Application questions

I know I am slightly late in getting my AMCAS application in, and plan to do so this week, but I have a couple of questions hopefully some here can assist with.

  1. Personal statement: any tips here would be appreciated. I have a long work history in clinical and research settings, more than 20 years, including Army medic experience. Boiling everything down to 4500 words and having a high impact for adcoms is what I am most concerned about.

  2. Are there schools that have accelerated programs for those with PhD in the life sciences? I just saw Kennymac posted something about Tulane’s HEALTH-X program, but are there others? My PhD is in Biology, specialization in Cell and Molecular Biology, 15 papers in high impact journals, mostly in cardiac remodeling, but several the last few years in dermatology.

    Thanks in advance.

Don’t think of the personal statement as a CV. There’s space in the work/activities section to talk about the work you’ve done. Think of it more as your pre-interview answer to “why do you want to be a doctor, what motivations drive you towards school after many years of work, and what have you done that supports the traits expected of docs”.

Remember that fluffy stuff won’t get you many points unless it is backed up by previous actions. I used mine to describe a life of service, briefly how the skills I learned in training/jobs is applicable to medicine, experiences that influenced my decision to change careers, and a general summary of my academic/work to show my “uniqueness” and ability to work through stress, diversity, challenges, etc.

They’ll make you a doctor. Your PS should tell them why they should choose to make you one.

In my work/activities, I also tried to include not just the experience but also what I learned and how it shaped me.

No real clue about your second question. I’m guessing you’ll still do 4 years, but you’ll be an MD/PhD without the break in med school.

Reinforcing what Kennymac has said. I started out with a PS that was basically a resume and tried to shove twelve years of work experience into one page. When I showed it to someone who had once been on a student admissions committee he gave it back to me with a giant red X and told me to do a complete re-write.

What he told me was to leave out anything that had nothing to do directly with /why/ I want to be a doctor. The rest can go in the work experiences section (and from having looked up all my schools’ secondaries from last year there are also plenty of places to wax poetic about the past once you get to that phase). He had me do much like Kennymac is saying – pick those one or two experiences that made me go “this is what drove me to want to be a doctor” and build around those. Use detail to make it stand out as authentic. Explain your drive, show them you’re a person with a passion who’s made a decision to be a doctor and can back that decision up, not just a series of work experiences (however awesome they may be).

I’m an applicant this year myself so take what I say with a grain of salt til accepted, but that’s the advice I got.

The PS is (should?) actually be a little bit easier for us as nontraditionals because you can trace your path to medicine in a meaningful way. Some things listed on my activities were mentioned briefly, but other than that, it was what brought me to this place and why I’ll be a good doctor.

It helped me to write down 10 things I wanted the adcoms to know about me, and then see what coalesced from there into a cohesive PS. (All 10 won’t make it in, but it helps you prioritize.) Don’t try to be all-encompassing, as others have pointed out there are secondaries and the interview for that. Create a vivid picture, paint scenes to put your reader in your shoes and don’t rehash what is elsewhere on your application.

Just to nitpick…but your PS has a max of 4500 (I thought it was closer to 5500…but it’s been a while) CHARACTERS, not words. It is an important distinction when you’re actually writing the thing.

That aside, I agree with what has been said above. It’s more about presenting yourself than a list of your credentials. Can also be used to address negative things that show up in your transcripts and whatnot.

Application submitted. Thanks all.

It’s 5300 characters for the PS actually. Copy and paste from Word worked great.

your personal statement should entice the admissions committee to want to learn more about you. It is a snippet that should tell them why you want to be a doctor. What was the influence in your life that made you decide to take this journey? What was it about that event? If there are any negatives, there should be a very small referral to how you have changed since then. You will want to put a positive spin on this.

Remember that the Adcoms get thousands of these essays and you have to catch the reader in the first sentence. You want to make them continue to read the essay and bring you in because you were so intriguing that they feel that you would be a good fit and want to know more about you. If you look at oldmandave’s diary, he states that the opening line to his PS was that he worked as a bouncer. Granted your essay may not be as dramatic but it caught the eye of the adcom to read more.

wow… You made a good point gabelerman. I have been thinking about re-writing my personal statement to be something that is so unique that readers would be enticed to keep on reading. Something that is dramatically written or something that can be humorous can make a difference. Perhaps, a twist. It can be a suspense. It’s like movie or a book, the reviewer would like to know you more. In that case, they would really want to meet the applicant in person! Wonderful suggestion.

A lot of times, the way we write our statements are predictable. Why do you want to be a doctor? I want to help people. I love… blah blah blah…I want to make a difference in this world. But if there’s already a lot of doctors, what difference one would make? It’s what all applicant want.

btw… I’m applying for post-bacc target to enroll in Spring. Have you completed your pre-med or you’re already in med school?

Neither. I competed medical school in 2011, competed residency in 2014, and am in my last year of fellowship in critical care