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Personal Statement Advice Needed...

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by brandonite, Jul 2, 2002.

  1. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    OK, I need advice on a couple of points here with my personal statement.

    Firstly, I don't have any volunteer hospital experience, but I became a premed after I was the family member in charge of looking after my grandmother while she was dying of cancer. I've spent a lot of time on hospital wards, and I talk about all of this in the statement. Would it be a good idea to say something like "I know most applicants will have volunteered in a hospital, but I have seen what it is like to be a patient" just to directly address that issue?

    Secondly, I rewrote the MCAT with a 32P to go up to a 38-40Q. Should I talk about why I rewrote, or do they care about that at all?

    Should I also talk about why I am reapplying MD/PhD? (it's a very long and boring story - I didn't know internationals could do MD/PhDs, so I just applied MD at schools that offered financial aid to Canadians in the hopes of doing an MD/PhD on my own). I don't know if they would care about something like that, but I suppose it might illustrate my dedication to the program.

    Thanks y'all! :D
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  3. MSTP boy

    MSTP boy Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    May 22, 2001
    Question #1: Yes
    #2 No
    #3 No

    I honestly don't think adcoms, (at least at our school), look at previous applications much. They are harder to get a hold of, don't tell you much, and it's tough enough just to find time to look at current apps.

    Experience in the hospital, albeit personal, can sub for clinical volunteer work, to certain point. :)
  4. Resident Alien

    Resident Alien What? 7+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2001
    clinical experience is not an absolute must. More often, med schools are looking for what they call "leadership experience" (words of associate dean at CWRU). You seem to have lots of it :)
  5. RT

    RT Rt 7+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2002
    1. No. By saying that statement, we're implying that most applicants haven't seen what it is like to be a patient. We have no basis to make such generalizations.

    2. No. The reason for retaking is quite minor to be in the PS.

    3. No. Again, save the reason for the interviews. Focus on the interest if you're applying MD/PhD only.

  6. atsai3

    atsai3 10+ Year Member

    May 15, 2002

    1) If you're going to discuss your grandmother, no need to write ""I know most applicants will have volunteered in a hospital, but I have seen what it is like to be a patient" -- including that in writing will only raise more questions than it answers, and besides, volunteering in a hospital is not even a crucial factor.

    For more about writing about grandmothers, see:

    2) No need to discuss why you rewrote the MCAT. All they're looking for is a >4 point increase, and you pretty much slammed it.

    3) No. Save it for your interviews. However, some of the medical school applications may have a field for answering the question, "Have you ever applied to medical school in the past?" If so, this would be your chance to describe your situation in more detail.

  7. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader Banned Banned

    1. Instead of explaining why you don't have clinical experience, you should go out and get clinical experience. It doesn't have to be anything significant, I actually found it to be more of a waste of time than anything else, but adcoms will be looking for something on paper.
    2. Like previous posters have already mentioned, don't talk about boring topics like taking the MCAT again in your personal statement. Your personal statement should be interesting to read.
    3. If you are applying MD/PhD everywhere, I suppose that you could talk about being wanting to do MD/PhD in your PS. I'm not MD/PhD, but if I remember the advice my pre-med advisor gave us correctly, it was that you are not supposed to talk about wanting to be MD/PhD because it detracts from you wanting to be MD*. If you don't get into MD/PhD, you will have a shot at MD alone and you don't want your PS about you only wanting to MD/PhD your whole life to take away from that shot. I think that you are just supposed to write about your goals to be MD/PhD in your secondaries and specific MD/PhD questions on those forms. You should, of course, talk about your dedication to research in you PS though. *Note that this was the advice I think that I overheard my pre-med advisor giving us, I was never pre-MD/PhD
  8. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior 7+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    There are very few rigid rules in this process. I think the best bet is to go with whatever feels right so long as it's not too outrageous. I flat out stated in my personal and vision statements that I'll be doing MD/PhD. This didn't stop Yale, Columbia, Stanford, and Northwestern from offering me MD only interviews. In any case I happily declined those interviews. I wasn't playing around when I put straight up MD/PhD in my essays.

    As far as the MCAT thing, I have to agree that it's not worth mentioning. It's a trivial technicality that shouldn't take up valueable time and space. Don't volunteer an explanation for retaking, but if they ask, then have a ready answer that doesn't make you seem overly concerned with numbers (cause 32 is a pretty good score). 32 might be a tad bit below the threshold for top MD/PhD programs, but then why retake if you were not applying muddphudd at the time. atsai3 is right on. You should think about the "have you ever applied here before" question. I guess a good way around this is that you've applied but strictly speaking, not to the program (MD/PhD) to which you're currently applying. In general, the interview is not an interrogation. It's very friendly and laid back. Keep in mind that you're a [email protected] candidate and just RELAX and go with the flow.

    BTW I'm in Edmonton. It's nice. Very diverse (albeit not like Montreal or Toronto). It's certainly not the redneck capital of the world as many seem to think. And the girls are fine too:D
  9. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    Edmonton is a good city - my sister is there visiting some friends right now, actually.

    Thanks to all of you for your help.

    I just brought this up in another thread, but I have another question for all of you. I have noticed that a couple of school's want letters from people you have done research under. What happens if this is only one person? :) Any advice? :)
  10. sng33

    sng33 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2001
    Brandonite, how did you go from a 32 to a 38-40? It seems to increase above a 32 is pretty difficult, what did you do differntly the second time around to prepare? Did you even llok at the relevant science again, or did you just basically just do practice tests and problems to refine your MCAT specific test taking skill? I am just curious what the most effective way to increase your score second time around.
  11. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
    Oh, well, my story is a fair bit different than most.

    I had a bunch of buddies tell me that they thought having taken an actual MCAT just for practice would be a big help for when I wrote it for real. And I'm Canadian, and everyone in Canada writes the August MCATs, basically. So, I took the April MCATs cold, without any prep or even really knowing the basics (how long each section was, stuff like that). That was when I got a 32. I took three weeks off work, did nothing but study (Kaplan and TPR books, and all five AAMC practice tests the week before), and that was when I got the 38-40. Which stunned me, because I was getting between 32 and 34 on all of the practice ones I had written the week before.

    So, it was easy to improve my score the second time around. Going back, I would do things totally differently (writing the April MCAT was a waste of money, and did nothing for me), but I guess it worked out in the end. :)

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