The Medical School Personal Statement
The medical school personal statement can strike fear
into the heart of the medical school applicant.
However, it does not have to be that way! Think of this as your
chance to set yourself apart from other medical students.
There are 5 main rules to writing your medical school essay
that you'll find below. With at little bit of work,
your personal statement for medical school can tell the medical school admissions committee who you
are and why they should want you.
You may also be wondering, "How important is
the medical school personal statement in my
Remember that there are many factors that medical schools
are looking for in choosing an applicant. You need to understand
things that schools are looking for to make your dream of becoming a
doctor a reality. In my time on the UCLA medical school
admissions committee, I learned exactly
what it takes to get into medical school.
Now, back to explaining what it takes to write a great personal
statement for medical school.
Here is what a lot of medical school
essays look like:
I want to be a doctor because I want to help
I did research. I did community service. I worked at a
My dad was a doctor and that's what made me want to be
I will be good in medical school.
This is an exaggeration, but many medical
school admission essays look the same.
Below are some rules to follow to make
your medical school admission essay stand out.
after going through these rules you find that you would like some
more medical school essay help, you can put me, a former UCLA admissions committee
member and writing tutor, on your side! Low rates for personal
statement editing! Click here to find out more.
Here are some of the main rules you want to follow
when writing a medical school essay and really any
personal writing. You'll find the rest in my eBook!:
Photo courtesy of Rennett Stowe
Rule #1: Show, Don't Tell
- A common theme in the medical school personal statement is
"I want to be a doctor because I want to help people."
This is probably true, but the problem is this: anyone
can say that, and most applicants do say that. You need
to show me why that's true. What experience did you
have that made you want to help people? Likewise, don't
just say that you've done research or community service.
Tell a story only you can tell about it and what it
taught you that will make you a good doctor.
- Here's part of a sample medical school
essay that shows that you want to help
- I could smell the rotting garbage in
the streets. I was far from home in my third week in Guatemala
as part of a medical mission. The people were so poor, but so
grateful. I was working with Pedro, bandaging a cut
on his hand after an accident sharpening his
machete. He looked up at me and said "Gracias,
amigo." Those simple words lifted my spirits. My
work here was making a difference, small as it might be. I
want to continue to make that difference and feel the joy of
helping others through a career in medicine.
- What's good about this: It shows that you
want to help people by your experience and it's an experience
that only you had. Individuality is the key
to the medical school personal statement.
- Learn more about why this is important throughout
your application process on my admissions
page and in my eBook!
Rule #2: It's story time
- This goes along with show don't tell, but your medical
school personal statement should be a collection of your
experiences and what they taught you. Those experiences should
have taught you things that will make you a good doctor.
Remember to think from the perspective of the
reader. The reader wants to know
who you are and that you have developed certain character traits
through your experiences. These should include things like
service, compassion, integrity, dedication, diligence, tenacity,
- Everyone will be trying to show that they have those
qualities, but you will have the advantage because you will
show the reader by your experiences that you have those qualities. That's the key to a great medical school personal statement.
- Most of the applicants will have those qualities. Your job
is to show how you got them or how you
- Tell a story, then tell what it taught you. How will that
lesson make you a good doctor? This is what will make your
personal statement for medical school stand out.
- Learn more about why this is important throughout
your application process on my admissions page and in
Rule #3: Make it entertaining. If you're not having fun
writing it, they're not having fun reading it!
- Remember that the people reading these have read
many, many medical school personal statements. If you are telling stories
that are meaningful to you, that will come across and make it an
entertaining read for the person reviewing your application.
- If you're not having fun writing it, they're not
having fun reading it. I'm repeating this because it's
so important. Remember this as your write all of your essays,
including the medical school personal statement, your
descriptions of activities, and your secondary application
essays. Use humor if that is one of your
talents. If someone laughs while reading your essay,
that's a good thing. It may be the first laugh the person
reading all these medical school essays has had in a while.
- Learn more about why this is important throughout
your application process, including your AMCAS and
interviews on my admissions page and in
Rule #4: Find it in my eBook!
- Not following this rule could get you into sticky situations
and could even cost you acceptance to medical school!
Rule #5: Have other people read your medical school personal
- At the end of the day, writing is about
how other people respond to what you have written. Have someone
look through your medical school essay.
- The ideal person to review your medical school essay will be
someone who is a good writer and who will give you honest
feedback about your personal statement for medical school.
Don't just choose people who will say your essay is
great even if it's not. Your mom probably falls under this category. Your
boyfriend or girlfriend probably does too.
- In my opinion, the best person to review your
statement is someone who has been on a medical school admissions
committee. I do editing work, and the company I
recommend for this is MedSchoolCoach.
Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. The idea here is to turn your personal
statement for medical school from something good to something
that will jump off the page for the admissions committee and
make them want you!
- For more information on whom to
choose to look at your essay and when you do and don't
need professional editing, check out my
The Basic Outline
- Your medical school personal statement
should look something like this:
- Hook: Something that immediately grabs the reader's
attention. From the sample medical school essay above,
the first sentence was "I could smell the rotting garbage in
the streets." That's something interesting that makes the
reader want to keep reading.
- Story time: Tell your first story.
- What it taught you: What character
trait/quality does this experience demonstrate or what did the
experience teach you? In our example this part read as
follows: "My work here was making a difference, small as it
might be. I want to continue to make that difference and feel
the joy of helping others through a career in
- Body Paragraphs
- Same as introduction
- You only want the medical school personal
statement to be about one page. So, don't get carried away.
- Here's part of a sample medical
school essay from my personal statement:
- Not only have I had the chance to be a mentor, I have
had the chance to be mentored by inspiring physicians. I sat
in the small whitewashed room with Dr. Petrie at the red
cross building in El Fuerte, Mexico, waiting for our next
patient. Dr. Petrie had flown us from Fullterton, CA to
Mexico at his own expense in his 4-seater yellow Bonanza
aircraft. A man in cowboy boots and hat came into the
small whitewashed room with his family, rolled up his plaid
sleeve and showed us a large growth on his right
bicep. Dr. Petrie asked a few questions about it and
whether he wanted it removed. When the man said yes,
Dr. Petrie replied with a smile, "So you don't want to look
like a strong man anymore?" There was a sense of
relief in the laughter of the man and his family. They
knew that the person who would perform the surgery cared not
just about the growth but about the man.
- Transitions. Learn about how to make your
essay flow smoothly in my eBook!
- Summary of your qualities learned/demonstrated by
your experiences. You want the reader to finish
reading your personal statement for medical school with an
understanding of how these experiences will make you a great
- Power statement: The last sentence/few
sentences should give the reader something to remember.
Here are the last sentences from my medical school essay,
which you can use as a sample medical school essay:
- ...They knew that the person who would perform the
surgery cared not just about the growth but about the man. I
want to be that kind of doctor. The kind who shows he cares
with a smile. The kind that takes the time not only to
prescribe, but to educate. The kind dedicated to healing and
helping. That's who I want to be.
- Outlining your essay
The personal statement is only
a small part of what gets you accepted to medical school. Check out
page and eBook
to learn exactly what it takes to
A Few Other Key Points
- Use names. Using names makes the personal
statement for medical school more, well, personal.
- Create an "MO." As a person reads your
essay, that person should understand who you are. Learn about this important
strategy in my eBook! Following this strategy will help
the committee remember you.
- Be active and specific in your
language. As explained about, you want to be
telling stories. Make them interesting. Write in first person.
Talk about how those experiences affected you. It can be tricky
to do this, especially if you're used to writing scientific or
other "academic" papers. If you're ont comfortable writing this
way, check out my editing services.
- Don't be afraid to make it short. The
medical school essay should only be about one page long. In
fact, AMCAS limits your medical school personal statement
to 5300 characters (about one page). This strategy will
help you on your AMCAS application as well. You'll learn more
about the importance of your AMCAS descriptions in my eBook. They are more important than you
think! One of my best AMCAS activities was "Husband and
Father" and the description was "the best, hardest, most
rewarding thing I do." Memorable and unique. That's what you're
going for in AMCAS and the medical school personal
- Block left. This means do not
indent your paragraphs. It's easier for the eye to read
this way and it looks better.
Using professional editing services
There are many medical school personal statement editing
services available online and in various other places. Learn about free and low cost editing
options in my eBook!
However, there are cases
when professional editing services would be a good idea.
You can learn about these in my eBook and on my editing page. In these cases, your
best bet is to work with someone who has experience with the
medical school personal statement from the other side of the
admissions table. I offer editing services available here.
As I said above, the company I recommend for medical school essay
help is MedSchoolCoach.
The reason I like this company is because they are all
doctors who have had experience on a medical school admissions
committee. That means they know exactly what it is that
schools are looking for. They also have an excellent
success rate and have helped students get into top tier schools
like Harvard medical school.
I also like them because their prices are very reasonable, even
compared to other companies with less specialized experience. They
offer personal statement editing along with many other options to
help you achieve your goal of becoming a doctor. Remember,
the personal statement for medical school is only part of the
equation. MedSchoolCoach offers complete packages (which
include medical school essay help) for a great price. Their success rate is
100% with their gold package. That means everyone who signed up for that
became a doctor! Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. You can also specifically request my services when you sign up. Medical school personal statements are one of my specialties and I'd be happy to work with you to create something great!
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