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Personal Statement Guide

What is the personal statement?

“Your Personal Statement

Every applicant is required to submit a personal essay of up to 5,300 characters (about one page) in length. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants and provide admissions officers with insights about why you’re interested in medicine — and why you would be a dedicated and effective physician.

Most admissions committees place significant weight on this section, so take the time to craft an organized, well-written, and compelling statement. Here are some questions you may want to consider while writing your essay:

• Why do you want a career in medicine?

• What motivates you to learn more about medicine?

• What should medical schools know about you that isn’t described in other sections of the application?

In addition, you may wish to include information such as:

• What hardships, challenges, or obstacles have influenced your educational pursuits?

• Are you able to explain significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained elsewhere in your application?

It’s a good idea to use specific examples in your essay. Instead of writing “Challenges in my childhood led me to consider medicine at an early age,” write, “The summer I turned 8, my 11-year-old sister was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, and I witnessed firsthand the compassion and understanding with which the doctor dealt with my parents. It was during those first few difficult months that I decided I wanted to be a physician.”

Additionally, ensure that your essay is interesting, follows a logical and orderly flow, and relates to your reasons for choosing medicine and why you believe you’ll be successful in medical school and as a physician. Beyond that, be sure to use correct grammar and avoid typographical errors and misspellings.”

This is straight from the AAMC Official Guide to Medical School Admissions. This is a free resources that can probably answer a lot of your questions and I use this to check what I say aligns. Below is my advice on approaching the writing process.

There are many ways to approach a PS. It is vital to use stories of parts of your life to show who you are, and why you want to be a physician. This is just one guide that helped me create a draft. There is a lot of flexibility. You can have an amazing personal statement and not use this model. You can also start here and as your editing realize more or less paragraphs make sense for your story.

  • I started by brainstorming and writing about events, moments in my life that had the biggest impact focusing on ones connected to who I am and why medicine

  • Reflect on these experiences to have meaningful things to say

  • Some people say to explain a low GPA in the PS I did NOT, the advice I got is if they are reading your PS they are already considering you despite your GPA, you can address it if asked in secondary’s (This also heavily depends on how low the GPA and what were the circumstance)

  • Good PS will include a LOT of rough drafts be open to changing examples and order etc

  • Answer in the first paragraph why you want to be a physician, kinda like a thesis statement ( again what I did but not for everyone). I didn't want to wait a long time to get to the point

  • Experience → attributes→ future application as a physician

Theme example: Connecting to marginalized patients/ communities

Attributes examples: Resilience, advocacy, community service, innovation (emphasize like 1 per story)

3 Examples/stories: Each example shows

  • What happened

  • What you learned

  • How you plan to use that as a physician, how does it connect to why you want to be a physician


Intro Paragraph

  • Hook: Can jump right into the middle of a story, quote, etc

  • Thesis:

1st Paragraph: Clinic volunteer

  • What happened/ What did I do: Volunteering at Clinic/ Talking to nervous patient in underserved area tried to make her experience better

  • What I learned: Learned importance of connection to expanding quality access

  • How you plan to use that as a physician, how does it connect to why you want to be a physician: Hope to build connections in underserved communities in different ways, want to be a physician to bring care to historically disconnected communities/ patients

2nd Paragraph

  • repeat with new experience

3rd Paragraph

  • repeat with new experience


  • Re-state thesis in different words. Summarize points from above and finish off with a strong closing statement. Remind them why they should pick you!

This is an overview and as you write you will want to make sure you are specific and show you have really reflected on your experiences. It takes a lot of drafts to get an excellent Personal Statement. Hopefully this is helpful in getting you started!

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