Personal Statement blues...

I need to vent a little bit, so bear with me…

If I were 22 and applying to medical school, I believe it would be easy to stay within 4500 characters. But I am 34, going on 35. and those extra 12ish years were not me sitting on a couch eating bon bons. I’ve lived a lot of life. I think I could write a 300 page non-fiction book on those 12 years, and not be overly wordy. AND, explaining my motivation (why now?) well that is more complicated too. You all know or will know how this is - either you’ve been there or you will be. So, I am trimming down, trimming down, but I worry about effectiveness when I do this. It is just a pain.

Ok, done venting.

YOu’re preachin’ to the choir - I wrote mine at 51, after 30 years of nursing/ NP experience. You CAN’T tell your life story - it doesn’t have to be complete. It doesn’t even have to be sequential. I’d concentrate on where your passion for medicine comes from if there are personal experiences that have shaped that. Also realize you want to leave them with some questions so they are intrigued and want you to come interview so they can find out more! So you might include intriguing tastes that you have more to talk about, and some highlights - only those that gave you an opportunity to develop and demonstrate a trait that will help you be a good physician. Leadership roles should definately be included.

You won’t have trouble making it interesting to read - your problem will be choosing the best parts to keep, while you cut the rest out. Cutting out swathes of your story is the worst part of the process.

There’s a terrible website that has a very good e-book that helped me a lot in writing mine (the e-book is called ‘How to Write Your Way to Medical School’). Last year I actually tossed my original PS, re-started using their idea of creating a “story bank” of ideas and then cherry picked the things that were most interesting. So I could basically write a story about myself that revealed qualities I thought schools would want.

Ultimately, be sure you are writing about YOU, rather than the others in your experiences, and leave just enough to make an adcom want to ask questions, to find out more about the stories you tell.

Good luck!

terevet, it seems you have what they call, “good problems.” It’s like ordering dinner for two and getting a plate for four.

I was also stressing out about how to fit things into my first overhaul of my PS. I didn’t know where to cut language, and where to cut concepts entirely. It can be very frustrating!

Then I thought about how I could be sitting down having suffered through all of my prereq’s with only the notion of “I want to be a doctor because I’ve always known I wanted to be a doctor.” I am not envious of those who have always known what they wanted when it comes to PS time because I think in some ways its harder to back that up. We’ve known what it’s like to be something else. We’ve known success and failure professionally and personally.

It may help you to go back to your thought process when you were trying to decide whether or not to make the switch. Personally, I didn’t just think about why I wanted to be a doctor, but whether or not I’d be good at it, and what I could bring to the table. Thinking about that, an outline started to form. I added an experience or two I’ve had since I first began the process of post-bacc, and I was left with a very rough draft that needs buffing, rearranging, and a LOT of trimming.

But I was over the daunting hump of getting the body crafted. Now, it’s spit and shine time!