Med School Insiders

2024 How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement (11 Steps)

  • By Med School Insiders
  • December 2, 2023
  • Medical Student , Pre-med
  • Medical School Application , Personal Statement

Each piece of a med school application brings a unique set of anxiety-ridden challenges, but few equal that of the personal statement. A personal statement is much, much more than a narrative-version of your CV. Reiterating your grades and extracurriculars in complete sentences is not how to write a medical school personal statement.

A personal statement is an opportunity to tell your story. Why do you want to study medicine? What drives you? This is your chance to let an admissions committee know who you really are beyond your grades.

Of course, you’re studying to become a doctor, not a novelist, which means the idea of crafting your personal statement may seem daunting, to say the least.

In this guide, we’ll take a comprehensive, step-by-step look at how to write a medical school personal statement, including how to get started, everything you need to include, and common mistakes to avoid.

Article Sections

  • Anatomy of Medical School Personal Statement

What Med School Admissions Committees Look For

How to get started.

  • How to Write a Personal Statement

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Medical school personal statement examples, anatomy of a medical school personal statement.

A personal statement has a 5,300 character maximum, about 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. The challenge isn’t trying to fill in words; the challenge is selecting the key moments in your life that made you want to be a doctor and expressing them concisely.

A personal statement is made up of three parts:

Introduction

It’s essentially a short essay that uses your life experience to succinctly demonstrate why you’re the right person for the job. If someone’s making a movie about your life and the events that shaped your desire to become a doctor, what key moments do you want to highlight?

Your introduction must capture an admissions committee’s attention. Use the introduction to hook your readers. The first few sentences should entice them to read more.

There isn’t a perfect number of paragraphs or set structure. This is where you discuss the experiences that have shaped your personality, your desire to study medicine, and your dreams for the future.

This is the summary of your statement, and it should tie in directly to your introduction. Now is the time to emphasize why you want to be a physician and your future goals.

Learn more about the Anatomy of a Stellar Medical School Personal Statement .

Admissions committees need to know they’re accepting students who are ready to face the rigorous day-and-night grind of medical school. They have your CV and transcripts; now you need to demonstrate you have what it takes to succeed.

The personal statement is your chance to display your personality and highlight the experiences that shaped you. What drives you? What strengths and experiences will you bring to medical school? Why are you an asset?

The admissions committee isn’t looking for a list of your accomplishments. They want to know your story . Don’t tell the admissions committee you’re compassionate and driven; show them with tangible examples from your life.

So you’re a great listener. What’s a moment in your past that demonstrates this? If you care deeply about the wellbeing of others, what story from your life illustrates that passion?

1 | Read Real Personal Statement Examples

Right off the bat, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone—far from it. Every medical student who came before you has written personal statements, which means you have a wealth of examples to read and learn from.

Every personal statement is unique to the writer. Don’t expect to find a perfect blueprint you can copy off of, but reading several different personal statements will give you a sense of the themes, concepts, strategies, and stories that can help you find success.

If you know people in your own life who have successfully matriculated to med school, it’s a good idea to ask them if you can take a look at their personal statement. Med School Insiders compiled a database of personal statements donated by successful medical school applicants. Reading successful personal statements will give you an idea of what’s expected.

Reading bad personal statements can also give you an idea of what mistakes to avoid. Learn from our bad personal statement examples , which includes key insights into what you should do instead.

2 | Reflect on Past Experiences

Hand writing journal Personal Statement prompts

Take this as an opportunity to reflect. Don’t think of it as brainstorming, and don’t worry about being creative just yet. Simply think back on key moments from your past.

Think of your personal statement like your superhero origin story. You may have excellent grades, abilities, and a natural aptitude for science, but why are you pursuing medicine? What moment or moments in your life revealed to you why you had to be a doctor?

Take Spider-Man. Yes, Peter Parker received his superpowers from a radioactive spider bite, but that’s not why he fights crime; Spider-Man fights crime so that what happened to his Uncle Ben never happens to anyone else. Bruce Wayne is incredibly smart, incredibly strong, and incredibly rich, but that’s not why he fights crime as Batman. Bruce Wayne became Batman so that no one else would lose their parents to a random act of violence like he did.

The truth is, a lot of superheroes have pretty similar motivations, and doctors have similar motivations, too. Your desire to become a doctor likely stems from a genuine intellectual interest in medicine, a desire to work closely with other humans, and a drive to help people and save lives. The other med school hopefuls you’re applying with have very similar motivations.

The key is digging deep and determining what you value most about becoming a doctor. Once you know that, think about the tangible experiences in your life that helped you realize those values.

Utilize our list of 25 medical school personal statement prompts as you ideate and reflect on your life to date.

3 | Choose Which Experiences/Traits to Highlight

Identify three to four personal strengths you are particularly proud of and want the admissions committee to know. Where did these strengths shine in your premedical years? What experiences helped you build on these strengths? This will make up the body of your personal statement.

Remember: writing a personal statement takes time—and lots of it. It will likely take several different attempts and drafts. After discussing your selected strengths, you may find that they don’t define you well enough or that there are better options. Don’t be discouraged. Give yourself plenty of time to reflect on and explore a variety of different strengths.

Don’t forget about the interview; the admissions committee will certainly ask you to further elaborate on the experiences outlined in your personal statement. Share personal stories that you want to be asked about and feel comfortable addressing.

Generally, personal statements involve experiences in the following categories:

  • A passion for patient interaction
  • Intellectual curiosity for medicine (academics, research, etc.)
  • Dedication and discipline (medicine or another pursuit)
  • Perseverance in the face of adversity
  • Interpersonal and professional skills

How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement

4 | show, don’t tell.

If essays or storytelling aren’t necessarily your strong suit, think back to math class and those equations where the teacher made you show your work for the full grade. It’s not enough that you got the answer right; you had to show how you arrived at the answer.

Think of this in the same way. It’s great that you’re compassionate, but the admissions committee isn’t going to take you at your word. They want you to back up that claim with evidence. It is vital that you show the admissions committee you’re compassionate with concrete examples from your life that illustrate your journey to medicine.

It’s much more impactful to share a story that demonstrates specific qualities than it is to tell someone you have those qualities directly. Saying you are hardworking or resilient is not enough. You need to craft a story that allows the reader to infer those qualities about you.

5 | Leverage the Narrative-Based Approach

Book open - Narrative for Medical School Applications

You are applying to medical school along with an immense number of other students with great grades, stellar qualifications, and impressive clinical hours. These are all key to your medical school application, but the best grades in the world won’t set you apart in the eyes of the admissions committee.

Your personal statement is a chance to stand out in a crowded field. Too many personal statements read like a CV but with full paragraphs, which quickly becomes monotonous.

Leverage a narrative-based approach so that the admissions committee is excited to learn more about you. Your entire application should illustrate your compelling journey toward becoming a doctor. Highlight how your experiences make you an asset who will contribute uniquely to the medical school.

It’s not enough to simply check off the boxes. The admissions committee wants to know your story.

Learn How to Develop a Cohesive Narrative for Medical School Applications .

6 | Create an Outline

After taking the time to reflect on the experiences and traits you want to include in your personal statement, create an outline to structure your approach .

You do not need to stick to it, but this is the general structure of most personal statements:

  • Introduction (A strong hook to catch the reader’s attention—usually an anecdote or reflection that introduces the theme of your story. Hook the reader with the opening sentence.)
  • Experience 1
  • Experience 2
  • Experience 3
  • Conclusion (Tie your story back to the opening hook/theme. Summarize why you want to be a physician and what your future goals are.)

Remember, this is not a list of your accomplishments. The personal statement must read like a cohesive narrative, not a resume.

Establish a theme in the introduction that’s central to your desire to become a doctor. Each following paragraph will illustrate how your personal experiences have shaped that desire and prepared you for your journey. In the conclusion, gracefully tie back to your central theme or hook to turn the personal statement into a consistent, interconnected story.

7 | Force Yourself to Start Writing

It’s understandable and common to feel overwhelmed while writing a personal statement. In fact, if you don’t feel overwhelmed, it’s safe to say that you’re not taking this seriously enough.

Start with a theme, but don’t get stuck trying to come up with the perfect opening sentence. That comes later. Once you have a general outline, just start writing. See what happens, and—most importantly—be kind to yourself.

The first words you write won’t be perfect, but they will get you started. You should fully expect the first draft of your personal statement to be terrible. That’s okay. First drafts are never perfect.

Your first draft probably won’t look anything like your final essay. Put one foot in front of the other and just start writing. Get the ideas out and worry about editing later.

8 | Keep it Concise and Direct

In your subsequent drafts, focus on cutting down your words and being concise. It’s not your use of flowery language that will impress the admissions committee. Forget about extravagant word choices and convoluted sentence structure. You don’t have the space for poetic tangents anyway.

Use your words efficiently, and favor clear language over long, complicated words. It’s easy for readers to spot when you’re using a thesaurus, and it will only take away from your end message. Find the simplest way to say something.

For example:

Hard-working over Assiduous

Compassion over Magnanimity

Agree over Concur

Use tools like the Hemingway App to keep your language direct and concise.

9 | Take Some Time Away

Take time away from your drafts. Once you complete a draft, take a break, and let it sit. Go for a walk, watch some TV, or work on a completely different activity. After your break, come back to your personal statement with fresh eyes. You may find that the fantastic opening line you came up with isn’t so fantastic anymore, or that sentence you weren’t so sure about actually works really well.

Writing your personal statement will take time. Even if you feel extremely confident in your personal statement, take time away from it and come back.

10 | Refine, Review, and Edit

Hand editing paper Personal Statement Editing

We recommend using editing apps like Grammarly and Hemingway Editor , but don’t rely on bots alone to catch possible mistakes.

Ask your friends and family for their first impressions on the content of your personal statement. Tell them to be brutally honest (because the admissions committee certainly will be.) Reach out to a mentor or people who have been through this process before.

Spelling or grammar mistakes indicate carelessness on your part and are an automatic red flag for admissions committees. Read over your work carefully, and ask others you trust to do the same.

The editing process is such a critical phase for your personal statement. Learn how to edit your personal statement to impress admissions committees.

11 | Invest in Essay Editing Services

Your medical school personal statement is arguably the most important piece of your application. While an excellent essay can lock-in your interview offer, a poorly-written personal statement can ruin your chances—even with stellar grades, impressive academic awards, and a notable list of extracurriculars.

Don’t risk your acceptance. Essay editing services can provide the help that friends, family, and mentors cannot.

Med School Insiders Personal Statement Editing Services includes careful analysis of content and tone as well as helpful insights into how you can improve your essay and impress admissions committees.

How to Write a Personal Statement List of 11 steps

Avoid the following common personal statement mistakes .

  • Don’t list your accomplishments or rehash your CV and extracurriculars.
  • Don’t make spelling or grammar errors.
  • Don’t overuse the word I. Doing so makes you more likely to state your accomplishments instead of telling a story.
  • Don’t use flowery language or words you found in a thesaurus.
  • Don’t explain to a physician what medicine is all about. Talk about yourself and your experiences; the admissions committee already understands medicine.
  • Don’t state the obvious or use clichés. (Every applicant likes science and wants to help people.)
  • Don’t lie or fabricate your personal stories.
  • Don’t make excuses for poor grades or a low MCAT score.
  • Don’t speak negatively about another physician or healthcare professional.
  • Don’t plead for an interview or acceptance.
  • Don’t edit your personal statement by yourself.
  • Don’t procrastinate.

Learn more: 20 Personal Statement: Dos and Don’ts .

Personal Statement Mistakes to Avoid list

It’s important to read the personal statements of matriculated students. While you won’t be able to mimic someone else’s personal statement, you can still learn a lot from them, and reading different statements can spark ideas for your own essay.

We compiled a selection of real medical school personal statements from successful applicants. These statements are for reference purposes only and should not be plagiarized in any way. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements, and plagiarizing is grounds for an automatic disqualification.

Be sure to read the included feedback regarding the personal statements as well, as this will give you extra insight into what admissions committees are looking for.

Read Real Medical School Personal Statement Examples .

Medical School Personal Statement Editing

Don’t write your medical school personal statement alone—we can help. Med School Insiders offers a range of personal statement editing packages , from general editing to unlimited, in-depth editing with a physician who will be there to advise you every step of the way.

Learn more about our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages . Our team of doctors has years of experience serving on admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights from people who have been intimately involved with the selection process.

Next read: Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., 15 tips for your medical school personal statement.

Don't underestimate the power of the medical school personal statement to make a strong, positive impression on an admissions committee. Combined with your interview performance, your personal statement can account for 60% (or more) of your total admissions score!

Medical schools want to enroll bright, empathetic, communicative people. Here's how to write a compelling med school personal statement that shows schools who you are and what you're capable of.

Medical school personal statement

Personal Statement Topics

Your medical school personal statement is a component of your primary application submitted via, TMDSAS (for Texas applications), or AACOMAS (NB: If you are applying to medical school in Canada, confirm the application process with your school, as not all application components may be submitted through AMCAS).

These applications offer broad topics to consider, and many essay approaches are acceptable. For example, you could write about:

  • an experience that challenged or changed your perspective about medicine
  • a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual
  • a challenging personal experience
  • unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits
  • your motivation to seek a career in medicine

You'll write an additional essay (or two) when you submit secondary applications to individual schools. These essays require you to respond to a specific question. Admissions committees will review your entire application, so choose subject matter that complements your original essay .

Read More: Strategies for Secondary Applications

How to Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

Follow these personal statement tips to help the admissions committee better understand you as a candidate.

1. Write, re-write, let it sit, and write again!

Allow yourself 6 months of writing and revision to get your essay in submission-ready shape. This gives you the time to take your first pass, set your draft aside (for a minimum of 24 hours), review what you’ve written, and re-work your draft.

2. Stay focused.

Your personal statement should highlight interesting aspects of your journey—not tell your entire life story. Choose a theme, stick to it, and support it with specific examples.

3. Back off the cliches.

Loving science and wanting to help people might be your sincere passions, but they are also what everyone else is writing about. Instead, be personal and specific.

4. Find your unique angle.

What can you say about yourself that no one else can? Remember, everyone has trials, successes and failures. What's important and unique is how you reacted to those incidents. Bring your own voice and perspective to your personal statement to give it a truly memorable flavor. 

5. Be interesting.

Start with a “catch” that will create intrigue before launching into the story of who you are. Make the admissions committee want to read on!

6. Show don't tell.

Instead of telling the admissions committee about your unique qualities (like compassion, empathy, and organization), show them through the stories you tell about yourself. Don’t just say it—actually prove it.

7. Embrace the 5-point essay format.

Here's a trusty format that you can make your own:

  • 1st paragraph: These four or five sentences should "catch" the reader's attention.
  • 3-4 body paragraphs: Use these paragraphs to reveal who you are. Ideally, one of these paragraphs will reflect clinical understanding and one will reflect service.
  • Concluding paragraph: The strongest conclusion reflects the beginning of your essay, gives a brief summary of you are, and ends with a challenge for the future.

8. Good writing is simple writing.

Good medical students—and good doctors—use clear, direct language. Your essays should not be a struggle to comprehend.

9. Be thoughtful about transitions.

Be sure to vary your sentence structure. You don’t want your essay to be boring! Pay attention to how your paragraphs connect to each other.

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10. Stick to the rules.

Watch your word count. That’s 5,300 characters (including spaces) for AMCAS applications, 5,000 characters for TMDSAS, and 4,500 characters for AACOMAS.

11. Stay on topic.

Rambling not only uses up your precious character limit, but it also causes confusion! Think about the three to five “sound bytes” you want admissions committee to know and remember you by.

12. Don't overdo it.

Beware of being too self-congratulatory or too self-deprecating.

13. Seek multiple opinions.

Before you hit “submit,” ask several people you trust for feedback on your personal statement. The more time you have spent writing your statement, the less likely you are to spot any errors. A professor or friend whose judgment and writing skills you trust is invaluable.

Read More: 12 Smart Tips for Your AMCAS Application

14. Double-check the details.

Always check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. This goes for the rest of your application (like your activities list), too. A common oversight is referencing the wrong school in your statement! Give yourself (and your proofreaders) the time this task truly requires.

15. Consult the experts about your personal statement strategy.

Our med school admissions counselors can diagnose the “health” of your overall application, including your personal statement. Get expert help and guidance to write an effective personal statement that showcases not only your accomplishments, but your passion and your journey.

Want to get an edge over the crowd?

Our admissions experts know what it takes it get into med school. Get the customized strategy and guidance you need to help achieve your goals.

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The Medical School Personal Statement: How To Stand Out

things to include in a personal statement for medicine

Posted in: Applying to Medical School

things to include in a personal statement for medicine

Impressive GPAs and MCAT scores, research experience, physician shadowing, and meaningful volunteer work are only one part of a successful medical school application . You may meet all other medical school requirements , yet face rejection.

One thing can help you stand above the rest : A compelling personal statement.

The medical school personal statement is important because it highlights your hard work, your pre-medical school accomplishments, and why you’re a better candidate than everyone else. 

In other words: Who are you, what makes you unique, and why do you deserve a spot in our school?

We’ve helped thousands of prospective medical students increase their odds at acceptance with better personal statements. Now, we’ll show you exactly how to do it. 

Working on your personal statement? Speak with a member of our enrollment team who can walk you through the step-by-step med school application process from start to finish.

Table of contents, what’s in a great med school personal statement.

An excellent medical school personal statement should contain:

  • Passion for an area of the healthcare field.
  • Storytelling that captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence.
  • Emotion and personality to show (not tell) admissions committee members who you are.
  • A unique answer to the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?”

A powerful personal statement shows that you are the kind of candidate who will make an exceptional physician and be a valuable asset to the school during your medical education. Additionally, it helps to distinguish your application from the many other students with similar MCAT scores and GPAs.

A weak personal statement would, in turn, have the opposite effect.

Not only does the personal statement weed out unqualified candidates, but it also serves as a foundation for many interview discussions and questions . 

Admission committee members often only have a few minutes to review an application. Personal statements provide them with the right amount of information. Since it’s possible this is the only part of your application they’ll read, it needs to be perfect .

When writing your personal statement, you’ll also want to note the AAMC core competencies that are expected of all medical professionals. Some, if not all, of these competencies should shine through in your application essay.

The AAMC premed competencies include: 

  • Professional competencies:  Factors like communication skills, interpersonal skills, commitment to learning and growth, compassion, dependability, and cultural awareness and humility
  • Science competencies:  Understanding of human behaviors and living systems, both of which are best demonstrated in data-driven measures like research, MCAT scores, and science GPA (in other words, not things that necessarily need to be displayed in your personal statement)
  • Thinking & Reasoning competencies:  Critical thinking, reasoning, scientific inquiry, and written communication

A MedSchoolCoach review for personal statements, secondary essays, and interview preparation.

It’s important to show passion for something specific — a group of underserved people, a type of patient, the benefit of a particular area of medicine, etc. Your passion should be evident, non-generic, and authentic. Ask yourself, “What makes a good doctor?”

It’s crucial to avoid cliches in your personal statement, like claiming you want to become a doctor “to help people.”

Dr. Renee Marinelli, Director of Advising at MedSchoolCoach, warns that certain cliches may not truly represent meaningful experiences that influenced your decision to pursue medicine.

You may have decided to become a doctor from experiencing a kind physician as a child, but that personal experience doesn’t convey genuine passion. Your enthusiasm for medicine doesn’t need to originate from a grand experience or sudden revelation.

Your interest in medicine probably developed gradually, perhaps when you fell in love with psychology during college and volunteered at nursing homes. You don’t need a lifelong dream to demonstrate passion and become an outstanding doctor.

2. Storytelling

A memorable personal statement captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence, which you can do with an interesting personal story or anecdote. Including some creativity, ingenuity, humor, and character.

Immersing the admissions committee in your personal statement allows you to show , not just tell , how your experiences have impacted your journey to medicine.

Don’t repeat the data your admissions committee can read on the rest of your application — SHOW the passions and experiences that have led you to this field using a narrative approach.

Consider the following examples of statements about a student’s volunteer experience at a food pantry:

"“Through my work at the local food pantry, I came to understand the daily battles many individuals face, and it allowed me to develop deeper empathy and compassion.” “When I saw Mr. Jones, a regular at the kitchen, struggling to maneuver his grocery cart through the door, I hustled over to assist him. My heart sunk when I saw he was wearing a new cast after having been assaulted the night prior.”

Which do you think performed better in terms of conveying personal characteristics? Your personal statement is a deep dive into one central theme, not about rehashing all of your experiences. 

3. Emotion & Personality

An engaging personal statement allows your unique personality and real emotions to shine through.

As Dr. Davietta Butty, a Northwestern School of Medicine graduate, avid writer, pediatrician, and MedSchoolCoach advisor, puts it,

“I think the best personal statements are the ones that showcase the applicant’s personality. Remember that this is your story and not anyone else’s, and you get to say it how it makes sense to you.” 

This is why storytelling is such an important part of personal statement writing. Your writing process should involve quite a bit of writing and editing to express emotion in a relatable, appropriate way.

A Note On Writing About Tragedy

One way you can show who you are is by expressing an appropriate level of emotion, particularly about challenging or tragic experiences. (But don’t worry — not everyone has a tragic backstory, and that’s perfectly fine!)

If you are discussing a tragedy, don’t go into an extended explanation of how you feel — show emotion and your personality while sticking to the plot.

Personal tragedies, such as the death of a loved one, can powerfully motivate a personal statement. In a field where life and death constantly clash, experiences with death might appear impressive qualifications; however, approach them cautiously.

Focus on the reasons behind your motivation, rather than the details of the tragedy. Explain how the experience impacted your medical career aspirations, including skill development or perspective changes.

How have you applied these new skills or perspectives? How would they contribute to your success as a medical student?

4. Why You Want To Be a Doctor

Becoming a doctor is no small feat. What journey brought you here?

Writing things like “I want to help people” or “I want to make a difference” won’t set you apart from all the other students applying for medical school .

Knowing who you want to serve, why you want to help them (in story form), and where you’d like to end up will show admissions officers that you are serious about your medical career.

After all, this career doesn’t just involve many years of post-graduate education — you need a significant motivation to see this career through. That’s what admissions committees are looking for!

Read Next: Medical School Interviews: What To Do Before, During & After  

How long is a personal statement for medical school?

Your statement is limited to:

  • 5,300 characters (including spaces) on the AMCAS application ( MD programs )
  • 5,000 characters on the TMDSAS (Texas MD programs)
  • 5,300 characters for AACOMAS ( DO programs )

That’s roughly 500-700 words, or 3 double-spaced pages of text.

We typically suggest our students divide their personal statement into about 5 full paragraphs — an intro, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Pro tip: Do not type directly into the text box — if something goes wrong, you’ll lose all of your work. Write in another program first, then copy and paste the edited copy into the application text box.

Use a text-only word processing tool (TextEdit on Mac devices or Basic Text Editor on Windows), or type the essay into Microsoft Word or a Google Doc. Just remember to save the file as a *.rtf. This will eliminate formatting issues when you copy and paste the essay into the AMCAS box.

How To Write a Personal Statement For Medical School

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion for medicine and your unique experiences. Be genuine, focused, and concise; your personal statement will leave a lasting impression on medical school admissions committees.

Some questions you may want to consider while writing your personal statement are:

  • Why have you selected the field of medicine?
  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What do you want medical schools to know about you that has yet to be disclosed in another application section?

In addition, you may wish to include information such as unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits. Comment on significant academic record fluctuations not explained elsewhere in your application.

With thousands of students, we’ve developed a nine-step process for how to write a personal statement that’s sure to get noticed. Follow these steps in order to uplevel your personal statement writing.

1. Choose a central theme.

Sticking to one central theme for your personal statement may sound tricky, but sticking with a central theme can give your statement more of a rhythm.

Here are a few examples to use when thinking of a central theme:

  • What is an experience that challenged or changed your perspective on medicine?
  • Is there a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual that has significantly influenced you?
  • What was a challenging personal experience that you encountered?
  • List unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
  • What is your motivation to seek a career in medicine?

2. Choose 2-4 personal qualities to highlight.

Keep this part brief and highlight the strengths that will make you an exceptional doctor.

What sets you apart from others? What makes you unique? What are you particularly proud of about yourself that may not be explained by a good GPA or MCAT score?

Here are a few examples of quality traits great doctors possess:

  • Persistence
  • Reliability
  • Accountability
  • Good judgment under pressure
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills

3. Identify 1-2 significant experiences that demonstrate these qualities.

In this section, you should include that these experiences exemplify the qualities above and outline your path to medicine.

The top experiences college admissions seek are research projects , volunteer activities, and mentorship.

Here are a few ways to narrow down what makes an experience significant:

  • Which experiences left you feeling transformed (either immediately, or in retrospect)?
  • Which experiences genuinely made you feel like you were making a difference or contributing in a meaningful way?
  • Which experiences radically shifted your perspectives or priorities?
  • Which experiences have truly made you who you are today?

Pro tip: If you’re still in your third year of pre-med and want to participate in more experiential projects that will support your future medical career, check out Global Medical Brigades . We partner with this student-led movement for better global health, and brigades are a transformative way to begin your medical career.

4. Write a compelling introduction.

Your personal statement introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. The first paragraph should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

Check out this webinar for more examples of what makes a great introduction.

5. Use storytelling to write the body paragraphs.

Since the goal is to achieve depth rather than breadth (5,000 characters isn’t a lot!), focus on key experiences instead of discussing everything you’ve accomplished. Remember, you’ll have the Work & Activities section to share other relevant experiences.

Use the following five-step formula to elaborate on important experiences in the body paragraphs of your personal statement:

  • Discuss why you pursued the experience.
  • Mention how you felt during the experience.
  • Describe what you accomplished and learned.
  • Discuss how your experience affected you and the world around you.
  • Describe how the experience influenced your decision to pursue medicine.

The best personal statements tell a story about who you are. “Show, don’t tell,” what you’ve experienced — immerse the reader in your narrative, and you’ll have a higher chance of being accepted to medical school.

6. Create an engaging conclusion.

Your goal is to make the person reading want to meet you and invite you to their school! Your conclusion should:

  • Talk about your future plans.
  • Define what medicine means to you.
  • Reflect on your growth.
  • Reiterate how you’d contribute to your school’s community and vision.

7. Use a spellchecker to proofread for basic errors.

Misusing “your” instead of “you’re” or misspelling a few important words can negatively impact how your personal statement is received. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be perfect on your personal statement.

Use Grammarly or a similar spellchecker to check for errors before completing your personal statement. You can also use an AI tool like ChatGPT for proofreading, although it’s more likely to make sweeping changes.

8. Edit your draft.

Editing your personal statement a few times over will benefit you in the long run. Give yourself time to write, edit, reread, and re-edit your personal statement before submitting it with your application.

You can use AI technology like ChatGPT for small edits or to help you add in information where you might feel stuck, but don’t rely too much on it.

9. Ask a few trusted people to read your draft.

Have at least one friend, family member, and at least one person who’s a medical professional review your draft. A  professor in your pre-med program would be a great person to review your draft.

Be willing to receive as much feedback as your trusted people are willing to give. Don’t get caught up in obsessing over one statement you really like if all three of your readers suggest cutting it.

If you’d like a professional eye on your personal statement, consider a personal statement editing service. Our editors are medical professionals, often who have reviewed personal statements and applications submitted to admissions committees.

We’d love to help you craft a personal statement that’s sure to stand out.

30 prompts to inspire your personal statement.

Here are 30 prompts to inspire your personal statement: 

  • Describe a defining moment in your life that solidified your desire to pursue a career in medicine.
  • Discuss a challenging situation you faced and how it shaped your perspective on healthcare.
  • Reflect on a time when you made a meaningful impact on someone’s life through your actions or support.
  • Explain your motivation for wanting to become a physician and how it has evolved over time.
  • Describe a personal quality or skill that will contribute to your success as a medical professional.
  • Discuss the importance of empathy and compassion in the medical profession and share a personal experience demonstrating these qualities.
  • Reflect on a specific medical case or patient that inspired you and how it influenced your future goals.
  • Share a story about an interaction with a mentor or role model who has inspired your path in medicine.
  • Describe a time when you overcame adversity or faced a significant challenge in your journey to medical school.
  • Explain how your background, culture, or upbringing has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
  • Discuss a medical issue or topic you’re passionate about and why it’s important to you.
  • Describe your experience working or volunteering in a healthcare setting and the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Reflect on a time when you had to adapt or be resilient in a challenging situation.
  • Discuss how your interest in research or innovation will contribute to your career as a physician.
  • Share a personal experience that has shaped your understanding of the importance of teamwork in healthcare.
  • Describe a leadership role you’ve held and how it has prepared you for a career in medicine.
  • Discuss the impact of a specific medical discovery or advancement on your decision to pursue medicine.
  • Reflect on your experience with a particular patient population or community and how it has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
  • Share your thoughts on the role of social responsibility in the medical profession.
  • Explain how your experiences with interdisciplinary collaboration have prepared you for a career in medicine.
  • Describe a time when you advocated for a patient or their needs.
  • Share your experience with a global health issue or project and how it has impacted your perspective on healthcare.
  • Discuss your interest in a specific medical specialty and why it appeals to you.
  • Reflect on a time when you encountered an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.
  • Describe an experience that demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth.
  • Share a story about a time when you had to think critically and problem-solve in a healthcare setting.
  • Discuss how your experiences with diverse populations have informed your approach to patient care.
  • Describe an experience that highlights your ability to communicate effectively with others in a medical setting.
  • Reflect on a time when you demonstrated your commitment to patient-centered care.
  • Share your thoughts on the importance of balance and self-care in the medical profession and how you plan to maintain these practices throughout your career.

Avoid These Common Personal Statement Mistakes

A review of MedSchoolCoach's personal statement and secondary essay services.

Avoid these 5 common mistakes students make when writing their personal statements: 

  • Clichés : “I just want to help people,” “from a young age,” “I’ve always wanted to,” and “for as long as I can remember,” are just some of the overused phrases in personal statements. Other clichés we’ve seen often include saying that you’ve wanted to be a doctor for your whole life, using overly dramatic patient anecdotes, or prideful-sounding stories about how you saved a life as a pre-med student. Eliminate clichés from your writing.
  • Typos/grammatical errors: We covered this already, but the grammar in your statement should be flawless . It’s hard to catch your own typos, so use grammar checking tools like Grammarly and ask your readers to look for typographical errors or grammar problems, too.
  • Name-dropping: At best, naming a prominent member of the medical community in your statement sounds braggadocious and will probably be brushed off. At worst, an adcom reader may think poorly of the person you mention and dismiss you based on the connection. If you do know a well-known and well-respected person in the medical field and worked closely with them, request a letter of recommendation instead.
  • Restating your MCAT score or GPA : Every character in your personal statement counts (literally). Don’t restate information already found on your application. If your application essay is being read, an algorithm has already identified your prerequisite scores as being worthy of reviewing the rest of your application.
  • Using extensive quotes from other people: This is your chance to show who you are. Quoting a philosopher or trusted advisor in these few precious characters takes away from the impact you can have. A single short quote might be okay if it’s highly relevant to the story you’re telling, but don’t go beyond that.

Should you use ChatGPT to help you write?

ChatGPT is a great AI tool to help you get your personal statement off the ground. However, since this is your personal statement, ChatGPT won’t be able to effectively write transitions or tie your personal statement together.

Only you can effectively convey what being a doctor means to you. Only you carry the experiences in your mind and heart that have compelled you to pursue this competitive profession. Don’t rely on artificial intelligence to fake those experiences — it will show, and not in a good way.

We’ve found that ChatGPT can help speed the processes of ideation , editing, and grammar-checking. If you’re not using it to emulate human experiences but just treating it as a helpful assistant, go for it! 

When should you start writing your personal statement?

Begin writing your personal statement early enough to have months of reflection and editing time before your application cycle begins. We recommend writing your personal statement as the first step when applying to medical school , starting in December or January before applications open.

As you progress, anticipate revising multiple versions of your draft. Spend time reflecting on your life experiences and aspirations.

Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor and previous admissions committee member at GWU, recommends starting your personal statement in December/January if you plan to apply in May/June (you should!). 

This gives you plenty of time to have others review it or to get professional personal statement editing services. It also gives you time to write multiple drafts and be 100% satisfied with your final essay.

9 Personal Statement Examples That Led To Med School Acceptance

We’ve included some of our favorite medical school personal statement examples below. Each of these was written by a student who was accepted at one or more programs of their choice.

1. Embracing Diversity: Healing Through Cultural Connections

Student Accepted to Case Western SOM, Washington University SOM, University of Utah SOM, Northwestern University Feinberg SOM

With a flick and a flourish, the tongue depressor vanished, and from behind my ear suddenly appeared a coin. Growing up, my pediatrician often performed magic tricks, making going to the doctors’ feel like literal magic. I believed all healthcare facilities were equally mystifying, especially after experiencing a different type of magic in the organized chaos of the Emergency Department. Although it was no place for a six-year-old, childcare was often a challenge, and while my dad worked extra shifts in nursing school to provide for our family, I would find myself awed by the diligence and warmth of the healthcare providers.

Though I associated the hospital with feelings of comfort and care, it sometimes became a place of fear and uncertainty. One night, my two-year-old brother, Sean, began vomiting and coughing non-stop. My dad was deployed overseas, so my mother and I had no choice but to spend the night at the hospital, watching my brother slowly recover with the help of the healthcare providers. Little did I know, it would not be long before I was in the same place. Months later, I was hospitalized with pneumonia with pleural effusions, and as I struggled to breathe, I was terrified of having fluid sucked out of my chest. But each day physicians comforted me, asking how I was, taking time to reassure me that I was being taken care of, and explaining any questions related to my illness and treatment. Soon, I became excited to speak with the infectious disease doctor and residents, absorbing as much as I could to learn more about different illnesses.

In addition to conventional medical settings, I also came to view the magic of healing through other lenses. Growing up, Native American traditions were an important aspect of my life as my father had been actively involved with native spirituality, connecting back to his Algonquin heritage. We often attended Wi-wanyang-wa-c’i-pi ceremonies or Sun Dances, for healing through prayer and individuals making personal sacrifices for their community. Although I never sun danced myself, I spent hours in inipis, chewing on osha root, finding my own healing through songs. In addition to my father’s heritage, healing came from the curanderismo traditions of Peru, the home of my mother, who came from a long line of healers, which involved herbal remedies and ceremonies in the healing of the mind, body, energy and soul. I can still see my mother preparing mixtures of oils, herbs, and incense while performing healing rituals. The compassion and care she put into healing paralleled the Emergency Department healthcare providers.

Through the influence of these early life experiences, I decided to pursue a career in the health sciences. Shortly after starting college, I entered a difficult time in my life as I struggled with health and personal challenges. I suddenly felt weak and tired most days with aches all over my body. Soon, depression set in. I eventually visited a doctor, and through a series of tests, we discovered I had hypothyroidism. During this time, I also began dealing with an unprocessed childhood trauma. I decided to take time off school, and with thyroid replacement hormones and therapy, I slowly began to recover. But I still had ways to go, and due to financial challenges, I made the difficult decision to continue delaying my education and found work managing a donut shop. Unbeknownst to me, this experience would lead to significant personal growth by working with people from all walks of life and allowing me time for self-reflection. I found myself continuously reflecting on the experiences in the hospital that defined my childhood and the unmatched admiration I had for healthcare workers. With my renewed interest in medicine, I enrolled in classes to get my AEMT license to get more experience in the medical field.

As my health improved, I excelled in my classes, and after craving the connections of working with others, I became a medical assistant. In this position, I met “Marco,” a patient who came from Mexico for treatment. Though I spoke Spanish while growing up, I had little experience as a medical interpreter. However, I took the opportunity to speak with him to learn his story. Afterwards, he became more comfortable, and I helped walk him through the consultation process, interpreting the physician’s words and Marco’s questions. This moment showed me the power of connecting with others in their native language. As a result, I began volunteering at a homeless clinic to continue bridging the language barrier for patients and to help advocate for the Latinx community and those who struggle to find their voice.

My journey to become a doctor has been less direct than planned; however, my personal trials and tribulations have afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people who have been invaluable to my recovery and personal development. Most importantly, I have seen the value of compassionate and empathetic care. Though I have not recently witnessed any sleight of hand or vanishing acts, what healthcare providers do for patients can only be described as magic. I look forward to bringing my diverse background as a physician and expanding my abilities to help patients in their path to healing.

2. The Calling to Heal From the Battlefield

Student Accepted to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, Yale SOM

I’ll never forget his screams of pain.

It was the first time I had heard a man cry for help, and it shook me to my core. It had been a long night of training in South Korea for me and my fellow Army Rangers. We were reaching the end, heavy with exhaustion, when my friend took the direct impact of an explosive to his leg. The shockwave momentarily rattled my sense of balance. Struggling to see in the dark, I switched on my headlamp. In that instant, all I could focus on was his face. His eyes darted back and forth, sweeping the surroundings for any semblance of help, but all I could do was stand there and watch as our medics treated him.

No amount of training prepared me to see a friend in pain. As I watched the helicopter fly him away, I couldn’t help but think— even though I’d gone through some of the best military training in the world, in that moment, I could do nothing for him. Fortunately, he is okay, but had there been no medic available, the situation could have ended with tragedy. That night, I realized that through a career in medicine, I could be more than just a bystander to suffering— I could be in the position to not only reduce unnecessary pain but to also help those affected by conflict and trauma be restored to the fullness of life.

Upon returning home from this deployment, I shifted my focus to developing my skills in trauma care. I completed various trainings on caring for casualties in a combat environment and preparing non-medic Rangers to provide self-aid or buddy-aid in the absence of a medical provider. In a final scenario-based training lane, I helped lead my team in the treatment and packaging of a trauma patient for evacuation, setting a record time in our company and earning a military medal. This achievement, however, was only the beginning. These trainings and my successes served as a foundation that I built upon to ensure I could provide life-saving care in combat situations.  I continued to hone this skillset over my next two combat deployments as a machine gunner to Afghanistan, where, I was prepared to use these critical abilities to decrease mortality on the battlefield. In medicine, like in the army, the actual practice of one’s craft may be life or death. Therefore, evolving both dependability and proficiency during training is imperative in preparation for that final test, both in war and in medicine.

After leaving the military, confronting injury and trauma continued to be a reality. A year after exiting the service, two Army Ranger leaders whom I knew were critically injured on a mission overseas. One was my former team leader, who was shot in the neck, and the other was caught in an explosion that later resulted in a triple amputation. The relentless efforts of doctors and nurses is the reason why both of these brave men are alive today. Recognizing that without the diligent care of these medical professionals, these men would not have survived, I became ever more dedicated to serving others.

While in college, this dedication pushed me to routinely visit the West Haven VA Hospital to provide a community of support for the older, disabled veterans there. I first began visiting this hospital for my own medical care but witnessing the suffering of the other veterans at the hospital spurred me to return repeatedly not as a patient, but as a friend to my fellow veterans.  As a veteran and student, seeing and hearing about the pain and loss of function experienced by many other veterans reminded me of the importance of advocacy in healthcare: to understand, to care for, and to fight for those who are unable to do so themselves.

I continued to see these effects of conflict while volunteering as a tutor to individuals from the Middle East who were affected by the very war I served in. Alaa lives in Syria and dreams of becoming a surgeon. Together, Alaa and I discussed chemistry, biology, and math. Despite his love of learning and dedication, the instability of his community, which was plagued by violence, often barred him from focusing on his studies and committing to a routine tutoring schedule. Although I’ll never intimately know the reality of growing up in a war-torn country, working with Alaa taught me to keep the bigger picture of healthcare in mind. It reminded me that a career as a physician would provide me with the capability to help those like Alaa who are affected by conflict.

When I reflect on medicine, I draw many parallels to my life in army special operations. The training is intense, the hours are long, and the structure is hierarchical. The mission, above all else, is to provide the best outcome for those around you. On my journey to a career in medicine, I plan to continue to add to what I’ve learned from my experiences so far: humility, empathy, dependability, communication, teamwork, and leading from the front. For over four years I lived by the Ranger Creed, and I plan to imbue the same ethos in serving as a physician— to keep myself mentally alert and morally straight, to shoulder more than my share of whatever task presents itself.  In crossing from the path of a warrior to that of a healer, I hope to continue a life of service to improve the human condition and reduce unnecessary suffering in the world one person at a time.

3. Community-based Health and Empathy: Serving Underserved Communities in Crisis

Student Accepted to Weill Cornell

My path to medicine was first influenced by early adolescent experiences trying to understand my place in society. Though I was not conscious of it at the time, I held a delicate balance between my identity as an Indian-American and an “American-American.”

In a single day, I could be shooting hoops and eating hotdogs at school while spending the evening playing Carrom and enjoying tandoori chicken at a family get-together. When our family moved from New York to California, I had the opportunity to attend a middle school with greater diversity, so I learned Spanish to salve the loss of moving away and assimilate into my new surroundings.

As I partook in related events and cuisine, I built an intermixed friend group and began to understand how culture influences our perception of those around us. While volunteering at senior centers in high school, I noticed a similar pattern to what I sometimes saw at school: seniors socializing in groups of shared ethnicity and culture. Moving from table to table, and therefore language to language, I also observed how each group shared different life experiences and perspectives on what constitutes health and wellness. Many seniors talked about barriers to receiving care or how their care differed from what they had envisioned. Listening to their stories on cultural experiences, healthcare disparities, and care expectations sparked my interest in becoming a physician and providing care for the whole community.

Intrigued by the science behind perception and health, I took electives during my undergraduate years to build a foundation in these domains. In particular, I was amazed by how computational approaches could help model the complexity of the human mind, so I pursued research at Cornell’s Laboratory of Rational Decision-Making. Our team used fMRI analysis to show how the framing of information affects its cognitive processing and perception. Thinking back to my discussions with seniors, I often wondered if more personalized health-related messaging could positively influence their opinions. Through shadowing, I had witnessed physicians engaging in honest and empathetic conversations to deliver medical information and manage patients’ expectations, but how did they navigate delicate conflicts where the patients’ perspectives diverged from their own?

My question was answered when I became a community representative for the Ethics Committee for On Lok PACE, an elderly care program. One memorable case was that of Mr. A.G, a blind 86-year-old man with radiation-induced frontal lobe injury who wanted to return home and cook despite his doctor’s expressed safety concerns. Estranged from family, Mr. A.G. relied on cooking to find fulfillment in his life. Recognizing the conflict between autonomy and beneficence, I joined the physicians in brainstorming and recommending ways he could cook while being supervised. I realized that the role of a physician was to mediate between the medical care plan and the patient’s wishes in order to make a decision that preserves their dignity. As we considered possibilities, the physicians’ genuine concern for the patient’s emotional well-being exemplified the compassion that I want to emulate as a future doctor. Our discussions emphasized the rigor of medicine—the challenge of ambiguity and the importance of working with an individual to serve their needs.

With COVID-19 ravaging our underserved communities, my desire to help others drove me towards community-based health as a contact tracer for my county’s Department of Public Health. My conversations uncovered dozens of heartbreaking stories that revealed how inequities in socioeconomic status and job security left poorer families facing significantly harsher quarantines than their wealthier counterparts. Moreover, many residents expressed fear or mistrust, such as a 7-person family who could not safely isolate in their 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment. I offered to arrange free hotel accommodations but was met with a guarded response from the father: “We’ll be fine. We can maintain the 6 feet.” While initially surprised, I recognized how my government affiliation could lead to a power dynamic that made the family feel uneasy. Thinking how to make myself more approachable, I employed motivational interviewing skills and even simple small talk to build rapport. When we returned to discussing the hotel, he trusted my intentions and accepted the offer. Our bond of mutual trust grew over two weeks of follow-ups, leaving me humbled yet gratified to see his family transition to a safer living situation. As a future physician, I realize I may encounter many first-time or wary patients; and I feel prepared to create a responsive environment that helps them feel comfortable about integrating into our health system.

Through my clinical and non-clinical experiences, I have witnessed the far-reaching impact of physicians, from building lasting connections with patients to being a rock of support during uncertain times. I cannot imagine a career without these dynamics—of improving the health and wellness of patients, families, and society and reducing healthcare disparities. While I know the path ahead is challenging, I am confident that I want to dedicate my life to this profession.

4. Creating a Judgment-Free Zone with The Power of Acceptance in Healthcare

Student Accepted to George Washington SOM and Health Sciences, Drexel University COM

Immigrating into a foreign country without speaking a word of the language is a terrifying task for anyone. My mentee at Computers4kids, Sahil, came to the United States at seventeen and had been struggling to integrate with society due to the language barrier. Although I was born in the United States, I can empathize with the struggle he encounters daily, since both my parents and many members of my family have dealt with the same issues. Often, these barriers exacerbate mundane issues the immigrant population faces as they have difficulty finding people who can understand and care for them. Since I am bilingual in Farsi, when Sahil approached me with his driving instructions manual written in Dari, I thought I could teach him the rules of the road with no issues. I asked him to read the first sentence, but he diverted his gaze and mumbled that he did not know how to read. As I realized he seemed embarrassed by his illiteracy, I placed my hand on his shoulder and assured him that he could learn. I increased my weekly hours at the site to spend an equal amount of time on the rules of the road and on phonetics and reading. Within a few months, he was more comfortable greeting others around the Computers4Kids site and participating in interactive projects. Upon reflection, I appreciate the importance of creating a judgment-free zone that encourages learning and reciprocal care. Once Sahil noticed that I saw him no differently after learning of his illiteracy, he was ready and willing to work on the basics of language and reading, instead of solely memorizing words.

I did not realize how pivotal a judgment-free zone in a medical environment is until I worked at the University of Virginia Emergency Department as a medical scribe. Although I had scribed at a smaller hospital before, I had always strived for a position at a high-volume healthcare center and level one trauma center. Close to the end of a long shift, I walked into the room of a patient with the chief complain of ‘Psychiatric Evaluation’.  A male patient with schizophrenia was hyperventilating and speaking through tears as he described seeing his deceased wife and daughter everywhere he looked. Between short breaths, he mentioned he was going to Florida to attack the person who “murdered his family”. The resident diffused the situation by acknowledging the patient’s feelings and suggesting that he stayed for psychiatric help instead of flying to Florida. Eventually, the patient agreed and was admitted. Seeing the resident create this judgment-free environment was eye opening, as the previously distressed patient was now accepting counseling. The powerful influence of acceptance can lead to valuable insights about patients’ lives, potentially increasing the range of care one can administer.

I decided to transition to primary care in the most recent fall season because I would be able to build a more personal relationship with families in my community. I began working at Union Mill Pediatrics and was finally able to serve the community I grew I up in. I was given the responsibility of acting as the primary contact for a few families with children who have autism. Dr. Maura and I perused the plan of care for one of these children, Ayaan, determined by the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), to ensure that set therapeutic goals were reasonable and generalizable. When I asked Salwa, Ayaan’s mother, about some of the goals set by her BCBA and the school, she mentioned they would repeat exercises he already knew how to complete. I informed Salwa of her right as a patient to bring up her concerns with Ayaan’s teachers. I was overjoyed when she updated me that she instructed Ayaan’s teacher to continue putting his hearing aid in despite Ayaan’s constant cries. Salwa explained that the tantrums would curb after two days, which proved to be true. Similarly to how I encourages Salwa to advocate for her son, I will advocate for my patients and help them develop confidence to speak about their needs. After finding her voice as the patient’s guardian, Salwa gained the confidence to ask about a support group as she faces difficulties raising Ayaan alone. After some research, I found a few active groups to send her. By proving to Salwa I had her best interests in heart, she opened up to me about her mental health issues, which enabled me to extend the appropriate resources her way.

I have witnessed the potential that physicians have at work to forever change a family’s quality of life by being open-minded and remaining judgment-free. As a physician, I will aim to provide for my community through attentive healthcare and community service. I will advocate for my patients with cultural, language or socioeconomic barriers to healthcare. Building a trusting relationship with my future patients can result in a more productive office visit and enhance my ability to administer holistic care. My goal is for patients to leave their visit with not only a reasonable plan of care, but also a greater appreciation of their health and their rights as patients.

5. The Intersection of Medicine and Creativity

Student Accepted to Hackensack Meridian SOM, Nova Southeastern CoOM/KPCOM

Growing up, I inherited a deep admiration for medicine. From my grandfather’s chilling stories as a forensic psychiatrist assessing mental fitness, to my father’s heroic accounts as a pediatric dentist operating on toddlers with severe tooth decay, I was enamored with the honor of healing. These exposures nurtured my natural curiosity and innate aptitude for the sciences. Yet my mother, who had studied dance and theatre, instilled in me a fervent love of the arts and creative practice. Following in her footsteps, I took up multiple musical instruments, attended a high school for the arts, and earned a degree in art history coupled with a dance minor. Still, my dream was to pursue medicine, and though it seems counterintuitive, my love of art has only facilitated my enduring love of science, reinforcing why pursuing a career as a holistic, health-centered physician is my deepest aspiration.

My affinity for the health sciences began in the dance studio, where I devoted many hours of my adolescence. Dance, insidious in its promotion of grotesque health practices, demanded that I limit my calories to 1,200 a day counting everything from ibuprofen to a stick of gum, and to dance through a severe hamstring tear. My conceptions of health were severely warped until college dance came to my rescue. These new progressive teachers uplifted dancers of all physical and cognitive abilities, distributed scientific journals on effective warm-up techniques, and abandoned conventional dance norms. I was disturbed by all the unlearning I had to do, but eager to reacquaint myself with my body and disseminate new knowledge. Thus, I was honored when dance again presented an opportunity in health, as I was hired to teach dance at my childhood summer camp. Here, I could separate my curriculum from unreasonable physical expectations and interpersonal competition. I found a fierce sense of joy and fulfillment from being an advocate for physical and emotional health, and I knew I wanted to continue helping others heal while also deconstructing my own negative health experiences.

These formative experiences in the arts profoundly supported my intellectual development, allowing me to thrive in science-based settings and ultimately prompting me to seek out colleges with robust research programs. At the University of Michigan, I had the privilege of participating in a campus research lab, undoubtedly resulting in my most valuable college experience. The world of scientific inquiry can be intimidating, but after a year of reading dozens of papers and learning novice lab protocols, I began my own independent investigation of zebrafish retinas. My goal was to uncover the mechanisms of retinal regeneration in fish, thus addressing vision loss. The excitement I felt in utilizing challenging lab techniques, working with animals, witnessing the culmination of my efforts through image analysis, and being a part of such life-altering research was unmatched. What once seemed like magic was now tangible; I was an artist helping craft the solutions to science’s unanswered questions. In the context of my multidisciplinary interests, my research reinforced the creative, humanitarian side of science, and that science was where I felt compelled to take action and build a career.

Art continued to deepen my passion for and understanding of medicine. The revolutionary approaches of my dance teachers modeled the importance of critique as it pertains to health. This was not a new concept to me; my high school art teachers had urged us to challenge institutional weaknesses. It was not until college, however, that I realized how this line of thinking intersects with medicine. Studying art history, I repeatedly encountered artists whose work tackled issues in health. Keith Haring confronted the AIDS crisis when society had turned on the gay population, and Marc Quinn confronted the disease of addiction in his self-portrait sculptures, made entirely of his own frozen blood. Art, I learned, is so often a response to disease, be it physical, mental, or sociological. These artists had been champions of health in light of its stigmas and politics; art thus fostered new intentions, instilling within me an ardent goal of social activism through medicine.

Art has contributed to my journey, and while it is not my ultimate goal, I hope to incorporate my artistically based insights into my work in science and medicine as a health and social justice advocate. I am driven to continue exploring these intersections, having compiled an entire portfolio on the connection between dance and science, researched disability in the arts, and pursued my personal interest in LGBTQ+ health advocacy by connecting with and shadowing a variety of gender care physicians. My intention to pursue medicine is personal, fulfilling, and pressing, and I take seriously the responsibility I will have as a physician to be a mogul for change in areas of healthcare that compromise the human experience. Further, my natural inclination towards science and involvement in academic research has instilled in me the confidence and skills necessary to be an effective medical practitioner. With this balanced mindset, I know I will contribute to a more ethical and well-rounded approach to healthcare.

6. Innovation in Medicine and a Quest for Discovery

Student Accepted to Johns Hopkins SOM, Washington University SOM, Hofstra Zucker SOM

As a notoriously picky nine-year-old with a penchant for grilled cheese, I was perplexed when I learned that my younger sister, Rachel, had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I felt a sting of betrayal knowing my comfort food was the culprit for Rachel’s terrible stomach aches. Yearning to understand how my favorite food was poisoning my favorite person, I developed an insatiable desire to discover the “why” behind Celiac. As Rachel’s doctor explained her disease, I was both fascinated that a simple protein could cause so much damage and inspired by the doctor’s compassion. He described every detail in a way Rachel would understand, addressed her every concern, and held her hand when she was scared. I wanted to be just like Rachel’s doctor so that I too could use science to decipher medical mysteries while also reassuring my patients that I would be their advocate and help them heal.

My interest in medicine drove me to learn more about what it meant to be a doctor. As a freshman in high school, I arranged a shadow day with Dr. M, a cardiologist. He taught me about echoes, showed me a pacemaker implantation, and in the midst of a cardioversion, even beckoned me over to press the button that discharged the defibrillator. I could not contain my excitement recounting how much I had learned during my first day in a clinical setting. From there, my curiosity skyrocketed and I embarked on a relentless pursuit to explore the spectrum of the medical field. I was moved by the supportive atmosphere of the NICU, struck by the precision involved in ophthalmology, absorbed by the puzzle-like reconstruction of Mohs surgery, and awed by the agility of cardiothoracic surgery. Between high school and college, I shadowed over a dozen physicians, cementing my interest and furthering my passion for a future medical career.

My college classes allowed me to immerse myself further in the study of the human body. Following my fascination with cancer, I secured an internship working on a melanoma immunotherapy clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health. I savored the stimulation, grasping new experimental techniques and developing assays; but my work took on even greater meaning when I learned that my grandfather had been enrolled in an early-stage immunotherapy trial himself while battling mucosal melanoma. Although immunotherapy did not heal my grandfather, I was immensely proud to be advancing the science years later. Through long nights and evolving experiments, I gave the trial its final push through an FDA approval checkpoint; ultimately, my contributions will help more grandparents go into remission. The most fulfilling moments came every Monday when I accompanied the leading physician scientists on their rounds. As I met patients, listened to their stories, and celebrated their improvements, the pulsating blister on my thumbpad from endless pipetting became akin to a medal of honor. Reflecting on these encounters, I wanted to continue driving scientific innovation, but I also wanted a more active and personal impact in the patient’s experience.

My desire to connect with patients brought me to Alliance Medical Ministry, a clinic serving uninsured, disadvantaged communities in North Carolina. I stepped up to lead efforts to organize a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, communicating personally with every eligible patient and arranging vaccine appointments for over a thousand people across the hardest hit areas of Raleigh. The experience became even more rewarding when I trained to administer vaccines, becoming a stable, anchoring presence from the beginning to the end of the process. One memorable patient, “Amy,” had not seen a doctor in years because of the associated financial burden. When she came to the clinic suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, she was not even aware of her diabetes diagnosis. While I waited with her for transportation to the ER, she expressed her fears about contracting COVID at the hospital. However, she emphatically dismissed my suggestion about receiving a vaccine. I listened intently to all her concerns. Not only was she worried about the vaccine infecting her with the virus, but also her history of being denied healthcare due to her socioeconomic status had instilled fears that she would not be taken care of should she have an adverse reaction. I took her hand in mine and reassured her of the clinic’s mission to provide care regardless of ability to pay. I further explained everything I knew about how the vaccine worked, its safety and efficacy, and how my body reacted when I received my own injection. I could not help but beam behind my N95 when days later, Amy returned, sat in my chair and confidently rolled up her sleeve for me to give her the protective shot.

I have grown by exploring the multifaceted world of medicine through shadowing, pioneering research to advance patient care at the NIH, and cultivating trusting relationships with patients from the vaccine clinic. As a doctor, my desire to be an innovative thinker and problem solver will fuel my unrelenting quest for discovery throughout a lifetime of learning. Most importantly, I aspire to use my medical knowledge to improve lives and establish meaningful patient partnerships, just as Rachel’s doctor did with her.

7. Transforming Pain into Purpose: Inspiring Change in the Field of Medicine

Student Accepted to UCSF SOM, Harvard Medical School

Countless visits to specialists in hope of relief left me with a slew of inconclusive test results and uncertain diagnoses. “We cannot do anything else for you.” After twelve months of waging a war against my burning back, aching neck and tingling limbs, hearing these words at first felt like a death sentence, but I continued to advocate for myself with medical professionals. A year of combatting pain and dismissal led me to a group of compassionate and innovative physicians at the Stanford Pain Management Center (SPMC). Working alongside a diverse team including pain management specialists and my PCP, I began the long, non-linear process of uncovering the girl that had been buried in the devastating rubble of her body’s pain. From struggling with day-to-day activities like washing my hair and sitting in class to thriving as an avid weightlifter and zealous student over the span of a year, I realized I am passionate about preventing, managing and eliminating chronic illnesses through patient-centered incremental care and medical innovation.

A few days after my pain started, I was relieved to hear that I had most likely just strained some muscles, but after an empty bottle of muscle relaxers, the stings and aches had only intensified. I went on to see 15 specialists throughout California, including neurologists, physiatrists, and rheumatologists. Neurological exams. MRIs. Blood tests. All inconclusive. Time and time again, specialists dismissed my experience due to ambiguous test results and limited time. I spent months trying to convince doctors that I was losing my body; they thought I was losing my mind. Despite these letdowns, I did not stop fighting to regain control of my life. Armed with my medical records and a detailed journal of my symptoms, I continued scheduling appointments with the intention of finding a doctor who would dig deeper in the face of the unknown. Between visits, I researched my symptoms and searched for others with similar experiences. One story on Stanford Medicine’s blog, “Young Woman Overcomes Multiple Misdiagnoses and Gets Her Life Back”, particularly stood out to me and was the catalyst that led me to the SPMC. After bouncing from doctor to doctor, I had finally found a team of physicians who would take the profound toll of my pain on my physical and mental well-being seriously.

Throughout my year-long journey with my care team at the SPMC, I showed up for myself even when it felt like I would lose the war against my body. I confronted daily challenges with fortitude. When lifting my arms to tie my hair into a ponytail felt agonizing, YouTube tutorials trained me to become a braiding expert. Instead of lying in bed all day when my medication to relieve nerve pain left me struggling to stay awake, I explored innovative alternative therapies with my physicians; after I was fed up with the frustration of not knowing the source of my symptoms, I became a research subject in a clinical trial aimed at identifying and characterizing pain generators in patients suffering from “mysterious” chronic pain. At times, it felt like my efforts were only resulting in lost time. However, seeing how patient my care team was with me, offering long-term coordinated support and continually steering me towards a pain-free future, motivated me to grow stronger with every step of the process. Success was not  an immediate victory, but rather a long journey of incremental steps that produced steady, life-saving progress over time. My journey brought me relief as well as clarity with regard to  how I will care for my future patients. I will advocate for them even when complex conditions, inconclusive results and stereotypes discourage them from seeking continued care; work with them to continually adapt and improve an individualized plan tailored to their needs and goals, and engage in pioneering research and medical innovations that can directly benefit them.

Reflecting on the support system that enabled me to overcome the challenges of rehabilitation, I was inspired to help others navigate life with chronic pain in a more equitable and accessible way. Not everyone has the means to work indefinitely with a comprehensive care team, but most do have a smartphone. As a result, I partnered with a team of physicians and physical therapists at the University of California San Francisco to develop a free mobile application that guides individuals dealing with chronic pain through recovery. Based on my own journey, I was able to design the app with an understanding of the mental and physical toll that pain, fear, and loss of motivation take on patients struggling with chronic pain. Having features like an exercise bank with a real-time form checker and an AI-based chatbot to motivate users, address their concerns and connect them to specific health care resources, our application helped 65 of the 100 pilot users experience a significant reduction in pain and improvement in mental health in three months.

My journey has fostered my passion for patient-centered incremental medicine and medical innovation. From barely living to thriving, I have become a trailblazing warrior with the perseverance and resilience needed to pursue these passions and help both the patients I engage with and those around the world.

8. Overcoming Bias, Stigma, and Disparities in Medicine

Student Accepted to University of Florida COM

Growing up as a Black woman, my family’s experiences with racial bias in medicine were central to my perception of doctors. From my grandmother’s forced electric shock therapy in the Jim Crow South that resulted in severe brain damage, to my father’s ignored appendicitis that led to a near-death infection after rupturing, every trip to the doctor came with apprehension. Will these strange men with sharp tools heal me or hurt me? This question repeated in my head as I prepared to undergo my first surgery to remove suspiciously inflamed lymph nodes at age 11. I woke up groggy from anesthesia with a negative cancer diagnosis but a blistering third degree burn. The surgeon had successfully removed the malignant masses but had left the cauterizing iron resting on my neck in the process. Today when I look in the mirror and see the scar, I am reminded of the troubling reality that myths such as black people having thicker skin and less sensitive nerve endings are still pervasive in the medical field. By challenging the systemic disparities in medicine that disadvantage minority populations, I vow to my inner child that I will be a different kind of doctor, a doctor who values the patient as much as the procedure.

My experiences with a variety of communities, minority and majority, stem from growing up in a military household that came with frequent relocations. I was exposed to a wide range of communities from an early age—rural Oregon to tropical Hawaii, industrious Japan to politicized D.C, sunny San Diego and finally to radical Berkeley where I  began my pre-medical education. I chose to view medicine from an anthropological lens while at Cal and supplemented my coursework with community service.  As co-coordinator of UC Berkeley’s chapter of Peer Health Exchange, my 9th grade students were, at first,  mistrusting –even with my Angela Davis-esque afro, I was clearly not from Oakland and not quite old enough to be lecturing them. But it was the Good Samaritan Law lecture, during which students learned they would not face police penalty for calling 911 if a friend was in trouble, that I finally gained their trust. One student shared, “I always worried that I wouldn’t be able to call for help because I’m undocumented.”  Later as a health advocate at UCSF, I encountered the same sentiment from families in the pediatric clinic who worried that accessing healthcare for a sick child might put their immigration or legal status at risk. I learned that to get to the root of barriers to access, trust is invaluable. Navigating marginalized spaces with cultural competency is an asset that I pride myself in.

I carried this foundation into my research and clinical work on HIV, a disease that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities and is often left untreated by the stigmas surrounding medicine for these communities. As an HIV PreP Navigator at the Oasis clinic, I was on rotation when a thirteen-year-old girl was referred to the clinic after testing positive for HIV. We analyzed her T cell count and viral load, and discovered she fit the AIDs criteria.   In the following weeks, we worked on medication adherence, and as the girl’s CD4 count rose, so did her spirits and mine. Medicine is more than just a diagnosis and prescription—it is active compassionate treatment. It is holding steady when the entire ground seems to shake with the magnitude of an illness. It is being able to look a patient in the eye and truly see them despite the myriad of differences.

The disparities and differences in patient circumstances has been emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this disproportionate effect of the virus on minority communities, I worked at a COVID-19 testing facility in one of the most underserved and impoverished communities in the Los Angeles’ area. Assuring patients of the safety of Covid testing measures was a big part of the job. “Have you done it?” They would ask. “What about Tuskegee?”  Being Black, I felt the burden of responsibility that came with these questions. How could I have such faith in medicine knowing the traumatic past? My response was simple, “I believe in the science. I can explain PCR testing to you if you like.” By eradicating some of the mystery surrounding these lab techniques, people felt more comfortable.  The opportunity to serve as a trusted community leader by directly interacting with patients and working on a team with doctors, EMTs, and nurses amid an international crisis reaffirmed my journey into medicine.

Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” As an aspiring physician, these words have served as a motivating mantra. To “get off the ground” for me means to become the first medical doctor in a lineage of sharecroppers and farmers. Medicine has been my “sun” for as long as I can remember; its promise to bring light has kept me jumping at every opportunity. Like my grandmother, my father, and so many others, I have experienced disparity in medicine. The scars that mar our bodies are my constant reminder that there is much work to be done. I see medicine as the ability to directly enact that change, one patient at a time.

9. Navigating Personal Struggles to Become a Compassionate Physician

Student Accepted to Touro CoOM, Nova Southeastern CoOM/KPCOM

I fight the heavy sleepiness that comes over me, but before I know it, I am out like a light. Forty-five minutes later, I wake up with a sore throat, watery eyes, and an intensely cold, painful feeling plaguing my entire right leg. Earlier, my parents and I arrived at the Beckman Laser Institute for another treatment of my port-wine stain birthmark. Despite my pleas to not undergo these procedures, my parents still took me twice a year. As I was rolled into the cold, sterile operating room on a gurney, I felt like I was experiencing everything from outside of myself. Despite my doctor’s and nurses’ best efforts to comfort me, I felt my heart racing. Feelings of apprehension and fear of the unknown flooded my senses at the sight of beeping machines and tubes that seemed to go everywhere. As the anesthesiologist began to administer the “sleepy juice,” I felt sad, realizing that my birthmark was a permanent resident on my leg and that I would have to receive this treatment for the rest of my life.

As an adult, I am grateful my parents continued to take me to the laser institute. Starting treatment so early aided in the lightening of my birthmark, which did wonders to improve my self-confidence. However, I suffered daily, feeling like I constantly had to hide something about myself. I kept my secret from everyone except my parents. Despite there being several medical doctors in my family, I knew that any sign of illness or disease would be held against me socially amongst other Egyptians. My secrecy was made even more difficult by the advice of my doctor to avoid certain physical activities, as they could worsen the underlying pathology of the veins in my legs. On his advice, I only wore long pants and would not run with other children during recess and gym class. This all added to the isolation I felt growing up, not knowing anyone with a similar condition to mine. Even as a child, no amount of explaining or encouragement could make me understand the benefit of those painful laser treatments.

What eventually changed my perspective was the team of compassionate doctors and nurses who have been caring for me since I began this journey. I was particularly touched when one of my doctors shared with me that she had also undergone a procedure that she would be performing on me. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Not only was she a specialist in the field, but her empathy for what I would soon go through became a source of instant comfort and ease for me. I knew that what she said was heartfelt, and not simply an attempt to convince me to undergo a procedure. I realized then that one of the reasons I had felt so afraid was because I had been alone in what I was going through.

A few years later, I attended a conference held by the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, where a variety of specialists convened to discuss port-wine stain birthmarks and other related conditions. Once we arrived at the hotel where the conference would take place, I met a woman who had a facial port-wine stain birthmark. As we began sharing stories about our experiences with our condition, we connected over how difficult it had been to receive treatment. We both knew what it felt like to be told that the birthmark was simply a cosmetic issue, and that any form of treatment we received would have no corrective purpose, if it was even considered treatment in the first place. There was a certain sense of freedom that I felt in finally being able to talk about my illness with someone I could trust to understand. Thinking back to the doctor who connected with me over a procedure she had also experienced as a patient, I felt truly called in that moment to pursue my goal of becoming a vascular physician. My goal would be to become a source of comfort and familiarity for patients who struggle as I have, to give them the same relief that I experienced from finally being understood.

Despite the pains I went through, I now realize that the experiences I have had as a patient can help me better understand what it means to be a physician. By being an excellent listener and openly sharing my experiences with receiving treatment, I can foster an honest and safe physician-patient relationship. I believe this approach will not only comfort my patients, but also help them make informed decisions about their treatment. My commitment to this approach has also led me to choose a DO path for my medical career. Having researched the holistic treatment approach that a DO delivers, I realized that being treated by a DO would have done wonders for my self-confidence and overall health as a young patient. The aspects of my port wine stain that were always left untreated were the emotional and social side effects of my condition. As a DO in the dermatology or interventional radiology specialty, I hope to gain the tools to provide empathetic and comprehensive care to my patients that reassures them that they are not alone in their journey to better health.

Want to read a few more great samples? We also broke down the things that make these 3 personal statements excellent and compelling.

Other Resources For Personal Statement Writing

Do you want to learn even more about personal statements? Dive into these great resources!

FREE MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT WEBINARS

Preparing Your Personal Statement For Medical Programs : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Director of Writing & College Advising, Jennifer Speegle.

Creating the First Draft of Your Medical School Personal Statement : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach advising and writing advisors, Ziggy Yoediono MD and James Fleming.

Where to Begin When Writing Your Personal Statement : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Associate Director of Writing and College Advising, Jennifer Speegle, Associate Director of Advising, Ziggy Yoediono MD, and Writing Advisor, Carrie Coaplen Ph. D.

The Medical School Personal Statement – What Makes a Great Intro and Why It’s Important : Hosted by Director of Advising, Dr. Renee Marinelli, MD, Master Advisor, Dr. Ziggy Yoediono, MD, and Founder of MedSchoolCoach, Dr. Sahil Mehta, MD.

THE PROSPECTIVE DOCTOR PODCAST

Episode 2 – The Personal Statement

Episode 42 – Writing Your Personal Statement

Episode 76 – How to Tackle the Medical School Personal Statement

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Crafting a Compelling Medical School Personal Statement: Examples, Structure, Tips & More

February 22, 2024

Zach French

things to include in a personal statement for medicine

Over 60% of aspiring students don’t get admitted into medical school each year. And there is a great reason for this: regardless of their admissions profile and excellent grades, they don’t stand out in their application essay.

Your personal statement is your opportunity to share your motivations and aspirations in pursuing medicine. It allows the admissions committee to understand who you are beyond mere academic achievements.

In this guide, we will explain step-by-step how to write a compelling medical school personal statement. We'll cover:

  • Why your personal statement matters
  • How to get started with your med school personal statement
  • How long should a personal statement be?
  • How to structure your essay and what to include
  • 5 Writing tips and best practices
  • 2 Medical school personal statement examples [+ full explanation]
  • 8 Common mistakes to avoid

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Why Your Personal Statement Matters

Medical schools receive thousands of applications every year, many from candidates with excellent academic records and impressive extracurricular achievements. What sets you apart? Your personal statement is your chance to tell your story in a way that goes beyond grades and test scores . It's an opportunity to showcase your unique personality, aspirations, and dedication to the field of medicine.

Use your experiences, whether through volunteering, research, or personal encounters, to illustrate why you’re a fit. It's not just about what you've done, but how these experiences have shaped your understanding and desire for a medical career.

‍ You need to present yourself as not just academically capable, but also personally suited to the demands and rewards of being a physician. Your personal statement is your voice in the application process—a chance to make a compelling case for why you belong in their next class of medical students.

How to Get Started

As you get ready to write, you might be worried about selecting the perfect topic, avoiding clichés, and wondering if it aligns with what admissions committees expect. Fortunately, the AMCAS personal statement prompt, which reads "Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school," is deliberately broad. This open-ended prompt offers you the freedom to write about virtually anything that drives your ambition to pursue a medical career.

However, the very openness of this prompt can also be daunting. With the liberty to choose any topic, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the possibilities. To narrow down your choices, consider reflecting on the following questions:

  • Why do you feel a strong inclination only towards being a physician?
  • What aspects of being a doctor truly inspire you to pursue this field?
  • Envision the type of doctor you aim to become - what does that look like?
  • What role do you aspire to play in your patients' lives?

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

You have a limit of up to 5,300 characters, including spaces, for your essay. To give you an idea of the length, this character limit approximately translates to about 500 words or 1.5 pages when single-spaced.

Hence, it’s important to strategically pick experiences that highlight varied traits in you and are all linked to what’s expected of a physician. Thus, you can demonstrate your diverse skills while remaining concise.

What Experiences Should You Pick? What Qualities Are Sought?

If you're finding it challenging to determine what to include in your medical school personal statement, begin by identifying the qualities you wish to highlight to the admissions committee. From there, reverse-engineer your approach by selecting experiences from your life that best exemplify these qualities.

In general, admissions committees look for the following qualities:

  • Analytical abilities
  • Persistence
  • Great listening skills
  • Knowledge-seeking

Keep in mind that the experiences you select to showcase your chosen qualities don't necessarily have to stem from clinical settings or from research accomplishments. They can also be drawn from extracurricular activities that have influenced your journey toward medicine.

If you're struggling to identify your strong qualities (a common issue among many students), consider asking family members or close friends what they think your strengths are and why they appreciate you. While it might feel a bit uncomfortable, this exercise can be incredibly insightful.

Last but not least, bear in mind that the admissions committee is likely to ask you to expand on the experiences you've described. Therefore, include personal stories that you're eager to discuss further and feel confident speaking about.

How to Structure Your Essay 

A well-structured essay is fundamental for clarity, balance, and impact. It provides a clear and logical flow of ideas, making it easier for the reader to follow and understand your arguments or story. Each paragraph should seamlessly lead to the next, maintaining a consistent thread of thought. ‍

This cohesion and structure help in:

  • Keeping the reader's interest and engagement from beginning to end
  • Reflecting a well-rounded intellect and personality
  • Showcasing your multifaceted profile effectively, as it ensures that you don't dwell too long on one point while neglecting others. 

Make an outline to help you structure your personal statement after reflecting on the experiences and traits you wish to include. We suggest you begin with a compelling introduction that captures your motivation for pursuing a career in medicine. This could be a brief anecdote, a pivotal moment in your life, or a unique perspective that led you to this path. Your goal is to engage the reader from the outset and set the tone for the rest of your statement. ‍

The body of your application essay is where you delve into your experiences, skills, and aspirations. We suggest you focus on three and use a paragraph to elaborate on each. Delve into how your personal experiences have not only nurtured this desire but also equipped you for the journey ahead in the medical field.

‍ Finally, conclude your personal statement by reinforcing your commitment to medicine. Elegantly loop back to this central theme or initial hook.  

summarize the key points made throughout your statement, and articulate your vision for the future as a medical professional. ‍

This technique will weave your personal statement into a cohesive and interconnected story, providing a sense of full circle from start to finish.

Best Practices: Writing Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid 

Crafting a compelling personal statement for medical school requires more than just sharing your experiences; it's about how you present them. Here are some key writing tips and best practices to help you create a standout essay.

Read Real Medical School Personal Statement Examples

Before you start writing, take the time to read actual personal statements from successful medical school applicants.

We’ve taken a moment to make a full disclosure of our favorite personal statements of all time on our YouTube channel. 

Alternatively, you can take a look at some examples online from various universities, including institutions like the University of Pittsburgh . You can also ask someone who got into medical school to send you a copy of their personal statement.

Med school essay samples will give you an understanding of what works and the variety of ways you can express your own story. Pay attention to the structure, language, and the way they weave their experiences into a cohesive and compelling narrative. After all, stories are king. However, don't expect to find a perfect blueprint that you can copy. Personal statements are (and should be) unique to each writer.

Show, Don't Tell

Rather than listing your qualities, like compassion or drive, it's more effective to illustrate them through real-life examples. The admissions committee wants to see your story unfold through your actions and experiences. Narrate instances where you've actively displayed these traits. This method brings your personal statement to life, making it more engaging and authentic for the readers.

Make It Personal and Relatable

When presenting your experiences, aim for a balance between showcasing your achievements and reflecting on the challenges you've encountered along the way. Share the lessons these experiences taught you. This approach not only adds authenticity and depth to your narrative but also makes it more engaging for the reader.

Maintain a first-person perspective throughout your story. Describe the experience from your viewpoint, incorporating your thoughts, interactions, and reactions to the events. This personal touch allows the reader to see the world through your eyes, creating a more intimate and relatable connection.

Nevertheless, use “I” moderately in your writing. Using "I" too much can lead to focusing on achievements rather than storytelling.

Stay Away from Clichés

Given that many premed students share a common love for science and a desire to help people. Dig deeper into your experiences, we suggest you follow this five-step approach to do so:

  • Explain your reasons for seeking out the experience.
  • Share your emotions and feelings during the experience.
  • Highlight your achievements and the lessons you learned.
  • Consider the long-term effects of this experience on you and those around you
  • Describe how this experience has influenced your decision to pursue a career in medicine.

Overall, it's not enough to love science; explain how your relationship with science is different from others or how specific life experiences have shaped your approach to medicine.

Review Your Essay

Once you have written your personal statement, the editing and refining process is critical to ensuring its effectiveness and polish.

We suggest that you:

  • Seek feedback from trusted mentors or peers. They can offer valuable insights, point out areas that need clarification, suggest improvements, or even identify strengths that you can further emphasize. 
  • Proofread to eliminate any grammatical errors or awkward syntax. These mistakes can distract from the content and may leave a negative impression on the admissions committee. It may be helpful to read your statement out loud or use digital tools for grammar checks (e.g. Grammarly or QuillBot)
  • Ensure clarity and conciseness by avoiding unnecessary jargon, overly complex sentences, or vague statements. The goal is to convey your experiences and motivations in a straightforward and compelling manner. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

According to the experts , you should be mindful of these common pitfalls when crafting your personal statement:

  • Don’t make excuses, and avoid justifying poor grades or test scores. Instead, focus on positive aspects and growth.
  • Be careful not to beg for an interview or acceptance into the program.
  • Don't use overly complex words or phrases. Clarity and authenticity are more impactful than fancy language.
  • Don’t focus on explaining the field of medicine in your essay to professionals who already understand it. 
  • Don't fabricate or exaggerate your experiences. In your interview, you'll have to elaborate on these points, and your exaggeration will be evident.
  • Don’t simply reiterate your CV or list your achievements. The personal statement is an opportunity to tell your story.
  • Watch for spelling and grammar errors. These mistakes can detract from your statement's professionalism and readability.
  • Avoid clichés and obvious statements like "I love science" or "I want to help people." These are overused and don’t add value to your personal story.

Secure Your Spot in Med School

Your personal statement is more than just a part of your application; it's a chance to leave a lasting impact on the admissions committee. Dedicate the necessary time and effort to ensure it's a true reflection of who you are and why you're destined for a career in medicine. However, crafting an assertive essay can be indeed overwhelming. Here’s where Premed Catalyst can help you out.

At Premed Catalyst, we specialize in guiding aspiring medical professionals like you. Our mission is to help you lay a solid foundation and craft a unique narrative for your medical school application, ensuring your essay stands out.

With our personalized mentorship and tailored advice, we focus on your individual journey. Getting started is easy – just fill out a brief form . Take this first step with us, and move closer to wearing the white coat!

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4 Medical School Personal Statement Examples

The personal statement can be one of the most challenging parts of your medical school application process. You want to show admissions committees the qualities that make you stand out while avoiding cliches. After all, a lot is riding on this essay. Don’t panic. We’ve done our homework, talked to insiders, and gathered firsthand personal statements to help you get started.

Getting Started

Before diving into the personal statement examples, here are some tips on framing your experiences to wow admissions officers.

1. Stick to your real-life experiences. While it’s great to express what you want to do in healthcare in the future, that doesn’t really set you apart. All premed students have goals for what they’ll do in the medical profession, but this often changes after time in medical school. Telling a personal story instead gives admission committee members a look at who you already are and if you have the qualities they deem desirable for med school .

Feel free to mention specialties you’re passionate about and touch on your clinical experience, but make sure the experiences you discuss are unique.

2. Build an in-depth narrative. Nobody wants to read a blanket summary of your research experience. This is your chance to get passionate and demonstrate some communication skills. Explain the driving force behind your desire to work in the medical field.

The old writing rule comes into play here: “show, don’t tell.” You will always capture your reader’s attention more by telling a story than by explaining a circumstance. Medical school admissions committees are no different. Showing them your strong work ethic — or dedication, or whatever personal quality you want — without just saying, “I have a strong work ethic” will have a greater impact.

3. Don’t include metrics. Admissions officers already have access to your GPA and MCAT scores. If they want to know how you did in biochemistry, they can find out. Don’t waste space here. If you’re concerned about those numbers, it’s much more important to nail the personal statement and secure a secondary application and eventual medical school interview.

4. Know the character limits — and try to meet them. Both AACOMAS and AMCAS applications have a character limit of 5,300. You do not necessarily need to use all 5,300 characters, but you also don’t want it to be under 3,000. You want to use as many as possible while staying on topic and being relevant. A too-short essay can look careless.

5. Get comfortable with revising . You’ll do it a lot. Expect your first draft to be just that – a first draft. This writing process will take several weeks, if not months. Once you’re confident in your essay, ask for feedback. Avoid asking family members (unless they’re experts in the field of medicine). Instead, have professors, mentors, and peers read it and offer notes.

|| Read more about capturing readers from the first paragraph with our Medical School Personal Statement Storytelling Guide . ||

6. Use coaching to craft the perfect essay. Personal statements like the ones below only come after countless hours of brainstorming and writing drafts. However, with MedSchoolCoach , you’ll work with professional writing advisors step-by-step to develop an impactful medical school personal statement.

|| Check out more Tips for Writing a Personal Statement ||

Personal Statement Example #1

Our second essay contest winner was a medical student who made their submission an AMCAS personal statement . It serves as a great and effective medical school personal statement example . We also thought it was a good read overall!

A four-letter word for “dignitary.” The combinations surge through my mind: emir? agha? tsar? or perhaps the lesser-used variant, czar? I know it’s also too early to rule out specific names – there were plenty of rulers named Omar – although the clue is suspiciously unspecific. Quickly my eyes jump two columns to the intersecting clue, 53-Across, completely ignoring the blur outside the window that indicates my train has left the Times Square station. “Nooks’ counterparts.” I am certain the answer is “crannies.” This means 49-Down must end in r, so I eliminate “agha” in my mind. Slowly, the pieces come together, the wordplay sending my brain into mental gymnastics. At the end of two hours, I find myself staring at a completed crossword puzzle, and as trivial as it is, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

As an avid cruciverbalist, I have a knack for problem-solving. I fell in love with another kind of puzzle in college: organic chemistry. While some of my peers struggled with its complexity, the notion of analyzing mass spectroscopy, IR spectrums, and H-NMR to identify a specific molecule invigorated me. The human body was a fantastic mystery to me in my biology classes. Intricacies such as hormonal up- and down-regulation pulled at the riddler in me; I was not satisfied until I understood the enigma of how the body worked. Graduate school at Columbia was an extension of this craving, and I chose a thesis topic to attempt to elucidate the sophisticated workings of neuro-hormonal balance peri-bariatric surgery.

In non-academic settings, I also pursued activities that would sharpen my intellect. The act of teaching is a form of problem-solving; a good teacher finds the most effective way to convey information to students. So I accepted the challenge and taught in both international and domestic settings. I assumed leadership positions in church because it forced me to think critically to resolve conflicts. In the lab, I volunteered to help write a review on the biological mechanisms of weight regain. It was precisely what I loved: isolating a specific human phenomenon and investigating how it worked.

I believe medicine and puzzles are in the same vein. After participating in health fairs, working at a clinic, and observing physicians, I understand that pinpointing a patient’s exact needs is difficult at times. In a way, disease itself can be a puzzle, and doctors sometimes detect it only one piece at a time – a cough here, lanugo there. Signs and symptoms act as clues that whittle down the possibilities until only a few remain. Then all that is left is to fill in the word and complete the puzzle. Voila!

Actually, it is more complicated than that, and inevitably the imperfect comparison falls through.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a psychiatric patient at Aftercare. He had just revealed his identity as Batman — but it turns out he was also Jesus. During downtime between tests, he decided to confide in me some of his dreams and aspirations. He swiftly pulled out a sketchpad and said confidently, “When I get better, I’m going back to art school.” Any doubts stemming from his earlier ramblings vanished at the sight of his charcoal-laden sheets filled with lifelike characters. “They’re… really good,” I stammered. I was looking for the right words to say, but there are times when emotions are so overwhelming that words fail. I nodded in approval and motioned that we should get back to testing.

Those next few hours of testing flew by as I ruminated on what I had experienced. After working 3 years at the clinic, I got so caught up in the routine of “figuring out” brain function that I missed the most important aspect of the job: the people. And so, just as the crossword puzzle is a 15×15 symbol of the cold New York streets, a person is the polar opposite. Our patients are breathing, fluid, and multi-dimensional. I’ve come to love both, but there is nothing I want more in the world than to see a broken person restored, a dream reignited, to see Mr. Batman regain sanity and take up art school again. The prospect of healing others brings me joy, surpassing even the most challenging crosswords in the Sunday paper.

This is why I feel called to a life in medicine. It is the one profession that allows me to restore others while thinking critically and appreciating human biology. I am passionate about people, and medicine allows me to participate in their lives in a tangible way, aligned with my interest in biology and problem-solving skill.

The New York Times prints a new puzzle daily, and so does the Washington Post, USA Today, and the list continues. The unlimited supply of puzzles mirrors the abundance of human disease and the physician’s ongoing duty to unravel the mystery, to resolve the pain. A great cruciverbalist begins with the basics of learning “crosswordese,” a nuanced language; I am prepared to do the same with health, starting with my education in medical school. Even so, I am always humbled by what little I know and am prepared to make mistakes and learn along the way. After all, I would never do a crossword puzzle in pen.

||Read Our First Essay Contest Winner: Considerations Before Applying to Medical School ||

||Read The Formula For A Good Personal Statement | |

Personal Statement Example #2

Student Accepted to Case Western SOM, Washington University SOM, University of Utah SOM, Northwestern University Feinberg SOM

With a flick and a flourish, the tongue depressor vanished, and a coin suddenly appeared behind my ear. Growing up, my pediatrician often performed magic tricks, making going to the doctor feel like literal magic. I believed all healthcare facilities were equally mystifying, especially after experiencing a different type of magic in the organized chaos of the Emergency Department. Although it was no place for a six-year-old, childcare was often a challenge, and while my dad worked extra shifts in nursing school to provide for our family, I would find myself awed by the diligence and warmth of the healthcare providers.

Though I associated the hospital with feelings of comfort and care, it sometimes became a place of fear and uncertainty. One night, my two-year-old brother, Sean, began vomiting and coughing non-stop. My dad was deployed overseas, so my mother and I had no choice but to spend the night at the hospital, watching my brother slowly recover with the help of the healthcare providers. Little did I know, it would not be long before I was in the same place. Months later, I became hospitalized with pneumonia with pleural effusions, and as I struggled to breathe, I was terrified of having fluid sucked out of my chest. But each day, physicians comforted me, asking how I was, reassuring me that I was being taken care of, and explaining any questions related to my illness and treatment. Soon, I became excited to speak with the infectious disease doctor and residents, absorbing as much as possible about different conditions.

I also came to view the magic of healing through other lenses. Growing up, Native American traditions were an important aspect of my life as my father was actively involved with native spirituality, connecting back to his Algonquin heritage. We often attended Wi-wanyang-wa-c’i-pi ceremonies or Sun Dances for healing through prayer and individuals making personal sacrifices for their community. Although I never sun danced, I spent hours in inipis chewing on osha root, finding my healing through songs.

In addition to my father’s heritage, healing came from the curanderismo traditions of Peru, my mother’s home. She came from a long line of healers using herbal remedies and ceremonies for healing the mind, body, energy, and soul. I can still see my mother preparing oils, herbs, and incense mixtures while performing healing rituals. Her compassion and care in healing paralleled the Emergency Department healthcare providers. 

Through the influence of these early life experiences, I decided to pursue a career in the health sciences. Shortly after starting college, I entered a difficult time in my life as I struggled with health and personal challenges. I suddenly felt weak and tired most days, with aches all over my body. Soon, depression set in. I eventually visited a doctor, and through a series of tests, we discovered I had hypothyroidism. During this time, I also began dealing with unprocessed childhood trauma. I decided to take time off school, and with thyroid replacement hormones and therapy, I slowly began to recover. But I still had ways to go, and due to financial challenges, I decided to continue delaying my education and found work managing a donut shop. Unbeknownst to me, this experience would lead to significant personal growth by working with people from all walks of life and allowing me time for self-reflection. I continuously reflected on the hospital experiences that defined my childhood and the unmatched admiration I had for healthcare workers. With my renewed interest in medicine, I enrolled in classes to get my AEMT license and gain more medical experience. 

As my health improved, I excelled in my classes, and after craving the connections of working with others, I became a medical assistant. In this position, I met “Marco,” a patient traveling from Mexico for treatment. Though I spoke Spanish while growing up, I had little experience as a medical interpreter. However, I took the opportunity to talk with him to learn his story. Afterward, he became more comfortable, and I walked him through the consultation process, interpreting the physician’s words and Marco’s questions. This moment showed me the power of connecting with others in their native language. As a result, I began volunteering at a homeless clinic to continue bridging the language barrier for patients and to help advocate for the Latinx community and those who struggle to find their voice. 

My journey to becoming a doctor has been less direct than planned; however, my personal trials and tribulations have allowed me to meet and work with incredible people who have been invaluable to my recovery and personal development. Most importantly, I have seen the value of compassionate and empathetic care. Though I have not recently witnessed any sleight of hand or vanishing acts, what healthcare providers do for patients can only be described as magic.

I look forward to bringing my diverse background as a physician and expanding my abilities to help patients in their path to healing.

||Read: But I Don’t Have 15 Activities ! | Apply to Med School After 3rd or 4th Year? ||

Personal Statement Example #3

Student accepted to Weill Cornell

My path to medicine was first influenced by early adolescent experiences trying to understand my place in society. Though I was not conscious of it then, I held a delicate balance between my identity as an Indian-American and an “American-American.” 

In a single day, I could be shooting hoops and eating hotdogs at school while spending the evening playing Carrom and enjoying tandoori chicken at a family get-together. When our family moved from New York to California, I had the opportunity to attend a middle school with greater diversity, so I learned Spanish to salve the loss of moving away and assimilate into my new surroundings.

As I partook in related events and cuisine, I built a mixed friend group and began understanding how culture influences our perception of those around us. While volunteering at senior centers in high school, I noticed a similar pattern to what I sometimes saw: seniors socializing in groups of shared ethnicity and culture. Moving from table to table and language to language, I also observed how each group shared different life experiences and perspectives on what constitutes health and wellness. Many seniors talked about barriers to receiving care or how their care differed from what they had envisioned. Listening to their stories on cultural experiences, healthcare disparities, and care expectations sparked my interest in becoming a physician and providing care for the whole community.

Intrigued by the science behind perception and health, I took electives during my undergraduate years to build a foundation in these domains. In particular, I was amazed by how computational approaches could help model the complexity of the human mind, so I pursued research at Cornell’s Laboratory of Rational Decision-Making. Our team used fMRI analysis to show how the framing of information affects cognitive processing and perception. Thinking back to my discussions with seniors, I often wondered if more personalized health-related messaging could positively influence their opinions. Through shadowing, I witnessed physicians engaging in honest and empathetic conversations to deliver medical information and manage patients’ expectations, but how did they navigate delicate conflicts where the patients’ perspectives diverged from their own?

My question was answered when I became a community representative for the Ethics Committee for On Lok PACE, an elderly care program. One memorable case was that of Mr. A.G, a blind 86-year-old man with radiation-induced frontal lobe injury who wanted to return home and cook despite his doctor’s expressed safety concerns. Estranged from his family, Mr. A.G. relied on cooking to find fulfillment. Recognizing the conflict between autonomy and beneficence, I joined the physicians in brainstorming and recommending ways he could cook while being supervised.

I realized that the role of a physician was to mediate between the medical care plan and the patient’s wishes to make a decision that preserves their dignity. As we considered possibilities, the physicians’ genuine concern for the patient’s emotional well-being exemplified the compassion I want to emulate as a future doctor. Our discussions emphasized the rigor of medicine — the challenge of ambiguity and the importance of working with the individual to serve their needs.

With COVID-19 ravaging our underserved communities, my desire to help others drove me towards community-based health as a contact tracer for my county’s Department of Public Health. My conversations uncovered dozens of heartbreaking stories that revealed how socioeconomic status and job security inequities left poorer families facing significantly harsher quarantines than their wealthier counterparts.

Moreover, many residents expressed fear or mistrust, such as a 7-person family who could not safely isolate in their one-bedroom and one-bath apartment. I offered to arrange free hotel accommodations but was met with a guarded response from the father: “We’ll be fine. We can maintain the 6 feet.” While initially surprised, I recognized how my government affiliation could lead to a power dynamic that made the family feel uneasy. Thinking about how to make myself more approachable, I employed motivational interviewing skills and small talk to build rapport. 

When we returned to discussing the hotel, he trusted my intentions and accepted the offer. Our bond of mutual trust grew over two weeks of follow-ups, leaving me humbled yet gratified to see his family transition to a safer living situation. As a future physician, I realize I may encounter many first-time or wary patients; and I feel prepared to create a responsive environment that helps them feel comfortable about integrating into our health system.

Through my clinical and non-clinical experiences, I have witnessed the far-reaching impact of physicians, from building lasting connections with patients to being a rock of support during uncertain times. I cannot imagine a career without these dynamics—of improving the health and wellness of patients, families, and society and reducing healthcare disparities. While I know the path ahead is challenging, I am confident I want to dedicate my life to this profession.

Personal Statement Example #4

Student Accepted to UCSF SOM, Harvard Medical School

Countless visits to specialists in hope of relief left me with a slew of inconclusive test results and uncertain diagnoses. “We cannot do anything else for you.” After twelve months of waging a war against my burning back, aching neck and tingling limbs, hearing these words at first felt like a death sentence, but I continued to advocate for myself with medical professionals. 

A year of combatting pain and dismissal led me to a group of compassionate and innovative physicians at the Stanford Pain Management Center (SPMC). Working alongside a diverse team including pain management specialists and my PCP, I began the long, non-linear process of uncovering the girl that had been buried in the devastating rubble of her body’s pain. 

From struggling with day-to-day activities like washing my hair and sitting in class to thriving as an avid weightlifter and zealous student over the span of a year, I realized I am passionate about preventing, managing and eliminating chronic illnesses through patient-centered incremental care and medical innovation.

A few days after my pain started, I was relieved to hear that I had most likely just strained some muscles, but after an empty bottle of muscle relaxers, the stings and aches had only intensified. I went on to see 15 specialists throughout California, including neurologists, physiatrists, and rheumatologists. Neurological exams. MRIs. Blood tests. All inconclusive.

Time and time again, specialists dismissed my experience due to ambiguous test results and limited time. I spent months trying to convince doctors that I was losing my body; they thought I was losing my mind. Despite these letdowns, I did not stop fighting to regain control of my life. Armed with my medical records and a detailed journal of my symptoms, I continued scheduling appointments with the intention of finding a doctor who would dig deeper in the face of the unknown.

Between visits, I researched my symptoms and searched for others with similar experiences. One story on Stanford Medicine’s blog, “Young Woman Overcomes Multiple Misdiagnoses and Gets Her Life Back”, particularly stood out to me and was the catalyst that led me to the SPMC. After bouncing from doctor to doctor, I had finally found a team of physicians who would take the profound toll of my pain on my physical and mental well-being seriously.

Throughout my year-long journey with my care team at the SPMC, I showed up for myself even when it felt like I would lose the war against my body. I confronted daily challenges with fortitude. When lifting my arms to tie my hair into a ponytail felt agonizing, YouTube tutorials trained me to become a braiding expert. Instead of lying in bed all day when my medication to relieve nerve pain left me struggling to stay awake, I explored innovative alternative therapies with my physicians; after I was fed up with the frustration of not knowing the source of my symptoms, I became a research subject in a clinical trial aimed at identifying and characterizing pain generators in patients suffering from “mysterious” chronic pain.

At times, it felt like my efforts were only resulting in lost time. However, seeing how patient my care team was with me, offering long-term coordinated support and continually steering me towards a pain-free future, motivated me to grow stronger with every step of the process. Success was not an immediate victory, but rather a long journey of incremental steps that produced steady, life-saving progress over time.

My journey brought me relief as well as clarity with regard to how I will care for my future patients. I will advocate for them even when complex conditions, inconclusive results and stereotypes discourage them from seeking continued care; work with them to continually adapt and improve an individualized plan tailored to their needs and goals, and engage in pioneering research and medical innovations that can directly benefit them.

Reflecting on the support system that enabled me to overcome the challenges of rehabilitation, I was inspired to help others navigate life with chronic pain in a more equitable and accessible way. Not everyone has the means to work indefinitely with a comprehensive care team, but most do have a smartphone. As a result, I partnered with a team of physicians and physical therapists at the University of California San Francisco to develop a free mobile application that guides individuals dealing with chronic pain through recovery. Based on my own journey, I was able to design the app with an understanding of the mental and physical toll that pain, fear, and loss of motivation take on patients struggling with chronic pain. Having features like an exercise bank with a real-time form checker and an AI-based chatbot to motivate users, address their concerns and connect them to specific health care resources, our application helped 65 of the 100 pilot users experience a significant reduction in pain and improvement in mental health in three months.

My journey has fostered my passion for patient-centered incremental medicine and medical innovation. From barely living to thriving, I have become a trailblazing warrior with the perseverance and resilience needed to pursue these passions and help both the patients I engage with and those around the world.

Related posts:

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  • Finding the Perfect Research Project
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  • How to Answer “What is the Biggest Healthcare Problem” During an Interview

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Medicine Personal Statement

Get advice on your Medicine Personal Statement, including what to include, how to structure it, and how you can get help with this vital part of your application.

  • Learn what a Medicine Personal Statement is
  • Understand how long it needs to be
  • Find out what it should include
  • Discover how to structure your Personal Statement
  • Explore how to get help with it

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Your Personal Statement for Medicine is your chance to tell Medical Schools why you want to study Medicine and become a Doctor. With a successful Medicine Personal Statement, you’ll really stand out from the pool of other applicants.

What is a Medicine Personal Statement?

Your Personal Statement supports your UCAS Application. It’s designed to help Medical Schools choose the best candidates.

It gives you the chance to tell Admissions Tutors about the skills or qualities you have that are relevant to studying Medicine and being a Doctor – and write about your motivation to study Medicine .

Have a look at our Medicine Personal Statement examples from current Medical School students to get an understanding of the content and structure.

How Important Is It?

Medical Schools use Personal Statements in different ways.

You’ll find that some Medical Schools won’t pay much attention to it, while some will use it to shortlist candidates for interview . Some will also use it to form the basis of interview questions , so make sure your PS is interview-proof and doesn’t include anything you can’t justify or elaborate on.

If a Medical School is struggling to decide between two candidates, they may use the Personal Statement as a deciding factor.

You can learn more in our guide to how Medical Schools use your Personal Statement .

Make Sure You Stand Out

Get The Best Personal Statement Advice

How Long Should My Personal Statement Be?

Your Medicine Personal Statement needs to be 4,000 characters – which is around 500 words – over 47 lines.

What Should My Personal Statement Include?

Medicine Personal Statements should cover the following elements, so that Medical Schools can get to know you.

  • Motivation — Why do you want to study Medicine and become a Doctor?
  • Exploration — What have you done to learn about Medicine? For example: work experience , volunteering , wider reading or research
  • Suitability — Why are you a good fit for Medicine?

Reflection should be a big part of your PS. When you’re writing it, don’t just list your work experience placements, academic achievements and extracurricular activities — reflect on key learning points and link everything back to qualities that are important for Medicine.

For more specific advice about what to include when you’re applying for Graduate Entry Medicine, check out this blog .

What Should My Personal Statement NOT Include?

When you’re writing your Personal Statement, try to keep it concise and avoid unnecessary information. After all, you only have a limited number of words!

Some common PS mistakes include:

  • Giving a generic or clich éd reason for wanting to become a Doctor
  • Writing about what you did for work experience, without offering any reflections on what you actually learned from the experience
  • Claiming that you have a certain quality (e.g. empathy ) without backing it up
  • Listing all of the extracurricular activities you do, without mentioning the skills they helped you to develop which are relevant to Medicine

Of course, it’s also important to check your PS for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Get it checked by someone else for a second opinion too.

When Should I Start Writing My Personal Statement?

Personal Statements need to be submitted before the UCAS deadline, which is typically a date in October for Medicine.

Don’t leave it until the last minute! It’s a good idea to start working on it during the summer break – perhaps after you’ve got your UCAT out of the way. If you leave it all until September or October, remember that you’ll be writing it alongside A-Level work and BMAT revision if you’re planning to sit the BMAT.

Start by reading some Medicine Personal Statement examples for inspiration. Then note down everything you can think of to cover your Motivation, Exploration and Suitability for Medicine. Perhaps check this content plan with someone like a parent to see if you’ve missed out anything important. After you have a clear plan, you can start writing your first draft.

How Should I Structure My Personal Statement?

The structure of your Personal Statement is a matter of personal preference, but we advise you to follow a format that covers the following points:

  • Why you want to study Medicine and become a Doctor (Motivation)
  • Work experience and/or volunteering – and what you learned from it (Exploration)
  • Wider reading and study beyond your school curriculum (Exploration)
  • Skills from extracurricular activities which are relevant to a Doctor’s skill set, e.g. leadership skills, communication skills, teamwork, etc (Suitability)
  • Conclusion (Motivation)

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Make Your Application Amazing

What Is Changing In The Future?

UCAS has announced that Personal Statements will be changing in the future. To make the writing process more structured, there are plans to provide applicants with a series of questions to answer.

These questions have not been confirmed yet, but UCAS says they are likely to cover areas such as:

  • Motivation for the course
  • Preparation for the course through learning and through other experiences
  • Preparedness for student life
  • Preferred learning styles
  • Extenuating circumstances

According to UCAS, the changes will be introduced no earlier than 2024, for candidates applying for 2025 entry. Find out more here.

How Can I Get Help?

Getting feedback on your Personal Statement for Medical School is incredibly important.

You could ask a relative to read it, give you feedback on how it reads, and let you know if you’ve forgotten any big accomplishments that they can remember. Another option is to ask a friend or a teacher to have a read and tell you if it makes sense and gives a good impression.

You might also like to get professional help with your medical Personal Statement, since it’s such an important piece of writing.

Of course it’s important that you write it yourself, but getting advice and getting it reviewed can be incredibly beneficial. Some of the best options include:

  • Get a Personal Statement Review by an Admissions Tutor
  • Join a Personal Statement Workshop to get help crafting an excellent statement
  • Focus on one-to-one help with Personal Statement Tutoring for your Medical School application

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  • October 17, 2022

What Is a Medical School Personal Statement?

A pre-med student working on their medical school personal statement

Your medical school personal statement is an essay that is a critical piece of your admissions profile. In addition to your GPA, MCAT score, experience, and the mandatory prerequisites, admissions committees want to hear your story and discover what makes you stand out from the crowded field of applicants.

In this article, we will answer frequently asked questions about the medical school personal statement in order to help you write the best personal statement possible.

What Is Included in the Personal Statement?

When considering how to write a personal statement for medical school the first thing you should do is outline what content you want to include. Great personal statements for medical school are unique, informative, and interesting. Your personal statement should explain in detail who you are, why you’ve chosen medicine, and what makes you a compelling applicant for medical school.

While each medical school personal statement is unique, the American Medical College Application Service ® does suggest you cover the following topics:

  • Why did you select the field of medicine?
  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What do you want medical schools to know about you that has not been disclosed in other sections of the application?
  • Unique hardships, challenges, and obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
  • Comments on significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained elsewhere in your application.

These suggestions are a baseline of information for your medical school personal statement. You’ll want to include this information but expound creatively. Your personal statement is a chance to tell a story, so be sure to make your story compelling and enjoyable to read.

How Long Should the Personal Statement Be?

If you are wondering how long a personal statement for medical school should be, the maximum length is 5,300 characters (with spaces) – that is approximately 750–1,300 words. You will not be permitted to exceed this character limit.

Why Do Medical Schools Care About Personal Statements?

Medical school admissions committees see thousands of applications each year. As you can imagine, the GPA, MCAT scores, and research experiences for many of these applicants are similar. Medical schools care about personal statements because it gives them an opportunity to learn more about the applicant and discover what differentiates you from other applicants. Great personal statements for medical school will highlight your uniqueness and demonstrate your passion for learning how to practice medicine.

How To Write a Personal Statement for Medical School

In order to write your best medical school personal statement possible, keep the following things in mind…. 

List your greatest qualities

Great personal statements for medical school display confidence and competency. This is not the time to be shy. Be sure to list your greatest strengths and what you feel will make you a great student and a great physician.

When or where have you demonstrated these qualities?

Listing your strengths is a start, but it’s crucial to also give examples of where and how you demonstrated these qualities. Your personal statement for medical school should come with examples of how you utilize your unique capabilities. For example : Talk about how a particular strength helped you lead a volunteer effort in your community; give an example of a time when you used noteworthy quality doing research; discuss how certain strengths benefited your shadowing experience or a research accomplishment. The more specific you can be, the more your medical school personal statement will stand out.

Describe your event as a story

Remember, members of the admissions committee are only human, and they have to read thousands of personal statements. For this reason, be sure to talk about your life in story form. Be interesting, relatable, and creative as you let the admissions committee get a peek into your life. 

Discuss your most formative experiences that led you to medicine

What has transpired in your life that led you to the field of medicine? This is really what admissions committees want to know. As you talk about your life, be sure to inform the reader of the events that have transpired that led you to this career choice. Was there a local doctor that you admired growing up? Did you or a loved one go through an illness that pointed you to medicine? Are there medical professionals in your family who paved the way for this career choice? Whatever experiences you have encountered, be sure to include that in your medical school personal statement.

Conclusion: Reemphasize your qualities, perspectives, and passions

As you conclude your medical school personal statement, be sure to reemphasize your strengths and the things that make you a unique candidate for medical school. Confidently express why you would be a great addition to your medical school(s) of choice.

Mistakes To Avoid

As important as it is to know what to include in your medical school personal statement, it is equally important to know the mistakes to avoid. Here are a few common mistakes . . .

  • Procrastinating because you are intimidated by the process
  • Ignoring the most basic questions: “Why do you want to go to medical school?” and “Why should the admissions committee choose you?”
  • Writing in a dry or boring manner
  • Neglecting to edit and proofread your personal statement
  • Failure to learn from other personal statements for medical school examples

2024 AMCAS Applicant Guide – AAMC for students, applicants, and residents. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2023, from https://students-residents.aamc.org/media/11616/download?attachment

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