Good medical school personal statement

Successful UCAS Medicine Personal Statement Example & Analysis

An Example of a Successful Medicine Personal Statement

Below is an example of a strong medicine personal statement that the Medicine Answered team improved. This medicine personal statement rewarded the applicant with interviews at all four medical schools, helping them to secure four offers. We have kindly been granted permission to post it. A complete analysis follows, showing paragraph by paragraph precisely what makes this medicine personal statement strong and how the multiple weaknesses initially present were corrected. This will help you to do the same and write a powerful medicine personal statement. Note: this medicine personal statement is of an A-level candidate. It is still very relevant to graduates. However, later in this article, we advise specifically on writing a Graduate Entry Medicine personal statement and the critical differences all graduates must consider.

The writing style of this edited medicine personal statement was purposefully designed to demonstrate that the candidate is well experienced, with an excellent insight into a medical career, despite their limited clinical work experience (which is only shadowing a GP very briefly. The operation that is described was shown as a video link when attending Medlink, not via hospital work experience). It is purposefully written in a style that shows that the candidate’s non-clinical experiences have clear transferability to medicine. This was a critical feature that the initial Medicine personal statement lacked.

This medicine personal statement does an excellent job of using the limited characters available to illustrate what skills the candidate gained from their activities; rather than using most of the characters to explain what these activities are. However, this is done skilfully so that the reader still clearly knows enough from these brief descriptions to understand what the activities are. This use of succinct language frees up characters so that they can instead be used to discuss the meaning and insight that the candidate gained from these activities.

Failure to illustrate what a candidate has learned is a classic mistake in many medicine personal statements. This was a particular issue this candidate had in their initial Medicine personal statement. They had many different types of experiences to list and could not describe them succinctly, causing their Medicine personal statement to far exceed the character limit. By using a more succinct writing style and focusing on illustrating activities rather than describing them, this reviewed version corrected this common medicine personal statement weakness.

UCAS UK Medicine personal statement example which received four offers for interview

Note on plagiarism: There are various medicine personal statement examples online, however, remember that a medical school personal statement is unique to you. UCAS use sophisticated plagiarism detection software to see how similar your medicine personal statement is to those previously submitted. It detects paraphrasing and other attempts to hide plagiarism. Further information about writing UCAS personal statements can be found on the UCAS website. You can also use our comprehensive free guide on writing a medical school personal statement in 10 steps.

“I wish to study medicine as I have long held the ambition to pursue a career that would help others and contribute to the community. As a carer for my grandmother, who has severe arthritis, I have seen how much of a difference good healthcare can make to her life. Shadowing a GP and witnessing the reassurance and help given to patients reinforced this and strengthened my ambition to study medicine.

A Medlink lecture on psychiatry sparked my interest, so in college, I co-founded and led a mentoring group called ____ mentoring. Using concepts from cognitive behavioural therapy, I mentored students with low self-esteem or who were having problems at college. I taught after-school lessons on topics such as dealing with failure, stress and goal setting. Selecting a team, delegating work and organising meetings strengthened my leadership skills, while working to strict deadlines improved my organisation. We presented our work to an NHS psychologist, who gave us valuable feedback. We are currently filming our programme to make it available online and in other colleges.

I undertook a residential stay at a holiday home for disabled people, where I took guests on day trips and helped to feed and toilet them. Many guests were completely reliant on carers and could not communicate verbally. At times, they would become violent. At first, I found this intimidating, but during the two weeks I learnt how to deal with these situations. I also volunteered at a summer playscheme where several children had learning disabilities. Being responsible for groups of children increased my confidence in caring for others: I found dealing with quieter children and including them in group activities to be rewarding. To develop my understanding of the children I read several books about how learning disabilities affect peoples’ lives.

Teamwork is vital in all aspects of medicine, which I find very appealing. I witnessed a live scoliosis surgery, during which I saw how the outcome depended on the skill and dedication not only of the surgeon but also of every other member of the team. At the GP, I learnt how the clerical staff and nurses were vital in the running of the practice.

Medicine is a dynamic profession that will continue to undergo major advances in the next few decades. These developments will require a commitment to lifelong learning, and I find the prospect of this exciting. I have attended lectures on topics such as premature birth and pharmacogenetics. During a lecture on RNA Interference (RNAi), the lecturer stated RNAi could be the most important development in medicine since antibiotics. Intrigued by this claim, I completed a 2500-word essay on RNAi and its impact on medicine. It was a challenging topic, but I found that I enjoyed using post-A-level books and medical journals, which improved my research skills.

Next year, I will be travelling through Asia and Europe. I have secured work at a Romanian orphanage and will start a placement at ______________ hospital this October. I have also applied for a 10-week development and teaching project in Africa.

I am currently learning Thai Boxing and sign language and taking courses in self-development and memory improvement. I participate in basketball tournaments and play tennis. I play the violin to grade 3 and find music helps me to relax. I gained a 200-hour Millennium Volunteers award, a v50 award and I am currently completing a Gold DofE award. I am part of a focus group for a national volunteering organisation. We organise events and promote the benefits of voluntary work to individuals and organisations.

My experiences have made me absolutely committed to becoming a doctor, and I believe that they have also prepared me to cope with the demands of studying medicine. I realise that the long hours and often stressful situations which doctors work in are daunting, but it is a challenge I am willing to meet because of the satisfaction that I find in making a difference to peoples’ lives.”

Analysis of this Medicine personal statement

The overall structure of this Medicine personal statement.

Medicine Personal Statement Analysis

You will notice that each paragraph of the above reviewed medicine personal statement has a clear theme, e.g. motivation to study medicine, teamwork, caring work experience etc. The reason for this is that grouping multiple related points together in succession reinforces each point. It makes the overall message that the author is trying to convey to the reader more obvious and memorable than if the author scattered these points and examples throughout their Medicine personal statement. It also gives the Medicine personal statement structure and a smooth flow, so it reads like a story.

The initial medical school personal statement lacked a smooth flow as it skipped from point to point without any clear connection between the points. This also made it very easy for the reader to miss certain points or to forget them after they finished reading the Medicine personal statement. Therefore in this reviewed version, we took different scattered points throughout the document and grouped them into themed paragraphs giving the medicine personal statement structure and flow, making it easier to follow and read more like a story.

Paragraph 1 Of This Medicine Personal Statement

Notice that this Medicine personal statement opening paragraph has one central theme: doctors can help people -> the author has seen this for himself -> this fuels his desire to study Medicine -> he has confirmed this through work experience.

What is done well in this edited opening paragraph, is an event is described, and this is followed up by explaining the reason why this makes the author want to study Medicine. The candidate says how he was a carer for his disabled grandmother, and he shadowed a GP. In the unedited version, this was all he wrote. These are just statements and don’t say why that would want to make him study Medicine. Plenty of people look after a disabled relative but do not want to be a doctor so why does the author? However, in the edited medicine personal statement, we added the reason why his grandmother and the GP work experience caused him to want to study Medicine. Of course, the space is so limited in a medicine personal statement that you cannot expand on points very much. A deliberate choice has to be made about which points should be developed and which should not.

Note that the reasons for studying Medicine and examples used in this opening paragraph are not original. There is no unique Medicine personal statement opening line. This is a relatively typical Medicine personal statement opening paragraph. However, that is completely fine. These are solid reasons for studying Medicine and are true for the candidate.

Paragraph 2 Of This Medical Personal Statement

The edited version of paragraph 2 does an excellent job of succinctly explaining an unknown project to the reader without becoming verbose or complicated. It demonstrates what skills the candidate has learned, and they are perfect for studying Medicine, so this is a great example to use. Very few characters are wasted on describing the contents of the lecture or attending Medlink as the other content in this paragraph is far more impressive and important to write. For this reason, it was edited in this way as the unedited version was verbose and wasted many characters on explaining things such as “I attended the Medlink residential course which had various lectures including ….etc.” These do not add anything to enhance the author’s accomplishments and are not needed for narrative purposes either. The assessor already knows what Medlink is.

Many candidates try to state in their Medicine personal statement that they possess the ability to deal with pressure and have good stress/time management skills etc. The edited personal statement makes it more obvious to the reader that the candidate has taught these skills to others. This implies to the reader that the candidate understands these concepts well enough to be able to teach them to others. This is far more effective than if the candidate merely claimed to have these skills. The original wording in the candidate’s initial medicine personal statement was sloppy, so the teaching element was less clear. This is corrected in the reviewed medical school personal statement.

Paragraph 3 Of This Medicine Personal Statement

These are two good examples of caring role work experience, and in the unedited version, the candidate gave some insightful thoughts on things he learned. However, it was mixed in with lots of unnecessary content which diluted the strength of the good points. In this edited version, this is a powerful paragraph because the writer omits the extra material. This causes the remaining text to be more powerful, and it now shows that the candidate has keen self-awareness and insight. He can extract solid learning points from his experiences.

Essentially the candidate is saying he was acutely aware of how he felt during the experiences. He knew that it was challenging to deal with people who had limited communication skills, who could become violent (he even used the word intimidating) and when he was responsible for groups of children. Despite this, he persisted with these experiences and learnt from them. This demonstrates that he is a self-reflective learner. The statement about doing further reading shows how he is an independent learner. He can identify his own learning needs and knows how to pursue them. Being a self-reflective and independent learner is essential for studying Medicine particularly in PBL courses. The candidate is showing he has these skills as well as a lot of maturity and self-awareness in this paragraph of his medicine personal statement.

Paragraph 4 Of This Medicine Personal Statement

Notice how this paragraph also has a theme – teamwork. Again, we took various examples scattered throughout the initial medicine personal statement and grouped them into this paragraph about teamwork. This gave the entire medicine personal statement more structure and conveyed the message of teamwork more powerfully. Notice how the paragraph mentions the GP work experience but in the context of teamwork. This is unlike how we discussed the GP work experience in paragraph 1, which was in the context of reassuring patients. This shows that it is ok to put the same work experience in different parts of the medicine personal statement as long as there is a logical reason for doing so. By putting related points together, it makes it easier for the reader to follow what message a paragraph is trying to convey.

You will notice that the things mentioned in this paragraph are very routine things to put into a Medical personal statement and are very passive in nature (i.e. the candidate is not actively doing anything, he is just watching a procedure, he is watching the GP staff). In the unedited version, it very much read like this, i.e. the candidate was a passive observer. In the edited paragraph, however, it becomes more active and unique. Look how once again the author describes an event and then explains a learning point or gives a reflection. Notice how only a few of the words in this paragraph describe what the candidate did. Most of the words describe what the candidate learned and his reflections on the experiences. This is far more powerful than just listing the steps of the operation or describing the activities of the admin staff.

Paragraph 5 Of This Medicine Personal Statement

This paragraph is themed around the author’s keen scientific curiosity and passion for learning. He describes attending lectures and doing activities which are clearly outside of his A-level curriculum. This paragraph is cleverly constructed to make use of the limited character count by not wasting words on how or where he attended these lectures or stating that they are in addition to his A-levels. It is self-evident that they are extracurricular and he does not need to waste words to spell this out. The topics discussed are things that the author needs to understand well as they can be brought up in the Medicine interview. We highlighted to the candidate suggested areas which may be raised at interview, which indeed did arise.

He once again demonstrates that he is a self-reflective and independent learner by talking about various lectures he attends, and how he explored one lecture further by writing an essay on the topic. Note that the author in paragraph two also states how a Medlink talk sparked his interest and he developed things further. This is an individual with curiosity and a desire to understand things further. He once again shows self-reflection when he says that it was challenging to use post-A-level books and medical journals, but he enjoyed the challenge and looks forward to the academic challenges of the ever-evolving field of Medicine.

Paragraph 6 + 7 Of This Medicine Personal Statement

The theme here is gap year activities and extracurricular activities. In medicine personal statements, candidates frequently fail to illustrate what skills their extracurricular activities give them or how they relate to Medicine. Even in the reviewed personal statement this paragraph almost “name drops” things. However, this is simply due to a lack of space. It is compensated by the fact that this medicine personal statement does an excellent job of illustrating points and reflecting on experiences throughout. The reader knows that this is a very reflective candidate. Despite this “name dropping”, the paragraph still achieves its purpose, through some skilful wording, of demonstrating that the candidate is very well rounded. He has many extracurricular activities and achievements which are impressive and utilise many skills which are directly transferable to Medicine. He does not necessarily need to spell this out. As with the previous paragraph, the candidate was instructed to be very knowledgeable about all their extracurricular activities, and we gave suggestions on topics that may come up at interview, which indeed did come up.

Note that with the correct reflective style it is possible to show the benefits of almost any hobby. For example, if we look at another medicine personal statement we reviewed, the candidate initially stated that playing doubles badminton enhanced their teamwork skills and gave a few basic reflections. This is not bad, but more could be extracted from this hobby. In the reviewed version this was discussed in greater depth and placed as part of an entire paragraph where the theme was teamwork – both in medicine and how the candidate also works to enhance their teamwork skills. See how it was possible to extract much more from this hobby: First we discussed teamwork in medicine and how then how the candidate also seeks to improve their teamwork skills followed by “working as a pair necessitates an awareness of each other’s strengths & weaknesses. We must then work to merge these in a way that potentiates our combined strengths & mitigates our weaknesses. We must consider how our opponents’ factor into this. The fast-pace of badminton requires the ability to make rapid decisions under pressure while still working towards an overall game plan.” This is far better than what the candidate originally said in their medical school personal statement about badminton being good for teamwork and thinking fast.

Making the most of the candidates work experience

Coming back to this reviewed medicine personal statement, the candidate does not have a lot of clinically based medical work experience. They only did a very brief shadowing of a GP. The operation described was observed in Medlink via live video and was not part of any hospital work experience. However, the reviewed medicine personal statement is worded to maximise what clinical work experience they do have. It does not appear at any stage of this medicine personal statement that this candidate lacks experience or has a poor insight into a medical career. Furthermore, they do an excellent job of reflecting on their clinical and non-clinical experiences to maximise the skills that they show or have allowed the candidate to develop. All these skills and experiences are transferable or useful for a career in medicine.

How can Medicine Answered help you with your medicine personal statement?

Our Premium Medicine Personal Statement Review Service

This is a highly specialised service. Your medicine personal statement will be reviewed by both a professional editor with specific expertise in medical admissions to ensure the writing style is flawless; and also a qualified doctor who received all four offers to study Medicine to ensure all the content is excellent. This is our minimum standard. We do not use medical students or non-professional editors.

360 Application Review

This includes a full Medicine personal statement review as detailed. Additionally, a doctor will look at your academic grades, UKCAT scores (comparing them with the current 2018 results for this cycle) and work experience. In the context of your whole application, they will also suggest topics which may be discussed at your interview. They will provide a plan for what to do next to move forward and prepare for the rest of your Medicine application. They will give tailored feedback on these elements and based on this provide further suggestions on making strategically sound medical school choices in a way that maximises your individual strengths and minimises your weaknesses.

For more information about both services, visit the Medical Personal Statement Review page, or contact a member of our team.

Our free guides to helping you write an excellent medicine personal statement

Medicine Answered offer the following entirely free guides which will help you to write a superb Medicine personal statement:

How to write a medical school personal statement in 10 steps – this will help to take you from step 1, with no ideas and nothing written down; to step 10, a completed medical school personal statement.

How to write a Graduate Entry Medical School Personal Statement – this discusses how graduates should write their medicine personal statement whether they are applying to Standard Entry Medicine or Graduate Entry Medicine courses.

Further Related Questions

What are the Manchester Medical School “non-academic information form” or the Keele Medical School “roles and responsibilities form”?

Manchester Medical School asks all candidates to also complete a non-academic information form after submitting their UCAS application. The other medical schools do not see this form as it is sent directly to Manchester. This form is very similar to a medical school personal statement but is under a format that the medical school controls. It contains headings which are the same types of topic that you would discuss in a medicine personal statement. The headings are “Experience in a caring role” “Hobbies and interests” “Teamwork” and “Motivation for Medicine”. Keele Medical School has a similar form called the roles and responsibilities form. Again it is sent directly to Keele Medical School. Both these forms should be treated as a separate piece of work from the medicine personal statement even though there is large overlap.

What is the UCAS word limit for medical school personal statements?

A medicine personal statement must meet the following two criteria:

1. Be less than 4000 characters (the counter UCAS use to determine the character count is slightly different from the word counter on most word processors, e.g. Microsoft Word. This is because the UCAS system counts punctuation, spaces, tabs and paragraph lines).

2. Be no longer than 47 lines on the UCAS system (again this is different to what 47 lines on a word processor would look like).

Medicine Personal Statement

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Medicine Personal Statement

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Your Medicine Personal Statement is your chance to really explain who you are, and why you want to study Medicine. You should think of it as your opportunity to inspire Admission Tutors with your motivation. Get your Personal Statement right, and you’ll really stand out from the pool of other Med School applicants.

What is a Medicine Personal Statement?

A Personal Statement supports your UCAS Application. It’s designed to help universities choose the best candidates.

More specifically, a Medicine Personal Statement is your chance to highlight the skills or qualities you have that are relevant to being a Doctor, and write about your motivation to study Medicine.

Medical Schools use your Personal Statement in different ways. Some won’t pay much attention to it, some will use it as a basis to shortlist who to invite to interview, and some will use it to form the basis of some interview questions.

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How Long is a Personal Statement?

Your Medicine Personal Statement needs to be 4,000 characters – which is around 500 words – over 47 lines.

What Should My Personal Statement Include?

Your Medicine Personal Statement should include the following components:

  • Motivation — Why do you want to study Medicine?
  • Exploration — What have you done to learn about it?
  • Suitability — Why are you a great fit for Medicine?

We cover each of these elements in our guide about how to write a Personal Statement for Medical School.

How Should I Structure My Personal Statement?

The structure of your Medicine Personal Statement is a matter of personal preference, but we suggest the best format to follow is to cover the following points:

  • Why you want to be a Doctor (motivation) and/or Volunteering – and what you learned from it (exploration)
  • Wider reading and study (exploration)
  • Extracurricular activities (suitability)
  • Conclusion (motivation)

How Can I Get Help With My Personal Statement?

Getting feedback on your Personal Statement for Medical School is incredibly important.

You could ask a relative to read your Personal Statement, give you feedback on how it reads, and let you know if you’ve forgotten any big accomplishments that they can remember. Another option is to ask a friend to have a read and tell you if it makes sense and gives a good impression.

You might also like to get professional help with your Medicine Personal Statement, since it’s such an important piece of writing.

Of course it’s important that you write your own Personal Statement, but getting it reviewed or being coached through the process of crafting it can be incredibly beneficial. Some of the best options include:

  • Get a Personal Statement Review by an Admissions Tutor
  • Join a Personal Statement Workshops to get help crafting an excellent statement
  • Focus on one-to-one help with Personal Statement Tutoring

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Personal Statement Review

Get your Personal Statement reviewed by a Medical School Admissions Tutor or high-flying Medic. You’ll receive detailed feedback in just a few days – with clear action points on how to improve!

Personal Statement Tutoring

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Medical School Sample Personal Statements

These are real personal statements from successful medical school applicants (some are from students who have used our services or from our advisors). These sample personal statements are for reference purposes only and should absolutely not be used to copy or plagiarize in any capacity. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements. Plagiarism is grounds for disqualification of an applicant.

Disclaimer: While these essays ultimately proved effective and led to medical school acceptances, there are multiple components that contribute to being an effective medical school applicant. These essays are not perfect, and the strengths and weaknesses have been listed where relevant.

Sample Personal Statements

“I love Scriabin!” exclaimed Logan, a 19-year-old patient at the hospital, as we found a common interest in the obscure Russian composer. I knew Logan’s story because it was so similar to my own: a classically-trained pianist, he was ready to head off to college in a month, just as I had the year before. Yet it was Logan who was heading into surgery to remove a recently-discovered brain tumor. Hoping to assuage his fears of the daunting operation, I lent him my iPod full of Scriabin’s music. Though the surgery began normally, a few hours later, Logan’s blood pressure started dropping, and he became unresponsive to monitoring provided by the surgical neurophysiologist. As the nurses scrambled to stabilize him, I finally heard the neurosurgeon ask, “Did we lose him?” These four terse words immediately unnerved me. Logan was in the most critical and uncertain situation I could imagine, while the iPod I had lent him, a reminder of the conversation we had just a few hours earlier, was eerily visible on the other side of the room. While Logan, fortunately, went on to make a full recovery after a successful surgery, I was not ready to hear those four frightening words.

Perhaps I was so unnerved by those words because of my experiences with my mother’s sicknesses. My father and I try to be mentally prepared to lose her any day. With a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis, my mother has struggled with suicidal tendencies for most of my life. Her other illnesses, including several autoimmune disorders and severe gastrointestinal problems, certainly hinder her from experiencing the joys of life. But what is most difficult for me and my father is her anger and violence when she is in pain. My father would remind me that I had to consider the sources of her feelings, however irrational, in order to communicate with her. Though my relationship with my mother has proved challenging, I am thankful for these experiences.

In medicine, I will be able to use these experiences to understand psychological barriers to wellness and to better empathize with the patients I see in the clinic. Unique life experiences like these helped when I met Enrique, a patient presenting with an unusually painful fungal infection on one of his toenails. Though he was aware that his condition posed no lasting threat to his health, the extreme pain of the infection made him apprehensive of treatment, a soak in Povidone-iodine solution. “How can I help this man?” I asked myself, “He is about to refuse a simple treatment for a painful ailment.” Hoping to calm him, I struck up a conversation in Spanish, which I learned while living for some months in Cuernavaca, Mexico. This was not enough. As he became increasingly uneasy about the impending treatment, I remembered a line from Federico García Lorca’s “Romance de la Pena Negra”: “…wash your body with the water of the lark / and leave your heart in peace.” As Enrique calmly placed his foot into the “lark’s water,” I was relieved to see that this was the encouragement he needed. I believe that my travels have helped me appreciate the cultural backgrounds of many patients and have prepared me to be an empathetic clinician.

While I have been prepared to address patients psychologically and culturally, my training in the lab has prepared me to address patients biologically as well. Having worked extensively in two different labs studying vaccine development and microbial pathogenesis, I have developed a desire to use bench research to improve clinical care. One particularly striking manifestation of this concept came at the beginning of my day at an internist’s clinic. Walking into the office, I heard a most unsettling sound—a distinctive, screeching, painful yelp audible throughout the clinic. I instantly knew what case I would be seeing next: Whooping cough. When I saw Brody, a toddler, I was arrested by a unique commiseration, one of both pity and curiosity. I knew exactly what was happening to Brody. I had spent the last two years performing research on the bacteria that caused the disease, Bordetella pertussis. Describing elements of the microbe’s pathogenesis and explaining how our research could improve vaccine efficacy was comforting to the family, and their response was encouraging to me as I continue my work. My research experiences have engendered a passion to be at the cutting edge of medicine, seeking always to improve patient care, so that in the future, I can come to a family like Brody’s with a better prognosis.

Though I may not have been prepared to hear those frightening words during Logan’s surgery, what I can say with confidence is that I am ready to begin the journey of a physician—the journey of a lifelong learner and a committed healer. I am ready to be challenged by difficult situations in the clinic, like Logan’s, because it is through those circumstances that I will learn and grow. I want to become a physician so that I can use my liberal arts education with my personal and professional experiences to meet medicine’s unique requirement of understanding patients psychologically, culturally, and biologically. I am ready to provide the most excellent patient care, empathetically and holistically appreciating my patients’ stories in order to serve them best.

The author masterfully weaves together multiple elements of his unique experiences in medicine to tell a compelling story. This an excellent example of “show, don’t tell”, whereby the author tells stories and takes the reader on a journey rather than simply listing what he did in the past.

For example, rather than explicitly stating that he did research on Bordetella pertussis, the author tells a story of a patient with Whooping cough and interweaves his research experience there, tying together a message of the future doctor’s interest in translational (from bench to bedside) research. Similarly, rather than explicitly stating he did experience A, and learned important lesson B and C, these themes are implied more indirectly. As a result, the essay reads smoothly as a story, and grips the reader.

The author’s voice comes through, transitions are smooth, the introduction engages the reader, and the story arc neatly comes full circle. The character limit was pushed to the limit (5,299) and the author made every word count. Fantastic essay.

The main reason why I want to go into medicine is because of a promise I made to my sister when I was eight years old. My sister, who was only a few months old, was aware I had been taking care of her while our parents were working late. Caring for her gave me a feeling of responsibility I had never experienced before. When my sister woke up with a fever, I felt helpless. Her doctor was able to take care of the most important person in my life by systematically ruling out possible causes for the fever while still helping my sister feel safe, allowing me to see the beauty of medicine. I made a promise to my sister to become a medical doctor, so I can take care of her and other people who cannot take care of themselves. Later, my mother explained to me that medicine had made my life possible because I had been conceived through in vitro fertilization. This reinforced my motivation to become a physician and encourages me to this day to come full circle and give back to the field that made my life possible by helping others in need.

I continued to pursue my dream of practicing medicine by volunteering in the Intensive Care Unit at the UC San Diego Thornton Medical Center, where I gained first-hand experience interacting with patients. While collecting laboratory samples from nurses, I talked to a patient who only spoke Spanish. As the interpreter had not arrived yet, I was the only Spanish speaker in the unit, and my Spanish was basic at best. I asked the patient about her day and family, which really lifted her spirits. This interaction taught me the importance of personal connections with patients.

Shadowing allowed me to learn the characteristics of a good physician. Before surgeries, I obtained the patient’s consent to let me observe the procedure while the surgeon went over the patient’s last minute concerns. One patient needed an Aortic Valve Replacement, and when I was getting his consent he told me he was a famous Italian singer. The surgeon asked him to sing his hit song, and I was amazed. The patient’s face lit up and all his worries faded before the surgery. Even though the patient was going to be heavily sedated, the surgeon still cared about the patient’s stress about the procedure and that really drew me to the profession and showed me that there is more to being a good doctor than just the technicalities or knowledge from textbooks.

Volunteering at a veterans’ hospital exposed me to a side of medicine I have only read about in the news. People who are underserved and undereducated who refuse medical care. I would call patients who could not go to any other hospital and try to convince them to have their eyes checked for diabetes symptoms in the Teleretinal Imaging department. One veteran answered my call with a groan asking why he needs to go to the hospital when he knows he does not have diabetes. I realized I had to explain to him that symptoms can develop well before the actual disease. This inspired me to help patients in underprivileged communities because some are not educated enough to know when something is wrong with their bodies.

I know if I am given the chance to practice medicine and serve as a leader in the African American community, I can deliver the same inspiration and become a role model for those who are disadvantaged. At UC San Diego I joined the Black Student Union where I was able to reach out to those who were unsure about pursuing a higher education. Speaking to high school students about my college experiences has improved my communication skills and ability to relate to diverse populations. I spoke about how college can open many more opportunities for these students and that there are countless resources and scholarships that can help them. I will use simple and direct communication to help patients understand their disease. Through this experience, I knew I wanted to practice medicine that is personal through interaction with minority communities. After these events, it is clear to me that I cannot give up on my dreams of becoming a doctor because when I rise I will also lift those around me with the same struggle.

In elementary school, I realized there was a lack of famous African-American physicians, so I asked my parents if they knew of anyone. My father told me about my uncle, Roy Harris, who grew up in the inner city, surrounded by drugs and gangs. In order to avoid these hardships, he joined the high school track team and continued running through college while pursuing his medical degree. I began running to remind myself of his inspiring story and, like him, encourage a change in the world so one day students will have more African-American doctors to emulate. I am currently one of the top athletes in the nation, an Academic All-American, and I hope to compete at NCAA Division II nationals next year. Running has given me the discipline to maintain a balanced life, provided me the focus to succeed in medical school, and given me the drive to work toward fulfilling my dreams. Most importantly, I made a promise to my sister, creating an unshakeable foundation of endless motivation that will encourage me even through the most distressing moments of my journey to become a physician. I will never give up nor surrender because I always keep my promises.

The author uses an anecdote to start and finish the essay, which is a common and effective way to create a story arc. He calls back to multiple experiences throughout his life, from childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to bolster his resolve for pursuing medicine. His interesting background and stories, such as the promise he made to his sister, and his inspiration for picking up track, make for unique elements in this personal statement.

While the author does reflect back to multiple experiences, this comes across more as “telling” than “showing”. Compare this to the essay above to see the difference. The author has a common and repeating paragraph structure of 1) explain what the extracurricular or experience is, 2) recount a story related to said experience, and 3) draw lessons learned. While this structure gets the point across, it does not come across as engaging or compelling to the reader.

The author’s desire to give back to the African American community as well as his high aspirations are admirable.

At the beginning of the first Alternative Spring Break (ASB) meeting that I was leading in front of a group of nervous volunteers, I used an icebreaker, Two Truths and a Lie. Being a common face at my campus’s student activities, I have played this game perhaps one too many times. Unlike everyone else who had to take time to think about their interesting truths, I would say the same thing every time. “I want to be a pediatrician, I have alpacas, and I have llamas.”

I do not have llamas.

Growing up on a farm has given me great pride throughout the years and has driven my passion for service to my community, leading me to the goal of a career as a pediatrician. The farm is where I was first introduced to medicine. I would assist my father give shots to our animals, help our alpacas give birth to their crías, and talk with our family veterinarian about his treatment methods. The farm spawned in me a love for science which has shaped my career path, and my knowledge acquired through the farm has been a pleasure to share with people. My mother and I would visit the special education classrooms of different schools to show the kids presentations of the farm. We would lead demonstrations of us cleaning, spinning and crocheting the fiber to an involved and excited crowd of individuals. I have had numerous positive interactions with kids which has made me realize that there is no group I would rather work with more.

Our family farm became close with the few farms that were around us. We would help the alpaca farm 20 minutes from us shear their alpacas, and we once helped a small farm repair its fence that had been ravaged by a tornado. It felt good to be able to help people with things that not everybody has the knowledge to do. The farm helped shape my view of community into one of empathy which encompasses the spirit of being a physician. The joy I received from helping other farms led me to pursue community service opportunities at my university which I found first with ASB, a community service organization in which students dedicate their spring breaks to participate in meaningful service activities, and later as an AmeriCorps volunteer. When I signed up for my first ASB trip in my freshman year, I looked for a trip that involved helping kids. I knew I loved working with the younger population by assisting my mom at her home daycare and those presentations we gave to special education classes. The trip that caught my attention was to Pulaski, VA, which worked with a service organization called Beans and Rice. We would do fulfilling tornado recovery work in the morning, but I most looked forward to afternoons where we got to sit down and chat with kids about their days while helping them with their homework. I heard many stories from the kids about going to bed hungry or their parents being out of work. We were able to sit with whomever we wished during the kids’ lunch which I primarily spent with Chase, a boy who the other kids saw as an outcast due to his sexual orientation. My time with these kids made me realize how some people did not grow up with the strong sense of community that I knew at their age and inspired me to continue my work with their age group.

During my time in Pulaski, the director of the organization recognized my passion for working with kids and encouraged me to apply to AmeriCorps. I found a program in Lincoln, NE which allowed me to work with impoverished kids and share my passion of science with them under my given alias of T-Roy the Science Boy (not to be confused with my rival, Bill Nye the Science Guy). My relationships with the children I was working with grew fast, but one student made a significant impact on me. The second-grader was incapable of paying attention to academics yet had an amazing sense of humor. On the surface, his apparent developmental issues brought on by fetal alcohol syndrome resulted in hyperactivity and an inclination for angry outbursts. I spent time with him every day but came to the realization that, no matter how many times I was able to help him understand something, it did little to help his underlying health problems. Going to medical school will allow me to obtain the knowledge and skills I need to offer the ultimate service to people like my second-grade student—access to a healthy life.

With a strong desire to continue giving back to my community, I signed up to be a patient advocate in Baystate Medical Center’s emergency room. Here I was exposed to different health issues and many upset family members. It was my job to ensure the patients and their families were as comfortable as possible, but my job often morphed into one of a storyteller conversing with the families to get their minds off their difficult situations. Of course, the alpacas were a common topic of discussion since kids always love seeing the goofy haircuts we give them. My mother made this an easy task by uploading a video of us shearing the alpacas onto YouTube titled “Spit Happens”. A fitting name, no doubt. I have been blessed to share my farm-inspired sense of community with a broad range of different cultures from Nebraska to Virginia. I look forward to travelling to new communities as a physician while keeping my community-driven morals close, so alpaca my bags now.

This author is unique in his excellent command of humor. Note that this is a riskier approach and most applicants should avoid humor. In this setting, the humor certainly adds value to the essay, although this may be more off-putting to more traditional and conservative medical school admissions committee members. Overall, a high risk and high reward strategy, because when it lands, it makes for a compelling, unique, and entertaining read. Remember, admissions committees are reading through thousands of essays, and this comes as a breath of fresh air.

The introduction is brilliantly engaging and humorous, and entices the reader for what is to come. Clearly, this author has an interesting story to share and isn’t afraid to make you laugh.

While the essay is overall good, it could be improved in a few notable ways. First, the sentence structure and word choice can be tightened up in areas. The reader may find themself having to reread more than one sentence to understand what the writer is hoping to convey. Secondly, while the author does a great job highlighting a very unique and wide ranging background, showing more than telling would increase the effectiveness of this essay. Additionally, more emphasis and attention on “why medicine” and “why you would make a good doctor” would make this medical school personal statement more universally appealing (and less risky).

It’s not every day you help a kid become Iron Man. It happened for me during an internship at the NIH. I was responsible for designing the electronics and software for a portable robotic exoskeleton to help children expressing crouch gait due to cerebral palsy to improve their gait by retraining their muscles and neuron pathways. I saw the project as a fascinating technical problem and immersed myself in solving it.

Then I met Isaiah. Isaiah is a child with cerebral palsy expressing crouch gait with limited mobility. When Isaiah first began training on the robot, he became frustrated. As I watched him become exasperated using the device, it really hit me that I was creating a device for a real person, and the way we delivered his care was every bit as important to what we were doing as delivering an effective technical solution. As his confidence grew, I witnessed Isaiah, who could barely walk without the device, try to run. We even had to tell him to slow down! He asked if he could bring home the device because it made him feel like Iron Man. This experience crystalized for me my calling, to solve the challenging medical problems children face with love and a deep appreciation for their humanity.

I have firsthand knowledge of what it means to a child with serious medical problems to have loving physicians and nurses. When I was four, I received a heart transplant. Five years later, I fell ill with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Throughout these difficult and uncertain times, I was fortunate to have a clinical team whose positivity and humor made me feel like a normal kid despite the fact that I was facing grave medical problems. While these experiences were difficult, they gave me a perspective that I treasure because it gives meaning to every day of my life. This perspective is where my calling originates – to become a physician-engineer completely committed to the emotional well-being of each of my patients.

The engineering problems many children face are substantial, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to develop my skills in this area. As a part of the Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design’s design team program I worked on two projects that taught me different aspects of the process of developing medical devices. The first project, NeoVate, gave me an overview of the design process of bringing medical devices to market. We developed a neonatal monitoring system for the developing world. We began with a needs assessment and then prototyped our solution to satisfy the specifications we developed. While I focused on the technical development, it was valuable to see other members create a sustainable distribution model because it helped me understand the step by step process by which an idea goes from concept to adoption in the medical field.

For the second project, TacPac, I was the team leader. On past teams I had a narrow focus on the technical development, but on TacPac I had to be knowledgeable about all aspects of the project and see the big picture in order to develop strategies to move the team forward. I learned how to create contingency plans by reaching out to our numerous advisors in many different specialties to build decision trees.

This project had an extra layer of meaning for me since we were developing an at-home monitoring system for tacrolimus, an immunosuppressant drug I have been taking for over twelve years. Currently, monitoring of this drug’s levels can only be done in a clinical setting. Our device allows patients to monitor their levels in the home, allowing for less inconvenience to patients and more data to make more informed clinical decisions.

While my engineering training developed my technical skills, the foundation of my heart and why I will pour myself into my vocation is derived from the love and care I received from my own clinical team as a child. I feel called to be of service to children with serious medical issues, just as my physicians and nurses were to me. One of my favorite volunteer experiences was when I was a camp counselor for Heart Camp, where I had previously been a camper. Heart Camp is a week-long camp for children with congenital heart defects designed to create an environment of fun, hope, and normalcy. This is one way in which I can use the difficult experiences of my childhood for good because it is easy for me to bring normalcy to these children’s lives since for me, it is normal.

Another volunteer opportunity that has had a tremendous amount of meaning for me is working with the Washington Regional Transplant Community to spread organ donation awareness by telling my story. Since I never received the chance to know my donor family, I use this volunteering as my way to say thank you.

I have enjoyed my engineering studies and my volunteering experiences have been of tremendous value to me, but I cannot wait to go to medical school. It is my desire to be a bridge between the technical engineering world and the direct delivery of care that only physicians can give. I feel it is my mission to use all of my experiences, both good and bad, to find innovative solutions to help the next Wonder Woman and Captain America thrive both physically and in every other part of their lives.

The superhero theme is unique, timely, and highly relevant to the author’s interest in pursuing a pediatric specialty. The author has a strong research background and ultimately was accepted to a highly ranked and research heavy institution, which is no surprise. While a significant portion of the body of the essay reads as “tell” more than “show”, some aspects of the personal statement use more effective story telling.

Deep interest in research, a unique background of being a lymphoma patient, and a palpable passion to help other kids who are suffering makes this applicant come across as a valuable asset to any research oriented medical school.

To further improve the impact of this essay, the author could remove one or two experiences listed in a more descriptive way and incorporate immersive stories to convey the significance and impact they had on him.

Guide to Writing a Medical School Personal Statement

College student writing

Dr. Allen Grove is an Alfred University English professor and a college admissions expert with over 20 years of experience helping students transition to college.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your personal statement in your medical school application. Your GPA and MCAT scores show that you are academically capable, but they do not tell the admissions committee what type of person you are. Who you are matters, and the personal statement is the place to tell your story.

Tips for a Winning Med School Personal Statement

  • Make sure your personal statement is “personal.” It needs to capture your personality and interests. What makes you uniquely you?
  • Clearly and convincingly present your reasons for wanting to attend medical school.
  • Don’t summarize your activities, accomplishments, or coursework. Other parts of your application will convey that information.
  • Use logical organization, flawless grammar, and an engaging style.

The medical school admissions process is holistic, and the admissions folks want to enroll students who are articulate, empathetic, and passionate about medicine. Your personal statement provides you an opportunity to make the case that you have what it takes to succeed in medical school and that you will contribute to the campus community in positive ways.

You will want to put significant thought and time into your personal statement since it will play a role in all of your medical school applications. Nearly all medical schools in the United States use the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) to manage their applications, much like hundreds of undergraduate institutions use the Common Application. With AMCAS, the prompt for the personal statement is pleasingly (and perhaps frustratingly) broad:

This simple prompt allows you to write about almost anything, but some topics will be much more effective than others.

Choosing Personal Statement Topics

A medical school personal statement is relatively short (less than 1/3 the length of this article), so you’ll need to be selective when deciding what to include. As you identify your areas of focus, always keep the prompt in mind—your personal statement needs to explain why you want to go to medical school. If you find yourself straying from that goal, you’ll want to refocus and get back on track.

Successful medical applicants typically include several of these topics in their personal statements:

  • A meaningful academic experience. Did you take a specific class that truly fascinated you or convinced you that you want to pursue a career in medicine? Did you have a professor who you found inspiring? Explain how the academic experience affected you and how it relates to your current desire to go to medical school.
  • A research or internship experience. If you had the opportunity to conduct research in a science laboratory or intern at a medical facility, this type of hands-on experience is an excellent choice for inclusion in your personal statement. What did you learn from the experience? How did your attitude towards medicine change when you worked side-by-side with medical professionals? Did you gain a mentor from the experience? If so, explain how that relationship affected you.
  • A shadowing opportunity. A significant percentage of medical school applicants shadow a doctor during their undergraduate years. What did you learn about the real-world practice of being a doctor? If you were able to shadow more than one type of physician, compare those experiences? Does one type of medical practice appeal to you more than another? Why?
  • Community service. Medicine is a service profession—a doctor’s primary job duty is helping others. The strongest medical school applications show that the applicant has an active history of service. Have you volunteered at your local hospital or free clinic? Have you helped raise money or awareness for a health-related issue? Even service that has nothing to do with the health professions can be worth mentioning, for it speaks to your generous character. Show that you aren’t in this profession for you, but for others including those who are often underserved and underrepresented.
  • Your personal journey. Some students have a personal history that is integral to their desire to become a doctor. Did you grow up in a medical family? Did serious health concerns of family or friends raise your awareness of the work doctor’s do or motivate you to want to solve a medical problem? Do you have an interesting background that would be an asset to the medical profession such as fluency in more than one language or an unusual range of cultural experiences?
  • Your career goals. Presumably, if you are applying to medical school, you have a career goal in mind for after you earn your M.D. What do you hope to accomplish with your medical degree. What do you hope to contribute to the field of medicine?

Topics to Avoid in Your Personal Statement

While you have many choices about the type of content you can include in your personal statement, there are several topics that you would be wise to avoid.

  • Avoid discussion of salary. Even if one factor that draws you to medicine is the potential to earn a lot of money, this information does not belong in your personal statement. You don’t want to come across as materialistic, and the most successful medical students love medicine, not money.
  • Avoid early childhood stories. A brief anecdote about childhood can be fine in a personal statement, but you don’t want to write entire paragraphs about your visit to a hospital in second grade or how you played doctor with your dolls as a young child. The medical school wants to get to know the person you are now, not the person you were over a decade ago.
  • Avoid presenting television as an inspiration. Sure, your interest in medicine may have begun with Grey’s Anatomy, House, The Good Doctor or one of the dozens of other medical dramas on television, but these shows are fiction, and all fail to capture the realities of the medical profession. A personal statement that focuses on a television show can be a red flag, and the admissions committee may worry that you have some sanitized, exaggerated, or romanticized notion of what it means to be a doctor.
  • Avoid talk of school rankings and prestige. Your choice of a medical school should be based on the education and experience you will get, not the school’s U.S. News & World Report ranking. If you state that you are applying exclusively to the top-ranked medical schools or that you want to attend a prestigious school, you may come across as someone who is more concerned with surfaces than substance.

How to Structure Your Personal Statement

There is no single best way to structure your personal statement, and the admissions committee would get quite bored if every statement followed the exact same outline. That said, you do want to make sure each point you make in your statement flows logically from what precedes it. This sample structure will give you a good starting point for conceptualizing and crafting your own personal statement:

  • Paragraph 1: Explain how you became interested in medicine. What are the roots of your interest, and what about the field appeals to you and why?
  • Paragraph 2: Identify an academic experience that affirmed your interest in medicine. Don’t simply summarize your transcript. Talk about a specific class or classroom experience that inspired you or helped you develop the skills that will help you succeed in medical school. Realize that a public speaking, writing, or student leadership class can be just as important as that cellular biology lab. Many types of skills are important for physicians.
  • Paragraph 3: Discuss a non-academic experience that has affirmed your interest in medicine. Did you intern in a biology, chemistry or medical laboratory? Did you shadow a doctor? Did you volunteer at a local hospital or clinic? Explain the importance of this activity to you.
  • Paragraph 4: Articulate what you will bring to the medical school. Your essay shouldn’t be entirely about what you will get out of med school, but what you will contribute to the campus community. Do you have a background or experiences that will enrich the diversity of campus? Do you have leadership or collaborative skills that are a good match for the medical profession? Do you have a history of giving back through community service?
  • Paragraph 5: Here you can look to the future. What are your career goals, and how will medical school help you achieve those goals.

Again, this is just a suggested outline. A personal statement may have four paragraphs, or it may have more than five. Some students have unique situations or experiences that aren’t included in this outline, and you may find that a different method of organization works best for telling your story.

Finally, as you outline your personal statement, don’t worry about being exhaustive and covering everything you have done. You’ll have plenty of space elsewhere to list and describe all of your extracurricular and research experiences, and your transcript will give a good indication of your academic preparation. You don’t have a lot of space, so identify a couple important experiences from your undergraduate years and a couple character traits you want to emphasize, and then weave that material into a focused narrative.

Tips for Personal Statement Success

Well-structured, carefully-selected content is certainly essential to a successful medical school personal statement, but you need to consider a few more factors as well.

Medical School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis

Student working at his laptop

Dr. Allen Grove is an Alfred University English professor and a college admissions expert with over 20 years of experience helping students transition to college.

A strong medical school personal statement can take many forms, but the most impressive ones share several features. A winning statement obviously needs to be well written with perfect grammar and an engaging style. Also, a standout personal statement needs to be personal. The AMCAS application used by nearly all United States medical schools provides a simple prompt: “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school.” The personal statement clearly needs to be about your motivation. How did you become interested in medicine? What experiences have affirmed that interest? How does medical school fit into your career goals?

The structure and precise content of the statement, however, can vary greatly. Below are two sample statements to illustrate some possibilities. Each is followed by an analysis of the statement’s strengths and weaknesses.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #1

The walk across campus was excruciating. During my first year of college, I had gotten strep throat for the second time in a month. When antibiotics didn’t seem to be working, my doctor found that strep had led to mono. Worst of all, I had developed hiccups. Yes, hiccups. But these weren’t just any hiccups. Every time my diaphragm spasmed, I had such a stab of severe pain in my shoulder that I nearly blacked out. Needless to say, this was strange. The fatigue and sore throat made sense, but torturous knife-in-the-shoulder hiccups? I immediately headed for the urgent care facility at my university’s medical center. The walk seemed like miles, and every hiccup brought a stifled scream and a stop to my progress.

I grew up in rural New York, so I had never been to a teaching hospital before. All of my childhood doctors, in fact, had moved to my area to get their medical school loans repaid by agreeing to practice in an underserved community. I had four different doctors growing up, all of them perfectly competent, but all of them overworked and eager to do their time so they could move on to a “better” job.

I’m not sure what I expected when I set foot in the university’s medical center, but I had certainly never been in a massive medical complex that employs over 1,000 physicians. What mattered to me, of course, was my doctor and how she would fix my demonic death hiccups. At the time, I was thinking an epidural followed by a shoulder amputation would be a good solution. When Dr. Bennett arrived in my examining room, she immediately sent me to x-ray and told me to bring the films back to her. I thought it was odd that the patient would do this ferrying, and I found it even more strange when she put the images up on the illuminator and viewed them for the first time with me by her side.

This was the moment when I realized that Dr. Bennett was much more than a physician. She was a teacher, and at that moment, she was not teaching her medical students, but me. She showed me the outlines of the organs in my abdomen, and pointed to my spleen that was enlarged from mono. The spleen, she explained, was pushing on a nerve to my shoulder. Each hiccup dramatically increased that pressure, thus causing the shoulder pain. Apparently I wouldn’t need my shoulder amputated after all, and Dr. Bennett’s explanation was so wonderfully simple and comforting. Sometime during my visit to the hospital my hiccups had stopped, and as I walked back across campus, I couldn’t help marveling at how strange the human body is, but also what a pleasure it is to have a doctor who took the time to teach me about my own physiology.

As my interest in medicine grew and I added biology and chemistry minors to my communication studies major, I started looking for shadowing opportunities. Over winter break of my junior year, a dermatologist from a nearby town agreed to let me shadow him full time for a week. He was a family acquaintance who, unlike my childhood doctors, had been working out of the same office for over 30 years. Until that January, however, I really had no idea what his job was actually like. My first impression was one of disbelief. He began seeing patients at 6 a.m. for 5-minute consultations during which he would look at a single area of concern for the patient—a rash, a suspicious mole, an open sore. Around 7:00 a.m., regularly scheduled appointments began, and even here, he rarely spent more than 10 minutes with a patient. His workday was over by midafternoon in time to get in some skiing (golf in warmer months), but he would still see upwards of 50 patients in a day.

One would think with that kind of volume, the patient experience would be impersonal and rushed. But Dr. Lowry knew his patients. He greeted them by name, asked about their kids and grandkids, and laughed at his own bad jokes. He was deceptively quick and efficient, but he made patients comfortable. And when he discussed their medical issues, he pulled out a remarkably battered and dog-eared copy of Fitzpatrick’s Clinical Dermatology to show color photos of their condition and explain what next steps, if any, were needed. Whether a patient had a benign seborrheic keratosis or melanoma that had gone untreated for far too long, he compassionately and clearly explained the situation. He was, in short, an excellent teacher.

I love biology and medicine. I also love writing and teaching, and I plan to use all of these skills in my future medical career. I’ve been a lab TA for Human Anatomy and Physiology, and I wrote articles for the university newspaper on flu prevention and a recent outbreak of whooping cough. My experiences with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Lowry have made clear to me that the best doctors are also excellent teachers and communicators. Dr. Lowry taught me not just about dermatology, but the realities of rural medicine. He is the only dermatologist in a 40-mile radius. He is such a valuable and integral part of the community, yet he will be retiring soon. It isn’t clear who will replace him, but perhaps it will be me.

Analysis of Personal Statement Example #1

With its focus on rural medicine and the importance of good communication in health professions, the statement’s topic is promising. Here’s a discussion of what works well and what could use a little improvement.

Strengths

There is much in this personal statement that the admissions committee will find appealing. Most obviously, the applicant has an interesting background as a communication studies major, and the statement successfully shows how important good communication is to being a good physician. Medical school applicants certainly don’t need to major in the sciences, and they need not be apologetic or defensive when they have a major in the humanities or social sciences. This applicant clearly has taken the required biology and chemistry classes, and the additional skills in writing, speaking, and teaching will be an added bonus. Indeed, the statement’s emphasis on doctors as teachers is compelling and speaks well to the applicant’s understanding of effective patient treatment.

The readers of this statement are also likely to admire the applicant’s understanding of the challenges rural communities face when it comes to health care, and the end of the statement makes clear that the applicant is interested in helping address this challenge by working in a rural area. Finally, the author comes across as a thoughtful and at times humorous person. The “demonic death hiccups” are likely to draw a smile, and the understanding of Dr. Lowry’s contributions to the community reveals the author’s ability to analyze and understand some of the challenges of rural medical practices.

Weaknesses

On the whole, this is a strong personal statement. As with any piece of writing, however, it is not without some shortcomings. By telling two stories—the experiences with Dr. Bennett and Dr. Lowry—there is little room left to explain the applicant’s motivation for studying medicine. The statement never gets very specific about what the applicant wants to study in medical school. The final paragraph suggests it could be dermatology, but that certainly doesn’t seem definitive and there’s no indication of a passion for dermatology. Many MD students, of course, don’t know what their specialty will be when they begin medical school, but a good statement should address why the applicant is driven to study medicine. This statement tells a couple of good stories, but the discussion of motivation is a little thin.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #2

My paternal grandfather died of rectal cancer when I was 10 and my grandmother died of colon cancer two years later. Indeed, numerous family members on my father’s side of the family have died of colorectal cancer, and these are not beautiful and peaceful deaths. No dosage of opioids seemed to alleviate the pain caused by tumors that had spread to my grandfather’s spine, and the numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation were their own form of torture. My father gets frequent colonoscopies in an effort to avoid the same fate, and I will soon be doing the same. The family curse isn’t likely to skip a generation.

Five years ago, my favorite uncle on my mother’s side of the family was diagnosed with triple hit lymphoma. Doctors gave him, at best, a few months to live. He was an avid reader and researcher who learned everything he could about his disease. Walking with a cane because of tumors in his leg, he attended a medical conference, inserted himself into a conversation with a top cancer researcher, and managed to get enrolled in a clinical trial for CAR T-cell therapy. Because of his inquisitiveness and assertiveness, he is still alive today with no signs of cancer. This type of happy outcome, however, is more the exception than the rule, and in an ideal world, a cancer patient should not have to reject his doctor’s diagnosis to seek his own cure.

My interest in oncology certainly stems from my family history and the ticking time bomb within my own genes, as well as my general fascination with understanding how living things work. The field also appeals to my love of challenges and puzzles. My early childhood was one big blur of giant jigsaw puzzles, scouring the countryside with a magnifying glass, and bringing home every newt, salamander, and snake I could find. Today, those interests manifest themselves in my fondness for mathematics, cellular biology, and anatomy.

In contemporary medicine, there is perhaps no greater living puzzle than cancer. Ken Burns’ film Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies really brings home how little we understand the disease. At the same time, it’s encouraging that this 2015 film is already out-of-date as new and promising treatments continue to emerge. Indeed, it’s an exciting time for the field as researchers make some of the most significant advancements in cancer treatment in decades. That said, some cancers remain remarkably elusive, and so much more progress is needed. My volunteer work at the university’s Cancer Center has made this need clear. So many patients I’ve met are suffering through chemotherapy not with a hope of beating cancer, but with the modest hope of living just a little longer. They often aren’t wrong to have such modest expectations.

My interest in oncology isn’t limited to treating patients—I also want to be a researcher. During the past year and a half, I’ve been a research assistant in Dr. Chiang’s laboratory. I’ve gained extensive experience conducting literature reviews, handling rodents, measuring tumors, genotyping, and creating genetic samples using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Some of my fellow lab assistants find the work tedious and repetitive, but I view each piece of data as part of the bigger puzzle. Progress may be slow and even halting at times, but it is still progress, and I find it exciting.

I’m applying to your joint MD/PhD program because I firmly believe that research will make me a better doctor, and working directly with patients will make me a better researcher. My ultimate goal is to become a cancer research professor at an R1 university’s medical school where I will treat patients, educate the next generation of doctors and researchers, and make headway in defeating this terrible disease.

Analysis of Personal Statement Example #2

With its laser-sharp focus on oncology, this statement stands in sharp contrast to the first example. Here’s what works well and what doesn’t.

Strengths

Unlike the first writer, this applicant does an excellent job revealing the motivation behind attending medical school. The opening paragraphs bring to life the damage cancer has done to the applicant’s family, and the statement as a whole convincingly shows that oncology is an area of interest for both personal and intellectual reasons. The applicant’s volunteer work and research experiences all center on cancer, and the reader has no doubt about the applicant’s passion for the field. The applicant also has remarkably clear and specific career goals. On the whole, the reader gets the sense that this applicant will be an ambitious, focused, motivated, and passionate medical student.

Weaknesses

Like the first example, this personal statement is generally quite strong. If it has one significant weakness, it is on the patient care side of medicine. In the first example, the applicant’s admiration for and understanding of good patient care stands at the forefront. In this second statement, we don’t have much evidence of the applicant’s actual interest in working directly with patients. This shortcoming could be addressed by going into more detail about the volunteer work at the university Cancer Center, but as is, the statement seems to present more interest in research than patient care. Given the interest in research, the applicant’s interest in an MD/PhD program makes sense, but the MD side of that equation could use more attention in the statement.

Medicine Personal Statement Examples

Our medicine personal statement examples for university below will inspire you to write your own unique UCAS statement, and help you understand how students have successfully applied for medicine in the past.

I have been interested in medicine since childhood. This curiosity began, when at the age of five I saw a video of child birth.

The medical world is full of intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional challenges which doctors face on a daily basis, but yet this creates a dynamic profession which is one of the most rewarding

My interest in medicine began when studying biology and chemistry at school in Norway and since then I have focused my everyday life around seeking medical knowledge.

A hungry intrigue about science and an intrinsic yearning to have a positive impact on health standards in my community have compelled me towards the challenges and pressures of studying medicine.

A career in medicine will allow me to integrate thoroughly my passion for science into a public-service framework.

What initially drew me to medicine arose from a childhood intrigue into the intricacies of biological science and disease.

Medicine has never been absent from my thoughts, and this combined with a lack of personal fulfilment as a web developer has continually amplified my desire to become a doctor.

Medicine is an ever-changing field I believe to be my vocation. I enjoy working in a team but also as an individual and taking responsibility for my own actions in a challenging environment.

This moment that the elusive “Eureka Moment” struck me and I began to see medicine as a serious career choice for myself.

Becoming a physician has always been an aspiration of mine, and my university studies have truly cemented this desire.

With my interest in biomedical sciences and care, medicine becomes the obvious career choice. To get a preview, I arranged for a brief observation in an OR in — to observe a cardiac catheterization.

The idea of a career that would challenge my mental ability and decision making skills has always implied that medicine is the right subject choice for me.

Medicine is an honourable and challenging vocation many aspire to. I have always envisaged working closely with people in an intellectually stimulating environment and in my opinion, a career in medicine is one of the best ways to achieve this, blending the analytical thinking of a scientist with the compassion of a carer.

Inasmuch as I have thoroughly enjoyed the comprehension of complex and abstract phenomena during my studies of physical chemistry, a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary science, I find the continuation in that direction most appropriate and natural.

Being a doctor is one of the most time consuming, dedicating and challenging jobs there is and I along with any prospective student will have full knowledge of this, but I also realise that it can be the most rewarding feeling in the world when you are able to heal someone so they are able to pursue their life’s goal.

Striving for a career that embraced these virtues subliminally enticed me towards medicine. Entwined with this progressive ambition came the birth of a profound scientific curiosity.

“The aim of Medicine is not to know the disease, but to relieve the suffering it causes.” This quotation from Miguel Angel Garcia sums up why medicine is my career choice.

My desire to help heal the human body and a concern for others well-being, are the main reasons for my ambition to study medicine.

My interest in studying medicine stemmed from a deep curiosity about the human body and a wish to work with people.

It is the challenge, gratification and satisfaction of being a doctor which inspires me. An opportunity to develop the core values and adapt them to the dynamic profession of medicine is my ultimate goal.

My decision to study medicine stems from a deep-rooted interest in the human body, how it functions, above all what causes it to function abnormally.

For me, a career in medicine is the perfect opportunity to stimulate my mind in a fascinating field in which I am highly motivated to succeed.

Being a career which combines scientific knowledge with care work, I see medicine as the way to live my life to the fullest, doing the things I love best.

Shadowing and working with doctors is just one of the reasons for my passion to study medicine. Unequivocally enthusiasm has derived from shear pursuit and multifaceted experiences.

For the three years that I have been at university it has allowed me to enjoy many experiences and has given me time to reflect on myself and my motives for a career in medicine.

A career in medicine where life-long learning co-exists with the opportunity to rise to new challenges is a deeply exciting prospect.

Medicine is a humanitarian-based science, and I believe that such an interpersonal and rewarding career is the one for me.

Medicine for me is a unique profession in that it does not discriminate in its universality of application.

I could not think of any other career that would enable me to do this at a whole new level except medicine.

Growing up in a country where a terrorist war has been raging for a quarter century,has uncovered the depths of poverty where medical care and facilities are woefully inadequate. This, combined with my interest in science, and my desire to assist people have inspired me to choose medicine.

My achievements and experiences so far have led me to believe that medicine is the right career option for me.

Although a career in medicine requires 100% concentration, I believe I am a determined enthusiastic individual who rises up to challenge and has the skills that are vital to manage such a demanding course as medicine.

I choose to study medicine as I believe that every person should contribute to the future by doing what they aim to do best.

My passion for medicine was triggered when I shadowed a doctor at a hospital and gained an insight into the demands of the profession.

I see a career in medicine as a great challenge. It’s a field that’s ever changing and advancing with new and improved treatments and cures; I’m dedicated to applying myself as an undergraduate and will pursue my goal to become a doctor.

Both Biology and chemistry have educated me further in science, as well as improving my analytical skills and maintaining my interest in medicine.

The enthusiasm I have for the sciences – specifically Chemistry – encouraged me to think about my future career and how a chemistry-related degree could be a possibility for me. I have always enjoyed maths and science throughout my education and I have recognised that I can combine both in a career in pharmacy.

In order to explore my fascination with medicine I have undertaken varied and relevant work experience, in both a hospital and a care home.

I am of Haitian descent and my country is one known for its harsh living conditions. There is a constant struggle for survival and poverty is an endemic burden. Despite numerous advances in technology, Haiti has remained the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere.

From the race to find a vaccine for the H1N1 virus to the almost daily reports of breakthroughs in the field of cancer research, science has always fascinated me.On a more personal note, my interest has largely stemmed from school, work experiences, and science in the news.

I majored in science back in my secondary school days and I went further to bargain a Bachelors degree in Applied Biochemistry as a prelude to achieving my desired ambition.

Quite simply it is my curious nature which has always underpinned my desire to study medicine; the sheer complexity of both the human body and its healing processes have always fascinated me and, during my time in 6th form and subsequently while studying for my BSc.

Along with my desire to directly improve peoples lives, the opportunity to study the intricacies of diseases and their cures is the main driving force behind my desire to study medicine.

The world of science and medicine has gone through overwhelming advances in the last century and so it is difficult to believe how much we still do not know.

The ever-evolving nature of medical science and the certainty that we will know more about the many different healthcare practices has inspired me to pursue a career in medicine.

I decided on medicine as a career at the age of eight and as the years have passed my determination has not faultered.

I am fascinated by science; I have always felt a need to learn about how things work. Biology is my particular favourite, and cell biochemistry and anatomy particularly fascinate me

I am determined and dedicated to study medicine and my clinical experience has only increased my desire to become a doctor.

I am interested in the Masters of Pharmacy (MPharm) Programme because I am interested in the modules on which it is based. I want to do the MPharm programme so as to extend my knowledge in Medicines. I would like to get a deeper understanding of how to formulate and administer drugs safely.

My true passion lies in helping others in a safe and effective way with the use of innovative pharmaceutical medicines. I have become inspired by my personal ambition of becoming a Pharmacist as I aspire to improve people’s daily lives.

I am acutely aware that taking on medicine equates to a life-long learning experience, both intellectually and on a personal level, but this only inevitably makes it more irresistible than ever for an inquisitive mind like mine.

Being actively involved with elderly patients, medical students and doctors (were very rewarding) as I have greatly enhanced my communication skills and also strengthened my ambition to becoming a doctor.

A career in medicine has been my burning desire for many years. This was triggered when a road accident hospitalised my brother. Watching sick, motionless children come in but leave smiling a few days later was so incredible I wanted to be part of it.

My passion to study medicine is obvious from my A-level subjects as well. Biology and chemistry were my favorite subjects; the study of infectious diseases and immunity was extremely interesting and chemistry helped me a lot to comprehend biochemistry and improved my practical skills.

Medicine is a combination of care, treatment and research which I am actively interested in. It is a general acknowledgement that good doctors are some of the hardest working and committed people you will meet.

Medicine is not just a science; medicine is the art of life- complex, challenging, soulful and yet gracious and unique.

Keeping an open mind with regards to my career has meant that I have been able to pinpoint the one field which has fascinated me unlike any other: medicine.

A Spanish proverb states, “The beginning of health is to know the disease” and with this I intend to fulfill my desire of becoming a doctor by studying medicine.

The experiences I have gained from visiting hospital environments have offered me a glimpse into the real world of medicine and has lead me to believe I have the necessary skills required and would be a useful addition to the medical profession.

The challenges faced by doctors on a daily basis are perhaps what make a career in medicine one of the most demanding, strenuous, and yet rewarding professions there is.

The course of the medical world has been phenomenally changed by the discovery of Penicillin, one of the most effective life-saving drugs. Such advances intrigue me to learn about the formation of drugs, how they produce an effect in the body and their correct usage on people.

My enthusiasm for the advances of medical science, understanding and technology drive me towards medicine.

For me, being a doctor is having the capability to help someone else on a day to day basis. The variety of work is exciting and a career of constant learning is very appealing to me. I previously didn’t have the confidence I do now-I want to pursue my ultimate goal.

Although I have always wanted to be a doctor, at the age of 17 I felt too immature and lacked the confidence required to fully commit to a lifelong career.

To venture into the realm of science and medicine is to pursue a path of boundless discovery; I am in awe of how much humanity has been shaped by medical advances, paving the way for new cures and better anatomical understanding.

I want to be able to understand the human body and repair it when it malfunctions. During my work experience at King’s College Hospital in the liver transplant unit, I saw much open surgery carried out on the abdomen.

Over the last four years, my propensity for becoming involved in medicine and science has been ever-increasing and has led me to posses the motivation for learning that I had not previously expected.

Medicine is a field that I find fascinating. Studying the intricate mechanisms that integrate to produce biological processes, and the consequences that arise when these mechanisms are impaired truly captivates me.

While the idea to care for others is appealing to me, the applications of medicine for finding remedies to the complexities of the human body fascinates me even more.

I am perceptively aware of the physical and emotional implications of medicine and understand the importance of commitment, as well as competency.

Experiencing the hospital environment first hand reinforced my decision to study medicine. Shadowing a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Glasgow Royal Infirmary enabled me to see how different departments within the hospital operated: wards, clinics and the operating theatre.

Medicine as a career has always infected me as it feeds on my never ending curiosity for human body, especially the brain, as these intricate natural things cannot be imitated.

Medicine is a fascinating, ever changing and evolving field which makes my decision to study it an exciting life long commitment.

I understand that pursuing a medical career is both mentally and physically demanding, my self-motivation and enthusiasm for this field will overcome all challenges I face in the future.

Being born in an era where Science flourishes and is relentlessly used as a base to solve all of mankind’s problems makes me yearn for the knowledge it bestows. I first discovered Science at the age of 10, when I read a set of junior encyclopaedias, which introduced me to a world full of diversity.

Without modern medicine, I would be dead. At birth, my head was too big to emerge naturally; I owe my life (and possibly my mother’s) to an obstetrician at Basingstoke Hospital who carried out a caesarean section after a 72-hour labour.

These labs and the extra emphasis placed on practicing not only scientific and medical skills, but also communication skills and compassion have helped to cultivate some of the best doctors I know today.

The challenge of spending my working life immersed in the fascinating, ever-evolving world of the medical sciences, and the opportunity to use this knowledge to benefit others, has drawn me to seek a career in medicine.

My motivation to pursue a career in the art of medicine is based on my love for science and enhanced through my experiences.

My greatest involvement in the field of medicine was spending time volunteering and helping in the Benghazi Autism Centre.

I eventually drifted back to medicine after my cousin became a sports physician (opening up the possibility of combining medicine with exercise) and also with the sudden onset of a life-altering neurological disorder.

I believe that I am a good candidate because I have the qualities needed for a doctor, and I have the desire and passion to practice medicine and learn every day.

I am aware that medicine is a very challenging course due to its many different fields which are all unique in their own part.

My conviction for medicine has aptly followed a certain period of introspection. A recent family visit to South Africa encouraged thoughtful consideration of my reasons for applying to medical school, and also granted the opportunity to explore healthcare practice in my home country.

Residing in clinical grounds of Zimbabwe I discovered myself in unintentional healthcare recruitment. 2008 cholera epidemic outbreak initial effects tackled my path to medicine as I had witnessed the destruction it rayed.

However it is through these trials that creates the best practitioners, making the field unique in the sense of bettering an individual. My aspiration to help those around me, and to excel will no doubt aid me when pursuing medicine.

This passion for medicine led me to college in order to study the sciences with a view to progress into a medical profession, however at the time I was unsure which medical field I wished to join, but like most teenagers I decided that I would figure out the finer details when the time came.

The world of medical science has always been intriguing to me, wanting to explore the depths of logic and reasons behind the various phenomenon that occurs in our body.

Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. Unfortunately, my grandmother dead of gastric cancer in 2013.

I am captivated by the prospect of becoming an operating department practitioner. I feel this niche occupation will suit me perfectly and lead to a highly rewarding career. It has the perfect combination of utilising care and compassion as well as the technical application of knowledge.

Medicine is a profession that is unparalleled in its impact on people. My first exposure to medicine came from observing my grandmother practising medicine, who inspired me with her dedication to her duties in this vocation.

Initially, the inevitability of death deterred me from pursuing medicine. The tales my father recalled: tales of death, of sorrow. Attending a virtual meeting with Dr Ali Jaffrey, a cardiologist, further solidified the painful reality of being a doctor.

My motivation is the nagging feeling I experience when I witness someone in a painful situation unable to help themselves. It is the urge I feel to aid them and the satisfaction and fulfilment I receive when I can make a positive difference in their lives.

“That is tiny.” This is the first thing that you say to a fellow student when an appendix is removed and extracted during a Laparoscopy. I was later told that upon removal of the appendix, this was extremely large due to inflammation.

A popular question from prospective UCAS applicants each year is deciding whether to apply for medicine or dentistry.

What is a medicine personal statement?

Your medicine personal statement should tell the university all about your strengths, skills, experience and ambitions, as well as your personal traits that will help you become a great doctor.

It should also convey your enthusiasm for medicine and what aspects of the subject you enjoy and why.

Your medicine personal statement will be used by universities to decide whether you are a good candidate to study medicine, and whether they want to offer you a place.

How do I write a medicine personal statement?

One way is to start your statement with why you want to study medicine at university. Try to pick one or two specific aspects that you like in particular and why they appeal to you.

Make sure you back up everything with examples (always show, don’t tell). You need to convince the admissions tutors that you they should offer you a place on their medicine course over anyone else.

A successful medicine personal statement should be written clearly and concisely, with a good introduction, middle, and conclusion. Remember, medicine is a highly competitive subject, so your personal statement needs to be as polished as possible.

Our personal statement template can help guide you through writing your first draft.

For inspiration on how to write your own unique statement, take a look at some of our medicine personal statement examples above.

What should I include in my medicine personal statement?

It’s important to include skills and experience from all areas of your life and try to relate them to hobbies or extracurricular activities if they helped you to build on certain strengths.

Think about how any work experience has benefitted you, and how it might be useful in your degree.

University admissions tutors want to know what you can bring to their department and what value you can add.

Think about how and why you might treat patients the way you do, and what skills such as empathy, compassion and communication, are important for becoming a doctor. How might you demonstrate this?

Mention your personal traits and how they make you suited to a career in medicine.

You need to be a well-rounded individual in terms of academic talent, people skills and practical experience in order to have a chance of being successful with your medicine UCAS application.

For more help and advice on what to write in your medicine personal statement, please see:

How do I write an effective medicine personal statement?

To write a medicine personal statement that stands out, we recommend you follow these top tips:

  1. Structure is essential – this is because it can make or break your personal statement. We recommend dedicating one or two paragraphs to each part of your personal statement.
  2. Plan ahead – we suggest getting down some notes during the summer holidays and putting together a first draft before you go back to school/college for your final year
  3. Be original – this means picking an aspect of the course you enjoy and explaining why in a way that doesn’t include cliches, or any over-used words or phrases
  4. Explain why you’re right for the course, including any relevant skills, work experience and hobbies/extracurricular activities
  5. Think about what you want to gain from your course and how this will help you with your future career plans
  6. Include a balance of academic and extracurricular content – admissions tutors want to see that you are a well-rounded individual
  7. Be positive and enthusiastic about the subject
  8. Revise and edit thoroughly by asking friends, family and teachers for feedback and incorporating their suggestions to try and improve it
  9. Proofread carefully (don’t just rely on a Spellchecker!)

What can I do with a medicine degree?

Although many students who study medicine at university want to become doctors, there are many other career paths you can take with your degree, including:

For more information on medicine career options, please visit Times Higher Education and Prospects.

What are the best UK universities to study medicine?

Currently, the 10 best universities in the UK to study medicine at for 2023 are:

1. University of Cambridge
2. University of Oxford
3. University of Glasgow
4. University of Edinburgh
5. University of Bristol
6. Imperial College London
7. University of Leicester
8. University of Dundee
9. University of St Andrews
10. Queen’s University Belfast

For more information on UK medical school rankings, please see The Times Higher Education, The Complete University Guide and the Telegraph.

How long does it take to study medicine in the UK?

Before you become a doctor in the UK you first have to obtain a degree in medicine from a medical school, e.g. Cambridge, Oxford, Glasgow, Edinburgh.

Medicine courses normally last five years, or four years for a graduate entry programme. They involve basic medical sciences as well as clinical training on the wards.

What qualifications do I need to study medicine in the UK?

To study for a medicine degree in the UK, you will need at least one of the following:

  • International Baccalaureate: 37 points including chemistry and another science subject.
  • A-level: Usually between A*A*A* and AAA, including chemistry and one other science, such as maths, physics biology or psychology.
  • IELTS: 7.5 overall, with no lower than 7.0 in any one component (if English is not your native language).

How many medical schools can I apply to in the UK?

Remember you can only choose up to four medical schools to apply to on your UCAS form, so many students use the fifth as a back up option, applying to related courses such as biomedical science or pharmacy, which require lower grades.

Therefore, it’s important to think about what other course you might be interested in taking instead of medicine.

What’s the easiest medical school to get into in the UK?

When you analyse your chances of getting into medical school, Queen’s University Belfast and Hull York are the 2 easiest UK medical schools to obtain a place at.

With acceptance rates of 38.3% and 28.9% respectively, they may seem like easier options, but their A level entry requirements are slightly higher than some other medical schools.

For example, St Andrews and Birmingham University have the more attainable minimum entry requirements of AAB.

What’s the hardest medical school to get into in the UK?

The most over subscribed medical school in the UK is Brighton and Sussex, and is therefore the most difficult medical school to get into, with 14.3 applicants for each place.

The prestigious Bristol Medical School is the second hardest with 13.9 applications for each place.

The third is Aberdeen Medical School, with 10.9 applications for every available place.

How much does it cost to study medicine in the UK?

For international students, the average cost of a medicine degree can be up to £38,000 per year, depending on the medical school.

At Warwick Medical School for example, UK students pay the standard £9,250 per year, including the iBSc, but overseas students (including those in Europe now that the UK has left the EU) will have to pay £25,997 for year 1 and £45,326 for each of years 2, 3 and 4.

If you wish to study at a medical school in the UK, you need to take into account of all the costs that are involved and budget carefully.

As well as the costs associated with the course, including tuition fees, textbooks and equipment, you will also need to factor in living expenses such as accommodation, food, travel, and socialising.

All medical schools in the UK offer scholarships and bursaries for students who might need financial support during their studies.

If you are accepted onto a medical course, you may also be eligible to receive financial support from the NHS. Financial support can be in the form of:

    (living costs)
  • Private scholarships and bursaries
  • Professional studies loan
  • University scholarships and bursaries

Further resources

For more information about applying for a medicine degree and careers in medicine, please see the following:

Medical School Personal Statement Examples: 20 Best in

Medical School Personal Statement Examples That Got 6 Acceptances

These exemplary medical school personal statement examples come from our students who enrolled in one of our application review programs. The first example was accepted into ALL 5 Osteopathic schools to which the student applied! Additionally, they were waitlisted or accepted to ALL 3 Allopathic Medical Schools. To top that, the student eventually accepted an offer from their TOP PICK SCHOOL! The second one got accepted to THREE Allopathic Medical Schools. We could not be happier for these students and after reading these amazing personal statements, you’ll see why. After giving you a step-by-step guide for composing a statement, you will read 18 MORE outstanding medical school personal statement examples that will get you inspired to write your own!

Whether you are a DO or MD applicant working on your AMCAS personal statement or getting ready to write your AACOMAS personal essay, this blog is your ultimate guide to writing the perfect statement. We’ll go over each medical school personal statement example and break down the process so you can compose a winning statement that will get you into the medical school of your dreams!

Note: BeMo is the trusted leader in personalized admissions prep. If you would like to navigate to specific sections of the article, click “Article Contents” above (on mobile) or on the right (desktop) to see an overview of the content.

Listen to the blog!

As one of the most important medical school requirements , the personal statement tells your story of why you decided to pursue the medical profession. To help you craft it, we’re going to go over 20 fantastic medical school personal statement examples and teach you how to create your own from scratch. Keep in mind that personal statements are one of the key factors that affect medical school acceptance rates . This is why it’s important to write a stellar essay!

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2 Medical school personal statement examples

Example #1

I made my way to Hillary’s house after hearing about her alcoholic father’s incarceration. Seeing her tearfulness and at a loss for words, I took her hand and held it, hoping to make things more bearable. She squeezed back gently in reply, “thank you.” My silent gesture seemed to confer a soundless message of comfort, encouragement and support.

Through mentoring, I have developed meaningful relationships with individuals of all ages, including seven-year-old Hillary. Many of my mentees come from disadvantaged backgrounds; working with them has challenged me to become more understanding and compassionate. Although Hillary was not able to control her father’s alcoholism and I had no immediate solution to her problems, I felt truly fortunate to be able to comfort her with my presence. Though not always tangible, my small victories, such as the support I offered Hillary, hold great personal meaning. Similarly, medicine encompasses more than an understanding of tangible entities such as the science of disease and treatment—to be an excellent physician requires empathy, dedication, curiosity and love of problem solving. These are skills I have developed through my experiences both teaching and shadowing inspiring physicians.

Medicine encompasses more than hard science. My experience as a teaching assistant nurtured my passion for medicine; I found that helping students required more than knowledge of organic chemistry. Rather, I was only able to address their difficulties when I sought out their underlying fears and feelings. One student, Azra, struggled despite regularly attending office hours. She approached me, asking for help. As we worked together, I noticed that her frustration stemmed from how intimidated she was by problems. I helped her by listening to her as a fellow student and normalizing her struggles. “I remember doing badly on my first organic chem test, despite studying really hard,” I said to Azra while working on a problem. “Really? You’re a TA, shouldn’t you be perfect?” I looked up and explained that I had improved my grades through hard work. I could tell she instantly felt more hopeful, she said, “If you could do it, then I can too!” When she passed, receiving a B+;I felt as if I had passed too. That B+ meant so much: it was a tangible result of Azra’s hard work, but it was also symbol of our dedication to one another and the bond we forged working together.

My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems.

Shadowing physicians further taught me that medicine not only fuels my curiosity; it also challenges my problem solving skills. I enjoy the connections found in medicine, how things learned in one area can aid in coming up with a solution in another. For instance, while shadowing Dr. Steel I was asked, “What causes varicose veins and what are the complications?” I thought to myself, what could it be? I knew that veins have valves and thought back to my shadowing experience with Dr. Smith in the operating room. She had amputated a patient’s foot due to ulcers obstructing the venous circulation. I replied, “veins have valves and valve problems could lead to ulcers.” Dr. Steel smiled, “you’re right, but it doesn’t end there!” Medicine is not disconnected; it is not about interventional cardiology or orthopedic surgery. In fact, medicine is intertwined and collaborative. The ability to gather knowledge from many specialties and put seemingly distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.

It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.

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Let’s take a step back to consider what this medical school personal statement example does, not just what it says. It begins with an engaging hook in the first paragraph and ends with a compelling conclusion. The introduction draws you in, making the essay almost impossible to put down, while the conclusion paints a picture of someone who is both passionate and dedicated to the profession. In between the introduction and conclusion, this student makes excellent use of personal narrative. The anecdotes chosen demonstrate this individual’s response to the common question, ” Why do you want to be a doctor ?” while simultaneously making them come across as compassionate, curious, and reflective. The essay articulates a number of key qualities and competencies, which go far beyond the common trope, I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.

This person is clearly a talented writer, but this was the result of several rounds of edits with one of our medical school admissions consulting team members and a lot of hard work on the student’s part. If your essay is not quite there yet, or if you’re just getting started, don’t sweat it. Do take note that writing a good personal essay takes advanced planning and significant effort.

We are here to help you articulate your own vision, passion, and skills in a way that is equally captivating and compelling!

Let’s review another example now before we teach you exactly how to do this on your own:

Example #2

I was one of those kids who always wanted to be doctor. I didn’t understand the responsibilities and heartbreaks, the difficult decisions, and the years of study and training that go with the title, but I did understand that the person in the white coat stood for knowledge, professionalism, and compassion. As a child, visits to the pediatrician were important events. I’d attend to my hair and clothes, and travel to the appointment in anticipation. I loved the interaction with my doctor. I loved that whoever I was in the larger world, I could enter the safe space of the doctor’s office, and for a moment my concerns were heard and evaluated. I listened as my mother communicated with the doctor. I’d be asked questions, respectfully examined, treatments and options would be weighed, and we would be on our way. My mother had been supported in her efforts to raise a well child, and I’d had a meaningful interaction with an adult who cared for my body and development. I understood medicine as an act of service, which aligned with my values, and became a dream.

I was hospitalized for several months as a teenager and was inspired by the experience, despite the illness. In the time of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, I met truly sick children. Children who were much more ill than me. Children who wouldn’t recover. We shared a four-bed room, and we shared our medical stories. Because of the old hospital building, there was little privacy in our room, and we couldn’t help but listen-in during rounds, learning the medical details, becoming “experts” in our four distinct cases. I had more mobility than some of the patients, and when the medical team and family members were unavailable, I’d run simple errands for my roommates, liaise informally with staff, and attend to needs. To bring physical relief, a cold compress, a warmed blanket, a message to a nurse, filled me with such an intense joy and sense of purpose that I applied for a volunteer position at the hospital even before my release.

I have since been volunteering in emergency departments, out-patient clinics, and long term care facilities. While the depth of human suffering is at times shocking and the iterations of illness astounding, it is in the long-term care facility that I had the most meaningful experiences by virtue of my responsibilities and the nature of the patients’ illnesses. Charles was 55 when he died. He had early onset Parkinson’s Disease with dementia that revealed itself with a small tremor when he was in his late twenties. Charles had a wife and three daughters who visited regularly, but whom he didn’t often remember. Over four years as a volunteer, my role with the family was to fill in the spaces left by Charles’ periodic inability to project his voice as well as his growing cognitive lapses. I would tell the family of his activities between their visits, and I would remind him of their visits and their news. This was a hard experience for me. I watched as 3 daughters, around my own age, incrementally lost their father. I became angry, and then I grew even more determined.

In the summer of third year of my Health Sciences degree, I was chosen to participate in an undergraduate research fellowship in biomedical research at my university. As part of this experience, I worked alongside graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, physicians, and faculty in Alzheimer’s research into biomarkers that might predict future disease. We collaborated in teams, and by way of the principal investigator’s careful leadership, I learned wherever one falls in terms of rank, each contribution is vital to the outcome. None of the work is in isolation. For instance, I was closely mentored by Will, a graduate student who had been in my role the previous summer. He, in turn, collaborated with post docs and medical students, turning to faculty when roadblocks were met. While one person’s knowledge and skill may be deeper than another’s, individual efforts make up the whole. Working in this team, aside from developing research skills, I realized that practicing medicine is not an individual pursuit, but a collaborative commitment to excellence in scholarship and leadership, which all begins with mentorship.

Building on this experience with teamwork in the lab, I participated in a global health initiative in Nepal for four months, where I worked alongside nurses, doctors, and translators. I worked in mobile rural health camps that offered tuberculosis care, monitored the health and development of babies and children under 5, and tended to minor injuries. We worked 11-hour days helping hundreds of people in the 3 days we spent in each location. Patients would already be in line before we woke each morning. I spent each day recording basic demographic information, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height, as well as random blood sugar levels, for each patient, before they lined up to see a doctor. Each day was exhausting and satisfying. We helped so many people. But this satisfaction was quickly displaced by a developing understanding of issues in health equity.

My desire to be doctor as a young person was not misguided, but simply naïve. I’ve since learned the role of empathy and compassion through my experiences as a patient and volunteer. I’ve broadened my contextual understanding of medicine in the lab and in Nepal. My purpose hasn’t changed, but what has developed is my understanding that to be a physician is to help people live healthy, dignified lives by practicing both medicine and social justice.

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Steps to Creating Your Exemplary Medical School Personal Statement

Before You Begin Writing:

  • Understanding the Qualities of a Strong Essay
  • Brainstorming Ideas For the Personal Statement
  • Considering Your Audience
  • Answering the Prompt, Without a Prompt
  • Theme

As You Prepare to Start Writing:

  • Personal Statement Structure
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • How to Write About Discrepancies and Common Mistakes to Avoid
  • Show, Don’t Tell
  • Write for Non-Specialists
  • Display Professionalism
  • Writing Your First Draft

After You Have Written Your Draft, Ask Yourself the Following:

  • Did You Distinguish Yourself From Others?
  • Did My Essay Flow and is it Comprehensible?
  • Did You Check Your Grammar?
  • Did You Gather Feedback From Other People?
  • Summary and a Final Note

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Before You Begin Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement:

Understanding the Qualities of a Strong Med School Personal Statement

Before discussing how to write a strong medical school personal statement, we first need to understand the qualities of a strong essay. Similar to crafting strong medical school secondary essays , writing a strong personal statement is a challenging, yet extremely important, part of your MD or MD-PhD programs applications. Your AMCAS Work and Activities section may show the reader what you have done, but the personal statement explains why. A personal statement should be deeply personal, giving the admissions committee insight into your passions and your ultimate decision to pursue a career in medicine. A compelling and introspective personal statement can make the difference between getting an interview and facing medical school rejection . Review our blogs to find out how to prepare for med school interviews and learn the most common medical school interview questions .

As you contemplate the task in front of you, you may be wondering what composing an essay has to do with entering the field of medicine. Many of our students were surprised to learn that medical school personal statements are so valued by med schools. The two things are more closely related than you think. A compelling personal statement demonstrates your written communication skills and highlights your accomplishments, passions, and aspirations. The ability to communicate a complex idea in a short space is an important skill as a physician. You should demonstrate your communication skills by writing a concise and meaningful statement that illustrates your best attributes. Leaving a lasting impression on your reader is what will lead to interview invitations.

A quick note: if you are applying to schools that do not require the formal medical school personal statement, such as medical schools in Canada , you should still learn how to write such essays. Many medical schools in Ontario , for example, ask for short essays for supplementary questionnaires. These are very similar to the personal statement. Knowing how to brainstorm, write, and format your answers is key to your success.

Brainstorming Ideas for the Medical School Personal Statement

You want to give yourself as much time as possible to write your statement. Do not think you can do this in an evening or even in a week. Some statements take months. My best statement took almost a year to get right. Allow yourself time and start early to avoid added stress. Think of the ideas you want to include and brainstorm possible ways to highlight these ideas. Ask your friends for ideas or even brainstorm your ideas with people you trust. Get some feedback early to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

All personal statements for medical school, often start by explaining why medicine is awesome; the admission committee already knows that. You should explain why you want a career in medicine. What is it about the practice of medicine that resonates with who you are? Naturally, this takes a lot of reflection around who you are. Here are some additional questions you can consider as you go about brainstorming for your essay:

  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What is something you want them to know about you that isn’t in your application?
  • Where were you born, how did you grow up, and what type of childhood did you have growing up (perhaps including interesting stories about your siblings, parents, grandparents)?
  • What kinds of early exposure to the medical field left an impression on you as a child?
  • Did you become familiar with and interested in the field of medicine at an early stage of your life? If so, why?
  • What are your key strengths, and how have you developed these?
  • What steps did you take to familiarize yourself with the medical profession?
  • Did you shadow a physician? Did you volunteer or work in a clinical setting? Did you get involved in medical research?
  • What challenges have you faced? Have these made an impact on what you chose to study?
  • What are your favorite activities?
  • What kinds of extracurriculars for medical school or volunteer work have you done, and how have these shaped who you are, your priorities, and or your perspectives on a career in medicine?
  • What was your “Aha!” moment?
  • When did your desire to become a doctor solidify?
  • How did you make the decision to apply to medical school?

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You shouldn’t try to answer all of these in your essay. Try only a few main points that will carry over into the final draft. Use these to brainstorm and gather ideas. Start developing your narrative by prioritizing the most impactful responses to these prompts and the ideas that are most relevant to your own experiences and goals. The perfect personal statement not only shows the admissions committee that you have refined communication skills, but also conveys maturity and professionalism. It should also display your motivation and suitability for medical practice.

After brainstorming, you should be able to clearly see a few key ideas, skills, qualities, and intersections that you want to write about. Once you’ve isolated the elements you want to explore in your essay (usually 2-4 key ideas), you can begin building your outline. In terms of structure, this should follow the standard academic format, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Check out this medical school personal statement examples video to help you brainstorm ideas for your essay:

Considering Your Audience

As you begin thinking about what to include in your personal essay, remember that you are writing for a specific audience with specific expectations. Your evaluator will be familiar with the key qualities desired by medical schools, as informed by the standards of the profession. They will be examining your essay through the lens of their particular school’s mission, values, and priorities. You should think about your experiences with reference to the AAMC Core Competencies and to each school’s mission statement so that you’re working toward your narrative with the institution and broader discipline in mind.

Review AAMC Core Competencies : The AAMC Core Competencies are the key characteristics and skills sought by U.S. medical schools. These are separated into four general categories:

: service orientation, social skills, cultural competence, teamwork, and oral communication. “,”label”:”Interpersonal”,”title”:”Interpersonal”>,

Intrapersonal Competencies : ethical responsibility to self and others, reliability and dependability, resilience and adaptability, and capacity for improvement. “,”label”:”Intrapersonal”,”title”:”Intrapersonal”>,

Thinking and Reasoning Competencies : critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, scientific inquiry, and written communication. “,”label”:”Thinking and Reasoning”,”title”:”Thinking and Reasoning”>,

Science Competencies : living systems and human behavior. “,”label”:”Science”,”title”:”Science”>]’ code=’tab1′ template=’BlogArticle’>

You are not expected to have mastered all of these competencies at this stage of your education. Display those that are relevant to your experiences will help demonstrate your commitment to the medical profession.

Review the school’s mission statement: Educational institutions put a lot of time and care into drafting their school’s vision. The mission statement will articulate the overall values and priorities of each university, giving you insight into what they might seek in candidates, and thus what you should try to display in your personal statement. Echoing the values of the university helps illustrate that you are a good fit for their intellectual culture. The mission statement may help you identify other priorities of the university, for example, whether they prioritize research-based or experiential-based education. All this research into your chosen medical schools will help you tremendously not only when you write you personal statement, but also the rest of your medical school application components, including your medical school letter of intent if you ever need to write one later.

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Answering the Prompt, Without a Prompt

Just like the personal statement is, in essence, a prompt without a prompt. They give you free rein to write your own prompt to tell your story. This is often difficult for students as they find it hard to get started without having a true direction. Below is a list of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Use these prompts as a starting point for your essay. Also, they are a great way of addressing why you want to be a doctor without saying something generic.

  • The moment your passion for medicine crystallized
  • The events that led you toward this path
  • Specific instances in which you experienced opportunities
  • Challenges that helped shape your worldview
  • Your compassion, resilience, or enthusiastic collaboration
  • Demonstrate your commitment to others
  • Your dependability
  • Your leadership skills
  • Your ability to problem-solve or to resolve a conflict

These are personal, impactful experiences that only you have had. Focus on the personal, and connect that to the values of your future profession. Do that and you will avoid writing the same essay as everyone else.

Theme

Admissions committees don’t want your resumé in narrative form. The most boring essays are those of applicants listing their accomplishments. Remember, all that stuff is already in the activities section of the application. This is where you should discuss interesting or important life events that shaped you and your interest in medicine (a service trip to rural Guatemala, a death in the family, a personal experience as a patient). One suggestion is to have an overarching theme to your essay to tie everything together, starting with an anecdote. Alternatively, you can use one big metaphor or analogy through the essay.

Your personal statement must be well-organized, showing a clear, logical progression, as well as connections between ideas. It is generally best to use a chronological progression since this mirrors your progression into a mature adult and gives you the opportunity to illustrate how you learned from early mistakes later on. Carry the theme throughout the statement to achieve continuity and cohesion. Use the theme to links ideas from each paragraph to the next and to unite your piece.

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As You Prepare to Begin Writing:

Medical School Personal Statement Structure

When working toward the initial draft of your essay, it is important to keep the following in mind: The essay should read like a chronological narrative and have good structure and flow. Just like any academic essay, it will need an introduction, body content, and a conclusion. If you’re wondering whether a medical school advisor can help you with your medical school application, check out our blog for the answer.

Check out our video to learn how to create a killer introduction to your medical school personal statement:

Introduction

The introductory paragraph and, even more importantly, the introductory sentence of your essay, will most certainly make or break your overall statement. Ensure that you have a creative and captivating opening sentence that draws the reader in. This is your first and only chance to make a first impression and really capture the attention of the committee. Starting with an event or an Aha! moment that inspired your decision to pursue a medical profession is one way to grab their attention. The kinds of things that inspire or motivate you can say a lot about who you are as a person.

The broader introductory paragraph itself should serve several functions. First, it must draw your reader in with an eye-catching first line and an engaging hook or anecdote. It should point toward the qualities that most effectively demonstrate your desire and suitability for becoming a physician (you will discuss these qualities further in the body paragraphs). The thesis of the introduction is that you have certain skills, experiences, and characteristics and that these skills, experiences, and characteristics will lead you to thrive in the field of medicine. Finally, it must also serve as a roadmap to the reader, allowing them to understand where the remainder of the story is headed.

That is a lot of work for a single paragraph to do. To better help you envision what this looks like in practice, here is a sample introduction that hits these main points.

Sample Introduction

I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional chef. This was not just another far-fetched idealistic childhood dream that many of us had growing up. There was a sense of certainty about this dream that motivated me to devote countless hours to its practice. It was mostly the wonder that it brought to others and the way they were left in awe after they tried a dish that I recall enjoying the most creating as a young chef. But, when I was 13, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and I realized that sometimes cooking is not enough, as I quickly learned about the vital role physicians play in the life of everyday people like my family and myself. Although my grandfather ended up passing away from his illness, the impact that the healthcare team had on him, my family, and I will always serve as the initial starting point of my fascination with the medical profession. Since that time, I have spent years learning more about the human sciences through my undergraduate studies and research, have developed a deeper understanding of the demands and challenges of the medical profession through my various volunteer and extra-curricular experiences, and although it has been difficult along the way, I have continued to forge a more intimate fascination with the medical field that has motivated me to apply to medical school at this juncture of my life.

In the body of your essay, you essentially want to elaborate on the ideas that you have introduced in your opening paragraph by drawing on your personal experiences to provide evidence. Major points from the above sample introduction could be: dedication and resilience (practicing cooking for hours, and devoting years to undergraduate studies in human sciences), passion and emotional connection (being able to create something that inspired awe in others, and personally connecting with the work of the grandfather’s healthcare team), motivation and drive (being inspired by the role physicians play in their patients’ lives, participating in volunteer work and extracurriculars, and an enduring fascination with the field of medicine). Depending on the details, a selection of volunteer and extra-curricular experiences might also be discussed in more detail, in order to emphasize other traits like collaboration, teamwork, perseverance, or a sense of social responsibility – all key characteristics sought by medical schools. Just like an academic essay, you will devote one paragraph to each major point, explaining this in detail, supporting your claims with experiences from your life, and reflecting on the meaning of each plot point in your personal narrative, with reference to why you want to pursue a medical career.

Conclusion

Your final statement should not be a simple summary of the things you have discussed. It should be insightful, captivating, and leave the reader with a lasting impression. Although you want to re-emphasize the major ideas of your essay, you should try to be creative and captivating, much like your opening paragraph. Sometimes if you can link your opening idea to your last paragraph it will really tie the whole essay together. The conclusion is just as important as the introduction. It is your last chance to express your medical aspirations. You want to impress the reader while also leaving them wanting more. In this case, more would mean getting an interview so they can learn more about who you are! Leave them thinking I have got to meet this person.

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How to Write About Discrepancies and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Part of your essay’s body can include a discussion of any discrepancies or gaps in your education, or disruptions in your academic performance. If you had to take time off, or if you had a term or course with low grades, or if you had any other extenuating circumstances that impacted your education, you can take time to address these here. It is very important to address these strategically. Do not approach this section as space to plead your case. Offer a brief summary of the situation, and then emphasize what you learned from such hardships. Always focus on the positive, illustrating how such difficulties made you stronger, more resilient, or more compassionate. Connect your experiences to the qualities desired by medical schools.

Emphasize your ability to persevere through it all but do so in a positive way. Most of all, if you feel like you have to explain yourself, take accountability for the situation. State that it is unfortunate and then redirect it to what you learned and how it will make you a better doctor. Always focus on being positive and do not lament on the negative situation too much.

Check out this video on the top 5 errors to avoid in your personal statement!

Additional Mistakes to Avoid in Personal Statements:

  • Re-list your entire CV or activity sketch.
  • Be pretentious. Every applicant is extraordinary, and so are you. Use your story to imply your excellence; don’t hit people over the head with it.
  • Criticize other applicants. This is unprofessional.
  • Use very fancy words to make up for insecurities around writing skills. This is confusing.
  • Ramble. This shows you submitted it at the last minute.
  • Rely on clichés. This shows you don’t read widely.
  • Describe a time you met a disadvantaged person briefly and use this as a rationale for why you want to be a doctor. This demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and a limited understanding of the social determinants of health.
  • Cast yourself as a victim. Even if you’ve been through terrible things, like escaping persecution or violence, the victim narrative is not one that will convince medical schools of your capacity. Cast yourself as an agent in your own life.
  • Submit to the wrong school. Before you submit, triple-check your profile.
  • Violate the character count. This is lazy.

Show, Don’t Tell

The narrative you construct should display some of your most tightly held values, principles, or ethical positions, along with key accomplishments and activities. If you see yourself as someone who is committed to community service, and you have a track record of such service, your story should feature this and provide insight into why you care about your community and what you learned from your experiences. Saying that you value community service when you’ve never volunteered a day in your life is pointless. Stating that your family is one where we support each other through challenge and loss (if this is indeed true), is excellent because it lays the groundwork for telling a story while showing that you are orientated towards close relationships. You would then go on to offer a brief anecdote that supports this. You are showing how you live such principles, rather than just telling your reader that you have such principles.

A lot of students make the mistake of verbalizing their personal attributes with a bunch of adjectives, such as, “This experience taught me to be a self-reliant leader, with excellent communication skills, and empathy for others. ” In reality, this does nothing to convey these qualities. It’s a mistake to simply list your skills or characteristics without showing the reader an example of a time you used them to solve a problem. If you simply list your skills or characteristics (telling), without demonstrating the ways you have applied them (showing), you risk coming across as arrogant. The person reading the essay may not believe you, as you’ve not really given them a way to see such values in your actions. It is better to construct a narrative to show the reader that you possess the traits that medical schools are looking for, rather than explicitly stating that you are an empathetic individual or capable of deep self-reflection. Instead of listing adjectives, tell your personal story and allow the admissions committee to paint the picture for themselves. This step is very challenging for many students, but it’s one of the most important strategies used in successful essays. Writing this way will absolutely make your statement stand out from the rest.

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Write for Non-Specialists

While it may be tempting to write in a high academic tone, using terminology or jargon that is often complex or discipline-specific, requiring a specialized vocabulary for comprehension. You should actually aim to write for a non-specialist audience. Remember, in the world of medicine, describing a complex, clinical condition to a patient requires using specific but clear words. This is why your personal statement should show that you can do the same thing. Using large words in unwieldy ways makes you sound like you are compensating for poor communication skills. Use words that you believe most people understand. Read your personal statement back to a 14-year-old, and then again to someone for whom English is not their first language, to see if you’re on the right path.

Ultimately, fancy words do not make you a good communicator; listening and ensuring reader comprehension makes you a good communicator. Instead of using complex terminology to tell the admissions committee that you have strong communication skills, show them your communication skills through clear, accessible prose, written with non-specialists in mind. A common refrain among writing instructors is, never use a $10 word where a $2 word will suffice. If you can say it in plain, accessible language, then this is what you should do.

Display Professionalism

Professionalism may seem like a difficult quality to display when only composing a personal statement. After all, the reader can’t see your mannerisms, your personal style, or any of those little qualities that allow someone to appear professional. Professionalism is about respect for the experience of others on your team or in your workplace. It is displayed when you are able to step back from your own individual position and think about what is best for your colleagues and peers, considering their needs alongside your own. If a story is relevant to why you want to be a physician and demonstrates an example of how you were professional in a workplace setting, then it is appropriate to include in your essay.

One easy way to destroy a sense of professionalism is to act in a judgmental way towards others, particularly if you perceived and ultimately resolved an error on someone else’s part. Sometimes students blame another medical professional for something that went wrong with a patient.

They might say something to the effect of, “The nurse kept brushing off the patient’s concerns, refusing to ask the attending to increase her pain medications. Luckily, being the empathetic individual that I am, I took the time to listen to sit with the patient, eventually bringing her concerns to the attending physician, who thanked me for letting him know.”

There are a couple of things wrong with this example. It seems like this person is putting down someone else in an attempt to make themselves look better. They come across as un-empathetic and judgmental of the nurse. Maybe she was having a busy day, or maybe the attending had just seen the patient for this issue and the patient didn’t really need re-assessment. Reading this kind of account in a personal statement makes the reader question the maturity of the applicant and their ability to move past blaming others and resolve problems in a meaningful way. Instead of allocating blame, identify what the problem was for the patient and then focus on what you did to resolve it and reflect on what you learned from the whole experience.

One last note on professionalism: Being professional does not mean being overly stoic, hiding your emotions, or cultivating a bland personality. A lot of students are afraid to talk about how a situation made them feel in their personal statement. They worry that discussing feelings is inappropriate and will appear unprofessional. Unfortunately for these students, emotional intelligence is hugely important to the practice of medicine. In order to be a good doctor, one must be aware of their own emotions as well as those of their patients. Good doctors are able to quickly identify their own emotions and understand how their emotional reactions may inform their actions, and the ability to deliver appropriate care, in a given situation. Someone who is incapable of identifying their emotions is also incapable of managing them effectively and will likely struggle to identify the emotions of others. So, when writing your personal statement, think about how each experience made you feel, and what you learned from those feelings and that experience.

Writing Your First Draft

As you can see, there is a LOT of planning and consideration to be done before actually starting your first draft. Properly brainstorming, outlining, and considering the content and style of your essay prior to beginning the essay will make the writing process much smoother than it would be you to try to jump right to the draft-writing stage. Now, you’re not just staring at a blank page wondering what you could possibly write to impress the admissions committee. Instead, you’ve researched what the school desires from its students and what the medical profession prioritizes in terms of personal characteristics, you’ve sketched out some key moments from your life that exemplify those traits, and you have a detailed outline that just needs filling in.

As you’re getting started, focus on getting content on the page, filling in your outline and getting your ideas arranged on the page. Your essay will go through multiple drafts and re-writes, so the first step is to free write and start articulating connections between your experiences and the characteristics you’re highlighting. You can worry about flow, transitions, and perfect grammar in later drafts. The first draft is always a working draft, written with the understanding that its purpose is to act as a starting point, not an ending point. Once you’ve completed a draft, you can begin the revising process. The next section will break down what to do once you have your first draft completed.

You can also begin looking at things like style, voice, transitions, and overall theme. The best way to do this is to read your essay aloud. This may sound strange, but it is one of the single most impactful bits of writing advice a student can receive. When we’re reading in our heads (and particularly when we’re reading our own words), it is easy to skip over parts that may be awkwardly worded, or where the grammar is off. As our brains process information differently, depending on whether we’re taking in visual or auditory information, this can also help you understand where the connections between ideas aren’t as evident as you would like. Reading the essay aloud will help you begin internalizing the narrative you’ve crafted, so that you can come to more easily express this both formally in writing and informally in conversation (for example, in an interview).

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After You Have Written Your Draft, Ask Yourself the Following:

Did You Distinguish Yourself From Others?

Does your narrative sound unique? Is it different than your peers or did you write in a generic manner? Use your narrative to provide a compelling picture of who you are as a person, as a learner, as an advocate, and as a future medical professional. What can you offer? Remember, you will be getting a lot out of your med school experience, but the school will be getting a lot out of you, as well. You will be contributing your research efforts to your department, you will be participating in the academic community, and as you go on to become a successful medical professional you will impact the perception of your school’s prestige. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, so use this opportunity to highlight what you bring to the table, and what you will contribute as a student at their institution. Let them know what it is about you that is an attribute to their program. Make them see you as a stand out from the crowd.

Does My Essay Flow and is it Comprehensible?

Personal statements are a blessing and a curse for admission committees. They give them a better glimpse of who the applicant is than simple scores. Also, they are long and time-consuming to read. And often, they sound exactly alike. On occasion, a personal statement really makes an applicant shine. After reading page after page of redundant, cookie-cutter essays, an essay comes along with fluid prose and a compelling narrative, the reader snaps out of that feeling of monotony and gladly extends their enthusiastic attention.

Frankly, if the statement is pleasant to read, it will get read with more attention and appreciation. Flow is easier to craft through narrative, which is why you should root the statement in a story that demonstrates characteristics desirable to medical schools. Fluidity takes time to build, though, so your statement should be etched out through many drafts and should also be based on an outline. You need to brainstorm, then outline, then draft and re-draft, and then bring in editors and listeners for feedback (Note: You need someone to proofread your work. Bestselling authors have editors. Top scholars have editors. I need an editor. You need an editor. Everyone needs an editor). Then, check and double-check and fix anything that needs fixing. Then check again. Then submit. You want this to be a statement that captures the reader’s interest by creating a fluid, comprehensible piece that leads the reader to not only read each paragraph but want to continue to the next sentence.

Did You Check Your Grammar?

If you give yourself more than one night to write your statement, the chances of grammatical errors will decrease considerably. If you are pressed for time, upload your file into an online grammar website. Use the grammar checker on your word processor, but know that this, in itself, isn’t enough. Use the eyes and ears of other people to check and double-check your grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Read your statement out loud to yourself and you will almost certainly find an error (and likely several errors). Use fresh eyes to review the statement several times before you actually submit it, by walking away from it for a day or so and then re-reading it. Start your essay early, so that you actually have time to do this. This step can make or break your essay. Do not waste all the effort you have put into writing, to only be discarded by the committee for using incorrect grammar and syntax.

Did You Gather Feedback From Other People?

The most important tip in writing a strong application essay is this getting someone else to read your work. While the tips above are all very useful for writing a strong draft, nothing will benefit you more than getting an outside appraisal of your work. For example, it’s very easy to overlook your own spelling or grammatical errors. You know your own story and you may think that your narrative and it’s meaning make sense to your reader. You won’t know that for sure without having someone else actually read it. This may sound obvious, but it’s still an absolute necessity. Have someone you trust to read the essay and ask them what they thought of it. What was their impression of you after reading it? Did it make sense? Was it confusing? Do they have any questions? What was the tone of the essay? Do they see the connections you’re trying to make? What were their takeaways from your essay, and do these align with your intended takeaways for your reader? Ideally, this person should have some knowledge of the application process or the medical profession, so that they can say whether you were successful in demonstrating that you are a suitable candidate for medical school. However, any external reader is better than no external reader at all.

Avoid having people too close to you read your work. They may refrain from being too critical in an effort to spare your feelings. This is the time to get brutal, honest feedback. If you know someone who is an editor but do not feel that they can be objective, try and find someone else.

Would you like 8 medical school personal statement tips? Check out our video below:

Would You Like Us To Help You Ace Your Medical School Personal Statement? “,”buttonText”:”free strategy call”,”buttonColor”:”#ffffff”,”addTrustpilot”:”false”,”bannerUnderText”:”

2022 Medical School Personal Statement Ultimate Guide (25 Examples Included)

25 medical school personal statement examples, plus a step-by-step guide to writing a unique essay

Part 1: Introduction to the medical school personal statement

Part 2: A step-by-step approach to writing an amazing medical school personal statement

Part 3: In-depth analysis of a top-5 medical school personal statement

Part 4: Unique vs. clichéd medical school personal statements: 10 key differences

Appendix: Medical school personal statement examples

Part 1: Introduction to the medical school personal statement

You probably know someone who achieved a solid GPA and MCAT score, conducted research, shadowed physicians, engaged in meaningful volunteer work, and met all the other medical school requirements, yet still got rejected by every school they applied to.

You may have even heard of someone who was rejected by over 30 medical schools or who was shut out by every program two years in a row, despite doing “all the right things.”

It’s also common to come across people who have incredibly high stats (e.g., a 3.8 GPA and a 518 MCAT score) but didn’t get into a top-10 or top-20 medical school.

With stories like these and the scary statistic that over 60% of medical school applicants do not matriculate into medical school in any given year, it’s hard not to be anxious about the admissions process and wonder how you’ll ever get into medical school.

We bet you’ve puzzled over why so many qualified applicants are rejected beyond the fact that there are too few spots. After all, you’ve noticed how some applicants receive many interview invitations and acceptances, whereas others receive few or none.

The main reason why many qualified applicants are rejected from every med school—or significantly underperform expectations based on their admissions profile—is that they do not stand out on their application essays.

While the need to stand out holds true for every piece of written material on your applications, your personal statement is the single most important essay you will have to write during your admissions process. It’s especially important to get right because it allows you to show admissions committees how your story sets you apart among other qualified candidates (i.e., your competition). Moreover, the quality of your personal statement has a significant influence on your admissions success.

Of course, this means that writing a great medical school personal statement comes with a lot of pressure.

Medical school personal statement challenges and opportunities

As you prepare to write, you’re probably concerned about:

Choosing the “right” topic

Making sure your essay is unique and not clichéd

Your essay clearly highlighting why you want to go into medicine

Whether it’s what admissions committees are looking for

The good news is that the AMCAS personal statement prompt—“Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school”—is intentionally vague and gives you the opportunity to write about anything you want in up to 5,300 characters (including spaces), which roughly corresponds to 500 words or 1.5 single-spaced pages.

In other words, you have complete control over how you show admissions committees the following:

Who you are beyond your numbers and your resume (i.e., why you?)

The reasons you want to go into medicine (i.e., why medicine?)

Remember that admissions committees want to accept people, not just a collection of GPAs, MCAT scores, and premed extracurricular activities. Your personal statement and other written materials must therefore clearly highlight the specific qualities and experiences that would make you an excellent physician.

If your essay does this, you’ll have a leg up on other applicants. On the other hand, a clichéd personal statement will bore admissions readers and consequently make them less interested in admitting you.

Put another way, your personal statement is your best opportunity to stand out—or to look like everyone else who reads tons of sample essays, tries to “play it safe” with boring anecdotes, and ends up in the rejection pile.

What this personal statement guide covers

As you begin drafting your essay, you might find yourself perusing countless medical school personal statement examples online, at your college’s premed counseling office, or from friends who applied to med school a year or two ago. But remember that the sample personal statements you find on Student Doctor Network, Reddit, premed blogs, or at your college’s pre-health advising center are the same ones that everyone else is looking at and attempting to imitate!

To help you avoid common pitfalls and write a memorable personal statement, we wrote a comprehensive guide to help you get one step closer to earning your white coat rather than having to reapply to med school.

At a high level, this guide covers the following:

A step-by-step approach to producing a standout personal statement (Part 2)

A paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of a top-5 personal statement (Part 3)

Key differences that separate unique vs. clichéd personal statements (Part 4)

Medical school personal statement examples (Appendix)

Upon reviewing this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to go from having no topic ideas to producing a personal, meaningful, and polished essay. Throughout the guide, you’ll also come across various “special sections” that address common questions and concerns we’ve received from applicants over the years.

And if you’re left with lingering questions about how to write a personal statement for medical school, just submit them in the comments section at the end of the guide so we can answer them, usually within 24 hours.

Without further ado, it’s time to begin the writing process.

When should I begin to write my med school personal statement?

The earliest we recommend you begin working on your personal statement is fall of your junior year. That way, even if you decide to go to med school straight through (i.e., without taking a gap year or two), you will have completed a bulk of the extracurriculars that you will cover on your application and will also have an essay that describes your current thoughts and feelings about medicine.

But regardless of whether you apply straight through or apply post-undergrad, it’s a good idea to begin working on your personal statement during the fall or winter preceding your application cycle (e.g., start writing your essay between September 2021 and January 2022 if you intend to apply during the 2022–2023 application cycle) so that you have plenty of time to write a great essay and can take full advantage of rolling admissions by submitting your primary application early.

Part 2: A step-by-step approach to writing an amazing medical school personal statement

Before writing, the typical applicant does two things:

Searches for essay sample after essay sample, hoping to be inspired by someone else’s writing

Pulls up their resume and attempts to identify the experience that is “most unique” or “most authentic”

While there is nothing technically wrong with reading medical school personal statement examples to understand what good ones look like or to see the diversity across great essays, we encourage you to resist reading too many before having a draft of your own. Otherwise, you’ll risk trying to make your essay sound like someone else’s, which is a sure-fire way of producing a clunky or clichéd essay. This is precisely why we included the numerous sample personal statements at the end of this guide.

We also don’t believe that reviewing your CV or thinking through your personal experiences to identify the “most unique” topic ideas is a valuable approach to brainstorming your personal statement. This “resume-first” approach tends to lead to writing an introduction that may not communicate your intended message, especially because it might not flow with the remainder of your experiences.

So, what should your personal statement include? Over the years, our students have found the most success by taking our “qualities-first” approach—thinking through the impression they want to leave on adcoms and then selecting the experiences that best highlight those qualities.

How to write a great personal statement introduction (Goal: Engage the reader)

Before you begin to write, we recommend that you:

Develop a list of qualities you want to demonstrate; and

Think of events or situations that highlight these qualities.

Then, you should write about one of these events or situations in a way that demonstrates these qualities and captures the reader’s attention.

The myth of the “perfect topic”

Every topic can lead to a standout or average personal statement, depending on how compellingly you write it. In other words, there’s no such thing as a “good” or “bad” essay topic, only strong or weak execution.

Many students delay working on their personal statement until they discover the “perfect topic,” but no such topic exists. We’ve read incredible essays and weak essays on pretty much every topic. What mattered was how the writer linked the topic with their personal path to medicine.
We should reinforce a point mentioned in passing in the previous paragraph: pretty much every medical school personal statement topic has been used at this point. You can stand out by sharing your personal stories, unique insights, and eye-opening experiences, not by writing about a brand-new topic, as so few exist.

Step 1: List your greatest qualities.

To answer the personal statement prompt more easily, focus again on the question of what you want admissions committees to know about you beyond your numbers and achievements.

We’re not talking about your hobbies (e.g., “I followed Taylor Swift to every concert she performed in the U.S. during this past year”), although you could certainly point to aspects of your lifestyle in your essay to make your point.

Instead, we’re talking about which of your qualities–character, personality traits, attitudes–you want to demonstrate. Examples include:

Willingness to learn

Great listening skills

And so on. If you have difficulty thinking of your great qualities (many students do), ask family members or close friends what you’re good at and why they like you. It might be awkward, but this exercise really helps because others tend to view us very differently from how we view ourselves.

Finally, choose the two or three qualities that you want to focus on in your personal statement. Let’s use compassion and knowledge-seeking as the foundational qualities of an original example for this guide.

We cannot overstate how important it is to think of the qualities you want to demonstrate in your personal statement before choosing a situation or event to write about. Students who decide on an event or situation first usually struggle to fit in their qualities within the confines of their story. This is one of the biggest medical school personal statement mistakes we see students make.

On the other hand, students who choose the qualities they want to convey first are easily able to demonstrate them because the event or situation they settle on naturally highlights these qualities.

I listed several qualities I can demonstrate, but I’m not sure which to choose. Can you say more?

Your personal statement represents just one part of your much larger application. You’ll have opportunities to demonstrate several of your great qualities through your AMCAS Work and Activities section, your secondary essays, and even your interviews. Therefore, any two or three qualities you want to convey through your personal statement will work; don’t stress about figuring out the “perfect” ones, as no such thing exists. And when in doubt, ask family members and friends.

Step 2: When or where have you demonstrated these qualities?

Now that we’re off our soapbox and you’ve chosen qualities to highlight, it’s time to list any event(s) or setting(s) where you’ve demonstrated them.

We should explicitly mention that this event or setting doesn’t need to come from a clinical experience (e.g., shadowing a physician, interacting with a young adult patient at a cancer center, working with children in an international clinic) or a research experience (e.g., making a major finding in cancer research during your gap year), although it’s okay if it involves an extracurricular activity directly related to medicine.

In fact, since most students start their essays by describing clinical or research experiences, starting off with something else–travel (e.g., a camping trip in Yellowstone), volunteering (e.g., building homes in New Orleans), family (e.g., spending time with and learning from your elderly and ill grandmother back home in New Hampshire), work (e.g., helping out at your parents’ donut shop)–can help you immediately stand out.

Let’s start with the example of building homes in New Orleans. Why? Because we could easily demonstrate compassion and knowledge-seeking through this experience. Notice how the qualities we select can choose the story for us?

Step 3: Describe your event as a story.

Here’s where the art of writing a great personal statement really comes in.

Admissions officers read thousands of essays, most of which are very clichéd or dry. Therefore, it’s critical that you stand out by engaging the reader from the very beginning. The best way by far to capture admissions officers early is by developing a story about the event or situation you chose in Step 2 at the start of your essay.

Keep in mind, however, that the same event can be written about in a boring or engaging way. Therefore, the story or topic you choose is less important than how you pull it off.

Let’s look at an actual example of how the same event can be described in a routine vs. compelling manner:

Routine:

One of my most eye-opening experiences came when I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans during the summer months of 2014. Up to that point, I had only heard about the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina nine years earlier. Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to volunteer, it was not until I observed the emotional pounding the people of New Orleans had experienced that I developed a greater sense of compassion for their plight.

Compelling:

New Orleans was hot and humid during the summer months of 2014–no surprise there. However, for a native Oregonian like me, waking up to 90-degree and 85%-humidity days initially seemed like too much to bear. That was until I reflected on the fact that my temporary discomfort was minute in contrast to the destruction of communities and emotional pounding experienced by the people of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina nine years earlier. Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to understand its effects on the community and volunteer, actually building homes and interacting with the locals, like nine-year-old Jermaine, who cried as I held his hand while we unveiled his rebuilt home, taught me that caring for people was as much about lifting spirits as making physical improvements.

Many people may feel the routine example is pretty good. Upon closer look, however, it seems that:

The focus is as much on New Orleanians as the applicant

The story is not particularly relatable (unless the reader had also volunteered there)

There isn’t much support for the writer actually being touched by the people there

On the other hand, the compelling example:

Keeps the spotlight on the applicant throughout (e.g., references being from Oregon, discusses her reflections, interacting with Jermaine)

Has a relatable plot (e.g., temporary discomfort, changing perspectives)

Is authentic (e.g., provides an example of how she lifted spirits)

Does my essay need to have an “aha moment,” that is, the moment when I decided to become a doctor? I’ve noticed that so many medical school personal statement examples include one.

Your essay does not need to include an “aha moment.” In fact, many of the best med school personal statements we’ve read do not include such a moment.

Students who believe they need to mention an “aha moment” in their personal statement are typically falling into the trap of writing what they believe the reader wants. But frankly, the reader simply wants to learn about your personal and professional path to medicine.
We’ve polled many students over the years about whether they had an experience that immediately switched them on to medicine. Our findings indicate that only 10 percent of students have experienced a moment where they knew they wanted to become a doctor and never looked back. The other 90 percent either knew they wanted to become a physician since childhood, had a growing interest in medicine over years, or came to the realization during or after college.

Step 4: Demonstrate your qualities.

(Note: This section applies to all aspects of your essay.)

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the most common pieces of advice given for writing personal statements, but further guidance or examples are rarely provided to demonstrate what it looks like when done well.

This is unfortunate because the best way to understand how standout personal statements demonstrate qualities through an engaging story is by reading two examples of the same situation: one that “tells” about a quality, and another that “shows” a quality.

Let’s revisit the last sentence of each story example we provided in the previous section to better understand this distinction.

Telling (from the routine story):

…it was not until I observed the emotional pounding the people of New Orleans had experienced that I developed a greater sense of compassion for their plight.

Showing (from the compelling story):

…actually building homes and interacting with the locals, like 9 year-old Jermaine, who cried as I held his hand while we unveiled his rebuilt home, taught me that caring for people…

Notice how the second example demonstrates compassion without ever mentioning the word “compassion” (hence no bolded words)? Moreover, the same sentence demonstrates knowledge-seeking:

Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to understand its effects on the community and volunteer, actually building homes and interacting with the locals.

That’s what you’re going for.

Think about it. Whom do you consider to be more kind:

A person who says, “I’m really nice!”; or

A person who you’ve observed doing nice things for others?

Clearly, the second person will be viewed as more kind, even if there’s no real-world difference between their levels of kindness. Therefore, by demonstrating your qualities, you will come across as more impressive and authentic to admissions committees.

How to write strong personal statement body paragraphs (Goal: Describe your path to medicine)

After writing your opening paragraph to engage the reader, it’s time to write the meat and potatoes of your personal statement. Specifically, it’s time to discuss experiences that helped you grow and led to you to pursue medicine.

What personal statement topics should I avoid?

Put differently, “What should I not write about in my personal statement?” There are no specific topics that you should definitely avoid in your essay. Unfortunately, you will hear many people tell you not to bring up certain things—a parent who is a physician, a physical health or mental health condition, sports participation, volunteering abroad, etc. However, all of these anecdotes or topics can be the foundation for strong personal statements, but also weak ones; what matters is your writing approach.

Step 5: Discuss your most formative experiences that led you to medicine.

Return to your list from Step 2 (When or where have you demonstrated these qualities?) and choose one to three more experiences/areas (e.g., research, clinical work) that led you to medicine.

Why choose no more than four experiences total?

Because you should be aiming for depth over breadth (remember, you’re working with a 5,300-character limit for both AMCAS (MD application) and AACOMAS (DO application). Rather than discuss everything you’ve done, apply the following five-step formula to expand on key experiences in the body paragraphs of your personal statement:

Discuss why you pursued the experience

Mention how you felt during the experience

Describe what you accomplished and learned

Discuss how your experience affected you and the world around you

Describe how the experience influenced your decision to pursue medicine

Does the guidance in this resource apply to DO personal statements as well?

Yes, for the most part. We cover similarities and differences between AMCAS and AACOMAS personal statements in detail in our MD vs. DO guide.

Below are two examples–one routine and one compelling–to demonstrate how to achieve this:

Routine:

Shadowing the neurosurgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital and witnessing their unwavering dedication to their patients and patients’ families helped me realize that I wanted to make a similar impact on people’s lives.

This sentence doesn’t answer the “Why medicine?” question (for example, you could greatly impact people’s lives through law or teaching), nor does it demonstrate your qualities (although it makes the neurosurgeons look really good).

Compelling:

I was initially frustrated while shadowing neurosurgeons and caring for patients (e.g., conversing with them during downtime and providing anything in my power to make them comfortable, such as extra pillows, water, or snacks) at Massachusetts General Hospital because many patients recovered very slowly–and sometimes not at all. I wondered whether these experiences would deter me from pursuing medicine. Therefore, I was surprised when the opposite occurred. The physicians’ unwavering dedication to their patients and families’ expressed gratitude–even in their saddest days–provided more than enough confirmation that medicine was the path I should pursue to make a similar physical and emotional impact on people’s lives.

By going deeper about an experience, this example allowed the student to convey:

How they felt (“I was initially frustrated while shadowing…”)

How they were affected (“…the opposite [of determent] occurred”)

How they were influenced to pursue medicine specifically

Collectively, the student demonstrated their compassion, personal growth, and desire to pursue medicine.

(Note: Discuss your formative experiences in the body paragraphs in chronological order, as long as it doesn’t disrupt your essay’s flow. For example, if you choose to write about one experience in 2014 and another in 2013, write about your 2013 experience first, even if you wrote about the 2014 experience in your introductory paragraph. Having a clear timeline makes it easier for the reader to follow along.)

How many experiences should I cover in my personal statement?

If you’re like most students, you should cover somewhere between three and four personal or professional experiences in your personal statement. Beyond four, and you risk covering too much and not achieving sufficient depth; your essay might read like a narrative. Fewer than three, and your experience descriptions might get too wordy.

That said, every essay is different, so you might be able to write a fantastic personal statement with fewer than three experiences or more than four. In fact, one of the best personal statements we’ve ever helped a student produce focused on a single 24-hour time period that spanned two separate experiences.

How to write a memorable personal statement conclusion (Goal: Tie it all together)

It’s (almost) time to end your personal statement and move on!

The concluding paragraph should highlight three things:

Your positive qualities (you can mention them explicitly here rather than “show” them)

Perspectives gained from your formative experiences

Your passion for medicine

Additionally, the best essays somehow refer to their introductory paragraph’s story to “close the loop.”

Step 6: Reemphasize your qualities, perspectives, and passions.

Focusing on experiences in your introduction and body paragraphs that convey your greatest qualities helps you develop a consistent theme throughout your essay. It also makes closing your essay much easier.

To demonstrate this, we’ll show you how New Orleans volunteering and neurosurgery shadowing can be tied together to reemphasize compassion and knowledge-seeking, highlight perspectives gained, and communicate a strong desire to pursue medicine.

Compelling:

The consistent theme throughout my extracurricular work is that, whereas I initially pursue experiences–clinical, volunteer, or otherwise–to learn, what sticks with me even more than newfound knowledge is the compassion I develop for the people I serve. Furthermore, I have realized that there is a multitude of ways to serve, such as treating people’s physical ailments, offering empathy for anxious family members, or leaving my comfort zone to help a struggling community. These perspectives, coupled with my lifelong fascination with the human body’s complexities, leave no doubt that medicine is the path through which I want to use my abilities to make a positive holistic impact on people’s lives. I hope 9-year-old Jermaine knows that I was equally touched by his gratitude for a rebuilt home, and how his reaction was partly responsible for me devoting my career to help others feel the way he did on that hot and muggy summer day.

Let’s see whether this concluding paragraph checks all three boxes:

Positive qualities (“knowledge-seeking” and “compassion,”): check

Perspectives gained from formative experiences (“…realized that there is a multitude of ways to serve”): check

Passion for medicine (“medicine is the path through which I want to use my abilities to make a positive holistic impact on people’s lives”): check

This paragraph also gets bonus points for looping Jermaine in one final time.

Does the guidance in this resource apply to TMDSAS personal statements as well?

Yes, though the TMDSAS personal statement offers a 5000-character limit vs. 5300 characters for AMCAS and AACOMAS. You can learn more about the Texas medical school application by reading our TMDSAS guide, which includes examples of a successful personal statement, personal characteristics essay, and optional essay.

Final thoughts

Your medical school personal statement offers a unique opportunity to share your story and describe your path to medicine–however you want to.

Rather than dive right in and list the extracurricular experiences that you think will most impress admissions committees, consider what impression you want to leave them with. In other words, which of your qualities do you want to be remembered for?

Once you’ve identified your defining qualities, the task of communicating why you are specifically fit for medicine becomes much easier. Through engaging stories, you can leave no doubt in readers’ minds that you’re not only qualified for this field, but also the right person for the job.

Part 3: In-depth analysis of a top-5 medical school personal statement

If you’ve ever read an article or forum post offering “tips” on how to write a great medical school personal statement, you’ve probably been given clichéd advice with very little supporting information, like:

“Offer a unique angle”

“Don’t use clichés”

“Check for grammar and spelling errors”

And so on. Here’s what usually happens when you read tips like these: You understand the information, but you’re still stuck in the same place you were before reading the article. You continue to stare at the blank document on your computer, hoping you’ll have an “aha moment.”

Unfortunately, “aha moments” rarely, if ever, come. Much more typically, students procrastinate and/or end up writing about extracurricular and personal experiences that they think admissions committees (adcoms) will be impressed by.

The problem is that if you don’t get your personal statement right, you can compromise your entire application.

If you’re a high-achieving applicant with a strong GPA, MCAT score, and rich extracurricular activities, you may get into less desirable schools than you’d hoped. If you’re an applicant on the borderline, you may not get in at all.

On the other hand, writing a powerful medical school personal statement provides adcoms insights into who you are as a person and as a budding physician. More importantly, it helps maximize your odds of admission in an increasingly competitive process.

We want you to be part of this latter group so that you can get into the best schools possible. Therefore, we figured it would be valuable to share a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of a medical school personal statement that helped one of our students get into their dream school, which also happens to be ranked in the top 5 of the U.S. News & World Report Best Medical Schools rankings.

Throughout the analysis, we apply our internal essay evaluation framework, QPUD, which stands for the following:

Quality

Personal

Unique

Depth

You can apply the QPUD framework to analyze your own writing. You’ll soon learn that the best personal statements aren’t produced by accident, but rather through multiple thoughtful iterations.

Full-length medical school personal statement with analysis

Before we get into the weeds with our analysis, we encourage you to read the personal statement example in its entirety. As you go through it, you should keep the following questions in mind:

Does the applicant demonstrate qualities that are desirable in a physician? If so, which ones?

Is the personal statement mostly about the applicant, or other people?

Could anyone else have written this personal statement, or is it unique to the applicant?

Does the personal statement cover too much, or is there real depth?

Here’s the personal statement sample:

Sure, it was a little more crowded, cluttered, and low-tech, but Mr. Jackson’s biology classroom at David Starr Jordan High School in South Los Angeles seemed a lot like the one in which I first learned about intermolecular forces and equilibrium constants. Subconsciously, I just assumed teaching the 11th graders about the workings of the cardiovascular system would go smoothly. Therefore, I was shocked when in my four-student group, I could only get Nate’s attention; Cameron kept texting, Mercedes wouldn’t end her FaceTime call, and Juanita was repeatedly distracted by her friends. After unsuccessfully pleading for the group’s attention a few times, I realized the students weren’t wholly responsible for the disconnect. Perhaps the problem was one of engagement rather than a lack of interest since their focus waned when I started using terminology—like vena cava—that was probably gibberish to them. So, I drew a basic square diagram broken into quarters for the heart and a smiley face for the body’s cells that needed oxygen and nutrients. I left out structure names to focus on how four distinct chambers kept the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood separate, prompting my students with questions like, “What happens after the smiley face takes the oxygen?” This approach enabled my students to draw conclusions themselves. We spent much of class time going through the figure-8 loop, but their leaning over the table to see the diagram more clearly and blurting out answers demonstrated their engagement and fundamental understanding of the heart as a machine. My elation was obvious when they remembered it the following week.

Ever since my middle school robotics days when a surgeon invited us to LAC+USC Medical Center to unwrap Tootsie rolls with the da Vinci surgical system, I’ve felt that a physician’s role goes beyond serving patients and families. I feel an additional responsibility to serve as a role model to younger students—especially teenagers—who may be intrigued by STEM fields and medicine. Furthermore, my experience in Mr. Jackson’s classroom demonstrated the substantial benefits of assessing specific individuals’ needs even when it requires diverging slightly from the structured plan. Being flexible to discover how to best engage my students, in some ways, parallels the problem-solving aspect I love about medicine.

Clinical experiences go even further by beautifully merging this curiosity-satisfying side of medicine with what I feel is most fulfilling: the human side of care provision. My experience with a tiny three-year-old boy and his mother in genetics clinic confirmed the importance of the latter. Not only was I excited to meet him because he presented with a rare condition, but also because he and his chromosomal deletion had been the focus of my recent clinical case report, published in Genetics in Medicine. While researching his dysmorphic features and disabilities, other patients with similar deletions, and the possible genes contributing to his symptoms, I stayed up until 4 AM for several weeks, too engrossed to sleep. What was more exciting than learning about the underlying science, however, was learning about the opportunity to meet the boy and his mother in person and share my findings with them.

As soon as I walked into the examination room, I noticed the mother avoiding eye contact with the genetic counselor while clutching her son to her chest. I sensed her anxiety and disinterest in hearing about my research conclusions. The impact of her son’s condition on their daily lives probably transcended the scientific details in my report. So despite my desire to get into the science, I restrained myself from overwhelming her. Instead, I asked her to share details about the wonderful interventions she had procured for her son—speech and physical therapy, sign language lessons, special feeds, etc. Through our conversations, I realized that she was really looking for reassurance—for doing a great job caring for her son. I validated her efforts and offered relief that there were other families navigating similar difficulties. As the appointment progressed, I observed her gradually relaxing. Rather than feel weighed down by the research findings I was eager to get off my chest, I felt light as well.

At the end of the appointment, the mom offered to let me hold her son, who gazed back at me with his bright blue eyes. While cradling the little boy humanized the medical details, the mother’s gesture displayed profound trust. Above all, this experience allowed me to recognize that interactions between a patient plus family and their doctor are more than intermediary vehicles to treatment; they are critical and beneficial in their own right. Learning this affirmed my longstanding desire and eagerness to become a physician. While research is essential and will surely always trigger my curiosity, I want my work to transcend the lab bench. Specifically, I want to continue engaging with patients and helping them through life’s difficult moments—with physical treatment and genuine support. And since working with each patient constitutes an entirely different experience, I know my medical career will never cease to be fulfilling.

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What if some of the experiences I choose to write about in my essay aren’t directly related to medicine?

No worries. Medical school admissions committees look to admit individuals with qualities befitting good doctors. These qualities can be demonstrated through experiences directly related to medicine, as well as through experiences that seemingly have little to do with medicine but cast a very positive light on you.

That said, your personal statement should include at least one experience directly related to medicine. In your essay, you’ll want to briefly describe how your interest in medicine developed, followed by how you consistently pursued that interest.

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