JustStartApplications.com Releases Tip Sheet for Medical School Applicants

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JustStartApplications.com releases a personal statement writing tip sheet for medical school applicants.

On college campuses far and wide, pre-med students have a reputation for being overachievers. After all, they’re the ones hunched over lab desks, falling asleep in the library stacks and stumbling like zombies across the quad. They do this supposedly because they’re passionate about their chosen field, because the competition for entry into medical school is fierce, and because they want their application to be stronger than anyone else’s out there. And yet, when it’s finally time to load up the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) website and get going, the one place where many applicants will lose their way is the one place where they can really stand out: the personal statement. Stressed, overwhelmed, and often having not written for several years, many applicants scratch their heads and turn in desperation to Google for a personal statement template that will only make them blend in.

So, what can medical school applicants do to make their personal statements compelling, human and unique? JustStartApplications.com offers five top tips.

5. Know What Programs Are Looking For
Sure, every medical school wants to snag those candidates who rock the numbers. But for most applicants that fall into the middle of the pack, it’s compassion, humanity, a patient-centered attitude, and/or an unusually high research interest that will make them stand out. Unlike when applicants applied for college, the admissions committee is looking for a colleague just as much as they are seeking someone who will take instruction. They want to know that an applicant will hold similar professional values, that they’ll communicate well, that they’ll be adaptable, and that they’ll be easy to work with.

4. Know the Times
Like it or not, the healthcare profession is currently going through fundamental changes. While applicants should never risk making a political statement, a great way to take that personal statement up to the next level is by connecting personal interests and passions to deeper ideas about an applicant’s potential contribution to the future of healthcare. This can be something as simple as advocating for more preventative healthcare to both better patient care and keep down long-term costs, or something more complex.

3. Remember Those Passions
Even in undergrad, the doctor career ladder is one of the most difficult and rigorous out there. Entering freshman consider the major, declare, and before they know it, inertia has taken over and they have no idea why they even decided to take this route in the first place. But “my parents wanted me to do this” and “it just seems like a safe route” aren’t good enough reasons to apply to medical school. Applicants should slow down, ask themselves why they really decided to go this route, and try to remember just what it is about the field that drives them to persevere through such difficulties.

2. Think of Small Moments
Hands down one of the best ways to achieve point 3 is for applicants to recall those small experiences in the field that really got their heart pumping. Perhaps this is a moment when they literally got someone’s heart pumping during their experience as an EMT, or perhaps this is when they made the day of a little girl in a clinic better not through medicine but simply by listening to her story. These moments are a great opportunity to demonstrate passion.

1. Show, Don’t Tell
By far, the best way to make a medical school personal statement stand out is to follow that old piece of writing advice: show, don’t tell. Anyone can say, “I’m a professional who communicates well.” Only one applicant can tell a story that demonstrates a unique moment of action or reflection when they did just that. Of course, applicants will need to do some measure of telling. In fact, personal statements are best done when there is an overarching theme that ties the shown moments together, and it’s often best if this statement is told to the reader outright so they can’t miss it.

In such a competitive field, the importance of a great essay can’t be underestimated. Being a good storyteller is the best way to stand out. The best tip of all: have fun with it!

Founded in 2009, the mission of JustStartApplications.com is to help students applying to college, graduate, medical and law school tell the kind of authentic, compelling stories that will get them into the programs of their choice. Headquartered in Austin, TX, Just Start Applications operates entirely online through Skype and Google Docs, providing access to expert writers and admissions coaches to anyone in the world at the click of a button. Like Just Start Applications on Facebook here.

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Leah Kaminsky
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