By: Pamela Heshmati
Dreaming of medical school?
Becoming a doctor is something you’ve planned for a long time, so it’s normal you’d want everything to be unique when you submit the application. The primary application and personal statement is a very important element of the overall application to medical school. Try to turn it from a common one into an application that stands out!
Applying to medical school is an intimidating process. Since this part of the application has the most variability, it is important to start at least a couple months before the date you hope to submit. The personal statement gives you the opportunity to distinguish your med school application from the hundreds of other applications that will be read. A good writing is a combination of your experiences, values, and personal growth. Think about the work experience, your activities, publications, honors and awards to bring to the attention of your medical schools. The majority of successful applicants have some experience in a health care setting such as a hospital or a clinic so try to write about some other experiences as well. These are some tips you have to consider:
- Highlight your clinical experience: Doing volunteer work in health care setting shows you have tried to understand what it’s like to have a career in medicine before committing to medical school. It shows you something other than book smart. You will be able to speak far more effectively about why you want to become a physician and why you are applying in the field, so you will know what the practice of medicine is actually like. Try to state what patient population it served and what medical conditions were treated. When you look at the health care centers, usually the physicians are the leaders, so if you find a leadership position within the volunteer organization, that’s also a plus.
- Write about your other activities and your role in them: It is important to state the organization’s mission and your role in a way that is easy to understand. Especially if you want to list several organizations you have worked with and activities you have participated in. The extracurricular activities you choose for your application are opportunities to show your interests and leadership skills.
- Highlight service-based activities: Involvement in these activities demonstrates your social activities and caring about others.
- Explain the way you were affected: They want to know what you gained from your participation in an activity. Try to tell them what you learned from the experience. Spending too much time and energy describing the experience itself is not impressive.
- Write about personal interests: You can distinguish yourself by sharing interests and passions that do not relate to your medical experience, leadership or community service. Introduce some unusual comparison and metaphor.
- Try to use “we”: For example, if you and your friends organized a fundraiser to feed the homeless, saying “we organized a fundraiser” shows you are a team player. So try to use “we” instead of “I”.
Remember your writing should not be a struggle to comprehend. Pay attention to how your paragraphs connect to each other. You want it not to be boring. Focus your energy on the three most critical parts of your personal statement; opening lines of your essay that grabs the reader’s attention, the “why medicine” statement, and the core story.
There is no magic combination of scores or personal qualities that will create a path into medical school, so if you want to get an edge over the crowd, try to sell yourself. The reader should convince that medicine is the one and only career for you. Make the admissions committee want to read on!