- Sep 13, 2015
- Reaction score
I'm applying next cycle and beginning to think about writing my personal statement. I know the personal statement is supposed to answer "why medicine" but I don't feel like I have a distinct moment of deciding to be a physician. It was more of a nagging feeling over a number of years.
Also, I have heard conflicting advice about mentioning family illness in personal statements. I recently heard Dr. Ryan Gray on a premed podcast say if the moment you realized you wanted to be a physician was from a family member's illness, then write about it. I've also heard advice to definitely not mention family.
Any advice for someone without a distinct "why medicine" moment?
I will chime in as one of the adcoms on this forum, and as someone who reads a lot of personal statements each year. For starters, ignore everything @The Dragon Slayer has posted. It's not that it's 100% incorrect, but there is not point in trying to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Every adcom reads the application a bit differently, so if you ask 12 of us you might get 11 answers, but here is some advice that I think will withstand most scrutiny: just give us clear, honest answers. Most of us aren't looking for an experience. If you had an "Aha!" moment then say it. If it's been a background rumbling in your life and now reaching a crescendo, then say that. If a family illness spurred you forward, write about it. If you grew up in hardship then convey it. If not, that's fine too. The PS of one of my favorite students essentially started off with "I'm a nondescript middle class white kid."
It is a very common misconception that your PS needs to somehow stand out in a crowded field. This leads occasional people to craft some pretty strange statements. While I appreciate the entertainment value, you're generally better off if a reviewer closes your application saying "I have a decent idea of who this person is and why they want to attend medical school" rather than "Who gave advice to this weirdo?"