When applying to college or university, it is important to include a personal statement. This step is essential, as it can help you articulate your ambitions, experience, and skills you’re offering to the university and the college admission staff. For example, if you’re applying to a medical school, a personal statement can help you explain what particular course or subject you’d like to study, what skills you possess that will help you become a doctor, and why you want to be one in the first place.
Even though it seems pretty straightforward, writing a personal statement can be a bit difficult. Sometimes you don’t know which skills and type of experience you should present in the statement, or whether the overall format of what you’ve written is particularly suiting the statement. So, what do you do when you need to write a personal statement for a medical school, and how to do it? In the following paragraphs, we are going to take a look at a step by step instruction for the best personal statement you could ever write. But, before we start, let’s make it clear what the purpose of a medical school personal statement is;
- The purpose of a personal statement for medical school is to present yourself to the admission committee/staff; this means that the statement needs to show the person behind the MCAT scores and the GPA, and needs to provide context to the whole application. The things that you present in the personal statement will probably become the conversation material in an interview that will follow. Therefore, the personal statement needs to communicate the following things;
- Who you are; you need to show the committee who you are as a person within and outside the professional environment,
- What makes you unique and better than other applicants; what is it that makes you stand out and more appropriate for the medical school,
- What is it that motivates you to be in medicine.
Step 1 – Develop a writing process
A good personal statement has a format, is effective and is organized. The sense of narrative is strong, focuses on a few anecdotes, relatable scenes, and the writer’s ability to focus on conveying their dedication to medicine. It is important for a personal statement to express the writer’s background, experience, and skills that have made them pursue medicine and have helped them develop character and commitment, necessary to succeed in the medical field. To put all of this into a cohesive and logical text, you must first develop a writing process and a plan, and here is what it should include;
- Make a list of all defining moments and experiences that have happened to you, but that are also relevant to the medical career and your decision to choose the path of medicine. Everything you list needs to be of substance, it has to be relatable and connected to the final decision of pursuing medicine. Avoid listing stories and experiences that are too personal, and try not to sound too sentimental or cliché. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your life and goals.
- In the personal statement, focus on presenting the moments and experiences which display your dedication to medical service, commitment to helping those in need, and ability to stay composed and in control in difficult and under-pressure situations.
- You should consider starting working on a personal statement several months prior to the application period. This way you will have enough time to write the draft and slowly build it up into the final form of your personal statement. Things like this statement need time to take their final form; that is why it is important to write a draft, leave it for some time and then go back to working on it again. This way you will see what works, what doesn’t, what sounds perfect and what is cliché.
- Don’t panic over the opening sentence or a general theme of your personal statement essay. Let these things come naturally to you. It is important to just start writing and see where your thoughts take you. That is why you could find it helpful to start working on the statement earlier; it will give you time to come up with a killer opening sentence without sounding phony and forced.
- Consult and have other people read what you write. It is important to get proper feedback. Other people can catch sight of things that maybe you keep missing; from typos to the way your essay sounds and feels overall. So, you can ask one of your dear professors to help you out, or some of your friends who have already been through the personal statement phase. Either way, don’t be afraid to ask for help. But, don’t go around asking everyone; too many people going through your work can leave you confused. Only a few and carefully selected people should have access to your work.
- After writing, go through the text and look for grammatical errors, typos, repetitive words, and ill-formed sentences. Basically, if anything sounds off, consider correcting or completely removing it. Your personal statement needs to be impeccable, so make sure to revise, edit and read the essay with fresh eyes.
- Use clear, direct language to express the details about your life, your background and the motivation to become a medical professional or a doctor. It is important to be concise, simple, yet direct and straightforward. Make sure to choose the words for the statement carefully; you will have only one page to express yourself.
Step 2 – Start by explaining the motivation for pursuing medicine
The first and most important thing you can do when writing a personal statement for a medical school is to explain why you want to become a doctor or a medical professional. Make sure to explain the very motivation behind the life-changing decision. Of course, you will resort to explaining the academic reason behind the decision, but it is essential to include a personal, emotional motive that made you pursue a career in medicine. Moreover, you will mention what your hopes are in the medical field, whether you want to conduct studies, research and impact the world of medicine as a whole. All of this will resonate with the reader and help them understand where your will to become a doctor comes from. For example, you can write about the following;
- A specific moment in life when you realized how important medicine is; if there is a case of serious illness in your family, or if you’ve suffered a serious accident or injury, make sure to present any important and determining moment in your life that has led you to this personal statement and application to medical school.
- A specific condition or disease that has affected you, someone in your family or your friend; explain how you want to contribute to the medical world by researching and studying serious diseases and conditions, especially those that are not easily treated (or have no treatment options at all).
- An exceptional wish to perform medical service as it was developed from the concern and sympathy for people, especially those who have the least access to such services. Explain how enthusiastic you are about being able to help patients, give them opportunities to start their lives all over and enjoy it with their families. Show how sympathy and compassion are important to you, and that the medical field is the perfect way for you to show it.
Note: the aforementioned examples and recommendations can turn into clichés very easily. Make sure to avoid clichés, as they will not help you stand out among the competition, but rather make you blend in. Make sure to present unique explanations behind your motivation to enter the medical field, and, of course, be honest and direct.
Step 3 – Explain what makes you perfect for a career in the medical profession
Now, it is not simply enough to explain what has made you choose your career path in medicine. It is also essential you explain in the personal statement what is it that makes you unique and perfect for the medical profession. This is the point in the essay where you have to point out specific, exact and unique experiences, skills and goals of yours that will make you stand out among thousands of other people who want the same as you.
At this moment, it is your time to shine, so focus on presenting your unique personality, sense of individuality and all the things that make you simply better than other applicants. You should specifically focus on providing details about your previous successes, experiences, things that have personally impacted you and affected your career/university path, and things that have made you authentic. However, make sure not to focus on what the committee members ‘want to hear’; focus on telling your own truth and use your own ‘voice’. It is important for the reader to see your personality shine through.
Writing a personal statement can be difficult and time-consuming. It can even affect your college application and change the path of your career and education. However, it is important not to stress about it too much. You just need to be direct, show your strengths and enthusiasm for medicine. Also, give yourself enough time to get everything right. Stay true to yourself, rely on your skills and experience, proofread and make it stand out.