2023 How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement (11 Steps)
- By Med School Insiders
- December 13, 2022
- Medical Student , Pre-med
- Medical School Application , Personal Statement
Each piece of a med school application brings a unique set of anxiety-ridden challenges, but few equal that of the personal statement. A personal statement is much, much more than a narrative-version of your CV. Reiterating your grades and extracurriculars in complete sentences is not how to write a medical school personal statement.
A personal statement is an opportunity to tell your story. Why do you want to study medicine? What drives you? This is your chance to let an admissions committee know who you really are beyond your grades.
Of course, you’re studying to become a doctor, not a novelist, which means the idea of crafting your personal statement may seem daunting, to say the least.
In this guide, we’ll take a comprehensive, step-by-step look at how to write a medical school personal statement, including how to get started, everything you need to include, and common mistakes to avoid.
- Anatomy of Medical School Personal Statement
What Med School Admissions Committees Look For
How to get started.
- How to Write a Personal Statement
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Medical school personal statement examples, anatomy of a medical school personal statement.
A personal statement has a 5,300 character maximum, about 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. The challenge isn’t trying to fill in words; the challenge is selecting the key moments in your life that made you want to be a doctor and expressing them concisely.
A personal statement is made up of three parts:
It’s essentially a short essay that uses your life experience to succinctly demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job. If someone’s making a movie about your life and the events that shaped your desire to become a doctor, what key moments do you want to highlight?
Your introduction must capture an admissions committee’s attention. Use the introduction to hook your readers. The first few sentences should entice them to read more.
There isn’t a perfect number of paragraphs or set structure. This is where you discuss the experiences that have shaped your personality, your desire to study medicine, and your dreams for the future.
This is the summary of your statement, and it should tie in directly to your introduction. Now is the time to emphasize why you want to be a physician and your future goals.
Learn more about the Anatomy of a Stellar Medical School Personal Statement .
Admissions committees need to know they’re accepting students who are ready to face the rigorous day-and-night grind of medical school. They have your CV and transcripts; now you need to demonstrate you have what it takes to succeed.
The personal statement is your chance to display your personality and highlight the experiences that shaped you. What drives you? What strengths and experiences will you bring to medical school? Why are you an asset?
The admissions committee isn’t looking for a list of your accomplishments. They want to know your story . Don’t tell the admissions committee you’re compassionate and driven; show them with tangible examples from your life.
So you’re a great listener. What’s a moment in your past that demonstrates this? If you care deeply about the wellbeing of others, what story from your life illustrates that passion?
1 | Read Real Personal Statement Examples
Right off the bat, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone—far from it. Every medical student who came before you has written personal statements, which means you have a wealth of examples to read and learn from.
Every personal statement is unique to the writer. Don’t expect to find a perfect blueprint you can copy off of, but reading several different personal statements will give you a sense of the themes, concepts, strategies, and stories that can help you find success.
If you know people in your own life who have successfully matriculated to med school, it’s a good idea to ask them if you can take a look at their personal statement. Med School Insiders compiled a database of personal statements donated by successful medical school applicants. Reading successful personal statements will give you an idea of what’s expected.
Reading bad personal statements can also give you an idea of what mistakes to avoid. Learn from our bad personal statement examples , which includes key insights into what you should do instead.
2 | Reflect on Past Experiences
Take this as an opportunity to reflect. Don’t think of it as brainstorming, and don’t worry about being creative just yet. Simply think back on key moments from your past.
Think of your personal statement like your superhero origin story. You may have excellent grades, abilities, and a natural aptitude for science, but why are you pursuing medicine? What moment or moments in your life revealed to you why you had to be a doctor?
Take Spider-Man. Yes, Peter Parker received his superpowers from a radioactive spider bite, but that’s not why he fights crime; Spider-Man fights crime so that what happened to his Uncle Ben never happens to anyone else. Bruce Wayne is incredibly smart, incredibly strong, and incredibly rich, but that’s not why he fights crime as Batman. Bruce Wayne became Batman so that no one else would lose their parents to a random act of violence like he did.
The truth is, a lot of superheroes have pretty similar motivations, and doctors have similar motivations, too. Your desire to become a doctor likely stems from a genuine intellectual interest in medicine, a desire to work closely with other humans, and a drive to help people and save lives. The other med school hopefuls you’re applying with have very similar motivations.
The key is digging deep and determining what you value most about becoming a doctor. Once you know that, think about the tangible experiences in your life that helped you realize those values.
Utilize our list of 25 medical school personal statement prompts as you ideate and reflect on your life to date.
3 | Choose Which Experiences/Traits to Highlight
Identify three to four personal strengths you are particularly proud of and want the admissions committee to know. Where did these strengths shine in your premedical years? What experiences helped you build on these strengths? This will make up the body of your personal statement.
Remember: writing a personal statement takes time—and lots of it. It will likely take several different attempts and drafts. After discussing your selected strengths, you may find that they don’t define you well enough or that there are better options. Don’t be discouraged. Give yourself plenty of time to reflect on and explore a variety of different strengths.
Don’t forget about the interview; the admissions committee will certainly ask you to further elaborate on the experiences outlined in your personal statement. Share personal stories that you want to be asked about and feel comfortable addressing.
Generally, personal statements involve experiences in the following categories:
- A passion for patient interaction
- Intellectual curiosity for medicine (academics, research, etc.)
- Dedication and discipline (medicine or another pursuit)
- Perseverance in the face of adversity
- Interpersonal and professional skills
How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement
4 | show, don’t tell.
If essays or storytelling aren’t necessarily your strong suit, think back to math class and those equations where the teacher made you show your work for the full grade. It’s not enough that you got the answer right; you had to show how you arrived at the answer.
Think of this in the same way. It’s great that you’re compassionate, but the admissions committee isn’t going to take you at your word. They want you to back up that claim with evidence. It is vital that you show the admissions committee you’re compassionate with concrete examples from your life that illustrate your journey to medicine.
It’s much more impactful to share a story that demonstrates specific qualities than it is to tell someone you have those qualities directly. Saying you are hardworking or resilient is not enough. You need to craft a story that allows the reader to infer those qualities about you.
5 | Leverage the Narrative-Based Approach
You are applying to medical school along with an immense number of other students with great grades, stellar qualifications, and impressive clinical hours. These are all key to your medical school application, but the best grades in the world won’t set you apart in the eyes of the admissions committee.
Your personal statement is a chance to stand out in a crowded field. Too many personal statements read like a CV but with full paragraphs, which quickly becomes monotonous.
Leverage a narrative-based approach so that the admissions committee is excited to learn more about you. Your entire application should illustrate your compelling journey toward becoming a doctor. Highlight how your experiences make you an asset who will contribute uniquely to the medical school.
It’s not enough to simply check off the boxes. The admissions committee wants to know your story.
Learn How to Develop a Cohesive Narrative for Medical School Applications .
6 | Create an Outline
After taking the time to reflect on the experiences and traits you want to include in your personal statement, create an outline to structure your approach .
You do not need to stick to it, but this is the general structure of most personal statements:
- Introduction (A strong hook to catch the reader’s attention—usually an anecdote or reflection that introduces the theme of your story. Hook the reader with the opening sentence.)
- Experience 1
- Experience 2
- Experience 3
- Conclusion (Tie your story back to the opening hook/theme. Summarize why you want to be a physician and what your future goals are.)
Remember, this is not a list of your accomplishments. The personal statement must read like a cohesive narrative, not a resume.
Establish a theme in the introduction that’s central to your desire to become a doctor. Each following paragraph will illustrate how your personal experiences have shaped that desire and prepared you for your journey. In the conclusion, gracefully tie back to your central theme or hook to turn the personal statement into a consistent, interconnected story.
7 | Force Yourself to Start Writing
It’s understandable and common to feel overwhelmed while writing a personal statement. In fact, if you don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s safe to say that you’re not taking this seriously enough.
Start with a theme, but don’t get stuck trying to come up with the perfect opening sentence. That comes later. Once you have a general outline, just start writing. See what happens, and—most importantly—be kind to yourself.
The first words you write won’t be perfect, but they will get you started. You should fully expect the first draft of your personal statement to be terrible. That’s okay. First drafts are never perfect.
Your first draft probably won’t look anything like your final essay. Put one foot in front of the other and just start writing. Get the ideas out and worry about editing later.
8 | Keep it Concise and Direct
In your subsequent drafts, focus on cutting down your words and being concise. It’s not your use of flowery language that will impress the admissions committee. Forget about extravagant word choices and convoluted sentence structure. You don’t have the space for poetic tangents anyway.
Use your words efficiently, and favor clear language over long, complicated words. It’s easy for readers to spot when you’re using a thesaurus, and it will only take away from your end message. Find the simplest way to say something.
Hard-working over Assiduous
Compassion over Magnanimity
Agree over Concur
Use tools like the Hemingway App to keep your language direct and concise.
9 | Take Some Time Away
Take time away from your drafts. Once you complete a draft, take a break, and let it sit. Go for a walk, watch some TV, or work on a completely different activity. After your break, come back to your personal statement with fresh eyes. You may find that the fantastic opening line you came up with isn’t so fantastic anymore, or that sentence you weren’t so sure about actually works really well.
Writing your personal statement will take time. Even if you feel extremely confident in your personal statement, take time away from it and come back.
10 | Refine, Review, and Edit
We recommend using editing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor , but don’t rely on bots alone to catch possible mistakes.
Ask your friends and family for their first impressions on the content of your personal statement. Tell them to be brutally honest (because the admissions committee certainly will be.) Reach out to a mentor or people who have been through this process before.
Spelling or grammar mistakes indicate carelessness on your part and are an automatic red flag for admissions committees. Read over your work carefully, and ask others you trust to do the same.
The editing process is such a critical phase for your personal statement. Learn how to edit your personal statement to impress admissions committees.
11 | Invest in Essay Editing Services
Your medical school personal statement is arguably the most important piece of your application. While an excellent essay can lock-in your interview offer, a poorly-written personal statement can ruin your chances—even with stellar grades, impressive academic awards, and a notable list of extracurriculars.
Don’t risk your acceptance. Essay editing services can provide the help that friends, family, and mentors cannot.
Med School Insiders Personal Statement Editing Services includes careful analysis of content and tone as well as helpful insights into how you can improve your essay and impress admissions committees.
Avoid the following common personal statement mistakes .
- Don’t list your accomplishments or rehash your CV and extracurriculars.
- Don’t make spelling or grammar errors.
- Don’t overuse the word I. Doing so makes you more likely to state your accomplishments instead of telling a story.
- Don’t use flowery language or words you found in a thesaurus.
- Don’t explain to a physician what medicine is all about. Talk about yourself and your experiences; the admissions committee already understands medicine.
- Don’t state the obvious or use clichés. (Every applicant likes science and wants to help people.)
- Don’t lie or fabricate your personal stories.
- Don’t make excuses for poor grades or a low MCAT score.
- Don’t speak negatively about another physician or healthcare professional.
- Don’t plead for an interview or acceptance.
- Don’t edit your personal statement by yourself.
- Don’t procrastinate.
Learn more: 20 Personal Statement: Dos and Don’ts .
It’s important to read the personal statements of matriculated students. While you won’t be able to mimic someone else’s personal statement, you can still learn a lot from them, and reading different statements can spark ideas for your own essay.
We compiled a selection of real medical school personal statements from successful applicants. These statements are for reference purposes only and should not be plagiarized in any way. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements, and plagiarizing is grounds for an automatic disqualification.
Be sure to read the included feedback regarding the personal statements as well, as this will give you extra insight into what admissions committees are looking for.
Read Real Medical School Personal Statement Examples .
Medical School Personal Statement Editing
Don’t write your medical school personal statement alone—we can help. Med School Insiders offers a range of personal statement editing packages , from general editing to unlimited, in-depth editing with a physician who will be there to advise you every step of the way.
Learn more about our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages . Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process.
Next read: Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process
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Medical School Personal Statement FAQs
Let’s start today with a seemingly simple question that you are going to have to consider before applying to med school: Who are you? It may seem simple on the surface, but this can be one of the most challenging questions that premed students encounter on the medical school application or the MCAT. Yet, it’s the basic question posed in at least one major part of your application: the medical school personal statement .
There are a couple important themes to keep in mind while you’re coming up with the subject matter for your medical school personal statement—or, what many admissions officers refer to as “your interview in writing.” Check out a few of our handy personal essay FAQs:
What kind of questions will I be asked?
The question posed—or the essay prompt—will be surprisingly vague. The Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) prompt from the AMCAS application is simply: “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school.” This broad net can prove both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, it allows you the freedom to take your story in just about any direction, and what could be better than that? On the other, it can feel overwhelming if you overthink it.
How long should my medical school personal statement be?
How many versions should i write.
Unlike the school-specific, tailored information you’ll give on your secondary applications, your AMCAS medical school statement will remain uniform across all the schools you apply to.
Since you’ll only have one version of the personal essay, it should not be directed towards any individual school. Use your secondary applications and essays to express your interests in individual medical schools.
What should I write about in my personal statement?
Even though the prompt for the medical school personal statement is vague, it is generally understood that you have three major goals to accomplish in this essay. Focus the essay with these in mind, but don’t be afraid to be creative!
You’ll need to give some serious thought to why you want to go into medicine , and more specifically, why you want an MD or a DO . Far too often, students write generic, impassioned passages about “wanting to help people.” While that is a completely valid reason to go to medical school, it doesn’t really explain why you want to become a doctor to the exclusion of other health careers, like nursing or physical therapy. It doesn’t really even explain why you want to go into medicine. Firefighters, teachers, plumbers, and landscapers help people too!
Why do I want to be a physician specifically?
Is it the translation of your scientific knowledge into patient education about how to live a healthy lifestyle? Is it the pursuit of new therapies and cures through research? Is it the rigor of a career that demands lifelong learning?
Medical schools want to know that if they admit you, you’ll contribute to the class in a unique and meaningful way. So think about what makes your desire to become a physician unique. Medical schools want to admit a diverse class , and although diversity in medical education is a rather broad topic in general, they’re looking beyond just demographics—to facets such as educational experiences, life challenges, medical interests, and more.How does everything fit together?
You want your medical school personal statement to tell an intricate story about you—something a reader can get excited about and relate to. Rather than simply rewriting your résumé in paragraph form, construct your essay around a theme that you can keep returning to.
Perhaps you’re a musicology major who’s also passionate about education and patient care. Focusing on the intersection between the arts and sciences both historically and in your own life could be a good launching-off point. Take it from us—it’s worked before.
Who should edit my med school essay?
- Someone who knows you really well. Medical schools can spot a disingenuous personal statement a mile away. Get a best friend, parent, or significant other to call you on any bluffing or “gaming” of the essay. It’s not about writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear—it’s about writing the truth, representing yourself tactfully, and letting your accomplishments speak for themselves.
- A strict grammarian. To be sure, using a comma when you should be using a semicolon will not, by itself, keep you out of medical school. But any sloppiness or lack of clarity in your statement will subtly and collectively bring down the overall quality and effectiveness of your words.
- Someone who knows medicine. Who should know better what will appeal to a medical school admissions committee than someone who’s already been there, done that? A physician you’ve shadowed, a PI with whom you’ve worked, or a friend who’s already a medical student will help you hone your statement’s message. If you are currently an undergraduate student, your pre-med advisor certainly fits the bill.
Ultimately, the essay is crucial to your success in applying to medical school, so go ahead and start writing. By thinking through your essay, you’re helping define who you are as a citizen, as a student, and as the physician you’re well on your way to becoming.
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Personal Statement Guidelines
Guidelines for writing personal statements.
Talk with the program director in the specialty in which you are applying and ask them what they look for in a personal statement. Some specialties (otorhinolaryngology) are requiring that you have a separate personal statement for each program. Be sure to check with specialty and program requirements when drafting your personal statement. You may add a paragraph at the end of that statement to discuss what you are looking for in a preliminary program. Before drafting your personal statement, please use the information below to help you organize your thoughts.
A suggested structure for your personal statement might be:
- Why you chose this field.
- Why you think you will be good at it. This might include any biographical history you might like to include, personal qualities, related hobbies, etc.
- Briefly explain any mitigating circumstances in your qualifications. Avoid being too defensive. Some things of that nature might be best explained in your MSPE, if you wish. Discuss this with the OSA dean writing your MSPE.
- Some projection into your future, of both a professional and personal nature, if you wish. You may not want to be too specific about sub-specialty aspirations, though. People like to see an open mind.
We recommend that you create your personal statements in a text file. The way you create a text file is Click on 'Start' menu on the desktop, under 'All Programs' Click 'Accessories', Click 'Notepad'. Change the Font to Courier New 10 which is used by ERAS. Keep it to less than one-page single spaced with one-inch margins all around and spaces between paragraphs. Do not use any special characters such as Bold, Italics, Underlines, &, ñ, µ, @,#,% etc. You don’t want it to look too cluttered. Poignant stories are nice, but basically keep it short and to the point. The idea is for it to be personal but not overly revealing. Have a number of people read your statement to get their reactions, especially faculty members in the type of program to which you are applying. Also, people who know you well, on whom you can count for honest feedback, and who can make any necessary corrections in syntax and grammar. If you are deciding between two or more specialties, it is sometimes helpful to write a personal statement for each. If you can’t see the real differences among them, others who read your statements may be able to discover your true passion.
Personal statement help
How long should a personal statement to medical schools be? Mine is 750 words long at the moment.
What sort of headings should you use, or do you just put your name in a corner and start writing?
Do you indent? What font do you use?
I am hoping to get help from people who got into medical school and what sort of personal statement elements they used so that I may utilize them as well. Thanks!
personal statements are limited to 5300 characters. 2+3) I haven't actually applied yet, but I imagine that it's just an entry box on the AMCAS page. I don't think it has a title, or your name. Also, you don't indent and have to worry about a specific font.
I'm also working on mine right now, does anyone know where I can find examples of good personal statements?
Oh so you don't upload a word document or send that to the schools?
Things to talk about in a PS:
Why medicine? Use your experiences and exposure to medicine to make this more powerful. Don't just say what medicine is, explain what fascinates you and what draws you to the field.
Why you would make a good doctor. This can go along with the first point and doesn't have to be explicitly stated. "Making a connection with patients came naturally and it was so satisfying to see their smiling faces after I personally cured their cancer and saved their children from abject poverty."
Where do you see yourself in 10-15 years? Specialties you're interested in, academics, research, community practice, international, under served, whatever.
Explain any gaps, inconsistencies, career changes, catastrophes.
Tie in your extracurriculars and unique life experience to make the essay more personal and memorable.
My advice would be focus on a story or meaningful event that really inspired you. Don't go through and list what's on your résumé. Say what you've learned, how you felt and how you can apply this/why you want to become a physician. Remember, admission committees will be able to see your research, clubs, and other activities in the rest of the application - no need to flesh it out here.
I always enjoyed writing, so I tried to make a story out of it (a story that had a clear focus on medicine). My pre-med advisor did a great job helping me make sure it stayed focused and in the end I really enjoyed how it turned out.
Before I wrote mine, I went to the library and found some published collections of personal statements, which also listed applicant profiles, the schools they applied to, where they were accepted, interviewed, and rejected from.
Some common themes I noticed:
Resume style: Applicant gives a short biography of meaningful activities and events, how those prepared them for the medical field (Ex: when I was a camp counselor, I learned the importance of interpersonal relations as I comforted a child who was away from home for the first time, I developed long lasting relationships with the kids, went to their houses for dinner which proved that people like me and I will be a great doctor! Later, when I worked in a nursing home, I realized that just by sitting and listening to a patient express their concerns, I could help to ease their uncertainties about their future treatments.) In my opinion, this essay style is more superficial.
Artistic style: Applicant compares the medical profession to one specific extracurricular, showing how the same talents they've have developed in their activity will benefit them as a physician (Ex: A sculptor is like a surgeon, I've also seen dance, music, and theatre compared to medicine) I used this style in my secondary essays, for the "what makes you unique" type questions.
Life Changing Event style: Focus on one specific event which shaped the applicant's interest in medicine. (Ex: was in a car accident, really admired the doctor who saved the applicant's life. Was a lifeguard, saved a child from drowning, felt drawn to the feeling of fulfillment that came with it. Went to Africa, saw world suffering, wanted to dedicate life to changing it through medicine. etc. ) I used this style for my personal statement, and talked about how a shadowing experience shaped my perspective on some things that need to be fixed with the system, then discussed my dedication to changing said issues.
Published collections of personal statements?... where?
AMCAS PS: 5300 characters; ACOMAS: 4700 (?)
You just copy and paste your personal statement into a comment box
Don't indent, it's not going to show up in the box.
Everyone else here has answered the main question, I figure I'll just throw some extra advice your way:
I've heard that it's better to talk about one or two important events rather than list them off like a resume'. Especially given that the admissions committees are going through literally thousands of these at a time, you want yours to stand out somehow. Make it a story that engages the reader. I'm currently working on mine too, so i know your stress. Best of luck!
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- TABLE OF CONTENTS
Issues of Length and Form
Normally, the length of a personal statement will be dictated by the application—500 words or 800 words are typical limits, as are one-page or two-page limits. If you’re given, say, a count of 1,500 words, you need not write to the maximum length, but to compose only one-half of the word count might be an opportunity missed. In any case, what matters most is that the material you present conforms as closely as possible to these word or space restrictions—parts of your application might literally not be read if you violate the rules—and that your presentation is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. To achieve these goals, I promote the following tips:
- If your personal statement is a stand-alone document within your application, open it with a simple heading such as “Personal Statement for Janet Lerner.” Thus, if your documents would get separated somehow, they could more easily be reassembled.
- If there are any pages to your essay beyond one, number them, and perhaps include your name on those pages as well.
- Choose a publishing font that is highly readable, such as Times or Bookman. Some fonts allow for more tightness to the text, which is fine as long as the essay remains readable. Ideally, use no more than a 12-point size and no less than a 10-point size, favoring the larger, and use the same font size throughout the document.
- Allow for ample enough margins that the reader isn’t distracted by cramped-looking text. Margins of at least one inch are standard.
- Single space your text, skipping a line between paragraphs. You can indent paragraph beginnings or not, as long as you’re consistent.
At times, especially when you fill out an application electronically or have to cut and paste, word limits will be defined by physical space. In such a case, keep enough white space between your text and the application text that the material isn’t crowded, and choose a font different from that used in the application if possible. Also, if your application is electronic and requires you to cut and paste text or conform to a word or character count, check the material that you input carefully to be certain that it’s complete and reads just as you wish it to. In some cases, you may lose special characters or paragraph breaks, and words over the maximum allowable count may be cut off. The safest practice is to proofread anything you send electronically within the very form in which it is sent.
Other online sites that give space to the subject of length and form in personal statements are these:
“Applying to Graduate School: Writing a Compelling Personal Statement,” from the International Honor Society in Psychology
“FAQs for Writing Your Graduate Admissions Essay,” from about.com
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Harvard Medical School Personal Statement Examples
3 strong medical school personal statements for harvard applications.
Article Contents 13 min read
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.
Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .
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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A personal statement has a 5,300 character maximum, about 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. The challenge isn't trying
On the AMCAS Application, there is a 5,300-character maximum, which equals about 1.5 pages, single-spaced and in 12-point font.
Change the Font to Courier New 10 which is used by ERAS. Keep it to less than one-page single spaced with one-inch margins all around and spaces between
Swap back and forth between wingdings and comic sans each letter. 5 inch margins, size X+1 font where x is how many characters you are into your
What font do you use? I am hoping to get help from people who got into medical school and what sort of personal statement elements they used so that I may
Some fonts allow for more tightness to the text, which is fine as long as the essay remains readable. Ideally, use no more than a 12-point size and no less than
A. A personal statement is your opportunity to tell the Admissions ... your reasons for wanting to attend graduate school in this field of study, why you.
For instance, the first example got our student accepted into SIX medical schools. Here's what you'll find in this article: We'll first go over
Struggling with your Harvard med school personal statement? These sample medical school essays for Harvard will inspire you and help you get
If it isn't already specified, use 12 point Times Roman or Garamond. Both are classic serif fonts. (Do not use a sans serif font such as Arial. Twelve point is