How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

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For most medical school applicants, writing a personal statement can be daunting. There is a lot of pressure to create a statement powerful enough that it cannot fail to impress the medical school admissions officers, but what can you say that’s never been said before?

Answering the following questions will help you create a personal statement that is unique to you, and also achieves the ultimate goal of telling your story.

Bryant and friends in the surgery department at Iringa regional hospitalWhy do you want to become a doctor?

This is one question that never gets old and has remained constant through the years. Though it may seem redundant, the fact is the admission officer needs to know the answer. What is it that drives you towards seeking a medical career? Is it just a professional option that you are exploring or have you given this career choice a lot of thought?

What you say and how you answer can make the difference between your application being accepted or rejected.

Many student applicants make the mistake of simply stating that they want to ‘help people’. While this may sound like a valid reason, the fact is it is too generic a motive. It is not enough to move the admissions officer into wanting to know more about your potential. There are several other ways that you can help people. You could choose to be a teacher or a social worker. Why medicine in particular?

What is important is to give a solid reason that shows that you have actually explored your interest deeply. Your personal statement should illustrate your enthusiasm for medicine so the reader is convinced that you are passionate and committed to a career in medicine.

What have you done that supports your interest in a medical career?

Seats are limited in most medical schools and the course work can be tough. With that in mind, admissions officers go out of their way to ensure that the seats are given only to the most deserving of students, and to those who are hard workers and will go all the way. They do not want to give it to someone who is half hearted about this profession and is likely to give up half way through, as that would have wasted a precious space that could have gone to another deserving student. How can you convince the authorities that you are really committed to this career?

This is your opening to mention anything that you may have done that shows your interest in this profession, whether it is community service, lab research or clinical exposure. Doing a gap year abroad where you spend time shadowing doctors or doing voluntary work in hospitals in developing countries can earn you huge brownie points with your personal statement, as admissions officers know that only someone who is truly interested would enrol in such a program.

Answering the above two questions will give the reader valuable insight into why you are a deserving candidate for a seat in their medical school. You have to explain well but be precise, passionate but informative, and really show them that this is what you want to do.

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