Learning From a Medical School Personal Statement Example
Each spring, students hopeful for a chance at attending medical school begin preparing their applications. Many applicants rank the personal statement the most difficult of all the portions of the medical school application. The difficulty of writing a personal statement is often due to multiple factors. These include weak writing skills, lack of time, and discomfort with promoting oneself. However, the most common reason is that most medical school applicants simply do not know what to write about. Looking at a medical school personal statement example can be very helpful in this instance. By reviewing a completed essay, a medical school applicant can learn what makes a personal statement successful and what does not.
The Value of a Strong Personal Statement
The medical school personal statement is a powerful tool. It provides a unique opportunity for an applicant to demonstrate skills and talents to medical schools that are not evident in their grades or test scores. A personal statement essay is the ideal space to discuss extracurricular activities, meaningful experiences, and research. If done properly, a personal statement can improve an applicant’s chances of getting invited for an interview. Once invited for an interview, an applicant’s chances of admission improve drastically. Therefore, an applicant’s objective during the first steps of the application process should be to secure as many interviews as possible. Unfortunately, many prospective medical students do not use their personal statement to their advantage. Under these circumstances, their essays provide them with no benefit; or in many cases, hurt their application. This article will present two sample essays. The first medical school personal statement example is not effective. The second example shows a good quality essay.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #1
I have always wanted to be a doctor. My favorite toy as a child was a doctor’s kit. I remember regularly giving my dolls, pets, and family members “check-ups”. I have never had any other career aspirations other than pursuing medicine. For this reason, I know that medicine is the right career for me. Throughout my academic career, I have chosen classes that will ultimately benefit my aspiration to attend medical school.
I have the talent necessary to be a physician. I have always been a strong student, and I excel in science. I received A’s in all my science classes throughout my entire high-school career. I found Biology to be especially easy for me. I quickly picked up on all the material and easily earned top grades. I was the president of the science club in my senior year of high-school. In addition, I was awarded the Science Scholar award for my school due to my strong academic achievement. In my spare time, I volunteered at my local hospital where I was exposed to the daily work of physicians.
My superb high-school grades earned me offers of admission to the top colleges and universities in the country. Ultimately, I chose to attend Prestigious University due to its strong premedical program. Upon enrolling in college, I have continued my strong academic career. I have maintained a 3.7 GPA and continue to receive strong grades in my sciences courses. The one exception to my otherwise excellent grades, was in Biology 204, in which I received a C. In that case, there were extenuating circumstances and that grade does not represent my academic ability. I developed a bad case of the flu during mid-terms and did poorly on that exam. That low grade dragged down my average in that course.
I have always wanted to be a doctor. I am an intelligent person who has achieved high grades, therefore, I believe that I would be an excellent physician. My goal is to attend Top Medical University and pursue a career in Neurology because I find the human brain fascinating.
Discussion of Medical School Personal Statement Example #1
The main objectives of the introductory paragraph for a personal statement should be to
- capture the reader’s attention
- set the tone of the essay
- give the reader a clear idea of what the essay is about
This medical school personal statement example does not have a very strong introductory paragraph. Although it does a fair job of setting the tone and showing what the essay is about, it is not very interesting. The author opens with the overdone assertion of how they have “always wanted to be a doctor”. A boring personal statement is dangerous. Medical schools have to read thousands of personal statements. If the opening an essay fails to capture their attention, they will be likely to skim through the remainder of the document. Worse yet, the student will not have the benefit of their personal statement to help earn their interview invitation.
A good way to build interest in an introductory paragraph is to tell a story. The author of the first medical school personal statement example could have had a more successful opening paragraph if they mentioned their early affinity for medicine, but went on to describe an experience which solidified their desire to become a physician.
In the second paragraph of this medical school personal statement example, the author writes about high-school grades and achievement. This is an ineffective paragraph for multiple reasons. Most medical schools are not interested in their prospective students’ high-school grades. In addition, the author provides a very superficial narrative of their activities. What was learned as president of the science club? What valuable experiences were obtained during the volunteer time? Furthermore, the author should have listed their volunteer work and awards on their AMCAS application. Mentioning them in the personal statement is a waste of valuable space.
The third paragraph is problematic because it does not provide any valuable information. The author talks more about their grades and provides and explanation for a disappointing score. The personal statement is not an appropriate place for an applicant to discuss their grades. Medical schools receive applicants full transcripts- it is redundant and unhelpful to list grades in the personal statement. Furthermore, it is not helpful to use the personal statement to explain academic underachievement. Medical schools will ask applicant to explain any academic discrepancies during the secondary application or in the interview.
The closing paragraph reiterates the problematic theme that the author “always wanted to be a doctor”. In addition, the author names a specific medical school that they are hoping to attend. Although the author may have a preferred school, it is not a good idea to reveal school preferences in the personal statement. Doing so may alienate other schools. Finally, the author mentions career goals in the final sentence. This could be interesting information for the admissions committee, however, the author does not provide enough details for the statement to be effective. The author’s interest in the field of Neurology should have been mentioned earlier in the essay, and discussed in more detail.
Medical School Personal Statement Example #2
During the summer of 2016 I had the opportunity to volunteer at Downtown Children’s Hospital. My primary responsibility was assisting the Child Life Specialists in providing entertainment for hospitalized children and distracting them during difficult or painful procedures. During my volunteer time, I had the opportunity to get to know an 8 year old patient who was undergoing treatment for leukemia. I could tell that she was very afraid of the things that were happening to her. We bonded over a mutual love of coloring books. I would visit her room each day with a new page for us to color together. Gradually, she began to talk to me about questions about her treatment and expressed fearfulness about not knowing what was going to happen. I did my best to empower her with knowledge; I began to ask the medical personnel to explain the procedures and treatments to me so that I could provide the patient with accurate answers to her questions. Over time, I found that I not only wanted to know about the procedures so that I could help the patient- I wanted to know for myself as well. I found the practice of medicine fascinating and it solidified my desire to become a physician.
Since my time volunteering at Downtown Children’s Hospital, I have remained committed to my desire to become a physician. I was given the opportunity to shadow physicians at The Happy Family Practice and had the opportunity to learn about preventive health care. One of my most memorable experiences was counselling an obese patient with hypertension about his health risks. Although he was concerned about his health, he seemed to have little hope that it could improve. After some discussion, I managed to convince him to make a few small changes in his diet. When he returned for his follow-up appointment six weeks later, his weight and blood pressure had improved significantly. Furthermore, he thanked me and said that my encouragement had motivated him to begin exercising again. It felt good to have a positive effect on someone’s health.
I am an eager learner who is fascinated by the workings of the human body and its ability to heal. In addition, I am able to empathize with my patients and the difficulties they face. Through my experiences with the healthcare field, I have learned the importance of advocating for my patients and partnering with them to help them achieve optimal health. I am committed becoming a high quality physician who will be an asset to my patients and the medical community.
Discussion of Medical School Personal Statement Example #2
The author of the second paragraph begins with a story about a clinical encounter. This was a wise decision because it provides interesting material to pique the readers’ attention. In addition, the author is able to show that they possess several attributes that are valued by medical schools- compassion, maturity, motivation, and inquisitiveness. These attributes will make a stronger impact on admissions committees because the author used the “show, don’t tell” principle.
The second paragraph of this essay builds on the ideas presented in the introduction. In addition, the author provides details about their shadowing position and they give further evidence of their compassion and motivation. These details will help medical schools form a positive image of the author.
The author effectively uses the concluding paragraph to summarize the points made in the earlier parts of the essay. In addition, they clearly state why they are a good candidate for admission.
When writing a personal statement, it is important to be mindful of the image that is being projected. The person portrayed by the essay must appear likable, capable, and interesting. In other words, a successful personal statement should make the reader want to meet the author. Think back to the previous medical school personal statement examples. Which author seems most likable? Who would you choose to meet and learn more about them? Who seems the most capable and trustworthy? These are the sorts of questions that admissions officers ask themselves as they read personal statements and try to decide between candidates.
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