Personal Statement

I promise this will be my last angsty post for a while (I hope), but having gone through just about all of my application for AMCAS and AACOMAS (while still waiting on L/O/Rs and my official transcripts) I’m kind of stuck with how I want to present myself in my official statement.

What I’d like to say is that I wanted to be a doctor since I was a child, but somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that I wasn’t smart enough. So, after getting a humanities degree in college, and working several un-fulfilling years in the business world, I woke up one morning and decided that maybe I had been right all those years go. Then I happened across Old Pre-Meds, worked my butt off for another degree, and now, no matter what happens, I know I tried.

But I’m not sure that it’s professional enough, even if I use my worthless English degree to pretty up the language. Any thoughts from those of you out there?

Starri, your story sounds a lot like mine. So I think it will be compelling. Basically my intro was what you wrote in the paragraph above, but with more words/emotions. Then the rest of my PS focused on what I was currently doing that rienforced my desire to become a physician. I also addressed what could be percieved as weaknesses from the old me and how the new me has overcome them. Hope that helps.

I don’t know if I would say, I might not get in but at least I tried. I would definitely write about how you’re pursuing this no matter what, and you WILL get there.

As far as professionalism, I have read some PS from people that were really, really dry. Maybe trying too hard to be conservative with the writing, or maybe they just can’t write anything else. I don’t think it sells it. The PS is supposed to reflect who you are, and if that is a creative person, and you are still getting what you want to say in there, then go for it.

I started my last PS in a very unusual way to grab attention, held it, and then went into the depth of what I was doing right now with my life and motivations. I really, really liked my PS, and my biggest problem for the upcoming cycle is trying to even come close to it. I’ve been writing, but it’s nowhere near the same. One of the real dangers of doing this a second time.

Would it be wrong to start off with a quotation? The two in my sig from Eleanor Roosevelt were part of what inspired me to go back to school and go for it. For example, whenever I get scared about having to do something–cold calling a doctor’s office to see if s/he would let me shadow–I actually repeat the “one thing that scares you” line to myself.

  • starri Said:
Would it be wrong to start off with a quotation?

Nothing is ever 'wrong.' There is no magic formula. There is a reason it is a PERSONAL statement. Get your thoughts out and go from there.

While it’s not worth much money in my opinion, there is a book you can get used on Amazon that is something along the lines of “100 letters that worked for medical school.” If nothing else, going through it will show you that there is no set formula, because there are a lot of stories out there. Some can be all based around a moment of time, some around a lifetime of experiences. While I can’t say that I’ve seen a quote at the start, I don’t think it would be wrong to do so. It isn’t an original idea of your own though, and I tend to stay away from cliche things in personal statements.

At least get something on paper, and get some people to read it. I’m sure there are people on here that will be willing to critique it like they’ve done for others as well.

I bet if you polled us on here we would each have our own unique way of doing our PS, so really thee is know wrong way, just make sure it is personal and you get across in your own way why you are doing this.

I am wondering if there is something unique to the 30+ midcareer changer PS? I find that the sample letters out there don’t address the one issue that I would assume is relevant to adcoms regarding older people - which is why you are changing careers. I am having a hard time with my PS ever since I started looking at sample letters - none of which are written by older premeds. They seem to focus on writing style more than why they are applying to med school. Is that because they are younger and have less to write about?

We have lots of advantages in writing our PS. Think about it - we all have a very concrete reason for making this choice, not “oh crap, I have to choose a major now?”

While medicine was always something I considered the turning point was having a dislocation and, on the opposite leg, needing knee surgery within 3 months of each other = both while un-insured.

You have a story. Do not be afraid to tell it. Admins are tired of reading cookie cutter essays - surprise them with a real, captivating story.

Personally, I had a lot of help from a friend who is a poet (but works as a web editor to pay the bills) and the friendly eyes of a couple OPM’ers willing to read my essay and tell me it was awful - until it got good enough to be worth reading.

Outside of that, the most helpful book was not full of example essays, but a PDF book you can buy online from a shady looking website. It’s called Write Your Way to Med School and it really helped me to do the ground work for writing a story worth reading. I actually got the book from a friend, but after using it bought the e-book because what they put together was a great tool, for me.