The Personal Statement: Make Yours Stand Out!April 1, 2014
During your pre medical studies, you’ll want to gain clinical experiences and academic achievements that will allow you to craft a dynamic personal statement for your medical school application. The medical school personal statement is your opportunity to share our story and show the admissions committee what makes you a unique and qualified aspiring physician. Here’s what you need to know about writing your best medical school personal statement:
Length: You’ll have a space of 5300 characters (including spaces) to dazzle and compel the admissions committee with your story. 5300 characters is approximately 500 words, the length of a standard Gap Medics blog. This length is not much space, so you’ll need to be judicious in your writing and make every word count.
Choose Your Story Wisely: It’s likely you have many reasons for wanting to pursue a career in medicine. With only 5300 characters to tell your story, you’ll need to choose the one that captures the essence of your medical school motivation and tell it in detail, with crisp, vivid language, using a variety of storytelling techniques (dialogue, suspense, foreshadowing, etc.). Your personal statement should contain the best features of a high-level piece of creative nonfiction writing. Before you begin, a brainstorming session to generate all the reasons why medicine is your passion is in order. Once you have listed your reasons, and list them all, no matter how outlandish, be brutal in eliminating the most cliché and juvenile of your ideas. What you’re left with will become the meat of your medical school personal statement.
Capturing Your Qualities: The medical school admissions committee reads your personal statement to find evidence of what makes you qualified to become a doctor. They want to see your motivation, your grit, your leadership skills, and your ability to remain calm under pressure. You can’t just say, “I’m a leader.” Unfortunately, saying it doesn’t make it so. You’ve got to present your best traits through the story of your personal statement. As you look back at your brainstorm list, determine what qualities each event reveals about you. The more outstanding qualities a story can reveal, the more likely it’s the best one for the purpose of your medical school personal statement.
Know What the Personal Statement is NOT: Unfortunately, it’s easy to go wrong in your writing of the personal statement. It’s just as important to know what NOT to do as what you are supposed to do. Your personal statement should NOT be a confession, a plea, a resume, or an academic paper. Your personal statement should NOT be too personal, too needy, too aggressive, or too formal. It should be free of any lingering childhood dreams and instead center around your growing maturity as a adult interested in a career in medicine. This is a difficult line to walk, since for many, the motivation to pursue medicine began in childhood or adolescence.
These tips are the foundation for the beginning stages of your medical school personal statement. It’s never too early to start collecting those narrative ideas for your personal statement; you never know which gem will be your ticket into medical school. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.