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09/04/2019

Med school application essay problem?

QUESTION
Med school application essay problem?
I have always wanted to be a doctor (ever since I was a young child) and am not short on reasons why but I am having a hard time compressing it into a fun to read and very good essay. I have tried but end up sounding very cheesy (because I want to express how much this wish is part of me). My life has not been boring so I have plenty of stuff to say but by now I am so confused of what they would like to read! Any tipps? Maybe you were successful with your essay and can help? Thanks!

ANSWER
I am faculty at a medical school and have written my own, read , and critiqued many personal statements. Let me give you a few thoughts. First of all, regardless of how good of a doctor you may become, the essays are very difficult to write, do not feel discouraged. Second, cheesy is where they always start, but you must get from this to genuine and here is a few tips on how to do that.

1. Brainstorm and write everything that you are thinking about and every reason why you want to be a doctor regardless of how insincere it sounds, do not judge anything you are writing, just get it all out there – this is the most important first step.

2. Decide on a theme to carry throughout the personal statement, this is what people are actually reading and something that will carry them from beginning to end, your accomplishments and desires will just be interjected into this ‘story.’ This is VERY important. Jump right into the story, you much get them interested at the outset, shock them in the first sentence if necessary. You want them to be entertained while reading and happen to stumble across the information you really want them to receive. Examples are: start with a quote and tie your life to it at various stages. tell a story about some very meaningful event in your life and how you re-evaluated it at different stages or you life, give some detailed information about your culture or family traditions, teach them something they don’t know and how this affected you in your decision and in your accomplishments.

3. Crop and cut down your brainstorming to ensure that many of the important points are incorporated into your story. Do not tell people how much you believe you want this or how you feel, instead describe the experiences that led you to your beliefs, let them make the next logical step of how important it is. All of your accomplishments should be presented in how it led you to this point, not presenting as bragging or a list. (Having the Governor present me with the city key for heroism made me realize that even ordinary people can …, rather than “I was presented with the city key for…)

4. Avoid cliche statements, you can find a list of these online. Do not be overly artistic. Do not go overboard describing your future practice, most people getting into medical school have no idea what they are getting into and it is painfully obvious when written about in too much detail. Do describe your interest and that you recognize the hard road ahead, show that you are determined.

5. Explain any weaknesses you have in your personal statement, it is the one place you can explain yourself, you can even turn this into a positive by showing how you recognized these weaknesses and have become better prepared because of it.

6. Have everyone around you read the statement and give you feedback, if you are too embarrassed to have friends read it then it is likely not genuine, get over the embarrassment and you will be amazed at the good feedback you will receive – get professors and people in medicine to read it as well. This is the most important step.

Here is an example of a stellar P.S.s I have read. It started with the real meaning of her name in Indian (helping you to remember this applicant), which meant “well balanced piece of art”, she then went through every part of her education and social events driving the point of how her name reflected how she lived her life and how she would continue that in medicine. She gave background on Indian culture that was interesting and managed to fit all of her awards in as part of the story without ever sounding like bragging. She spoke of Indian American culture and how this drive developed who she is. Here are some excerpts paragraph starters:

The name _____ in the sacred Indian language of Sanskrit means a well proportioned piece of art…Although in its language of origin, my name literally refers to the physical proportionality and artistic quality of a sculpture, in common day India it refers to more than just aesthetics, but rather to the personality behind the art.
Explaining the meaning of my name is merely a playful anecdote, but much of my character and foundation derives from the fact that I come from an Asian Indian household. Living in America …
Not only have my cultural experiences helped refine me, but they balance out another enduring interest of mine, organized sports. ..
In my four years of training I have often heard physicians say that practicing medicine is a type of art form. I can attest to this statement as I have had my own experience with landscape painting … My father, a physician who duly shares this concept that medicine is an art form, always told me to chose a field of medicine that is versatile and will challenge me as painting has.
…As I continue on from here, I would like to be a part of this balance as it is a reflection not only of my name, but of my future goals in life and profession.

Notice one theme throughout the statement, and how she incorporated accomplishments, not to just state them, but to support some other aspect. Anyone could do this same thing by finding a quote that meant a lot to them and then describing different interpretation of it as they chronicled their experiences.