You’ve decided to apply to Med School? Great!
One thing you will need to get right is your personal statement. If this sends you into a panic, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered.
I’ll show you how to write a medical school personal statement, and I’ll even give you an example to get you started.
What is a medical school personal statement?
It is a written composition where you narrate in the first person’s voice why you deserve to get accepted to the university’s college of medicine.
You will state the qualities and skills that you think qualify you to become a physician someday. You will explain why you decided to pursue a medical career and why you should be given a chance to realize that goal.
If you have personal anecdotes that pushed you in the direction of that course, you should tell them too.
Here’s what should you include in a medical school personal statement:
1. Why medicine?
You know a career in medicine is for you… How do you know?
Your reader will want to know why you want to study medicine. Is it a burning desire to help people that you’ve had since childhood?
Did a family member have a medical emergency that gave you a desire to help others?
Whatever your motivation, it is part of what makes the personal statement personal to you!
2. Why would you be a great medical student?
When you think about how to write a medical school personal statement, you also need to consider your unique skills and experience.
You will want to show off personal qualities that make you suited to the medical profession. Are you especially cool under pressure? Do you have excellent memory? Are you a fantastic problem solver?
Whatever combination of skills you bring to the table, they need to be in your personal statement.
3. What have you done already?
This is your opportunity to let the reader know how long you have been working towards your goals.
You might already have some experience in the medical field. For instance, have you been volunteering in a local hospital? Or providing support in a healthcare setting?
This is a great way to show you are serious about a career in medicine. That is exactly how you want to write a medical school personal statement!
Another way to show your commitment to medical school is your extra-curricular activities.
These will tell the reader a lot about who you are as a person and the sort of things you enjoy. It is also a great way to make the statement personal to you.
After all, you want the reader to feel like they know you in the end, don’t you?
4. Your medicine-related story
This is important, so listen up! You need to tell the reader your story.
By that, I mean tell them your past, present, and future. They want to know what you have done and what brought you to this point. Tell them what you are like and what you are doing now. Finish by telling them what your plans are for the future.
Trust me, they want to know how you envision your future! I don’t just mean to give them the information. I mean, tell them in a narrative style.
Use the sort of language you find in fictional stories to be more engaging. It will be a much more interesting statement to read and is more likely to stand out.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean you should make it up – far from it! You might have to elaborate on your statement in an interview, so it is important to be true. It will be a story based on the facts of your life.
That might feel like a lot of information to include, but don’t worry! I will give you a few tips on how to write a medical school personal statement.
Then I will put it all together into an example for you. You will be ready to write your own before you know it!
Tips on How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement:
1. Plan accordingly
Please don’t leave your personal statement until the night before it is due! It is an important part of your application to medical school. Please don’t rush it.
Plan out what you are going to say (and how) before you type. Make sure you have enough time to write it, rewrite it, and edit it!
2. Stand out from the crowd
We already discussed some ways to do this, but a key one is to avoid clichés.
Clichés are overused phrases, so if you use them in your statement, they will sound the same as all others. You don’t want that, do you?!
Make sure your personal statement is just that…personal! Nobody else has your combination of skills and experience, so make the most of that. Tell your reader what makes you the ideal candidate for medical school.
3. Watch your word count
Typically, the word count for a medical school personal statement is 4,500-5,300 characters or 500 words. The exact figure will vary according to where you are applying. Make sure you know what your word count is and stick to it!
500 words might sound like a lot, but once you get started, you’ll hit that number sooner than you think.
If you are struggling to get started, don’t worry. It is daunting to stare at a blank page.
If you are struggling to get something on paper (or screen), start by making notes as bullet points. Once you have a few points written, you will see your page isn’t blank anymore. Time to get started!
4. Proofreading and editing
I can’t emphasize enough how important this stage is. Make sure you leave enough time to proofread your statement properly.
You can (and should!) use a spelling and grammar checker. You’ll be amazed at how you miss or erred on some spellings, punctuations, and tenses.
Don’t stop there, it is important to use human proofreaders too! You can read your statement aloud or ask someone else to read it for you.
Reading your words aloud can help you hear how well it is structured. For instance, if your sentences are too long, you will run out of breath. Or if you have repeated the same phrase too often, this will become obvious too.
If you can ask someone else to proofread it too, that would be great! They are likely to catch things you might miss because you are too close to them.
Example of a Medical School Personal Statement
I felt the rain dripping down my neck, but I hardly noticed. Growing up in New York City, I was used to seeing people lying or sitting on the streets, but this was different. I had seen the man in front of me suddenly slump to the ground and my instincts told me that something was wrong.
From my summers working in the health care center near my aunt’s house, I knew enough to put him in the recovery position. Then I quickly called 911.
By now, a few people had stopped, but I made sure he had space. I checked to make sure he was breathing and reassured him that help was on the way. I just hoped that was true.
I looked up moments later, and with relief, saw the flashing lights of the first responders. They took over and soon the man was on his way to the hospital.
From a young age, I told anyone who would listen that I would be a doctor one day. I even bandaged my toys and played ‘hospitals’. Yet, I always had a small doubt about how I would cope under pressure. Would I be able to stay calm and think clearly?
Standing in the rain that day, I learned I could.
Deep in my heart, I knew I would do whatever it took to become a doctor. I had been very close to my cousin, Cassie, growing up, but she was diagnosed with leukemia when I was ten. When she passed away, it hit me hard. She knew I wanted to become a doctor and made me promise I would pursue that dream.
So, Cassie, I’ll do it for you!
Your personal statement will be longer than the example above, which is around 300 words. But somehow, it could give you an idea of how to write a medical school personal statement.
Follow these tips and you will engage your reader and make them feel like they know you and what you can achieve.
Make it personal and tell a story!