Any feedback on my personal statement idea?

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Jul 5, 2017
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Hey everyone. I've never been active on this forum but I am excited to dive in as this application cycle approaches. This is a fantastic forum.

I have been thinking about the topic of my personal statement. One idea is based on the different ways I have helped others and the process of discovering that I have a deep passion for helping people.

The statement would start by explaining that I've always been very supportive and attentive to the people in my life. I have many examples of people I care about who helped get through tough times. For example, a friend in college who was struggling to make an identity for himself that he could be proud of; a widow I did odd jobs for and help to realize that her hoarding and neglect for her home was keeping her stuck in the wake of her husband's death; and the mother of my friend who tragically passed away who I would talk on the phone with for hours when she was going through phases of particularly severe and help her move through those times so that she could focus on learning how to enjoy her life.

Next, I would talk about how starting my job as an EMT was a realization that I didn't only have a passion for helping the people in my life, but also any stranger who I was equipped to help. A love for helping allowed me to stay calm during stressful and dramatic emergencies and also made me incredibly focussed on the comfort of our non-emergent transports, to the point that my patients would often express their appreciation for my going the extra mile.

The end would be an experience I had after I left my EMT job with a man who collapsed with cardiac symptoms in a bus station. When I left him I realized that there was no way to know what his outcome would be, and it could be quite bad. But as I reflected on the experience of being with him and comforting him, I started to cry on the bus because I was so happy just to have been able to be there with him at that terrifying time, to ease his fear as I assessed him and found that he was not dying. Nothing like that had ever made me come close to tears. It was a pretty profound experience.

Anyway, if anyone thinks this person statement idea falls short in some way, please feel free to criticize. I think it's a pretty good framework if I can effectively explain the things these experiences taught me. I don't have any volunteer experience so I'm thinking that discussing the ways I have helped people in my regular life. I wouldn't include this, but I never felt compelled to volunteer (foolish, I know) because helping individuals in my life was so fulfilling.

Any feedback/opinions would be greatly appreciated.

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Saying that you've helped people all your life with a long list of examples is shallow - but something there can be a good vehicle for a personal statement. Rather than try to prove your point with the deeds themselves or how many times it happened, pick no more than 1 per paragraph (and probably less than that) and focus on what you were thinking and feeling afterwards. Read some personal statements to see how the most successful narrative style essays focus on the narrators internal thoughts. The stories are just vehicles to help the reader get in your mind, to add color to what you've learned, which is really the more important information.

Just to further criticize, the concept of your essay (the main point being that you are going to help every person you come into contact with) seems a little too goody two shoes. It's not realistic to depict yourself as Mother Teresa or Jesus, healing everyone you touch.

The bus story is great! You can probably squeeze a ton out of it.
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I might suggest leading with the "bus story." A story that gets the reader's attention and shows compassion and humanizes you tends to be a good thing to start with. I agree with not just listing lots of things you've done--use the personal statement to explain why you want to be a physician, using the occasional example supporting that. It's always a fine line between bragging and showing that you've thought about what you want to do with your life and done activities to show that. After you write the actual statement, I recommend getting multiple people to read it and give feedback.
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I agree with the previous two posts.Though this is a personal statement, it should focus more on what you've learned from your experiences and how you were drawn to medicine in particular. Everyone who applies to med school wants to help others in some capacity, so focus more on something that makes you stand out--your personal revelations and realizations prior to applying. Dig a little deeper and think about why your experiences led you to pick medicine of all paths. You could have chosen to be a nurse, or to work for a non-profit, or to be a business executive that supports clean water efforts in third-world countries. Why become a doctor?
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Thank you all so much for your opinions. Such good criticism and advice. I tend to become preoccupied with the structure of my essays. Seems like this would be an especially large mistake in approaching my personal statement.
No advice on the personal statement (sorry!) but I caught the no volunteer experience bit, not sure if others did. I highly would recommend getting volunteer experience before applying. It seems to be one of those things you need to have/adcoms expect to see. It almost is sort of ironic for you to say how much you love helping people, but have zero volunteer experience as well. Not to discount the things you did or your work as an EMT, but I really would start volunteering somewhere.