The personal statement serves two purposes: It is used to evaluate the individual’s candidacy, as well as a mechanism to advance the health professional school application process.
Use your personal statement to complement other criteria in your health professional school application. Do not use the personal statement to simply reiterate information found in other areas of your application. The personal statement serves to capture qualities, skills, experiences, personal insights and beliefs not easily conveyed through other portions of the application.
Remember that a personal statement will not only make a cognitive impression, but an affective one. Therefore, writing a sincere personal statement that is true to your experience will best represent you as an applicant. Consider organizing your personal statement around the following topics:
1. Your motivation for a career in the field you are pursuing;
2. The influence of your family/early experiences in your life;
3. The influence of people, extracurricular work/volunteer activities in your life;
4. Your long term goals; and/or
5. Your personal philosophy.
In addition, you may wish to include information such as:
Special hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits. Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record, which are not explained elsewhere in your application.
Personal Statement Do’s & Don’ts
- Use as many characters out of the amount you are given (e.g., AMCAS: 5300, AACOMAS: 4500, AADSAS: 4500 character maximum).
- Use precise phrasing and vivid imagery to create engaging narratives.
- Exude confidence in who you are and what you believe and infuse your statement with a positive (but realistic) attitude about your chosen profession.
- Present your achievements graciously (arrogance annoys admission committees).
- If you cannot avoid clichés, put your personal spin on them (not just that your life was changed forever, but why and how).
- Streamline your essay with transitions.
- Use a variety of sentence structures and words.
- Bring your essay full-circle (the beginning and ending should tie in somehow).
- Revise carefully for proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.
- Do not assume readers will make connections for you (be careful with logic and humor).
- Do not try to cover too much (you will have plenty of writing space in secondary applications).
- Do not be overly-dramatic in painting a scene or naming characters.
- Do not bring up what you think is wrong with your chosen health professional field or speak negatively about anything (you want your reader in a nice, happy place).
- Do not bring up any previous illegal or immoral behavior, no matter how compelling of a turnaround you’ve had.
- Do not call attention to misgivings you have about yourself or being a physician, dentist, pharmacist, etc.
- Do not summarize your chronology nor list your activities and awards (these will be available in another section of your application).
- Do not be afraid of starting over (that’s what multiple drafts are all about).