It’s time to face the gurney (oh c’mon, it’s kind of like facing the music, isn’t it?): You’ve got to write your personal statement for the AMCAS application. And whether you’re the word-loving or word-fearing type of pre-medical student, there are no two ways around the fact that this has got to be the craftiest piece of writing you’ve ever produced. Hey, no pressure. That’s why Ivy Eyes is here to help. So if you’re jonesing for an admit to Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine or Columbia’s College of Physician’s and Surgeons, let us take some of the mystery out of the medical school essay.
One of the greatest challenges in admissions essay writing is knowing where to start. The introduction will set the tone and the theme for your statement. It means grabbing the attention of the admissions committee—or not. We’ve got a whole slew of tips on how to nail a perfect ten of an intro in a previous blog post, but suffice to say that your introduction should establish the point of your statement, providing a humanistic perspective that we won’t find elsewhere in your application.
Some applicants fear this means they can’t write about anything that is on their resume, and some err in the opposite direction, writing their CV’s in narrative form. Neither extreme is beneficial, because what is most important here is meaning. You can write about almost anything you want, as long as you know what it means to you, and why this is important for your future as a medical student and physician. It’s time to flex your capacity for self-reflection and storytelling.
That said, here are a few medical admissions writing tips:
• Don’t dilute: Don’t try to pack every shadowing experience, research project, and marathon you’ve run into 5300 characters. Like any good storyteller, you should decipher, beforehand, which details are most important to the story of you becoming a medical student. What is your story’s beginning, its middle, and its end? Add more detail; never generalize.
• Don’t hyper-focus on research: Many students we work with have more experience in research than they do with direct patient or clinical care. We get it—that’s part of being a student! But it’s important not to get too lost under the biochemistry microscope as you’re writing your personal statement—the admissions committee needs to see a candidate that is firmly prepared for the nitty-gritty humanness of being a physician.
• Dial up the YOU: The blank page sitting before you is your canvas. Where before you had to check boxes, meet MCAT criteria, and calculate your GPA, here you are free to express yourself exactly as you like. Seize the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are. Know that—no matter what you think—you are NOT boring. You’re an original. Let that speak through your personal statement. That’s why it’s called personal.
And please, let us help you out! We’re here whenever you’re ready.
Ivy Eyes Editing