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Personal Statement


So this is the grand daddy of them all. The Personal Statement. Do not minimize this one. You'll get frustrated with it. You'll not be sure if it's good enough and some students will then just say, that's adequate.

They're not gonna base their decision of my mission on justice once I guess what they are. I'm really not kidding. This is a big big big deal. Behind the MCAT and maybe your GPA, this is the biggest thing that's going to close doors for you quickly.

So I'm gonna talk about what you do wanna do and what you do not wanna do, okay? We are going to approach the general personal statement. Some will have a specific prompt and hopefully some of the things we discuss today will guide you through that specific prompt, not exactly what they're looking for. But most are gonna have a general statement of who you are and why you wanna go into medicine.

And this is a big thing. First thing that I want you to note. Defining moments and defining yourself is good, okay? Most medical schools like to see essays where students talk about some experience or set of experiences that really inspired them, change them, motivated them to pursue medicine.

And they wanna know what you learned from these experiences. And you write a few of these key things up here. Okay, again you see experiences, you need to have something an experience could be one moment or set of experiences that inspired you, motivated you, changed you and made you want to pursue medicine. And you need to say what you learned from this experience or set of experiences and how what you learned is pushing you to pursue medicine, okay?

So this essay, the great perfect ideal format is to introduce yourself, talk a little bit about your life and then talk about something that happened in your life and how again inspired, motivate, change you, what you learned and then move on from there and discuss how what you've learned is now motivating you and has been motivating you to pursue medicine. To just go in and say, I did this and then I did that and then I did this and then after I completed that, I went on to do this.

So list of accomplishment is not good. This is the most common, sucky personal statement. Is, hi this is me, this is what I did, I wanna pursue medicine cuz of this. To prepare me, I've done this and then I did this, and then I did this other thing. And finally, I did this and I think all these things are gonna prepare me very well.

All those experiences are lost and they see them, those should be in another part of your application. That list of accomplishments is not for the personal statement. That's for the rest of your application. If you feel the need to put down a list of things you've done on your personal statement, then you must have forgotten to put that else where in your application.

And so you just need to go back, change your application, put those things in somewhere else. So you can do what we're talking about on the personal statement, okay? So this is it, I hope this comes away as the theme of my talk. It's humanism in medicine, it's understanding the interpersonal aspects, it's showing ability to work with others.

It's showing that you can have empathy, that you enjoy people, that you'll work with people. Even an anesthesiologist is gonna be working with people. Even a radiologist is gonna be working with colleagues, and you need to show that you understand, that you value people and you're in medicine because you want to care for people.

You want to empathize with people. You wanna be there for people. Not because you think it's interesting, and it's appropriate to put in that you think it's interesting, absolutely. But that shouldn't be the theme, nor should the theme be that you want money and you think medicine's a good career.

And I'll talk about that, that's an automatic, don't mention money. Or financial security, anything. Don't mention money, anything, anywhere in your personal statement. And when I say money, I mean having, shooting for some kind of salary or a physician's salary. Don't mention that at all, don't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

Okay, so recommended format, this is what you really should do, you need to start of paragraph one, you can talk a little bit about yourself and somehow you need to be able to launch into an experience here in paragraph one or earlier in paragraph two. So I think a great essay starts out, says who you are, where you're from and what type of early experiences you had and then set it up so that you can introduce this life, not necessarily life changing, but at least an impactful major experience.

So, paragraph one is setting up yourself to be able to share this experience. So it's like a generic one. You are from a smaller town and grow up on a farm. And learn to work hard and as such you took a job at mopping floors at a hospital, whatever it is. And then that sets yourself up to be able to say while at this hospital, one day there was a patient down in the hallway.

And there was a code called and the team came, and admit it ACLS or whatever, and the patient did not survive, and that deeply impacted me. Or whatever it is, you need to have some experience and set yourself up in paragraph one to share this experience again. Going back here, some experience that inspired, motivated or changed you.

Doesn't have to be life changing, huge, epic monuments a little bit but at least something that's inspiring motivating you and pursuing yourself to what to get it to medicine. And maybe it is not even that big is seeing a patient a die or seeing somebody die. Maybe it's an illness in the family.

That things were going well until your sister got sick and you saw your sister, whatever happen. Whatever it is you need to share some experience of. It keeps the committee interested and it knows that your motivated, that you've had something that's pushing you all along. And then a paragraph two, unless you're doing your experience early in paragraph two but from paragraph two, you need to build on this experience and talk about how that experience that you shared is feeding your desire and how it's made you interested in medicine.

That you saw suffering and wanted to help. That you saw excellence in a physician and wanted to emulate that. That you saw compassion in a nurse and wanted to be in that same field. Whatever it is that you saw, that you experienced, that you felt, that changed you, that inspired you.

Say what you saw and how it's motivating you in continuing to feed your desire to purse medicine. In the last, that's the most important thing you can do and it should be humanistic. It should not be, I met a doctor, I know a doctor from my town. He is an orthopedic surgeon, what he does is awesome, and he has really a nice lifestyle and I thought since I'm small, I thought then that lifestyle and what he does is for me.

That's not what they wanna hear. I don't care what your true motivations are, there's got to be some other experience in your life, and I think there is if you really search. There will be some other experience in your life that really submitted. Even if you're initially interested in medicine because you saw an orthopedic surgeon living a sweet lifestyle.

If that's what got you interested, something kept you committed, something happened along your medical school preparation or in your life where you thought, I wanna help, I wanna serve, I wanna be compassionate, I wanna interact with people, I wanna show empathy, and you need to highlight that experience and highlight your interest in following that.

Okay, and it needs to be focused. Don't use all the words I just used. Don't say, I wanna be professional, empathetic, caring and work with others. Highlight one thing and what it is, what one thing it is that's really motivating you along, okay? Paragraph three is an appropriate time to say why you would be a good addition to medical school.

And again, you can tie in the experience that you mentioned. So, if you saw somebody die in the hospital or you were there mopping floors, you could say that I think I'll be good addition to medical school because that has stay with me and is push me through my biochemistry classes. And its pushed me to pursue a research and I've done this research and now is a time to select something, perhaps from your application.

So you might have some redundancy here. Select one thing, not a list of things. Again, no lists in this. No, maybe not the experiences and achievements you had but it could be appropriate in the third paragraph to say, one thing you've done and how that experience and these feelings that you have have motivated you to pursue this additional experiences, research, volunteer, whatever it is and why this might make you did addition to medical school.

In paragraph 4, a lot of people debate this subschools want to hear. Where you see yourself in ten years, Some schools don't really care to hear that. So paragraph four, if you wanna get rid of. I'm just as happy if you include it as get rid of it. It's up to you. But if they mention at all they don't wanna hear that.

Or if you feel like it could be appropriate and you can tie it in well. Mention your career goals, where you see yourself in ten years and, again, try to make this humanistic. I see myself in, and it doesn't have to be incredibly specific, but I see myself in an academic career. I want to be involved with training of residents.

I see myself working in a small community, I wanna return to the small town I grew up in. I hope to do that and whether as a pediatrician or a primary care physician I don't know, but I want to work with this small town community. Or I see myself in a larger city and I want to work in the inner city with the people that I met from wherever experience that you mentioned in paragraphs one and two, okay.

And so just include paragraph four if they asked for or that you can tie your career goals into the experiences and motivations that you've had from the things that you described in the previous paragraph. They should all tie together, okay? Final thing. This is worth having several people read it.

I am not a big fan of being incredibly OCD, if you will, about anything in life really, but if there's anything in your application that's worth being incredibly detail-oriented about, it's your MCAT and your personal statement, okay? You need to study your brains out for the MCAT and you also need to have several people read it, re-read your personal statement, edit it into a point of having someone who does it professionally read it.

Because simple grammar errors and there you go right there, simple grammatical mistakes, I should say, just using poor words, having typos. Having an error in your grammar can get your essay tossed immediately and it really happens. They'll just say if this person can't communicate now in his personal statement, if they couldn't put enough time into this, then this is probably not a person who's a good match for a medical school.

And so the main thing I want you to understand here and this is might just be a simple disconnect between admissions committees and applicants, but I wanna dispel the notion amongst any of you applicants that the personal statement is not a huge deal. It is and if you don't treat it like that. If it's not edited air tight.

If it's not well though out and well written, admissions committees take that as an insult, frankly. They say, if this is all this applicant cares, if they couldnt take the time to have several people read it and get rid of these typos, we don't want this person. So, I hope to get you to understand that to admissions committees, this is a reflection of how interested you are in going to medical school.

So, you need to take it very seriously and again, follow that approach we've talked about, displaying an experience you've had that's motivated, changed you, and how you followed up with that, and what you've learned from it, and what it's motivated you to do. And again, what it's motivated you to do is a great time to talk about a volunteer activity or research experience or something where you wanted to give back after seeing or experiencing what you experienced, okay?

And then finally, a lot of times the secondary application will ask for a repeat personal statement. And if it does that, it's impossible because there's so many secondary applications for me to comment on everyone. But the idea would be I think to take an experience from your first essay. If you feel like you've used your best material in the personal statement, you already wrote and just try to delve into it more.

If your essay talked about seeing a poor person on the street and you couldn't believe how they lived and you thought about them again and again and finally decided to go to a homeless shelter, and that's how you decide to give back. And while at the homeless shelter, you realize that one of the best ways you could give back is as a medical professional.

Then in your secondary application, they ask for a very similar essay. Talk more about your experience at the homeless shelter or more about why the homeless shelter led you to decide to pursue medicine, okay? I hope you get this format that you need to follow of having something that motivated you to pursue something.

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