Your GPA, research, MCAT scores and extracurriculars can all help you stand out in medical school applications, but what’s the easiest way to stand out and be remembered?
It’s to tell your compelling life story.
A narrative-based approach to your medical school application will convince admissions committees to want to learn more about you. And not only are we talking about in your personal statement here– but your entire application can and should tell a cohesive story about who you are, how you got to where you are and why you want to become a doctor. Even during your interviews!
Every piece of your application is different, but together they should form a cohesive story.
So today in this blog post, we want to give you 5 tips to help you develop and tell your life story throughout your medical school application and interviews…
1. Focus on your story. First and foremost, focus on your story. Don’t worry so much about whether it’s too common. Some students make the mistake of trying not to be the “typical applicant” that they focus on how to be different. But at the end of the day, that is cliche and very common. Talk about your story and focus on the journey. Your story is good enough even if it sounds common. The goal of the application is not be different. It’s to demonstrate who you are and why you should be accepted.
2. Explain your journey to becoming a doctor. The person reading about you will want to know how you got to where you are today. When you give them a narrative, this is much easier to understand than facts (and it’s more memorable too). Think about your past and describe what elements of your childhood, adolescence and college years made you want to be a doctor. Are there specific moments or events that led you to this decision?
3. Demonstrate, don’t tell. Everyone will have a list of accomplishments, and the admissions committees will already see your grades, so break down your life on a deeper level. Don’t just say that you’re dedicated, determined, or a hard worker. You may be all of those things, but you should demonstrate them through experiences or storytelling. Illustrate your traits and characteristics by providing examples.
4. It’s ok to not be perfect. Don’t feel like you need to portrait yourself as the perfect applicant. It’s ok if you don’t have a hero story to share. If it’s your journey–then it’s great. Admissions committees aren’t looking for perfection. Sometimes it’s the difficulties, struggles and mistakes we make that make the best of stories. If you share a mistake you made in your life, what did you learn from it? What life changes have you made since then? And if you have applied to medical school before and haven’t gotten in, it’s ok to talk about that. Be vulnerable and most important, be honest!
5. Address gaps. Don’t try to hide issues from your past or ignore gaps in your application. Because if it doesn’t come up in your primary application, it’s likely to show up in secondaries or during your interview. Address mistakes or gaps and don’t give excuses. Explain things like:
- What you’ve learned
- How your life has changed
- How you’re a different/better person
- How you can help others/be more sympathetic
Currently in your gap year? Check out our blog post for more advice on how to use your gap year to give you an extra edge!