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Should I incorporate research into my PS for top-20 schools?

SpanishMusical

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2017
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Hi all,

My current personal statement (in broad strokes) focuses mostly on my experiences in a free clinic and using my Spanish abilities to build relationships with patients, and how medicine allows me to use these relationships to heal others (especially Spanish-speakers). I have a vignette at the beginning illustrating this, followed by a thesis-type paragraph to make it explicit. I then included a volunteer experience where I tutored kids from Spanish-speaking households to show how this mentor-like relationship helped these kids reach their academic goals, and then finished the essay off describing how these same skills can be applied in the clinic (with another example), and how medicine allows me to leverage these relationships to help others.

My problem is that I'm also pretty interested in research and will be applying to a number of high-ranked research-heavy schools (CCLCM, Stanford, Pitt), and I'm unsure if my activities section adequately captures my experiences (one entry for pubs, one for posters, one for a paid EEG gig I had, and one for my time as a research assistant, which I listed as most impactful). One of my main interests is the classification of psychiatric disorders using biomarkers, which was in part stemmed from the fact that certain self-report questionnaires can attribute paranoia in some groups to psychosis when, in reality, it is due to societal factors that frankly make suspicion reasonable (e.g., undocumented immigrants being wary of police). This led me to wonder about more biology-based measures in psychosis, which is my current project.

My question is: should I switch out the tutoring paragraph for a research one? I worry it won't flow as well or fit in as well with my "thread" of relationships, but I feel it may make my application more unique and better capture everything I hope to get out of a medical career. I also don't want ADCOMs to wonder "why not PhD, then?" with more research mentioned. Finally, I know that some schools may have secondaries where I can flesh this out more, making a paragraph in the PS unnecessary? I'd be especially interested in opinions from people who applied to research-heavy schools, as well as adcoms (@LizzyM, @Goro).
 
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LizzyM

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Write the best essay you can. It sounds like you have a good theme and you've fleshed it out. The research activities speak for themselves and will show that you aren't a one trick pony but may be a good fit for schools that are looking for well-rounded students with fingers in several pies.
 
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SpanishMusical

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2017
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  1. Pre-Medical
Write the best essay you can. It sounds like you have a good theme and you've fleshed it out. The research activities speak for themselves and will show that you aren't a one trick pony but may be a good fit for schools that are looking for well-rounded students with fingers in several pies.

Thanks for the quick response – to make sure I understand correctly, if I basically write what I said here about research in my activities section, would that be sufficient to let adcoms know of my interest in and record of performance in research, even at top places?
 
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LizzyM

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15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2005
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Yes, not every essay for a top 20 has to be about research. Your involvement and interest in research will be verified by looking at the work&activities section and you might have a place to mention it in secondaries, too. It need not go in the PS, particularly if it would not be a good fit with the rest of your narrative.
 
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