The medical school personal statement is your first chance. How important are first impressions? Well this is that chance for you. You can write a statement that is just like everyone else's OR you can write a statement that is engaging, entertaining, emotional, or just plain fun. No matter the voice you portray in your medical school personal statement you should make absolutely sure that you can follow it up with a consistent portrayal of that same personality for the rest of the application process.
Usually it will be necessary to write a few medical school personal statements over the course of your application. There will be the initial application essay that will answer the all important question...why do you want to go to medical school? You should be able to articulate several important things in your life that have pointed you in that direction. Then you will have other important questions asked, oftentimes in the secondary application you will need to write another medical school personal statement of some kind. It will be related to, but not exactly like the question on the primary application.
It is always interesting to me how little focus students have in their application. I think many students just do anything, no matter what those things are, in an attempt to look good on their application. So, it is no real surprise that when the application process comes around, they don't have any real passion interest, skill, or reason that they can really use to show which life experiences have pointed them down the path of medicine. Instead when you talk to them about their application, it is more along the lines of "I volunteered cause I wanted to help people." Everyone in the room or reading your application believes that "helping people" is a horrible answer and almost never a real reason. Not that helping people is bad, but they don't believe that was the real reason OR they don't see how an interest in helping people really separates you from other applicants. They may just think the real reason you did it was to...oh yeah have impressive activities on your application.
So what can you do? Well that is easy. If you start this process early enough, find something that you love. Find something you have a real passion for and dedicate your undergraduate life to those things. Get jobs, research opportunities, volunteer opportunities, etc that work with some area of your passion.
What about those who haven't started that early and really DID do those things just to bolster your application? Well you aren't in bad shape either. Think about your experiences for a minute. What did you love about them, how have they influenced your life. Why are you a better person today than you were before you did those things? What about the doctors you came in contact with? What did you love about them? What did you look up to them for? Maybe you hated how they did things and you want to improve upon the bad medicine that you have seen. I promise you that if you think hard enough and long enough you WILL find something there that fires you up. FOCUS ON THAT!
Ok so you have your "thing" in your life that lights up your passion? Ok now what? Ok here is where you begin to put into words your passion AND bridge the gap between your passion and the questions that medical schools want to know.
1. Why do you want to be a doctor? - help people or any variation of that answer is unacceptable. It is BORING and TIRED and WORN OUT. By the way...who DOESN'T want to help people. How does a want of helping people make you any different than a nurse, a PA, a PT, or even a software engineer who likes to build products that make your life easier. Sociopaths are the only people who don't have that as a goal. So...why do you want to be a doctor? This answer should be 1-2 sentences long and include your passion in some way
2. Why a doctor over other professions? - again 1-2 sentences long, be passionate about it, and make all these answers something pretty exciting to hear
3. Why do you want to attend our school over others? - same rules apply, know something about the school and why you want to be there. "because you are a state school and the most affordable one" is probably not an acceptable answer, you should know something about the school and have a goal which that school can meet.
4. Why should we accept you over other applicants? - you guessed it...1-2 sentences good one liner.
Ok NOW it is time to write. Everything you ever write or say to a school should be based off of 1 or more of these questions and your passion from your experiences. Answer the questions above using experiences you had in undergrad. This can be difficult to do, but you need to feel and powerful, brightly burning, HOT fire that you can write about. You should feel so passionate towards working in this specific field or research area, or ANYTHING that you literally pick schools to apply to because they have opportunities to do that. Then write about it. Your passion will come through and the person reading your medical school personal statement will literally request to then do your interview as well.
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