March 2013: Personal Statement (MSMP Pulse)
Time for yet another “theme of the month.” This months theme: Personal Statement Writing. Even if you are a freshman it is important to start thinking about certain things early on. Thinking about the personal statement is a good way to assess WHY you want to go into medicine. If you cant think of a reason, or some examples to support your decision, it may help you decide what you should be doing to either improve your application or decide if medicine if medicine is the right field for you. This is a long email, but at least take a look at the web resources listed at the bottom of the email.
While we usually give more specific advice, because your statement is very personalized, we will just give general advice here:
1. Start thinking about why you want to go into medicine early. If you’re not exactly sure, that is fine (assuming you’re not applying tomorrow).
- Pursue activities you feel may help you develop a clear reason (these may not be activities directly related to medicine). This will help you decide if medicine is right for you and develop a clearer narrative for your essay.
- Draw upon family experiences, personal experiences, or personal passions
2. Choose the right topics. You HAVE to address certain things (why medicine, what makes you a good candidate, perhaps reasons for any poor grades or test scores, etc). However, remember certain things regarding your topics:
- Don’t be too negative. Writing about family tragedies, personal tragedies, or trying to explain poor grades can often give the essay a very negative or sullen tone. The easiest way to avoid this is to have someone else read your essay.
- Don’t write a resume. This is NOT your CV. They have that section. This is telling your story about why you chose medicine and why you’d be a good candidate.
- Dont write about something because it will “look good.” It is very very hard to write about something you are NOT passionate about or don’t care about. Be genuine in your essay. Insincerity is very easy to spot.
- Don’t write cliches. Everyone is familiar with the basic ones (I want to help people), but some may be more subtle. Saying “Im passionate about” or “ever since I was young” or “for as long as I can remember” may be overused statements. Even topics like “I want to cure” or “I want to make ___ proud” or “I want to serve _____” are used very often so it is important to be CREATIVE in the way you present these kinds of topics.
- Address the prompts.
- Explain any “red flags”. Dont be negative, but depending on the school, it may be important to explain a tough semester or bad grades/test scores.
- Be creative. Try to tell a story. Your essay should be a narrative that flows easily and is fun to read. Organize your topics early, and make sure you dont fall into the “CV trap.” The PS is not intended to rehash all of your accomplishments. Trying to stick in random accomplishments may destroy your overall narrative.
3. Give yourself enough time because you need to revize (woops), reveyes (woops), revise (there we go). An unrevised essay is probably a bad essay. You will need to do multiple drafts. The best thing to do at times is to take a few days off from the essay and read it again. You may see the essay from a new perspective after taking the break.
Some resources found here.
Start thinking about the application in general. The actual essay prompt can be found within this pdf file: