Filling out general information for your medical school application is relatively easy. But when it comes to the medical school personal statement, most applicants experience panic and confusion. How do you even write your personal statement?
Today, we will help you with getting an answer to this question.
What is a medical school personal statement?
Generally speaking, your goal with a personal statement is to describe your personal experience and explain how it led you to pursue medicine. Your ultimate goal with a personal statement is to demonstrate to the school that you are a suitable candidate for their educational program.
How to format your medical school personal statement?
Before starting to outline and draft your essay, think of these two things:
- Traits or qualities that you want to demonstrate.
- Specific events or situations that will help you highlight these qualities.
The entirety of your personal statement will be focused on uncovering the traits that are relevant to your profession and that are highly valued by the medical school you are applying to.
Now, let’s have a look at how you should approach each of the sections of your personal statement.
In the introductory paragraph, as it is with any essay, your goal is to capture the attention of the reader. There are plenty of ways of doing this, starting from the good old hook and ending with an anecdote. Of course, your hook needs to be relevant to your story.
In addition, the introduction needs to point towards the qualities that most effectively demonstrate your suitability and desire to become a medical professional. Among the traits that you may want to focus around are:
- Willingness to learn.
Of course, you should showcase characteristics that are true to the real you. If you try to be someone who you are not, it will most likely be very obvious to the admission committee.
The “thesis” of your introduction is that you have certain skills, traits, and experiences that will lead you to thrive as a medical professional.
Overall, your introduction needs to serve as a roadmap to the reader, setting up grounds for the rest of the story and allowing the reader to understand where it is directed.
In the body of your essay, your goal is to elaborate on the ideas that you have introduced in the opening paragraph. Essentially, you want to describe the experiences that have led you to medicine.
For the body, you should choose no more than 2-3 experiences to talk about. It is better to aim for depth over breadth. Instead of trying to discuss everything that may be relevant, focus on a few points that you think are going to demonstrate your character the strongest.
You may even focus on just a single experience If you are sure that you have one that is going to excellently demonstrate your traits.
To craft a compelling body, follow these tips:
- Explain why you pursued the experience.
- Discuss what you felt during the experience.
- Describe what you have accomplished and learned from the experience.
- Describe how the experience has affected you and your perception of the world.
- Finally, describe how the experience led to your decision to pursue medicine.
Being elaborate will not only help you with demonstrating your traits but will also make your statement more unique and personal. A cliche essay is a death sentence to your application: you don’t want to become similar to hundreds or possibly thousands of others who have applied to the same medical school as you.
Even though you’ve provided the reader with the most essential information, you are not quite over yet. The conclusion is the climax to your personal statement, and you should not neglect it and merely write it by summarizing what you have written above.
Even though you want to reemphasize the major ideas of your essay, you should try to be unique, creative, and captivating in the conclusion, no less so than in the introduction or the body.
The conclusion is your final chance to express your medical aspirations. You want to tie the whole essay together, as well as impress the reader, at the same time leaving them to want more.
How to write a strong personal statement for a medical school?
Now that you know the outline of your medical school personal statement, we would like to provide you with a couple of tips on making it compelling and unique among hundreds of other personal statements.
Show, not just tell (be specific)
You’ve most likely heard the “be specific” tip plenty of times. No surprise: it is one of the key features of a strong essay.
For example, writing that you value community service is pointless. Nor is simply listing your positive qualities. If you have a track record of community service, you would want to build your story around it. Describe specific experiences and events that would demonstrate the traits that you want to show.
Use a non-specialist language
While it may be very tempting for you to use professional language and show off your knowledge, you should avoid it. In the real world, describing a condition to a patient, you would use terms and words more or less understandable to non-professionals, right?
Use a non-academic tone in your essay. Otherwise, the admission committee will most likely think that you are compensating for the lack of your communication skills. Using a simple and clear language will demonstrate to the reader that you are a good communicator.
Maturity and professionalism are traits that are highly valued in the medical field. However, you do not necessarily need to explicitly demonstrate your professionalism in the essay with examples. Instead, your story will show how mature you are for the profession.
However, if you have a relevant example of you showing professionalism in a workplace setting, you may and even should include it in your essay.
Professionalism is about respect for the experience of others in your workplace and considering their needs alongside your own. One way of showing unprofessionalism is being judgmental towards others, be they your colleagues or patients. The same goes for blaming others for your mistakes.
Don’t confuse professionalism with the lack of emotion or blandness. Emotional intelligence is crucial in medicine: you must be aware of both your and your patients’ emotions in order to develop appropriate care for the situation. Thus, do not be afraid of expressing how each of your experiences made you feel and what you learned from it.