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Thread: How to write a personal statment: Some tips

  1. #1
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    Nov 2006
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    Arrow How to write a personal statment: Some tips

    How to write a personal statment: Some tips

    1) Titles and subtitles help to tell your story. They also break up the page.

    2) Grammar and spelling COUNT! This statement is YOU! Make sure it is clean, and free from errors. A carefully proofed personal statement is taken as a sign that the author is compulsive and thoughtful -just what the training program is looking for.

    3) Don't be afraid to be YOU! No one will remember that your grade school teachers elected you most likely to become a doctor. They will remember the candidate that had to deliver a baby horse on a farm as a teenager. They will most definitely remember the candidate that ran for public office and lost or the one who was promoted in the field from medic to platoon leader. Too many good candidates persist in thinking that the statement is only for academic achievements and medically relevant stuff.

    4) Use whatever stories help define you, your skills, your character. If you can find a way to work your career as a medical interpreter into your story or even a background in sales or your athletic skills.

    5) Use the personal statement to highlight your accomplishments. You may want to dedicate some space in your personal statement for these accomplishments with its own title and a skipped line to make it stand out.

    6) Whatever you do, don't just print out your curriculum vitae in the personal statement space. This is translated as "I had nothing to say so I thought I'd just plop this down here."

    7) BEWARE the TOO SHORT PERSONAL STATEMENT. Having a pleasant amount a white space on the personal statement page is one thing. It makes the whole thing more readable. A 10 or 15 line personal statement is the quickest way to turn off a program. It says that your patient write-ups will also lack imagination and style.

    8) PERSONALIZE your personal statement. Don't settle for telling your audience that there was a diverse population of patients where you trained. Tell them (briefly) some of the stories of the people you have treated. Doctors LOVE to read each other's war stories. You may even find that the stories form the basis for some of your interviews.

    9) Don't make the classic writing mistake of beginning every sentence with "I". In fact, you must work hard to make the piece a good bit of writing. Every paragraph should have a topic sentence followed by two to three sentences that support the topic and then a concluding sentence. Every paragraph should build on the one before it. The first paragraph traditionally ought to tell the reader what you hope to prove and then the last paragraph should tie up to the first and show how you succeeded in telling them.

    10) Have someone good read your personal statement and give you feedback.

    11) The personal statement should fit on one side of one page. No one who reads hundreds of personal statements wants them to be long and drawn out.

    12) There should be some white space on the page. A big box of words can be visually discouraging. If you want it to be read, make is appealing.

    13) Never fawn. Never tell the program director that you are desperate or that he/she will be blessed if they accept you. This kind of behavior undermines your ability to be perceived as a quality doctor on your own terms. In fact, think as positively as possible. Believe it in your heart and make it clear that you consider yourself doing the program a favor by coming for an interview.

    14) Avoid the same old clichés. No program director wants to read 300 statements that begin, "I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I was treated by my family doctor."

    15) Don't be afraid to be creative. Programs are looking for creative people. Creative people make good problem solvers. They are thought of as more able to handle emergencies. Use poetry (in limited quantities), religious stories, and flashbacks to your childhood. Use different narrative lines for effect like switching back and forth between the patient's point of view and yours.

    16) Back up every descriptive thing you say. It's one thing to say, "I'm a team player." It is another thing entirely to say what makes you a team player. Describe the team you were on.

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  2. #2
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    Nov 2006
    Gujarat, India
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    Default Sample personal statements

    These are a few of sample personal statements that have been used in the past. Note that due to public nature of internet using these ditto will never help you succeed. Provided these for a general idea.


    Medicine encompasses numerous areas that I have always found intriguing. Becoming a physician is a life long dream that will fulfill both my personal and career goals. I feel privileged to have found a career that will allow me to accomplish all my aspirations; learning about the human body, helping people and educating them to take better care of their health.

    Throughout my clinical rotations, I have found countless professors and physicians who were exceptionally willing to share their knowledge and experiences with me. I’ve also come to learn that being a teacher is a very critical part of being a physician. Education goes beyond attendings and their students/residents, it also caries over to patients. Explaining, communicating, and helping individuals understand and cope with their illness is an integral part of practicing medicine. One of my patients, whom we will call Mr. Smith, was diagnosed with a reentrant tachyarrhythmia. During my visit one morning, the cardiologist came to inform Mr. Smith of his findings. In addition, the doctor advised the patient to return so they can discuss the possibility of catheter ablation. I immediately sensed fear in Mr. Smith’s eyes. After the cardiologist left the room, I asked him if he had any questions. He was silent for a while, then asked, “So what is wrong with my heart?” I thoroughly and fundamentally explained what a PVC was and the procedures necessary to assist him. I answered all Mr. Smith’s questions until he felt comfortable with the knowledge of his condition. I went back to see Mr. Smith on the day he was to be discharged and reiterated the importance of following up with the cardiologist. Prior to leaving, Mr. Smith looked at me with a smile on his face and said “Thank you for everything, you will make a great doctor”. Mr. Smith’s comment left me speechless and humbled. It was at that point I realized the importance of educating your patients.

    Upon completion of my rotations, I felt most complete in Internal Medicine. I found Internal Medicine to be most rewarding at the end of the day. I found great enjoyment in the intellectual stimulation and working with adults. I have many attributes to contribute to internal medicine; I’m dedicated and loyal to my cause, I have great listening skills as well as interpersonal skills, I’m a critical thinker and problem solver. As a decisive thinker, I plan to use deductive reasoning to reach a diagnosis from the data obtained about a patient. Moreover, Internal medicine has much to offer in return such as the diversity of medical conditions and the comprehensive medical care over long periods of time. Furthermore, I find the challenges of treating a broad range of illness enjoyable and rewarding.

    On a personal note, I feel that being a physician is a privilege and an honor that should not be taken lightly. The responsibility of caring for one’s health is both significant and fulfilling. To treat an ill individual and nurse them back to health is awe-inspiring. I’m reminded of a quote that I once read which states that “medical education is not completed in medical school: it is only begun”. Thus far, my journey has been most gratifying and has reached beyond all my expectations. I look forward to the challenges and endeavors to come. The road to medicine is not about the destiny but the journey itself and I look forward to that journey.


    Medical school has been a time of profound personal, emotional, and, intellectual growth. My journey has been molded by the passing of my grandparents, the gratefulness of patients I have encountered, and the example of inspiring attending physicians. After having the opportunity to rotate through many specialties as a student, I believe what has been said by many: “Internists are who people think of when they think of a doctor.” Through my experiences, internal medicine embodies what I envision a physician to be: compassionate, respected, and knowledgeable. I am looking forward to a career in internal medicine for the intellectual stimulation that will challenge me, the opportunity to provide continuous care for my patients, and the opportunity to be an advocate for both patients and fellow physicians.

    My grandmother passed away just as I was beginning medical school, and my grandfather passed away early during my second year. During the end-stages of their lives I found myself traveling back and forth between school in the Midwest and home in Arizona as many as three times a month to help with their care. I observed hospital care from the point-of-view of the patient and the patient’s family including the day-to-day concerns for quality of life. Being there during my grandparents’ final weeks of life and being able to let them know how important they were to me was a valuable experience. Someday, I will be taking care of someone’s grandmother or grandfather or uncle or sister. And I will remember my experience with my own grandparents.

    I was also inspired by what medicine could do for my patients. During my junior medicine clerkship I found a niche where I could play an important role. With fewer responsibilities I could spend more time with my patients explaining in treatments and diagnostics in more detail. One of my patients who had been admitted for recurring chest pain, told me that he and his wife were moved by my calming influence throughout his course in the E.D. and upon admission to the telemetry floor. Encouraged by these experiences, I was inspired to learn about my patient’s condition for my personal intellectual stimulation as well as for the education my patient. Internists are well-respected for their knowledge and ability to manage complex cases. I enjoy solving complex problems in a systemic and methodical manner. I believe that armed with the knowledge that an internal medical residency could equip me with, I could treat the whole person: their emotional needs as well as their medical needs. I would have the opportunity to continue to care for my patients, work with them to prevent future symptoms, and develop lasting friendships.

    I have been further inspired by my attendings during my rotations. Despite managed care time restraints, I physicians who took the time to explain and give comfort to their patients. These were the doctors I would like to become someday: doctors who are knowledgeable and skilled, thorough but efficient, and acting as compassionate allies in a place where there is pressure to discharge patients as quickly as possible. In my career I plan to be a strong advocate for my patients, while also being an advocate for physicians in the increasingly complex and difficult world of medicine. Prior to medical school, during my study of public health and during my experience as a Congressional Intern, I was interested in the future of health care with its concerns with cost, accessibility, and physician liability. Physicians have a special role in society as they are trusted by patients and respected by policy makers, allowing us to be strong advocates for our patients and our community.
    I have been inspired to continue my education in internal medicine in a strong academic residency program. I would also like to complete a fellowship following my completion of residency with plans to practice in an urban or suburban environment. I look forward to a career in internal medicine with the hope to provide compassionate care, to receive intellectual stimulation, and to build life-long friendships with patients and colleagues.

    My decision to enter medicine is a coalescence of several driving forces. My admiration and respect for doctors and their noble work is one of my primary reasons for wanting to pursue a career in medicine. The other is the simple fact that the vast ocean of knowledge, the continual advances in treatment, and the ability to cure disease fascinate me. In medical school, my open mind and experiences in a wide range of specialties were key factors in my personal growth and career objectives.

    During my internal medicine rotations, I worked with a variety of patients, from a range of economic, social and cultural backgrounds, and featuring a wide range of conditions. While I mastered the techniques of taking patient histories and conducting thorough physical examinations, each patient taught me something new. I actively involved myself in my ward duties and routine diagnostic procedures to gain hands-on experience, willingly stayed up late discussing cases and monitoring patients with my colleagues, and eagerly spent my free hours sitting in the wards, interacting with and educating patients about their diseases. Long interested in education and community outreach, I also plunged into various community services including HIV counseling, rural school health checkups and health camps organized by my institution. Helping the underprivileged have a positive outlook on life and bringing smiles to their faces, during medical school and my time in India, has been extremely rewarding.

    After graduating from medical school, I had the opportunity to serve as the medical officer in charge of forty-two villages in rural India, with a population of 33,000. While managing an outpatient clinic, antenatal and post-natal care, deliveries, and patient admissions, I matured as a physician and learned to apply my education in a clinical setting. I also carried out various national health programs including the World Health Organization's Malaria Control, Universal Immunization, Maternal and Child health, and Leprosy Control programs.

    During a rainy season, a cholera epidemic struck one of the villages and flooded the hospital with patients. My colleague and I went from house to house, educating people about the importance of sanitation and chlorination of water, but despite our efforts, the epidemic spread to the neighboring villages. Although I felt helpless and angry at the lack of technology and resources that bound my hands, my colleagues and I decided to fight as a team. Nursing sick people back to health gave me my first taste of satisfaction as a physician and helped me to appreciate the severity and complexity of healthcare issues today.

    I intend to take full advantage of a residency program in internal medicine and to use the knowledge I acquire there to heal patients and train others interested in the field. My diverse life experiences have helped me realize that I possess the determination, resilience, mental strength and compassion to succeed as a valuable asset to a medical team. I want to be a resource for my patients and a source of continual medical care. Considering the strong healthcare system, numerous opportunities for research, and advanced technology in America, this is where I see my dream coming true.

    Personal Statement #4

    I was born and brought up in the picturesque countryside of Kerala. I was taught in a Christian school that encouraged close interaction among students and teachers for fuller development of an honest and compassionate personality. From the beginning itself science related subjects fascinated me for they represented a natural inquisitiveness and curiosity that is a distinctive feature of the human mind. My schooling was punctuated with numerous scholarships and awards for my proficiency in these subjects. In high school I decided to go for a career in Medicine as it involves the unique responsibility of helping and caring for people while also providing a continuing intellectual challenge. To make a patient, who initially presents frightened and anxious, to relax and smile and say thank you, after getting appropriately treated with a compassionate and humane attitude, appears to me to be the greatest reward any human being can ask for. My hard-work, commitment and sincerity paid off when I was selected to the premiere medical institute of my country-in fact South Asia-All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); where only the top 34 students of a country of a billion people get admission after a stiff & competitive entrance examination.
    The atmosphere of this Institute encourages free thought and has been an ideal fertile ground for some of the best clinicians and medical scientists of the country. The unique mode of teaching in this Institute involves case studies, case discussions, integrated seminars and lectures that help in developing a sound theoretical base. AIIMS being the nodal center in the health services of the nation attracts a large number of patients representing a broad spectrum of conditions. I was fortunate in being exposed to such cases and I could learn the most modern methods of management employed to effect a cure and alleviate the suffering of these people. However such a large load of patients has led to an overload of facilities available here and the desired focus on research is lost sometimes. The internship rotation further consolidated my clinical skills and made my desire to be amongst the highest order research facility even more acute. The academic facilities in US institutions are amongst the best in the world and so I decided to apply here. During my undergraduation, my curiosity in exploring the socio-cultural aspects of diseases prompted me to become the Batch Leader and along with my colleagues I completed four community based research projects, in addition to lots of health talks and street plays dealing with the social cancers of smoking, alcoholism and AIDS. These activities have helped me get an insight into this oft-forgotten aspect of Medicine.
    My interest in Internal Medicine for Residency is centered on the fact that of all branches of Medicine it remains the one where a comprehensive care-plan for the patient involving all aspects of management is developed. The ability to extract from a mass of contradictory physical signs and volumes of laboratory data those items that are of crucial significance; to know in a difficult case whether to treat or to watch; and to estimate in any given clinical scenario whether a proposed treatment entails a greater risk than the disease itself are all involved in the decisions that an internist must make many times a day and therein lies the thrill of Internal Medicine. Besides, Internal Medicine throws open a multitude of fascinating sub-specialties and branches for research and fellowship.
    After finishing my MBBS, I decided to strengthen my knowledge in basics-and Microbiology came to my mind first. In a developing country like India, plagued by infectious diseases, a Microbiology Lab is the hub of all activities. The postings in Bacteriology and Tuberculosis Lab fascinated me and provided me with an insight into these all-important fields.My passions are Karate and swimming. My leadership abilities came into the limelight when I was unanimously elected as the Class Representative for two consecutive years of final MBBS. My personal experiences have taught me compassion for the sick and an ability to identify with them in a unique way. My karate training has given me self-confidence, drive and initiative; when something needs to be done, I do it. I never quit until a job is complete, and a job is never completed unless done correctly. I have always pushed myself hard because I knew I could do better. In medical school I studied the material because it was essential to the care of the patients I will one day see. In addition to possessing drive, compassion and integrity, I learn quickly and apply knowledge to benefit my patients.
    I seek a residency program that will provide a solid teaching foundation by both faculty and residents and a broad clinical experience in both inpatient and ambulatory settings. I welcome the opportunity for clinical research during my training. I want to work with people who are also passionate about their work and are well rounded in their lifestyles. Most importantly, I want a program that fosters a team atmosphere where faculty and residents work together for the patient's welfare.
    I am committed to working sincerely in my residency training and am pledged to devote all my energies towards this end.

  3. #3
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    Oct 2007
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    One tip that I got from the peer review portion is to write this like a normal essay with many drafts. Do not be afraid to brainstorm, and scrap ideas that don't work. One thing that I did was I wrote a personal statement that was about twice as long as allowed on purpose. I then took it to some students in the English department at my school and had them dissect all of my problems. We trimmed out the bad parts until it was just under the maximum characters allotted.

    Remember that the personal statement IS you. If you are on the fense in terms of scores, a great personal statement can get you the interview and a poor one can prevent you from getting it.

    We work so hard in school to get to this point, now do everything that you can so that the reader knows us. Good luck to all

  4. #4
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    thanks for the post

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