Statement of purpose

Hello OPMers
I have been a member for a while but I have essentially stood by and noticed all the activity. Very happy for the people that got in to med school. I am on the other side of the fence still.
I took the Apr 03 MCAT and now I am getting to the applications. I am applying to both DO and MD programs but I am not able to figure out what to focus on in my PS.
I am biomedical engineer (MS) from a prestigious program and have worked in Cardiology for the last 6 yrs. Have worked on the NASA space survival program, designed CHF devices (still do at present), volunteered, worked (full time) in two hospitals Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic, published blah blah blah.
NOW I have been sitting on my PS for a month, written about 8 of them and tearing my hair out!
Should I focus on the research end of things or the very valuable, very humbling volunteer work that is my emotional drive. I will be applying to the MD.PhD programs also.
Initially I thought I had it figured since I had my work talking for me I would focus on the volunteer work and the effect it had on me. Now I go back and forth, sometimes twice in an Hr!!
Can someone help me please! I am just going crazy switching.

You might want to do a search and see what you find as the topic of the personal statement has been addressed a lot as it is a stressful point for many of us.
My advice would be to make sure you answer the question “why become a physician?” because invariably, that is one that an admissions committee looks closely at when it comes to us OPMers. I know that doesn’t specifically solve your dilema, but only you know what journey you took to answer that question.
Good luck,

I agree with Tara–the question is, why this? Some other questions to consider answering: Why not a PhD? Why the research emphasis within the MD? Why now and not before?
Don't recite research accomplishments in an effort to impress (there are other parts on the app. for that); but do make it clear why both research and the more emotional stuff is important to you. You are trying to do both in your career from the sounds of it, so you need to explain why the combination is important. That will be a good lead-in to your MD/PhD interviews as well as to med schools where you explain what you'll do with an MD that combines the academic and the emotional.

The best advice I got was from an admissions officer who told me, “We want to hear the story of how you got here.” The best PS’s I’ve read were good stories and it sounds like you’ve got some terrific material. I think you are right to focus on the emotional pull, but you should give credit to the “other stuff” too. As Joe said, don’t simply catalogue your accomplishments, because there are other places in the application for that. Instead, tell your story of your path to this decision. What has been spurring you on? What made you realize that medicine was where you needed to be?
Remember that one main goal of the PS is to inspire someone in the AdCom office to say, “I’d really like to meet this person!”

I am in a similar position, applying after years of other work. I am on my nth draft.
I think Mary’s advice is good, if you can do it well. I tried the story of “how I got here” and received generally negative feedback. It might be the way I told it, but the readers said it was too long and detailed and there was way too much stuff in there. They didn’t care if all of it was fascinating and demonstrated brilliance and dedication; it was too much stuff.
The best advice (same as Joe’s above) I received, is that older applicants MUST answer the questions:
- why a doctor
- why now
- why not something else (nurse, PT, PA, etc.)
My one piece of original advice is to write a one-sentence title that summarizes the overall theme of your essay, after you have written it. For example, the title for draft #1 was, “40-year-old woman decides to go into medicine after changing careers every 5 years.” Guess what? All the reviewers picked up on that theme as the primary weakness. (Of course, I hadn’t realized that was the theme until I read it a couple of weeks later.)
I recommend picking a title that describes the story you want to write, and then writing that story. For example, “Multi-talented humanitarian seeks opportunities to save lives through wart removal.” Afterwards, see if the essay really conveys that theme. This helps give your whole essay consistency and a single, coherent message.

meowmix: excellent advice. Can I use that on my website about personal statements? wink.gif

sure, no problem

One sentence summary! I would probably sit on that for a month. I am getting quite intimidated by this writing process.
Excellent advice, as can be expected from this board. Thank you very much Joe, Mary R and meowmix.
I think I can formulate some thought according to the “Why” questions.
I have two questions:
Q1) Where is the “else where” in the application that you can list some of the research accomplishments?
Q2) Is there a group of OPMers that would be willing to read statements from us: the confused lot? If there already exists something like this couls somebody direct me there.
Thank you

I am also stuck in PS limbo. I am thisclose to using the OPM coupon for that essay service!

I’m willing to look over ps’s. Send them to I’m not an expert, but I do a lot of writing, and other people who’ve had their ps’s reviewed by me have found my advice helpful on occasion. I should have been an editor - damn it all to hell, I want to be a doctor. biggrin.gif And thanks, Meowmix!