The personal statement. This narrative can either make a good applicant great or can be the reason an applicant is passed over for an interview. For those who are gifted writers, it may not take them a long time to concisely express their reasoning behind their decision. For me, it took a LONG time:
- Six months
- Eight drafts
- Six editors and…
- Thousands of tears
In the end, I can honestly say my narrative was personal and succinctly answered why I wanted to attend medical school. If you’re wondering what to write, or how to get your thousands of motivations onto a couple of sheets of paper, this post is for you.
Here are the tips I found most helpful:
- Remember those buzz words I told you about in my previous post?
Buzz words are keywords that your school of interest focuses on. For example: “Here at Bobalicious Inc. we hope to increase communal awareness of the deliciousness that encompasses tapioca and strive to change the previous negative imagery associated with its predecessor– tapioca pudding.”
The keywords in my mission were to increase communal wellness, and aid in the removal of negative stigma.
These buzz words that you see can help you to tune into areas that are of importance to a school. They can also be used in helping to determine a theme and the experiences that make up your personal statement.
- Outline, outline, outline
I am not the outlining-type, but it came in handy when writing my personal statement. It will allow you to visualize and see the flow of your writing without getting lost in jargon etc. Questions to ask yourself: “Do your paragraphs flow well?” and “Is there a consistent theme throughout?”
- Don’t be afraid to get personal
I think this was the hardest part about the whole writing process. I was not used to, or comfortable, talking about myself. In my initial drafts, it was centered around my accolades but did not convey the real reasons for my motivations. Dear applicant: it is okay to be vulnerable and personal. It is okay to share why you’re passionate about medicine and how you hope to use your God-given qualities to increase wellness and healthcare. If you feel like things are too personal, have a reader review it and give you feedback.
The personal statement should be a narrative that supplements and adds to the bigger picture. It is not the time to reiterate the work experiences/extra-curricular section of the AMCAS, rather it is there to answer the prompt “why do you want to go to medical school?” It is great to tell a story, but you want to make sure that the reader has a clear understanding of why you want to go to medical school, and how your experiences in life will make you a great doctor.
It is great that you volunteered for countless amounts of hours, but what did you learn? Did you strengthen your interpersonal skills? Why is it EVEN important to have these skills in the field of medicine anyway?
Readers are a phenomenal resource. They can provide the insight and constructive criticism on how to strengthen a personal statement. Choose them wisely. Although I had six editors, each of my readers brought something different to the table. If you can, I would select 1 or 2 close friends and a few objective readers who can provide you with well-rounded feedback. Your close friends can tell you if the statement is an accurate reflection of who you are as a person. They can also tell you if there is an area or experience that may help to strengthen your case of “why medicine?”
Objective readers are just that…objective. They can provide you with honest feedback and can let you know if the story flows well or if it makes sense. You want them to walk away knowing a little more about you as a person than they knew before they read your personal statement. Make sure to ask your readers if they feel like your narrative answered the prompt. Your story may be well-written, but if it does not answer the prompt then it can leave the reader confused.
The downsides to multiple readers are multiple opinions. Everyone may not agree with how the message is conveyed and that’s okay. Since this is your personal statement, it is up to you to choose whether an edit would be beneficial.
If you have any questions, keep me posted 🙂
I’ll continue to update this post with additional resources. If you need additional tips SDN has a great article that I found helpful.