2 Med School Essays That Admissions Officers Loved

Here are tips on writing a medical school personal statement and examples of essays that stood out.

2 Great Med School Personal Statements

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A compelling medical school admissions essay can address nearly any topic the applicant is interested in, as long as it conveys the applicant's personality. (Getty Images)

A personal statement is often a pivotal factor in medical school admissions decisions.

"The essay really can cause me to look more deeply at the entire application," Dr. Stephen Nicholas, former senior associate dean of admissions with the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons , told U.S. News in 2017. "So I do think it's pretty important."

A compelling medical school admissions essay can address nearly any topic the applicant is interested in, as long as it conveys the applicant's personality, according to Dr. Barbara Kazmierczak, director of the M.D.-Ph.D. Program and a professor of medicine and microbial pathogenesis with the Yale School of Medicine.

“The passion that the writer is bringing to this topic tells us about the individual rather than the topic that they’re describing, and the essay is the place for us to learn about the applicant – who they are and what experiences have brought them to this point of applying to medical school,” she told U.S. News in 2017.

Rachel Rudeen, former admissions coordinator for the University of Minnesota Medical School , says personal statements help medical schools determine whether applicants have the character necessary to excel as a doctor. "Grit is something we really look for," she says.

Evidence of humility and empathy , Rudeen adds, are also pluses.

Why Medical Schools Care About Personal Statements

The purpose of a personal statement is to report the events that inspired and prepared a premed to apply to medical school, admissions experts say. This personal essay helps admissions officers figure out whether a premed is ready for med school, and it also clarifies whether a premed has a compelling rationale for attending med school, these experts explain.

When written well, a medical school personal statement conveys a student's commitment to medicine and injects humanity into an admissions process that might otherwise feel cold and impersonal, according to admissions experts.

Glen Fogerty, associate dean of admissions and recruitment with the medical school at the University of Arizona—Phoenix , put it this way in an email: "To me, the strongest personal statements are the ones that share a personal connection. One where a candidate shares a specific moment, the spark that ignited their passion to become a physician or reaffirmed why they chose medicine as a career."

Dr. Viveta Lobo, an emergency medicine physician with the Stanford University School of Medicine in California who often mentors premeds, says the key thing to know about a personal statement is that it must indeed be personal, so it needs to reveal something meaningful. The essay should not be a dry piece of writing; it should make the reader feel for the author, says Lobo, director of academic conferences and continuing medical education with the emergency medicine department at Stanford.

A great personal statement has an emotional impact and "will 'do' something, not just 'say' something," Lobo wrote in an email. Admissions officers "read hundreds of essays – so before you begin, think of how yours will stand out, be unique and different," Lobo suggests.

How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

Lobo notes that an outstanding personal statement typically includes all of the following ingredients:

  • An intriguing introduction that gets admissions officers' attention.
  • Anecdotes that illustrate what kind of person the applicant is.
  • Reflections about the meaning and impact of various life experiences .
  • A convincing narrative about why medical school is the logical next step.
  • A satisfying and optimistic conclusion.

"You should sound excited, and that passion should come through in your writing," Lobo explains.

A personal statement should tie together an applicant's past, present and future by explaining how previous experiences have led to this point and outlining long-term plans to contribute to the medical profession, Lobo said during a phone interview. Medical school admissions officers want to understand not only where an applicant has been but also the direction he or she is going, Lobo added.

When premeds articulate a vision of how they might assist others and improve society through the practice of medicine, it suggests that they aren't self-serving or simply interested in the field because of its prestige, Lobo says. It's ideal when premeds can eloquently describe a noble mission, she explains.

Elisabeth Fassas, author of "Making Pre-Med Count: Everything I Wish I'd Known Before Applying (Successfully) to Medical School," says premeds should think about the doctors they admire and reflect on why they admire them. Fassas, a first-year medical student at the University of Maryland , suggests pondering the following questions:

  • "Why can you really only see yourself being a physician?"
  • "What is it about being a doctor that has turned you on to this field?"
  • "What kind of doctor do you imagine yourself being?"
  • "Who do you want to be for your patients?"
  • "What are you going to do specifically for your patients that only you can do?"

Fassas notes that many of the possible essay topics a med school hopeful can choose are subjects that other premeds can also discuss, such as a love of science. However, aspiring doctors can make their personal statements unique by articulating the lessons they learned from their life experiences, she suggests.

Prospective medical students need to clarify why medicine is a more suitable calling for them than other caring professions, health care fields and science careers, Fassas notes. They should demonstrate awareness of the challenges inherent in medicine and explain why they want to become doctors despite those difficulties, she says.

Tips on Crafting an Excellent Medical School Personal Statement

The first step toward creating an outstanding personal statement, Fassas says, is to create a list of significant memories. Premeds should think about which moments in their lives mattered the most and then identify the two or three stories that are definitely worth sharing.

Dr. Demicha Rankin, associate dean for admissions at the Ohio State University College of Medicine , notes that a personal statement should offer a compelling portrait of a person and should not be "a regurgitation of their CV."

The most outstanding personal statements are the ones that present a multifaceted perspective of the applicant by presenting various aspects of his or her identity, says Rankin, an associate professor of anesthesiology.

For example, a premed who was a swimmer might explain how the discipline necessary for swimming is analogous to the work ethic required to become a physician, Rankin says. Likewise, a pianist or another type of musician applying to medical school could convey how the listening skills and instrument-tuning techniques cultivated in music could be applicable in medicine, she adds.

Rankin notes that it's apparent when a premed has taken a meticulous approach to his or her personal statement to ensure that it flows nicely, and she says a fine essay is akin to a "well-woven fabric." One sign that a personal statement has been polished is when a theme that was explored at the beginning of the essay is also mentioned at the end, Rankin says, explaining that symmetry between an essay's introduction and conclusion makes the essay seem complete.

Rankin notes that the author of an essay might not see flaws in his or her writing that are obvious to others, so it's important for premeds to show their personal statement to trusted advisers and get honest feedback. That's one reason it's important to begin the writing process early enough to give yourself sufficient time to organize your thoughts, Rankin says, adding that a minimum of four weeks is typically necessary.

Mistakes to Avoid in a Medical School Personal Statement

One thing premeds should never do in an admissions essay is beg, experts say. Rankin says requests of any type – including a plea for an admissions interview – do not belong in a personal statement. Another pitfall to avoid, Rankin says, is ranting about controversial political subjects such as the death penalty or abortion.

If premeds fail to closely proofread their personal statement, the essay could end up being submitted with careless errors such as misspellings and grammar mistakes that could easily have been fixed, according to experts. Crafting a compelling personal statement typically necessitates multiple revisions, so premeds who skimp on revising might wind up with sloppy essays, some experts say.

However, when fine-tuning their personal statements, premeds should not automatically change their essays based on what others say, Fogerty warns.

"A common mistake on personal statements is having too many people review your statement, they make recommendations, you accept all of the changes and then – in the end – the statement is no longer your voice," Fogerty wrote in an email. It's essential that a personal statement sound like the applicant and represent who he or she is as a person, Fogerty says.

Dr. Nicholas Jones, a Georgia-based plastic and reconstructive surgeon, says the worst error that someone can make in the personal statement is to be inauthentic or deceptive.

"Do not lie. Do not fabricate," he warns.

Jones adds that premeds should not include a story in their personal statement that they are not comfortable discussing in-depth during a med school admissions interview . "If it's something too personal or you're very emotional and you don't want to talk about that, then don't put it in a statement."

Medical School Personal Statement Examples

Here are two medical school admissions essays that made a strong, positive impression on admissions officers. The first is from Columbia and the second is from the University of Minnesota. These personal statements are annotated with comments from admissions officers explaining what made these essays stand out.

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Medical school personal statement examples.

Get accepted to your top choice medical school with your compelling essay.

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HAVE AN AVERAGE ACCEPTANCE RATE OF 5.3%

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A GREAT MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT IS KEY IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS

If you want to get into the best school, you need to stand out from other applicants.  

U.S. News   reports the average medical school acceptance rate at the top 100 med schools at 6.35% , but our med school clients enjoy an 85% ACCEPTANCE RATE .

How can you separate yourself from the competition successfully? By creating a great personal statement.

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Here we present medical school personal statement examples to give you ideas for your own essay.

Pay close attention to the consistent format of these effective personal statements:

ENGAGING INTRODUCTION / UNIFYING THEME / COMPELLING CONCLUSION

Give the admissions committee readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and a future medical professional. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading your essay.

Here's what you'll find on this page:

  • How Sample Med School Essays Can Help You
  • Before you Start Writing
  • Writing Your Opening Paragraph
  • Writing Your Body Paragraphs
  • Writing Transitions
  • Writing Your Conclusion
  • Common Elements Between Personal Statements

Five Don'ts for Your Medical School Personal Statement

  • Personal Statement Examples & Analysis
  • Frequently Asked Questions

How can these sample med school essays help you?

You plan to become a physician, a highly respected professional who will have great responsibility over the health and well being of your future patients. How can you prove to the admissions committee that you have the intelligence, the maturity, the compassion, and the dedication needed to succeed in your goal? 

The medical school personal statement examples below are all arguments in favor of top med schools accepting these applicants. And they worked. The applicants who wrote these essays were all accepted to top medical schools - most to multiple schools. They show a variety of experiences and thought processes that all led to the same outcome. However, while the paths to this decision point vary widely, these winning essays share several things in common. 

As you read them, take note of how the stories are built sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, adding to the evidence that the writer is worthy of acceptance. This evidence includes showing a sustained focus, mature self-reflection, and professional and educational experiences that have helped prepare the applicant to succeed. 

As you write your medical school personal statement , include your most compelling, memorable and meaningful experiences that are relevant to your decision to become a doctor. Each sentence should add to the reader’s understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and why you will make an outstanding physician. Your resulting essay will help the adcom appreciate your intellectual and psychological strengths as well as your motivations, and conclude that you are worthy of acceptance into a top medical school. 

Techniques for creating successful medical school personal statements

Before you start writing your med school personal statement.

Before you start writing your medical school personal statement you will need to choose a topic that will reflect who you are and engage the reader. There are a few strong ways to proceed. Try freewriting with a few of the following topic ideas.

Why medicine? Do you have a personal experience that made you certain about being a physician? How, when, did you know this was the right career for you? Is there a doctor you know (or knew) who emulates an altruistic moral character, someone who won your deepest respect? Can you show this person in action or describe them as they model inherent qualities, those for which you will strive as a physician?

How has a clinical experience been a real growth moment for you? Can you tell that story? Sometimes a clinical experience is deeply personal, something experienced by you or by someone in your family. Sometimes a clinical experience is about a patient whose situation taught you something deeply valuable, something honestly insightful about what good care means, about humanity, about empathy, about compassion, about community, about advantage and disadvantage, about equity and inclusion. 

Choose an experience outside the comfort of your own community, an experience where you were the outsider (uncertain, facing ambiguity) and this experience brought about a fresh, resonant understanding of yourself and others, an understanding that made you grow as a person, and perhaps brought about humility or joy in light of this geographical or cultural dislocation. Often this prompt includes traveling to other countries. Yet, it could work just as beautifully discovering people in close places that were previously unfamiliar to you – the shelter in the next town over, a foster home for medically unstable children, the day you witnessed food insecurity firsthand at a local church and decided to do something about disparity.

Read other successful personal statements in guides and publications. You can read sample personal statements that work here: medical school personal statement examples

The prompts above have great possibilities to be successful because they locate experiences that require better than average human understanding and insight. When we re-convey a moving human experience well, we tell a story that aims to bring us together, unite us in our common humanity. Telling powerful stories about humanity, in the end, presents your deeper attributes to others and demonstrates your capacity to feel deeply about the human condition. 

Be careful how often you use the first person pronoun, though you may use it. Revise for clarity many more times than you might do in other writing moments. Choose precise vocabulary that sounds like you, and, of course, revise so that you present to your readers the most pristinely grammatical you. 

Once you’ve looked at the sample medical school personal statements in the link above, try freewriting again according to one of the themes listed that applies to you. For instance, perhaps your prior freewriting aimed to describe a moment in your life that seeded your interest in medicine. Great. Save that file. Now, start again with a different topic, perhaps one from the linked page of sample personal statements. For instance, let your freewriting explore the time you traveled to another country to participate in a public health mission. What person immediately comes to mind? Hopefully this person is quite different from you in identity and culture. Make sure this comes across. Describe the scene when you first encountered this person. What happened? Tell that story. Why do you think you remember this person so vividly? Did the experience challenge you? Did you learn something deeper and perhaps more complex about humanity, about culture, about your own assumptions about humanity? Hopefully, you grew from this experience. How did you grow? What do you now understand that you did not understand before having had this experience? Hindsight may very well bring about perspective that demonstrates that you now understand the value of that human encounter. 

Here is a cautionary bit of advice about writing about childhood. Yes, it is relatively common to have had a formidable experience in childhood about illness, health, healthcare, medicine or doctors. Right? Most of us have had at least one critical health issue in our own family when still a child. Sometimes it is absolutely true that a moment in childhood began your interest in healthcare. 

One may have had a diagnosis as a child that turned one’s life path toward being health-aware. For instance, are you a juvenile-onset, Type I diabetic? Do you have a cognitive or physical disability? Were you raised in a home with someone who had a critical illness or disability? Did a sibling, parent or grandparent get gravely sick when you were young? 

Upon writing-up any of these situations for your personal statement, there is a catch-22. For medical school application activities, the rule of thumb is “nothing from high school.” So why then is it sometimes a good idea to write about a childhood situation in a personal statement? The answer has to do with the uniqueness of your story and the quality of hindsight through which you narrate it.

Let us slow down for a moment on the issue of writing about childhood. Typically, traditional applicants to medical school are steadfastly dedicated to their academic and pre-professional aims. Science curriculum, especially pre-med curriculum, is demanding and rigorous, and it trains science students to excel in empirical thinking and assessment. 

Sometimes, when asked to write a personal essay, hard core science students feel the rug pulled out from under them. Are you more confident and meticulous about action steps and future plans than you are confident about being a sage looking back on your life? Chances are your answer is “yes.” 

Of course you can write; you’re a smart person and a very good student. Yet, writing a heartfelt, perceptive essay about yourself or an aspect of your life for an application to medical school is unnerving even as you understand why your application might benefit from story-telling. Yes, your application should benefit from your engaging, authorial presence in the essay. An application that lacks this is wholly at a disadvantage. 

Perhaps you are gravitating to the choice to share a story about your childhood. 

For instance, what if you sat down to free-write the following prompt:

Draft an essay about a childhood experience that ingrained medicine as one of your inherent interests. Do so in a manner that demonstrates the value of hindsight while telling it.

Is it hard to stay calm about this prompt right now even though this prompt is precisely what could make your personal statement successful? The idea of this prompt is what many successful applicants have written well, and you can too. Why not seek professional guidance for your personal essay? Accepted has consultants who advise applicants through this process. We advise you on the whole process of developing a successful idea for an essay, help you mine your experiences, outline your strongest ideas, and after you’ve written them up, edit your drafts. You can view these personal statement services here: Essay Package

Back to tips. The key to writing a personal statement that frames a moment in childhood well is to stand firmly in the present and stay descriptive and perceptive. Write up that experience trusting you have insight. Quite a bit of time has passed since then, and that distance has given you the opportunity to see things a little differently now. 

Let’s presume you want to write about how as a child you had an older sibling with a cognitive impairment. You and your family witnessed time and again doors being shut, so to speak, on his ability to be included in school events or community events.

Free writing A: My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. He was never given field time in soccer games. When this happened, G cried. When this happened, I cried and felt hurt by how much time my parents spent trying to calm him down, eventually leaving the field, holding him close and bringing us back home, another Saturday wrecked. 

Example A has no benefit of hindsight.

Free writing B (with some hindsight): My older brother, G, had moderate cognitive impairment. Most of the time, kids were kind to him. “Hey G, how are you, man?,” they would say and high-five him. Most kids greeted him, offered him snacks and a seat on the sideline blanket. It was touching to see him included and seen at soccer games.

Further hindsight: G was rarely played in the game. 

Reflective comment: No harm would have been done in letting him play. It’s clear to me now how much more work we each need to do about inclusion. Community-based team sports are pretty good about extending kindness at the sidelines, but that is not the same thing as letting all kids play in the game. I am still grateful for every kindness extended to my brother, but perhaps letting him play in the game would have demonstrated to kids and parents alike a deeper message about the importance of inclusion over winning. The coaches meant no harm, but that is precisely how unconscious bias plays. Afterall, community by its very definition is about inclusion.

Standing tall on this matter brings out a maturity and vocabulary to master this kind of personal writing that Free Writing A lacks. You don’t want to go back in time and join your younger self and narrate from that perspective. The “return” to your former child typically results in replicating a childlike emotional capacity – and chances are, that’s not you anymore. You’ve seen more. You’ve grown more. You’re now formally educated. You’re more skilled at making connections between ideas and experiences. You can narrate a scene or circumstance and attach awareness of what you realize now it means – like the over-narratives of documentaries where the author sheds true insight about the meaning of past events. 

Most traditional applicants to medical school are just a few years older than teenagers. 

When hindsight brings great clarity and insight to the significance of an experience, we demonstrate a keener maturity and an understanding that in authoring an experience we have a responsibility to demonstrate how a personal experience becomes a valuable portal to understanding the situation of others. Hindsight done well can be a stunningly beautiful and engaging narrative skill.

Perhaps you would rather write about a clinical experience? If you write about patients, change names, change gender, change some context to assure anonymity. Nearly all healthcare workers are concerned about telling patient stories because we worry about appropriating someone else’s experience, or feel we may not have the right, literally since HIPAA set rules on patients’ privacy rights in 1996. We should be concerned about telling patients’ stories; however, how we tell them is key in honoring them. When we honor patients and convey their stories to others we demonstrate the reciprocity of the professional relationship. Physicians no longer have a prescriptive, patrician role. Physicians are no longer sole authorities. Physicians and patients establish a reciprocal relationship, a two way street wherein a physician steps into a space of illness with the patient and walks with them, with the goal of healing, curing and advocating for them. When doctors tell stories, they establish that patients matter, that these encounters matter, that doctors think about patients and often learn from them. 

How we write patient stories is best done humbly, of course. We can narrate a story that becomes exemplary for its insight and empathy – after all, insight and empathy are desirable traits of a physician. Be sure to show rather than tell, most of the time. Be sure to capture the sensory detail of people and place. For instance, is the patient sitting on a blue plastic chair under ultraviolet lights in the waiting room of a free clinic? Is a woman with her gray hair twisted in a bun wearing a cotton hospital gown, waiting against a concrete wall in a tiny examination room with the door open? (Setting makes a character more real.) 

Finally, your story perspective, what you see and understand, becomes another way of revealing who you are. 

How to write your opening paragraph:

A strong opening paragraph for a story begins “several pages in.” A strong story begins with you, the narrator, already standing in the ocean with water splashing at your knees. This is called a hook: “D began to bleed after the second attempt to start an intravenous line.” 

Then, get the basic narrative facts down, the 5 W’s, the who, what, where, when and why, so your readers will not be confused: “She was a patient in the infusion clinic in the cancer pavilion of a major Boston hospital. She came to the clinic for her first round of chemotherapy.”

What else about this moment engaged you? Did D come to her appointment alone via an Uber ride? Why wasn’t anyone with her? How did that make you feel? Did the two of you hold a conversation while you were trying to start an IV? Why do you think she started to bleed? How did she respond when she saw you were having trouble starting this IV? Why didn’t she have a Medi-port yet? Here, you are building fuller context for her story. Don’t race through the scene; rather, build it, slowing down time, using images and sensory details to “paint” with your words. Smaller details, necessary ones, help you portray D as an individual. 

“Semper Fidelis was tattooed on her forearm. ‘Thank you for your service,’ I said.” 

“‘This cancer thing,’ she said, ‘this is nothing.’”

“D’s comment set me back. She had triple-negative breast cancer. She had blood running down her arm to her hand, between her fingers and onto a stiff, white pillow case on which she rested her arm. Triple-negative breast cancer was much more than nothing. In fact, it was very serious.” 

What questions came to mind that provide several ways of reading this moment? Write them down. For instance,

  • Did D not know about the gravity of her diagnosis?
  • Was she steely and tough yet informed?
  • Did she live through something much worse while enlisted as a Marine?

The questions themselves may wander too much to serve your personal statement as a succinct essay, which it needs to be. However, the answers to those questions may be exactly the additional content you need to develop this story’s acumen and perception as you demonstrate how getting to know the patient is a critical skill in order to help her. And now a theme is starting to come through: a doctor treats a patient, not a diagnosis. Voilà!

Moving forward: How does a doctor reframe clinical assumptions in this instance? What does a future doctor learn from a circumstance like this? 

Notice in the example above that the writing is active, uses details, and vivid language.

This writer has a palpable connection to the moment. One key to choosing one experience over another for your personal statement is how visual and vivid your recollection is. Often, moments worth mining for meaning are easy to recollect because they still have unresolved messages that need to be understood. Writing experiences helps us find their meaning, their sense. 

Notice as well, the scene above captures a moment of ambiguity, a concept particularly difficult for many health science professionals to embrace because there are multiple ways of looking at and understanding something. Stories send empiricism into the wind. People are not solely empirical. There is the self that is the body, which can be understood empirically, but there’s also the self that inhabits the body, the thinking/feeling/being and perceiving self. Stories are not about right answers. Stories attend to sentience and explore humanity. Patients’ lives are rife with uncertain moments, uncertain decisions, uncertain treatments, uncertain consequences, and uncertain outcomes. How does a physician engage with health uncertainty, understand it, and navigate it through pathways of humanity rather than pathways of diagnosis?

How does health care challenge you to grow in humanistic ways?

How to write your body paragraphs:

Once you have written a compelling scene, it might be a good idea to reflect upon why you were drawn to write about this experience in particular before your proceed. How does this scene illustrate meaningfully something worth explaining about becoming a physician? For instance, D’s scene was illustrative of an unexpected shift in perception that mattered when treating a patient with a serious cancer diagnosis. This unexpected shift happened to you, not to her. D’s been living with herself aplenty. Her point of view surprised you, not her, and reveals an incongruence between her perspective on her illness and yours.

Brief moments of ambiguity like this one can make us talk to each other, make us want to do something, can bring us to explore some further niche, specialty or research. Perhaps D brought you to peruse PubMed to research “Issues in Clinical Practice when Caring for Veterans” to see if you could find articles to help you help D and other veterans. Perhaps D’s comment was so truthful that you now volunteer with a veterans’ organization to scribe their stories for a war history museum? This “call to action” is a worthy story in a personal statement. Tell D’s story and conclude it with empathy and action. (Taking action to help is a demonstration of empathy.) Mindfully showing the experience with D as a catalyst to a path of action to help those under duress -- in distress, in crisis, or adrift in inequity -- matters.

Perhaps, follow this conclusion with a brief explanation of what principles now guide your humanistic path to medical school as long as they are principles that matter to your choice schools. 

Here are a few things to avoid in writing your medical school personal statement. Avoid talking about your scholastic path in preparation for medical school in your essay. The essay is not a place to reiterate scholastic achievements, for instance, a high GPA, academic honors, academic awards, publications, or MCAT scores because they’re front and center in other areas of your application. 

Instead, frame your medical school personal statement around a formidable experience that directly or indirectly led you to pursue medicine. This could be a struggle that you’ve overcome that demonstrates your fortitude (the story of a sociocultural disadvantage or disability), the first time you deeply understood the ramifications of health care disparities you will not forget. Likely, this would be a personal story about yourself or a family member, a clinical story or a mission trip, or a story about a patient from some other volunteer work that you’ve done. 

Additional topic ideas for your personal statement: What is a successful doctor? What does a successful life as a doctor look like? What happens to your understanding of best practices when a patient’s situation makes a best practice unrealistic, and what is the remedy? What epiphany, small or large, resides in you now since having mined a critical, clinical experience? Do you see a difference in the way you respond to patients since having had this experience? How has clinical experience matured you, deepened your awareness of living? If a patient experience became a catalyst for you to branch out or deepen your healthcare exposure opportunities, talk about that too. What opportunities? Why?

Writing effective transitions:

You are now ready to proceed to a conclusion that leaves your readers, the admissions committee, with a lasting impression of you – your life, your mind, your character -- as a 21 st century physician. 

Chances are, you’ll need to transition from the previous discussion of a time in the past to squarely speak about yourself here and now or in a comment toward the future. 

Can you sum up your main idea for the past experience? Consider the benefit of using a word or phrase -- thus, just as, hence, accordingly, in the same way, correspondingly -- and present your central idea again but only in a few repetitive words (called parallelism) or with synonymous words, creating internal unity in the essay. 

Be careful how you do this. The phrasing should feel necessary and fluid rather than reductive or even worse, phrasing that sounds like filler. 

The shift you’re making is from then to now, or from then to now and to the future as in “all this is to say.” Would you benefit from a fact, a quote, a statistic, or an informed prediction on the state of medicine, public health, or the future of medicine? 

Grammar tips: 

Transitional words can indicate:

  • a process: first, second, next, finally…
  • time: by lunch time, that evening, two weeks later…
  • spatial sequences: down the block, two miles west, one bed over…
  • logic sequences: likewise, however, evidently, in other words…
  • meta-thought: as I say this, looking back, I have nothing left to say…

If grammar and idea flow are a concern, have a look at Accepted’s editing services: Med School Essay Package

A consultant will walk you through the inception of an essay, an outline, and editing from first through final drafts, including suggestions for idea development and transitions from one idea to another.

How to write your conclusion:

A strong conclusion for your medical school personal statement can highlight the relevance of a timely issue (for instance, the physician shortage in the U.S.), make broader inferences about something you’ve already discussed (for instance, the broader implications of a particular health care disparity), or a call to action that you now embrace (for instance, community-based work that you did during the pandemic that now has become a central interest). Altruism, or understanding another’s disadvantaged situation, should not be represented in your conclusion as “ideas alone.” Commitment to serve others is not solely aspirational (“As physicians, we must do everything we can about inequity"), but a strong conclusion puts ideals into action (“I have joined Dr. T’s research team to conduct qualitative research about how social strata paradigms impact health care inequity”). Action in the conclusion should be associated with an experience shown earlier in the essay and culminate as a demonstration that you have already begun shaping your path in medicine. You are not waiting to begin but have already begun facing the challenges and responsibilities of future physicians. This kind of conclusion shows vision, maturity, commitment and character.

If the story in the body of your personal statement is about an experience, the conclusion should show your growth since then and keep in alignment how you’ve grown with the medical school values and missions of the majority of schools on your list. So, if you’re applying to top-tier allopathic schools, your growth may be in the depth and orientation of your recent research, or in having established a tighter link between your clinical experience and research. 

If you’re applying to osteopathic schools, your growth should be in keeping with the osteopathic schools’ values and missions on your list and include recent hands-on experience, something with specific tasks and responsibilities, rather than shadowing, since shadowing is often seen as passive experience. It may be that you’ve become a licensed EMT and will work as an EMT in a relevant region or state during the gap year. It may be that you’ve been certified and now work as a harm reduction specialist for a particular organization in a particular city or county. 

If you’re applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, each personal statement should align with the academic orientation of each pathway. Using the same personal statement for both AMCAS and AACOMAS applications is rarely a good idea. 

Accepted offers help with the whole application process: Primary Application Package

Other elements that each essay below have in common:

Accepted provides sample medical school personal statements with titles classifying types of narratives that have potential for success. Applicants do have some freedom of choice in what topic will serve their essay best. Why only “some” freedom in topic for this personal essay? Because this essay is one tool you will use to reach a professional goal. 

Not all essays help us reach professional goals. Writers of effective essays must take into account who will read them. Think about who your audience is. In this case, it’s a medical school admissions committee – not a friend, not a parent, not a peer. How will you write an essay on the same topic, let’s say a lab experience that went from bad to revelatory? You’d tell this story quite differently to your lab mates than you would to your professor, than you would to the president of your university, than you would in a grant application. 

Here’s what can happen when the “audience” isn’t considered sufficiently when writing about a passion. Let’s say you love playing soccer, and played on a Division 3 team as an undergraduate. Let’s say it didn’t matter to you that the team was Division 3 as long as it meant you could get on the field and play through your undergraduate years. It’s quite possible that one can write well about playing soccer, but one must do so in such a way that the reader really believes and understands the parallel between doing what you love and a future in medicine. Otherwise, the writer may very well convey that they love soccer. However, when written without the focus that medical school admissions committees will be readers, the essay could end up conveying that the narrator really wants to be a soccer coach, not a doctor. 

So, there’s only some freedom in topic and some freedom in writing approach - and the two must make sense together in order to facilitate accomplishing your goal. 

There is no “one-size-fits-all” to writing a successful medical school personal statement. There are, however, aspects to the sample essays on this site that stand out. 

First, each personal statement example is authored by someone who knows exactly what story they’re telling. No matter what their first draft looked like, by the time the final draft is ready to go, all fuzzy draft moments have been made lucid and engaging. All sections of the essay should have the polish and the same goals. 

  • Why am I telling this in this way? 
  • To what ends does each scene or moment speak?
  • Have I revised enough to make every sentence demonstrate strong writing skills?

Each sample personal statement emphasizes narrative control, engages with a direct voice, has conclusive things to show and say, demonstrates logical steps in idea development, and presents effective framing of the composition as a well-written form that displays strong writing skills. 

Even when an essay includes a “bookend” structure (a narrative structure that begins and ends with X, with middle content about Y), the story of Y (i.e. a mission trip in Mexico) is the primary story framed by the X bookend story (i.e. the love of running) to give ballast to the context in which this writer wants us to understand the mission trip as well, as a parallel story of challenge, commitment, exhilaration, exhaustion and necessity.

The same is true for stories that contain contrasts. If you’ve traveled ten mile or ten thousand miles, it is quite possible you’ve encountered different assumptions than your own about health care, health care access, trust, understanding of middle-class or first-world beliefs about health, understanding beliefs from poor and disadvantaged communities, illness, health care in contrast with a different cultural standard than what you’re used to, different beliefs about health care access, and a lack of or cautious trust in deference to doctors. (See the “Nontraditional Applicant” and “The Traveler.”) The key to this kind of essay is first demonstrating the contrasts between the two realities (yours and the patient’s reality) and their relative assumptions. Second, demonstrate an understanding of beliefs amid the two experiences and aim to reconcile their adverse assumptions.

However you proceed with the paragraph by paragraph progression of your medical school personal statement, be sure to see how there’s deeper intuition or knowledge associated with how the ideas progress. Do not repeat yourself, or reiterate a statement or idea unless you are clearly doing so for rhetorical emphasis.

Then, kiss your draft goodnight. Let it sit for two or three days, and return to it time and again with fresh eyes – to trim, tighten, clarify, improve tone and intention, and importantly, to make sure you have direct regard for your audience, who it is, what they’re looking for, and how you are the person whom they seek, as you maintain a tone and direction consistent with your goals and what you’re seeking from an admissions committee. 

Many students focus on their own or family members’ medical conditions in their personal statements. The essay sometimes reads like a medical history. Taking this approach can hurt your application for several reasons: It may alert them to conditions that could impact your ability to perform in medical school,   indicate that you lack boundaries by oversharing , or suggest a lack of maturity in focusing only on yourself and family – rather than on helping others or serving the community.

Anything you share in your personal statement can be brought up in your interview. If you share details of painful events, losses, or failures that you have not yet processed or come to terms with, that disclosure could come across as an invitation for the reader to pity you. Accepting long-term changes in our lives transforms us; we are constantly evolving through our experiences. Until you have integrated this information into your identity, depending on how impactful it was, you may not be able to use the experience to shed insight on yourself quite yet. Use negative experiences that are at least a year or older depending on how long it takes you to process and reflect. Most importantly,   use them to show growth and resilience , not to create pity.

  • DON’T demonstrate a lack of compassion or empathy. One of the creepiest essays I’ve ever read – it still sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it – was a student’s description of how much she enjoyed anesthetizing and removing the brains of mice. Her intention was to share her love of science, research, and learning but the feverish glee with which she described these procedures lacked compassion for the creatures that lost their lives for her research project. This lack of respect for the sacredness of life made it an easy decision to reject her application. Research was probably a better path for her, especially since she wasn’t able to gauge the reaction her statements would have on her audience.
  • DON’T bargain. The least fun essays to read are those that contain more promises than a politician’s speech. They include statements like, “If accepted into this program, I will….” The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you really want to demonstrate what you are capable of achieving during your medical education,  give examples of what you have already accomplished . This approach is far stronger than making hollow promises.
  • DON’T complain. Criticizing or pointing out the failures of healthcare professionals who have treated you or whom you have observed in the past will only reflect negatively on you. Since your application will be reviewed by doctors, as well as admissions professionals, it’s critical that you do not insult those from whom you are seeking acceptance. While it is true that medical mistakes and lack of access to care have devastating consequences for patients, their families and communities, identifying ways to improve in these areas without pointing any fingers would be more effective. By demonstrating your realistic knowledge of patient needs and sharing potential solutions, you can present yourself as an asset to their team.

Be careful what you write. Create a personal statement that is honest (not bitter), reveals your personality (not your medical history), and delivers a compelling explanation for your motivations for entering medicine (not empty promises). 

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Med School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis

Now let’s explore what you can learn from some of these outstanding sample med school essays.

Medical school personal statement example  #1: Emergency 911 

“Call 911!” I shouted to my friend as I sprinted down the street. The young Caucasian male had been thrown fifteen yards from the site of impact and surprisingly was still conscious upon my arrival. “My name is Michael. Can you tell me your name?” In his late twenties, he gasped in response as his eyes searched desperately in every direction for help, for comfort, for assurance, for loved ones, for death, until his eyes met mine. “Flail chest,” I thought to myself as I unbuttoned his shirt and placed my backpack upon his right side. “Pulse 98, respiration 28 short and quick. Help is on the way. Hang in there, buddy,” I urged.

After assessing the patient, the gravity of the situation struck me into sobriety. The adrenaline was no longer running through my veins — this was real. His right leg was mangled with a compound fracture; his left leg was also obviously broken. The tow-truck that had hit him looked as though it had run into a telephone pole. Traffic had ceased on the six-lane road, and a large crowd had gathered. However, no one was by my side to help. “Get me some blankets from that motel!” I yelled to a bystander and three people immediately fled. I was in charge.

But my patient was no longer conscious; his pulse was faint and respiration was low. “Stay with me, man!” I yelled. “15 to 1, 15 to 1,” I thought as I rehearsed CPR in my mind. Suddenly he stopped breathing. Without hesitation, I removed my T-shirt and created a makeshift barrier between his mouth and mine through which I proceeded to administer two breaths. No response. And furthermore, there was no pulse. I began CPR. I continued for approximately five minutes until the paramedics arrived, but it was too late. I had lost my first patient.

Medicine. I had always imagined it as saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, overall making life better for everyone. However, as I watched the paramedics pull the sheets over the victim’s head, I began to tremble. I had learned my first lesson of medicine: for all its power, medicine cannot always prevail. I had experienced one of the most disheartening and demoralizing aspects of medicine and faced it. I also demonstrated then that I know how to cope with a life-and-death emergency with confidence, a confidence instilled in me by my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, a confidence that I had the ability to take charge of a desperate situation and help someone in critical need. This pivotal incident confirmed my decision to pursue medicine as a career. 

Of course healing, curing, and saving is much more rewarding than trying and failing. As an EMT I was exposed to these satisfying aspects of medicine in a setting very new to me — urban medicine. I spent most of a summer doing ride-alongs with the Ambulance Company in Houston. Every call we received dealt with Latino patients either speaking only Spanish or very little broken English. I suddenly realized the importance of understanding a foreign culture and language in the practice of medicine, particularly when serving an underserved majority. In transporting patients from the field to the hospitals I saw the community’s reduced access to medical care due to a lack of physicians able to communicate with and understand their patients. I decided to minor in Spanish. Having almost completed my minor, I have not only expanded my academic horizons, I have gained a cultural awareness I feel is indispensable in today’s diverse society.

Throughout my undergraduate years at Berkeley I have combined my scientific interests with my passion for the Hispanic culture and language. I have even blended the two with my interests in medicine. During my sophomore year I volunteered at a medical clinic in the rural town of Chacala, Mexico. In Mexico for one month, I shadowed a doctor in the clinic and was concurrently enrolled in classes for medical Spanish. It was in Chacala, hundreds of miles away from home, that I witnessed medicine practiced as I imagined it should be. Seeing the doctor treat his patients with skill and compassion as fellow human beings rather than simply diseases to be outsmarted, I realized he was truly helping the people of Chacala in a manner unique to medicine. Fascinated by this exposure to clinical medicine, I saw medicine’s ability to make a difference in people’s lives. For me the disciplines of Spanish and science have become inseparable, and I plan to pursue a career in urban medicine that allows me to integrate them.

Having seen medicine’s different sides, I view this as a multifaceted profession. I have witnessed its power as a healing agent in rural Chacala, and I have seen its weakness when I met death face-to-face as an EMT. Inspired by the Latino community of Houston, I realize the benefits of viewing it from a holistic, culturally aware perspective. And whatever the outcome of the cry "Call 911!" I look forward as a physician to experiencing the satisfaction of saving lives, curing ailments, alleviating pain, and overall making life better for my patients.

Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #1: Emergency 911

This essay is one of our favorites. The applicant tells a story and weaves a lot of information into it about his background and interests. Note how the lead grabs one’s attention and the conclusion ties everything together.

What makes this essay work?

  • A dramatic opening paragraph

This essay has an unusually long opener, but not only is it dramatic, it also lays out the high-stakes situation of the writer desperately trying to save the life of a young man. As an EMT, the writer is safe in sharing so much detail, because they establish their bona fides as medically knowledgeable. With the urgent opening sentence (“Call 911!”) and the sad final sentence (“I had lost my first patient.”), the writer bookends a particularly transformative experience, one that confirmed their goal of becoming a doctor.  

  • A consistent theme

The theme of a med school essay in which the applicant first deals with the inevitable reality of seeing a patient die can become hackneyed through overuse. This essay is saved from that fate because after acknowledging the pain of this reality check, the writer reports that they immediately committed to expanding his knowledge and skills to better serve the local Hispanic community. While not an extraordinary story for an EMT, the substance, self-awareness, and focus the writer brings to the topic makes it a compelling read.

  • Evidence supporting the stated goal

This applicant is already a certified EMT, which serves as evidence of their serious interest in a medical career. In going on ambulance ride-alongs, the writer realized the barrier in communication between many doctors and their Spanish-speaking patients, which inspired the writer to take steps to both learn medical Spanish and shadow a doctor in a Mexican clinic. These concrete steps affirm that the applicant has serious intent.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #2: The Traveler

"On the first day that I walked into the Church Nursing Home, I was unsure of what to expect. A jumble of questions ran through my mind simultaneously: Is this the right job for me? Will I be capable of aiding the elderly residents? Will I enjoy what I do? A couple of hours later, these questions were largely forgotten as I slowly cut chicken pieces and fed them to Frau Meyer. Soon afterwards, I was strolling through the garden with Herr Schmidt, listening to him tell of his tour of duty in World War II. By the end of the day, I realized how much I enjoyed the whole experience and at the same time smiled at the irony of it all. I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.

Experiences like my volunteer work in the German nursing home illustrate the decisive role travel has played in my life. For instance, I had volunteered at a local hospital in New York but was not satisfied. Dreams of watching doctors in the ER or obstetricians in the maternity ward were soon replaced with the reality of carrying urine and feces samples to the lab. With virtually no patient contact, my exposure to clinical medicine in this setting was unenlightening and uninspiring. However, in Heidelberg, despite the fact that I frequently change diapers for the incontinent and deal with occasionally cantankerous elderly, I love my twice-weekly visits to the nursing home. Here, I feel that I am needed and wanted. That rewarding feeling of fulfillment attracts me to the practice of medicine.

My year abroad in Germany also enriched and diversified my experience with research. Although I had a tremendously valuable exposure to research as a summer intern investigating chemotherapeutic resistance in human carcinomas, I found disconcerting the constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research. In contrast, my work at the University of Heidelberg gave me a broader view of basic research and demonstrated how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit. I am currently attempting to characterize the role of an enzyme during neural development. Even though the benefit of such research is not yet apparent, it will ultimately contribute to a vast body of information which will further medical science.

My different reactions to research and medicine just exemplify the intrinsically broadening impact of travel. For example, on a recent trip to Egypt, I visited a small village on the banks of the Nile. This impoverished hamlet boasted a large textile factory in its center where many children worked in clean, bright, and cheerful conditions weaving carpets and rugs. After a discussion with the foreman of the plant, I discovered that the children of the village learned trades at a young age to prepare them to enter the job market and to support their families. If I had just heard about this factory, I would have recoiled in horror with visions of sweatshops running through my head. However, watching the skill and precision each child displayed, in addition to his or her endless creativity, soon made me realize that it is impossible to judge this country’s attempts to deal with its poverty using American standards and experience.

Travel has not only had a formative and decisive impact on my decision to pursue a career in medicine, it has also broadened my horizons – whether in a prosperous city on the Rhine or an impoverished village on the Nile. In dealing with patients or addressing research puzzles, I intend to bring the inquiring mind fostered in school, lab, and volunteer experiences. But above all, I intend to bring the open mind formed through travel.

Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #2: The Traveler

No boring repetition of itinerary from this seasoned traveler! This student ties their travels to their medical ambitions through the effective use of short anecdotes and vivid images. Can you sense the writer’s youthful disappointment during early clinical experiences and mature satisfaction working in the retirement home?

This applicant effectively links the expansive benefits of travel to their medical ambitions. By sharing vivid anecdotes from and reflections on these experiences, the writer enables the reader to easily imagine them as a talented physician in the future.

  • An engaging opening that frames the storyline Many fine application essays open with imagery so vibrant that the writing could be mistaken for fiction. This essay is no different. We meet the writer in the setting of a nursing home overseas, where they question whether their volunteer experiences there will help them determine their career path. Notice how the first sentence reflects a worry, “I was unsure of what to expect,” but by the final sentence, the writer concludes with satisfaction, “I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany, to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.” With this framing, we appreciate the essay’s theme.
  • Reflections on and contrasts about varied experiences in medicine The writer’s reactions to various encounters reveal a maturing mind-set: the “unenlightening and uninspiring” experience volunteering in a New York hospital versus the feeling of being “needed and wanted” in the nursing home in Heidelberg; the “disconcerting . . . constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research” versus the “broader view of basic research and . . . how it can expand knowledge – even without the promise of immediate profit” at the University of Heidelberg. These reflections demonstrate a thoughtfulness born of experience.
  • How traveling has expanded his potential as a physician Of the five tightly constructed paragraphs in this substantial essay, the final two paragraphs home in on how travel has had an “intrinsically broadening impact” and stimulated an “open mind” to people and situations. This kind of sophisticated view is a desirable trait to adcoms.
  • Out-of-the-box theme Although this essay’s foundation is built on the writer’s sincere and dedicated aspirations for a medical career, they allowed themselves the space to write about the broadening intellectual benefits of travel, linking those benefits to professional potential. Even when writing about children working in a factory in Egypt, this applicant brings an expanded mind-set and greater cross-cultural understanding that will no doubt benefit them in their career.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant

"Modest one-room houses lay scattered across the desert landscape, their rooftops a seemingly helpless shield against the intense heat generated by the mid-July sun. The steel security bars that guarded the windows and doors of every house seemed to belie the large welcome sign at the entrance to the ABC Indian Reservation. As a young civil engineer employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I was far removed from my cubicle in downtown Los Angeles.

However, I felt I was well-prepared to conduct my first project proposal. The project involved a $500,000 repair of an earthen levee surrounding an active Native American burial site. A fairly inexpensive and straightforward job by federal standards, but nonetheless, I could hardly contain my excitement. Strict federal construction guidelines laden with a generous portion of technical jargon danced through my head as I stepped up to the podium to greet the twelve tribal council members. My premature confidence quickly disappeared as they confronted me with a troubled ancient gaze. Their faces revealed centuries of distrust and broken government promises.

Suddenly, from a design based solely upon abstract engineering principles, an additional human dimension emerged – one for which I had not prepared. The calculations I had crunched over the past several months and the abstract engineering principles simply no longer applied. Their potential impact on this community was clearly evident in the faces before me. With perspiration forming on my brow, I decided I would need to take a new approach to salvage this meeting. So I discarded my rehearsed speech, stepped out from behind the safety of the podium, and began to solicit the council members’ questions and concerns. By the end of the afternoon, our efforts to establish a cooperative working relationship had resulted in a distinct shift in the mood of the meeting. Although I am not saying we erased centuries of mistrust in a single day, I feel certain our steps towards improved relations and trust produced a successful project.

I found this opportunity to humanize my engineering project both personally and professionally rewarding. Unfortunately, experiences like it were not common. I realized early in my career that I needed a profession where I could more frequently incorporate human interaction and my interests in science. After two years of working as a civil engineer, I enrolled in night school to explore a medical career and test my aptitude for pre-medical classes. I found my classes fascinating and became a more effective student. Today, I am proud of the 3.7 GPA I have achieved in competitive post-baccalaureate courses such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics.

Confident of my ability to succeed in the classroom, I proceeded to volunteer in the Preceptorship Program at the Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center. I acquired an understanding of the emotional demands and time commitment required of physicians by watching them schedule their personal lives around the needs of their patients. I also soon observed that the rewards of medicine stem from serving the needs of these same patients. I too found it personally gratifying to provide individuals with emotional support by holding an elderly woman’s hand as a physician drew a blood sample or befriending frightened patients with a smile and conversation.

To test my aptitude for a medical career further, I began a research project under the supervision of Dr. John Doe from the Orthopedic Department at Big University. The focus of my study was to determine the fate of abstracts presented at the American Society for Surgery of the Hand annual meeting. As primary author, I reported the results in an article for the Journal of Hand Surgery, a peer-reviewed publication. My contribution to medicine, albeit small, gave me much satisfaction. In the future, I would like to pursue an active role in scientific research.

My preparation for a career as a medical doctor started with my work as a professional engineer. From my experiences at the ABC Indian Reservation, I realized I need more direct personal interaction than engineering offers. The rewarding experiences I have had in my research, my volunteer work at the Los Angeles County Hospital, and my post-bac studies have focused my energies and prepared me for the new challenges and responsibilities that lie ahead in medicine."

Lessons From Med School Sample Essay #3: The Non-Traditional Applicant

Here, an older applicant takes advantage of their experience and maturity. Note how this engineer demonstrates their sensitivity and addresses possible stereotypes about engineers’ lack of communications skills.

What works well in this essay?

  • A compelling lead This story begins in a hot desert landscape, an unexpected and dramatic starting point. Can’t you just feel the heat and sense the loneliness of the remote Indian reservation? Equally powerful in this first paragraph is when the writer faces the need to suddenly and completely rethink their carefully planned approach to address the tribal leaders. Their excitement is dashed. Their confidence has plummeted. They are totally unprepared for the mistrust facing them and their plan, and they need to improvise –quickly. Who wouldn’t want to read on to see how they resolve this dramatic turn of events?
  • Solid storytelling that leads to a satisfying conclusion This nontraditional med school applicant reinvents themself in this essay. After realizing that they want more human involvement and interaction in their work, they take this self-knowledge and show us the steps they took to achieve their new goal. The steps are logical and well thought out, so the writer’s conclusion that they are well prepared in every way for med school makes perfect sense.
  • Evidence to support their theme Through taking prerequisite courses in medicine (and achieving high grades) to bedside hospital volunteering (which provides emotional satisfaction) to helping write a medical research paper (which provides a feeling that they are making a meaningful contribution), the writer offers evidence that they are well suited for their new goal of a career in medicine. Each experience shared is relevant to the writer’s story. Any reader will agree that the applicant’s future as a physician is promising.
  • A thoughtful perspective From the opening paragraph, the writer shows their ability to adapt to new situations and realities with quick thinking and psychological openness. They assess each stage of their journey, testing it for intellectual value and emotional satisfaction. Journeys of reflective self-discovery are something adcoms value.

Medical School Personal Statement Example #4: The Anthropology Student

"Crayfish tails in tarragon butter, galantine of rabbit with foie gras, oxtail in red wine, and apple tartelettes. The patient had this rich meal and complained of “liver upset” (crise de foie). Why a liver ache? I always associate indigestion with a stomach ache. In studying French culture in my Evolutionary Psychology class, I learned that when experiencing discomfort after a rich meal, the French assume their liver is the culprit. Understanding and dealing with the minor – sometimes major – cultural differences is a necessity in our shrinking world and diverse American society. Anthropology has prepared me to effectively communicate with an ethnically diverse population. My science classes, research, and clinical experience have prepared me to meet the demands of medical school.

I first became aware of the valuable service that physicians provide when I observed my father, a surgeon, working in his office. I gained practical experience assisting him and his staff perform various procedures in his outpatient center. This exposure increased my admiration for the restorative, technological, and artistic aspects of surgery. I also saw that the application of medical knowledge was most effective when combined with compassion and empathy from the health care provider.

While admiring my father’s role as a head and neck surgeon helping people after severe accidents, I also found a way to help those suffering from debilitating ailments. Working as a certified physical trainer, I became aware of the powerful recuperative effects of exercise. I was able to apply this knowledge in the case of Sharon, a 43-year-old client suffering from lupus. She reported a 200% increase in her strength tests after I trained her. This meant she could once again perform simple tasks like carrying groceries into her house. Unfortunately, this glimpse of improvement was followed by a further deterioration in her condition. On one occasion, she broke down and cried about her declining health and growing fears. It was then that I learned no physical prowess or application of kinesiology would alleviate her pain. I helped reduce her anxiety with a comforting embrace. Compassion and understanding were the only remedies available, temporary though they were.

To confirm that medicine is the best way for me to help others, I assisted a research team in the Emergency Room at University Medical Center (UMC). This experience brought me in direct contact with clinical care and provided me with the opportunity to witness and participate in the “behind-the-scenes” hospital operations. Specifically, we analyzed the therapeutic effects of two new drugs – Drug A and Drug B – in patients suffering from acute ischemic stroke. The purpose of this trial was to determine the efficacy and safety of these agents in improving functional outcome in patients who had sustained an acute cerebral infarction. My duties centered around the role of patient-physician liaison, determining patients’ eligibility, monitoring their conditions, and conducting patient histories.

I continued to advance my research experience at the VA Non-Human Primate Center. During the past year, I have been conducting independent research in endocrinology and biological aspects of anthropology. For this project, I am examining the correlation between captive vervet monkeys’ adrenal and androgen levels with age, gender, and various behavioral measures across different stress-level environments. I enjoy the discipline and responsibility which research requires, and I hope to incorporate it into my career.

Anthropology is the study of humans; medicine is the science and art of dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease in humans. From my work at UMC and my observation of my father’s practice, I know medicine will allow me to pursue an art and science that is tremendously gratifying and contributes to the welfare of those around me. My anthropology classes have taught me to appreciate cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology. Firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition has taught me the invaluable role of prevention. Medical school will now provide me with the technical knowledge to alleviate a crise de foie."

[ Click here to view an excerpt from the original draft of this essay. ]

Lessons From Medical School Sample Essay #4: The Anthropology Student

With a diverse background that includes anthropology studies, work as a certified physical trainer, and experience in clinical medical research, this applicant builds a strong case for their logical and dedicated choice of a medical career.

  • An engaging opening that frames the storyline This writer cleverly uses an example from anthropology class, linking the description of a heavy, gourmet French meal to an appreciation for cross-cultural understanding that will be an asset during their medical career. Notice that the writer is not describing their own personal experience here but piggybacked on a class lesson to create a colorful, engaging opening.
  • A solid variety of relevant experiences In this six-paragraph essay, the writer links their lessons from anthropology studies to a firsthand understanding based on observing how their surgeon-father related to patients, to becoming a physical trainer directly helping others, and then to two different kinds of medical research. Each experience builds logically and chronologically on what came before, adding to the substance of the applicant’s preparation for medical school.
  • A powerful personal experience with a client In the third paragraph, the writer’s experience working with a patient with lupus is particularly strong and memorable. Their initial success with Sharon is followed by an almost immediate and radical decline in her condition. This is a moving anecdote that shows the applicant’s understanding of the limitations of medicine – and the power of compassion.
  • An excellent summary paragraph that ties everything together The final paragraph isn’t the place to offer new information, and this one doesn’t. Instead, it reminds the reader about the strong foundation the writer built from academics to career and medical research. Readers will be persuaded that after these experiences and reflections, the applicant truly appreciates “cross-cultural perspectives and their relationship to pathology and its etiology,” as well as the “firsthand experience with exercise therapy and nutrition teaching the invaluable role of prevention.”

Don’t Write Like This!

As the time approached for me to set my personal and professional goals, I made a conscientious decision to enter a field which would provide me with a sense of achievement and, at the same time, produce a positive impact on mankind. It became apparent to me that the practice of medicine would fulfill these objectives. In retrospect, my ever-growing commitment to medicine has been crystallizing for years. My intense interest in social issues, education, and athletics seems particularly appropriate to this field and has prepared me well for such a critical choice...

I’ve been asked many times why I wish to become a physician. Upon considerable reflection, the thought of possessing the ability to help others provides me with tremendous internal gratification and offers the feeling that my life’s efforts have been focused in a positive direction. Becoming a physician is the culmination of a lifelong dream, and I am prepared to dedicate myself, as I have in the past, to achieving this goal.

Lessons from Don’t Write Like This

This is an excerpt from the original draft of the Anthropology Student’s AMCAS essay. We are not including the whole thing because you can get the idea all too rapidly from just this brief portion. Note the abundant use of generalities that apply to the overwhelming majority of medical school applicants. Observe how the colorless platitudes and pomposity hide any personality. Can you imagine reading essays like this all day long? If so, then imagine your reaction to a good essay.

More sample essays

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Med school personal statement FAQs

1. when should i start writing my personal statement for medical school.

Typically, traditional applicants who have a goal of submitting their AMCAS or AACOMAS application in June write their personal statement after they take the MCAT in March. Starting the prewriting for the personal statement earlier than that is fine too; however, if an applicant plans to sit for the MCAT in the early spring, writing a compelling personal narrative while preparing for the MCAT can often be too much. Both require very different kinds of thinking. The intensity of studying for the MCAT, and the empirical thinking it requires, can interfere with the imaginative brainstorming needed to find your topic and develop it.  

Before focusing on the personal statement, look at all the elements of the primary application. As a whole, the personal statement, activities, MMEs, MCAT, transcript, biographical information and letters, will portray you. One element alone is not enough to bring out the whole you. It might help to strategize about how (and where) to highlight different elements of your background, experience, and character in the different parts of the primary application. Then work on the personal statement knowing what aspects of you are already represented in the other sections of the application. This way, each element adds value to the application and contributes to a more complete picture of you.

It makes sense to compartmentalize completing different parts of the application. Many applicants take the time they need to focus on one application component at a time, which seems to help them be thorough. 

Don’t underestimate how much time it takes to write well. Exploring ideas in writing, developing those ideas, showing rather than telling a story, staying clear, writing fluidly, surmising maturely and insightfully, takes much more time than most people anticipate. So, don’t wait until Memorial Day to write your essay and intend to submit on June 1. Give yourself the churn time writing well needs. Also, give yourself time to put a draft down for a day or two and return to it when you’re able to read it afresh. Sometimes, we revise over and over again in one sitting to the point that we can no longer hear the story or its sense because we have been rehearsing and revising a draft to beat the clock. Doing this is a risky way to go about the personal statement. Remember, this essay should be a very impressive part of your application, not merely one more part of the application to finish. At the end of the day, the medical school personal statement is a window that allows others to see you, know you as a person, know you better and beyond your achievements.

2. How do I find the perfect personal statement topic? Does one exist?

Certainly, some ideas are better than others, and one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. However, there is no “perfect” topic. In fact, writing an essay with the approach of trying to out-psych this important application requirement is likely not the strongest way to find your best topic, nor is it the best way to engage your readers. 

Instead, consider the following approach. What is an experience you’ve had that matters greatly in helping others understand who you are as a future physician? Why medicine, not in general, but for you, demonstrated by way of a story about an experience that directly ties to being a physician or indirectly demonstrates your sound character as it corresponds with human qualities medical schools desire. When we read what kinds of people medical schools seek, it’s easy enough to identify quite a few character traits that appeal to many schools: compassion, resiliency, adaptability, selflessness, inclusivity, and altruism among them. What experience, when written with key details and description, reveals who you really are?

3. How do you choose the right amount of personal qualities to list?

A strong medical school personal statement should not replicate other parts of the application, with the exception of it being a specific story that stems from a particular experience associated with one of your activities. Otherwise, there’s no listing in this essay. Unfortunately, some applicants do treat the personal statement as an opportunity to list awards, accolades, and experiences, paragraph by paragraph. Meanwhile, medical school admissions officers can see these awards and experiences in the Experiences section of the application. Rarely, if ever, does this kind of writing bring out voice, vision and identity. Instead, tell a true story, revised with care and precision, that shines with voice, vision and identity.

4. Are there any topics I should avoid for my medical school personal statement?

Certainly, one idea might work better for one person and not so well for someone else. So, there’s a subjectivity in what to write and what not to write. Generally, however, there are some topics to avoid. Don’t write about a time you felt cheated, inconvenienced, frustrated or angry. Sometimes, secondary essay prompts will ask you about a struggle or a mistake, and for these answers, it’s best to show how you turned the situation around or keenly learned from it. Don’t get too caught in childhood. Many applicants do write about a time when they were not yet grown; however, don’t get swallowed by it. Write the scene and then stay in the present to demonstrate your maturity and worthwhile hindsight.

Remember -- no matter what the topic, tone matters. 

5. What kind of experience should I include in my personal statement?

6. can the experience i use on my med school personal statement be from outside of college.

Absolutely. It is relatively common for applicants to only portray themselves as students, and this can be a problem. Sometimes, when applicants write about themselves as excellent students the tone of such a personal statement can sound boastful or pleading. Neither quality is advantageous. 

Seeing oneself in any other light can result in a stronger “snapshot” of who you are, as long as the theme or topic of your personal statement still suits the intention of the application in the first place – demonstrating who you are as an appealing candidate for medical school. When we consider the writing task for the personal statement to be much more story-driven, readers go on a descriptive journey. What journey would you like to share?

7. Should I talk about challenges I’ve faced?

If other parts of your medical school application suggest a struggle – whether a lower MCAT score or a notable weak semester on a transcript – it might be advantageous to explain what happened and how you turned that situation around. Whether writing about a challenge in the personal statement or secondaries, the key is to demonstrate resilience. Applicants with physical or cognitive disabilities may choose to write about seeking assistance -- whether a doctor, therapist or a tutor -- and how learning alternative strategies helped them figure out how to attain higher academic achievement. 

Sometimes challenges are circumstantial. Sometimes families face financial hardship (did the family breadwinner become unemployed and therefore everyone else had to work more hours, including you?), emotional stress (due to an ongoing illness, Covid-19, or a divorce?) or trauma (a death of a loved one, a house fire, a veteran/sibling returning home with PTSD). Sometimes an applicant has been a caregiver for someone in the family. Sometimes an applicant has taken a leave from school because of someone else’s struggles, or the emotional fallout on the applicant from someone else’s struggle – the loss of a childhood friend, for instance. Self-care is reasonable. We might need to share a life moment in order to frame the context of a life struggle, showing it in the context of responsibility rather than recklessness or immaturity. Showing how you stepped up in a challenging time can show that you are accountable and caring, as long as the story is told to these ends, rather than suggesting resentment or self-pity. Again, neither of these tones is advantageous, nor is blame. 

Occasionally applicants have been challenged by a course or by a professor, a classmate or teammate and feel unduly subjected to bias. If there’s discrimination involved, that might be a story to tell. If there’s a personality clash, that might not be a good story to tell. 

Finally, as any story of challenge moves along, it’s important to demonstrate what you did, what you learned, how you adapted, or what you now value from having had this life experience that you did not understand before. 

Being a doctor is rife with challenges. In the end, your readers may come to understand how you are an insightful leader with great resilience or a compassionate, problem-solver.

8. How do I focus my personal statement to show that I want to go into medicine and not another field in healthcare?

Great question. On the one hand, it’s a good idea to demonstrate your compassion for others and empathy for people suffering from illness. On the other hand, these are favorable attributes for nearly all healthcare workers -- not only doctors -- but for physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and psychologists too. Since most applicants have done some shadowing of physicians, it’s not unusual for these experiences to contain moments of learning about being a physician through shadowing or through work in a clinic. However, the more clinical the story, the better especially if you’re applying to osteopathic schools of medicine. If you’re applying to allopathic schools of medicine, it’s possible you have some interest in being a researcher, so telling a story about working in a physician’s lab might demonstrate your insights into the value of research in light of disease or patient care. If you already have an affinity for a specialty, telling how you came to know this could be the way to go.

9. Do I introduce my desired field of healthcare in my personal statement?

Maybe. If you’re very committed and have demonstrated a trend in your activities from general volunteer work (older listings) to more specialized experience in a field of medicine (more recent listings), it may be a good idea to write up how you came to know one field of medicine was really your passion. 

Bear in mind that announcing a deep interest in a particular field of medicine may make you “a good fit” or “not a good fit” for some schools. So, if you do write up a story about your desired field of medicine for your personal statement, be sure your list of schools corresponds with this. For instance, if you want to be an obstetrician and you convey this in your personal statement, be certain your schools have clinical exposure or better yet offer specializations in obstetrics, or a required rotation through a hospital for women, for instance.

Lastly, by no means must you announce a desired field of healthcare in your personal statement. You may be asked about your specialized interests in medicine in a secondary or in an interview, so it’s a good idea to think this through, but no, you don’t have to tackle this in the personal statement.

10. What should my character limit be? 

The AMCAS and AACOMAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,300 characters with spaces. The TMDSAS character limit for the personal statement is 5,000 characters with spaces. It’s a good idea to use most if not all of this space for your personal statement. Also, try to avoid the temptation to use the same personal statement for AMCAS and AACOMAS. The osteopathic schools seek applicants who know and prefer an osteopathic orientation to medicine, so the AACOMAS personal statement should demonstrate your fit with osteopathic medicine, based on what story you choose to tell and how you tell it, or at the very least, in the conclusion.

11. How do I know when I’m ready to submit my med school personal statement?

I highly recommend getting feedback about this from a strong mentor, advisor or consultant. Accepted offers comprehensive consultation for every part of the writing process, from brainstorming, to outlining, to mentoring on ideas, and editing until a client has a solid final draft in hand, ready for submission. You can review these services here: Initial Essay Package

Generally speaking, when you’ve accomplished FAQ #2 and #3, avoided the pitfalls in #4, revised for clarity and quality of ideas, developed ideas engagingly, and meticulously revised for quality of writing, then, you may be done.

12. What if I don’t have enough space to discuss everything?

Then your topic is too large or unfocused, in which case you need to focus and narrow the scope of your essays. Or you have a bit of editing to do to eliminate wordiness, digressions, or overstatement Ultimately, you want your essay to be focused, clear, and engaging.

13. Should I personalize my personal statement to the med school I am applying to?

Only if you’re applying to one medical school. Otherwise, your personal statement will reach all schools listed in your AMCAS application or AACOMAS application. It is okay, however, to speak toward the ideals of your first choice, aspirational schools on your list. Other times, applicants choose to write toward the schools that are their safest bets. 

Your secondary/supplemental essays will give you plenty of opportunity to show you belong at an individual school.

14.  Can I talk about mental or physical health in my statement?

15. should i address any bad grades that i got in school.

Generally yes, as long as bad grades are truly bad grades. It’s likely that you do not need to address a rogue grade of B on a transcript. If you had a bad semester or two, the question becomes how and where to address them. The answer is an individual one dependent on the context. The one certainty: You definitely don’t want your entire application to be a rationalization of those bad grades. 

See FAQ #7. 

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10 Successful Medical School Essays

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med school application essay examples

-- Accepted to: Harvard Medical School GPA: 4.0 MCAT: 522

Sponsored by A ccepted.com : Great stats don’t assure acceptance to elite medical schools. The personal statement, most meaningful activities, activity descriptions, secondaries and interviews can determine acceptance or rejection. Since 1994, Accepted.com has guided medical applicants just like you to present compelling medical school applications. Get Accepted !

I started writing in 8th grade when a friend showed me her poetry about self-discovery and finding a voice. I was captivated by the way she used language to bring her experiences to life. We began writing together in our free time, trying to better understand ourselves by putting a pen to paper and attempting to paint a picture with words. I felt my style shift over time as I grappled with challenges that seemed to defy language. My poems became unstructured narratives, where I would use stories of events happening around me to convey my thoughts and emotions. In one of my earliest pieces, I wrote about a local boy’s suicide to try to better understand my visceral response. I discussed my frustration with the teenage social hierarchy, reflecting upon my social interactions while exploring the harms of peer pressure.

In college, as I continued to experiment with this narrative form, I discovered medical narratives. I have read everything from Manheimer’s Bellevue to Gawande’s Checklist and from Nuland’s observations about the way we die, to Kalanithi’s struggle with his own decline. I even experimented with this approach recently, writing a piece about my grandfather’s emphysema. Writing allowed me to move beyond the content of our relationship and attempt to investigate the ways time and youth distort our memories of the ones we love. I have augmented these narrative excursions with a clinical bioethics internship. In working with an interdisciplinary team of ethics consultants, I have learned by doing by participating in care team meetings, synthesizing discussions and paths forward in patient charts, and contributing to an ongoing legislative debate addressing the challenges of end of life care. I have also seen the ways ineffective intra-team communication and inter-personal conflicts of beliefs can compromise patient care.

Writing allowed me to move beyond the content of our relationship and attempt to investigate the ways time and youth distort our memories of the ones we love.

By assessing these difficult situations from all relevant perspectives and working to integrate the knowledge I’ve gained from exploring narratives, I have begun to reflect upon the impact the humanities can have on medical care. In a world that has become increasingly data driven, where patients can so easily devolve into lists of numbers and be forced into algorithmic boxes in search of an exact diagnosis, my synergistic narrative and bioethical backgrounds have taught me the importance of considering the many dimensions of the human condition. I am driven to become a physician who deeply considers a patient’s goal of care and goals of life. I want to learn to build and lead patient care teams that are oriented toward fulfilling these goals, creating an environment where family and clinician conflict can be addressed efficiently and respectfully. Above all, I look forward to using these approaches to keep the person beneath my patients in focus at each stage of my medical training, as I begin the task of translating complex basic science into excellent clinical care.

In her essay for medical school, Morgan pitches herself as a future physician with an interdisciplinary approach, given her appreciation of how the humanities can enable her to better understand her patients. Her narrative takes the form of an origin story, showing how a childhood interest in poetry grew into a larger mindset to keep a patient’s humanity at the center of her approach to clinical care.

This narrative distinguishes Morgan as a candidate for medical school effectively, as she provides specific examples of how her passions intersect with medicine. She first discusses how she used poetry to process her emotional response to a local boy’s suicide and ties in concern about teenage mental health. Then, she discusses more philosophical questions she encountered through reading medical narratives, which demonstrates her direct interest in applying writing and the humanities to medicine. By making the connection from this larger theme to her own reflections on her grandfather, Morgan provides a personal insight that will give an admissions officer a window into her character. This demonstrates her empathy for her future patients and commitment to their care.

Her narrative takes the form of an origin story, showing how a childhood interest in poetry grew into a larger mindset to keep a patient's humanity at the center of her approach to clinical care.

Furthermore, it is important to note that Morgan’s essay does not repeat anything in-depth that would otherwise be on her resume. She makes a reference to her work in care team meetings through a clinical bioethics internship, but does not focus on this because there are other places on her application where this internship can be discussed. Instead, she offers a more reflection-based perspective on the internship that goes more in-depth than a resume or CV could. This enables her to explain the reasons for interdisciplinary approach to medicine with tangible examples that range from personal to professional experiences — an approach that presents her as a well-rounded candidate for medical school.

Disclaimer: With exception of the removal of identifying details, essays are reproduced as originally submitted in applications; any errors in submissions are maintained to preserve the integrity of the piece. The Crimson's news and opinion teams—including writers, editors, photographers, and designers—were not involved in the production of this article.

-- Accepted To: A medical school in New Jersey with a 3% acceptance rate. GPA: 3.80 MCAT: 502 and 504

Sponsored by E fiie Consulting Group : “ EFIIE ” boasts 100% match rate for all premedical and predental registered students. Not all students are accepted unto their pre-health student roster. Considered the most elite in the industry and assists from start to end – premed to residency. EFIIE is a one-stop-full-service education firm.

"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

The tribulations I've overcome in my life have manifested in the compassion, curiosity, and courage that is embedded in my personality. Even a horrific mishap in my life has not changed my core beliefs and has only added fuel to my intense desire to become a doctor. My extensive service at an animal hospital, a harrowing personal experience, and volunteering as an EMT have increased my appreciation and admiration for the medical field.

At thirteen, I accompanied my father to the Park Home Animal Hospital with our eleven-year-old dog, Brendan. He was experiencing severe pain due to an osteosarcoma, which ultimately led to the difficult decision to put him to sleep. That experience brought to light many questions regarding the idea of what constitutes a "quality of life" for an animal and what importance "dignity" plays to an animal and how that differs from owner to owner and pet to pet. Noting my curiosity and my relative maturity in the matter, the owner of the animal hospital invited me to shadow the professional staff. Ten years later, I am still part of the team, having made the transition from volunteer to veterinarian technician. Saving a life, relieving pain, sharing in the euphoria of animal and owner reuniting after a procedure, to understanding the emotions of losing a loved one – my life was forever altered from the moment I stepped into that animal hospital.

As my appreciation for medical professionals continued to grow, a horrible accident created an indelible moment in my life. It was a warm summer day as I jumped onto a small boat captained by my grandfather. He was on his way to refill the boat's gas tank at the local marina, and as he pulled into the dock, I proceeded to make a dire mistake. As the line was thrown from the dock, I attempted to cleat the bowline prematurely, and some of the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life ensued.

Saving a life, relieving pain, sharing in the euphoria of animal and owner reuniting after a procedure, to understanding the emotions of losing a loved one – my life was forever altered from the moment I stepped into that animal hospital.

"Call 911!" I screamed, half-dazed as I witnessed blood gushing out of my open wounds, splashing onto the white fiberglass deck of the boat, forming a small puddle beneath my feet. I was instructed to raise my hand to reduce the bleeding, while someone wrapped an icy towel around the wound. The EMTs arrived shortly after and quickly drove me to an open field a short distance away, where a helicopter seemed to instantaneously appear.

The medevac landed on the roof of Stony Brook Hospital before I was expeditiously wheeled into the operating room for a seven-hour surgery to reattach my severed fingers. The distal phalanges of my 3rd and 4th fingers on my left hand had been torn off by the rope tightening on the cleat. I distinctly remember the chill from the cold metal table, the bright lights of the OR, and multiple doctors and nurses scurrying around. The skill and knowledge required to execute multiple skin graft surgeries were impressive and eye-opening. My shortened fingers often raise questions by others; however, they do not impair my self-confidence or physical abilities. The positive outcome of this trial was the realization of my intense desire to become a medical professional.

Despite being the patient, I was extremely impressed with the dedication, competence, and cohesiveness of the medical team. I felt proud to be a critical member of such a skilled group. To this day, I still cannot explain the dichotomy of experiencing being the patient, and concurrently one on the professional team, committed to saving the patient. Certainly, this experience was a defining part of my life and one of the key contributors to why I became an EMT and a volunteer member of the Sample Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The startling ring of the pager, whether it is to respond to an inebriated alcoholic who is emotionally distraught or to help bring breath to a pulseless person who has been pulled from the family swimming pool, I am committed to EMS. All of these events engender the same call to action and must be reacted to with the same seriousness, intensity, and magnanimity. It may be some routine matter or a dire emergency; this is a role filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, but that is how I choose to spend my days. My motives to become a physician are deeply seeded. They permeate my personality and emanate from my desire to respond to the needs of others. Through a traumatic personal event and my experiences as both a professional and volunteer, I have witnessed firsthand the power to heal the wounded and offer hope. Each person defines success in different ways. To know even one life has been improved by my actions affords me immense gratification and meaning. That is success to me and why I want to be a doctor.

This review is provided by EFIIE Consulting Group’s Pre-Health Senior Consultant Jude Chan

This student was a joy to work with — she was also the lowest MCAT profile I ever accepted onto my roster. At 504 on the second attempt (502 on her first) it would seem impossible and unlikely to most that she would be accepted into an allopathic medical school. Even for an osteopathic medical school this score could be too low. Additionally, the student’s GPA was considered competitive at 3.80, but it was from a lower ranked, less known college, so naturally most advisors would tell this student to go on and complete a master’s or postbaccalaureate program to show that she could manage upper level science classes. Further, she needed to retake the MCAT a third time.

However, I saw many other facets to this student’s history and life that spoke volumes about the type of student she was, and this was the positioning strategy I used for her file. Students who read her personal statement should know that acceptance is contingent on so much more than just an essay and MCAT score or GPA. Although many students have greater MCAT scores than 504 and higher GPAs than 3.80, I have helped students with lower scores and still maintained our 100% match rate. You are competing with thousands of candidates. Not every student out there requires our services and we are actually grateful that we can focus on a limited amount out of the tens of thousands that do. We are also here for the students who wish to focus on learning well the organic chemistry courses and physics courses and who want to focus on their research and shadowing opportunities rather than waste time deciphering the next step in this complex process. We tailor a pathway for each student dependent on their health care career goals, and our partnerships with non-profit organizations, hospitals, physicians and research labs allow our students to focus on what matters most — the building up of their basic science knowledge and their exposure to patients and patient care.

Students who read her personal statement should know that acceptance is contingent on so much more than just an essay and MCAT score or GPA.

Even students who believe that their struggle somehow disqualifies them from their dream career in health care can be redeemed if they are willing to work for it, just like this student with 502 and 504 MCAT scores. After our first consult, I saw a way to position her to still be accepted into an MD school in the US — I would not have recommended she register to our roster if I did not believe we could make a difference. Our rosters have a waitlist each semester, and it is in our best interest to be transparent with our students and protect our 100% record — something I consider a win-win. It is unethical to ever guarantee acceptance in admissions as we simply do not control these decisions. However, we respect it, play by the rules, and help our students stay one step ahead by creating an applicant profile that would be hard for the schools to ignore.

This may be the doctor I go to one day. Or the nurse or dentist my children or my grandchildren goes to one day. That is why it is much more than gaining acceptance — it is about properly matching the student to the best options for their education. Gaining an acceptance and being incapable of getting through the next 4 or 8 years (for my MD/PhD-MSTP students) is nonsensical.

-- Accepted To: Imperial College London UCAT Score: 2740 BMAT Score: 3.9, 5.4, 3.5A

My motivation to study Medicine stems from wishing to be a cog in the remarkable machine that is universal healthcare: a system which I saw first-hand when observing surgery in both the UK and Sri Lanka. Despite the differences in sanitation and technology, the universality of compassion became evident. When volunteering at OSCE training days, I spoke to many medical students, who emphasised the importance of a genuine interest in the sciences when studying Medicine. As such, I have kept myself informed of promising developments, such as the use of monoclonal antibodies in cancer therapy. After learning about the role of HeLa cells in the development of the polio vaccine in Biology, I read 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' to find out more. Furthermore, I read that surface protein CD4 can be added to HeLa cells, allowing them to be infected with HIV, opening the possibility of these cells being used in HIV research to produce more life-changing drugs, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP). Following my BioGrad laboratory experience in HIV testing, and time collating data for research into inflammatory markers in lung cancer, I am also interested in pursuing a career in medical research. However, during a consultation between an ENT surgeon and a thyroid cancer patient, I learnt that practising medicine needs more than a scientific aptitude. As the surgeon explained that the cancer had metastasised to her liver, I watched him empathetically tailor his language for the patient - he avoided medical jargon and instead gave her time to come to terms with this. I have been developing my communication skills by volunteering weekly at care homes for 3 years, which has improved my ability to read body language and structure conversations to engage with the residents, most of whom have dementia.

However, during a consultation between an ENT surgeon and a thyroid cancer patient, I learnt that practising medicine needs more than a scientific aptitude.

Jude’s essay provides a very matter-of-fact account of their experience as a pre-medical student. However, they deepen this narrative by merging two distinct cultures through some common ground: a universality of compassion. Using clear, concise language and a logical succession of events — much like a doctor must follow when speaking to patients — Jude shows their motivation to go into the medical field.

From their OSCE training days to their school’s Science society, Jude connects their analytical perspective — learning about HeLa cells — to something that is relatable and human, such as a poor farmer’s notable contribution to science. This approach provides a gateway into their moral compass without having to explicitly state it, highlighting their fervent desire to learn how to interact and communicate with others when in a position of authority.

Using clear, concise language and a logical succession of events — much like a doctor must follow when speaking to patients — Jude shows their motivation to go into the medical field.

Jude’s closing paragraph reminds the reader of the similarities between two countries like the UK and Sri Lanka, and the importance of having a universal healthcare system that centers around the just and “world-class” treatment of patients. Overall, this essay showcases Jude’s personal initiative to continue to learn more and do better for the people they serve.

While the essay could have benefited from better transitions to weave Jude’s experiences into a personal story, its strong grounding in Jude’s motivation makes for a compelling application essay.

-- Accepted to: Weill Cornell Medical College GPA: 3.98 MCAT: 521

Sponsored by E fie Consulting Group : “ EFIIE ” boasts 100% match rate for all premedical and predental registered students. Not all students are accepted unto their pre-health student roster. Considered the most elite in the industry and assists from start to end – premed to residency. EFIIE is a one-stop-full-service education firm.

Following the physician’s unexpected request, we waited outside, anxiously waiting to hear the latest update on my father’s condition. It was early on in my father’s cancer progression – a change that had shaken our entire way of life overnight. During those 18 months, while my mother spent countless nights at the hospital, I took on the responsibility of caring for my brother. My social life became of minimal concern, and the majority of my studying for upcoming 12th- grade exams was done at the hospital. We were allowed back into the room as the physician walked out, and my parents updated us on the situation. Though we were a tight-knit family and my father wanted us to be present throughout his treatment, what this physician did was give my father a choice. Without making assumptions about who my father wanted in the room, he empowered him to make that choice independently in private. It was this respect directed towards my father, the subsequent efforts at caring for him, and the personal relationship of understanding they formed, that made the largest impact on him. Though my decision to pursue medicine came more than a year later, I deeply valued what these physicians were doing for my father, and I aspired to make a similar impact on people in the future.

It was during this period that I became curious about the human body, as we began to learn physiology in more depth at school. In previous years, the problem-based approach I could take while learning math and chemistry were primarily what sparked my interest. However, I became intrigued by how molecular interactions translated into large-scale organ function, and how these organ systems integrated together to generate the extraordinary physiological functions we tend to under-appreciate. I began my undergraduate studies with the goal of pursuing these interests, whilst leaning towards a career in medicine. While I was surprised to find that there were upwards of 40 programs within the life sciences that I could pursue, it broadened my perspective and challenged me to explore my options within science and healthcare. I chose to study pathobiology and explore my interests through hospital volunteering and research at the end of my first year.

Though my decision to pursue medicine came more than a year later, I deeply valued what these physicians were doing for my father, and I aspired to make a similar impact on people in the future.

While conducting research at St. Michael’s Hospital, I began to understand methods of data collection and analysis, and the thought process of scientific inquiry. I became acquainted with the scientific literature, and the experience transformed how I thought about the concepts I was learning in lecture. However, what stood out to me that summer was the time spent shadowing my supervisor in the neurosurgery clinic. It was where I began to fully understand what life would be like as a physician, and where the career began to truly appeal to me. What appealed to me most was the patient-oriented collaboration and discussions between my supervisor and his fellow; the physician-patient relationship that went far beyond diagnoses and treatments; and the problem solving that I experienced first-hand while being questioned on disease cases.

The day spent shadowing in the clinic was also the first time I developed a relationship with a patient. We were instructed to administer the Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) test to patients as they awaited the neurosurgeon. My task was to convey the instructions as clearly as possible and score each section. I did this as best I could, adapting my explanation to each patient, and paying close attention to their responses to ensure I was understood. The last patient was a challenging case, given a language barrier combined with his severe hydrocephalus. It was an emotional time for his family, seeing their father/husband struggle to complete simple tasks and subsequently give up. I encouraged him to continue trying. But I also knew my words would not remedy the condition underlying his struggles. All I could do was make attempts at lightening the atmosphere as I got to know him and his family better. Hours later, as I saw his remarkable improvement following a lumbar puncture, and the joy on his and his family’s faces at his renewed ability to walk independently, I got a glimpse of how rewarding it would be to have the ability and privilege to care for such patients. By this point, I knew I wanted to commit to a life in medicine. Two years of weekly hospital volunteering have allowed me to make a small difference in patients’ lives by keeping them company through difficult times, and listening to their concerns while striving to help in the limited way that I could. I want to have the ability to provide care and treatment on a daily basis as a physician. Moreover, my hope is that the breadth of medicine will provide me with the opportunity to make an impact on a larger scale. Whilst attending conferences on neuroscience and surgical technology, I became aware of the potential to make a difference through healthcare, and I look forward to developing the skills necessary to do so through a Master’s in Global Health. Whether through research, health innovation, or public health, I hope not only to care for patients with the same compassion with which physicians cared for my father, but to add to the daily impact I can have by tackling large-scale issues in health.

Taylor’s essay offers both a straightforward, in-depth narrative and a deep analysis of his experiences, which effectively reveals his passion and willingness to learn in the medical field. The anecdote of Taylor’s father gives the reader insight into an original instance of learning through experience and clearly articulates Taylor’s motivations for becoming a compassionate and respectful physician.

Taylor strikes an impeccable balance between discussing his accomplishments and his character. All of his life experiences — and the difficult challenges he overcame — introduce the reader to an important aspect of Taylor’s personality: his compassion, care for his family, and power of observation in reflecting on the decisions his father’s doctor makes. His description of his time volunteering at St. Michael’s Hospital is indicative of Taylor’s curiosity about medical research, but also of his recognition of the importance of the patient-physician relationship. Moreover, he shows how his volunteer work enabled him to see how medicine goes “beyond diagnoses and treatments” — an observation that also speaks to his compassion.

His description of his time volunteering at St. Michael's Hospital is indicative of Taylor's curiosity about medical research, but also of his recognition of the importance of the patient-physician relationship.

Finally, Taylor also tells the reader about his ambition and purpose, which is important when thinking about applying to medical school. He discusses his hope of tackling larger scale problems through any means possible in medicine. This notion of using self interest to better the world is imperative to a successful college essay, and it is nicely done here.

-- Accepted to: Washington University

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Running has always been one of my greatest passions whether it be with friends or alone with my thoughts. My dad has always been my biggest role model and was the first to introduce me to the world of running. We entered races around the country, and one day he invited me on a run that changed my life forever. The St. Jude Run is an annual event that raises millions of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My dad has led or our local team for as long as I can remember, and I had the privilege to join when I was 16. From the first step I knew this was the environment for me – people from all walks of life united with one goal of ending childhood cancer. I had an interest in medicine before the run, and with these experiences I began to consider oncology as a career. When this came up in conversations, I would invariably be faced with the question “Do you really think you could get used to working with dying kids?” My 16-year-old self responded with something noble but naïve like “It’s important work, so I’ll have to handle it”. I was 16 years young with my plan to become an oncologist at St. Jude.

As I transitioned into college my plans for oncology were alive and well. I began working in a biochemistry lab researching new anti-cancer drugs. It was a small start, but I was overjoyed to be a part of the process. I applied to work at a number of places for the summer, but the Pediatric Oncology Education program (POE) at St. Jude was my goal. One afternoon, I had just returned from class and there it was: an email listed as ‘POE Offer’. I was ecstatic and accepted the offer immediately. Finally, I could get a glimpse at what my future holds. My future PI, Dr. Q, specialized in solid tumor translational research and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I was 16 years young with my plan to become an oncologist at St. Jude.

Summer finally came, I moved to Memphis, and I was welcomed by the X lab. I loved translational research because the results are just around the corner from helping patients. We began a pre-clinical trial of a new chemotherapy regimen and the results were looking terrific. I was also able to accompany Dr. Q whenever she saw patients in the solid tumor division. Things started simple with rounds each morning before focusing on the higher risk cases. I was fortunate enough to get to know some of the patients quite well, and I could sometimes help them pass the time with a game or two on a slow afternoon between treatments. These experiences shined a very human light on a field I had previously seen only through a microscope in a lab.

I arrived one morning as usual, but Dr. Q pulled me aside before rounds. She said one of the patients we had been seeing passed away in the night. I held my composure in the moment, but I felt as though an anvil was crushing down on me. It was tragic but I knew loss was part of the job, so I told myself to push forward. A few days later, I had mostly come to terms with what happened, but then the anvil came crashing back down with the passing of another patient. I could scarcely hold back the tears this time. That moment, it didn’t matter how many miraculous successes were happening a few doors down. Nothing overshadowed the loss, and there was no way I could ‘get used to it’ as my younger self had hoped.

I was still carrying the weight of what had happened and it was showing, so I asked Dr. Q for help. How do you keep smiling each day? How do you get used to it? The questions in my head went on. What I heard next changed my perspective forever. She said you keep smiling because no matter what happened, you’re still hope for the next patient. It’s not about getting used to it. You never get used to it and you shouldn’t. Beating cancer takes lifetimes, and you can’t look passed a life’s worth of hardships. I realized that moving passed the loss of patients would never suffice, but I need to move forward with them. Through the successes and shortcomings, we constantly make progress. I like to imagine that in all our future endeavors, it is the hands of those who have gone before us that guide the way. That is why I want to attend medical school and become a physician. We may never end the sting of loss, but physicians are the bridge between the past and the future. No where else is there the chance to learn from tragedy and use that to shape a better future. If I can learn something from one loss, keep moving forward, and use that knowledge to help even a single person – save one life, bring a moment of joy, avoid a moment of pain—then that is how I want to spend my life.

The change wasn’t overnight. The next loss still brought pain, but I took solace in moving forward so that we might learn something to give hope to a future patient. I returned to campus in a new lab doing cancer research, and my passion for medicine continues to flourish. I still think about all the people I encountered at St. Jude, especially those we lost. It might be a stretch, but during the long hours at the lab bench I still picture their hands moving through mine each step of the way. I could never have foreseen where the first steps of the St. Jude Run would bring me. I’m not sure where the road to becoming a physician may lead, but with helping hands guiding the way, I won’t be running it alone.

This essay, a description of the applicant’s intellectual challenges, displays the hardships of tending to cancer patients as a milestone of experience and realization of what it takes to be a physician. The writer explores deeper ideas beyond medicine, such as dealing with patient deaths in a way to progress and improve as a professional. In this way, the applicant gives the reader some insight into the applicant’s mindset, and their ability to think beyond the surface for ways to become better at what they do.

However, the essay fails to zero in on the applicant’s character, instead elaborating on life events that weakly illustrate the applicant’s growth as a physician. The writer’s mantra (“keep moving forward”) is feebly projected, and seems unoriginal due to the lack of a personalized connection between the experience at St. Jude and how that led to the applicant’s growth and mindset changes.

The writer explores deeper ideas beyond medicine, such as dealing with patient deaths in a way to progress and improve as a professional.

The writer, by only focusing on grief brought from patient deaths at St. Jude, misses out on the opportunity to further describe his or her experience at the hospital and portray an original, well-rounded image of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and work ethic.

The applicant ends the essay by attempting to highlight the things they learned at St. Jude, but fails to organize the ideas into a cohesive, comprehensible section. These ideas are also too abstract, and are vague indicators of the applicant’s character that are difficult to grasp.

-- Accepted to: New York University School of Medicine

Sponsored by MedEdits : MedEdits Medical Admissions has been helping applicants get into medical schools like Harvard for more than ten years. Structured like an academic medical department, MedEdits has experts in admissions, writing, editing, medicine, and interview prep working with you collaboratively so you can earn the best admissions results possible.

“Is this the movie you were talking about Alice?” I said as I showed her the movie poster on my iPhone. “Oh my God, I haven’t seen that poster in over 70 years,” she said with her arms trembling in front of her. Immediately, I sat up straight and started to question further. We were talking for about 40 minutes, and the most exciting thing she brought up in that time was the new flavor of pudding she had for lunch. All of sudden, she’s back in 1940 talking about what it was like to see this movie after school for only 5¢ a ticket! After an engaging discussion about life in the 40’s, I knew I had to indulge her. Armed with a plethora of movie streaming sights, I went to work scouring the web. No luck. The movie, “My Son My Son,” was apparently not in high demand amongst torrenting teens. I had to entreat my older brother for his Amazon Prime account to get a working stream. However, breaking up the monotony and isolation felt at the nursing home with a simple movie was worth the pandering.

While I was glad to help a resident have some fun, I was partly motivated by how much Alice reminded me of my own grandfather. In accordance with custom, my grandfather was to stay in our house once my grandmother passed away. More specifically, he stayed in my room and my bed. Just like grandma’s passing, my sudden roommate was a rough transition. In 8th grade at the time, I considered myself to be a generally good guy. Maybe even good enough to be a doctor one day. I volunteered at the hospital, shadowed regularly, and had a genuine interest for science. However, my interest in medicine was mostly restricted to academia. To be honest, I never had a sustained exposure to the palliative side of medicine until the arrival of my new roommate.

The two years I slept on that creaky wooden bed with him was the first time my metal was tested. Sharing that room, I was the one to take care of him. I was the one to rub ointment on his back, to feed him when I came back from school, and to empty out his spittoon when it got full. It was far from glamorous, and frustrating most of the time. With 75 years separating us, and senile dementia setting in, he would often forget who I was or where he was. Having to remind him that I was his grandson threatened to erode at my resolve. Assured by my Syrian Orthodox faith, I even prayed about it; asking God for comfort and firmness on my end. Over time, I grew slow to speak and eager to listen as he started to ramble more and more about bits and pieces of the past. If I was lucky, I would be able to stich together a narrative that may or may have not been true. In any case, my patience started to bud beyond my age group.

Having to remind him that I was his grandson threatened to erode at my resolve.

Although I grew more patient with his disease, my curiosity never really quelled. Conversely, it developed further alongside my rapidly growing interest in the clinical side of medicine. Naturally, I became drawn to a neurology lab in college where I got to study pathologies ranging from atrophy associated with schizophrenia, and necrotic lesions post stroke. However, unlike my intro biology courses, my work at the neurology lab was rooted beyond the academics. Instead, I found myself driven by real people who could potentially benefit from our research. In particular, my shadowing experience with Dr. Dominger in the Veteran’s home made the patient more relevant in our research as I got to encounter geriatric patients with age related diseases, such as Alzhimer’s and Parkinson’s. Furthermore, I had the privilege of of talking to the families of a few of these patients to get an idea of the impact that these diseases had on the family structure. For me, the scut work in the lab meant a lot more with these families in mind than the tritium tracer we were using in the lab.

Despite my achievements in the lab and the classroom, my time with my grandfather still holds a special place in my life story. The more I think about him, the more confident I am in my decision to pursue a career where caring for people is just as important, if not more important, than excelling at academics. Although it was a lot of work, the years spent with him was critical in expanding my horizons both in my personal life and in the context of medicine. While I grew to be more patient around others, I also grew to appreciate medicine beyond the science. This more holistic understanding of medicine had a synergistic effect in my work as I gained a purpose behind the extra hours in the lab, sleepless nights in the library, and longer hours volunteering. I had a reason for what I was doing that may one day help me have long conversations with my own grandchildren about the price of popcorn in the 2000’s.

The most important thing to highlight in Avery’s essay is how he is able to create a duality between his interest in not only the clinical, more academic-based side of medicine, but also the field’s personal side.

He draws personal connections between working with Alice — a patient in a hospital or nursing home — and caring intensely for his grandfather. These two experiences build up the “synergistic” relationship between caring for people and studying the science behind medicine. In this way, he is able to clearly state his passions for medicine and explain his exact motives for entering the field. Furthermore, in his discussion of her grandfather, he effectively employs imagery (“rub ointment on his back,” “feed him when I came back from school,” etc.) to describe the actual work that he does, calling it initially as “far from glamorous, and frustrating most of the time.” By first mentioning his initial impression, then transitioning into how he grew to appreciate the experience, Avery is able to demonstrate a strength of character, sense of enormous responsibility and capability, and open-minded attitude.

He draws personal connections between working with Alice — a patient in a hospital or nursing home — and caring intensely for his grandfather.

Later in the essay, Avery is also able to relate his time caring for his grandfather to his work with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients, showcasing the social impact of his work, as the reader is likely already familiar with the biological impact of the work. This takes Avery’s essay full circle, bringing it back to how a discussion with an elderly patient about the movies reminds him of why he chose to pursue medicine.

That said, the essay does feel rushed near the end, as the writer was likely trying to remain within the word count. There could be a more developed transition before Avery introduces the last sentence about “conversations with my own grandchildren,” especially as a strong essay ending is always recommended.

-- Accepted To: Saint Louis University Medical School Direct Admission Medical Program

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The tension in the office was tangible. The entire team sat silently sifting through papers as Dr. L introduced Adam, a 60-year-old morbidly obese man recently admitted for a large open wound along his chest. As Dr. L reviewed the details of the case, his prognosis became even bleaker: hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cardiomyopathy, hyperlipidemia; the list went on and on. As the humdrum of the side-conversations came to a halt, and the shuffle of papers softened, the reality of Adam’s situation became apparent. Adam had a few months to live at best, a few days at worst. To make matters worse, Adam’s insurance would not cover his treatment costs. With no job, family, or friends, he was dying poor and alone.

I followed Dr. L out of the conference room, unsure what would happen next. “Well,” she muttered hesitantly, “We need to make sure that Adam is on the same page as us.” It’s one thing to hear bad news, and another to hear it utterly alone. Dr. L frantically reviewed all of Adam’s paperwork desperately looking for someone to console him, someone to be at his side. As she began to make calls, I saw that being a physician calls for more than good grades and an aptitude for science: it requires maturity, sacrifice, and most of all, empathy. That empathy is exactly what I saw in Dr. L as she went out of her way to comfort a patient she met hardly 20 minutes prior.

Since high school, I’ve been fascinated by technology’s potential to improve healthcare. As a volunteer in [the] Student Ambassador program, I was fortunate enough to watch an open-heart surgery. Intrigued by the confluence of technology and medicine, I chose to study biomedical engineering. At [school], I wanted to help expand this interface, so I became involved with research through Dr. P’s lab by studying the applications of electrospun scaffolds for dermal wound healing. While still in the preliminary stages of research, I learned about the Disability Service Club (DSC) and decided to try something new by volunteering at a bowling outing.

As she began to make calls, I saw that being a physician calls for more than good grades and an aptitude for science: it requires maturity, sacrifice, and most of all, empathy.

The DSC promotes awareness of cognitive disabilities in the community and seeks to alleviate difficulties for the disabled. During one outing, I collaborated with Arc, a local organization with a similar mission. Walking in, I was told that my role was to support the participants by providing encouragement. I decided to help a relatively quiet group of individuals assisted by only one volunteer, Mary. Mary informed me that many individuals with whom I was working were diagnosed with ASD. Suddenly, she started cheering, as one of the members of the group bowled a strike. The group went wild. Everyone was dancing, singing, and rejoicing. Then I noticed one gentleman sitting at our table, solemn-faced. I tried to start a conversation with him, but he remained unresponsive. I sat with him for the rest of the game, trying my hardest to think of questions that would elicit more than a monosyllabic response, but to no avail. As the game ended, I stood up to say bye when he mumbled, “Thanks for talking.” Then he quickly turned his head away. I walked away beaming. Although I was unable to draw out a smile or even sustain a conversation, at the end of the day, the fact that this gentleman appreciated my mere effort completely overshadowed the awkwardness of our time together. Later that day, I realized that as much as I enjoyed the thrill of research and its applications, helping other people was what I was most passionate about.

When it finally came time to tell Adam about his deteriorating condition, I was not sure how he would react. Dr. L gently greeted him and slowly let reality take its toll. He stoically turned towards Dr. L and groaned, “I don’t really care. Just leave me alone.” Dr. L gave him a concerned nod and gradually left the room. We walked to the next room where we met with a pastor from Adam’s church.

“Adam’s always been like that,” remarked the pastor, “he’s never been one to express emotion.” We sat with his pastor for over an hour discussing how we could console Adam. It turned out that Adam was part of a motorcycle club, but recently quit because of his health. So, Dr. L arranged for motorcycle pictures and other small bike trinkets to be brought to his room as a reminder of better times.

Dr. L’s simple gesture reminded me of why I want to pursue medicine. There is something sacred, empowering, about providing support when people need it the most; whether it be simple as starting a conversation, or providing support during the most trying of times. My time spent conducting research kindled my interest in the science of medicine, and my service as a volunteer allowed me to realize how much I valued human interaction. Science and technology form the foundation of medicine, but to me, empathy is the essence. It is my combined interest in science and service that inspires me to pursue medicine. It is that combined interest that makes me aspire to be a physician.

Parker’s essay focuses on one central narrative with a governing theme of compassionate and attentive care for patients, which is the key motivator for her application to medical school. Parker’s story focuses on her volunteer experience shadowing of Dr. L who went the extra mile for Adam, which sets Dr. L up as a role model for Parker as she enters the medical field. This effectively demonstrates to the reader what kind of doctor Parker wants to be in the future.

Parker’s narrative has a clear beginning, middle, and end, making it easy for the reader to follow. She intersperses the main narrative about Adam with experiences she has with other patients and reflects upon her values as she contemplates pursuing medicine as a career. Her anecdote about bowling with the patients diagnosed with ASD is another instance where she uses a story to tell the reader why she values helping people through medicine and attentive patient care, especially as she focuses on the impact her work made on one man at the event.

Parker's story focuses on her volunteer experience shadowing of Dr. L who went the extra mile for Adam, which sets Dr. L up as a role model for Parker as she enters the medical field.

All throughout the essay, the writing is engaging and Parker incorporates excellent imagery, which goes well with her varied sentence structure. The essay is also strong because it comes back full circle at its conclusion, tying the overall narrative back to the story of Dr. L and Adam, which speaks to Parker’s motives for going to medical school.

-- Accepted To: Emory School of Medicine

Growing up, I enjoyed visiting my grandparents. My grandfather was an established doctor, helping the sick and elderly in rural Taiwan until two weeks before he died at 91 years old. His clinic was located on the first floor of the residency with an exam room, treatment room, X-ray room, and small pharmacy. Curious about his work, I would follow him to see his patients. Grandpa often asked me if I want to be a doctor just like him. I always smiled, but was more interested in how to beat the latest Pokémon game. I was in 8th grade when my grandfather passed away. I flew back to Taiwan to attend his funeral. It was a gloomy day and the only street in the small village became a mourning place for the villagers. Flowers filled the streets and people came to pay their respects. An old man told me a story: 60 years ago, a village woman was in a difficult labor. My grandfather rushed into the house and delivered a baby boy. That boy was the old man and he was forever grateful. Stories of grandpa saving lives and bringing happiness to families were told during the ceremony. At that moment, I realized why my grandfather worked so tirelessly up until his death as a physician. He did it for the reward of knowing that he kept a family together and saved a life. The ability for a doctor to heal and bring happiness is the reason why I want to study medicine. Medical school is the first step on a lifelong journey of learning, but I feel that my journey leading up to now has taught me some things of what it means to be an effective physician.

With a newfound purpose, I began volunteering and shadowing at my local hospital. One situation stood out when I was a volunteer in the cardiac stress lab. As I attached EKG leads onto a patient, suddenly the patient collapsed and started gasping for air. His face turned pale, then slightly blue. The charge nurse triggered “Code Blue” and started CPR. A team of doctors and nurses came, rushing in with a defibrillator to treat and stabilize the patient. What I noticed was that medicine was not only about one individual acting as a superhero to save a life, but that it takes a team of individuals with an effective leader, working together to deliver the best care. I want to be a leader as well as part of a team that can make a difference in a person’s life. I have refined these lessons about teamwork and leadership to my activities. In high school I was an 8 time varsity letter winner for swimming and tennis and captain of both of those teams. In college I have participated in many activities, but notably serving as assistant principle cellist in my school symphony as well as being a co-founding member of a quartet. From both my athletic experiences and my music experiences I learned what it was like to not only assert my position as a leader and to effectively communicate my views, but equally as important I learned how to compromise and listen to the opinions of others. Many physicians that I have observed show a unique blend of confidence and humility.

What I noticed was that medicine was not only about one individual acting as a superhero to save a life, but that it takes a team of individuals with an effective leader, working together to deliver the best care.

College opened me up to new perspectives on what makes a complete physician. A concept that was preached in the Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions in Medicine (GPPA) was that medicine is both an art and a science. The art of medicine deals with a variety of aspects including patient relationships as well as ethics. Besides my strong affinity for the sciences and mathematics, I always have had interest in history. I took courses in both German literature and history, which influenced me to take a class focusing on Nazi neuroscientists. It was the ideology of seeing the disabled and different races as test subjects rather than people that led to devastating lapses in medical ethics. The most surprising fact for me was that doctors who were respected and leaders in their field disregarded the humanity of patient and rather focused on getting results from their research. Speaking with Dr. Zeidman, the professor for this course, influenced me to start my research which deals with the ethical qualms of using data derived from unethical Nazi experimentation such as the brains derived from the adult and child euthanasia programs. Today, science is so result driven, it is important to keep in mind the ethics behind research and clinical practice. Also the development of personalized genomic medicine brings into question about potential privacy violations and on the extreme end discrimination. The study of ethics no matter the time period is paramount in the medical field. The end goal should always be to put the patient first.

Teaching experiences in college inspired me to become a physician educator if I become a doctor. Post-MCAT, I was offered a job by Next Step Test Prep as a tutor to help students one on one for the MCAT. I had a student who stated he was doing well during practice, but couldn’t get the correct answer during practice tests. Working with the student, I pointed out his lack of understanding concepts and this realization helped him and improves his MCAT score. Having the ability to educate the next generation of doctors is not only necessary, but also a rewarding experience.

My experiences volunteering and shadowing doctors in the hospital as well as my understanding of what it means to be a complete physician will make me a good candidate as a medical school student. It is my goal to provide the best care to patients and to put a smile on a family’s face just as my grandfather once had. Achieving this goal does not take a special miracle, but rather hard work, dedication, and an understanding of what it means to be an effective physician.

Through reflecting on various stages of life, Quinn expresses how they found purpose in pursuing medicine. Starting as a child more interested in Pokemon than their grandfather’s patients, Quinn exhibits personal growth through recognizing the importance of their grandfather’s work saving lives and eventually gaining the maturity to work towards this goal as part of a team.

This essay opens with abundant imagery — of the grandfather’s clinic, flowers filling the streets, and the village woman’s difficult labor — which grounds Quinn’s story in their family roots. Yet, the transition from shadowing in hospitals to pursuing leadership positions in high schools is jarring, and the list of athletic and musical accomplishments reads like a laundry list of accomplishments until Quinn neatly wraps them up as evidence of leadership and teamwork skills. Similarly, the section about tutoring, while intended to demonstrate Quinn’s desire to educate future physicians, lacks the emotional resonance necessary to elevate it from another line lifted from their resume.

This essay opens with abundant imagery — of the grandfather's clinic, flowers filling the streets, and the village woman's difficult labor — which grounds Quinn's story in their family roots.

The strongest point of Quinn’s essay is the focus on their unique arts and humanities background. This equips them with a unique perspective necessary to consider issues in medicine in a new light. Through detailing how history and literature coursework informed their unique research, Quinn sets their application apart from the multitude of STEM-focused narratives. Closing the essay with the desire to help others just as their grandfather had, Quinn ties the narrative back to their personal roots.

-- Accepted To: Edinburgh University UCAT Score: 2810 BMAT Score: 4.6, 4.2, 3.5A

Exposure to the medical career from an early age by my father, who would explain diseases of the human body, sparked my interest for Medicine and drove me to seek out work experience. I witnessed the contrast between use of bone saws and drills to gain access to the brain, with subsequent use of delicate instruments and microscopes in neurosurgery. The surgeon's care to remove the tumour, ensuring minimal damage to surrounding healthy brain and his commitment to achieve the best outcome for the patient was inspiring. The chance to have such a positive impact on a patient has motivated me to seek out a career in Medicine.

Whilst shadowing a surgical team in Texas, carrying out laparoscopic bariatric procedures, I appreciated the surgeon's dedication to continual professional development and research. I was inspired to carry out an Extended Project Qualification on whether bariatric surgery should be funded by the NHS. By researching current literature beyond my school curriculum, I learnt to assess papers for bias and use reliable sources to make a conclusion on a difficult ethical situation. I know that doctors are required to carry out research and make ethical decisions and so, I want to continue developing these skills during my time at medical school.

The chance to have such a positive impact on a patient has motivated me to seek out a career in Medicine.

Attending an Oncology multi-disciplinary team meeting showed me the importance of teamwork in medicine. I saw each team member, with specific areas of expertise, contributing to the discussion and actively listening, and together they formed a holistic plan of action for patients. During my Young Enterprise Award, I facilitated a brainstorm where everyone pitched a product idea. Each member offered a different perspective on the idea and then voted on a product to carry forward in the competition. As a result, we came runners up in the Regional Finals. Furthermore, I started developing my leadership skills, which I improved by doing Duke of Edinburgh Silver and attending a St. John Ambulance Leadership course. In one workshop, similar to the bariatric surgeon I shadowed, I communicated instructions and delegated roles to my team to successfully solve a puzzle. These experiences highlighted the crucial need for teamwork and leadership as a doctor.

Observing a GP, I identified the importance of compassion and empathy. During a consultation with a severely depressed patient, the GP came to the patient's eye level and used a calm, non-judgmental tone of voice, easing her anxieties and allowing her to disclose more information. While volunteering at a care home weekly for two years, I adapted my communication for a resident suffering with dementia who was disconnected from others. I would take her to a quiet environment, speak slowly and in a non-threatening manner, as such, she became talkative, engaged and happier. I recognised that communication and compassion allows doctors to build rapport, gain patients' trust and improve compliance. For two weeks, I shadowed a surgeon performing multiple craniotomies a day. I appreciated the challenges facing doctors including time and stress management needed to deliver high quality care. Organisation, by prioritising patients based on urgency and creating a timetable on the ward round, was key to running the theatre effectively. Similarly, I create to-do-lists and prioritise my academics and extra-curricular activities to maintain a good work-life balance: I am currently preparing for my Grade 8 in Singing, alongside my A-level exams. I also play tennis for the 1st team to relax and enable me to refocus. I wish to continue my hobbies at university, as ways to manage stress.

Through my work experiences and voluntary work, I have gained a realistic understanding of Medicine and its challenges. I have begun to display the necessary skills that I witnessed, such as empathy, leadership and teamwork. The combination of these skills with my fascination for the human body drives me to pursue a place at medical school and a career as a doctor.

This essay traces Alex's personal exploration of medicine through different stages of life, taking a fairly traditional path to the medical school application essay. From witnessing medical procedures to eventually pursuing leadership positions, this tale of personal progress argues that Alex's life has prepared him to become a doctor.

Alex details how experiences conducting research and working with medical teams have confirmed his interest in medicine. Although the breadth of experiences speaks to the applicant’s interest in medicine, the essay verges on being a regurgitation of the Alex's resume, which does not provide the admissions officer with any new insights or information and ultimately takes away from the essay as a whole. As such, the writing’s lack of voice or unique perspective puts the applicant at risk of sounding middle-of-the-road.

From witnessing medical procedures to eventually pursuing leadership positions, this tale of personal progress argues that Alex's life has prepared him to become a doctor.

The essay’s organization, however, is one of its strengths — each paragraph provides an example of personal growth through a new experience in medicine. Further, Alex demonstrates his compassion and diligence through detailed stories, which give a reader a glimpse into his values. Through recognizing important skills necessary to be a doctor, Alex demonstrates that he has the mature perspective necessary to embark upon this journey.

What this essay lacks in a unique voice, it makes up for in professionalism and organization. Alex's earnest desire to attend medical school is what makes this essay shine.

-- Accepted To: University of Toronto MCAT Scores: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems - 128, Critical Analysis and Reading Skills - 127, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems - 127, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior - 130, Total - 512

Moment of brilliance.

Revelation.

These are all words one would use to describe their motivation by a higher calling to achieve something great. Such an experience is often cited as the reason for students to become physicians; I was not one of these students. Instead of waiting for an event like this, I chose to get involved in the activities that I found most invigorating. Slowly but surely, my interests, hobbies, and experiences inspired me to pursue medicine.

As a medical student, one must possess a solid academic foundation to facilitate an understanding of physical health and illness. Since high school, I found science courses the most appealing and tended to devote most of my time to their exploration. I also enjoyed learning about the music, food, literature, and language of other cultures through Latin and French class. I chose the Medical Sciences program because it allowed for flexibility in course selection. I have studied several scientific disciplines in depth like physiology and pathology while taking classes in sociology, psychology, and classical studies. Such a diverse academic portfolio has strengthened my ability to consider multiple viewpoints and attack problems from several angles. I hope to relate to patients from all walks of life as a physician and offer them personalized treatment.

I was motivated to travel as much as possible by learning about other cultures in school. Exposing myself to different environments offered me perspective on universal traits that render us human. I want to pursue medicine because I believe that this principle of commonality relates to medical practice in providing objective and compassionate care for all. Combined with my love for travel, this realization took me to Nepal with Volunteer Abroad (VA) to build a school for a local orphanage (4). The project’s demands required a group of us to work closely as a team to accomplish the task. Rooted in different backgrounds, we often had conflicting perspectives; even a simple task such as bricklaying could stir up an argument because each person had their own approach. However, we discussed why we came to Nepal and reached the conclusion that all we wanted was to build a place of education for the children. Our unifying goal allowed us to reach compromises and truly appreciate the value of teamwork. These skills are vital in a clinical setting, where physicians and other health care professionals need to collaborate as a multidisciplinary team to tackle patients’ physical, emotional, social, and psychological problems.

I hope to relate to patients from all walks of life as a physician and offer them personalized treatment.

The insight I gained from my Nepal excursion encouraged me to undertake and develop the role of VA campus representative (4). Unfortunately, many students are not equipped with the resources to volunteer abroad; I raised awareness about local initiatives so everyone had a chance to do their part. I tried to avoid pushing solely for international volunteerism for this reason and also because it can undermine the work of local skilled workers and foster dependency. Nevertheless, I took on this position with VA because I felt that the potential benefits were more significant than the disadvantages. Likewise, doctors must constantly weigh out the pros and cons of a situation to help a patient make the best choice. I tried to dispel fears of traveling abroad by sharing first-hand experiences so that students could make an informed decision. When people approached me regarding unfamiliar placements, I researched their questions and provided them with both answers and a sense of security. I found great fulfillment in addressing the concerns of individuals, and I believe that similar processes could prove invaluable in the practice of medicine.

As part of the Sickkids Summer Research Program, I began to appreciate the value of experimental investigation and evidence-based medicine (23). Responsible for initiating an infant nutrition study at a downtown clinic, I was required to explain the project’s implications and daily protocol to physicians, nurses and phlebotomists. I took anthropometric measurements and blood pressure of children aged 1-10 and asked parents about their and their child’s diet, television habits, physical exercise regimen, and sunlight exposure. On a few occasions, I analyzed and presented a small set of data to my superiors through oral presentations and written documents.

With continuous medical developments, physicians must participate in lifelong learning. More importantly, they can engage in research to further improve the lives of their patients. I encountered a young mother one day at the clinic struggling to complete the study’s questionnaires. After I asked her some questions, she began to open up to me as her anxiety subsided; she then told me that her child suffered from low iron. By talking with the physician and reading a few articles, I recommended a few supplements and iron-rich foods to help her child. This experience in particular helped me realize that I enjoy clinical research and strive to address the concerns of people with whom I interact.

Research is often impeded by a lack of government and private funding. My clinical placement motivated me to become more adept in budgeting, culminating in my role as founding Co-President of the UWO Commerce Club (ICCC) (9). Together, fellow club executives and I worked diligently to get the club ratified, a process that made me aware of the bureaucratic challenges facing new organizations. Although we had a small budget, we found ways of minimizing expenditure on advertising so that we were able to host more speakers who lectured about entrepreneurship and overcoming challenges. Considering the limited space available in hospitals and the rising cost of health care, physicians, too, are often forced to prioritize and manage the needs of their patients.

No one needs a grand revelation to pursue medicine. Although passion is vital, it is irrelevant whether this comes suddenly from a life-altering event or builds up progressively through experience. I enjoyed working in Nepal, managing resources, and being a part of clinical and research teams; medicine will allow me to combine all of these aspects into one wholesome career.

I know with certainty that this is the profession for me.

Jimmy opens this essay hinting that his essay will follow a well-worn path, describing the “big moment” that made him realize why he needed to become a physician. But Jimmy quickly turns the reader’s expectation on its head by stating that he did not have one of those moments. By doing this, Jimmy commands attention and has the reader waiting for an explanation. He soon provides the explanation that doubles as the “thesis” of his essay: Jimmy thinks passion can be built progressively, and Jimmy’s life progression has led him to the medical field.

Jimmy did not make the decision to pursue a career in medicine lightly. Instead he displays through anecdotes that his separate passions — helping others, exploring different walks of life, personal responsibility, and learning constantly, among others — helped Jimmy realize that being a physician was the career for him. By talking readers through his thought process, it is made clear that Jimmy is a critical thinker who can balance multiple different perspectives simultaneously. The ability to evaluate multiple options and make an informed, well-reasoned decision is one that bodes well for Jimmy’s medical career.

While in some cases this essay does a lot of “telling,” the comprehensive and decisive walkthrough indicates what Jimmy’s idea of a doctor is. To him, a doctor is someone who is genuinely interested in his work, someone who can empathize and related to his patients, someone who can make important decisions with a clear head, and someone who is always trying to learn more. Just like his decision to work at the VA, Jimmy has broken down the “problem” (what his career should be) and reached a sound conclusion.

By talking readers through his thought process, it is made clear that Jimmy is a critical thinker who can balance multiple different perspectives simultaneously.

Additionally, this essay communicates Jimmy’s care for others. While it is not always advisable to list one’s volunteer efforts, each activity Jimmy lists has a direct application to his essay. Further, the sheer amount of philanthropic work that Jimmy does speaks for itself: Jimmy would not have worked at VA, spent a summer with Sickkids, or founded the UWO finance club if he were not passionate about helping others through medicine. Like the VA story, the details of Jimmy’s participation in Sickkids and the UWO continue to show how he has thought about and embodied the principles that a physician needs to be successful.

Jimmy’s essay both breaks common tropes and lives up to them. By framing his “list” of activities with his passion-happens-slowly mindset, Jimmy injects purpose and interest into what could have been a boring and braggadocious essay if it were written differently. Overall, this essay lets the reader know that Jimmy is seriously dedicated to becoming a physician, and both his thoughts and his actions inspire confidence that he will give medical school his all.

The Crimson's news and opinion teams—including writers, editors, photographers, and designers—were not involved in the production of this content.

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Writing the Perfect Medical School Personal Statement (With Examples!)

Admission to medical school is a complicated process, and there are multiple steps along the way that can make or break the process. The personal statement is one of these. This essay gives you a chance to shine as a candidate, showing the admissions team why they should take a chance on you as a candidate for their program. Since over half of all medical school hopefuls do not get accepted , you want to make sure this essay really stands out.

The personal statement essay is the primary factor that can help a pre-med student stand out from other applicants. When all other factors are equal, and sometimes even when they are not, a quality personal statement is the deciding factor. Here’s a closer look at how you can write a medical school personal statement that will grab attention and increase your likelihood of success.

What Topic Should a Compelling Med School Personal Statement Cover?

The topic of your personal statement is personal to you. This is where many students get hung up, as they focus more on the topic than the content. Here are some things that admissions teams are looking for:

  • Explanation of an experience
  • Personal qualities that translate well into medicine

As you consider your topic, consider focusing on an experience that highlights these qualities rather than getting stuck on any one topic.

How to Start Writing a Personal Statement for Medical School

Considering those topics above, you should realize that the statement is more about your character qualities than it is about the setting of your statement or the topic. So, to start writing, list the character qualities you have that translate well into your chosen career field. Here are some ideas:

  • Being teachable
  • Persistence
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Being a good listener

After you’ve made this list, hone in on a topic or experience that highlights them. While it might be helpful to tie your essay into a medical setting, you don’t have to. In fact, it may grab attention if you start with a different experience and then weave in your passion for medicine later.

Write a Story, Not an Essay

When you study effective medical school personal statement examples, you will see a trend. Rather than simply writing an essay about what makes them a good candidate, these applicants write a story. Using storytelling hooks the reader, makes them take a second look, and moves your essay from feeling dull and routine to being effective.

Here is an opening paragraph that could work quite well in a medical school personal statement:

  • Dr. Jamison’s eyes looked heavy as he surveyed the chart. Behind the door was a patient with more red flags on her chart than I could count. I knew this would be a heavy visit and resolved myself to see the patient’s face fall at the bad news. But to my surprise, when we walked in, the doctor had a bright smile on his face and started asking questions about her family, showing genuine interest in how her kids were doing, what her son was studying at university, and how old her brand-new grandchild was. “My shadowing experience is going to be far different than I imagined,” I thought as I watched him.

In this opening paragraph, the writer sets the stage. They explain where they are and even give insight into their teachable nature and resilience. It hooks the reader, too, by showcasing that they’ll be telling a story, not just listing their accomplishments.

Start with a Surprising Hook

Don’t start your essay simply stating why you want to go to medical school. Remember, admissions teams read hundreds of essays each week, so you need to make them stop and take a closer look at yours. You need a hook. Be creative and expressive in the first statement so the reader knows they are reading an unexpected submission. Here are some examples:

  • The sun beat down on us as we grabbed a hammer and set to work, and the heat was almost too much for someone raised in northern Wisconsin.
  • I always pictured myself as a teacher, but that all changed when I got the phone call that my grandmother had fallen and broken her hip.
  • It was just supposed to be a camping trip; I didn’t expect that weekend in Yellowstone to change the trajectory of the life I’d already perfectly planned out.

None of these actually says anything about medical school, but they all work and make the reader want to keep reading.

Now, when you sit down to write, don’t start with your hook. You can get hung up here, which can keep you from writing a compelling essay. Write the hook after the rest of the essay so you can hone it in and make it specific and effective.

Show, Don’t Tell

Your medical school personal statement should eventually move the reader from an engaging story to knowing why you want to pursue medicine, but don’t just tell them. Show them. Demonstrate your qualities in every part of your essay rather than simply stating them. Give examples that show the reader your compassion, grit, and resilience. Here is an example:

  • As Dr. Jamison skillfully guided the conversation to the patient’s many health concerns, my eyes welled with tears. Seeing the strong emotion on the patient’s face, I knew it would have been so much worse had he started with the information about her health rather than some personal conversation. “It’s about more than just diagnosing her,” I realized with a start. As we continued throughout the day, my heartstrings were pulled again and again with compassion as I observed how Dr. Jamison clearly viewed his patients as people first and patients second.

Medical School Personal Statement Examples: 

Discover what makes a standout medical school application with the following real-life examples. These samples provide a window into the storytelling and personal reflection that can turn a good application into a great one.

  • Real Essays From Stanford Medical Students
  • Personal Statements From The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • 10 Successful Medical School Essays From Harvard Medical School
  • Sample Personal Statements From The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine 

Avoid Common Mistakes

Creating a personal essay with a good hook that shows your character qualities and ties them back to medicine is great, but it will fail if you make errors in the essay. Some common mistakes to avoid include:

  • Asking to be interviewed
  • Ranting about controversial or polarizing topics
  • Submitting an essay with grammar and spelling errors
  • Having too many people who aren’t trained to read and review your essay
  • Lying or representing something you aren’t in your essay
  • Being inauthentic

These mistakes will prevent your essay from standing out, even if all other aspects are excellent.

Get the Right Help

Writing a med school personal statement is not easy, especially if you’re trying to get into a top-tier school. Getting professional help on your medical school journey could be a game-changer. At ACT, our Pre-Med Student Advisors are dedicated to guiding you step-by-step through the application process, significantly boosting your chances of gaining admission. Receive tailored mentorship and advice from experienced Physician Advisors who can assist with your personal statement and other critical aspects of your application. 

Enhance your medical school application with our Pre-Med Certificates , designed to provide you with valuable clinical hours and open doors to entry-level healthcare positions. Explore the full range of online medical programs at Advanced eClinical Training today, or enroll now to embark on a fulfilling medical career.

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Section 8 of the AMCAS® Application: Essays

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Every applicant is required to submit a Personal Comments essay. The available space for this essay is 5,300 characters (spaces are counted as characters), or approximately one page. You will receive an error message if you exceed the available space. Click the "What information should I consider including in my personal comments?" link in the application or see Section 8 of the  AMCAS Applicant Guide  for suggestions of things to think about when writing this essay.

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., 15 tips for your medical school personal statement.

Don't underestimate the power of the medical school personal statement to make a strong, positive impression on an admissions committee. Combined with your interview performance, your personal statement can account for 60% (or more) of your total admissions score!

Medical schools want to enroll bright, empathetic, communicative people. Here's how to write a compelling med school personal statement that shows schools who you are and what you're capable of.

Medical school personal statement

Personal Statement Topics

Your medical school personal statement is a component of your primary application submitted via, TMDSAS (for Texas applications), or AACOMAS (NB: If you are applying to medical school in Canada, confirm the application process with your school, as not all application components may be submitted through AMCAS).

These applications offer broad topics to consider, and many essay approaches are acceptable. For example, you could write about:

  • an experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine
  • a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual
  • a challenging personal experience
  • unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits
  • your motivation to seek a career in medicine

You'll write an additional essay (or two) when you submit secondary applications to individual schools. These essays require you to respond to a specific question. Admissions committees will review your entire application, so choose subject matter that complements your original essay .

Read More: Strategies for Secondary Applications

How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

Follow these personal statement tips to help the admissions committee better understand you as a candidate.

1. Write, re-write, let it sit, and write again!

Allow yourself 6 months of writing and revision to get your essay in submission-ready shape. This gives you the time to take your first pass, set your draft aside (for a minimum of 24 hours), review what you’ve written, and re-work your draft.

2. Stay focused.

Your personal statement should highlight interesting aspects of your journey—not tell your entire life story. Choose a theme, stick to it, and support it with specific examples.

3. Back off the cliches.

Loving science and wanting to help people might be your sincere passions, but they are also what everyone else is writing about. Instead, be personal and specific.

4. Find your unique angle.

What can you say about yourself that no one else can? Remember, everyone has trials, successes and failures. What's important and unique is how you reacted to those incidents. Bring your own voice and perspective to your personal statement to give it a truly memorable flavor. 

5. Be interesting.

Start with a “catch” that will create intrigue before launching into the story of who you are. Make the admissions committee want to read on!

6. Show don't tell.

Instead of telling the admissions committee about your unique qualities (like compassion, empathy, and organization), show them through the stories you tell about yourself. Don’t just say it—actually prove it.

7. Embrace the 5-point essay format.

Here's a trusty format that you can make your own:

  • 1st paragraph: These four or five sentences should "catch" the reader's attention.
  • 3-4 body paragraphs: Use these paragraphs to reveal who you are. Ideally, one of these paragraphs will reflect clinical understanding and one will reflect service.
  • Concluding paragraph: The strongest conclusion reflects the beginning of your essay, gives a brief summary of you are, and ends with a challenge for the future.

8. Good writing is simple writing.

Good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language. Your essays should not be a struggle to comprehend.

9. Be thoughtful about transitions.

Be sure to vary your sentence structure. You don’t want your essay to be boring! Pay attention to how your paragraphs connect to each other.

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10. Stick to the rules.

Watch your word count. That’s 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS applications, 5,000 characters for TMDSAS, and 4,500 characters for AACOMAS.

11. Stay on topic.

Rambling not only uses up your precious character limit, but it also causes confusion! Think about the three to five “sound bytes” you want admissions committee to know and remember you by.

12. Don't overdo it.

Beware of being too self-congratulatory or too self-deprecating.

13. Seek multiple opinions.

Before you hit “submit,” ask several people you trust for feedback on your personal statement. The more time you have spent writing your statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. A professor or friend whose judgment and writing skills you trust is invaluable.

Read More: 12 Smart Tips for Your AMCAS Application

14. Double-check the details.

Always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. This goes for the rest of your application (like your activities list), too. A common oversight is referencing the wrong school in your statement! Give yourself (and your proofreaders) the time this task truly requires.

15. Consult the experts about your personal statement strategy.

Our med school admissions counselors can diagnose the “health” of your overall application, including your personal statement. Get expert help and guidance to write an effective personal statement that showcases not only your accomplishments, but your passion and your journey.

Want to get an edge over the crowd?

Our admissions experts know what it takes it get into med school. Get the customized strategy and guidance you need to help achieve your goals.

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Great Medical School Personal Statement Examples (2024-2025) Insider’s Guide

Medical School Personal Statement Tips

A physician and former medical school admissions officer teaches you how to write your medical school personal statement, step by step. Read several full-length medical school personal statement examples for inspiration.

In this article, a former medical school admissions officer explains exactly how to write a stand-out medical school personal statement!

Our goal is to empower you to write a medical school personal statement that reflects your individuality, truest aspirations and genuine motivations.

This guide also includes:

  • Real life medical school personal statement examples
  • Medical school personal statement inventory template and outline exercise
  • AMCAS, TMDSAS, and AACOMAS personal statement prompts
  • Advanced strategies to ensure you address everything admissions committees want to know
  • The secret to writing a great medical school personal statement

So, if you want your medical school personal statement to earn more more medical school interviews, you will love this informative guide.

Let’s dive right in.

Table of Contents

Medical School Personal Statement Fundamentals

If you are getting ready to write your medical school personal statement for the 2024-2025 application year, you may already know that almost 60% of medical school applicants are not accepted every year . You have most likely also completed all of your medical school requirements and have scoured the internet for worthy medical school personal statement examples and guidance.

You know the medical school personal statement offers a crucial opportunity to show medical schools who you are beyond your GPA and MCAT score .

It provides an opportunity to express who you are as an individual, the major influences and background that have shaped your interests and values, what inspired you to pursue medicine, and what kind of a physician you envision yourself becoming.

However, with so much information online, you are not sure who to trust. We are happy you have found us!

Because the vast majority of people offering guidance are not former admissions officers or doctors , you must be careful when searching online.

We are real medical school admissions insiders and know what goes on behind closed doors and how to ensure your medical school personal statement has broad appeal while highlighting your most crucial accomplishments, perspectives, and insights.

With tight limits on space, it can be tough trying to decide what to include in your medical school personal statement to make sure you stand out. You must think strategically about how you want to present your personal “big picture” while showing you possess the preprofessional competencies med schools are seeking.

When a medical school admissions reviewer finishes reading your medical school personal statement, ask yourself:

  • What are the most important things you want that person to remember about you?
  • Does your medical school personal statement sum up your personality, interests, and talents?
  • Does your medical school personal statement sound as if it’s written from the heart?

It’s pretty obvious to most admissions reviewers when applicants are trying too hard to impress them. Being authentic and upfront about who you are is the best way to be a memorable applicant.

The Biggest Medical School Personal Statement Mistakes

The most common medical school personal statement mistake we see students make is that they write about:

  • What they have accomplished
  • How they have accomplished it

By including details on what you have accomplished and how, you will make yourself sound like every other medical school applicant. 

Most medical school applicants are involved in similar activities: research, clinical work, service, and social justice work. 

To stand out, you must write from the heart making it clear you haven’t marched through your premedical years and checking boxes.

We also strongly discourage applicants from using ChatGPT or any AI bot to write their medical school personal statement. Writing in your own voice is essential and using anything automated will undermine success.

The Medical School Personal Statement Secret

MedEdits students stand out in the medical school personal statement because in their personal statements they address:

WHY they have accomplished what they have.

In other words, they write in more detail about their passions, interests, and what is genuinely important to them. 

It sounds simple, we know, but by writing in a natural way, really zeroing in on WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO, you will appeal to a wide variety of people in a humanistic way. 

MedEdits students have done extremely well in the most recent medical school admissions cycle. Many of these applicants have below average “stats” for the medical schools from which they are receiving interviews and acceptances.

Why? How is that possible? They all have a few things in common:

  • They write a narrative that is authentic and distinctive to them.
  • They write a medical school personal statement with broad appeal (many different types of people will be evaluating your application; most are not physicians).
  • They don’t try too hard to impress; instead they write about the most impactful experiences they have had on their path to medical school.
  • They demonstrate they are humble, intellectual, compassionate, and committed to a career in medicine all at the same time.

Keep reading for a step by step approach to write your medical school personal statement.

“After sitting on a medical school admissions committee for many years, I can tell you, think strategically about how you want to present your personal “big picture.” We want to know who you are as a human being.”

As physicians, former medical school faculty, and medical school admissions committee members, this article will offer a step by step guide to simplify the medical school personal statement brainstorming and writing process.

By following the proven strategies outlined in this article, you will be and to write a personal statement that will earn you more medical school interviews . This proven approach has helped hundreds of medical school applicants get in to medical school the first time they apply!

“Medical

Learn the 2024-2025 Medical School Personal Statement Prompts ( AMCAS , TMDSAS , AACOMAS )

The personal statement is the major essay portion of your primary application process. In it, you should describe yourself and your background, as well as any important early exposures to medicine, how and why medicine first piqued your interest, what you have done as a pre med, your personal experiences, and how you became increasingly fascinated with it. It’s also key to explain why medicine is the right career for you, in terms of both personal and intellectual fulfillment, and to show your commitment has continued to deepen as you learned more about the field.

The personal statement also offers you the opportunity to express who you are outside of medicine. What are your other interests? Where did you grow up? What did you enjoy about college? Figuring out what aspects of your background to highlight is important since this is one of your only chances to express to the med school admissions committee before your interview what is important to you and why.

However, it is important to consider the actual personal statement prompt for each system through which you will apply, AMCAS, AACOMAS, and TMDSAS, since each is slightly different.

Getting into a medical school has never been more competitive. Let the experts at MedEdits help you with your medical school application materials. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been admitted to medical school.

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2024 AMCAS Personal Statement Prompt

AMCAS Personal Statement

The AMCAS personal statement instructions are as follows:

Use the Personal Comments Essay as an opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Consider and write your Personal Comments Essay carefully; many admissions committees place significant weight on the essay. Here are some questions that you may want to consider while writing the essay:

  • Why have you selected the field of medicine?
  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What do you want medical schools to know about you that hasn’t been disclosed in other sections of the application?

In addition, you may wish to include information such as:

  • Unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits
  • Comments on significant fluctuations in your academic record that are not explained elsewhere in your application

As you can see, these prompts are not vague; there are fundamental questions that admissions committees want you to answer when writing your personal statement. While the content of your statement should be focused on medicine, answering the open ended third question is a bit trickier.

The AMCAS personal statement length is 5,300 characters with spaces maximum.

2024 TMDSAS Personal Statement Prompt

TMDSAS Personal Statement

The TMDSAS personal statement is one of the most important pieces of your medical school application.

The TMDSAS personal statement prompt is as follows:

Explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. Be sure to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician.

This TMDSAS prompt is very similar to the AMCAS personal statement prompt. The TMDSAS personal statement length is 5,000 characters with spaces whereas the AMCAS personal statement length is 5,300 characters with spaces. Most students use the same essay (with very minor modifications, if necessary) for both application systems.

You’ve been working hard on your med school application, reading medical school personal statement examples, editing, revising, editing and revising.  Make sure you know where you’re sending your personal statement and application.  Watch this important medical school admissions statistics video.

2024 AACOMAS Personal Statement Prompt

AACOMAS Personal Statement

The AACOMAS personal statement is for osteopathic medical schools specifically. As with the AMCAS statement, you need to lay out your journey to medicine as chronologically as possible in 5,300 characters with spaces or less. So you essentially have the same story map as for an AMCAS statement. Most important, you must show you are interested in osteopathy specifically. Therefore, when trying to decide what to include or leave out, prioritize any osteopathy experiences you have had, or those that are in line with the osteopathic philosophy of the mind-body connection, the body as self-healing, and other tenets.

Medical School Application Timeline and When to Write your Personal Statement

If you’re applying to both allopathic and osteopathic schools, you can most likely use the same medical school personal statement for both AMCAS and AACOMAS. In fact, this is why AACOMAS changed the personal statement length to match the AMCAS length several years ago.

Most medical school personal statements can be used for AMCAS and AACOMAS.

Know the Required Medical School Personal Statement Length

Below are the medical schools personal statement length limits for each application system. As you can see, they are all very similar. When you start brainstorming and writing your personal statement, keep these limits in mind.

AMCAS Personal Statement Length : 5,300 characters with spaces.

As per the AAMC website :   “The available space for this essay is 5,300 characters (spaces are counted as characters), or approximately one page. You will receive an error message if you exceed the available space.”

AACOMAS Personal Statement Length : 5,300 characters with spaces

TMDSAS Personal Statement Length : 5,000 characters with spaces

As per the TMDSAS Website (Page 36): “The personal essay asks you to explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. You are asked to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician. The essay is limited to 5000 characters, including spaces.”

Demonstrate Required Preprofessional Competencies

Next, your want to be aware of the nine preprofessional core competencies as outlined by the Association of American Medical Colleges . Medical school admissions committees want to see, as evidenced by your medical school personal statement and application, that you possess these qualities and characteristics. Now, don’t worry, medical school admissions committees don’t expect you to demonstrate all of them, but, you should demonstrate some.

  • Service Orientation
  • Social Skills
  • Cultural Competence
  • Oral Communication
  • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others
  • Reliability and Dependability
  • Resilience and Adaptability
  • Capacity for Improvement

In your personal statement, you might be able to also demonstrate the four thinking and reasoning competencies:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Written Communication
  • Scientific Inquiry

So, let’s think about how to address the personal statement prompts in a slightly different way while ensuring you demonstrate the preprofessional competencies. When writing your personal statement, be sure it answers the four questions that follow and you will “hit” most of the core competencies listed above.

1. What have you done that supports your interest in becoming a doctor?

I always advise applicants to practice “evidence based admissions.” The reader of your essay wants to see the “evidence” that you have done what is necessary to understand the practice of medicine. This includes clinical exposure, research, and community service, among other activities.

2. Why do you want to be a doctor?

This may seem pretty basic – and it is – but admissions officers need to know WHY you want to practice medicine. Many applicants make the mistake of simply listing what they have done without offering insights about those experiences that answer the question, “Why medicine?” Your reasons for wanting to be a doctor may overlap with those of other applicants. This is okay because the experiences in which you participated, the stories you can tell about those experiences, and the wisdom you gained are completely distinct—because they are only yours. 

“In admissions committee meetings we were always interested in WHY you wanted to earn a medical degree and how you would contribute to the medical school community.”

Medical school admissions committees want to know that you have explored your interest deeply and that you can reflect on the significance of these clinical experiences and volunteer work. But writing only that you “want to help people” does not support a sincere desire to become a physician; you must indicate why the medical profession in particular—rather than social work, teaching, or another “helping” profession—is your goal. 

3. How have your experiences influenced you?

It is important to show how your experiences are linked and how they have influenced you. How did your experiences motivate you? How did they affect what else you did in your life? How did your experiences shape your future goals? Medical school admissions committees like to see a sensible progression of involvements. While not every activity needs to be logically “connected” with another, the evolution of your interests and how your experiences have nurtured your future goals and ambitions show that you are motivated and committed.

4. Who are you as a person? What are your values and ideals?

Medical school admissions committees want to know about you as an individual beyond your interests in medicine, too. This is where answering that third open ended question in the prompt becomes so important. What was interesting about your background, youth, and home life? What did you enjoy most about college? Do you have any distinctive passions or interests? They want to be convinced that you are a good person beyond your experiences. Write about those topics that are unlikely to appear elsewhere in your statement that will offer depth and interest to your work and illustrate the qualities and characteristics you possess.

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  • How To Get Into UT Southwestern Medical School
  • How To Get Into Harvard Medical School

Complete Your Personal Inventory and Outline (Example Below)

The bulk of your essay should be about your most valuable experiences, personal, academic, scholarly, clinical, academic and extracurricular activities that have impacted your path to medical school and through which you have learned about the practice of medicine. The best personal statements cover several topics and are not narrow in scope. Why is this important? Many different people with a variety of backgrounds, interests, and ideas of what makes a great medical student will be reading your essay. You want to make sure you essay has broad appeal.

The following exercise will help you to determine what experiences you should highlight in your personal statement. 

When composing your personal statement, keep in mind that you are writing, in effect, a “story” of how you arrived at this point in your life. But, unlike a “story” in the creative sense, yours must also offer convincing evidence for your decision to apply to medical school. Before starting your personal statement, create an experience- based personal inventory:

  • Write down a list of the most important experiences in your life and your development. The list should be all inclusive and comprise those experiences that had the most impact on you. Put the list, which should consist of personal, extracurricular, and academic events, in chronological order.
  • From this list, determine which experiences you consider the most important in helping you decide to pursue a career in medicine. This “experience oriented” approach will allow you to determine which experiences best illustrate the personal competencies admissions committees look for in your written documents. Remember that you must provide evidence for your interest in medicine and for most of the personal qualities and characteristics that medical school admissions committees want to see.
  • After making your list, think about why each “most important” experience was influential and write that down. What did you observe? What did you learn? What insights did you gain? How  did the experience influence your path and choices?
  • Then think of a story or illustration for why each experience was important.
  • After doing this exercise, evaluate each experience for its significance and influence and for its “story” value. Choose to write about those experiences that not only were influential but that also will provide interesting reading, keeping in mind that  your goal is to weave the pertinent experiences together into a compelling story. In making your choices, think about how you will link each experience and transition from one topic to the next.
  • Decide which of your listed experiences you will use for your introduction first (see below for more about your introduction). Then decide which experiences you will include in the body of your personal statement, create a general outline, and get writing!

Remember, you will also have your work and activities entries and your secondary applications to write in more detail about your experiences. Therefore, don’t feel you must pack everything in to your statement!

Craft a Compelling Personal Statement Introduction and Body

You hear conflicting advice about application essays. Some tell you not to open with a story. Others tell you to always begin with a story. Regardless of the advice you receive, be sure to do three things:

  • Be true to yourself. Everyone will have an opinion regarding what you should and should not write. Follow your own instincts. Your personal statement should be a reflection of you, and only you.
  • Start your personal statement with something catchy.  Think about the list of potential topics above.
  • Don’t rush your work. Composing thoughtful documents takes time and you don’t want your writing and ideas to be sloppy and underdeveloped.

Most important is to begin with something that engages your reader. A narrative, a “story,” an anecdote written in the first or third person, is ideal. Whatever your approach, your first paragraph must grab your reader’s attention and motivate him to want to continue reading. I encourage applicants to start their personal statement by describing an experience that was especially influential in setting them on their path to medical school. This can be a personal or scholarly experience or an extracurricular one. Remember to avoid clichés and quotes and to be honest and authentic in your writing. Don’t try to be someone who you are not by trying to imitate personal statement examples you have read online or “tell them what you think they want to hear”; consistency is key and your interviewer is going to make sure that you are who you say you are!

When deciding what experiences to include in the body of your personal statement, go back to your personal inventory and identify those experiences that have been the most influential in your personal path and your path to medical school. Keep in mind that the reader wants to have an idea of who you are as a human being so don’t write your personal statement as a glorified resume. Include some information about your background and personal experiences that can give a picture of who you are as a person outside of the classroom or laboratory.

Ideally, you should choose two or three experiences to highlight in the body of your personal statement. You don’t want to write about all of your accomplishments; that is what your application entries are for!

Write Your Personal Statement Conclusion

In your conclusion, it is customary to “go full circle” by coming back to the topic—or anecdote—you introduced in the introduction, but this is not a must. Summarize why you want to be a doctor and address what you hope to achieve and your goals for medical school. Write a conclusion that is compelling and will leave the reader wanting to meet you.

Complete Personal Statement Checklist

When reading your medical school personal statement be sure it:

Shows insight and introspection

The best medical school personal statements tell a great deal about what you have learned through your experiences and the insights you have gained.

You want to tell your story by highlighting those experiences that have been the most influential on your path to medical school and to give a clear sense of chronology. You want your statement always to be logical and never to confuse your reader.

Is interesting and engaging

The best personal statements engage the reader. This doesn’t mean you must use big words or be a literary prize winner. Write in your own language and voice, but really think about your journey to medical school and the most intriguing experiences you have had.

Gives the reader a mental image of who you are

You want the reader to be able to envision you as a caregiver and a medical professional. You want to convey that you would be a compassionate provider at the bedside – someone who could cope well with crisis and adversity.

Illustrates your passion for, and commitment to, medicine

Your reader must be convinced that you are excited about and committed to a career in medicine!

Above all, your personal statement should be about you. Explain to your reader what you have done and why you want to be a doctor with insight, compassion, and understanding.

Medical School Personal Statement Myths

Also keep in mind some common myths about personal statements that I hear quite often:

My personal statement must have a theme.

Not true. The vast majority of personal statements do not have themes. In fact, most are somewhat autobiographical and are just as interesting as those statements that are woven around a “theme.” It is only the very talented writer who can creatively write a personal statement around a theme, and this approach often backfires since the applicant fails to answer the three questions above.

My personal statement must be no longer than one page.

Not true. This advice is antiquated and dates back to the days of the written application when admissions committees flipped through pages. If your personal statement is interesting and compelling, it is fine to use the entire allotted space. The application systems have incorporated limits for exactly this reason! Many students, depending on their unique circumstances, can actually undermine their success by limiting their personal statement to a page. That said, never max out a space just for the sake of doing so. Quality writing and perspectives are preferable to quantity.

My personal statement should not describe patient encounters or my personal medical experiences.

Not true. Again, the actual topics on which you focus in your personal statement are less important than the understanding you gained from those experiences. I have successful clients who have written extremely powerful and compelling personal statements that included information about clinical encounters – both personal and professional. Write about whichever experiences were the most important on your path to medicine. It’s always best, however, to avoid spending too much space on childhood and high school activities. Focus instead on those that are more current.

In my personal statement I need to sell myself.

Not exactly true. You never want to boast in your personal statement. Let your experiences, insights, and observations speak for themselves. You want your reader to draw the conclusion – on his or her own – that you have the qualities and characteristics the medical school seeks. Never tell what qualities and characteristics you possess; let readers draw these conclusions on their own based on what you write.

Medical School Personal Statement Examples and Analysis for Inspiration

Below are examples of actual medical school personal statements. You can also likely find medical school personal statements on Reddit.

example of medical school personal statement, medical school personal statement examples

AMCAS Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #1 with Personal Inventory  

We will use Amy to illustrate the general process of writing an application to medical school, along with providing the resulting documents. Amy will first list those experiences, personal, extracurricular, and scholarly, that have been most influential in two areas: her life in general and her path to medical school. She will put this personal inventory in chronologic order for use in composing her personal statement.

She will then select those experiences that were the most significant to her and will reflect and think about why they were important. For her application entries, Amy will write about each experience, including those that she considers influential in her life but not in her choice of medicine, in her application entries. Experiences that Amy will not write about in her activity entries or her personal statement are those that she does not consider most influential in either her life or in her choice of medicine.

Amy’s personal inventory (from oldest to most recent)

  • Going with my mom to work. She is a surgeon — I was very curious about what she did. I was intrigued by the relationships she had with patients and how much they valued her efforts. I also loved seeing her as “a doctor” since, to me, she was just “mom.”
  • I loved biology in high school. I started to think seriously about medicine then. It was during high school that I became fascinated with biology and how the human body worked. I would say that was when I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should be a doctor.”
  • Grandmother’s death, senior year of high school. My grandmother’s death was tragic. It was the first time I had ever seen someone close to me suffer. It was one of the most devastating experiences in my life.
  • Global Health Trip to Guatemala my freshman year of college. I realized after going to Guatemala that I had always taken my access to health care for granted. Here I saw children who didn’t have basic health care. This made me want to become a physician so I could give more to people like those I met in Guatemala.
  • Sorority involvement. Even though sorority life might seem trivial, I loved it. I learned to work with different types of people and gained some really valuable leadership experience.
  • Poor grades in college science classes. I still regret that I did badly in my science classes. I think I was immature and was also too involved in other activities and didn’t have the focus I needed to do well. I had a 3.4 undergraduate GPA.
  • Teaching and tutoring Jose, a child from Honduras. In a way, meeting Jose in a college tutoring program brought my Guatemala experience to my home. Jose struggled academically, and his parents were immigrants and spoke only Spanish, so they had their own challenges. I tried to help Jose as much as I could. I saw that because he lacked resources, he was at a tremendous disadvantage.
  • Volunteering at Excellent Medical Center. Shadowing physicians at the medical center gave me a really broad view of medicine. I learned about different specialties, met many different patients, and saw both great and not-so-great physician role models. Counselor at Ronald McDonald House. Working with sick kids made me appreciate my health. I tried to make them happy and was so impressed with their resilience. It made me realize that good health is everything.
  • Oncology research. Understanding what happens behind the scenes in research was fascinating. Not only did I gain some valuable research experience, but I learned how research is done.
  • Peer health counselor. Communicating with my peers about really important medical tests gave me an idea of the tremendous responsibility that doctors have. I also learned that it is important to be sensitive, to listen, and to be open-minded when working with others.
  • Clinical Summer Program. This gave me an entirely new view of medicine. I worked with the forensics department, and visiting scenes of deaths was entirely new to me. This experience added a completely new dimension to my understanding of medicine and how illness and death affect loved ones.
  • Emergency department internship. Here I learned so much about how things worked in the hospital. I realized how important it was that people who worked in the clinical department were involved in creating hospital policies. This made me understand, in practical terms, how an MPH would give me the foundation to make even more change in the future.
  • Master’s in public health. I decided to get an MPH for two reasons. First of all, I knew my undergraduate science GPA was an issue so I figured that graduate level courses in which I performed well would boost my record. I don’t think I will write this on my application, but I also thought the degree would give me other skills if I didn’t get into medical school, and I knew it would also give me something on which I could build during medical school and in my career since I was interested in policy work.

As you can see from Amy’s personal inventory list, she has many accomplishments that are important to her and influenced her path. The most influential personal experience that motivated her to practice medicine was her mother’s career as a practicing physician, but Amy was also motivated by watching her mother’s career evolve. Even though the death of her grandmother was devastating for Amy, she did not consider this experience especially influential in her choice to attend medical school so she didn’t write about it in her personal statement.

Amy wrote an experience-based personal statement, rich with anecdotes and detailed descriptions, to illustrate the evolution of her interest in medicine and how this motivated her to also earn a master’s in public health.

Amy’s Medical School Personal Statement Example:

She was sprawled across the floor of her apartment. Scattered trash, decaying food, alcohol bottles, medication vials, and cigarette butts covered the floor. I had just graduated from college, and this was my first day on rotation with the forensic pathology department as a Summer Scholar, one of my most valuable activities on the path to medical school. As the coroner deputy scanned the scene for clues to what caused this woman’s death, I saw her distraught husband. I did not know what to say other than “I am so sorry.” I listened intently as he repeated the same stories about his wife and his dismay that he never got to say goodbye. The next day, alongside the coroner as he performed the autopsy, I could not stop thinking about the grieving man.

Discerning a cause of death was not something I had previously associated with the practice of medicine. As a child, I often spent Saturday mornings with my mother, a surgeon, as she rounded on patients. I witnessed the results of her actions, as she provided her patients a renewed chance at life. I grew to honor and respect my mother’s profession. Witnessing the immense gratitude of her patients and their families, I quickly came to admire the impact she was able to make in the lives of her patients and their loved ones.

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine as my mother had, and throughout high school and college I sought out clinical, research, and volunteer opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of medicine. After volunteering with cancer survivors at Camp Ronald McDonald, I was inspired to further understand this disease. Through my oncology research, I learned about therapeutic processes for treatment development. Further, following my experience administering HIV tests, I completed research on point-of-care HIV testing, to be instituted throughout 26 hospitals and clinics. I realized that research often served as a basis for change in policy and medical practice and sought out opportunities to learn more about both.

All of my medically related experiences demonstrated that people who were ‘behind the scenes’ and had limited or no clinical background made many of the decisions in health care. Witnessing the evolution of my mother’s career further underscored the impact of policy change on the practice of medicine. In particular, the limits legislation imposed on the care she could provide influenced my perspective and future goals. Patients whom my mother had successfully treated for more than a decade, and with whom she had long-standing, trusting relationships, were no longer able to see her, because of policy coverage changes. Some patients, frustrated by these limitations, simply stopped seeking the care they needed. As a senior in college, I wanted to understand how policy transformations came about and gain the tools I would need to help effect administrative and policy changes in the future as a physician. It was with this goal in mind that I decided to complete a master’s in public health program before applying to medical school.

As an MPH candidate, I am gaining insight into the theories and practices behind the complex interconnections of the healthcare system; I am learning about economics, operations, management, ethics, policy, finance, and technology and how these entities converge to impact delivery of care. A holistic understanding of this diverse, highly competitive, market-driven system will allow me, as a clinician, to find solutions to policy, public health, and administration issues. I believe that change can be more effective if those who actually practice medicine also decide where improvements need to be made.

For example, as the sole intern for the emergency department at County Medical Center, I worked to increase efficiency in the ED by evaluating and mapping patient flow. I tracked patients from point of entry to point of discharge and found that the discharge process took up nearly 35% of patients’ time. By analyzing the reasons for this situation, in collaboration with nurses and physicians who worked in the ED and had an intimate understanding of what took place in the clinical area, I was able to make practical recommendations to decrease throughput time. The medical center has already implemented these suggestions, resulting in decreased length of stays. This example illustrates the benefit of having clinicians who work ‘behind the scenes’ establish policies and procedures, impacting operational change and improving patient care. I will also apply what I have learned through this project as the business development intern at Another Local Medical Center this summer, where I will assist in strategic planning, financial analysis, and program reviews for various clinical departments.

Through my mother’s career and my own medical experiences, I have become aware of the need for clinician administrators and policymakers. My primary goal as a physician will be to care for patients, but with the knowledge and experience I have gained through my MPH, I also hope to effect positive public policy and administrative changes.

What’s Good About Amy’s Medical School Personal Statement:  

Paragraphs 1 and 2: Amy started her personal statement by illustrating a powerful experience she had when she realized that medical caregivers often feel impotent, and how this contrasted with her understanding of medicine as a little girl going with her mother to work. Recognition of this intense contrast also highlights Amy’s maturity.

Paragraph 3: Amy then “lists” a few experiences that were important to her.

Paragraph 4: Amy describes the commonality in some of her experiences and how her observations were substantiated by watching the evolution of her mother’s practice. She then explains how this motivated her to earn an MPH so she could create change more effectively as a physician than as a layman.

Paragraph 5: Amy then explains how her graduate degree is helping her to better understand the “issues in medicine” that she observed.

Paragraph 6: Amy then describes one exceptional accomplishment she had that highlights what she has learned and how she has applied it.

Paragraph 7: Finally, Amy effectively concludes her personal statement and summarizes the major topics addressed in her essay.

As you can see, Amy’s statement has excellent flow, is captivating and unusual, and illustrates her understanding of, and commitment to, medicine. She also exhibits, throughout her application entries and statement, the personal competencies, characteristics, and qualities that medical school admissions officers are seeking. Her application also has broad appeal; reviewers who are focused on research, cultural awareness, working with the underserved, health administration and policy, teaching, or clinical medicine would all find it of interest.

Personal Statement Examples

med school personal statement examples

Osteopathic Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #2

Medical School Personal Statement Example Background: This is a nontraditional applicant who applied to osteopathic medical schools. With a 500 and a 504 on the MCAT , he needed to showcase how his former career and what he learned through his work made him an asset. He also needed to convey why osteopathic medicine was an ideal fit for him. The student does an excellent job illustrating his commitment to medicine and explaining why and how he made the well-informed decision to leave his former career to pursue a career in osteopathic medicine.

What’s Good About It: A nontraditional student with a former career, this applicant does a great job outlining how and why he decided to pursue a career in medicine. Clearly dedicated to service, he also does a great job making it clear he is a good fit for osteopathic medical school and understands this distinctions of osteopathic practice.. 

Working as a police officer, one comes to expect the unexpected, but sometimes, when the unexpected happens, one can’t help but be surprised. In November 20XX, I had been a police officer for two years when my partner and I happened to be nearby when a man had a cardiac emergency in Einstein Bagels. Entering the restaurant, I was caught off guard by the lifeless figure on the floor, surrounded by spilled food. Time paused as my partner and I began performing CPR, and my heart raced as I watched color return to the man’s pale face.

Luckily, paramedics arrived within minutes to transport him to a local hospital. Later, I watched as the family thanked the doctors who gave their loved one a renewed chance at life. That day, in the “unexpected,” I confirmed that I wanted to become a physician, something that had attracted me since childhood.

I have always been enthralled by the science of medicine and eager to help those in need but, due to life events, my path to achieving this dream has been long. My journey began following high school when I joined the U.S. Army. I was immature and needed structure, and I knew the military was an opportunity to pursue my medical ambitions. I trained as a combat medic and requested work in an emergency room of an army hospital. At the hospital, I started IVs, ran EKGs, collected vital signs, and assisted with codes. I loved every minute as I was directly involved in patient care and observed physicians methodically investigating their patients’ signs and symptoms until they reached a diagnosis. Even when dealing with difficult patients, the physicians I worked with maintained composure, showing patience and understanding while educating patients about their diseases. I observed physicians not only as clinicians but also as teachers. As a medic, I learned that I loved working with patients and being part of the healthcare team, and I gained an understanding of acute care and hospital operations.

Following my discharge in 20XX, I transferred to an army reserve hospital and continued as a combat medic until 20XX. Working as a medic at several hospitals and clinics in the area, I was exposed to osteopathic medicine and the whole body approach to patient care. I was influenced by the D.O.s’ hands-on treatment and their use of manipulative medicine as a form of therapy. I learned that the body cannot function properly if there is dysfunction in the musculoskeletal system.

In 20XX, I became a police officer to support myself as I finished my undergraduate degree and premed courses. While working the streets, I continued my patient care experiences by being the first to care for victims of gunshot wounds, stab wounds, car accidents, and other medical emergencies. In addition, I investigated many unknown causes of death with the medical examiner’s office. I often found signs of drug and alcohol abuse and learned the dangers and power of addiction. In 20XX, I finished my undergraduate degree in education and in 20XX, I completed my premed courses.

Wanting to learn more about primary care medicine, in 20XX I volunteered at a community health clinic that treats underserved populations. Shadowing a family physician, I learned about the physical exam as I looked into ears and listened to the hearts and lungs of patients with her guidance. I paid close attention as she expressed the need for more PCPs and the important roles they play in preventing disease and reducing ER visits by treating and educating patients early in the disease process. This was evident as numerous patients were treated for high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes, all conditions that can be resolved or improved by lifestyle changes. I learned that these changes are not always easy for many in underserved populations as healthier food is often more expensive and sometimes money for prescriptions is not available. This experience opened my eyes to the challenges of being a physician in an underserved area.

The idea of disease prevention stayed with me as I thought about the man who needed CPR. Could early detection and education about heart disease have prevented his “unexpected” cardiac event? My experiences in health care and law enforcement have confirmed my desire to be an osteopathic physician and to treat the patients of the local area. I want to eliminate as many medical surprises as I can.

Personal Statement Examples

Texas Medical School Personal Statement Example and Analysis #3

Medical School Personal Statement Example Background: This applicant, who grew up with modest means, should be an inspiration to us all. Rather than allowing limited resources to stand in his way, he took advantage of everything that was available to him. He commuted to college from home and had a part-time job so he was stretched thin, and his initial college performance suffered. However, he worked hard and his grades improved. Most medical school admissions committees seek out applicants like this because, by overcoming adversity and succeeding with limited resources, they demonstrate exceptional perseverance, maturity, and dedication. His accomplishments are, by themselves, impressive and he does an outstanding job of detailing his path, challenges, and commitment to medicine. He received multiple acceptances to top medical schools and was offered scholarships.

What’s Good About It: This student does a great job opening his personal statement with a beautifully written introduction that immediately takes the reader to Central America. He then explains his path, why he did poorly early in college, and goes on to discuss his academic interests and pursuits. He is also clearly invested in research and articulates that he is intellectually curious, motivated, hard working, compassionate and committed to a career in medicine by explaining his experiences using interesting language and details. This is an intriguing statement that makes clear the applicant is worthy of an interview invitation. Finally, the student expresses his interest in attending medical school in Texas.

They were learning the basics of carpentry and agriculture. The air was muggy and hot, but these young boys seemed unaffected, though I and my fellow college students sweated and often complained. As time passed, I started to have a greater appreciation for the challenges these boys faced. These orphans, whom I met and trained in rural Central America as a member of The Project, had little. They dreamed of using these basic skills to earn a living wage. Abandoned by their families, they knew this was their only opportunity to re-enter society as self- sufficient individuals. I stood by them in the fields and tutored them after class. And while I tried my best to instill in them a strong work ethic, it was the boys who instilled in me a desire to help those in need. They gave me a new perspective on my decision to become a doctor.

I don’t know exactly when I decided to become a physician; I have had this goal for a long time. I grew up in the inner city of A City, in Texas and attended magnet schools. My family knew little about higher education, and I learned to seek out my own opportunities and advice. I attended The University with the goal of gaining admission to medical school. When I started college, I lacked the maturity to focus on academics and performed poorly. Then I traveled to Central America. Since I was one of the few students who spoke Spanish, many of the boys felt comfortable talking with me. They saw me as a role model.

The boys worked hard so that they could learn trades that would help them to be productive members of society. It was then I realized that my grandparents, who immigrated to the US so I would have access to greater opportunities, had done the same. I felt like I was wasting what they had sacrificed for me. When I returned to University in the fall, I made academics my priority and committed myself to learn more about medicine .

med school application essay examples

Through my major in neuroscience, I strengthened my understanding of how we perceive and experience life. In systems neurobiology, I learned the physiology of the nervous system. Teaching everything from basic neural circuits to complex sensory pathways, Professor X provided me with the knowledge necessary to conduct research in Parkinson’s disease. My research focused on the ability of antioxidants to prevent the onset of Parkinson’s, and while my project was only a pilot study at the time, Professor X encouraged me to present it at the National Research Conference. During my senior year, I developed the study into a formal research project, recruiting the help of professors of statistics and biochemistry.

Working at the School of Medicine reinforced my analytical skills. I spent my summer in the department of emergency medicine, working with the department chair, Dr. Excellent. Through Dr. Excellent’s mentorship, I participated in a retrospective study analyzing patient charts to determine the efficacy of D-dimer assays in predicting blood clots. The direct clinical relevance of my research strengthened my commitment and motivated my decision to seek out more clinical research opportunities.

A growing awareness of the role of human compassion in healing has also influenced my choice to pursue a career in medicine. It is something no animal model or cell culture can ever duplicate or rival. Working in clinical research has allowed me to see the selflessness of many physicians and patients and their mutual desire to help others. As a research study assistant in the department of surgery, I educate and enroll patients in clinical trials. One such study examines the role of pre-operative substance administration in tumor progression. Patients enrolled in this study underwent six weeks of therapy before having the affected organ surgically excised. Observing how patients were willing to participate in this research to benefit others helped me understand the resiliency of the human spirit.

Working in clinical trials has enabled me to further explore my passion for science, while helping others. Through my undergraduate coursework and participation in volunteer groups I have had many opportunities to solidify my goal to become a physician. As I am working, I sometimes think about my second summer in Central America. I recall how one day, after I had turned countless rows of soil in scorching heat, one of the boys told me that I was a trabajador verdadero—a true worker. I paused as I realized the significance of this comment. While the boy may not have been able to articulate it, he knew I could identify with him. What the boy didn’t know, however, was that had my grandparents not decided to immigrate to the US, I would not have the great privilege of seizing opportunities in this country and writing this essay today. I look forward to the next step of my education and hope to return home to Texas where I look forward to serving the communities I call home.

Final Thoughts

Above all, and as stated in this article numerous times, your personal statement should be authentic and genuine. Write about your path and and journey to this point in your life using anecdotes and observations to intrigue the reader and illustrate what is and was important to you. Good luck!

Medical School Personal Statement Help & Consulting

If all this information has you staring at your screen like a deer in the headlights, you’re not alone. Writing a superb medical school personal statement can be a daunting task, and many applicants find it difficult to get started writing, or to express everything they want to say succinctly. That’s where MedEdits can help. You don’t have to have the best writing skills to compose a stand-out statement. From personal-statement editing alone to comprehensive packages for all your medical school application needs, we offer extensive support and expertise developed from working with thousands of successful medical school applicants. We can’t promise applying to medical school will be stress-free, but most clients tell us it’s a huge relief not to have to go it alone.

MedEdits offers personal statement consulting and editing. Our goal when working with students is to draw out what makes each student distinctive. How do we do this? We will explore your background and upbringing, interests and ideals as well as your accomplishments and activities. By helping you identify the most distinguishing aspects of who you are, you will then be able to compose an authentic and genuine personal statement in your own voice to capture the admissions committee’s attention so you are invited for a medical school interview. Our unique brainstorming methodology has helped hundreds of aspiring premeds gain acceptance to medical school.

MedEdits: Sample Medical School Personal Statement, Page 1

Sample Medical School Personal Statement

MedEdits: Sample Medical School Personal Statement, Page 2

Example Medical School Personal Statement

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD

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med school application essay examples

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The Only 3 Medical School Personal Statement Examples You Need to Read

med school application essay examples

Posted in: Applying to Medical School

med school application essay examples

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the med school application process . Why? This mini-essay provides a critical opportunity for you to stand out from other prospective medical students by demonstrating your passion and personality, not just your grades.

Admissions committees receive numerous AMCAS medical school applications , so yours should be unique and captivating. Your medical school personal statement shows admissions officers who you are beyond your high school or pre-med GPA , extracurriculars , and MCAT score . 

The best personal statements are… well, personal . This is your chance to share what life experiences have compelled you toward a career in healthcare or the medical field , and how those experiences shape the picture of your ideal future.

MedSchoolCoach has crucial advice for writing your personal statement . 

Read these examples of personal statements for prospective med students.

Writing a great medical school personal statement is a lot easier with the right support. We’ve helped numerous med school applicants craft top-notch personal statements and can do the same for you.

But First: 7 Steps to Writing an Engaging Personal Statement

Before you read these excellent examples, you need to understand the process of writing a personal statement.

Include these in your medical school personal statement: 

  • Why you’re passionate about becoming a doctor
  • Your qualities that will make you a great physician
  • Personal stories that demonstrate those qualities
  • Specific examples of the communities you want to serve as a member of the medical field

What are the most important things to remember when writing a medical school personal statement ?

  • Begin the writing process early: Give yourself plenty of time for brainstorming and to revisit your first draft, revising it based on input from family members and undergrad professors. Consult the application timeline for your target enrollment season.
  • Choose a central theme: An unfocused essay will leave readers confused and uninterested. Give your statement a clear thesis in the first paragraph that guides its formation.
  • Start with a hook: Grab the reader’s attention immediately with your statement’s first sentence. Instead of opening with a conventional introduction, be creative! Begin with something unexpected.
  • Be the you of today, not the you of the future: Forecasting your future as a physician can come across as empty promises. Don’t get caught up in your ambitions; instead, be honest about your current situation and interest in the field of medicine.
  • Demonstrate your passion: It’s not enough to simply state your interest in becoming a doctor; you have to prove it through personal stories. Show how your perspectives have been shaped by formative experiences and how those will make you an effective physician.
  • Show, don’t tell : Avoid cliches that admissions committees have heard hundreds of times, like “I want to help people.” Make your writing come alive with dynamic, persuasive storytelling that recounts your personal experiences.
  • Tie everything together: Conclude by wrapping up your main points. Reiterate your passion for the medical profession, your defining personal qualities, and why you’ll make a good doctor.

You can read more about our recommended method in our step-by-step guide , but those are the major points. 

Example 1 — From the Stretcher to the Spotlight: My Journey to Becoming an Emergency Medicine Physician

Another siren shrieks as the emergency room doors slide open and a team of EMTs pushes a blood-soaked stretcher through the entrance. It’s the fifth ambulance to arrive tonight — and only my first clinical shadowing experience in an emergency medicine department since my premed education began. 

But it wasn’t my first time in an emergency room, and I knew I was meant to be here again.

In those crucial moments on the ER floor, many of my peers learned that they stumble in high-pressure environments. A few weeks of gunshot wounds, drug overdoses, broken bones, and deep lacerations in the busiest trauma bay in the region were enough to alter their career path. 

They will be better practitioners somewhere predictable, like a pediatrician in a private practice where they choose their schedules, clients, and staff. 

Every healthcare provider has their specialties, and mine are on full display in those crucial moments of lifesaving care. Why am I pursuing a career in Emergency Medicine? Because I’ve seen firsthand the miracles that Emergency Medicine physicians perform. 

12 years ago, I was in an emergency room… but I was the one on the stretcher.

A forest-green Saturn coupe rolled into my parent’s driveway. The driver, my best friend Kevin, had just passed his driving test and was itching to take a late-night run to the other side of town. I had ridden with Kevin and his father many times before when he held his learner’s permit. But this time, we didn’t have an adult with us, and the joyride ended differently: with a 40-mph passenger-side collision, T-boned by a drunk driver.

I distinctly recall the sensation of being lifted out of the crumpled car by a paramedic and laid onto a stretcher. A quick drive later, I was in the care of Dr. Smith, the ER resident on call that night. Without missing a beat, he assessed my condition and provided the care I needed. When my mom thanked him for saving my life, he simply responded, “It’s what he needed.”

Now I’m watching other doctors and nurses provide this life-saving care as I observe as a premed student. I see the way the staff works together like a well-oiled machine, and it reminds me of my time in high-school theater. 

Everyone has a role to play, however big or small, to make the show a success. All contributions are essential to a winning performance — even the technicians working behind the scenes. That’s what true teamwork is, and I see that same dynamic in the emergency department. 

Some actors freeze during performances, overcome by stage fright. Other students are too anxious to even set foot in front of an audience; they remain backstage assisting with split-second costume changes. 

Not me. I felt energized under the spotlight, deftly improvising to help my co-stars when they would forget their lines. Admittedly, I wasn’t the best actor or singer in the cast, but I provided something essential: assurance under pressure. Everyone knew me as dependable, always in their corner when something went awry. I had a reputation for remaining calm and thinking on my feet.  

My ability to stay unruffled under pressure was first discovered on stage, but I can use it on a very different platform providing patient care. Now, when other people freeze under the intensity of serving public health on the front lines, I can step in and provide my calm, collected guidance to see them through. 

As an ER doctor, I will have to provide that stability when a nurse gets flustered by a quarrelsome patient or shaken from an irreparably injured infant. When you’re an Emergency Medicine physician, you’re not following a script. It takes an aptitude of thinking on your toes to face the fast pace and unpredictable challenges of an emergency center. 

During my time shadowing, I saw experienced physicians put those assured, gentle communication skills to use. A 13-year-old boy was admitted for a knife wound he’d received on the streets. He only spoke Spanish, but it was clear he mistrusted doctors and was alarmed by the situation. In mere minutes, one of the doctors calmed the patient so he could receive care he needed.

Let me be clear: I haven’t simply gravitated toward Emergency Medicine because I liked it most. It’s not the adrenaline or the pride that compel me. I owe Emergency Medicine my life, and I want to use my life to extend the lives of other people. Every person brought into the trauma bay could be another me , no matter what they look like. 

People are more than their injury, health record, or circumstances. They are not just a task to complete or a challenge to conquer.

My childhood injury gave me an appreciation for the work of ER doctors and a compassion for patients, to foster well-being when people are most broken and vulnerable. I already have the dedication to the work and the heart for patients; I just need the medical knowledge and procedural skills to perform life-saving interventions. My ability to remain calm, think on my toes, be part of a team, and work decisively without making mistakes or overlooking critical issues will serve me well as an Emergency Medicine physician. 

Some ER physicians I spoke with liked to think that they’re “a different breed” than other medical professionals — but I don’t see it that way. We’re just performing a different role than the rest of the cast.

Breaking It Down

Let’s look at what qualities make this a great personal statement for med school. 

  • Engaging opening: The writer painted a vivid scene that immediately puts the reader in their shoes and leaves them wanting more.
  • Personal examples: The writer demonstrated his ability to stay calm, work as a team, and problem-solve through theater experience, which he also uses as a comparison. And, he explained his passion for Emergency Medical care from his childhood accident. 
  • Organized: The writer transitions fluidly between body paragraphs, connecting stories and ideas by emphasizing parallels and hopping back and forth between time.
  • Ample length: Makes full use of the AACOMAS and AMCAS application personal statement’s character limit of 5,300 characters (including spaces), which is about 850-950 words.

Unsure what traits and clinical or research experience your preferred medical school values ? You can research their admissions requirements and mission statement using the MSAR .

Example 2 — Early Clinical Work For Empathetic Patient Care

The applicant who wrote this personal statement was accepted into University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, University of Central Florida College of Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine.

As I walked briskly down the hall to keep up during our daily rounds in the ICU, I heard the steady beeping of Michelle’s cardiac monitor and saw a ruby ornament twinkling on the small Christmas tree beside her. She was always alone, but someone had decorated her room for the holidays. 

It warmed my heart that I wasn’t the only one who saw her as more than a patient in a coma. I continually felt guilty that I couldn’t spend more time with her; her usual companions were ventilators, IV bags, and catheters, not to mention the golf ball-sized tumors along her spine. Every day, I thought about running to Michelle’s bedside to do anything I could for her. 

Thus, I was taken aback when my advisor, who was visiting me that day, asked me if I was okay. It never crossed my mind that at age 17, my peers might not be able to handle the tragedies that healthcare workers consistently face. These situations were difficult, but they invoked humanity and compassion from me. I knew I wanted to pursue medicine. And I knew I could do it.

From my senior year of high school to my senior year of college, I continued to explore my passion for patient interaction. 

At the Stepp Lab, I was charged with contacting potential study participants for a study focusing on speech symptoms in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. The study would help future patients, but I couldn’t help but think: “What are we doing for these patients in return?” I worried that the heart and soul behind the research would get lost in the mix of acoustic data and participant ID numbers. 

But my fears were put to rest by Richard, the self-proclaimed “Parkinson’s Song & Dance Man,” who recorded himself singing show tunes as part of his therapy. Knowing that he was legally blind and unable to read caller ID, I was always thrilled when he recognized my voice. The spirit in his voice indicated that my interest in him and his journey with Parkinson’s was meaningful. Talking with him inspired me to dive deeper, which led to an appreciative understanding of his time as a sergeant in the U.S. military. 

It was an important reminder: my interest and care are just as important as an effective prescribed treatment plan.

Following graduation, I began my work as a medical assistant for a dermatologist. My experience with a patient, Joann, validated my ability to provide excellent hands-on patient care. Other physicians prescribed her painkillers to relieve the excruciating pain from the shingles rash, which presented as a fiery trail of blisters wrapped around her torso. But these painkillers offered no relief and made her so drowsy that she fell one night on the way to the bathroom. 

Joann was tired, suffering, and beaten down. The lidocaine patches we initially prescribed would be a much safer option, but I refused for her to pay $250, as she was on the brink of losing her job. When she returned to the office a week later, she held my hand and cried tears of joy because I found her affordable patches, which helped her pain without the systemic effects. 

The joy that pierced through the weariness in her eyes immediately confirmed that direct patient care like this was what I was meant to do. As I passed her a tissue, I felt ecstatic that I could make such a difference, and I sought to do more.

Since graduation, I have been volunteering at Open Door, a small pantry that serves a primarily Hispanic community of lower socioeconomic families. It is gut-wrenching to explain that we cannot give them certain items when our stock is low. After all, the fresh fruits and vegetables I serve are fundamental to their culturally-inspired meals. 

For the first time, I found myself serving anguish rather than a helping hand. Usually, uplifting moments strengthen one’s desire to become a physician, but in this case, it was my ability to handle the low points that reignited my passion for aiding others. 

After running out of produce one day, I was confused as to why a woman thanked me. Through translation by a fellow volunteer, I learned it was because of my positivity. She taught me that the way I approach unfavorable situations affects another’s perception and that my spirited attitude breaks through language barriers. 

This volunteer work served as a wake-up call to the unacceptable fact that U.S. citizens’ health suffers due to lack of access to healthy foods. If someone cannot afford healthy foods, they may not have access to healthcare. In the future, I want to partner with other food banks to offer free services like blood pressure readings. I have always wanted to help people, but I now have a particular interest in bringing help to people who cannot afford it.

While the foundation of medicine is scientific knowledge, the foundation of healthcare is the word “care” itself. I never found out what happened to Michelle and her Christmas tree, but I still wonder about her to this day, and she has strengthened my passion to serve others. A sense of excitement and comfort stems from knowing that I will be there for people on their worst days, since I have already seen the impact my support has had. 

In my mind, becoming a physician is not a choice but a natural next step to continue bringing humanity and compassion to those around me.

How did this personal statement grab and sustain attention so well?

  • Personalization: Everything about this statement helps you to understand the writer, from their personal experiences to their hope for how their future career will look.
  • Showing, not telling: From the first sentence, the reader is hooked. This prospective medical student has plenty of great “on paper” experience (early shadowing, clinical experience, etc.), but they showed this with storytelling, not by repeating their CV.
  • Empathy: An admissions committee reading this personal statement would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this student cares deeply about their patients. They remember first names, individual details, and the emotions that each patient made them feel.
  • A clear path forward: The writer doesn’t just want to work in the medical field — they have a passion for exactly how they want to impact the communities they serve. Outside of strictly medical work, they care about the way finances can limit access to healthcare and the struggle to find healthy food in food deserts around the US .

Read Next: How Hard Is It to Get Into Medical School?

Example 3 — Beyond the Diagnosis: The Importance of Individualized Care in Medicine

The applicant who wrote this personal statement was accepted into Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Nova Southeastern University College Of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Haywood sighs and shakes her head upon opening the chart. “I was worried about her A1C. It’s up again. Hypertension, too. Alright, let’s go.”

As we enter the patient’s room, I’m expecting the news about her blood sugar and pressure to fill the room. Instead, Dr. Haywood says, “Roseline! How are you doing? How’s your girl, doing well?”

Dr. Haywood continues to ask questions, genuinely interested in Roseline’s experience as a new mother. If not for the parchment-lined examination chair and anatomy posters plastered to the wall, this exchange could be happening in a grocery store. What about her A1C? Her blood pressure? Potential Type II diabetes?

As I continue to listen, Dr. Haywood discovers that Roseline’s mother moved in with her, cooking Haitian meals I recognize as high on the glycemic index. Dr. Haywood effortlessly evolves their conversation to focus on these. Being Haitian herself, she knows some traditional dishes are healthier than others and advises Roseline to avoid those that might exacerbate her high blood sugar and blood pressure. Dr. Haywood also suggests Roseline incorporate exercise by bringing her baby on a walk through her neighborhood.

During my shadowing experience, I observed one of the core components of being a physician through several encounters like this one. By establishing a relationship with her patient where Roseline was comfortable sharing the details of new motherhood, Dr. Haywood was able to individualize her approach to lowering the patient’s A1C and hypertension. Inspired by her ability to treat the whole person , I began to adopt a similar practice as a tutor for elementary kids in underserved areas of D.C.

Shaniyah did not like Zoom, or math for that matter. When I first met her as a prospective tutee online, she preferred to keep her microphone muted and would claim she was finished with her math homework after barely attempting the first problem. Realizing that basing our sessions solely on math would be fruitless, I adapted my tutoring style to incorporate some of the things for which she had a natural affinity.

The first step was acknowledging the difficulties a virtual environment posed to effective communication, particularly the ease at which distractions might take over. After sharing this with Shaniyah, she immediately disclosed her struggles to share her work with me. With this information, I found an online platform that allowed us to visualize each other’s work.

This obstacle in communication overcome, Shaniyah felt more comfortable sharing details about herself that I utilized as her tutor. Her love of soccer gave me the idea to use the concept of goal scoring to help with addition, and soon Shaniyah’s math skills and enthusiasm began to improve. As our relationship grew, so did her successes, and I suspect the feelings I experienced as her tutor are the same as a physician’s when their patient responds well to prescribed treatment. 

I believe this skill, caring for someone as a whole person , that I have learned and practiced through shadowing and tutoring is the central tenet of medicine that allows a doctor to successfully treat their patients.

Inspired by talking with patients who had received life-altering organ transplants during my shadowing experience, I created a club called D.C. Donors for Georgetown University students to encourage their peers to register as organ donors or donate blood. This experience taught me that to truly serve a person, you must involve your whole person, too. 

In starting this club to help those in need of transplants, I had to dedicate my time and effort beyond just my physical interactions with these patients. For instance, this involved reaching out to D.C.’s organ procurement organization to inquire about a potential partnership with my club, to which they agreed. In addition, I organized tabling events on campus, which required significant planning and communication with both club members and my university.

Though exciting, starting a club was also a difficult process, especially given the limitations the pandemic imposed on in-person meetings and events. To adapt, I had to plan more engaging meetings, designing virtual activities to make members more comfortable contributing their ideas. In addition, planning a blood drive required extensive communication with my university to ensure the safety of the staff and participants during the pandemic. 

Ultimately, I believe these behind-the-scenes actions were instrumental in addressing the need for organ and blood donors in the D.C. area.

From these experiences, I have grown to believe that good medicine not only necessitates the physician cares for her patient as a whole, but also that she fully commits her whole person to the care of the patient. Tutoring and starting D.C. Donors not only allowed me to develop these skills but also to experience such fulfilling emotions: the pride I had in Shaniyah when her math improved, the gratefulness I felt when she confided in me, the steadfast commitment I expressed to transplant patients, and the joy I had in collaborating with other passionate club members. 

I envision a career as a physician to demand these skills of me and more, and I have confirmed my desire to become one after feeling so enriched by practicing them.

Here’s what makes this personal statement such a good example of what works:

  • Desirable qualities: The student clearly demonstrates qualities any school would want in an applicant: teachability, adaptability, leadership, organization, and empathy, to name a few. This again uses the “show, don’t tell” method, allowing the readers to understand the student without hand-holding.
  • Personalized storytelling: Many in the healthcare profession will connect with experiences like the ones expressed here, such as addressing patient concerns relationally or the lack of blood donors during the recent pandemic. The writer automatically makes a personal link between themselves and the admissions committees reading this statement.
  • Extensive (but not too long): Without feeling too wordy, this personal statement uses nearly all of the 5,300 characters allowed on the AMCAS application. There’s no fluff left in the final draft, only what matters.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

You can learn a lot from those personal statements. They avoid the most common mistakes that med school applicants make when writing the medical school personal statement. 

What makes a bad med school personal statement? Here are some things you should avoid in your personal statement if you want to be a doctor: 

  • Don’t name-drop: Admissions counselors won’t be impressed when you brag about your highly regarded family members, associates, or mentors. You need to stand on your own feet — not someone else’s.
  • Don’t be dishonest: Lies and exaggerations can torpedo your application. And they’re bad habits for anyone entering the medical field. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t use AI to write your personal statement: Artificial intelligence can help you edit and improve your writing, but don’t let it do the work for you. Your statement needs to be authentic, which means in your voice! A chatbot can’t feel or adequately convey your own empathy, compassion, trauma, drive, or personality.
  • Don’t make mistakes: Have someone reliable proofread your essay and scour it for typos, misspellings, and punctuation errors. Even free grammar-checking apps can catch mistakes!
  • Don’t explain without demonstrating: I’ll reiterate how important it is to prove your self-descriptive statements with real-life examples. Telling without showing won’t persuade readers.
  • Don’t include too many examples: Have 3-4 solid personal stories at most; only include a few that are crucial for providing your points. The more experiences you share, the less impact they’ll make.
  • Don’t waste words: Cut all fluff, filler, and irrelevant points. There are many other places you can include information in your application, such as secondary essays on your clinical experience, volunteer work, and research projects .

You can find more valuable do’s and don’ts in our in-depth guide to writing your best personal statement .

Need extra help? We’ve got you covered.

Schedule a meeting with MedSchoolCoach for expert support on writing and editing your personal statement. We’re here to help you impress medical school admissions committees !

Renee Marinelli MD

Renee Marinelli MD

Dr. Marinelli is an advisor at MedSchoolCoach and former admissions committee member at UC Irvine School of Medicine. Her insight into the application process is second to none!

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Sample Medical School Essays

Applying to medical school is an exciting decision, but the application process is very competitive. This means when it comes to your application you need to ensure you’ve put your best foot forward and done everything you can to stand out from other applicants. One great way to provide additional information on why you have decided to pursue a career in medicine and why you’re qualified, is your medical school essay. Read these samples to get a good idea on how you can write your own top-notch essay.

This section contains five sample medical school essays

  • Medical School Sample Essay One
  • Medical School Sample Essay Two
  • Medical School Sample Essay Three
  • Medical School Sample Essay Four
  • Medical School Sample Essay Five

Medical School Essay One

When I was twelve years old, a drunk driver hit the car my mother was driving while I was in the backseat. I have very few memories of the accident, but I do faintly recall a serious but calming face as I was gently lifted out of the car. The paramedic held my hand as we traveled to the hospital. I was in the hospital for several weeks and that same paramedic came to visit me almost every day. During my stay, I also got to know the various doctors and nurses in the hospital on a personal level. I remember feeling anxiety about my condition, but not sadness or even fear. It seemed to me that those around me, particularly my family, were more fearful of what might happen to me than I was. I don’t believe it was innocence or ignorance, but rather a trust in the abilities of my doctors. It was as if my doctors and I had a silent bond. Now that I’m older I fear death and sickness in a more intense way than I remember experiencing it as a child. My experience as a child sparked a keen interest in how we approach pediatric care, especially as it relates to our psychological and emotional support of children facing serious medical conditions. It was here that I experienced first-hand the power and compassion of medicine, not only in healing but also in bringing unlikely individuals together, such as adults and children, in uncommon yet profound ways. And it was here that I began to take seriously the possibility of becoming a pediatric surgeon.

My interest was sparked even more when, as an undergraduate, I was asked to assist in a study one of my professors was conducting on how children experience and process fear and the prospect of death. This professor was not in the medical field; rather, her background is in cultural anthropology. I was very honored to be part of this project at such an early stage of my career. During the study, we discovered that children face death in extremely different ways than adults do. We found that children facing fatal illnesses are very aware of their condition, even when it hasn’t been fully explained to them, and on the whole were willing to fight their illnesses, but were also more accepting of their potential fate than many adults facing similar diagnoses. We concluded our study by asking whether and to what extent this discovery should impact the type of care given to children in contrast to adults. I am eager to continue this sort of research as I pursue my medical career. The intersection of medicine, psychology, and socialization or culture (in this case, the social variables differentiating adults from children) is quite fascinating and is a field that is in need of better research.

Although much headway has been made in this area in the past twenty or so years, I feel there is a still a tendency in medicine to treat diseases the same way no matter who the patient is. We are slowly learning that procedures and drugs are not always universally effective. Not only must we alter our care of patients depending upon these cultural and social factors, we may also need to alter our entire emotional and psychological approach to them as well.

It is for this reason that I’m applying to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as it has one of the top programs for pediatric surgery in the country, as well as several renowned researchers delving into the social, generational, and cultural questions in which I’m interested. My approach to medicine will be multidisciplinary, which is evidenced by the fact that I’m already double-majoring in early childhood psychology and pre-med, with a minor in cultural anthropology. This is the type of extraordinary care that I received as a child—care that seemed to approach my injuries with a much larger and deeper picture than that which pure medicine cannot offer—and it is this sort of care I want to provide my future patients. I turned what might have been a debilitating event in my life—a devastating car accident—into the inspiration that has shaped my life since. I am driven and passionate. And while I know that the pediatric surgery program at Johns Hopkins will likely be the second biggest challenge I will face in my life, I know that I am up for it. I am ready to be challenged and prove to myself what I’ve been telling myself since that fateful car accident: I will be a doctor.

Tips for a Successful Medical School Essay

  • If you’re applying through AMCAS, remember to keep your essay more general rather than tailored to a specific medical school, because your essay will be seen by multiple schools.
  • AMCAS essays are limited to 5300 characters—not words! This includes spaces.
  • Make sure the information you include in your essay doesn't conflict with the information in your other application materials.
  • In general, provide additional information that isn’t found in your other application materials. Look at the essay as an opportunity to tell your story rather than a burden.
  • Keep the interview in mind as you write. You will most likely be asked questions regarding your essay during the interview, so think about the experiences you want to talk about.
  • When you are copying and pasting from a word processor to the AMCAS application online, formatting and font will be lost. Don’t waste your time making it look nice. Be sure to look through the essay once you’ve copied it into AMCAS and edit appropriately for any odd characters that result from pasting.
  • Avoid overly controversial topics. While it is fine to take a position and back up your position with evidence, you don’t want to sound narrow-minded.
  • Revise, revise, revise. Have multiple readers look at your essay and make suggestions. Go over your essay yourself many times and rewrite it several times until you feel that it communicates your message effectively and creatively.
  • Make the opening sentence memorable. Admissions officers will read dozens of personal statements in a day. You must say something at the very beginning to catch their attention, encourage them to read the essay in detail, and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
  • Character traits to portray in your essay include: maturity, intellect, critical thinking skills, leadership, tolerance, perseverance, and sincerity.

Medical School Essay Two

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be writing this essay and planning for yet another ten years into the future, part of me would have been surprised. I am a planner and a maker of to-do lists, and it has always been my plan to follow in the steps of my father and become a physician. This plan was derailed when I was called to active duty to serve in Iraq as part of the War on Terror.

I joined the National Guard before graduating high school and continued my service when I began college. My goal was to receive training that would be valuable for my future medical career, as I was working in the field of emergency health care. It was also a way to help me pay for college. When I was called to active duty in Iraq for my first deployment, I was forced to withdraw from school, and my deployment was subsequently extended. I spent a total of 24 months deployed overseas, where I provided in-the-field medical support to our combat troops. While the experience was invaluable not only in terms of my future medical career but also in terms of developing leadership and creative thinking skills, it put my undergraduate studies on hold for over two years. Consequently, my carefully-planned journey towards medical school and a medical career was thrown off course. Thus, while ten-year plans are valuable, I have learned from experience how easily such plans can dissolve in situations that are beyond one’s control, as well as the value of perseverance and flexibility.

Eventually, I returned to school. Despite my best efforts to graduate within two years, it took me another three years, as I suffered greatly from post-traumatic stress disorder following my time in Iraq. I considered abandoning my dream of becoming a physician altogether, since I was several years behind my peers with whom I had taken biology and chemistry classes before my deployment. Thanks to the unceasing encouragement of my academic advisor, who even stayed in contact with me when I was overseas, I gathered my strength and courage and began studying for the MCAT. To my surprise, my score was beyond satisfactory and while I am several years behind my original ten-year plan, I am now applying to Brown University’s School of Medicine.

I can describe my new ten-year plan, but I will do so with both optimism and also caution, knowing that I will inevitably face unforeseen complications and will need to adapt appropriately. One of the many insights I gained as a member of the National Guard and by serving in war-time was the incredible creativity medical specialists in the Armed Forces employ to deliver health care services to our wounded soldiers on the ground. I was part of a team that was saving lives under incredibly difficult circumstances—sometimes while under heavy fire and with only the most basic of resources. I am now interested in how I can use these skills to deliver health care in similar circumstances where basic medical infrastructure is lacking. While there is seemingly little in common between the deserts of Fallujah and rural Wyoming, where I’m currently working as a volunteer first responder in a small town located more than 60 miles from the nearest hospital, I see a lot of potential uses for the skills that I gained as a National Guardsman. As I learned from my father, who worked with Doctors Without Borders for a number of years, there is quite a bit in common between my field of knowledge from the military and working in post-conflict zones. I feel I have a unique experience from which to draw as I embark on my medical school journey, experiences that can be applied both here and abroad.

In ten years’ time, I hope to be trained in the field of emergency medicine, which, surprisingly, is a specialization that is actually lacking here in the United States as compared to similarly developed countries. I hope to conduct research in the field of health care infrastructure and work with government agencies and legislators to find creative solutions to improving access to emergency facilities in currently underserved areas of the United States, with an aim towards providing comprehensive policy reports and recommendations on how the US can once again be the world leader in health outcomes. While the problems inherent in our health care system are not one-dimensional and require a dynamic approach, one of the solutions as I see it is to think less in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and more in terms of access to primary care. Much of the care that I provide as a first responder and volunteer is extremely effective and also relatively cheap. More money is always helpful when facing a complex social and political problem, but we must think of solutions above and beyond more money and more taxes. In ten years I want to be a key player in the health care debate in this country and offering innovative solutions to delivering high quality and cost-effective health care to all our nation’s citizens, especially to those in rural and otherwise underserved areas.

Of course, my policy interests do not replace my passion for helping others and delivering emergency medicine. As a doctor, I hope to continue serving in areas of the country that, for one reason or another, are lagging behind in basic health care infrastructure. Eventually, I would also like to take my knowledge and talents abroad and serve in the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders.

In short, I see the role of physicians in society as multifunctional: they are not only doctors who heal, they are also leaders, innovators, social scientists, and patriots. Although my path to medical school has not always been the most direct, my varied and circuitous journey has given me a set of skills and experiences that many otherwise qualified applicants lack. I have no doubt that the next ten years will be similarly unpredictable, but I can assure you that no matter what obstacles I face, my goal will remain the same. I sincerely hope to begin the next phase of my journey at Brown University. Thank you for your kind attention.

Additional Tips for a Successful Medical School Essay

  • Regardless of the prompt, you should always address the question of why you want to go to medical school in your essay.
  • Try to always give concrete examples rather than make general statements. If you say that you have perseverance, describe an event in your life that demonstrates perseverance.
  • There should be an overall message or theme in your essay. In the example above, the theme is overcoming unexpected obstacles.
  • Make sure you check and recheck for spelling and grammar!
  • Unless you’re very sure you can pull it off, it is usually not a good idea to use humor or to employ the skills you learned in creative writing class in your personal statement. While you want to paint a picture, you don’t want to be too poetic or literary.
  • Turn potential weaknesses into positives. As in the example above, address any potential weaknesses in your application and make them strengths, if possible. If you have low MCAT scores or something else that can’t be easily explained or turned into a positive, simply don’t mention it.

Medical School Essay Three

The roots of my desire to become a physician are, thankfully, not around the bedside of a sick family member or in a hospital, but rather on a 10-acre plot of land outside of a small town in Northwest Arkansas. I loved raising and exhibiting cattle, so every morning before the bus arrived at 7 a.m. I was in the barn feeding, checking cattle for any health issues and washing the show heifers. These early mornings and my experiences on a farm not only taught me the value of hard work, but ignited my interest in the body, albeit bovine at the time. It was by a working chute that I learned the functions of reproductive hormones as we utilized them for assisted reproduction and artificial insemination; it was by giving vaccinations to prevent infection that I learned about bacteria and the germ theory of disease; it was beside a stillborn calf before the sun had risen that I was exposed to the frailty of life.

Facing the realities of disease and death daily from an early age, I developed a strong sense of pragmatism out of necessity. There is no place for abstractions or euphemisms about life and death when treating a calf’s pneumonia in the pouring rain during winter. Witnessing the sometimes harsh realities of life on a farm did not instill within me an attitude of jaded inevitability of death. Instead, it germinated a responsibility to protect life to the best of my abilities, cure what ailments I can and alleviate as much suffering as possible while recognizing that sometimes nothing can be done.

I first approached human health at the age of nine through beef nutrition and food safety. Learning the roles of nutrients such as zinc, iron, protein and B-vitamins in the human body as well as the dangers of food-borne illness through the Beef Ambassador program shifted my interest in the body to a new species. Talking with consumers about every facet of the origins of food, I realized that the topics that most interested me were those that pertained to human health. In college, while I connected with people over samples of beef and answered their questions, I also realized that it is not enough simply to have adequate knowledge. Ultimately knowledge is of little use if it is not digestible to those who receive it. So my goal as a future clinical physician is not only to illuminate the source of an affliction and provide treatment for patients, but take care to ensure the need for understanding by both patient and family is met.

I saw this combination of care and understanding while volunteering in an emergency room, where I was also exposed to other aspects and players in the medical field. While assisting a nurse perform a bladder scan and witnessing technicians carry out an echocardiogram or CT scan, I learned the important roles that other professionals who do not wear white coats have in today’s medical field. Medicine is a team sport, and coordinating the efforts of each of these players is crucial for the successful execution of patient care. It is my goal to serve as the leader of this healthcare unit and unify a team of professionals to provide the highest quality care for patients. Perhaps most importantly my time at the VA showed me the power a smile and an open ear can have with people. On the long walk to radiology, talking with patients about their military service and families always seemed to take their mind off the reason for their visit, if only for a few minutes. This served as a reminder that we are helping people with pasts and dreams, rather than simply remedying patients’ symptoms.

Growing up in a small town, I never held aspirations of world travel when I was young. But my time abroad revealed to me the state of healthcare in developing countries and fostered a previously unknown interest in global health. During my first trip abroad to Ghana, my roommate became ill with a severe case of traveler’s diarrhea. In the rural north of the country near the Sahara, the options for healthcare were limited; he told me how our professor was forced to bribe employees to bypass long lines and even recounted how doctors took a bag of saline off the line of another patient to give to him. During a service trip to a rural community in Nicaragua, I encountered patients with preventable and easily treatable diseases that, due to poverty and lack of access, were left untreated for months or years at a time. I was discouraged by the state of healthcare in these countries and wondered what could be done to help. I plan to continue to help provide access to healthcare in rural parts of developing countries, and hopefully as a physician with an agricultural background I can approach public health and food security issues in a multifaceted and holistic manner.

My time on a cattle farm taught me how to work hard to pursue my interests, but also fueled my appetite for knowledge about the body and instilled within me a firm sense of practicality. Whether in a clinic, operating room or pursuing public and global health projects, I plan to bring this work ethic and pragmatism to all of my endeavors. My agricultural upbringing has produced a foundation of skills and values that I am confident will readily transplant into my chosen career. Farming is my early passion, but medicine is my future.

Medical School Essay Four

I am a white, cisgender, and heterosexual female who has been afforded many privileges: I was raised by parents with significant financial resources, I have traveled the world, and I received top-quality high school and college educations. I do not wish to be addressed or recognized in any special way; all I ask is to be treated with respect.

As for my geographic origin, I was born and raised in the rural state of Maine. Since graduating from college, I have been living in my home state, working and giving back to the community that has given me so much. I could not be happier here; I love the down-to-earth people, the unhurried pace of life, and the easy access to the outdoors. While I am certainly excited to move elsewhere in the country for medical school and continue to explore new places, I will always self-identify as a Mainer as being from Maine is something I take great pride in. I am proud of my family ties to the state (which date back to the 1890’s), I am proud of the state’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty, and I am particularly proud of my slight Maine accent (we don’t pronounce our r’s). From the rocky coastline and rugged ski mountains to the locally-grown food and great restaurants, it is no wonder Maine is nicknamed, "Vacationland.” Yet, Maine is so much more than just a tourist destination. The state is dotted with wonderful communities in which to live, communities like the one where I grew up.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I plan to return to Maine after residency. I want to raise a family and establish my medical practice here. We certainly could use more doctors! Even though Maine is a terrific place to live, the state is facing a significant doctor shortage. Today, we are meeting less than half of our need for primary care providers. To make matters worse, many of our physicians are close to retirement age. Yet, according to the AAMC, only 53 Maine residents matriculated into medical school last year! Undoubtedly, Maine is in need of young doctors who are committed to working long term in underserved areas. As my primary career goal is to return to my much adored home state and do my part to help fill this need, I have a vested interest in learning more about rural medicine during medical school.

I was raised in Cumberland, Maine, a coastal town of 7,000 just north of Portland. With its single stoplight and general store (where it would be unusual to visit without running into someone you know), Cumberland is the epitome of a small New England town. It truly was the perfect place to grow up. According to the most recent census, nearly a third of the town’s population is under 18 and more than 75% of households contain children, two statistics which speak to the family-centric nature of Cumberland’s community. Recently rated Maine's safest town, Cumberland is the type of place where you allow your kindergartener to bike alone to school, leave your house unlocked while at work, and bring home-cooked food to your sick neighbors and their children. Growing up in such a safe, close-knit, and supportive community instilled in me the core values of compassion, trustworthiness, and citizenship. These three values guide me every day and will continue to guide me through medical school and my career in medicine.

As a medical student and eventual physician, my compassion will guide me to become a provider who cares for more than just the physical well-being of my patients. I will also commit myself to my patients’ emotional, spiritual, and social well-being and make it a priority to take into account the unique values and beliefs of each patient. By also demonstrating my trustworthiness during every encounter, I will develop strong interpersonal relationships with those whom I serve. As a doctor once wisely said, “A patient does not care how much you know until he knows how much you care.”

My citizenship will guide me to serve my community and to encourage my classmates and colleagues to do the same. We will be taught in medical school to be healers, scientists, and educators. I believe that, in addition, as students and as physicians, we have the responsibility to use our medical knowledge, research skills, and teaching abilities to benefit more than just our patients. We must also commit ourselves to improving the health and wellness of those living in our communities by participating in public events (i.e by donating our medical services), lobbying for better access to healthcare for the underprivileged, and promoting wellness campaigns. As a medical student and eventual physician, my compassion, trustworthiness, and citizenship will drive me to improve the lives of as many individuals as I can.

Cumberland instilled in me important core values and afforded me a wonderful childhood. However, I recognize that my hometown is not perfect. For one, the population is shockingly homogenous, at least as far as demographics go. As of the 2010 census, 97.2% of the residents of Cumberland were white. Only 4.1% of residents speak a language other than English at home and even fewer were born in another country. Essentially everybody who identified with a religion identified as some denomination of Christian. My family was one of maybe five Jewish families in the town. Additionally, nearly all the town’s residents graduated from high school (98.1%), are free of disability (93.8%), and live above the poverty line (95.8%). Efforts to attract diverse families to Cumberland is one improvement that I believe would make the community a better place in which to live. Diversity in background (and in thought) is desirable in any community as living, learning, and working alongside diverse individuals helps us develop new perspectives, enhances our social development, provides us with a larger frame of reference, and improves our understanding of our place in society.

Medical School Essay Five

“How many of you received the flu vaccine this year?” I asked my Bricks 4 Kidz class, where I volunteer to teach elementary students introductory science and math principles using Lego blocks. “What’s a flu vaccine?” they asked in confusion. Surprised, I briefly explained the influenza vaccine and its purpose for protection. My connection to children and their health extends to medical offices, clinics and communities where I have gained experience and insight into medicine, confirming my goal of becoming a physician.

My motivation to pursue a career in medicine developed when my mother, who was diagnosed with Lupus, underwent a kidney transplant surgery and suffered multiple complications. I recall the fear and anxiety I felt as a child because I misunderstood her chronic disease. This prompted me to learn more about the science of medicine. In high school, I observed patients plagued with acute and chronic kidney disease while briefly exploring various fields of medicine through a Mentorship in Medicine summer program at my local hospital. In addition to shadowing nephrologists in a hospital and clinical setting, I scrubbed into the operating room, viewed the radiology department, celebrated the miracle of birth in the delivery room, and quietly observed a partial autopsy in pathology. I saw many patients confused about their diagnoses. I was impressed by the compassion of the physicians and the time they took to reassure and educate their patients.

Further experiences in medicine throughout and after college shaped a desire to practice in underserved areas. While coloring and reading with children in the patient area at a Family Health Center, I witnessed family medicine physicians diligently serve patients from low-income communities. On a medical/dental mission trip to the Philippines, I partnered with local doctors to serve and distribute medical supplies to rural schools and communities. At one impoverished village, I held a malnourished two-year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy and cardiorespiratory disease. His family could not afford to take him to the nearest pediatrician, a few hours away by car, for treatment. Overwhelmed, I cried as we left the village. Many people were suffering through pain and disease due to limited access to medicine. But this is not rare; there are many people suffering due to inadequate access/accessibility around the world, even in my hometown. One physician may not be able to change the status of underserved communities, however, one can alleviate some of the suffering.

Dr. X, my mentor and supervisor, taught me that the practice of medicine is both a science and an art. As a medical assistant in a pediatric office, I am learning about the patient-physician relationship and the meaningful connection with people that medicine provides. I interact with patients and their families daily. Newborn twins were one of the first patients I helped, and I look forward to seeing their development at successive visits. A young boy who endured a major cardiac surgery was another patient I connected with, seeing his smiling face in the office often as he transitioned from the hospital to his home. I also helped many excited, college-bound teenagers with requests for medical records in order to matriculate. This is the art of medicine – the ability to build relationships with patients and have an important and influential role in their lives, from birth to adulthood and beyond.

In addition, medicine encompasses patient-centered care, such as considering and addressing concerns. While taking patient vitals, I grew discouraged when parents refused the influenza vaccine and could not understand their choices. With my experience in scientific research, I conducted an informal yet insightful study. Over one hundred families were surveyed about their specific reasons for refusing the flu vaccine. I sought feedback on patients’ level of understanding about vaccinations and its interactions with the human immune system. Through this project, I learned the importance of understanding patient’s concerns in order to reassure them through medicine. I also learned the value of communicating with patients, such as explaining the purpose of a recommended vaccine. I hope to further this by attending medical school to become a physician focused on patient-centered care, learning from and teaching my community.

Children have been a common thread in my pursuit of medicine, from perceiving medicine through child-like eyes to interacting daily with children in a medical office. My diverse experiences in patient interaction and the practice of medicine inspire me to become a physician, a path that requires perseverance and passion. Physicians are life-long learners and teachers, educating others whether it is on vaccinations or various diseases. This vocation also requires preparation, and I eagerly look forward to continually learning and growing in medical school and beyond.

To learn more about what to expect from the study of medicine, check out our Study Medicine in the US section.

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Harvard Medical School Personal Statement Examples

3 strong medical school personal statements for harvard applications.

Harvard Sample Personal Statement

Harvard Medical School personal statement examples in this blog can inspire you to write your own stellar essay. Remember, HMS is one of the top Ivy League medical schools and therefore your AMCAS application, including your personal statement, must be outstanding! Let's take a look at 3 Harvard Medical School personal statement examples.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 13 min read

Harvard medical school personal statement example #1:.

It was always expected that I would become a doctor. Both of my parents are doctors, my aunt & uncle are doctors, & my older brother is completing medical school; everyone assumed I would follow a similar path. However, for a while, I didn’t see myself following this path of my own volition: it felt like something imposed, rather than something I actually desired. I maintained solid grades in my pre-med courses, but found myself really coming alive in my electives, particularly creative writing/poetry. During my high school years & first 2 years of undergrad, I found the sciences cold & detached – far from the imaginative world of creative thinking I got to explore in my breadth requirements. So, I spent my initial undergraduate years ticking the necessary boxes & getting solid marks in my required science courses, but my heart was pulled more & more toward the humanities. At the end of my second year, I decided to carry my pre-med major, while also declaring a minor in creative writing. It wasn’t until that summer between my 2nd & 3rd years that I realized these worlds of thought are not as far removed as I’d initially (& admittedly naively) assumed.

At the tender age of 9, I thought the arrival of a baby sister would be a joyous occasion. It never occurred to me that it could be one of the most terrifying ordeals I’d ever experience. I recall the preparations we’d made in our home for Jenna, the anticipation & excitement each time I felt her move in our mother’s womb. 3 months prior to her expected arrival, however, Jenna was born prematurely. She was tiny, under 2 pounds, & spent the first 10 weeks of her life in the NICU. I recall the brief moments I was able to hold her, just a tiny, fragile bundle. Throughout this trial, I was also able to see the dedication & tenacity of the doctors who worked tirelessly to save her life. Watching a medical team devote themselves to her care, tending also to my mother, father, & myself, helping us steal as many precious moments as we could with her, filled me with hope & determination. As she grew stronger, they celebrated with us – every gained pound as much a cause for joy for them as it was for us. They were not merely her doctors, they were part of our family for that time. Seeing all they did for Jenna, & the relationship they built with all of us, helped me realize my own calling in life. The day she came home was the day I decided that I wanted to become a doctor.

As inspirational as this early motivator was, it was later that I learned the real work & challenges I’d need to overcome in pursuing this profession. While no one in my immediate family is a physician, my uncle, a cardiologist, has been keen on helping me achieve my goals. His guidance led me to volunteer work & shadowing experiences even in my grade school years. In Grade 7, I thought I may want to go into neurosurgery; he used his connections to help me shadow a renowned surgeon. Though I was only 12, Dr. Tankian treated me as if I were a serious med school applicant. I followed him through a full day of surgeries, standing by his side as he removed a ruptured disc in a patient’s back, & installed an artificial bone in the neck of a patient with a degenerative condition. Being in the operating theater was exhilarating, but also terrifying. At one point in the disk removal surgery, I had to step out of the room to catch my breath, as the smell was something I hadn’t anticipated & it made me woozy. A nurse brought me tea, & I momentarily thought about leaving. However, I knew I was getting an incredible opportunity. Despite this small set-back, I firmed my resolve & returned to watch the rest of the surgery & the one that followed, & I made it through the rest of the day without having to step away again. Though I persevered, the temptation to leave had been strong, but I know now that I can face such challenges head-on & set aside my own discomfort for the sake of learning. After our day together, Dr. Tankian helped me compile research on the brain & its functions, which I assembled into an un-assigned research project that I voluntarily presented to my science class. Though it was not a graded assignment, it remains one of the proudest moments of my childhood.

In his landmark text, The Birth of the Clinic, Michel Foucault observed the ways in which medical doctors act as empowered & revered agents in modern societies, but also the ways in which the “medical gaze” can dehumanize patients, reducing them to mere bodies that are acted upon. Though published in 1963, this work continues to inspire physicians, philosophers, sociologists, & other scholars who seek to understand such power dynamics & bring empowered patients back to the center of medical care. Acknowledging this role of the doctor has left every project, every research goal, & indeed, every step on my path to gaining my M.D., subject to additional analysis & reflection. It has helped me understand the medical world in new ways & inspired me to act as an advocate for chronically ill – & often misunderstood – patients.

7 years ago, my mother woke up one day with widespread pain in her body, relentless fatigue, & a multitude of other generalized symptoms. For the first few weeks, she brushed these off. Seeing her struggle just to do basic tasks like showering or making dinner was excruciating, but she assured me that this was just a passing flu or something like that. Weeks & months went by, with no improvement; I finally convinced her to see a doctor. I thought that would be the end of this ordeal – she would get a diagnosis & treatment, & things would return to normal. After a battery of tests that all came back negative, however, we hit a wall. Over the following 2 years, she would see 5 different doctors, undergo more tests – blood draws, stress tests, even an MRI – which all came back “negative”; yet, her suffering continued. With no real treatment, she cut back her working hours, & spent most of her time off work in bed. I had to step in to maintain the home, prepare meals for our family (her, my younger brother, & myself), & ensure bills were paid, all while working part time & continuing my education.

Finally, after insisting upon a referral, she was able to see a specialist (rheumatologist), who diagnosed her with fibromyalgia. While we sighed with relief upon the diagnosis & related treatment, this was the beginning of yet another arduous struggle with the medical establishment. We quickly learned, upon returning to our family doctor, that because this disorder is not easily tested or treated, it is not always taken seriously – patients are often told that it’s “all in their head” or treated as if they are seeking narcotics. I witnessed both things happen to my mother, as I’d started attending her doctor’s appointments. All I could see was a woman who used to be heroic in my eyes, reduced now to a lifetime of very real pain & suffering. As I began researching fibromyalgia & frequenting support groups for those with this condition, a long history of dismissal, humiliation, & intense physical & mental anguish spread out in front of me.

Harvard Medical School utilizes the AMCAS application system, meaning that your personal statement should adhere to the requirements of the AMCAS personal statement. This means that your essay should be no more than 5300 characters (including spaces), and should speak to your motivations to pursue a career in medicine (“ Why do you want to be a doctor ?”). Remember, you’ll also have the AMCAS Work and Activities section to give details about your work, volunteering, research, etc., and the AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences to expand on some significant moments in your life, work, and education. The personal statement should be a narrative engagement that highlights your key qualities and core competencies, as they align with the requirements of medical professionals, and the mission of the university itself, in ways that cannot be articulated in smaller components like the autobiographical sketch or most meaningful experiences. 

Harvard is definitely not one of the easiest medical schools to get into – indeed, it remains one of the most competitive medical schools in North America (follow this link to see medical school acceptance rates ). This means that your essays must be next-level if you want to be considered as an applicant. 

*Please note that our sample essays are the property of BeMo Academic Consulting, and should not be re-used for any purpose. Admissions committees regularly check for plagiarism from online sources.

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I am an overseas student and planning to make my Master's degree and PhD iat Harvard university in the faculty of education. Therefore, I wonder where I would be able to find personal statements written for Education faculty Thanks for your response in advance Regards Madina

BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello Madina! Thank you so much for your message. Since you are looking to apply to graduate school at Harvard, you should take a look at our sample statements of purpose, or personal statements for grad school. You can find several samples in this blog https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/blog/graduate-school-statement-of-purpose-example-and-tip There is a variety of personal statements from different schools and prompts. Let us know if we can help with anything else!

Madina, you are the winner of our weekly draw. Please email us by the end of the day tomorrow (August 28) at content[at]bemoacademicconsulting.com from the same email address you used to leave your comment to claim your prize!

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July 24, 2022

Duke University School of Medicine Secondary Application Essay Tips [2022 – 2023]

Duke University School of Medicine Secondary Application Essay Tips [2022 - 2023]

Duke University’s Medical School is ranked 6th by U.S. News for research and 78th for primary care, and is known for its focus on interdisciplinary learning . It aims to use medical research to solve global problems. Duke emphasizes diversity, inclusion, and attention to community health problems. Consequently it comes as no surprise that Duke’s secondary application questions ask you to consider your role as a physician in global and local communities.

For more information about the program, check out our podcast episode: Deep Dive Into Duke Medical: An Interview With Dr. Linton Yee, Associate Dean of Admissions >>

Duke secondary application tips 2022-2023

Duke secondary application essay #1: advocacy.

Describe a situation in which you chose to advocate for someone who was different from you or for a cause or idea that was different from yours. Define your view of advocacy. What risks, if any, might be associated with your choice to be an advocate? (400 words)

Advocacy is fighting for, recommending, or supporting – a person, cause, system or ideal. What is your style of advocacy? When have you helped someone after they experienced discrimination, hardship, or bias? When did you recommend someone often overlooked due to bias to receive recognition, opportunity or reward? Have you ever amplified a marginalized person’s viewpoint, supported services to improve the life of someone with a disability? What happened? What did you do? What was the outcome of your actions? Looking back, what was the risk of advocating in light of the situation? 

The prompt asks for an individual example, but you can also think about an individual you have worked with who represents a broader group of people. This question is asking you to think about your role as a physician-advocate, someone who will represent their patient in the quest to obtain fair and adequate healthcare. The question also addresses Duke’s emphasis on the physician as a member of the community with a duty to improve care for all.

Duke secondary application essay #2: Coping with Disappointment

Not achieving a goal or one’s desire can sometimes be disheartening. What have you learned/gained from your setbacks and disappointments and how does this translate to your current way of thinking? (400 words)

This prompt challenges applicants to be truthful about a disappointing moment, an initiative or effort that didn’t have the desired results. If looking at oneself as “having failed” sounds too self-deprecating, then turn the table here. Tell the story of a setback as a growth moment. Keep in mind, hitting road bumps on the way to achieving life goals is inevitable. Being able to adapt and learn, perhaps, is the moral of this story because physicians adapt to circumstances and compensate for gaps in patient care often.

Duke secondary application essay #3: Value Systems

Describe a situation in which you had to utilize your values to interact with people from different backgrounds. How did those values impact the relationship? ( 400 words )

We are all shaped by our cultures, experiences and values. People respond to challenges often in keeping with ingrained cultural habits. For instance, was it common to have friends join your family at the dinner table? What value is associated with always having room to feed another person at the table? Have you invited international friends or friends whose families live far away to join you and yours when they had nowhere to go to celebrate Thanksgiving? Why did you do this? What belief led you to extend such an invitation? 

Were you ever asked to assist with a ceremony that was not part of your own spiritual practice? Was this challenging? How did this request feel like an honor? 

Did this experience change or build relationships?

One could take this prompt in another direction too, to engage with people of a different background whom you do not know. If you are white, did you ever attend a Black Lives Matters march because it was unequivocally the right thing to do? If you are straight, did you help others achieve LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, hang a “safe zone” sticker on your door and someone seeking a safe place came knocking? If you are a woman, did you ever endorse a white man for a leadership position even though leadership positions are saturated with white men? 

What relationship, if any, came from a “doing the right thing” experience? What did you learn about how to build multicultural, diverse friendships or relationships?

Duke secondary application essay #4: Leadership

Leadership, teamwork, and communication flow synergistically. What do you value most as a leader and as a contributor? What attributes do you possess as a leader and as a team member and how do you apply them on a daily basis? (400 words)

This is a very broad question about critical skills in medicine. Doctors are leaders, but they are also part of a medical team. Communication with patients, peers, and other members of the healthcare professions is mandatory.

When did you take on a leadership role ? How did that go? What guiding principles helped you lead effectively, or what guiding principles came to light while adapting to a leadership role? Discuss which skills and attributes contributed to your effectiveness as a leader and/or a team member . What worked for you when you were in a leadership role? How did this experience change how you “walk the walk” of a leader?

Duke secondary application essay #5: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking involves a number of characteristics. Research experience enhances critical analysis skills. Describe any research experience or another situation in which you utilized critical thinking. How will critical thinking be important in your future career? (400 words)

In your research, how do you analyze and evaluate the progress of your work to stay in line with the research goal? How do you provide context for a research outcome so others understand its value or potential impact in medicine? Effective critical thinking demonstrates cognitive ability to assess complexity. Your answer, therefore, should demonstrate how you think through an essential issue inherent in the research project. How does this research progress or propel medicine into the 21st century?

Duke secondary application essay #6: Understanding the Need for Health Care Changes

Potential sources of health inequities exist. Duke’s Moments to Movement (M2M) is a collective stand to address these issues. Describe your experience and reflection with race and its relationship to disparities in health, health care and society. Consider the values of justice, diversity, inclusion and equity (400 words)

Minority populations are often at risk for poor health and have limited or complicated access to care. Why is this so? Tell a story about race, your own or someone else’s experience, as it was affected by health care disparities. How was race a critical factor to a poor outcome? Be sure to briefly explain the reality of this truth. From here, what does this disparity mean regarding a doctor’s approach to patient care? How should physicians respond to this situation?

Duke secondary application essay #7: COVID-19 Implications

How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your journey to medical school? Have these events changed your outlook on medicine’s role in society? (400 words) 

Almost all medical schools require a response from applicants to the current COVID-19 pandemic . This prompt, like others, asks how you were affected. If possible, you should also answer with how you responded — did you start or participate in an initiative to help shut-ins obtain food, for example? However, the emphasis in this prompt, and the majority of one’s thought in addressing it, should be spent on the answer to the second question. Duke University SOM is asking you what this unexpected shift in preparing to be a doctor has done to you. Moreso, it is asking how this unexpected shift in preparing to be a doctor has revised your vision of “doctoring” in the future. This surely engages some insight and perspective about public health, the common good, the disparity of risk among less advantaged populations, cultures and demographics. It may also be an opportunity for you to reveal adaptability, initiative, grit, and/or resilience.

Duke secondary application essay #8: Tell Us Who You Are

Tell us more about who you are. This is your opportunity to tell us how you wish to be addressed, recognized and treated. (500 words)

As schools are taking more factors into consideration when it comes to diversity, they are also asking applicants to put more thought into the relationship between diversity (of patients and colleagues) and their own identity. This is one such question. You should feel free to talk about aspects of your identity that might not be obvious from your application. I suggest doing so through the use of examples in order to illustrate how those parts of your personality inform your behavior towards others. You should also explain how these qualities or experiences will impact how you treat and interact with others. What story can you tell about yourself that defines you?

Duke secondary application essay #9 [Optional]: Race/Ethnicity/Geographic Origin/Socioeconomic Status/ Advantage/Disadvantage/ Religious Affiliation

Use the text box below to provide additional information on how these parameters have/will influence you.( Optional , 200 words )

Clearly, any aspect of yourself that identifies and is defined by Race, Ethnicity, Region/Country, SES, Advantage, Disadvantage or Religious affiliation suggests that this aspect of you will continue into the future, and perhaps influence how you regard others, practice inclusivity, and take action to help others. Avoid telling a story that makes one parameter an identity marker that limits your ability. For instance, don’t write about your family’s economic struggle when you were young as a reason you could not participate in exclusive academic programs, even though that may have been true, but rather tell the story in such a way that how you had to claim an education worthy of a noble career like being a physician was only possible by having ingrained resilience at a young age due to an economic struggle or disadvantage. How does this truth influence what you do for others – this should be a “never forget” story or “forever formed by” story that compels you to lift up others.

Applying to Duke? Here are some stats:

Duke average MCAT score: 518

Duke Medical School average GPA: 3.86

Duke Medical School acceptance rate: 2.9%

U.S. News  ranks Duke #6 for research and #78 for primary care.

Check out the Med School Selectivity Index for more stats.

Has this blog post helped you feel more confident about approaching your Duke secondary application? We hope so. It’s our mission to help smart, talented applicants like you gain acceptance to your top choice medical school. With so much at stake, why not hire a consultant whose expertise and personalized guidance can help you make your dream come true? We have several flexible consulting options— click here to get started today !

Duke University Med School application timeline 2022 – 2023

Source: Duke University School of Medicine website

Register for our upcoming webinar: Writing Secondary Essays That Get You Accepted!

Dr. Mary Mahoney, PhD, is the medical humanities director at Elmira College and has more than 20 years of experience as an advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants. She is a tenured English professor with an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD in literature and writing from the University of Houston. For the past 20 years, Mary has served as a grad school advisor and essay reviewer for med school applicants.  Want Mary to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources:

  • School-Specific Secondary Application Essay Tips
  • Deep Dive Into Duke Medical: An Interview With Dr. Linton Yee, Associate Dean of Admissions , a podcast episode
  • What NOT to Write in Your Medical School Secondary Application Essays
  • 7 Simple Steps to Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay

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Medical School Examples

Nova A.

Craft a Winning Medical School Essay with Examples and Proven Tips

10 min read

Published on: May 8, 2023

Last updated on: Sep 1, 2023

Medical School Examples

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Are you dreaming of becoming a doctor or a health care professional? 

The first step towards achieving that goal is to get accepted into a top-tier medical school. 

But with so many other qualified medical students competing for the same spot, how do you stand out from the crowd? 

It all starts with your medical school essay. 

Your essay is your opportunity to your unique qualities, experiences, and aspirations. 

In this blog, we'll provide you with examples that will help you catch the attention of admissions committees. 

From purpose to common mistakes to avoid, we'll cover everything you need to get accepted into the medical school of your dreams. 

So, let's dive in!

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Types of Medical School Examples 

Medical school essays come in many different forms, each with its own unique requirements and purpose.

In this section, we'll discuss some of the most common types of medical school essays and what you need to know to write them successfully.

Personal Statements 

Personal statements are the most common type of medical school essay. They are usually a one-page essay that introduces you to the admissions officers. 

It explains why you want to pursue medicine as a career. Personal statements should be engaging, and memorable, and show off your unique qualities.

An outline offers a framework to help you craft a compelling narrative that showcases your strengths and experiences.

Check out this personal statement example that can help future physicians getting into the schools of their dreams.

Medical School Personal Statement Examples pdf

Secondary Essays 

Secondary essays are additional essays that some medical schools require in addition to the personal statement. 

They often ask specific questions about your background, experiences, or interests. They give you an opportunity to show off your future patient care and problem-solving skills.

Here is a brief example of a secondary application medical school essay:

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Diversity Essays 

Diversity essays ask you to write about your experiences with diversity and how they have influenced you to pursue a career and your interest in medicine. 

These essays are becoming increasingly common in medical school applications as schools strive to build a more diverse and inclusive student body.

Good Medical School Essay Examples 

Are you struggling to write a standout medical school essay? They say that the best way to learn is by example. That's especially true when it comes to public health school essays. 

We'll provide you with some of the best examples to help you craft an essay that will help your career in medicine.

Medical College Essay Examples

Personal Statement Medical School Examples Pdf

Medical School Covid Essay Examples

Challenging Medical School Essay Examples 

Writing a medical school essay is more than just telling a story about yourself. It's an opportunity to demonstrate your critical thinking and analytical skills. 

In this section, we'll highlight some of the challenging medical school essay examples. This will give you a sense of what admissions committees are looking for. You can learn how to exceed those expectations by writing a successful medical school essay.

Greatest Challenge Medical School Essay Examples

Successful Medicine Personal Statement Examples

Medical School Scholarship Essay Examples

Medical School Essay Examples for Different Schools 

Each medical school has its own unique mission, values, and admissions criteria, and your essay should reflect that. 

In this section, we'll explore how to tailor your medical school essay for different schools and showcase some examples of successful essays.

Let’s explore these Stanford and Harvard medical school essay examples:

Medical School Personal Statement Examples Harvard

Medical School Personal Statement Examples Stanford

Tips on Crafting an Excellent Medical School Personal Statement 

The medical school personal statement is your opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and experiences. 

Here are some tips to help you craft an excellent personal statement:

Start Early 

Don't wait until the last minute to start writing your personal statement. Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm, write, and revise your essay. Starting early also allows you to get feedback from mentors, professors, or peers.

Focus on Your Story 

Your personal statement should tell a story that showcases your journey to medicine. Highlight the experiences and qualities that have led you to pursue a career in medicine. Tell them how you plan to use your skills to make a difference.

Be Specific 

Use specific examples to illustrate your experiences and achievements. Don't just list your accomplishments, but show how they have prepared you for a career in medicine. Use concrete details to make your essay more engaging and memorable.

Show, Don't Tell 

Instead of simply stating your qualities, show them through your experiences and actions. For example, don’t say you're a team player. Describe a time when you worked effectively in a team to achieve a goal.

Tailor Your Essay to the School 

As mentioned earlier, each medical school has its own unique mission and values. Tailor your personal statement to each school to demonstrate your fit with their program and values.

Mistakes to Avoid in a Medical School Personal Statement 

When it comes to your medical school personal statement, there are some common mistakes you should avoid:

Avoid using cliched phrases and ideas that are overused in personal statements. Admissions committees want to see your unique perspective and experiences. They do not want generic statements that could apply to anyone.

Negativity 

Don't focus on negative experiences or aspects of your life in your personal statement. Instead, focus on your strengths and how you have grown from challenges.

Lack of Focus 

Make sure your personal statement has a clear focus and theme. Don't try to cover too many topics or experiences in one essay. Instead, focus on one or two experiences that are meaningful to you and illustrate your journey to medicine.

Too Formal or Informal Tone 

Make sure your personal statement strikes the right tone. Avoid being too formal or using overly complex language. Also, avoid being too informal or using slang.

Plagiarism 

Never copy someone else's personal statement or use a template to write your own. Admissions committees can easily spot plagiarism, and it will result in an immediate rejection.

Grammatical and Spelling Errors

Proofread your personal statement thoroughly for grammatical and spelling errors. Even a few small errors can detract from the overall quality of your essay.

Lack of Authenticity 

Be true to yourself in your personal statement. Don't try to present an image of yourself that is not authentic or that you think the admissions committee wants to see. Be honest and genuine in your writing.

In conclusion, crafting a winning medical school essay is a crucial step toward securing admission to the medical school of your dreams. 

This blog has provided examples of essays along with tips to craft an excellent medical school personal statement. By avoiding mistakes, you can increase your chances of standing out from the crowd and impressing the admissions committee. 

But if you're struggling with writing your medical school essay, consider taking help from our medical school essay writing service . 

Our AI essay generator understands the unique requirements of medical school essays. It can help you craft a compelling and effective personal statement.

Don't let the stress of writing your medical school essay hold you back from your dream of becoming a doctor. 

Contact our writing service today and let us help you achieve your goals!

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

What is the ideal med school personal statement word limit.

There is no set length for a medical school personal statement, but most schools typically require a personal statement of 500-800 words.

How do I choose a topic for my medical school essay?

Choose a topic that showcases your unique perspective and experiences, and illustrates your journey to medicine. Consider what makes you stand out and what you are passionate about.

Should I mention my grades and test scores in my medical school essay?

It is not necessary to mention your grades and test scores in your medical school essay as they are already included in your application. Instead, focus on showcasing your unique qualities, experiences, and perspective.

Can I get help with writing my medical school essay?

Yes, there are various resources available to help you with writing your medical school essay. Consider seeking help from a writing tutor, career services office, or professional writing service like ours.

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med school application essay examples

Medical School Secondary Essays Examples

Be memorable. claim an interview spot. get accepted..

Our team of physician and medical student editors had the pleasure of helping students craft the following medical school secondary essays. 

“Why This School” Essay

Adversity essay, diversity essay, “how will you contribute to our school” essay, “future goals” essay, “academic lapses or breaks” essay, “why d.o.” essay, why are secondaries important, tell us about any specific reason(s) (personal, educational, etc.) why you see yourself here at the wake forest school of medicine..

The ending of the motto of the Moravian church, which has a strong historical connection with Winston-Salem, is “…in all things, love.” This concluding statement is an apt description of how I attempt to live my life. Wake Forest upholds such values of inclusion and love through the Lovefest tradition and programs such as the student-run DEAC Clinic. After working at free clinics in rural areas, I am committed to becoming a physician that will promote systems of care in the community. With my exposure to rural primary care, I want to use the Rural/Underserved Health experience offered to Wake Forest students through the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians to further my understanding and training in this career path. Furthermore, as an extension of working in primary care, I am interested in being a geriatrician. Wake Forest, as one of the best geriatric hospitals in the country, has a curriculum that aligns with my interests. I am confident that through research, service, and patient care, Wake Forest will shape me into a leader of rural health care for the geriatric community.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Wake Forest School of Medicine | Class of 2024

More Examples and Writing Tips for a Convincing  Medical School “Why Us” Essay | Click Here

Describe a significant challenge you have experienced in your life, share the strategies you employed to overcome the challenge, and what you learned from the experience.

One personal adversity I have overcome is my lack of self-confidence. I was always a quiet child who grew up with two older sisters doing most of the talking. As I aged, I came out my shell to an extent and became more outgoing. I have always struggled in one particular area: public speaking. My passion for medicine grew early as I observed my eldest sister work alongside physicians during her nursing training. However, my shy nature led me to select pre-nursing as my major, since nursing does not require the ability to speak publicly like being a physician often does. I did not truly consider a career as a doctor until my anatomy and physiology professor suggested I do so after recognizing my drive, aptitude, and passion. Even so, it took introspection and time to recognize that I held the potential to become a successful physician.

Over my undergraduate career, I have participated in many group presentations during classes without the benefit of being taught how to successfully prepare. On every occasion, I would become so nervous that I was unable to sleep the entire night prior. By the time I presented, I would be so distracted that I could not think straight, let alone get my point across clearly. This went on until I had the opportunity to participate in a class called Peer Instruction in Laboratory Occupational Training (PILOT), which was an extension of a class that I had succeeded in, Quantitative Biological Methods.

PILOT was designed to expose students to research articles and assist with laboratory techniques and homework. A large part of the grade for the class consisted of teaching a laboratory section of around 40 students for 15 minutes. I almost opted out of the class because of this requirement, but ultimately decided it was a great opportunity to work through my personal fear of public speaking and build my self-confidence.

I set a schedule six weeks ahead of the presentation to begin preparing. A few helpful peers offered advice, telling me that knowing what I wanted to say verbatim was a good way to improve confidence. Thus, I practiced daily until three weeks before the class. I found another tip online: practicing in the actual location of the presentation can help reduce nerves. Subsequently, I approached one of my laboratory teaching assistants and asked if he would let me practice in the laboratory. He was an excellent teaching assistant and took the time to watch me practice and provide feedback.

Ultimately, I felt that I was able to present eloquently and received an excellent grade. Life is full of challenges, and I learned that preparation is key to success. I planned and prepared early, pulled from available resources, and implemented advice from faculty and peers. This experience taught me that I do have the aptitude, strength, and drive to succeed in medical school and overcome any obstacle that I might face. I am eager to embrace more personal growth and realize my full potential as I continue on to medical school.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Nova Southeastern University College Of Osteopathic Medicine | Class of 2024

More Examples and The 6 Steps for Writing the Medical School Adversity Essay | Click Here

med school application essay examples

“Do you consider yourself a person who would contribute to the diversity of the student body of Tufts University School of Medicine?” If yes, briefly explain why.

I am a Muslim, Saudi woman, but I am not the preconceived notions of being close minded, uncultured, or oppressed. I’m a passionate helper, an open-minded extrovert, and a curious explorer of the world. 

Though I grew up attending a school that taught me to be a leader and encouraged competition, and though travelling the world allowed me to explore new cultures, homogeneity was the ‘norm’ everywhere I went until I attended school in the US. George C. Marshall High School showed me how enriching diversity is. There, in a mixture of backgrounds and ethnicities, I was an ‘other’ among many ‘others’. The following year in Nebraska was different, and I experienced the damage of prejudice when I was the only ‘other’. My experiences drove me to work to bring different people together to give back. Years later, at NYU, this personal passion pushed me to create a volunteer tutoring nonprofit organization. 

I believe the ‘other’ in me, with the uncommon background, the unique experiences, and the interesting perspectives, will contribute to the diversity of the student body at Tufts.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Albert Einstein College of Medicine | Class of 2024

Click here for More Examples and Steps on How to Write an Effective Medical School Diversity Essay

Explain how interactions with people who are different from you have shaped your worldview and relate how you would enrich the VTC community.

From my academic and work experiences, I have frequently worked with people who are different from myself. Working with students and professors from different backgrounds through college helped me appreciate different viewpoints, especially during my bioethics training.  Listening to my classmate, who was a Catholic hospice nurse, explain her differing stance on end-of-life care showed me to appreciate the legitimacy of different opinions. Likewise, I learned from sociology graduate students about the issue of the medicalization of mental illness, which I had not had to consider prior to speaking and working with them. These experiences will help me contribute to the community by enabling me to approach problems from multiple lenses and to listen to and value the input of experts in different fields.

My experiences engaging with different individuals will help me to enrich the community at Virginia Tech. As a tutor, I have been able to work with students of different ages and backgrounds with unique learning goals. For example, my student, Danny, was an adult student taking classes at a community college and had failed his statistics course three times before meeting with me. Even though I had excelled in math classes during school, I was able to listen to his frustrations and identify different ways to help him learn the content and be able to apply it for quizzes and exams. I helped him navigate through the material, and he ended up passing the course comfortably. By working with a wide variety of students like Danny, I have been able to understand the importance of listening actively to individuals’ struggles and unique experiences to learn about how to best help them and I am excited to apply this skill to help future individuals.

In addition to my experiences tutoring, I have been able to interact with individuals different from myself through volunteering. For example, at Judson Park, I volunteered by helping one resident, Ron, participate in art therapy. Ron had suffered two prior strokes and was wheelchair-bound and hemiplegic. I was able to help bring him down to the art room and organize supplies for him. Ron was unique in his needs, which was why he required individualized care to be able to participate in the art therapy. He also struggled with communicating verbally due to deficits from his prior strokes. I adapted by patiently waiting for him to respond at his own pace and looking for body language cues for what he needed at the moment. He was able to make incredible art creations, showing me the resilience of differently abled individuals.

These experiences have shown me the importance of valuing everyone’s unique perspectives and utilizing that consideration and compassion to help others. I can enrich the VTC community by providing this diverse perspective to help my peers and ultimately serve the greater community as a physician.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: University of Virginia School of Medicine | Class of 2024

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med school application essay examples

After residency, describe the community in which you see yourself practicing medicine.

Currently, I can see myself practicing medicine in a variety of clinical settings: a private specialty care system, a nonprofit medical facility, individual practice, or a different setting. I am open to all of the new experiences that medical school will bring, including exposure to a variety of clinical settings.

I have worked as a medical scribe at the largest non-profit health care provider in Seattle and have also volunteered for a private specialty hospital. Both of these experiences have exposed me to a different type of medical practice, and I have enjoyed both although in different ways. I loved the diversity of patients I encountered at the nonprofit and enjoyed experiencing different clinic visits whether for constipation or throat pain. At the specialty hospital, I was able to encounter unique and rare medical cases that I’ve only read about in books such as spina bifida or hydrocephalus. I was also able to witness the very specialized and personalized care. I am excited to explore the various clinical setting options in medical school and residency, and figure out which environment best suits my strengths and interests!

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Stanford School of Medicine | Class of 2024

Use this space if you’d like to address any identified deficiencies in your application.

When I suddenly lost my father to pancreatic cancer shortly before starting college, I was confused and frustrated about my loss. Although I had dreamt of becoming a doctor since I was a little girl, I was newly unsure of whether medicine was right for me. Because I lacked a tangible goal and motivation, my studies and grades suffered during my first years of college. However, once I began volunteering at the Children’s Hospital during my sophomore year, I developed a renewed sense of appreciation and passion for medicine. I started to care a lot more about school and enjoyed learning again. I began working extremely hard in my classes, and slowly but surely, my GPA rose.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine   | Class of 2024

How do your professional ambitions align with osteopathic medicine?

My professional ambitions have always aligned with a medical career, ever since I observed my childhood hero and oldest sister, Brittany, work alongside physicians as a registered nurse. At the time, I was only eight years old and not yet privy to the nuances of allopathic versus osteopathic medicine.

Throughout my experiences with the medical profession as a patient and mother, I have found myself disappointed with some of the allopathic medical treatments. I have myself been treated pharmaceutically with medications and became non-compliant with my treatment due to side effects. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with herpetic neuralgia. My neurologist prescription Neurontin, which helped with the symptoms but left me in a fog. I found myself questioning whether there could be a better method.

As an undergraduate student, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to a presentation by a doctor of osteopathy from Lake Eerie College of Medicine in Bradenton, FL. The speaker discussed osteopathic medicine, its principles, and manipulative medicine (OMM). He talked about a time when he bumped into an old friend who had been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. His friend’s condition was so severe that he needed a cane to ambulate independently. The D.O. performed OMM for his friend and provided him with a set of exercises to perform daily at home. Ultimately, the friend did not require the surgery his allopathic physician had recommended.

After listening to his presentation, I felt as though I had a breakthrough. I realized that I wholeheartedly supported these principles as the better solution that I had been looking for. With osteopathic medicine, I could practice medicine in a traditional manner while wielding a valuable skill set that could spare patients from invasive surgeries and pharmaceutical therapeutics causing undesired side effects.

Furthermore, while studying for the MCAT a year ago, I developed a constant waxing and waning neck pain that would radiate to my right shoulder and down my arm. This worsened over a period of four weeks, and I took increasing amounts of ibuprofen to calm the symptoms. A good friend of mine is a physical therapist who manipulated my spine and sent me home with instructions for an exercise plan. She also taught me how to self-evaluate my posture, which has been valuable in preventing additional episodes. I was incredibly impressed with the outcome of the treatment that used my own body and its muscles to treat the pain without using pharmaceuticals or leaving me with residual deficits. As such, my personal trust in natural treatments has emphasized to me that osteopathic medicine is the path I am meant to follow. 

The more I learn about osteopathic medicine, the more excited I am to incorporate its principles into my future practice. I am thrilled to learn and practice medicine with a holistic approach to evaluate and treat patients. As a healthcare partner to my future patients, I feel inspired to encourage the implementation of prevention, maintenance, and natural remedies into their treatment plans.

Application Status: Accepted |School of choice: Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine   | Class of 2024

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med school application essay examples

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Meet Our Editors

med school application essay examples

Jackie M., M.D.

Internal Medicine Former Medical School: Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine

med school application essay examples

Khaila R., M.D.

OBGYN Former Medical School: Duke University School of Medicine

med school application essay examples

Sheena C., M.D.

Dermatology Former Medical School: University of Illinois College of Medicine

med school application essay examples

Akosua O., M.D./MPH

OBGYN Former Medical School: The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

med school application essay examples

Brendalyn I., M.D.

Psychiatry Former Medical School: TTUHSC

med school application essay examples

Sam C., M.D.

Pediatric Former Medical School: University of Minnesota Medical School

med school application essay examples

Rachel G., M.D.

Dermatology Former Medical School: Saint Louis University

med school application essay examples

Jamie M., M.D.

Emergency Medicine Former Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

med school application essay examples

Artur S., D.O.

Internal Medicine Former Medical School: Marian University

med school application essay examples

Emma F, D.O.

Internal Medicine Former Medical School: Burrell

med school application essay examples

Nada B., D.O.

General Surgery Former Medical School: NSU-KPCOM

med school application essay examples

Yale School of Medicine

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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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Harvard Medical School

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George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences

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Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

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New York Medical College

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University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

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Duke University School of Medicine

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The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

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University of Washington School of Medicine

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University of California, Irvine School of Medicine

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University of California San Diego School of Medicine

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California Northstate University College of Medicine

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Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

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University of California, Riverside School of Medicine

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MD/PhD University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

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Tufts University School of Medicine

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Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

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Wake Forest University School of Medicine

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University of Rochester School of Medicine

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University of Pritzker School of Medicine

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Loyola Chicago Stritch School of Medicine

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Long School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center

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Rush Medical College

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Michaela F.

Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

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University of Arizona, College of Medicine Phoenix

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The Robert Larner College of Medicine

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The Ohio State University College of Medicine

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MD/PhD University of TN Health Science Center College of Medicine

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Medical College of Wisconsin

Sarah B

Creighton University School of Medicine

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The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School

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MD/PhD Emory University School of Medicine

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Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

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University of Mississippi School of Medicine

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Medical College of Georgia

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Western Michigan University Homer Stryker School of Medicine

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MD/MPH Student The Renaissance School Of Medicine At Stony Brook University In New York

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Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM)

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Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM)

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Western University of Health Sciences

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med school application essay examples

OBGYN Resident Former Medical School: Duke University School of Medicine

Hello everyone! My name is Khaila, currently an OBGYN resident and went to medical school at Duke University School of Medicine (DUSOM). I also went to undergrad at Duke, where I was a cheerleader and rec eived a Bachelor’s with distinction degree in Psychology in 2019. I decided not to take a gap year and loved the community, curriculum, and mentorship so much that I chose to become a Double Dukie! 

As a first generation medical student, mentorship has been the foundation of my journey to MD. As such, I have always valued education and equitable access to information. I put on my first mentor hat in undergrad providing academic and college advising to local middle and high school students. In DUSOM, I now have many mentorship hats: executive board member of the Duke Medical Advisory Program, First-Generation Low-Income Med mentor, Duke Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students mentor, Duke Health Profession Recruitment and Exposure Program mentor, and Durham Learning Center literacy instructor. 

I truly enjoy building meaningful relationships with mentees, understanding their goals and motivations, and providing the necessary assistance and resources to help them succeed. I know the pre-med experience can be full of unknowns, and the guidance of a mentor can be an invaluable part of the process. I am so excited to be a part of the Motivate MD team and your support system on this journey!

med school application essay examples

Dermatology Resident Former Medical School: University of Illinois College of Medicine

med school application essay examples

OBGYN Resident Former Medical School: Pritzker School of Medicine

Hi! My name is Akosua, I am currently an OBGYN resident and went to medical student at The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University in 2016 and graduated summa cum laude. Mentorship has been and continues to be an important part of my life. In college, I was part of an organization called Empowering, Encouraging, Eliminating Barriers in which I was a mentor to high school girls interested in STEM careers. As a first-year medical student, I was paired with a UChicago undergraduate student through the Minority Association of Premedical Students and have been mentoring her since then.

The summer after my first year, I was paired with a student who was completing a pipeline program here at Pritzker and I have been mentoring her since then. I have also acted as a mentor informally to several undergraduate students who applied during the 2020-2021 cycle, all of whom have been accepted to various medical schools.

I was a non-traditional applicant. I took two years off after undergrad to engage in research at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. My projects focused on exploring the effects of a global, systemic injury in rodent models to mimic premature birth in humans. I was able to publish a few original science and review papers during this time.

In 2021 I took a year off to complete a Master’s in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I am incredibly excited to be a part of the Motivate MD team. I know firsthand how important it is to have guidance during this process and look forward to helping you with your pre-med journey!

med school application essay examples

Pediatric Resident Former Medical School: University of Minnesota Medical School

Hi! My name is Sam, I am a pediatric resident and went to medical school at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Prior to medical school, I studied biology and global health at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Outside of my studies, I participated in research, volunteered at a non-profit organization focused on women’s health, served as a hospice volunteer, and spent a summer interning at a rural family medicine clinic. I also stayed connected to my childhood passion of figure skating by coaching private skating lessons for both children and adults. Helping skaters overcome their fears and build confidence overtime, by maintaining a fun, encouraging learning environment, was the most rewarding part of being a coach. My experiences as a skating coach, as well as my gratitude for my own mentors, motivated me to volunteer as a mentor for pre-medical students through the American Medical Student Association during my first year of medical school. As a first year medical student, I also received mentorship from a second year medical student through my school’s peer mentorship program. My role as a mentee heightened my appreciation for the support and guidance that mentorship provides, and I now serve as a mentor for two first year medical students through this program. I absolutely love being a part of the Motivate MD team and look forward to working with you!

med school application essay examples

Emergency Medicine Resident Former Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine

My name is Jamie, I am an Emergency Medicine resident and went to medical school at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine (CCOM). I completed my undergraduate education at Loyola University Chicago with a degree in Exercise Science. I took 1 gap year before starting medical school. During my gap year, I continued working at a hospital in Northern Chicago as an Emergency Room technician, while completing research in T-cell mediated cancer therapy. Currently, I am working on my manuscript for publication of a systematic literature review on various prediction models for severe illnesses caused by COVID-19. I have always valued the impact that my mentors have had on my own journey to medical school, so I want to help other students in the same way. During my undergraduate years, I worked with the writing center on our campus to help students brainstorm ideas, cohesively write a paper, and edit grammar and punctuation to polish off their papers. I also helped out in the pre-med office where I gained extensive insight into the application process and what goes into making a competitive applicant for medical school. Since starting medical school, I have become a pre-med mentor for undergraduate students at the University of Iowa who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine, and I help direct them in their path and the application process. I am also a CCOM peer mentor, where I am paired with a first year medical student to assist them with their transition to medical school through building connections and fostering a sense of community. Finally, I did one-on-one tutoring for first year medical students at CCOM to help aid their success in their classes as they transition to life in medical school!

med school application essay examples

Emma F., DO

Internal Medicine Resident Former Medical School: Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM)

My name is Emma and I am currently an internal medicine resident and went to medical school at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM) in New Mexico. While I was born in AZ, I grew up in Albuquerque, NM and graduated summa cum laude from The University of New Mexico (UNM) with a BS in Medical Laboratory Sciences. After graduating college, I relocated to Baltimore, MD where I worked as Clinical Laboratory Scientist for two years prior to beginning medical school. I enjoy writing and am humbled to have had two articles published in 2020 as well as currently contribute to the Motivate MD blog. At BCOM, I have created the Burrell-Aggie Mentorship Program which is a program created specifically for NMSU Pipeline and pre-medical students. I hold mentorship to the highest regard as none of my own family members were doctors or even in the medical field, so I learned as I advanced along my journey. I had always wished I had a mentor guide me through the pre-med years, medical school application process, and early years in medical school, so my goal is to be that mentor for students. I know what it feels like to be uncertain whether you are making the right moves and decisions in the pre-med realm. If this feels like you right now – I am more than happy to assist in any facet of your medical school journey!

med school application essay examples

Hi! My name is Rhys (pronounced like “Reese’s Pieces”) and I am a medical student at Yale School of Medicine.

I have upwards of 9 years experience mentoring peers, most recently aiding students through the premedical path at my undergrad. I also have worked as an executive function/planning tutor for Los Angeles area high school and college students. Earlier in college, I worked as a research aide/teaching assistant helping students leverage “writing-to-learn” in order to improve their understanding of complex concepts.

After graduating  Summa Cum Laude  with a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Health Policy from the University of Southern California in 2021, I took a gap year primarily to scribe at a pediatric clinic to boost my clinical experience hours and to continue to work on a philanthropic start-up I co-founded while at USC.

At USC, I had multiple research experiences ranging from biomedical device research in a hybrid wet lab to policy analysis. I also was heavily involved in pro-bono consulting for non-profits and social enterprises.

I have personal experience approaching the common “Why Medicine?” question from a non-traditional angle (engineering major/activities and low clinical hours compared to non-clinical), tying in a non-standard major “X factor” extracurricular into the overall theme of an application, and expressing interest in dual degrees/interdisciplinary medical careers (policy, public health etc).

I look forward to helping you plan for and execute your unique path to medical school!

med school application essay examples

Hello! I am a medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons planning to apply into neurology this upcoming fall. I have extensive mentoring and advising experience both prior to medical school, when I served as a peer advisor for my undergraduate institution’s pre-health club, and as a medical student, continuing to advise undergraduates on essay writing, interview preparation, and general application and career advice. I also work as a mentor in the local community, tutoring and advising 8 th grade and high school age students interested in the health sciences. I have significant research and publication experience beginning as an undergraduate and continuing throughout medical school, having published four first-author manuscripts while contributing to multiple others. Prior to medical school, I spent a gap year as a National Institutes of Health Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award fellow, a role in which I studied Alzheimer’s disease proteomics and metabolomics. Currently, my research focus has shifted towards neuroinfectious diseases and contributions of infectious exposures to lifetime dementia risk. In addition to clinical medicine, I have a strong interest in public health and anthropology that informs my research and clinical pursuits. 

med school application essay examples

Hi! My name is Kira and I’m currently a medical student at New York Medical College. Since I majored in English Literature in college, it’s always been important to me to incorporate my love of the humanities into my career in medicine. Throughout undergrad, I made it a priority to seek mentorship from and mentor other students who were pre-med while pursuing a discipline seemingly unrelated to medicine. I also spent two years in undergrad as a peer writing tutor where I helped fellow students with all sorts of writing assignments and papers. After graduation, I spent two years working in clinical research before beginning medical school.

I currently serve as Advisement Coordinator for the Pre-Med division of JOWMA, an organization for observant Jewish female physicians, medical students, and pre-medical students. There, I help pre-medical students anything and everything related to getting into medical school. I also am part of the Medical Educators Society at my school, where we aim to help our fellow students excel in their pre-clinical courses.

I strongly believe in doing what you love as a pre-med, whether it’s related to medicine or not–I participated in many non-science related extracurricular activities throughout undergrad. As an advisor, I am here to help you incorporate your unique interests into your application and journey to medicine!

med school application essay examples

Hello! My name is Leah and I am a medical student at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine.

My love for teaching has been a common thread throughout my educational journey. I began peer mentoring early entrance undergraduate students by the time I was a sophomore in college. I spent several summers teaching enrichment classes about philosophy, robotics, and debate for children aged 4-12. After graduating from UW in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, I spent a year as an instructor, teaching MCAT test preparation courses and advising pre-medical students.

In terms of other extracurriculars, I was involved in a plethora of research projects, ranging anywhere from quality improvement (finding ways to improve physician hand hygiene compliance!) to bench research about the neuropathology of aging. I was also a UW student senator, president of our school’s suicide awareness advocacy group, and a volunteer at multiple homeless shelters. Although my pre-med extracurriculars were kind of all over the place, I believe they spoke to the person I was – a growing, changing human being that was pursuing all the things she was curious and passionate about. I truly believe there is a story behind everybody’s pre-med journey, and I am excited to help future doctors articulate theirs!

One unique aspect of my application: as an early entrance college student, I started my undergraduate at UW at 16 years old. Because of this, when I applied to medical school, people frequently questioned my maturity level and readiness to become a physician. Interviewers’ first impressions are so critical to an applicant’s success and often set the tone for the interview itself. I have extensive experience carefully phrasing essays and interview responses so that I can re-direct interviewers away from their initial impression and toward my achievements, life experience, and resilience. If for any reason, you are worried about what interviewers will think of you before they even get to meet you, I would love to help!

While staying true to your story and the person you are, I am committed to keeping you one step ahead, so that you can walk into interview day confident and ready for anything.

med school application essay examples

Hello! My name is Uma and I am a medical student at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. I graduated from Duke University Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Neuroscience and minors in Biology and Psychology. I have over 5 years of experience working with pre-health students applying to college and graduate admissions and I am excited to guide you on your medical school application journey! 

During my undergraduate years, I was involved in clinical Neuroscience research as well as volunteer work at the Duke Children’s Hospital. After graduating from Duke, I took a gap year where I worked as a Medical Technician at an allergy clinic. 

As a first generation medical student, mentorship has been pivotal to my journey and I am excited at the opportunity to assist others. In my role as a mentor, I have enjoyed building relationships with mentees, understanding their goals, and providing customized assistance and resources to help them succeed. For many people, the medical school application process can be daunting, but I believe that it can also be an exciting time to showcase your application to the admissions committees. I am very passionate about storytelling and I believe that every person has a unique narrative to share. I am looking forward to working together to best present your story to schools and help you stand out on your path to medical school!

med school application essay examples

Hi everyone! My name is Julie, and I’m a medical student at Duke University. I did my undergrad at Rice University where I majored in Cognitive Sciences. In college, I was passionate about volunteering and community engagement and was involved in activities such as Splash, an educational outreach program, Patient Discharge Initiative, where we connected ED patients to social resources, and Alternative Spring Break. In medical school, I am excited to be a part of a group that helps transition individuals facing homeless into stable housing.

I also loved being a part of my college community and was an advisor for new students for three years. I helped welcome and introduce students to Rice by providing academic advice, being a friend and confidant to them, and checking in throughout the rest of their college career. It was incredible seeing each and every student’s growth and I enjoyed playing a supporting role in their journey. I was able to have a similar contribution while mentoring several underclassmen this past year for medical school applications and interviews. I also pursued research, and although I mainly worked in a cancer biology lab, I am published on a paper exploring aggression in healthcare workplaces. Aside from my academic interests, I love dancing and was a part of my school’s Bhangra team and South Indian Classical Dance team! Currently, I’m excited to be choreographing for my medical school’s annual parody musical!

med school application essay examples

Wake Forest School of Medicine

Hi! My name is Ankitha Iyer and I am a medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine . I received a B.S in Emergency Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. Before medical school, I took a gap year where I worked as an Advanced Critical Care Patient Care Technician in the Medical ICU at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In my time at the University of Pittsburgh I was a teaching assistant for four courses, and part of the Delta Epsilon Mu Pre-Health Fraternity, where I served as a mentor for several younger premed students. Additionally, I served with Jumpstart, an early education Americorps program for underserved preschool kids, started a non-profit organization that catered to the emotional health of Senior Citizens, and engaged in Cardiology, Public Health and Cognitive Neuroscience research. In my time in college, I have mentored a variety of students specifically on how to engage in active, entrepreneurial service and leadership while exploring their path towards medicine. Mentorship is a very important method for me to disseminate the knowledge I wish I had received from a mentor myself.

At Wake Forest School of Medicine, I am part of the executive board of the General Surgery Interest group and OASIS Anthology of Medical Humanities. I am mentoring an underserved undergraduate premed student at Wake Forest University through our Mentoring the Pipeline organization. I am also currently involved both Head and Neck Radiation Oncology and Neurosurgery research projects. I owe who I am today to the mentors who have provided me their unwavering support and guided me through times of uncertainty. I hope to provide you the same strategic mentorship to be a driven, proactive, and pioneering future student doctor!  

med school application essay examples

Hi everyone! My name is Alexis, and I am a medical student at Loyola Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. My long and winding journey to medicine began at thirteen when my mom suffered sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital and ended up living to be the first to survive without brain damage at that hospital due to the application of the novel hypothermia protocol. After her recovery, I recognized the significant lack of CPR education within my community and began working to implement sustainable community CPR training programs alongside the American Heart Association. 

At just thirteen, I had no idea this formative experience would help guide my future career aspirations. This influenced me to pursue further education in psychology and chemistry at the University of Oregon where I truly developed a love that thrived where the physical sciences and behavioral sciences intersected. After my first year of college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do but had a strong underlying passion for service, so I took a leap and worked and lived on the Navajo Nation in construction and community building. This was so far out of my comfort zone but illuminated so many health disparities between populations living just miles away from each other. It spurred in me a desire to form a foundation in medicine grounded in culturally competent patient care and led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Clinical Global Medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine. This program offered so many unique opportunities to learn how to be a better patient advocate through hands on, didactic, and research experiences. Through my research at USC Keck School of Medicine and LAC+ USC Department of Pediatrics, I began to better understand the morbidity and mortality associated with certain indicators of health in neonates. From this, I published and presented upwards of ten abstracts and two manuscripts at national and international Pediatric conferences and was given the opportunity to guide others in their research endeavors. I continued to ponder the global and cultural relevance of this research, and eventually travelled to Panama to work in infant health delivery and education alongside a rural indigenous community. During my two gap years I took time to travel (and rest!) while working in a local community hospital and an adolescent psychiatric facility, both of which were hit hard by COVID. This experience and many others truly guided my desire to go into resource limited medicine and work within a diverse community to provide culturally appropriate care. 

As a medical student I love getting the opportunity to develop and grow alongside other students and work alongside the admissions department at my school–offering insight regarding the community that Stritch has built for its students. In the past I have worked as both a tutor and a teacher, and currently am a Barre instructor, so I find such satisfaction in teasing out the intricacies and strengths of each individual to put each piece of the puzzle together in a way that allows the overall image to shine brighter.

med school application essay examples

Long School of Medicine

I am currently a medical student at Long School of Medicine, located on the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio campus. Prior to medical school I attended UT Austin, where I majored in Biology. However, I have always had a passion for the arts, particularly writing and films. Spending hours crafting stories allowed me to develop the ability to communicate effectively in written formats and create colorful essays that engross readers, even when the topic itself is not the most interesting. During undergrad I freelanced as an essay editor for senior high school students as they prepared their college applications, which was a very rewarding experience for me as I was able to assist students with constructing essays that told their unique personal stories during their quest to gain admission to their dream universities. Although the application process for undergrad is quite different from that of medical school, having gone through the medical school application process myself, I believe that it will allow me to offer advice on how to navigate through this competitive and complex process. Medical school applicants dread the thought of being rejected or waitlisted and having to re-apply. I was unfortunately one of those applicants after my first attempt applying to medical school. I remember feeling very defeated after failing to receive an acceptance, but in retrospect I see that my trials have given me a deeper insight as to some of the strategies medical school applicants can use to improve their applications. 

med school application essay examples

Hello! My name is Michaela Farrell, I am a medical student at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. Prior to medical school, I worked as a scribe in the emergency department for several years, and then in my gap year worked as a nursing assistant in the ICU. During that time, I also worked as a respite care provider for an individual with a TBI, volunteered in different community projects, and did research in the efficacy of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy in HER2+ breast cancer. My current research is in environmental sustainability in healthcare, where we are working on implementing different practices to reduce the negative impact healthcare has on our planet. I am also involved with the organization Girls on the Run as a running coach to elementary school girls. I have plenty of experience with the application process, as I applied during two cycles, one of which was prior to the pandemic and one during. I have previous experience in advising students applying to medical school unofficially through my undergraduate university as well as through my job as a scribe, in which many coworkers were applying to school and asked me for advice about the process. My friends and family have also referred many people to me to advise them about the application process.

Hi! My name is Sarah, and I am a medical student at Creighton University School of Medicine in Phoenix. I am originally from rural Pennsylvania. I attended Canisius College in Buffalo, NY where I majored in biology and psychology and minored in neuroscience and neuropsychology, graduating summa cum laude from the All-College Honors Program. While at Canisius, I volunteered as a NICU cuddler, worked as an emergency room scribe and a medical assistant in an urgent care, participated in a Remote Area Medical clinic and Costa Rica medical service trip, and worked on social psychology research. I also was a cheerleader.

While at Canisius, I enjoyed serving in multiple leadership and mentoring roles. I became a tutor for biology and psychology and a biology teaching assistant. Additionally, my last two years, I was president of the pre-health club on campus. As president, I established and organized a mentoring program with junior and senior pre-health students serving as mentors to freshmen and sophomores with similar interests as well as facilitated a mentoring speaker series that allowed medical, dental, veterinary, and physician assistant students to provide mentorship to all four classes. In addition to establishing the program, I served as a mentor, helping pre-medical students plan their course schedules, find clinical and volunteer experiences, and begin building a strong medical application. Since beginning my journey at Creighton, I have served as a volunteer mentor to pre-health students in Arizona, joined the Admissions Committee at Creighton as a student interviewer, and have loved my time editing, advising, and doing interview prep for pre-health students through Motivate MD!

As a first-generation college graduate from a rural area with no family members in medicine, I understand how hard it can be to navigate the pre-medical path. Inspired by the amazing mentorship that I received in undergrad, I would love the opportunity to support you on your journey into medicine!

med school application essay examples

Hi, my name is Charmi Rana and I am a medical student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. I graduated from Rutgers University – Newark with a bachelor’s in Biology, minor in Psychology and an Honors Distinction. Throughout undergrad, I did research in a biology lab, held multiple leadership positions, shadowed physicians, and volunteered extensively in the community, in both clinical and non-clinical settings. I mentored freshmen and sophomores who were pursuing the pre-med track through Honors College and a pre-health organization. I edited and reviewed their scholarship essays and applications, helped them create class schedules, and assisted in finding volunteering opportunities. I also held an on-campus job where I assisted students in registering for classes and created academic workshops for freshmen on topics such as time management, how to get involved on campus, etc.

I have definitely experienced my fair share of struggles while applying for medical school. Upon failing to receive an admission during the first cycle, I decided to take a gap year where I further improved my MCAT score and clinical experiences by working as a scribe and a medical office assistant and volunteering in hospice care. After evaluating how I can improve my portfolio, I applied as a re-applicant during the next cycle and fortunately, received multiple interviews and acceptances. My experiences have taught me that with determination, perseverance, and continuous self-reflection, one can truly achieve the goals they aspire towards. I received a lot of support from my advisors and mentors who served as an incredible resource throughout my journey in undergrad and beyond. I hope I can utilize my experiences to help you in your journey to medical school as well!

med school application essay examples

Hi my name is Megan A. and I’m a medical student at the Medical College of Georgia! During college I have spent most of my time outside school working as an EMT for the past 3 years. I gained a lot of clinical experience through my time on the ambulance and it really confirmed my desire to pursue a career in the medical field! During undergrad I also led peer groups for freshman chemistry classes during which I provided support and encouragement to students in their first year of chemistry. I also tutored elementary students in a trailer park community and led a service organization for freshman students during college. These opportunities have allowed me to gain confidence and experience in mentoring other students and I hope to use the lessons that I learned in helping premed students achieve their goals! I had many doubts during my journey towards medical school and there were many times I wanted to quit. I am so glad that I didn’t and I hope I can provide the encouragement and support to help premeds believe in themselves and their dreams! I am truly looking forward to working with all of you!

med school application essay examples

Hey everyone! My name is Emma Kar and I am a medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix who is interested in pursuing a future in surgery. My journey to medicine is a bit unconventional. Born and raised in Arizona, I completed my undergraduate years in the state of Washington at Gonzaga University, receiving a B.S. in Mathematics. Much of my research experience was in the mathematics realm, involving medical imaging and simulation technology, resulting in my first publication.

Mentoring was very important to me during my undergraduate years, as I cherished the opportunity to work with peers as a math tutor, a resident assistant, and an admissions ambassador. One of the most fruitful experiences for me was assisting our honor’s college with reviewing applications and running interviews each year. Through this experience, I was able to expand my knowledge as a mentor and advisor by gaining the perspective of members on an admissions committee. I learned how these individuals analyze applicants using only academic stats, a few essay responses, and an hour-long interview conversation.

I also take pride in being a reapplicant to medical school. While I initially had only intended to take one gap year working as a fifth-grade teacher, I ended up taking two years off. This gave me the time to strengthen other areas of my application while expanding my clinical experiences working as a clinical research coordinator on the Covid-19 vaccine trials. In medical school, I continue to find ways to incorporate my math background into my research and stay active in the community by mentoring local high school students. Needless to say, I am grateful for my untraditional journey to medicine and I love being able to help other students discover the best ways to showcase their unique journey as well.

As your mentor, I promise to use my insight, experience, and connections to help you to the best of my abilities! I hope that by working together we can craft an application that demonstrates an honest, holistic perspective of why you will make a great physician!

med school application essay examples

Hi everyone! My name is Adina and I am a medical student at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine Phoenix! Having just gone through the medical school cycle during COVID-19, I am very well versed in all things application-related. I graduated with honors as the only recipient of the Franklin Henry Award from UC Berkeley in May 2020 with a degree in Integrative Biology. During my one gap year, I worked as head medical and surgical assistant at a dermatology office in the Bay Area, leading the mentorship program for all undergraduate interns including mentoring and advising for pre-med and pre-PA students.

Coming from a family with no members in medicine, I understand the struggles of navigating the complex pre-medical pathways successfully. At UC Berkeley, I loved serving in multiple leadership and mentor positions including President of the Integrative Biology Students, Director for the Campus-Wide Pre Health Student Council, Vice President of the American Medical Women’s Association, and really valued helping students with class scheduling, gaining research, and clinical experiences. As a previous campus representative for an MCAT test prep company, I have over 3 years of experience and extensive training with MCAT scheduling and study plans. Outside of pre-med classes at UC Berkeley, I was very passionate about my clinical research at UCSF (including one acknowledgment in Nature) and my sorority involvement! In my free time, I enjoy fitness, healthy cooking, and playing mahjong!

I am here to advise you, support you, and be your #1 cheerleader. I will bring my unparalleled positive energy, extensive experience with extracurriculars/clinical hours, meticulous goal-setting, and friendship to our sessions! I want to help you tell your story and make sure you are as prepared as possible for a successful application cycle, including helping cultivate resilience with any challenges that are presented. I look forward to working with you!

med school application essay examples

Hi all! My name is Haley and I’m a medical student at Rush Medical College in Chicago, IL. My path to medical school has been challenging to say the least and I feel incredibly honored to be able to use my experience to advise others on their own journey to medicine. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with my bachelor’s in Sociology and certificates in Gender & Women’s Studies and Global Health. In college, I most enjoyed being involved in my community which led me to experiences such as working with students at an adult English Second Language school, volunteering as a medical assistant in a free clinic and serving as a support advocate on a crisis helpline. After graduating, my passions for service and mentorship led me to dedicate a year of service with AmeriCorps in Louisiana where I was a 3rd grade math instructor and near-peer mentor. I know from my own experience just how crucial it is to have reliable mentorship and advising while navigating the complex process of medical school applications, and I look forward to having that opportunity to support you on your journey to medicine!

med school application essay examples

Hello there! My name is Raj Patel and I’m a medical student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM). I was born in London, U.K., grew up in South Florida, and completed much of my educational journey at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Here, I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science and later with a Master of Business Administration specializing in Healthcare Management. Throughout my college career and beyond, I’ve enjoyed giving back to my peers through mentorship and advising. Much of this has been influenced by my dynamic interests in leadership, research, and service which gave me a unique position on balancing a challenging pre-med curriculum with substantial extracurricular activities. I’ve mentored several pre-medical students and have helped successfully develop student leaders and strong candidates. I’ve always been a passionate student researcher in the fields of neuroscience, infectious disease, and surgery. To date, I’ve published several peer-reviewed journal articles and a few book chapters. I was also fortunate to be awarded several research accolades for my work and have had the opportunity to present my findings at the local, regional, and national levels. At USF, I served in numerous leadership roles ranging from Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, President of the largest multicultural student organization on campus, President of the university’s alumni honor society, among others. I also gained valuable work experience on campus as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Resident Assistant, and Campus Ambassador for The Princeton Review. These roles also opened opportunities to interact with younger students starting freshly on their college journey and offer them advice as they navigated their early days. As a first-generation college student, I know some of the common challenges faced especially with limited access to mentors for guidance along this arduous journey. I’d love for the chance to help you navigate your pre-med journey and simplify your track by offering some of my advice through the unique path that I took when I was once in your shoes.

med school application essay examples

Hi there! My name is Shilpa Nath, and I am a medical student at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA! I started tutoring as a child, and since then, I have mentored, advised, and taught all different age groups and demographics in a wide variety of subjects. I am so excited to bring all my skills to Motivate MD to help make your medical school dreams a reality!

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology, with a minor in Global Health, from UC San Diego. I was heavily involved as an undergraduate, in which I spent the majority of my time doing service work in my community with people with mental illnesses, the socioeconomically disadvantaged, autistic youth, sexual assault survivors, and the elderly. I also contributed to two gastroenterology research publications, served as a board member for several health-related undergraduate organizations, and worked as a tutor for my university.

My path to medical school is unique in that I am a first-generation college graduate and medical student, completed my undergraduate degree in three years, self-studied for the MCAT, and applied to medical school during a pandemic. I would love to help anyone that has any questions about these topics, or anyone that is looking for a mentor or advisor that can accurately and empathetically guide them through the medical school admission process. I will be your biggest supporter and cheerleader through your pre-medical journey!

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Georgetown Secondary Application Essay Tips & Prompts

  • Cracking Med School Admissions

The Georgetown University School of Medicine secondary application reflects the school’s mission in recruiting a diverse and compassionate medical school class. The primary Georgetown secondary application essay is tough – it’s like a 1-page “ Why Georgetown ,” “ Why Medicine ,” and Autobiography all in one essay! Georgetown changed its character limit last year, so our applicants who pre-wrote this secondary had to re-work it. This year, we are advising students to pre-write this secondary because the essays + character limits have not changed for the past couple of years. The Georgetown secondary essays are also unique and difficult to finish with excellence. 

Our Cracking Med School Admissions team has a track record of helping our mentees receive acceptances to Georgetown Medical School year after year. Get started and read our Georgetown Medical School secondary application tips below. To learn more about student life, read our extensive blog post on  How to Get Into Georgetown Medical School.

Cracking Med School Admissions - 1 School Secondary Essay Edits

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Georgetown Secondary Application Questions: 2023 – 2024

  • Are you/will you be enrolled as a student at Georgetown University during the 2022-2023 academic year? (Y/N)
  • The Georgetown University Academy for Research, Clinical, and Health Equity Scholarship (ARCHES)
  • Pedro Arrupe S.J. Scholarship for Peace (ARRUPE)
  • Gateway Exploration Program (GEP)
  • Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP)
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine Summer Immersion Program (GUSOM SCS)
  • Cultivating Opportunity & Realizing Excellence (CORE) Leadership Program
  • Graduated from Georgetown Experimental Medical Studies Program (GEMS)
  • Graduated from Special Master’s Program (SMP)
  • The Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM) strives to ensure that its students become respectful physicians, with cultural humility, who embrace all dimensions of caring for the whole person. With our Jesuit values of Cura Personalis, People for Others, and Community in Diversity, we are steadfast in our commitment to racial justice and to addressing the health inequities exacerbated by the recent pandemic. Please describe how your values, life experiences, and your identity will contribute to these GUSOM priorities. (1,000 characters max)
  • Is there any further information that you would like the Committee on Admissions to be aware of when reviewing your file that you were not able to notate in another section of this or the AMCAS Application? (1,000 characters max)
  • Why have you chosen to apply to the Georgetown University School of Medicine and how do you think your education at Georgetown will prepare you to become a physician for the future? (3,000 characters max)

Tips to Answer Georgetown Secondaries

Georgetown Secondary Pre-Writing Guidance: Georgetown changed its character limit last year, so our applicants who pre-wrote this secondary had to re-work it. This year, we are advising students to NOT pre-write this secondary. However, because this essay is tough to perfect, make sure to start on this essay as soon as you receive the official secondary. 

Georgetown Secondary Application Tip #1: Understand the Jesuit value of “cura personalis.” You can read more about Georgetown’s philosophy / mission statement here: What is Cura Personalis – Georgetown College

Once you understand Cura Personalis, show how you have fostered your commitment to serve others in all 3 of the long essays. We advise our students to pick stories and activities that exemplify cura personalis. The Georgetown Medical School Admissions committee seeks to recruit a medical school class of compassionate physicians who are visionaries in wanting to improve healthcare. 

Georgetown Secondary Application Tip #2: For the question, “ Why have you chosen to apply to the Georgetown University School of Medicine and how do you think your education at Georgetown will prepare you to become a physician for the future? ” this is like a “Why Georgetown,” “Why do you want to be a doctor” and “Tell me about yourself” loaded in one question. Make sure to incorporate all 3 of these ideas in your response. 

Read the following resources to help you respond to this essay:

  • How To Write An Autobiography For Medical School
  • Why this Medical School? Secondary Essay Example

One successful technique we’ve advised our mentees through our secondary essay edits – include why you want to be going to medical school in Washington D.C. Many of our students who receive interview invites show compassion through their stories AND state that they want to engage in community health, advocacy, and public policy in Washington D.C. Don’t be afraid to write about opportunities in Washington D.C. (the opportunities you want to pursue as a medical student don’t necessarily have to be linked to Georgetown University). While it’s not wrong to write about your interest in research and biomedical scientists, we advise students to link their research to “big picture” ideas to improve healthcare.

Georgetown Secondary Application Tip #3: For the question, “ Is there any further information that you would like the Committee on Admissions to be aware of when reviewing your file that you were not able to notate in another section of this or the AMCAS Application? ” treat this like a diversity essay. You can write about your experiences in Washington D.C., any hardship you have faced, leadership experiences, global health projects, and anything else that would help you stand out.

Read our helpful blog post on Diversity Essays:  Medical School Diversity Essay Examples and Tips

Georgetown Secondary Application Tip #4: This is a tough secondary application, and medical school applicants frequently ask for our help to edit and brainstorm their Georgetown University School of Medicine secondary application essay responses. We can help you through our secondary essay packages . Have questions about how you can stand out? Contact us below.

Georgetown Secondary Application Tip   #5:  Georgetown medical students take advantage of opportunities at other Georgetown University graduate schools. For example, we’ve had mentees who take business school classes at the McDonough School of Business and public policy classes at McCourt School of Public Policy. If you discuss your interests in other Georgetown graduate schools in your Georgetown secondary application, make sure to discuss how your clinical experiences during clinical rotations, medical education, and learnings at other graduate schools will all complement each other.

[ Read more secondary essay tips: George Washington (GW) , New York University (NYU) , University of Virginia (UVA) , Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)  ]

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Georgetown Secondary Application Questions: 2022 – 2023

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Georgetown Secondary Application Questions: 2021 – 2022

  • Why have you chosen to apply to the Georgetown University School of Medicine and how do you think your education at Georgetown will prepare you to become a physician for the future? (1 page, formatted at your discretion)

Georgetown University School of Medicine Secondary Application Questions: 2020 - 2021

  • The Georgetown University School of Medicine strives to ensure that its students become respectful physicians who embrace all dimensions of caring for the whole person. Please describe how your personal characteristics or life experiences will contribute to the Georgetown University School of Medicine community and bring educational benefits to our student body. (1,000 characters max)

Georgetown Medical School Secondary Application Questions: 2019 – 2020

Georgetown medical school secondary application questions: 2018 – 2019, georgetown medical school secondary application questions: 2017 – 2018, georgetown medical school secondary application questions: 2016 – 2017, georgetown medical school secondary application questions: 2015 – 2016.

  • Why have you chosen to apply to the Georgetown University School of Medicine and how do you think your education at Georgetown will prepare you to become a physician for the future? (1-2 page, formatted at your discretion)

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UC Essay Examples – Personal Insight Questions 1-8

December 29, 2023

UC essay samples

When applying to any of the University of California schools , you’ll face a series of supplemental essays in which you are asked to quickly and, with sufficient detail, provide personal insight into who you are as a person. These essays can be confusing to students, who might be used to writing the Common App essay , which asks for a well-written story in 650 words. The UC essays (see UC essay examples below), by contrast, ask you to provide as much concrete detail as possible while showcasing your positive traits. This means your writing will need to be as efficient as possible. To be clear, that means cutting down on flowery descriptions and pulling out the clear details about your achievements while leaving enough space for mature reflection and forward thinking. 

(For help with writing efficiency, check out our tips in our Why This College Essay blog post . For tips on how to get started, check out our Overcoming Challenges Essay blog post .)

In the following examples, we’ll show you some example responses to the first four UC prompts while talking you through what works and what doesn’t. 

UC Essay Prompt #1: 

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.

UC Example Essay: 

It was the third night in a row that we couldn’t get it together. My school’s mock trial team was finally going to the state championship after years of working together, but we couldn’t agree on how to build our prosecution. The “case” was that several people had died during a rock concert when the crowd became violent. We needed to decide if we should “sue” the event space or the artist, and the group was split around two natural leaders. 

Mark, our lead attorney for the last two years, wanted to build a logical argument that the event space intentionally oversold the show, creating danger. Emma, our star witness, said that we needed to build the case around sympathy for the families and sue the artist, who had inspired the violence.

UC Essay Examples (Continued)

I had watched Mark and Emma disagree over the last two years. They were two very different people who loved arguing, and the rest of us often had to wait through it. I typically hang back and observe, but we were down to the wire, and I realized someone needed to speak up. I came up with an idea and pulled aside some of my friends to explain my thoughts. They agreed, and encouraged me to step up. 

I surprised myself when, in a moment of silence, I opened my mouth. I calmly explained that we didn’t have to abandon either strategy and that we could, in fact, combine them to greater effect. Because I had taken time to convince the rest of the team before speaking, they rallied around me, and Mark and Emma had no choice but to agree. I realized at that moment that groups need people who are willing to listen, strategize, and then put a plan into motion, and that I have a strength for this style of leadership. Since then, I’ve started speaking up more, specifically in my robotics club, where I recently led us to second place at the 24-Hour Code-athon. I look forward to bringing those skills to my classes and volunteer work at UC. 

The first thing we should note about UC’s essays is that they are asking about important parts of your life, but they want brief responses. Because UC is sorting through so many applications, we want to be sure that you are providing as much concrete detail as possible and showcasing as many positive traits about yourself as possible in these quick responses.

What I’ve written here attempts to combine a single story with positive traits that a more introverted student might possess. So, it’s a story about the development of someone’s leadership style in a single moment in time. But, there’s another way to write this essay. 

Another Option for UC1: 

A more extroverted student who has been prone to leadership activities all throughout their high school experience could write an incredibly successful essay that simply focused, paragraph by paragraph on quick snippets that showcased their leadership throughout time. For example: 

  • Paragraph 1: I learned I was a natural leader the first time I successfully rallied my rhythm gymnastics team after our star tumbler got injured during a competition.
  • Paragraph 2: I then became our team captain, working to institute a new bonding retreat at the start of each year to bring the team together.
  • Paragraph 3: I took that same sense of leadership to my volunteer work at the local food bank, where I have worked with my colleagues to create a conversation hour. Every Wednesday, we invite volunteers and clients to a collective meal where we share stories, tough spots, and triumphs.
  • Paragraph 4: While I won’t be dancing competitively in college, I plan to continue my volunteer work with the Meals on Wheels chapter at UC, bringing food and friendly conversation to people in the community, rooted in my practice and experience with community building and bonding in high school. 

No matter what your experience is, you really want to focus on direct, deliverable moments in time that showcase what you’ve done. If you have a ton of leadership experience, try to showcase as much as you can while meeting the word count. If you have less experience but a really compelling story, focus on quickly laying out the basics of the story and then building power in the essay by reflecting on your leadership style.

In the end, make sure you comment on how you will bring your leadership style to campus, being as specific as possible. 

If I edited the above essay even more, I would further condense the story and elaborate more on how I’ve applied what I’ve learned. I mention the robotics club and winning second place at the 24-Hour Code-athon, but I could have saved some space above and expanded on it to show that I have the capacity to build my skill set over time. I could have also talked about the deliverables from the mock trial experience. Did we win our case? How does the story end? If I gave this essay another pass, I would focus a bit less on the story and balance things out more with what happened as a result of my leadership revelation.  

UC Essay Prompt #2: 

Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.

When I was just two-years-old, my mom enrolled me in ballet classes—and I hated them. Because I was young and she wanted me to do it, I danced for another nine years, until I finally gave up ballet for the soccer field. What I hadn’t realized was that everything I learned in ballet would quickly translate to make me a star player on the field. I knew how to turn on a dime, I could jump over a slide tackle faster than anyone else, and I never took it that seriously when we lost (the show must go on, after all). This led me to being named captain of my varsity team, where my team has nicknamed me The Swann—a combination of the football player who used ballet to train, Lynn Swann, and the famous ballet, Swan Lake. 

UC Personal Insight Questions Examples (Continued)

I realized quickly that my creativity could have this extracurricular quality no matter where I went. In my high school’s annual Physics-in-the-Raw Competition, I used famous chase scenes from my favorite black and white movies (I’m a big fan of Vertigo and Chinatown ) and pulled all the data I could from the movies themselves to crunch the numbers and show whether or not the actual chase would have played out like that in real life. I even filmed shot-for-shot remakes on my phone using Matchbox cars—in black and white, of course. My AP Physics teacher never stopped laughing, even as they noted that my calculations were correct. I was the first 11th grader to win the competition in the school’s history, and I have my creativity to thank for it. 

I’ve expressed interest in both English and Physics as a double major, but I’m excited to talk to my future advisers about what might be possible for me in Interdisciplinary Studies. When I let myself think creatively, I wonder about the possibility of bringing ballet back into my life—and what it might look like to combine my love of physics with the beauty of dance and literature, all on the UC campus.  

Here’s a cheeky example from a dream student whose only obstacle in life is that they didn’t really like ballet. I wrote this essay as a way to show you how you can quickly combine story with concrete elements. Look at how we jump into the essay. The first sentence I actually typed was “Creativity is one of my favorite things about me,” and then deleted it after I wrote the rest of the paragraph. I realized quickly that it was a placeholder for what I was attempting to show throughout the rest of the essay. If you find yourself writing bland or empty sentences like that in your UC essays, you should delete them, too. 

Then, look at what happens along the way. I try to list vivid-yet-concrete examples of my creativity ( I knew how to turn on a dime, I could jump over a slide tackle faster than anyone else, and I never took it that seriously when we lost ), and then I take what I learned about myself (that I have an “extracurricular sense” of creativity) and show the achievement that best showcases that sensibility on display: I was the first 11th grader to win the school physics competition because I’m so creative. I don’t need to over-explain the connection: it’s there for my readers and they can easily see how the experience in the first paragraph leads to the second experience. 

Finally, I take the chance to project myself onto the UC Campus by talking earnestly about an interest I have in the Interdisciplinary B.A. This moment is effective because I’m not promising anything or using overextended language to build a fake version of myself on campus, but because it makes sense that this type of student would be interested in this type of major. I demonstrate that I’ve done some research and that I’m thinking critically about how I would fit in on campus. 

If I edited this essay into another version, and I had another set of accomplishments to showcase, I would skip talking about the Interdisciplinary major and talk instead about that third accomplishment.  

UC Essay Prompt #3: 

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?

I stepped onto the pad and looked over at my coach. She gave me the sign: breathe in, breathe out, pull. One kick to the right to loosen my tight hip, and I lowered my hands to the bar. In the 2022 USA Powerlifting High School Nationals, I set a personal deadlift record of 242.5 pounds, putting me in fifth place. When the rankings shook out, my coach screamed and hugged me: she knew what it had taken me to get here. 

Something about powerlifting always compelled me. I was tiny at the start of my journey in ninth grade, but I decided to just keep with it. My coach laid out a progressive plan for me, and I followed it to a T. I was making steady progress all through fall of sophomore year, and I even won a regional title.  I broke my right leg in a skiing accident that winter and was devastated. But I remembered all the progress I had made and didn’t want to stop. I watched practice with my cast on, doing seated, upper-body lifts when my coach said it was safe. 

In the meantime, I focused on my academics. I turned around my AP Chemistry grade by showing up to afterschool tutoring and finally making flashcards the way my teacher had recommended, dedicating an extra 30 minutes to chem every day.  I realized I could apply my same sense of persistence and tenacity to the classroom, too, and it paid off: I got a 5 on the AP Chemistry exam. 

My coach wasn’t surprised when she saw me back at the barbell a week after my cast was off. Over the next year, I dedicated myself to rebuilding the muscle I had lost by following an increased- calorie diet and working accessory lifts to challenge myself. I realized I could see precisely what my ability to perform sustained, focused effort got me: a comeback fifth place ranking at a national competition in the sport that I love. I can’t wait to apply my focus to my major at UC. 

Many students think about “skill” or “talent” as a discrete thing. For example, this student could have simply written about being really good at powerlifting. However, if we take one step back, we can see that the student’s true talent (and the more interesting thing to say) is that they are really good at persistence, tenacity, and sustained, focused attention on a goal. This is a tremendous thing to talk about when it comes to applying to college, because going to university is a project in your sustained focus over the course of four years. 

That meant that it was important to also bring in an academic component to the essay to showcase how this student was skilled in persistence in another realm. In this context, obviously, the academic realm is incredibly important. Drawing the parallel with the AP Chem course shows the reader that the student also understands how their skillset works in an abstract way. 

I’ll repeat the same editing principle here that I’ve said above: if the student had other stellar examples of exhibiting persistence and focus, I would cut down on the storytelling elements, and I would include those pieces, instead. If you’re working on an essay for which you have a lot of solid examples, you can think of your response to the prompt like a vividly conceptualized list. You can showcase your personality through your language choices, and you can tell the story of your achievements, but again, worry less about setting the scene and more about highlighting your successes. 

UC Essay Prompt #4: 

Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

As a gifted student, I was shocked when my favorite teacher asked me if I had ever considered getting examined for ADHD. My grades had been slipping that semester, but it was just because I wasn’t working hard enough to stay organized, right? My teacher indicated that he knew I was working really hard already, and that maybe, I would benefit from a little help. 

When my diagnosis came back as primarily inattentive ADHD, I felt both surprise and grief. My psychologist talked to me about how my hyperfocus had been likely sparked when I was a little kid in elementary school, but that, as time went on, it was easier and easier for me to become bored in school. Even if the classes were more challenging, the repetition of the structure wasn’t. I had enough coping mechanisms to do “well enough,” but if I wasn’t being challenged, my inattention could be taking over and making me lose out on reaching my goals. 

Working closely with my parents, my psychologist, and my teachers, I was able to build a plan for myself to get back on track. I chose for myself that I wanted to start treatment without medication, so I did counseling to put my time in high school in perspective, and I started practicing mindfulness meditation, which has been a revelation. When I focus on the fact that every day is a new opportunity to learn something new, I can really savor those opportunities. The semester that I received my diagnosis, I stabilized my grades and my 4.0 GPA before anything started to slip, thanks to my careful teacher. 

When I come to UC, I know I may be faced with challenges to my inattentive ADHD as time goes on, however, I now know what warning signs and how to rely on my support networks. I look forward to volunteering as a peer mentor to share my tips, tricks, and to help other students identify when they need help, as well. 

Writing about mental health and learning disabilities can be tricky. In every case, you need to be sure that you’re demonstrating a clear arc of overcoming something. There is no shame in actively dealing with a mental health problem or diagnosis, but when it comes to writing your college admissions essays, you want to be sure that you have a demonstrable positive outcome that you can discuss if you choose to go down this path. 

So, I wanted to show an example of someone who had that clarity of overcoming their diagnosis with a demonstrable stabilization of their GPA. Pay attention to the way in which the essay departs from the identification of the problem, the diagnosis, and then focuses mainly on the solutions that the student finds. Leaving the essay in a place of generosity where the student wants to extend what they’ve learned to others around them solidifies their success and showcases that they truly have overcome this educational barrier. 

Of course, there are other significant educational barriers that someone could talk about. They could include structural barriers within a school system or unfortunate events, like surviving a wildfire or a flood, that can demonstrate a student’s perseverance. To write this essay in the opposite direction, about a significant educational opportunity, might entail writing about an invitation to speak at an important event, an opportunity to travel to a foreign country, or the chance to participate in an extracurricular activity that led to a particular success. Were you asked to help start your school’s award-winning field hockey team? That would be an excellent thing to write about. 

To view all of the full list of prompts and other helpful tips, check out our other UC Essay blog post, here . And when you need help crafting and editing your UC essays, reach out to College Transitions for a free consultation and to get started. 

Now let’s dive into the next series of supplemental prompts, UC Personal Insight Questions 5 through 8. 

UC Essay Prompt #5: 

Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

When I was five years old, my mother decided to separate from my father because of his addiction. I have learned to understand the details based on what my mother does not say. My mother tried to help him overcome his illness. She had hoped that doctors, rehab, and twelve-step programs would have stopped him from becoming violent. She was wrong. I grew up without him. 

Last year, out of the blue, my father started showing up outside of my high school, telling me he wanted to see my mom again. It became severe enough that the police issued a restraining order. I haven’t seen him since. 

But I suffered. The idea that he could appear outside of my school at any moment made me paranoid. I was scared for my mother, and I wanted to believe that the restraining order would be sufficient, but then I stopped trusting myself. What if something happened and no one believed me? I had never experienced anxiety before, but all of the sudden, I was having tunnel vision and couldn’t be alone. 

My physics teacher, Mr. Bevelacqua, noticed first. He saw that my grade had slid from an A to a C- in five weeks, and he rightly assumed that, if it was happening in his class, it was happening in others. I loved his class and sense of humor, so I felt comfortable enough confiding in my teacher about my fears. He helped me talk with the school psychologist, who suggested a course in mindfulness and a series of conversations with the police. I created healthy boundaries for myself and developed a mindfulness routine with my mother that has benefited both of us.

Now, my grades are back up, and I’m helping Mr. Bevelacqua tutor other students for the AP Physics exam. I’ve even started attending Alateen meetings, where I’ve made close friends who have experienced similar things. Sharing our experiences has almost helped them dissolve. I’ve learned that, even though I’ve thought I should be ashamed of my father, I can talk openly about my experiences—and maybe even help myself and others.  

This essay is a completely fictional one in which I’m imagining a rather difficult experience that triggers a mental health episode in a student. You’ll see that I spend the first three, quick paragraphs detailing the challenge and the final paragraph outlining the steps the student has taken to overcome the problem. The student shows self-awareness by confiding in a favorite teacher about what’s happening, then the student doesn’t hesitate to take the teacher’s advice, then the advice pays off and we see the positive effects of the student’s willingness to address their fears and work with the people they trust around them.  

I want to point out that both sections are fairly concrete. I take some creative liberties in the first paragraph in order to artfully describe a situation of domestic violence, but for the most part, I’m stating directly what happened. This doesn’t mean excluding difficult details, like the anxiety attacks and fear, but it does mean that I’ve avoided overly flowery language. 

Writing about heavy things doesn’t mean that your prose has to be particularly heavy. In fact, writing about particularly difficult things in plain, straightforward ways —without the use of too many colorful adjectives—can help communicate the painfulness even more. You don’t want to smother your reader in emotion; you want to lead them to their own emotional reaction through the things that happened. Restraint in prose can help to achieve this goal. Let the painful things be painful. They will do the work for you. 

That is all to say: when you’re tackling this essay, you don’t want to bleed on the page. Oftentimes, students who have suffered traumatic, difficult things believe that they need to convey the full weight of their distress to admissions officers. To be clear, your trauma and your suffering matters, but admissions officers are reading the full breadth of painful experiences from across the spectrum of human existence. Adversity and suffering visit us all, and the unfortunate pain of these events is highly relative.

Admissions officers are interested in seeing what you do with your pain. You want to focus on the tangible, provable things that you have done to overcome your challenges. Those things could be big or small. It would have been enough for this student, for example, to have simply found a productive mindfulness meditation routine that they practiced with their mother, and then described their newfound perspectives that came from that practice. You don’t have to do twenty things to prove that you’re emotionally mature enough to attend college; but you do want to prove that you’re doing well despite adversity. 

UC Essay Prompt #6: 

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

Standing in front of the seven-foot-tall, room-length canvas for the first time, I was overwhelmed. Then, slowly, I realized what Warhol was doing. Here was Elvis, the iconic American figure of rock ‘n’ roll, stamped out eleven times, his pistol pointed at us, his larger-than-life body repeating like a film strip left on the cutting room floor and then splayed out before us, so that we could see each instance of his fame, however fleeting, now indelible. 

Going to the Andy Warhol Museum in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania opened my eyes to the world of Art History, and as soon as I realized I could study it, I ran full speed ahead. To compete in National History Day, I underwent a six-month research process in the Warhol Museum archives, reading Warhol’s journals, correspondences, and making analytical reviews of drafts of his earlier, un-exhibited works. I made a thirty-minute documentary about Warhol’s work, including interviews I conducted with experts, museum curators, and with the only living family member who knew Warhol when he was still alive. With my documentary, I progressed to the national competition and placed as an honorable mention in the individual documentary category. 

Growing out of that experience, I worked with my AP History teacher to establish a connection with Duquesne University Art History Professor Laney McGunnigan, with whom I completed a semester-long independent study project on the development of pop art in the twentieth century. This fall, I will be assisting Professor McGunnigan in cataloging the body of Diego Rivera’s work held at Fallingwater, in order to assist with a larger place-based analysis on the intersection of diverse artistic movements hidden across the greater Pittsburgh area. 

I am thrilled by the possibility of studying under UCLA Department Chair Saloni Mathur. The Fallingwater project has opened my eyes to the influence of colonialism and post-colonialism in Art History, and I am deeply interested in the possibility of an interdisciplinary approach that involves anthropological practices like those I engaged during my Warhol documentary production process. 

For this essay, you want to choose that interest toward which you’ve put the most effort during your time in high school. It’s kind of like a “Why This College?” essay, but it’s about a subject, instead. In this fictional example essay, I’m drawing on a personal experience with creating a Warhol documentary in high school (true story!) and how an incredibly diligent and well-resourced student might have expanded that experience into further study (that part is fiction). No matter the level of involvement, you want to pull out all of the details about what you’ve done as a high school student as you’ve pursued a particular interest. 

You can see that I’m naming names throughout the essay, and also that I’m talking about how I’ve used my academic network to further my interest. For example, I say that I worked with my AP History teacher to make a valuable connection with a professor—don’t leave those things out. Seemingly small conversations and connections that lead to bigger things are worth including in this essay because they demonstrate your pursuit. Show the reader the steps you took along the way to get to where you are; every step counts—and you can always pare down the word count later.  

The opening lines are deceptively normal. Yes, they paint a quick scene for the reader. However, they’re also showing how I got interested in art history to begin with. The reader can see the first moment of inspiration outside of the classroom, and how I pull that inspiration into my academic life. 

Finally, I closed the essay by doing some quick research into the Art History department at UCLA. I might not know a ton about anthropology as a high school student, but I do know that I did interviews for my documentary. A good essay coach (like someone from College Transitions) could help you make the elegant connection between the work you’ve already done and the academic interests of the faculty in the department where you’d like to study. 

UC Essay Prompt #7: 

What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?

I can’t begin to tell you how the opioid epidemic has ravaged my community. In the last three years, three graduating seniors and eight recent graduates have died from heroin-related overdoses. The most recent death was my best friend Evan’s older brother; he had been a star soccer player and he went on to study communications at Regional State University. When Evan called to tell me what happened, I did the math silently as I listened to my friend cry: his brother overdosed at the age of 23. 

In the weeks following the funeral, I felt a heaviness I had never felt before. I’m pretty introverted; to say that I’ve never had anyone offer me drugs is an understatement. It’s the same with Evan. Even though his brother had gotten into drugs, we never saw them, which made the whole thing all the more painful, scary, and confusing. We felt hopeless. I watched Evan start to plummet. 

It was then that I heard a news story about a Harm Reduction group out of Chicago. It was the first time I’d ever heard of harm reduction, but Evan and I took the idea and ran. In just four months, we contacted the National Harm Reduction Coalition and set up a voluntary Narcan Network through our school. We built a program where kids and their parents can get trained on how to use free Narcan kits that we receive through donations we organized with NHRC.

We got trained, and we have trained more than two hundred people in our monthly sessions. The community support has been overwhelming. Parents who have had kids die or go to rehab have become integral parts of our project, and we’ve helped them start a monthly support group. If someone takes a kit, they don’t have to report using it to us, but through voluntary reporting, we know that our kits have been used at least twenty times so far. Twenty lives, twenty families, twenty more reasons to keep doing what we do. We like to think that Evan’s brother would be proud. 

In this essay, you can see that I dedicate a fair amount of time to the problem. The first two paragraphs set up what happened to the student and their best friend’s family. If I were editing this essay—and the student had a substantial amount more to say about the Narcan group—I might shorten those two paragraphs and leave space at the end for more reflection and balance, especially if the student had more achievement-oriented information to include. 

Writing about the positive things you brought to the situation is the crucial part here. The admissions officers want to know about the context for the solution, yes, but the more important thing here is your character that has allowed you to improve your community. You need to provide significant, concrete details that demonstrate your contribution to your school or community. In this case, the student is able to provide a time frame, the name of outside organizations with which they organized, the number of people trained, and an approximate number of lives saved . This is a Herculean effort that I invented for the sake of this prompt, however, I’m using it to show you the kinds of information you should provide. 

Maybe you didn’t create a live-saving program at your school, but perhaps you organized a fundraiser that brought in hundreds of dollars for cancer research or even your marching band’s annual competition trip. Tell us that. And tell us how you did it. Maybe you organized the calendars of thirty different students to do tabling during different periods of the school day. Maybe you held a week’s worth of car washes in the parking lot of your local library, and you had to coordinate the efforts between the library staff and fifteen volunteers. Or perhaps you were in charge of keeping the cash box, opening a bank account, and ensuring the safe transfer of funds to the organization.

Those are the kinds of concrete details this essay wants to see. Be sure to gas yourself up and don’t be afraid to sound like you’re “bragging:” UC wants to see your personal achievements.  

Essay Prompt #8: 

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? 

Well, why don’t you take a crack at it? 

For this essay, I’ll reiterate those best practices for all of your UC Personal Insight Essays . You want to quickly describe, in concrete language, a situation that distinguishes you from others. Then, you want to use numbers, names, responses, and your personal process to show very clearly how you overcame a situation, created something beneficial, committed yourself to a positive outcome, helped your family, helped your friends, helped your community, and on and on. Don’t take this opportunity to flex your creative writing muscles. Do stick to demonstrative outcomes. Don’t worry about winning the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

Again, UC essays are different from the storytelling you’re expected to do in the Common App essay . Do concern yourself with communicating the clear, discrete benefits of your work on a project, course, or group of people. Don’t worry about “bragging.” Your 350 words will go by fast! Gas yourself up while you can. 

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Brittany Borghi

After earning a BA in Journalism and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, Brittany spent five years as a full-time lecturer in the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. Additionally, she’s held previous roles as a researcher, full-time daily journalist, and book editor. Brittany’s work has been featured in The Iowa Review, The Hopkins Review, and the Pittsburgh City Paper, among others, and she was also a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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  24. UC Essay Examples

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