So you’re applying to medical school or for a residency. Congratulations! You’ve obviously completed a substantial amount of schooling, work, and research already, and should be commended for putting yourself in position to pursue such a respected career. As you undoubtedly know, the admissions process to institutions like these is extremely competitive. In fact, in the last ten years alone, the average MCAT score for med school applicants has increased a full point – from 26.9 to 27.9 – while the average GPA has grown from 3.43 to 3.51.
Numbers such as these should not intimidate you; they should simply confirm something that you’re probably already aware of: the medical school admissions process is becoming more competitive. With grades and test scores increasing steadily, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out from the crowd by simply having an excellent academic record. Consequently, your personal statement is one of your few opportunities to set yourself apart.
Understanding that, you should recognize that you do not need to worry about showcasing your grades, scores, or other academic accomplishments in your statement. Instead, you need to deepen your candidacy. The admissions officer wants to get to know you better through your statement and build an enhanced understanding of why and how you will succeed as a physician. So keep this in the front of your mind as you work on writing this statement. The person reading your essay is already relatively confident that you have the knowledge and academic abilities necessary to succeed in this next step of your medical instruction. You need to focus on showing that you’re more than just some impressive numbers.
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A Great Medical Essay Gets You Noticed
Admissions committees at medical schools and those who review residency applications are ultimately looking for one thing when they read your personal statement: they want to get to know you on a more intimate level, beyond what quantitative information like grades and test scores can show. The old adage may say that numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth either. Otherwise, admissions decisions would be easy: you’d simply take the applicants with the highest grades and scores. That’s not the way things are done, though, as numbers can’t effectively capture everything that’s important about an applicant. That’s where the personal statement comes in.
A personal statement allows you to provide a more intimate glimpse into your life. For medical schooling and careers, it offers an opportunity for you to explain what drew you to the medical field, how you’ve gained expertise in that field, and how you intend to build a career in that field moving forward. Equally important, through a personal statement you can help the admissions representative come to better understand who you are as a person. A personal statement will succeed if it leaves the reader feeling like he or she has formed a personal connection with you. If a reader finishes an essay with such a feeling, he or she is much more likely to actively support your candidacy.