The personal statement can be an intimidating task to take on. For me, I spent an entire semester working on it, just to hear my advisor tell me to start over. Now with only 1 month to write my statement, I managed to write an effective one that got me accepted. To prevent this stress from happening to you, I will tell you the Dos and Don’ts of a personal statement.
A personal statement is a page long essay an applicant writes about themselves. Because it’s so broad many people aren’t sure what to write about. The organization can vary by person.
1. Write “why” you chose medicine
a. Many people have the same “why”, it is a matter of you sharing an experience that makes yours different from the other person.
2. Have an intro, body and closing paragraphs
2. At least 3 characteristics you have that is useful for a physician.
3. Have multiple people check your statement
a. This can be an iffy area, because if you have too many opinions you will be confused.
b. Your best bet is to have teachers, advisors, and pre-med faculty assess your paper
1. At my graduate school we have someone who is focused on pre-med students. So, she provides us with mock interviews, look at our personal statements and gives workshops on personal statements.
2. You can have one person check for grammar, another for punctuation, another for flow and the last for content. This way you limit the amount of feedback you receive from each person.
4. Write in chronological order if you’re writing is at a basic level. When in doubt chronological order is the best way to organize your statement.
a. This organization will allow you to have an opening paragraph of why medicine. The body paragraphs will illustrate what you have done since that moment and shows how you have grown.
b. For me, I opened with my why. The second paragraph was a story about a volunteering experience as Medical Responder in undergraduate school. My story in this paragraph showed a characteristic and growth. The third paragraph spoke of an experience that kept me motivated and enhanced my desire of being a physician. It fit my reason for why I chose medicine. My fourth paragraph had an experience from graduate school school that illustrated growth and another characteristic. The last paragraph wrapped everything up. Because I applied to both DO and MD, I revolved my character limit around the one with fewer characters.
1. Write about how your childhood contributed to your why, unless it is something defining.
a. Writing about how television (Discovery Health or any other medically related channel) drew you to medicine is a no. It looks immature and may indicate you do not know enough about medicine.
b. On the other hand, if something traumatic or intense happened while you were a child, write about it
1. Example: When I was a child my mother suffered from seizures and one time she had one while my sister and I were in the car. This moment proved to me the severity of seizures and sparked my interest in how to prevent and stop them.
2. The above example is what initiated your interest and now in the rest of the statement you can explain what has kept you motivated and what you have done since then.
2. Dwell on the negative
a. Many people want to talk about poor grades and MCAT scores. I didn’t write about it, because I knew I had the opportunity to write about it in secondary applications.
b. If you do write about it, only put two sentences about it. Then write how you have improved yourself.
c. Some say to write about academics. I didn’t and I was accepted into multiple medical schools. I interviewed at both DO and MD medical schools. Since the schools have all of your GPA and MCAT scores, I see no point in writing about them.
If you would like to see a personal statement for inspiration/as an example, just e-mail me at : firstname.lastname@example.org