Medical School Personal Statement Ideas

In this article, Medical School Personal Statements that can beat 52,323 Applications, you will learn to create a sincere, interesting, and thoughtful essay that highlights your strengths and qualities.

Remember:

With more than 50,000 applicants to medical school this year, only those with a compelling story will be selected to interview.

What else:

While metrics, such as the MCAT and GPA, are crucial, admissions committee members view applications holistically meaning who you are and what is important to you matters just as much as your “numbers.” 

We’ve got you covered:

Below are some strategies you can employ that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Getting Started

Let’s get started:

Whether you’re applying to AMCAS, TMDSAS, or AACOMAS essay prompts are generally not topic-driven like a traditional essay you might write for an academic class. So let us guide you to understand Medical School Personal Statements that can beat 52,323 Applications.

Keep in mind:

We encourage applicants to try and write a topic-driven essay that has a distinct theme.

“I have a great theme, why I want to be a doctor.”

Of course, from time to time, a student might write a beautiful essay with a theme, but, most of the time these essays do not succeed in telling an applicant’s story comprehensively and convincingly.

 

Related:Too Early to Start Working on Your 2018 Medical School Application? – When to Start Your First Draft

 

I don’t have anything to write about.

Of course you have a story.Everyone does. 

Here is a list of questions that can help a student find key elements of his or her story.

How should you start your medical school personal statement?

You hear conflicting advice. 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:

1) 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.

2) Start your personal statement with something catchy.Think about the list of potential topics above. 

3) Don’t rush your work. Don’t panic. Composing great documents takes time and you don’t want your writing and ideas to be sloppy and underdeveloped.

Medical school personal statements that can beat 52,323 applications.

SHOW, DON’T TELL

Know this mantra:

Something my clients hear me say throughout the application process, and a common mantra for anyone who works in admissions, is to “show” rather than “tell.”

What does this mean, exactly?

It means that whether you are writing a personal statement or interviewing, you should show evidence for what you are trying to communicate.

Here’s an example.

In a personal statement, never say that you are compassionate and empathetic; instead, demonstrate that you possess these qualities by offering concrete examples.

Medical School Personal Statements that can beat 52,323 Applications via GIPHY

Also keep in mind:

Like your personal statement, your interview responses, too, should evoke all the qualities and characteristics that your interviewer is seeking.  Again, show don’t tell. 

And consider this:

The following is a medical school interview question, “Tell me about your most valuable shadowing experience and why it was important to you.”

Hit them with this kind of answer:

“My most valuable experience was shadowing Dr. Brit. I really learned so much about oncology, which I found fascinating. I would go home every night and read about what I had heard and learned. But I also enjoyed watching him talk to patients. I noticed that he held each patient’s hand, listened to them attentively and made clear to each person that he really cared.”

And there’s more:

By talking about his mentor, this applicant shows his understanding of the importance of compassionate care, and in expressing this, further suggests that these ideals are important to him, too.

The mantra “show, don’t tell” cannot be said enough. Remember this throughout every stage, written documents and interviews, of the medical admissions process.

Where can I find further inspiration? Need help with your personal statement med school?

1) Click hereto visit the Student Doctor Network website to find out how other students are preparing to write their personal statements.

2) Click hereto see what students on the Reddit medical school personal statement premed forum are saying about their personal statements. 

3) Your application materials must be authentic, but sometimes a little inspiration helps. Read The MedEdits Guide to Medical School Admissions. There you will find examples of ‘successful’ personal statements and application entries.

I would like more resources about medical school personal statements and how to apply.

RELATED: What to Watch out for in Medical School Interviews

Where should I look?

For those of you who love to drink coffee and stay up until the roosters come out.Here’s a great “go to” list where you can read about more personal statement and application topics.

1) Click here to visit www.AAMC.org to learn about AMCAS, the allopathic (M.D) application service.

2) Click here to visit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website to review important requirements for your AACOMAS application. 

3) If you want to apply to most medical schools in Texas, you will need to complete the TMDSAS application. Click here for more information.

Personal Statement for Medical School Myths

Personal Statement Myths:The list below is based on an article I wrote all the way back in 2010 for The Student Doctor Network.I guess some solid advice never gets old.

#1: Never write about anything that took place in the past or before college.

#2: Never write about topics unrelated to medicine.

#3: Never write about a patient encounter or your own experience with health care.

#4: Always have a theme or a thesis.

#5: Dont write about anything negative.

Click here to read the article on SDN.

Example Personal Statement 

Synopsis: A first generation college student learns from family illness. This personal statement is an excerpt from The MedEdits Guide to Medical School Admissions, P. 162.

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 AMCAS, 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 .

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.

Good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language.

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.

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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