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Sunday, September 18, 2011
So you want to be a Doctor?
With the early decision deadlines having passed for many U.S. Medical Schools, and the remainder due within the next few months, it is scrambling time for medical school applicants. At this juncture, with test scores, academics and professional experiences already catalogued, the one component that still needs to be polished to a shine is the personal statement. Most students with the mettle to approach medical school aren't lacking in ambition or talent. What they sometimes lack is the ability to put it down eloquently on paper.
Having read admissions essays for more than a decade, I have seen personal statement cliches wear out their welcomes, and it is often nowhere truer than in the essays of aspiring medical students. Here is my advice for pitfalls to avoid:
- "I want to help people". Don't assume that your admissions board doesn't already know this. Helping is what doctors do. Skip past this sentiment to the why and how of it. Better yet, discuss how you've already started doing this.
- "I like science". Certainly helpful but a love of science alone won't likely get you through the rigors of study, residency and practice. Again, if you're seriously approaching medical school, you should have some research under your belt already. Talk about it with purpose, and avoid too much talk in the abstract about how you want to change the world.
- "I shadowed a doctor/volunteered in a hospital". With no disrespect intended to those who have started along this path-it is not enough. Your competition is miles ahead of you. If, in fact, this exposure to a small slice of real world medicine is what has inspired you-fantastic. Just make sure that you have more than that to go on. I'm not a medical practitioner, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it is more than just a job. And that's just it. The people who practice and advance medicine are vital to the health of our society. Your medical personal statement must cut through the wearied paths of bubbly promise to the heart of what it really means to become a doctor. It is in that interior world that the truly effective personal statement resides.
Labels: so you want to be a doctor
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