You’ve taken the MCAT, completed all the pre-reqs, and maybe shadowed a physician, done some research, and volunteered. Now it’s time to make sure you’re all in for the last legs of this long journey. In this series, we’ll discuss how you can continue to navigate your way to a med school acceptance by analyzing your profile, creating a strong med school application, writing stellar AMCAS and secondary essays, and nailing your interview.
“Why do you want to be a doctor?”
Surely this is an important question to answer in your own mind and address in your personal statement. That assumption doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that you should begin the essay by answering the question or that your answer should be the focus of the piece.
Some applicants have compelling stories to tell about an illness or injury, an inspiring mentor or a memorable service experience that pointed them in the direction of medicine. If you have such a story, you’re set with your opening paragraph and your theme; your challenge is to draw readers in and make them want to know what happened next.
If you’re like most applicants – an intelligent person who has an aptitude for science, a strong inclination toward service and no life-altering experiences or “light bulb moments” that led you to choose medicine – your focus should be on what sets you apart from the rest of the thousands of applicants. Is your college major a bit offbeat for a premed? Did you or your family face economic or other hardships and obstacles? Do you have any unusual jobs, interests, or hobbies? (Consider the candidate who taught classical Indian dance at her college while she was an undergrad and studied the discipline in India for a year before applying to medical school. Or the guy who opened an on-campus organic juice bar to promote health and local, clean eating.)
If you devote the valuable and very limited space AMCAS provides for the essay to those qualities and accomplishments that make you unique, admissions committees will gain a better understanding of the kind of person you are.
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