MD/PhD Personal Statements

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by Simon, Jul 28, 2002.

  1. Simon

    Simon Member
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    Hi guys,

    When I was writing the AMCAS personal statement, although it was difficult at the time, there really was a lot of support. I was able to get many books in the library with sample essays and tips, and all my pre-med friends also going through the AMCAS essay-writing phase could offer advice.

    Now, I'm a little lost when it comes to the MD/PhD personal statement. I haven't been able to find any books on the subject, nor any successful samples. So here are some questions I have for now:

    1) Should I use the same essay for all schools? If so, about how long should it be?

    2) What are the areas that I must definitely address?

    3) What is the typical style of such an essay? I found that the best AMCAS essays were written in a much more "literary" language than the dry factual style found in the research journals. Does this apply here?

    4) Some do's and dont's?

    Also, any suggestions of where I can find sample essays or postings of successful MD/PhD personal statements would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    ~Simon
     
  2. Bikini Princess

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    I'm in the same boat. Any advice from original, JP, jot, vader, brandonite, or JJ4?
     
  3. jot

    jot

    hey simon - i'm just an applicant - but i've been writing my md/phd personal statement - these are the kind of guidelines i'm following (remember that they haven't been tested - others will have to comment as to their validity):

    as a whole, i want my essay to include
    1)why md/phd (supported and hopefully more interesting than the generic response - as JPaikman, Sonic and Gradient/Baylor/Hopkins have pointed out to me)
    2)what reserach i have done with reasonable resolution
    3)future objectives as a medical scientist
    4)maybe what field(s) i am interested in

    so just like the amcas personal statement, this one has to have a theme of some sort (remember - this is my personal guideline) - some sort of thematic story, be it anecdotal or research related to keep it interesting.

    the other thing is that while constructing the essay - remember that anything you mention can and will be used against you ;) - so be damn sure that anything you state can be elaborated on 10-fold. in fact, you can almost use statements as a "hook" for interviews, bait areas you want discussed in the interview. this is all harder to execute - but ideally this is waht i'm keeping in mind.

    one can follow the aforementioned points and have a successful application - but just with amcas personal statement - there are many other ways to add your own personal flavor. on the whole, for me, this statement is more direct and to the point. i'm almost done with my first draft, but there shall be revisions aplenty.

    that awesome thread about interviewing tips that Katie and ORiginal have added to is also valuable in focusing on what is important to an md/phd committee.

    others that have gone before - please comment and add your thoughts.

    -jot

    IM me "Jothe8Jot" if you have suggestions or want to discuss it - i'm still thinking hard about this
     
  4. jot

    jot

    bizzump - woudln't want this to get on the lost admist the rapid posting in this forum ;)
     
  5. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    For some general information on writing the MD/PhD essay, please feel free to browse the "Applications" chapter of my online guidebook at http://go.to/mdphd

    To answer your specific questions:

    1) Should I use the same essay for all schools? If so, about how long should it be?

    It is fine to use the same essay. I may have modified it slightly to gear it towards certain specific programs, but mostly it was the same. The length is variable depending on your experiences and how much you want to say. However, be aware that most people will not want to read more than 1-2 pages.


    2) What are the areas that I must definitely address?

    Areas to address are your interest in science and medicine, motivations for pursuing the MD/PhD, research experience, educational and career goals, etc. Jot already gave a great perspective on the areas to be addressed. :D


    3) What is the typical style of such an essay? I found that the best AMCAS essays were written in a much more "literary" language than the dry factual style found in the research journals. Does this apply here?

    You want to make the essay both interesting and comprehensible. It doesn't have to go over every minute detail regarding your research, but it should cover the topics in a broader sense with some overarching theme that ties it all together. Allow the writing to flow naturally but with a logical progression.


    4) Some do's and dont's?

    Definitely DO NOT write in the jargon of your specific area of research... avoid acronyms and other obscure references. Remember that the people reading the essay, while highly educated, are not necessarily in your field.

    DO have several people help revise it, as having multiple perspectives can strengthen the essay. I had my PI, a postdoc in the lab, a few friends, and some family members read over the essay for content and clarity. It was very helpful in the end.

    Also, don't be afraid to rewrite and rewrite. Be flexible in changing things that don't work so well. Take some time off working on the essay and come back to it later. This can help you avoid writer's block and allow you to regain objectivity.

    Hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please feel free to inquire. :D
     
  6. Vader

    Vader Dark Lord of the Sith
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    Some people are slower than others, my friend. ;)
     
  7. jot

    jot

    ok first draft done - i'm going to have to think about exactly what resolution i want to present my reserach. i want to give enough background on the project to place exactly how i contributed in context without it getting to bogged down in minutiae. thanks vader - anymore suggestions?
     
  8. Bikini Princess

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    Does anyone think we should have an MSTP-essay reading group?
     
  9. jot

    jot

    hah - it just occured to me - i wonder if people on adcoms read ever glance at this site - like they did at interviewfeedback, if they are, they should chip in with some suggestions:D
     
  10. Simon

    Simon Member
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    Thanks for all the info! Now comes the hard part... :)
     
  11. surge

    surge Medicinski Znanstvenik
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    Are we talking about the AMCAS statement or the essay on the secondary app?
    See, I'm applying exclusively to MSTP (actually, if I don't get in, I'll just do a PhD), so I'm treating my AMCAS statement in that regard. Is that bad? Should I wait until I get to the secondary application, and just write a personal statement like a regular MD applicant on the AMCAS, w/o mentioning research?
    Does it matter?

    Any thoughts?
    Thanks,

    Serge
     
  12. jot

    jot

    from what i've gathered from last years candidates, there are a couple possible successful ways to do it - but you should at least mention your interests in research. remember that it is primarily needed for your md admissions, and should be geared towards that. i'm also applying to all md/phds - and mine was very research slanted, hopefully with enough good stuff to make the med peopel happy. i only touched upon my research, there is plenty of time to elaborate on it later (as i'm finding out). cheers.
    -jot
     

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