Updated: Jul 21, 2019
I am excited to debut my website with this video on the medical school personal statement. A quick aside though; what I say in this video is certainly relevant to personal statements for other fields, especially within the scope of medicine.
So, you have sloughed your way through undergrad and perhaps some or all of graduate school, building an impressive resume in the process. As you fill out the centralized application, these experiences populate the extracurricular section, but then you get to the personal statement. Now what? What exactly is the personal statement? Don’t fret! That’s what this piece is all about.
First and foremost, the personal statement is a persuasive essay. If you think back to high school English class, you will remember that a persuasive essay is defined by its thesis statement. The thesis is essentially the argument for the entire piece. It is why you are writing this essay in the first place. So, what does the personal statement thesis incorporate? Well, there are two vital components. The first is why you wish to pursue medicine. The second, which is often neglected, is why you will make an outstanding physician. Again, feel free to tweak these based on the field you are pursuing. Ultimately, without clearly answering these questions in your thesis statement, the entire piece lacks direction and falls flat on its face.
Second, this is an opportunity to get beyond the objective metrics, like your MCAT score and GPA. Your response to those two questions, why medicine and why you will excel in this field, will key admissions committees into this. The more specific you can be with these answers, the more they will learn about you. For instance, if you simply say you wish to enter medicine to help people, they may think great, but why medicine? There are lots of different fields, both inside and outside of medicine, through which you can make a meaningful impact on others. If you instead say you wish to help people through the unique medium of medicine given its complexity and unrivalled opportunity for patient care, well then they really know you are in this for the right reasons. So, don’t anguish over the personal statement, but rather embrace it as an opportunity to really let the admissions committee into your psyche (unless you are a serial killer or something).
Last, this is one of two elements of the application that is in prose format. The other is the extracurricular section, however you are more limited there with your allotted characters. Prose gives you the opportunity to really draw the reader in, which is hopefully what I am doing with this narrative. If not, my apologies.
Imagine you are an application reviewer and you have just spend a substantial amount of time scrutinizing the metrics and extracurricular sections, which consist of numbers and much more limited writing (outside of the three most meaningful activities). You may actually be a little bored. You certainly do not want that boredom to persist into reading the personal statement. Absolutely not! Therefore, the personal statement is your opportunity to really jump off the page through your story telling!
In conclusion, you are writing a thesis driven argument that sheds light on you as a unique candidate, allowing you to dance your way off the page and into the incoming class. Thanks for checking out my first piece and be sure to subscribe to my mailing list for more pieces, as well as videos, several of which are going to focus on the intricacies of the personal statement in much more depth. See ya then!
Beyond the details provided on my site, you can check out an equally comprehensive guide to writing a kickass personal statement here: https://www.shemmassianconsulting.com/blog/medical-school-personal-statement-analysis