Writing your personal statement is a daunting but important task so it is natural to want to see medical school personal statement examples before you start writing your own essay. However looking at an example of a medical school personal statement that worked is not necessarily the best way to brainstorm for your own essay writing. Medical school personal statements are inherently personal and a good example will simply serve to show you how you cannot write a generic essay or use someone else’s ideas for inspiration. The medical school admissions committee needs to hear about you and your experiences. This is the spot on the AMCAS and AACOMAS where you get to showcase your individuality. Instead of looking for medical school personal statement samples you might want to look at broad categories of personal statements that work, to help give you a structure for what should be a very personal document.

The Hobby Essay 

In this essay you start off with a gripping intro about a particular hobby you enjoy. I’ve seen this work for anything from photography and dance to mountain climbing and yes, even rare book collecting. Just make the story interesting. Next you begin to explain how this hobby leads you to consider medicine and weave in your extra curricular activity highlights. You need to tie all your experiences back to this hobby and how it informs your decision to be a physician without looking too obsessed about that hobby. The point is to give you depth and a theme without making readers wonder why you didn’t just sign up to be a photographer.

The Life Changing Experience 

This medical school essay is most commonly written about about the illness of a family member but can be about any experience that made you realize you want to be a physician. Other topics could include study abroad or a meaningful volunteer experience. Again, you then need to use this experience as a springboard for all the interesting life experiences you subsequently sought out to confirm your choice of career. If you can reiterate what you learned for this life changing experience in the last paragraph of your medical school essay that will make this essay shine.

 

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The Role Model 

This is a very tricky category. You do not want to sound like the millions of naive premeds who write about reading Paul Farmer’s inspirational books and decide they want to be a physician without actually having any idea what that entails. Believe me, that essay shows up every year in medical school admissions offices from multiple people and it has gotten both boring and annoying by now. You also don’t want to spend too much time talking about someone else, even if  your great grandfather really is a big war hero. This is essay is about YOU getting into medical school not somebody else. The way to make this work is to briefly mention your role model or a significant encounter with them and then go on to explain how this inspired your actions. Detailing those actions and how they reinforce your decision to become a physician makes this about YOU and how savvy you are about medical school.

The Personal Health Scare

Many people decide to become physicians after having their own experience within the healthcare system. Sometimes the applicant has a chronic condition like Type I diabetes. There are two things you want to keep in mind with this kind of essay. The first is that simply being a patient does not entitle you to become a physician. You may know more about the healthcare system than some of your fellow applicants but that doesn’t mean you will be abetter physician, so you better describe other things you have done to support your candidacy. The other mistake some medical school applicants make is stating all the problems they experienced in the healthcare system and affirming that they can fix them. It is fine to want to be involved and to make a difference for others but thinking that you can singlehandedly fix the entire healthcare system is incredibly arrogant and also argumentative. You don’t want this essay to leave readers with a feeling of negativity. The key to phrasing this right is saying that you want to be involved in decisions about the healthcare system or in making a difference in the lives of your individual patients. This takes it from being about you vs. the entire medical establishment (of which the medical school admissions committee is a part) and makes it about you and your patients.

These themes are by far not the only examples of medical school personal statements that work. There are many ways to write this essay. The key is to have a theme, write from the heart and remember to answer the question. If your reader walks away wondering why you want to be a physician you have failed.

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