Guidelines for writing your medical school personal statement

November 7, 2013

If there is one document that will receive the most scrutiny by any medical school admissions authority it is your personal statement. What you say in your personal statement and how you say it will more often than not be a major deciding factor in your application getting accepted or rejected. So what exactly are med school authorities looking for? It is important that you know this so that you can craft your personal statement accordingly.  

A Gap Medics mentor explaining a procedure to a student at Morogoro Hospital If You Are Truly Passionate About Medicine – Show It!

Medical schools care about a lot more than just your MCAT score. The first thing most med schools look for is students who are bright, empathetic and communicative. They want to know more about why you have chosen to pursue this profession and they want to see some proof of your passion. Your personal statement is the first opportunity you will have to tell the medical school authorities about yourself and how or why the decision to pursue medicine came about.  

There are no fixed rules about what you should say here. You can talk about an experienced that changed your perspective about medicine, an insight into the nature of medical practice, a challenging personal experienced that made you want to change things or perhaps a relationship with an individual or mentor who influenced you. Talk about the experienced that lit the medical spark inside of you. Be sincere.  

A Few Rules Of Thumb When Composing Your Personal Statement

When writing your personal statement, it is easy to miss the mark by oversight. Keeping to these few guidelines and you will be alright:

  • Keep the message focused on the reason behind your choice: The purpose of the personal statement is to convey to the authorities the reason why you have chosen to become a doctor. Mentioning unrelated incidents, no matter how impressive, will not help your case.
  • Keep the language simple: Don’t try to impress the authorities with the biggest words in your vocabulary. Making clear points using clear, direct language and without extraneous words is so much more effective. Your essays should be easy to read and understand. If the interviewer struggles to comprehend what you are saying, you’ve already lost half the battle.
  • Stay focused: Decide what you want to say. Choose a theme and stick to it. Support your statements with specific examples and do not ramble on.
  • Stick to the rules: Don’t try to be funny and definitely do not overdo the creativity by way of elaborate fonts and funny margins. This is a formal document and should be treated as such.
  • Find your unique angle but don’t overdo it: You want to convey the message across that you are unique and will be an asset to their institute but at the same time try not to come across as too self-congratulatory or conceited.

After you’ve finished creating your personal statement proof read it yourself and when you feel it is ready to go, give it to a professor or a friend to assess it with fresh eyes. If you have any doubts at all, get it re-assessed by someone else whose judgment you trust. Your personal statement is ready to be submitted only when you are fully satisfied that it cannot be improved upon any more and the document is completely error-free.