August 09, 2007

Writing a Personal Statement

This is the most difficult part of any application -- the free and creative portion in which you distill your essence into something that falls within the 5300 character limit.

How do you do this? I've talked about my own personal statement in the past.

TheReporter has some other tips and thoughts on writing a personal statement:
Humility and honesty that must come out in your essay.
A successful personal statement FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL is about the patients, and their perceptions/feeling, more than anything else. Try this before you do your next draft: describe a patient's experience/thoughts, from the first person viewpoint, from the time they first suspect they are ill to the time they see a doctor.
This goes beyond a mere essay to get into medical school. We're talking about a philosophy on how to approach patients. How a doctor ought to use the Golden Rule. This is a life-long concept... and what TheReporter is really doing is asking -- are you the type of person who has enough social intelligence that you can put yourself in someone else's shoes? How did that make you feel?

Writing a personal statement is not about echoing the tired cliche of "I want to help people" or "I want to be like Dr. X and Y because they changed my life." A personal statement should be a personal revelation with emotional content that makes people tilt their heads and go "hm..." Find your personal character flashback moment.

Strive for insight, but don't push the boundaries and make bolder claims than you can support. Practice expressing yourself. Take chances and open up with a patient when you reach a point of awkward silence when they wonder why you're in the exam room. Smile. Laugh. Ask questions. Creating experiences will inevitably lead you down a road that you can look back on and say "wow, I've got a lot of material I can draw on for a personal statement."

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