guitarguy23

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I've been brainstorming ideas and organizing broad topics I want to include in my PS for weeks now but I'm having trouble actually starting to write this thing.

Any advice to a good way to write/organize what I'm trying to say? I want it to be personal and specific of course, and to give the ADCOMS an idea of my individuality as an applicant.
 

willen101383

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something like "It was August 20th 2003 at 530 am as I sat in the darkness at the bedside of a patient I had cared for almost all summer. This individual had taught me so much about myself and my desire to one to become a physician, and I felt so helpless as I shared my patients final moments with her." or something like that and then i went into all my reasons for wanting to be a doctor and my experiences and stuff (the end)
 

aztri

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There are many ways to write a PS. Ask 100 people, and you will likely get 100 different pieces of advice. So with that being said, I'll give you mine, but take it with a grain of salt because other people may have advice more well suited for you.

When I began writing my PS I had no idea what to include in it. 5300 characters seemed infinite. So I bought and borrowed a couple of PS writing books to read examples. It helped, but only in that I found essays that resonated with me personally and gave me an idea of how to style mine. It also showed me how important it is to be yourself and not try so hard to fit a standard "I want to be a doctor to help people" essay form.

Foremost, if you haven't yet, you should make an outline of all you ECs and all the reasons why you want to pursue medicine. Given that a lot of your reasoning should be rooted in your experiences, these lists should coicide to a certain degree. Next, you need to choose which of these experiences merit being in your PS. Your PS is a portrait of you and in it you should be smiling. That is not to say that only postive experiences bring people to medicine, but your PS should not leave readers feeling bad for you or feeling that you are unable to handle the career. Instead, they should think, wow this person will be a fantastic physician one day. So which ECs are worthy of your PS? You definitely need something clinical in there - an experience you had. You should also touch on other experiences you had (research, volunteering, tutoring, hobbies, etc.) and what you've gained from them. What did you learn and how are you now a better, more well-rounded person? Nothing in your PS should be directly repeated from your ECs. Rather it should be summarized and emphasize the most important aspects.

Next, try to think if there is an underlying theme to your experiences? How can they be tied together? You can ask someone who knows you well for help on this too. Having a theme is not necessary, but it does make for much easier reading. Considering adcoms read tons of PSs, you want yours to stand out positively. If you can't think of a theme right away, don't force it. It may evolve later.

You don't have to write from start to finish. Pick an experience that you found most memorable, and start with that one. Then choose another. Can they be transitioned easily? One piece of advice I received from an adcom member was that they events leading up to your decision to apply to medical school should fit like a puzzle. Is there a visible path between your experiences? Did you explore one area, research perhaps, decide you learned a lot, but that it wasn't for you and so explored another route? Did you meet someone who just absolutely solidified your interest in medicine and then you started volunteering in a clinic? Pesonally, I found it easiest to write my beginning and final paragraphs last. By then you know what you PS has revealed about you and if you have written to a theme, the book ending your PS is the perfect place to tie it all together.

Remember it is better to write more than the 5300 limit and then edit it down. Don't double space after periods, it wastes valuable characters. Also, I think it is always best to let as many people as you can read and edit your PS. Everyone has some little plus they are looking for in it and maybe something too that they don't like. You can decide which edits you like and keep those. In the end, you will probably have several (or more) drafts of your PS. Save them separately so you can go back and see how it evolved and change things if you like them better the way they were before. Devoting time to your PS will pay off in the long run :)

Good Luck!
 
May 23, 2009
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I'd say just start writing whatever may come to mind regardless of how bad you think it sounds. Keep writing and as you get to the point where you are reading over and making tweaks light bulbs will start going off in your mind. Just putting something down on paper tends to get me thinking of other things which leads to more things...... and at some point I end up with something that I think sounds good (IMO) but would never had dreamt of thinking about instantly.
 
May 26, 2009
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My biggest struggle with writing an essay is getting started. I kept putting off starting my PS because I couldn't decide what to write about. One night I just sat down and started writing about something lame trying to address "why medicine," but wrote about a page worth of stuff. The next day I looked at it and found like one sentence that I decided was good and that was about something I wanted to include in my PS. My final draft looked nothing like my first, but I think it was a good way for me just to get started and stop procrastinating.
 

naijaboi

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Don't think about the beginning. For your PS, introductions are often unnecessary. Write the body (and the beginning will come to you).
 
May 27, 2009
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Word vomit first. Then start to piece things together. There'll come a time when it should hopefully start to make sense as a whole.
 

pOrtEnt

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Think of some times you felt inspired by medicine, science, volunteering, whatever it is you are passionate about that makes you want to go into medicine. Free write about a few of these anecdotes, then build on some anecdotes you like to include more detail about you, your goals, passions, and soft/hard skills.
 

organdonor

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Why do you want to be a doctor? Go.

What someone else said helped me the most. I started my essay somewhere in the middle and thought of the intro later.

For what its worth, my personal statement was nowhere close to the character limit. Worked for me :D
 
Dec 18, 2009
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under the sun :)
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What helped me get started was first researching types of PS online. Once I found one I liked and that I felt like I can use (my personal favorite is narrative although there are others), I thought of what story I want to tell that would tell the most about myself and mesh with my other experiences. It just kind of flowed from there. I totally second the word vomit and theme suggestions. You want it to flow well and put everything on your mind on paper (or computer). And plenty of editing and drafts and reviews will follow.
 

metallica81788

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.....

Not really. I would actually advise just writing some stuff down and then going to town on the body, the meat of it. Go back to your intro later when you have a more solid grasp of the whole thing. You want your intro to be awesome, but it has to introduce the whole essay correctly. You can also have a conclusion to help you along if you write the whole thing first. The hardest part is getting started.

And for the love of God, do not start with a quote or some anecdotal "there I was about to bury my relative"...
 

Sesom

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Dear Adcom, you don't know who I am, but I know who you are....
 

LizzyM

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something like "It was August 20th 2003 at 530 am as I sat in the darkness at the bedside of a patient I had cared for almost all summer. This individual had taught me so much about myself and my desire to one to become a physician, and I felt so helpless as I shared my patients final moments with her." or something like that and then i went into all my reasons for wanting to be a doctor and my experiences and stuff (the end)
If the person is a patient (and not a family member), you may have violated HIPAA by mentioning what appears to be the patient's date of death. Say something like "Late in August I sat in the darkness..."

Looking on helplessly is cliche. So is bemoaning the illness or death of someone who didn't have access to care or who did not practice good health habits. (Your grandpappy knew tobacco was not good for his health but he enjoyed it and he was addicted to nicotine. Ditto bacon and whiskey.) Writing a "lights and sirens" scene is evocate and quite cliche. Being fascinated wth the human body is cliche but not as common as it used to be. Wanting to be a doctor from age 2 -- very scary.
 

298609

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Dec 8, 2009
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If the person is a patient (and not a family member), you may have violated HIPAA by mentioning what appears to be the patient's date of death. Say something like "Late in August I sat in the darkness..."

Looking on helplessly is cliche. So is bemoaning the illness or death of someone who didn't have access to care or who did not practice good health habits. (Your grandpappy knew tobacco was not good for his health but he enjoyed it and he was addicted to nicotine. Ditto bacon and whiskey.) Writing a "lights and sirens" scene is evocate and quite cliche. Being fascinated wth the human body is cliche but not as common as it used to be. Wanting to be a doctor from age 2 -- very scary.

everything is cliche. it's how you say it that makes it original.
 
Dec 27, 2009
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If the person is a patient (and not a family member), you may have violated HIPAA by mentioning what appears to be the patient's date of death. Say something like "Late in August I sat in the darkness..."

Looking on helplessly is cliche. So is bemoaning the illness or death of someone who didn't have access to care or who did not practice good health habits. (Your grandpappy knew tobacco was not good for his health but he enjoyed it and he was addicted to nicotine. Ditto bacon and whiskey.) Writing a "lights and sirens" scene is evocate and quite cliche. Being fascinated wth the human body is cliche but not as common as it used to be. Wanting to be a doctor from age 2 -- very scary.
I feel like pretty much any reason for being a doctor has been said a million times, but maybe I'm wrong. Also as cliche as it is, my fascination for the human body is a major reason i want to be a doctor, so would it look bad to write about that ( since you work with the human body as a job)?
 

LizzyM

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I feel like pretty much any reason for being a doctor has been said a million times, but maybe I'm wrong. Also as cliche as it is, my fascination for the human body is a major reason i want to be a doctor, so would it look bad to write about that ( since you work with the human body as a job)?
fascinated by the human body. Those exact 5 words. Can you find a different way to say it? Are you really interested in the human body as an object or do you have an interest in the person who inhabits that body? Do you want to work on a body as you would an automobile or do you want to provide care to patients who come to you for your professoinal expertise? Figure it out and you'll have a basis for your PS
 
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justdoit31

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I started out with a flashback to me as a 5 year old wanting my mom to pull the car over so I could assist at a car wreck and then went on to talk about things throughout my life that had led me to where I was today and basically how being a doctor was the only career for me- it worked, I got several interviews, and was accepted within 2 months of my file being complete at the first school.
 

Narmerguy

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It worked, I got several interviews, and was accepted within 2 months of my file being complete at the first school.
How do know that's what worked?
 

chman

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"It was the best of GPA's, it was the worst of GPA's. It was the age of acceptances and the age of waitlists."
 
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If you apply to UMich, they won't care what you write on your PS. That is, unless it's really bad. They openly admit that this is one of the least important parts of the application to them.
 

Practitioner

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Last year:

" .I hear the vibrating of the pager against the table. I feel my stomach churning. It’s eight o’clock at night, getting paged this late can’t be good news. I recognize the number: CICU. I place my phone onto the table in front of me, and sit staring at it and the pager full of dread. Resting my head on the palms of my hand, I sigh

A moment passes.."

Next year:

". He looks like dog food on the inside... but don't tell them that.."

The first time I chose an outline for the PS, I had a few. I decided on covering a particular clinical experience and relate that to my long term motivation for medicine and my philosophy towards the profession.

Then I chose basic concepts I wanted to cover, picked and chose the ones I thought were most significant to cover for sake of space and to have some clarity.

Finally, I chose a style. It started off being sarcastic and ended up mimicking Frank Herbert in anecdote. The result was the splitting of the essay into 6 paragraphs alternating between the clinical experience and then expounding on the experience briefly and meaningfully (I hoped).

In hindsight that was perhaps too complex.

This time I'm trying to simplify the style and introduce the clinical experience, expound on it in the body and how it relates to my motivation/philosophy, and then end in the conclusion by returning the story I started off with and how my reaction to the situation was a reflection of the kind of doctor I hope to become.

For both these essays, the doctor I chose to use as the example wrote/is writing for me a letter. Last year I mentioned it to the doctor and asked if she could somehow tie how I presented myself in the PS to her letter.
 

Dr McSexy

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Basically said that there wasn't one experience in particular that made me want to be a doctor, but a culmination of events that did. And then I proceed just to write crap down. Then after I wrote crap down, I eliminated all the unecessary stuff, proof-read, made sure it flowed and made the point and carved it in stone.