The following piece was written by Dr. Mike Frazier. Mike has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is a former UCLA Medical School Admissions Committee member. He is also the founder of Medical School Insider.
The medical school personal statement can be a scary part of your application. However, it doesn't have to be that way! Think of this as a chance to show some personality and mainly to demonstrate your passion for medicine.
Get Off to a Solid Start
One of the most important parts of your medical school personal statement will be your opening sentence. You want to have something that really grabs the reader's attention. Remember, the people reading these will have read many, many, many personal statements! Make it something unique and memorable.
A good example might be something like "I still remember the sirens as they whisked my mother away in the ambulance." If you use a few extra senses to describe the scene you portray, you come up with a more memorable opening sentence. This one uses sight and sound. You might also include smell or touch depending on what your story is going to be.
Tell Your Story
A lot of people forget that the main purpose of the personal statement is to tell your story of why you're interested in medicine. You should be tracking your progress from passing interest to real passion for medicine. What were the main events along the way that convinced you that medicine is for you? Was it your foreign medical mission trip? A certain inspirational doctor? Maybe volunteering with special needs children got you interested. Whatever it is, you should be tracing your steps from a person who was interested in medicine (or not) to a
person who can't see themselves doing anything but practicing medicine.
Explain Your Passion
This kind of goes with what's above, but at the end of the personal statement, the admissions committee should know what really drives you to pursue medicine. What is it that will get you through the hard days at the hospital? Maybe it's a commitment to serving the underserved. Maybe it's a love for helping people. Maybe it's a love for science and discovery. There are a lot of different things that might drive a person to pursue medicine. You need to figure out what yours is and make that come out in your personal statement. It might take some soul
searching, but it's definitely worth the effort. Not just for your personal statement, but also so that you have that purpose and strength to draw on when things get tough (because they will).
Along this same line, stick to that theme through your essay. You might touch on different aspects of your interest in medicine, but when the admissions committee finishes reading your personal statement, they should have a clear picture about what your passion is that drives you to medicine.
Have Someone Else Read It
This is crucial to a good personal statement. The person who reads your statement should be someone who will give you honest feedback (e.g. not your mom). Ideally, you can find someone who has actually been on an admissions committee. Another good choice would be someone in your premed office at your
school, as they have seen a lot of personal statements and should have some good feedback for you. Next on the list would be your school's writing lab or someone who is a good writer with experience with personal essays. Whomever you choose, just make sure they know what they're talking about and will give you honest feedback.
The medical school personal statement should tell the admissions committee why you are passionate about medicine. You should have a clear reason that comes out through your personal statement. Have someone else with experience read it and make sure it is clear. Also, have some fun with it! Remember, if you're not having fun writing it, they're not having fun reading it. Good luck!
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.