Your initial advancement in any application process hinges on writing a strong personal statement, medical school is no different. When writing a personal statement, medical school applicants nearly always focus on what their admission would mean to them, however that’s not always what matters.
Your statement should have a narrative that is powerful, but flows well for the captured audience. You are making your first impression so you want it to be captivating and memorable.
Keep these handy tips in mind for a great medical school personal statement.
Pick a quiet place, turn off your phone, grab a cup of coffee, and begin drafting your medical school personal statement. For the early draft writers, focus on the overall content, structure and message, and then edit down your ideas to fit the length limits for the application. It’s much easier to write a long personal statement, and then condense it. The maximum entry is: 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS, 4,500 and 5,000 characters for Texas programs.
Your goal is to capture your audience immediately. Reviewers read hundreds of essays. Write a captivating opening story that touches the reviewer’s heart and grabs their attention. The more interested the reader will be, the more likely he or she would like to know more about you in detail – which will lead you to the next phase of their application process (secondary essays and the big interview!).
A few days or even longer between drafts will allow you to read yours statement with fresh eyes and see what is working, and what isn’t. Find a time during the day to come back to your draft when you’re not distracted.
Medical school applications contain sections to list your work, volunteer and extracurricular activities, so use the medical school personal statement to focus on a smaller number of essential experiences that support the story of why you want to become a physician, and why you’ll be a good one.
Having an advisor, physician or professor look over your statement and give you feedback can be invaluable. However, taking advice from too many people will lead your own distinctive writer’s voice to be lost in a sea of other people’s thoughts and opinions. Allow a select few of readers to review your statement so that the process will be smooth and not too overburdened.
A great medical school personal statement serves as a letter of introduction to the admissions committee and will convince them that this is an applicant they want to get to know better. Be confident, but do not try to “sell” your story, it may come across in a negative way and will turn off the reader.
Getting started is the hardest part of the writing process. Having to write a personal statement is the stepping-stone to making your dreams of becoming a physician come true. My final piece of advice is to commit to a time and a place and begin writing. Although you may not love your first draft, it will move you forward even closer to finishing after your drafts. Sit down, fill a page or two with your thoughts and then go back and revise again, and again, and again. Stay strong and focused. Remember, many patients are waiting for your help and assistance in the future as their physician!
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