Personal statements are at the forefront of my mind as I’m beginning to work on my own personal statement for my residency application. However, this post is going to be aimed at pre-medical students writing their personal statements for admission to medical school. Here are a few tips to get you started!
- Reflect on your life. What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine?
Coming up with ideas may be the hardest part of writing a personal statement. This is the part that happens before you even start writing, while you’re staring at a blank document and wishing a well-written statement would magically appear. Is medicine a calling for you? Have you known since you were a child? Or was it a reasoned decision that happened later – maybe while you were in high school, college, or already in the workforce. If you’ve known since you were a kid, you can start there. Briefly touch on those early experiences, and then keep describing what attributes make you ready for the medical profession and the things you’ve done to prepare yourself. If you decided later, talk about what changed your mind, and what things you believe will be more fulfilling about a career in medicine. Again, discuss your skills and attributes that will serve you well in a medical career. Highlight your commitment to the medical profession. Tell your honest story and you’ll be well on your way to a compelling personal statement.
- Put anything on paper. Just write.
Seriously, just get started. This is the second hardest part of writing a personal statement. Once you have ideas, put them down on paper. At this point, it can be an incoherent stream of consciousness, but it’s better than nothing. You can refine it later.
- Stay within the character count limits.
As Shakespeare once wrote, “brevity is the soul of wit.” On the other hand, this can be a good chance to smooth over any bumps in your road – if you took time off or had a rough patch in your academic career, for example. Aim for concision, but remember that you are writing your ticket to medical school, so tell all the important parts of your story.
- Let everyone lay eyes on it.
Once you’ve written your personal statement and you’re tired of looking at it yourself, it’s time to pass it around to anyone who is willing to read and critique it. The goal is for your personal statement to neatly explain to a complete stranger why you want to go to medical school and what makes you well prepared and a good fit. Read and re-read it. Editing is essential.
- Submit your application early!
Don’t let your personal statement delay your application. The longer you wait to submit your application, the longer the processing time. Submit it early, relax, and wait for the interview invites to roll in! Good luck!