for quality med school applicants, not wordsmiths.
6. Don’t Write Outside the Character/Word/Page Limit
If you’re given a range of “ between x-y words ” (or characters), fall within that range! Don’t give the admissions department less than they asked you to give them; it makes you seem lazy and uninspired.
On the other hand, don’t give them more than what they’ve asked you to write either. It’s disrespectful. You must recognize that they have thousands of essays to read, and every person who goes over the maximum word or character count is just adding more work to their already busy days. Plus, it shows a lack of editing.
Medical School Personal Statement Examples
Example personal statement 1.
“This realization became clear to me in the mountains of Nepal, but the decision was an evolution that began long ago. Lego building blocks as a child were my first introduction to engineering, then came the integration of mechanics and movement with robotics in high school, and eventually human biomechanics as an engineer in college. With these courses I learned to see the body in a new and amazing way. Engineering enabled me to envision muscles not as simple contractile tissues, but as the motors for the pulleys that move our bones. Biomechanics made bones evolve from static connectors into the dynamic moment-arms of life. This fascination with the human body drives my interest in orthopedics and, coupled with my love of patients and surgery, will provide me with a career of continuous discovery and fulfillment.”
– Read the rest here
This is a great example of a body paragraph in a personal statement. The writer is giving us a great explanation of why he’s interested in medicine (orthopedics specifically) and letting us know that he’s been cultivating this interest practically his entire life, but he’s doing so without using that tired old cliche, “ I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember .”
Additionally, the way he writes and his vocabulary show us that he’s intelligent without him ever having to state that fact himself. He gives a glimpse into what his future goals and plans are, and his image of combining his “ interest in orthopedics ” and “ love of patients and surgery ” for “ a career of continuous discovery and fulfillment ” is an excellent mental picture with which to leave us.
We finish reading this and are left with a feeling that this young man is going to do great things in his career, and never once did he have to come out and say it himself.
Example Personal Statement 2
“I was never supposed to become a doctor; that title was meant for my older brother, Jake. My parents held Jake to the highest standard when it came to academics. They did not deem me worthy of being held to the same standard, so I grew up believing I would never be able to outdo him in academics. This notion of intellectual inferiority combined with my childhood success in athletics motivated me to focus on developing as an athlete rather than a student. So why am I applying to medical school and not playing professional baseball? Well, science captivated my attention in 11th grade and hasn’t let go.”
The opening sentence of this personal statement is quite good. It takes the opposite stance of the commonly overused med school cliche’ “ I’ve always wanted to be a doctor .”
Instead, this writer tells us that he was never supposed to be a doctor. That’s an interesting, unique way to start a personal statement. It’s a good hook, and it makes us want to read further to find out what changed.
As we read on, though, we don’t get an immediate explanation. Instead, the writer wastes a ton of words continuing to talk about his brother’s strengths and his own weaknesses.
If this were a novel or even a novella, this would be fine, but in the AMCAS personal statement, you only have 5,300 characters to get to the point. This writer is wasting many precious characters, and even worse, he’s wasting them on talking negatively about himself.
It isn’t until the sixth sentence that we find out what changed, and even then, the explanation is a weak one. This is an example of a writer misunderstanding the “ Show; don’t tell ” adage and using up too much space and time to get to the point.
Example Personal Statement 3
“My passion for medicine was planted by my mother’s accident, sculpted by accompanying the elderly woman and transformed by working alongside physicians in underserved communities. I feel humbled that during my journey, many patients have given me their trust to emotionally support them in difficult times. One day I will apply my knowledge and training in medicine to serve as their companion in their most vulnerable time.”
This is an example of a conclusion paragraph that’s well done. The writer restates her main points and reminds us of her passion for medicine, but she does so in a way that doesn’t just have her repeating everything she’s already said.
Instead, she briefly touches on the three main milestones in her journey that she’s already covered in-depth earlier in her statement.
She reminds us that she initially became interested in medicine due to an accident she witnessed with her mother. Then she reminds us of a nice story she told in the middle of her statement about her volunteer experience working with the elderly in the hospital and explains how that encounter shaped the type of doctor she wanted to be.
Then she reminds us of another piece of her essay, where she talked about her work with the poor and homeless and how that work reshaped her goals for medicine.
Finally, she restates some of her best qualities (trustworthy, warm, smart, well-trained) and gives us a vision for her future. This was a perfectly written conclusion to an equally good personal statement.
Example Personal Statement 4
“I was one of those kids who always wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t understand the responsibilities and heartbreaks, the difficult decisions, and the years of study and training that go with the title, but I did understand that the person in the white coat stood for knowledge, professionalism, and compassion.
As a child, visits to the pediatrician were important events. I’d attend to my hair and clothes, and travel to the appointment in anticipation. I loved the interaction with my doctor.
I was hospitalized for several months as a teenager and was inspired by the experience, despite the illness.”
While the overall tone and writing style of this writer isn’t bad, she somehow manages to use three of the most overused cliches prospective students are told to avoid when writing their personal statements.
She starts out with the innate desire to be a doctor dating back to childhood. Then she moves into how she had frequent doctor visits and how much she loved her interactions with her pediatrician.
Finally, she uses a third cliche topic by talking about being hospitalized as a teenager and how much that experience shaped her future goals of working in medicine.
While the essay itself isn’t badly written, it also isn’t memorable or remarkable because she’s using the exact same types of stories of thousands of other applicants.
Example Personal Statement 5
“When I was six years old, I lost my father […]. He was in a coma for four days before he passed away. The images of my father — barely alive, barely recognizable, and connected to multiple machines — are among my earliest memories of medicine and hospitals. Too young to understand the complications of his accident and the irreversible brain damage he suffered, I was a child who thought that medicine had failed. I associated medicine with loss. Fortunately, [my family full of physicians] introduced me to another side of health care, and together they inspired me to seek out other experiences in the medical field.”
Although this writer begins in what seems like another cliche story of loss inspiring the desire to be a doctor, the way he changes the narrative and surprises us makes the cliche work for him.
Most prospective students have stories about how a loved one was in the hospital or dying and watching that person struggle inspired them to study medicine and help save other children from having to watch their own loved ones die.
Instead, this writer surprises us by telling us watching his dad die in the hospital gave him a bad taste for medicine. It gave him a negative association between medicine and failure.
This is just different and unique enough that it draws us in and makes us want to read more. If this young man hated medicine so much, why does he want to go to med school?
The desire to find the answer to that one question is enough to hook us and make us want to keep reading. This is a great example of how an introductory paragraph can grab our attention right away.
With nearly 60% of medical school applicants getting rejected every year, it’s extremely important you turn in the best medical school application packet possible.
This means taking all the right courses, maintaining good grades and a stellar GPA, volunteering in meaningful places, and writing a memorable medical school personal statement.
The importance of the personal statement cannot be overstated. It’s the one area in the whole application where you get to make yourself as appealing and as unforgettable as possible, so make sure you invest an appropriate amount of time, effort, and editing into it ( and we have packages just for that here ).
Avoid using overused cliches. Highlight your most impressive strengths. Use proper grammar, formatting, and punctuation. Spell and grammar check everything ( we recommend Grammarly ) and stay within the mandated word/character range.
Most importantly, show the admissions team that you have a passion for medicine and that they won’t be disappointed in the results if they give you a spot at their school.
You already know how great you are. Now it’s time to show them.
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Medical School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis
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A strong medical school personal statement can take many forms, but the most impressive ones share several features. A winning statement obviously needs to be well written with perfect grammar and an engaging style. Also, a standout personal statement needs to be personal . The AMCAS application used by nearly all United States medical schools provides a simple prompt: "Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school." The personal statement clearly needs to be about your motivation. How did you become interested in medicine? What experiences have affirmed that interest? How does medical school fit into your career goals?
The structure and precise content of the statement, however, can vary greatly. Below are two sample statements to illustrate some possibilities. Each is followed by an analysis of the statement's strengths and weaknesses.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #1
The walk across campus was excruciating. During my first year of college, I had gotten strep throat for the second time in a month. When antibiotics didn’t seem to be working, my doctor found that strep had led to mono. Worst of all, I had developed hiccups. Yes, hiccups. But these weren’t just any hiccups. Every time my diaphragm spasmed, I had such a stab of severe pain in my shoulder that I nearly blacked out. Needless to say, this was strange. The fatigue and sore throat made sense, but torturous knife-in-the-shoulder hiccups? I immediately headed for the urgent care facility at my university’s medical center. The walk seemed like miles, and every hiccup brought a stifled scream and a stop to my progress.
I grew up in rural New York, so I had never been to a teaching hospital before. All of my childhood doctors, in fact, had moved to my area to get their medical school loans repaid by agreeing to practice in an underserved community. I had four different doctors growing up, all of them perfectly competent, but all of them overworked and eager to do their time so they could move on to a “better” job.
I’m not sure what I expected when I set foot in the university’s medical center, but I had certainly never been in a massive medical complex that employs over 1,000 physicians. What mattered to me, of course, was my doctor and how she would fix my demonic death hiccups. At the time, I was thinking an epidural followed by a shoulder amputation would be a good solution. When Dr. Bennett arrived in my examining room, she immediately sent me to x-ray and told me to bring the films back to her. I thought it was odd that the patient would do this ferrying, and I found it even more strange when she put the images up on the illuminator and viewed them for the first time with me by her side.
This was the moment when I realized that Dr. Bennett was much more than a physician. She was a teacher, and at that moment, she was not teaching her medical students, but me. She showed me the outlines of the organs in my abdomen, and pointed to my spleen that was enlarged from mono. The spleen, she explained, was pushing on a nerve to my shoulder. Each hiccup dramatically increased that pressure, thus causing the shoulder pain. Apparently I wouldn’t need my shoulder amputated after all, and Dr. Bennett’s explanation was so wonderfully simple and comforting. Sometime during my visit to the hospital my hiccups had stopped, and as I walked back across campus, I couldn’t help marveling at how strange the human body is, but also what a pleasure it is to have a doctor who took the time to teach me about my own physiology.
As my interest in medicine grew and I added biology and chemistry minors to my communication studies major, I started looking for shadowing opportunities. Over winter break of my junior year, a dermatologist from a nearby town agreed to let me shadow him full time for a week. He was a family acquaintance who, unlike my childhood doctors, had been working out of the same office for over 30 years. Until that January, however, I really had no idea what his job was actually like. My first impression was one of disbelief. He began seeing patients at 6 a.m. for 5-minute consultations during which he would look at a single area of concern for the patient—a rash, a suspicious mole, an open sore. Around 7:00 a.m., regularly scheduled appointments began, and even here, he rarely spent more than 10 minutes with a patient. His workday was over by midafternoon in time to get in some skiing (golf in warmer months), but he would still see upwards of 50 patients in a day.
One would think with that kind of volume, the patient experience would be impersonal and rushed. But Dr. Lowry knew his patients. He greeted them by name, asked about their kids and grandkids, and laughed at his own bad jokes. He was deceptively quick and efficient, but he made patients comfortable. And when he discussed their medical issues, he pulled out a remarkably battered and dog-eared copy of Fitzpatrick’s Clinical Dermatology to show color photos of their condition and explain what next steps, if any, were needed. Whether a patient had a benign seborrheic keratosis or melanoma that had gone untreated for far too long, he compassionately and clearly explained the situation. He was, in short, an excellent teacher.
I love biology and medicine. I also love writing and teaching, and I plan to use all of these skills in my future medical career. I’ve been a lab TA for Human Anatomy and Physiology, and I wrote articles for the university newspaper on flu prevention and a recent outbreak of whooping cough. My experiences with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Lowry have made clear to me that the best doctors are also excellent teachers and communicators. Dr. Lowry taught me not just about dermatology, but the realities of rural medicine. He is the only dermatologist in a 40-mile radius. He is such a valuable and integral part of the community, yet he will be retiring soon. It isn’t clear who will replace him, but perhaps it will be me.
Analysis of Personal Statement Example #1
With its focus on rural medicine and the importance of good communication in health professions, the statement's topic is promising. Here's a discussion of what works well and what could use a little improvement.
There is much in this personal statement that the admissions committee will find appealing. Most obviously, the applicant has an interesting background as a communication studies major, and the statement successfully shows how important good communication is to being a good physician. Medical school applicants certainly don't need to major in the sciences , and they need not be apologetic or defensive when they have a major in the humanities or social sciences. This applicant clearly has taken the required biology and chemistry classes , and the additional skills in writing, speaking, and teaching will be an added bonus. Indeed, the statement's emphasis on doctors as teachers is compelling and speaks well to the applicant's understanding of effective patient treatment.
The readers of this statement are also likely to admire the applicant's understanding of the challenges rural communities face when it comes to health care, and the end of the statement makes clear that the applicant is interested in helping address this challenge by working in a rural area. Finally, the author comes across as a thoughtful and at times humorous person. The "demonic death hiccups" are likely to draw a smile, and the understanding of Dr. Lowry's contributions to the community reveals the author's ability to analyze and understand some of the challenges of rural medical practices.
On the whole, this is a strong personal statement. As with any piece of writing, however, it is not without some shortcomings. By telling two stories—the experiences with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Lowry—there is little room left to explain the applicant's motivation for studying medicine. The statement never gets very specific about what the applicant wants to study in medical school. The final paragraph suggests it could be dermatology, but that certainly doesn't seem definitive and there's no indication of a passion for dermatology. Many MD students, of course, don't know what their specialty will be when they begin medical school, but a good statement should address why the applicant is driven to study medicine. This statement tells a couple of good stories, but the discussion of motivation is a little thin.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #2
My paternal grandfather died of rectal cancer when I was 10 and my grandmother died of colon cancer two years later. Indeed, numerous family members on my father’s side of the family have died of colorectal cancer, and these are not beautiful and peaceful deaths. No dosage of opioids seemed to alleviate the pain caused by tumors that had spread to my grandfather’s spine, and the numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation were their own form of torture. My father gets frequent colonoscopies in an effort to avoid the same fate, and I will soon be doing the same. The family curse isn’t likely to skip a generation.
Five years ago, my favorite uncle on my mother’s side of the family was diagnosed with triple hit lymphoma. Doctors gave him, at best, a few months to live. He was an avid reader and researcher who learned everything he could about his disease. Walking with a cane because of tumors in his leg, he attended a medical conference, inserted himself into a conversation with a top cancer researcher, and managed to get enrolled in a clinical trial for CAR T-cell therapy. Because of his inquisitiveness and assertiveness, he is still alive today with no signs of cancer. This type of happy outcome, however, is more the exception than the rule, and in an ideal world, a cancer patient should not have to reject his doctor's diagnosis to seek his own cure.
My interest in oncology certainly stems from my family history and the ticking time bomb within my own genes, as well as my general fascination with understanding how living things work. The field also appeals to my love of challenges and puzzles. My early childhood was one big blur of giant jigsaw puzzles, scouring the countryside with a magnifying glass, and bringing home every newt, salamander, and snake I could find. Today, those interests manifest themselves in my fondness for mathematics, cellular biology, and anatomy.
In contemporary medicine, there is perhaps no greater living puzzle than cancer. Ken Burns’ film Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies really brings home how little we understand the disease. At the same time, it’s encouraging that this 2015 film is already out-of-date as new and promising treatments continue to emerge. Indeed, it’s an exciting time for the field as researchers make some of the most significant advancements in cancer treatment in decades. That said, some cancers remain remarkably elusive, and so much more progress is needed. My volunteer work at the university’s Cancer Center has made this need clear. So many patients I’ve met are suffering through chemotherapy not with a hope of beating cancer, but with the modest hope of living just a little longer. They often aren’t wrong to have such modest expectations.
My interest in oncology isn’t limited to treating patients—I also want to be a researcher. During the past year and a half, I’ve been a research assistant in Dr. Chiang’s laboratory. I’ve gained extensive experience conducting literature reviews, handling rodents, measuring tumors, genotyping, and creating genetic samples using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Some of my fellow lab assistants find the work tedious and repetitive, but I view each piece of data as part of the bigger puzzle. Progress may be slow and even halting at times, but it is still progress, and I find it exciting.
I’m applying to your joint MD/PhD program because I firmly believe that research will make me a better doctor, and working directly with patients will make me a better researcher. My ultimate goal is to become a cancer research professor at an R1 university’s medical school where I will treat patients, educate the next generation of doctors and researchers, and make headway in defeating this terrible disease.
Analysis of Personal Statement Example #2
With its laser-sharp focus on oncology, this statement stands in sharp contrast to the first example. Here's what works well and what doesn't.
Unlike the first writer, this applicant does an excellent job revealing the motivation behind attending medical school. The opening paragraphs bring to life the damage cancer has done to the applicant's family, and the statement as a whole convincingly shows that oncology is an area of interest for both personal and intellectual reasons. The applicant's volunteer work and research experiences all center on cancer, and the reader has no doubt about the applicant's passion for the field. The applicant also has remarkably clear and specific career goals. On the whole, the reader gets the sense that this applicant will be an ambitious, focused, motivated, and passionate medical student.
Like the first example, this personal statement is generally quite strong. If it has one significant weakness, it is on the patient care side of medicine. In the first example, the applicant's admiration for and understanding of good patient care stands at the forefront. In this second statement, we don't have much evidence of the applicant's actual interest in working directly with patients. This shortcoming could be addressed by going into more detail about the volunteer work at the university Cancer Center, but as is, the statement seems to present more interest in research than patient care. Given the interest in research, the applicant's interest in an MD/PhD program makes sense, but the MD side of that equation could use more attention in the statement.
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Medicine Personal Statement Examples
Get some inspiration to start writing your Medicine Personal Statement with these successful examples from current Medical School students. We've got Medicine Personal Statements which were successful for universities including Imperial, UCL, King's, Bristol, Edinburgh and more.
Personal Statement Examples
- Read successful Personal Statements for Medicine
- Pay attention to the structure and the content
- Get inspiration to plan your Personal Statement
Personal Statement Example 1
Check out this Medicine Personal Statement which was successful for Imperial, UCL, QMUL and King's.
Personal Statement Example 2
This Personal Statement comes from a student who received Medicine offers from Bristol and Plymouth - and also got an interview at Cambridge.
Personal Statement Example 3
Have a look at this Medicine Personal Statement which was successful for Imperial, Edinburgh, Dundee and Newcastle.
Personal Statement Example 4
Take a look at this Medicine Personal Statement which was successful for King's, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield.
Personal Statement Example 5
Pick up tips from this Medicine Personal Statement which was successful for Imperial, Birmingham and Manchester.
Personal Statement Example 6
This Personal Statement comes from a student got into Graduate Entry Medicine at King's - and also had interviews for Undergraduate Medicine at King's, QMUL and Exeter.
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Medical School Insider
Helping YOU Get Into Medical School
The Medical School Personal Statement – Tips from a Former Medical School Admissions Committee Member
The medical school personal statement can strike fear into the heart of the medical school applicant.
However, it does not have to be that way! Think of this as your chance to set yourself apart from other medical students. With at little bit of work, your personal statement for medical school can tell the medical school admissions committee who you are and why they should want you.
Remember, however, that there are many factors that medical schools are looking for in choosing an applicant. You need to understand all the things that schools are looking for to make your dream of becoming a doctor a reality.
Click here to learn what it takes (in addition to a great medical school essay) to get accepted to medical school.
Now, back to explaining what it takes to write a great personal statement for medical school.
Here is what a lot of medical school essays look like :
I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.
I did research. I did community service. I worked at a hospital.
My dad was a doctor and that’s what made me want to be a doctor.
I will be good in medical school.
This is an exaggeration, but many medical school admission essays look the same.
Photo courtesy of Rennett Stowe
Below are some rules to follow to make your medical school admission essay stand out.
If after going through these rules you find that you would like some more medical school essay help,
Editing of your statement is also available by MedSchoolCoach here.
MedSchoolCoach is the company I recommend for medical school personal statement help as well as admissions advising. They are all former admissions committee members, which means they know exactly what schools are looking for and what it takes to be accepted. Their rates are also very reasonable compared to other companies. Consulting can cost some money, but think of it as an investment. Whatever you spend now will get you $150,000 to $500,000 for 30+ years, doing something you love. Not a bad return on investment!
- Videos describing the entire admissions process, from choosing to apply to choosing between multiple acceptances
- A custom tool to know your chances based on MCAT, GPA and race
- A custom tool to know exactly where to apply based on MCAT, GPA and state of residence
- Examples from successful applicants of AMCAS activities, personal statements, secondary essays, descriptions of hardship and descriptions of disciplinary actions
- 4 hours of recorded interview prep to learn what it takes to ace an interview
And much more! All for less than the cost of 1 hour of one on one advising. You can check it out here.
Here are the main rules you want to follow when writing a medical school essay and really any personal writing:
Rule #1: Show, Don’t Tell
- A common theme in the medical school personal statement is “ I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.” This is probably true, but the problem is this: anyone can say that, and most applicants do say that. You need to show me why that’s true. What experience did you have that made you want to help people? Likewise, don’t just say that you’ve done research or community service. Tell a story only you can tell about it and what it taught you that will make you a good doctor.
- Here’s part of a sample medical school essay that shows that you want to help people:
- I could smell the rotting garbage in the streets. I was far from home in my third week in Guatemala as part of a medical mission. The people were so poor, but so grateful. I was working with Pedro, bandaging a cut on his hand after an accident sharpening his machete. He looked up at me and said “Gracias, amigo.” Those simple words lifted my spirits. My work here was making a difference, small as it might be. I want to continue to make that difference and feel the joy of helping others through a career in medicine.
- What’s good about this: It shows that you want to help people by your experience and it’s an experience that only you had. Individuality is the key to the medical school personal statement.
Rule #2: It’s story time
- This goes along with show don’t tell, but your medical school personal statement should be a collection of your experiences and what they taught you. Those experiences should have taught you things that will make you a good doctor. Remember to think from the perspective of the reader. The reader wants to know who you are and that you have developed certain character traits through your experiences. These should include things like service, compassion, integrity, dedication, diligence, tenacity, leadership, etc.
- Everyone will be trying to show that they have those qualities, but you will have the advantage because you will show the reader by your experiences that you have those qualities.
- Most of the applicants will have those qualities. Your job is to show how you got them or how you use them.
- Tell a story, then tell what it taught you. How will that lesson make you a good doctor? This is what will make your personal statement for medical school stand out.
Rule #3: Make it entertaining. If you’re not having fun writing it, they’re not having fun reading it!
- Remember that the people reading these have read many, many medical school personal statements. If you are telling stories that are meaningful to you, that will come across and make it an entertaining read for the person reviewing your application.
- If you’re not having fun writing it, they’re not having fun reading it. I’m repeating this because it’s so important. Remember this as your write all of your essays, including the medical school personal statement, your descriptions of activities, and your secondary application essays. Use humor if that is one of your talents. If someone laughs while reading your essay, that’s a good thing. It may be the first laugh the person reading all these medical school essays has had in a while.
Rule #4: Don’t make it too personal
- While you want to show who you are in your medical school personal statement, you don’t want to give up too much. This can be a fine line, but just keep this principle in mind: Don’t write anything that you don’t want the interviewer to ask you about. Do that and you’ll be fine.
- For example, your medical school admission essay is not the time to bring up your past as a juvenile delinquent. If you do this, you need some medical school essay help!
Rule #5: Have other people read your medical school personal statement
- At the end of the day, writing is about how other people respond to what you have written. Have someone look through your medical school essay.
- The ideal person to review your medical school essay will be someone who is a good writer and who will give you honest feedback about your personal statement for medical school. Don’t just choose people who will say your essay is great even if it’s not. Your mom probably falls under this category. Your boyfriend or girlfriend probably does too.
- You can’t find someone who is a good writer to review your essay
- You’re explaining hardships
- English is not your first language
If one of these or other reasons is the case, a good editor really comes in handy. The company I recommend for this is MedSchoolCoach .
The Basic Outline
- Your medical school personal statement should look something like this:
- Hook: Something that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. From the sample medical school essay above, the first sentence was “I could smell the rotting garbage in the streets.” That’s something interesting that makes the reader want to keep reading.
- Story time: Tell your first story.
- What it taught you: What character trait/quality does this experience demonstrate or what did the experience teach you? In our example this part read as follows: “My work here was making a difference, small as it might be. I want to continue to make that difference and feel the joy of helping others through a career in medicine.”
- Same as introduction
- You only want the medical school personal statement to be about one page. So, don’t get carried away.
- Here’s part of a sample medical school essay from my personal statement:
- Not only have I had the chance to be a mentor, I have had the chance to be mentored by inspiring physicians. I sat in the small whitewashed room with Dr. Petrie at the red cross building in El Fuerte, Mexico, waiting for our next patient. Dr. Petrie had flown us from Fullterton, CA to Mexico at his own expense in his 4-seater yellow Bonanza aircraft. A man in cowboy boots and hat came into the small whitewashed room with his family, rolled up his plaid sleeve and showed us a large growth on his right bicep. Dr. Petrie asked a few questions about it and whether he wanted it removed. When the man said yes, Dr. Petrie replied with a smile, “So you don’t want to look like a strong man anymore?” There was a sense of relief in the laughter of the man and his family. They knew that the person who would perform the surgery cared not just about the growth but about the man.
- Summary of your qualities learned/demonstrated by your experiences. You want the reader to finish reading your personal statement for medical school with an understanding of how these experiences will make you a great doctor.
- …They knew that the person who would perform the surgery cared not just about the growth but about the man. I want to be that kind of doctor. The kind who shows he cares with a smile. The kind that takes the time not only to prescribe, but to educate. The kind dedicated to healing and helping. That’s who I want to be.
- Outlining your essay
- Start with your initial interest in medicine
- Then track your progress through your most meaningful experiences
- By the end, we should see how your interest in medicine turned into a passion for medicine.
- It can also be useful to have an “MO” as you write. The committee should have a good idea of what your main interest in medicine is. It might be service, research, an interest in the human body, or something else. Whatever it is, it should be clear by the end of your essay.
Photo courtesy of tnarik
A Few Other Key Points
- Use names. Using names makes the personal statement for medical school more, well, personal.
- Be active and specific in your language. When you do your description of activities in AMCAS, use active language. For example, instead of writing “Mentor” in your heading, write “Mentor to Sam, 10 year old with cerebral palsy.” This is more personal and more descriptive. Instead of “worked at Albertson’s” write “Courtesy Clerk at Albertson’s.” Then tell your story and what it taught you in your description, always remembering that the reader is looking for things that will make you a good doctor. This is the key of great medical school essays.
- Don’t be afraid to make it short. The medical school essay should only be about one page long. In fact, AMCAS limits your medical school personal statement to 5300 characters (about one page). Likewise, the descriptions of activities should not be too long. One of my best activities was “Husband and Father” and the description was “the best, hardest, most rewarding thing I do.” Memorable and unique. That’s what you’re going for in the medical school personal statement.
- Block left. This means do not indent your paragraphs. It’s easier for the eye to read this way and it looks better. Remember that the reader is reading many medical school personal statements and this will give him or her a break for the eyes.
Using professional editing services
As I said above, there are many medical school personal statement editing services available online and even through your college. You can use your premed office or many schools have a writing center where people who are good writers can review your statement.
However, your personal statement for medical school should not be something you leave to chance . Your best bet is to work with someone who has experience with the medical school personal statement from the other side of the admissions table. As I said above, the company I recommend for medical school essay help is MedSchoolCoach .
The reason I like this company is because they are all doctors who have had experience on a medical school admissions committee. That means they know exactly what it is that schools are looking for. They also have an excellent success rate and have helped students get into top tier schools like Harvard medical school.
I also like them because their prices are very reasonable, even compared to other companies with less specialized experience. They offer personal statement editing along with many other options to help you achieve your goal of becoming a doctor. Remember, the personal statement for medical school is only part of the equation. MedSchoolCoach offers complete packages (which include medical school essay help) for a great price. Click here to go to their site.
If you’re looking for something that’s more than a book, (which you can pick up here for lots of tips about getting into medical school ) but less expensive than 1 on 1 advising and editing services, check out my new members only site , Medical School Inside Track.
Inside you’ll find:
For more info on Medical School Interviews, click here.
For more info on Medical School Admissions, click here
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A guide to writing a medical school personal statement
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- How to write a personal statement for medical school?
If you are like most prospective medical students, you would have spent a significant part of your life preparing for submitting that important application to medical school. From scoring top grades in high school to passing the MCAT with flying colors – after coming so far in your journey, you do not want to leave the results of your application to chance.
Getting into a good medical school is highly competitive , and you need to do everything you can to ensure that you stand out from your peers. This is where a personal statement comes in. It is one of the most essential requirements of medical school and is your perfect chance to make a firm, positive and unique impression on the admissions team. Don’t worry if writing is not your strongest skill. This guide will take you through what to include in a personal statement, how long it should be and why it is so important.
What is a medical school personal statement, and why do you need one?
A medical school personal statement is a type of essay that outlines and details exactly why you want to pursue medicine further for studies as well as a career. As the name suggests, this essay must be completely personal. No two candidates should or would have the same personal statement. A medical school personal statement can be used to tell the school about:
- A key moment in your life that inspired you to pursue medicine
- A personal challenge that you overcame
- What motivates you in the field of medicine
- Qualities that make you the right candidate for medical school
- Someone who influenced or inspired you to apply to medical school
These are just some suggestions to help you think of a central theme for your medical school personal statement, and there are plenty more creative and inspiring ideas to explore. As a prospective applicant, you should use this opportunity to tell your personal story, grab the attention of the admissions officer and assert firmly and confidently the kind of medical practitioner you hope to be.
What a personal statement should look like
Before getting started on your medical school personal statement, make a list of things you want to talk about, research exactly what that school is looking for, consider who will be reading it and how you are go ing to structure it. Here are two questions to ask yourself.
How long should a personal statement be?
Always check with the medical school of your choice first. Most medical schools ask for a personal statement that sits between 4,000 and 5,300 characters which amount s to approximately 500 words. Never exceed a character or word limit if it is specified and clarify with the admissions team if you have any concerns.
The word limit might seem like a lot to some, but once you have a focus in place, it should flow easily. Stay true to your topic of choice. Make sure you use short sentences that capture the attention of your reader and that are not confusing. You want to get your message across quickly, concisely, and in an interesting manner.
How should I structure my personal statement?
Look online for medical school personal statement examples and templates to get an idea but remember to keep your essay unique. The statement will be analyzed and checked for plagiarism and authenticity, so it is important to structure it in your own way with your own ideas.
Here are some important things to remember when structuring your personal statement for medical school:
- Set aside at least six to eight weeks before the application deadline for your personal statement . You don’t want to rush into it and submit something that you are not fully confident and proud of. You can even jot down as many thoughts as you like for half the time and then spend four weeks editing, revising, and fine-tuning your essay.
- Work on a strong introduction and an equally, if not more, robust conclusion . The introduction is what will grab the reader’s attention from the get-go. You need a strong ‘hold’ on what your selling point is to compel them to read further. End with your goal of what you’re going to pursue with a medical degree. You should sound trustworthy, self-sufficient, and passionate.
- Once you have an introduction and ending to your essay, fill in the details of what you want to convey in the body of your statement. It does not have to follow a chronological path or even reflect your resume. It should tell a story and keep the reader engaged in what you have to say.
The best way to do that is to follow this list of important things to include in your medical school personal statement.
What to include in a personal statement?
- Your achievements . Showcase examples of your accomplishments, how you have achieved them, and what you are going to accomplish in the future with your medical school degree. Don’t go overboard with the self-praise – do aim to sound humble, professional, and passionate.
- Make sure your personality shines through . The admissions team will be getting thousands of applications each day and will be looking for a unique spark or story before allowing you to proceed to the next step.
- Your passion for medicine and healthcare must be clear . However, avoid using cliches and offensive language. Emanate empathy, responsibility, integrity, and ambition. These are all useful traits for anyone working in the medical field to have.
- Research the medical school thoroughly to make sure that you know what they’re looking for and what i t can provide to you. Why do you want to apply to that school, and why should they choose you? It should be the right fit for both.
Next steps in your medical school personal statement journey
Once you have your personal statement ready, we recommend that you have a fresh set of eyes read through it. Ask a trusted friend or family member for feedback, and set aside enough time to make changes, and double-check all the details you have provided.
This is just the first step in your long and exciting journey as a medical professional. At MUA, we have terms in January, May and September every year and receive applications from ambitious prospective students from all over the world. Take a look at how you can apply , and read through the questions we have suggested for filling out your personal statement. We require a maximum of 500 words in your statement, and this guide will help our Admissions Committee evaluate your application. We also have a guide for all applicants to help you prepare for a medical school interview. If you need any more information about admission requirements , visit our website.
If you have any more questions or concerns, reach out to our team by phone or by filling out the contact form, and we will get back to you shortly. Your journey as a medical professional starts now!
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In addition to high academic achievement, medical schools will look for certain skills and attributes which they believe make an ideal candidate for medicine. Medical schools will look for evidence of these attributes in your personal statement, which is part of your UCAS application. The following points in the dropdown bar have been agreed by the medical schools as the skills and attributes they are looking for.
Skills and attributes of an ideal candidate to medicine
- Motivation to study medicine and genuine interest in the medical profession
- Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
- The ability to reflect on your own work
- Personal organisation
- Academic ability
- Problem solving
- Dealing with uncertainty
- Manage risk and deal effectively with problems
- Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
- Insight into your own health
- Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
- Ability to treat people with respect
- Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations
- Empathy and the ability to care for others
Keep these in mind while writing your personal statement. Rather than simply stating that you embody these attributes, give examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past, for instance while on work experience or through extracurricular activities.
Medical schools vary in how they assess personal statements. Some score them while others do not. They commonly use personal statements as a basis for conversation during interview, so it is a good idea to write things which you would be prepared to expand on if asked.
For more on these attributes, see the Statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine .
Writing your personal statement for medical school
Many students get very concerned about what to write in their personal statement. The most important thing is that it is written by you, it reflects you as a person, and is an honest reflection of your thoughts, skills and interests. Watch the video below to find out how medical schools use personal statements.
What makes a good doctor?
Medical schools want students who have commitment, perseverance, initiative, concern for others and the ability to communicate. There is a list of core values and attributes needed to study medicine, and this list has been endorsed by all medical schools. It sets out what medical schools are looking for so they can recruit and train students to make good doctors.
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Values and attributes needed to study medicine
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Medicine Personal Statement Writing
Regardless of your pre-med major discipline, you will need to go through the application process for medical school. It is generally agreed that the most critical part of that process will be to write the required medical school admission essay . In this article you will learn the basics of what the process entails and specifically, how to maximize the potential to be accepted into the medical school of your choice.
- There is a 5300 character maximum, which includes spaces, for the AMCAS application, 5,000 characters for the TMDSAS, and 4,500 characters for the AACOMAS. In the preceding two paragraphs there are 126 spaces and 128 words. It is clear that you need to choose your words carefully while being able to tell your story.
- The essay will be used for every medicine school application you submit and sent to every school. A bad or mediocre essay will follow you everywhere.
- When you begin writing your essay it is recommended that you avoid using a word processing program but instead type directly into the window. You should prepare your essay in a word processor, but use it as the “reader” window, not the writing window.
- You will need to set your page layout to a single spaced format using a standard 12 point font and type. If you are using a word processor, the final result will be about one and a half pages in length.
- Once you submit your essay you will not be able to make any changes to your submission. So take your time and keep your hands away from the Enter key and the mouse until you are absolutely certain you are ready to submit it.
- A very solid piece of advice is for you to have three people with very different skill sets to proofread your essay: Someone who really knows you Someone who really knows a lot about medicine Someone who really knows a lot about English grammar
Finally, it needs to be noted that if you are considering applying to an MD or Ph.D. program, there are two other essays that will be required:
the MD-Ph.D. Essay and the Significant Research Experience essay.
Main Features of the Medical School Personal Statement
When you first see the screen for the medical school application personal statement, it is somewhat disarming. The instruction is: “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school.” This seems easy enough, until you understand that a generic writing style or impersonal approach will result in your essay being rejected.
The main feature of the essay is properly summed up as your interview in writing. If you have ever been through an actual interview process you already have a good idea of the amount of work that is ahead of you. Here is the summary of what you need to consider in constructing your personal statement for medical school.
- Approach the essay with the mindset that it is generic in one sense, and personal in another. Because the personal statement will accompany every medical school application you cannot tailor it to a specific medical school. It must be general enough to be used everywhere yet personalized in a way that it distinguishes you from the other applicants.
- The key theme for your essay needs to be based on your personal experience(s). This means you will have to write in the first person while keeping the focus on the relationship between yourself and the other person. This is one of the greatest challenges of the medical school essay.
- Use the common writing format of the five point essay. The first paragraph will be the introduction, paragraphs 2 through 4 will be used to tell your story, and the last paragraph will summarize everything. It is essential you ensure that each paragraph is connected and the overall writing naturally flows throughout the essay.
This short list demonstrates the difficulty in writing a good personal statement for medical school because it is not about stringing together sentences, ideas, or paragraphs, or filling in the blanks. If your essay is to be truly unique you will spend a significant amount of time writing, rewriting, editing, and proofreading. It is a process that can take weeks or even months.
How to Write a Good Personal Statement for Medical School
From what has already been discussed it should be clear that constructing the essay is more of a process than simply sitting down and writing. Thus, the first thing you need to do is to think before your write. Avoid thinking of the essay as a race to the end but a project that needs to be carefully thought out even before you sit down in front of a keyboard.
Since the medical personal statement essay will be about you as a person, a great starting point is to ask yourself “Who am I?” Answering this one question can take weeks if you have not seriously considered the answer to the question before.
A fact that is commonly known to professional writers is – the shorter the better. The issue of brevity was mentioned earlier in regard to the amount of space you have, but in the actual writing this brings it to another level. The challenge for writers of a personal statement medical school application is to include the critical details of your story while not losing sight of the story and people that are at the heart of your story.
One quality that separates the accepted from the rejected is the accepted find a way to include in their story insight as to how they will contribute to their classes in a unique and meaningful way. In other words, medical schools are not looking for people who will simply go through school with a degree in mind. They look favorable upon students who want to better the medical profession now and in the future.
Creative writing is generally accepted as an important part of the personal statement. Medical professionals are often seen as rather dull, technically focused people which is partially true, but you need to present yourself as an interesting person who can be personable as well as professional. Because this essay is perhaps the most important part of your medical school application, it is perhaps the only chance you will get to show let your personality shine.
If all this seems like a huge challenge you are grounded in reality. There are a number of critical points that require very careful attention. What this means is that you need to honestly evaluate your own writing skills and competencies and decide if you have what it takes to submit an outstanding personal statement. Few students, perhaps those with Professional Writing as a core competency, will be able to create and deliver the personal statement with great confidence. The best alternative is to order your medical school admissions personal statement by working with a reputable and proven business that has many years of experience in this area.