The personal statement is an essay, of sorts, that establishes who you are and what drives you. It offers a narrative to describe your personal journey towards the degree (or program) you are applying for. You will be having your grades, test scores, list of activities, recommendation letters, etc. The personal statement gives an idea to the admissions committee to understand who you are as a person behind the grades and other components. In this post, we will discuss how to write a personal statement for medical school admission.
Med School Admissions
It is often said, that you either fit into the crowd or you stand out. In the former, you become like others, and in the latter, you craft a unique path for yourself. The same applies when you write a personal statement for a Medical School. Like most others, you’ve studied science or liberal arts – you wish to do something for society, you wish to touch the lives of the less privileged. Medical schools do not wish to learn about these qualities.
What does Medical School Look for?
Medical schools look for certain uniqueness in every candidate – special qualities that set each apart from the other. This ensures that the student not only becomes a successful practitioner in the future but also harbors qualities that make him/her a better human being.
The onus is on the student to write an impressive, engaging, and powerful Personal Statement that would make a positive impression on the admissions team.
Many times, students tend to underestimate the power of a personal statement. This, in turn, yields negative results with the student being rejected admission.
Along with the interview, a personal statement can account for more than 60% of the total admissions score. Remember, the admissions committee wants to know who you are (beyond your test scores and resume) and why you wish to study medicine.
What to include in a Personal Statement for Medical School
You need to focus on a few points:
- Make sure you chose the ‘right’ topic
- Point out your uniqueness in your essay. Do not write a cliched one.
- Clearly mention your reason for choosing medicine over other science fields
- Have a clear idea of what the admissions committee is looking for. Present the essay likewise.
The personal statement is one of the primary components of your application.
How to Approach the Personal Statement for Med School
You may approach this essay from a diverse perspective. You may write about:
- What motivated you to pursue a career in medicine
- Any incident that made a huge impact and changed your perception about medicine
- Any personal experience
- Relationships with people who influenced your life – a mentor, a teacher, a friend etc.
- Challenges, hardships and / or obstacles which you may have faced early on, and how you overcame those situations.
Guidelines and Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for Medical School
It is important that the admissions committee understand you, not only as a prospective candidate but also as a human being. You need to keep the following tips and tricks in mind while writing one for your medical school application:
Write again and again
Practice makes perfect. Give yourself 6 months. Immerse yourself in practicing how to write a personal statement in these 6 months. There will be a lot of mistakes in the initial days. However, these mistakes will gradually minimize with rewriting your personal statement draft over and over again. Revise, review, reorder (if needed) and rewrite. At the end of 6-7 months, you can be sure that your personal statement is submission-ready.
Start your personal statement with something that catches the attention of the admission committee, and they want to delve deeper into your essay. Build up the interest before getting into your personal story.
The admissions committee does not have the time to go through each candidate’s personal story. Thus, highlight a few interesting aspects of your academic journey. Give relevant examples and anecdotes to support these aspects.
You know yourself best. You know what makes you unique. Your successes and failures are your own and you have faced them all by yourself. Point out these incidents. Say how you’ve dealt with successes and failures. Giving a personal touch to your personal statement will make it memorable.
You love science. You wish to serve people. These are cliched. These are what all candidates would write for their applications. Be personal. Be specific. Only then would your personal statement be noticed.
Don’t tell. Show
Your uniqueness, as mentioned in your essay, must be backed with relatable stories. The admissions committee looks for bright, empathetic individuals who would retain their human side while serving the needy.
Most students believe that good writing involves using complex words and sentences. However, this is a very wrong concept. Writing in the simplest of language is perhaps the most challenging part. Good medical students and doctors use simple, clear language that is easy to understand.
Once you start writing, make sure there are variations in your sentence structure. Each paragraph must be connected to the previous one. Begin each paragraph differently.
Go the 5-point essay format way
Remember how you were taught to write an essay in your 3rd / 4th standard? Imply the same rule here.
- The first 4/5 sentences of the first paragraph must catch the reader’s attention. Get the readers hooked.
- The following paragraphs (3-4) should reveal who you are. These must highlight your clinical understanding as well as reflect on the service you provided to the society
- The concluding paragraph should be in sync with the first paragraph. It should say a little about yourself and how you wish to deal with future challenges.
Stay on topic
Talking about a whole lot of things might not fetch you brownie points. Instead, it could create confusion and your personal statement might get rejected at the very first go. Thus, it is wise to stick to one or two topics you want to talk about and provide the necessary proof to validate your story.
Go by the rules
It is advisable not to exceed the word limit for your personal statement. Different medical schools have different word limits. Keep it short, crisp, simple, and interesting.
Know your limits
Do not be too self-congratulatory while writing a personal statement. Neither be too self-deprecatory. Both have negative effects.
Seek multiple opinions
Just before you submit your personal statement for medical school, get it checked by a professor/mentor, a friend, or someone whose writing skills you trust. They will give you an unbiased opinion and could also check for some spelling/ grammatical errors (if any), which you might have overlooked.
These apart, always check for other errors. These include punctuation, wrong references, wrong names of people or places, wrong dates, and so on.
It is always advisable to seek help from a professional admission consultant to get your personal statement right. Different medical schools have different requirements. It is not possible for a single applicant to know the nitty-gritty of each and every medical school. Admission consultants are professionals who are experts at handling these challenges.
The next time your wish to wear that white coat with a stethoscope around your neck gets fulfilled, do not forget to thank the people and/or admission consultants who made that bumpy ride smooth for you!
Personal Statement for Medical School Samples
Sample – 1
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