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medical | opinions & advice | applying to medical school
Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement
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Medical schools want to enroll bright, empathetic, communicative people.
This means they care about more than your MCAT score; they want to know who you are and why you're passionate about becoming a doctor. Your personal statement is the first opportunity you have to tell a medical school about yourself in your own words.
Your personal statement is a component of your application submitted to AMCAS or AACOMAS. They don't provide a prompt, but they do offer topics to consider. Many approaches are acceptable: an experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine, a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual, a challenging personal experience, an overview of your academic or life story, or an insight into the nature of medical practice.
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 compliments your original essay.
Good Rules of Thumb
Stay focused. Choose a theme. Stick to it, and support it with specific examples.
Good writing is simple writing. Good medical students–and good doctors–use clear, direct language. Make clear points and remove extraneous words. Your essays should not be a struggle to comprehend.
Keep it relevant to why you're choosing a life in medicine. If you choose to write about an experience that is not directly related, explain how it contributed to your desire to go to medical school or how it will inform your experience as a medical student.
Stick to the rules. Give what is asked of you – this isn't the place to work out your authority issues. No small fonts, funny margins, etc.
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.
Don't overdo it. Beware of being too self–congratulatory or too self–deprecating.
Get feedback. 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.
Give yourself (and your proof-readers) the time this task truly requires. Don't think of it as a weekend chore. If you believe that you are more than just numbers, don't pass up this opportunity to share some genuine insight into who you are. Be personal and be specific.