Do you want to apply to medical school, but don’t know how? The first step is knowing how to write statements of purpose for medical school admissions committees.
All prospective students apply to U.S. medical schools through the AMCAS – American Medical College Application Service. The application system is managed by the Association of American Medical College. Applicants fill out a standard form that includes personal information about themselves and their families, any schools they have attended, courses taken, grades, medical-related activities, and references they have.
The applicant then specifies the medical schools to which he or she plans to apply. Then add motivation essays – one to three, depending on the program and level of study. Those applying to M.D. or Ph.D. programs need a Personal Comments Essay, an M.D. or Ph.D. essay. Also, an essay describing the student’s existing research experience – the Significant Research Experience Essay.
At first glance, this may seem complicated. After all, there are no uniform rules for writing a medical school personal statement. An institution’s committee looks at writing style, argument, text structure, appropriateness, and other factors.
To increase your chances of being accepted to medical school, read the rules for applying to medical school. We have prepared template personal statements for you with clear instructions!
What You Need to Know Before Applying to Medical School
How long are you going to study?
Medical school in the United States lasts four years, followed by three to seven years of residency training. After that, there are additional programs that last one to four years for those who wish to broaden or deepen their specialization and enhance their practical skills, which do not lead to a degree. Students must be prepared for an enormous and varied workload, including many hours of classes, practice, and anatomy labs, as well as clinical practice.
To obtain a medical degree, students must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), or board exam, which consists of three stages:
- At the end of the second year of medical school;
- During the fourth year of medical school;
- After the first year of residency.
These exams vary by structure and content, but together they ensure that a young professional’s knowledge and skills meet the standards of American medical education.
You’ve probably heard about the fact that more than half of all applicants don’t get into medical school. This happens even to applicants with very high entrance exam scores. What is the reason? The reason for rejection may be a bad essay.
The admission committee carefully examines each essay and concludes the applicant’s motivation, desire to study and vision of the future. Theoretical knowledge and a high test score do not reveal a person’s true goals. That’s why an essay score is essential for applying to medical school. So your medical statement has to be eye catching!
Contents of the Medical School Statements of Purpose
You should know by now that when one wants to submit a press release, a purpose essay, a dissertation, nearly everything, they need to follow a specific format. You can read more here about it to prepare.
When filling out the medical school application form, you will need to write a medical school personal statement of up to 5,300 characters without spaces (that’s a little over 500 words or 1.5 pages of text). All forms have the same theme: “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to medical school”.
Many applicants find it difficult to decipher this theme. What does it mean? The rules require you to write a personal statement for medical school that answers two questions:
- Why exactly YOU should go to medical school and not any other applicant?
- Why have you chosen medical practice as the future profession?
Admission officers want to avoid recruiting students to medical school based on scores alone. They want to make sure everyone consciously wants to be a doctor. No one can become a qualified medical practitioner without the desire to help people and learn hard.
The Biggest Mistake in Personal Statements
To help you write a great essay, we analyzed different types of sample of personal statements.
The biggest mistake medical school applicants make is copying sample applications on forums and blogs. For example, on Student Doctor Network, Reddit. You can find quality admissions samples of personal statements on these portals.
But remember that thousands of other applicants use these same samples to write their essays. This means that your work will not be unique. The admissions committee will see hundreds of similar essays because they are all written using the same samples. That’s why we didn’t use templates that are presented on popular platforms or social networks.
Of course, you can take free writing courses. But will it help if you don’t learn real tips on writing medical school statements of purpose?
The most important task of any medical school applicant is to write a unique paper and answer the two questions we mentioned above.
The following will give you a step-by-step guide to the rules for writing an introduction, body, and conclusion in medical school statements of purpose. You will also learn the guidelines for adding citations and various facts. This will help you look more convincing among other authors and medical school applicants.
How to Write a Proper Introduction to Medical School Statements of Purpose
The introduction of your essay attracts the most attention. You need to catch the reader’s eye in a few sentences and prove that your text is interesting. To begin with, make a list of the features of your character that you want to talk about.
Those may be purposefulness and responsibility. Don’t forget to think of memorization skills, the application of theoretical knowledge in practice, and such. Then recall or think of situations that confirm these character traits and skills. Remember that you have to prove all the arguments with real facts. You can make them up, but they must be in your text.
You should not talk about your hobbies and interests at the beginning of the text.
A good introduction consists of 7-10 sentences. In these, you should talk briefly about yourself and your ambition to become a doctor. Also, write about how you are achieving this. At the end of the introduction, write about the content of the follow-up text. Make a summary so that readers from the committee can easily navigate your text.
Don’t forget text structure and paragraphs every 4-6 sentences.
If you find it difficult to think of several qualities of your character, ask your family and friends to tell you about them. Your mother, father, brother, sister, or grandparents are able to see the traits you don’t even know you have. They can tell about your kindness, honesty, compassion, willingness to learn, and optimism. Don’t forget to back up all of these qualities with real-life situations. Choose only 1-3 qualities and focus on them. Don’t try to look like a perfect person.
How to Write the Main Part to Medical School Statements of Purpose
After the introductory section, you need to move on to the main topic of your essay. Here you can talk about the situations that motivated you to become a doctor. Don’t forget to think of or describe life events that motivate you to help people.
For example, the following text would be very successful:
“I want to go to medical school because as a child, I had a friend who had a sick mother. I was very sorry about that, and I tried to help my friend morally. At that point, I realized that I wanted to help good people and be there for them if my loved ones needed skilled medical care.”
You can only use this as an example. But try to write the truth and not lie in your texts. This is easy to check. If the examiners find untrue information in your summary of experience, they will invalidate your entrance exam. If you don’t know how to start writing, read the tips on how to overcome writer’s block.
What else might be useful in an essay:
- Information about participating in volunteer movements about organizations;
- Traveling and learning about different medical institutions (e.g., visiting the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia);
- Social work (e.g., helping the sick or elderly in nursing homes).
If you still have time before the entrance exam, be sure to do social work. You must have the experience to describe it in the body of the essay. For example, you can volunteer at any social home or organization. Take a few days to do this.
This is enough to describe your experience of compassion and desire to help people. Examiners are more likely to take these kinds of facts into account. You can’t just write that you want to be a doctor.
Here is an example of a successful text about working in a nursing home in New Orleans:
“In my spare time during the summer vacation, I visited a nursing home in New Orleans. I did it on my own without being asked or ordered by my parents. It was a new experience for me. Despite the high temperatures and humidity, I woke up at 8 a.m. every day and took public transportation to the nursing home.
There I spent time with elderly people, helped them with cleaning, interacted and went out for walks with them. I became especially good friends with Linda. She’s 79 years old. She’s from Houston. Even after the summer vacation, we talk on the phone. She tells me about her health, and I share recommendations. This experience will help me become a good doctor.”
Don’t forget that in the main body of the essay, you must describe your character traits in life situations. If at the beginning of the text you wrote about 2 character traits, describe in what situations they manifest. 90% of applicants forget to do this.
Writing tips might help you in writing your exam text. Follow them to make it easier and less stressful to write properly. Remember, the form matters a lot.
How to Write the Conclusion Part to Medical School Statements of Purpose
Once you’ve finished describing the main part, go to the conclusion. Remember, by now you should have answers to the questions about why you decided to become a doctor and what qualities distinguish you from other applicants.
The final part of the text needs to be summarized. Answer three questions briefly:
- What are your prospects in medical work;
- What qualities will help you achieve those perspectives;
- What is your passion for medicine?
For example, you could write a sample conclusion like this (the best brief example):
“Over the past few years, I have come to value life and health more than ever before.
First, I value clinical experience. To obtain it, I have become a volunteer and periodically help people in need. My experience of talking and interacting with people has shown me that there are many ways to get rid of ailments. And each of these ways I am exploring.
It is not only therapy and surgery but also communication, compassion, and empathy. I am sure that after a year of training, I will be able to apply even more theoretical and practical knowledge to benefit people.”
You should understand that your essay does not have to be directly related to medicine. You do not have to have a medical background before you write your medical school application essays. Admissions committee members focus more on your personal qualities. They want to be sure that you sincerely want to be a doctor.
We have given examples of the most successful introduction, main part, and conclusion of an essay for a medical school entrance exam. We have also described the basic requirements for such texts. To assimilate the material, we suggest reading writing tips on medical school statements of purpose:
- Your essay for the entrance exam should be up to 5,000-5,300 characters. Do not exceed this limit, otherwise, your work may not be accepted;
- Divide your text into 3 parts: introduction, main part, and conclusion;
- Structure your text (divide it into small paragraphs);
- Give personal examples from life;
- Answer the main questions of the topic: why you decided to become a physician and why you should go to medical school.
If you follow these tips, you can successfully write medical school statements of purpose.
About The Author
Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English. Meet him on Facebook and Twitter.