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Personal Statement Suggestions

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by praying4MD, May 27, 2002.

  1. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
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    First of all, oldman is a cool guy for being the first to offer to read personal statements. Great idea. <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" />

    After reading a lot of essays from this year's applicants, I feel compelled to give some advice since I am coming across the same corrections over and over again. I do not mean to be harsh, only to offer some honesty for you. I hope this helps those who are too shy to send one of us their personal statements.

    ESSAY TIPS

    In general, DO NOT LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR. If you didn't have one to begin with, try to acquire one. :D This idea will be revisited later. Keep reading.

    1) Do not tell me how "empathetic" you are. Do not tell me any other personality traits. SHOW me through example what your qualities are. Describe an experience vividly, even a small one, and I can draw my own conclusions based on that experience.

    2) Be prepared. Anything mentioned in your essay (even just in passing reference) is fair game for the interview. If you mention your research, KNOW it backwards and forwards and be able to explain it in regular terms without sounding condescending. The people who will be interviewing you will probably not like their egos bruised by a premed who explains his research in a demeaning manner.

    3) Instead of speaking in the negative, speak in the positive. ex: instead of "I dislike research" say, "I prefer clinical work."

    4) Emphasize both the human component AND the scientific component of being a physician, not just one. If you want to "help people," the logical question would be, "Why not nursing? why not social work? why not law?" All those professionals "help people" (giving lawyers the benefit of the doubt here. :D )

    5) Explain your motivation behind wanting to become a physician. How did you come to this decision? However, only do this if you explored other career paths first. If you have always wanted to be a doctor, this is not necessary to reiterate in your PS.

    6) Express your passion for medicine in some way. Be daring. Use words other than 'amazing, incredible' etc. These are everyday words which cannot really encompass the passion you should have for medicine. However, I might be a bit picky here; perhaps it is my writing style, since I tend to be very descriptive/passionate in my writing.

    7) If I were on an adcom, I want to know about YOU, not your school, education, MCAT, GPA; even a listing of EC's is not what I want. I can get that from the other parts of the application. Mention anything special about you. Is there anything particularly different about you? Have you traveled? Does your sister have a learning disability that encouraged you to pursue medicine? Things like this should be mentioned if they are personal to you and set you apart from the typical applicant, particularly if these experiences have shaped you or your personality/views in any way.

    8) No need to state the obvious. Every EC is a wonderful experience. Instead, tell me how it changed you personally-- how you found out you were wrong about something or how it kicked your butt because it was so hard to connect with someone, but in the end, you did it-- not because of you and your personality, but because the patient allowed you to connect with them. Or maybe you didn't do it-- that's ok too. It is totally acceptable to write about these experiences as well. Elaborate on what you liked/learned, and yes, it is ok to DISLIKE something about your EC's/experiences!! When I described my medical relief trip to Africa, I also mentioned how the heat of 129 degrees without AC or water was unbearable and how difficult it was for me. This honesty is preferable over saying how much every experience is simply "incredible/wonderful."

    Show the reader how you have grown as a result of your experiences and mention specific snapshots or scenarios. These bring life to the essay. Giving a summary of your experiences makes me bored and I go back to skimming instead of reading intently.

    And finally, again, HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR! But only if you can manage this without coming across as cheesy or fake. If not, stick to your serious side because adcoms do tend to be on the conservative side. However, if you can manage it, Use it! After reading essay after essay, the one that brings a smile to me will be remembered and will be a breath of fresh air.

    Hope this helps and if I have come across as harsh, I don't mean to be. I only intend to be helpful. Anyway, if you have any questions feel free to PM me.

    Well, it looks like I have actually found use for that liberal arts degree! Wow! <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" />
     
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  3. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats
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    9) Hint to the adcoms that you are ***WILLING*** to do **ANYTHING** they might want of you. Directly out of my personal statement: "I am very flexible, good with my hands, and don't bite...very hard."

    Just don't go copying it! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     
  4. UrSexyLatinDr

    UrSexyLatinDr Single and looking =o)~
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    HEY praying4MD,

    Thanks for sharing these. I bet a lot of you wouldve love to see this kind of advice before applying. I will keep a copy of this because as these are great tips and good advice....

    Eduardo
     
  5. Premed2003

    Premed2003 Senior Member
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    Hi guys,

    Thanks bunches.

    Would any successful applicants be willing to post parts or all of their personal statement to get an idea of successful personal statements? I have that book called Essays that will get you into medical school with 40 personal statements, but I thought a lot of them were very braggy. Are most personal statements like this?

    Thanks.
     
  6. nebula7

    nebula7 Senior Member
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    another recommendation (one I got from a paper about how to write a good personal statement, given to me by a premed advisor):

    write the personal statement more in the form of an interesting short story that tells about you and how you came to the decision to go into medicine (pretty much answering in a creative way: Why me? Why Medicine? and Why me + your school = good match).
    This makes it much less boring and makes you stand out more than one that may go something like, "I was born in... and went to school at... etc." As praying4 stated, they have that info.
    The story format worked for me, and the dean complimented my writing style and said it actively engaged the reader. IMHO, just don't be overly artsy, as med schools are still inherently conservative.
     
  7. djipopo

    djipopo SDN Angel
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    check out this thread:

    <a href="http://forums.studentdoctor.net/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=012727" target="_blank">Accepted people's personal statements</a>
     
  8. Street Philosopher

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    can i get confirmation from another source about humor? that's fine? I tend to think this process is sooooo formal and I don't dare violate its sanctity with a joke... (ok that's a little overstated but you know what I mean sorta).
     
  9. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Street Philosopher:
    <strong>can i get confirmation from another source about humor?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Allow me to revise and clarify. When I say humor, I do NOT mean that you should belittle the medical profession at all. If you are unsure of how to use humor in your personal statement, then DO NOT DO IT. If it comes naturally to you and you are confident with it, then go with the flow. I used some elements of humor in my secondaries more than in my personal statement.

    For instance, instead of simply describing the cultural misunderstandings you may have had working at a clinic, describe an instance where that misunderstanding was somewhat humorous. I don't know if I just confused you more now.

    Anyway, when in doubt, it is better to be on the safe side and not use it; you are right there. At the same time, the adcoms that I spoken with have often told me that humor, when used correctly in an essay, places the essay in an entirely different realm, simply because of its unique quality.
     
  10. Street Philosopher

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    Thanks. Well I'm not quite boneheaded enough to belittle anyone with humor in my personal statement! lol

    I just thought that humor, no matter how "safe" it is, might come across as flippant if the audience considers things in a serious manner.
     
  11. sng33

    sng33 Senior Member
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  12. relatively prime

    relatively prime post happy member
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    A bit of humor is definitely a good thing... especially if your entire essay is really serious and heavy. You got to realize that most admissions commitee members read up to 40 essays a day!! A lot of these essays are going to be like "when my aunt got cancer..." and "while helping children with AIDS..." or "when my best friend got in a car accident..." you can imagine how these people are going to feel by the time they get to your essay. A bit of creative, witty, and appropriately placed humor might endear you to them forever.

    Be careful though! Have many people read your essay to make sure that it doens't come accross as flippant. Get barron's "Essay's that Will Get You into Medical School" It's a really good book and it talks about the importance of humor and how to use it appropriately.

    The example Barron's gives is of a student who wrote for the first line of his essay "I was raised by Donald Duck." The student then explains that his dad is a doctor and uses a DOnald Duck voice to make his young patients feel more comfortable.

    Hope that helps :)
     
  13. Street Philosopher

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    that is an excellent point relatively prime! dude i seem to agree with everything you say.
     
  14. </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by praying4MD:
    <strong> </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Street Philosopher:
    <strong>can i get confirmation from another source about humor?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Allow me to revise and clarify. When I say humor, I do NOT mean that you should belittle the medical profession at all. If you are unsure of how to use humor in your personal statement, then DO NOT DO IT. If it comes naturally to you and you are confident with it, then go with the flow. I used some elements of humor in my secondaries more than in my personal statement.

    For instance, instead of simply describing the cultural misunderstandings you may have had working at a clinic, describe an instance where that misunderstanding was somewhat humorous. I don't know if I just confused you more now.

    Anyway, when in doubt, it is better to be on the safe side and not use it; you are right there. At the same time, the adcoms that I spoken with have often told me that humor, when used correctly in an essay, places the essay in an entirely different realm, simply because of its unique quality.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">girl long time no see, where have you been u cute chic :cool: by the way, congrats on BAylor, u biootch, how come u didnt tell me sooner, we should celebrate it!

    by the way, coming to texas for a few days, maybe u can show me round around, and maybe we can go round the block also <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> wink wink

    you got my email address girl, so use it babe, use it well...I'm available for the summer,but then after that it's hasta la vista baby <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> :cool:

    I expect a lot of lovin from the pple of texas :D
     
  15. relatively prime

    relatively prime post happy member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Street Philosopher:
    <strong>that is an excellent point relatively prime! dude i seem to agree with everything you say.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Awww.... thanks <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    One other point Barron's makes is that you should tell a story. Pick an anecdotal (sp?) experience from your life and use it help illustrate why you want to be a doctor or why you will be a good doctor.... it doesn't have to be something really amazing... like saving someone's life. It can just be something very normal that you experienced. What will make it interesting is how you explain what you were thinking at the time... how it made you feel, maybe how it changed you, etc... think Wonder Years... :) well, maybe not exactly... but you get the idea <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />
     
  16. willow212

    willow212 Senior Member
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    Bumping up for current applicants and adding some of my own thoughts.

    :cool:

    Excellent suggestions from above posters in this thread.

    I also think it is vital to get many people (esp those who know you well) to read the essay. Ask readers if the essay sounds like you and is a good representation of who you are as an individual - then you will know that you have a great essay.

    As far as content, I read for the following items:

    1. How convinced am I of your motivation to become a physician?
    2. Do you have enough exposure to medicine to understand what you are getting into (both good and bad parts of medicine)?
    3. What unique traits and experiences do you have which will help you become a good physician? (This needs to be demonstrated through examples). This is where life history comes in.
    4. Are there any red flags regarding your motivation, etc. that concern me (for example, are you mainly doing this for societal/parental approval, because you hate your current job, etc.)?

    I like to see essays which are not focused on one experience and instead tell more about your entire life story. I think we tend to forget sometimes that each of us has a very interesting background that began before we ever started volunteering or became interested in medicine. And personally, I think an applicant's life history is the most interesting thing about them, with the motivation and experiences related to medicine being a key, but not necessarily overwhelming, part of the essay.

    It's hard to do all this in one little page (and hard to write about yourself in general), but hopefully these and the above suggestions will help.

    Good luck!
     

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