Lorbis

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Jun 29, 2009
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Hello All,

I am wondering whether to include a certain experience I had in my personal statement. Long story short; I had a little brother who was diagnosed with leukemia and I ended up moving to NYC to live in a Ronald McDonald house during his treatment. I donated my bone marrow to him.

I don't know whether talking about family members with illness is a taboo subject or not. Most people have sometime in their life gone through a challenging loss. I don't want it to seem like I am using this as a "poor me" story.

But, it has actually changed my life. I was exposed to many terminally ill children and became all-to-familiar with hospitals. I want to focus on other aspects of my life for my statement, but I feel as though it deserves some mention.

What do you think? Is talking about something like this OK or may it be viewed as inappropriate? This happened when I was 17 - I am 23 now. Thank you.
 

xmsr3

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Its more than OK, its the perfect thing to talk about, especially if you donated the bone marrow that saved him. That is a rather unique experience and it brought you closer to a loved one and gave you an appreciation for medicine.

Ask yourself this, how smart would it be to not use this experience? You'd be forced to write about other experiences, most likely the exact same ones everyone else had, and your essay would be cookie cutter in the extreme.

At least with this, you prove dedication to medicine early on.
 

Rendar5

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Nov 12, 2003
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it's not taboo, just don't let it become a cliched personal statement (family member went through an illness, i wished there was someway i could help them so i decided to become a doctor)
 

xmsr3

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This is why I hate PS with a passion. Every adcom tells you to "show and not tell" about how you care about people, see medicine as a life style, not a career and understand the challenges involved, but without sounding cliched.

In other words, tell me how you are an idealist, who is also a realist, who wants to go into medicine for the right reasons, and make it an essay that isn't boring, but isn't full of creative writing techniques and dosn't sound like everyone elses.

I swear to god that such an essay is an impossible task they give us to see whether or not we are willing to jump through hoops. Its nothing more than a snipe hunt to get into med school!

Consider this: If you took an adcom who has spent the last 20 years reading PS and secondary essays, someone who is as big an expert on med school admissions as you can find, and told them to write the perfect PS, they would write something that they THOUGHT was perfect.

Then show that letter to a different adcom and that adcom would probably find it generic, cliched or boring, or possibly all 3. All essays are subjective and the effect it has on the reader is almost 100% decided by who reads it and what their personal beliefs are.

If your essay hits a nerve they will hate it, if they agree with your world view they will like it.
 
OP
Lorbis

Lorbis

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Jun 29, 2009
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xmsr3 - You are right about that. It is very frustrating. I guess that's why applying early may help, where more adcoms may get to see your essay and MAYBE then it will appeal to SOMEONE. :wtf:
 

AmoryBlaine

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If you are going to mention such an intensely personal experience the key will be to be able to discuss it in a calm way.

It sounds like a heckuva story and could make a good PS, but when someone asks about it will you start crying? I'm not trying to be flippant it's a totally serious question.

An interviewer will like to hear about personal development, they're not going to want to be looking for the tissue.
 
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Lorbis

Lorbis

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Jun 29, 2009
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I've done a mock interview with a panel at my college - no tears there! But, during an actual interview, I will probably be quite nervous. Who knows? It's been almost seven years. You bring up a good point, AmoryBlaine. Schools want to see someone who can handle these situations calmly, not shrivel up into a blubbering saline bucket.