Hi everyone. My name is Amanda, I’m 26 and in my first year of a post-bacc. My undergraduate degree is in english and I’m definitely taking the scenic route to medical school. I’m writing because I’ve seen several videos on what to do when mental health is part of your story. Generally, the videos and podcasts I’ve listened to have responded to students wanting to explain specific periods in their application history that may leave admissions committees questioning “what was going on here?”
The plain and simple reason I want to be a doctor is because I lived with unbearable and undiagnosed bipolar disorder until three or four years ago, and psychiatric intervention quite literally saved my life. That’s it. That’s why I want to be a psychiatrist. I’m not ashamed of my story and am passionate about ending mental health stigma. At the same time, I know anyone reading a personal statement that says what I just wrote is probably going to see “HUGE LIABILITY,” and move on to the next applicant.
High rates of both burn-out, mental illness and suicide are a largely unspoken reality in medical education, training and practice. I understand why an admissions committee would have reservations about admitting a student with a history of mental health challenges. At the same time, my mental health doesn’t define me and there is no evidence in my past academic record to suggests I was struggling so intensely. The only reason I would be inclined to include it in a personal statement is because my past is the reason why I want to be a physician. I don’t know if I’ll feel like I’ve submitted my best application if I “tell a colorful truth” (cough lie about why I want to be a doctor). At the same time, if I do submit a personal statement sharing my story, I’ll wonder if every rejection was because I was honest.
If all else fails, I can fall back on the timeless classic: I love science and want to help people.
Thanks for all you do,