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Writing Your Personal Statement for Medical School Kim Sauerwein Dartmouth College Career Services.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Your Personal Statement for Medical School Kim Sauerwein Dartmouth College Career Services."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Your Personal Statement for Medical School Kim Sauerwein Dartmouth College Career Services

2 The Personal Statement Admissions Committees view your Personal Statement as an opportunity to get to know you over and above the facts conveyed by other parts of the application

3 Personal Statement & Supplemental Application Essays Serves almost the same purpose as a face-to-face interview Should generate enthusiasm for your candidacy

4  Investigate thoroughly all schools of interest  Develop a method to reduce your list of medical schools to an appropriate number  Be serious about attending any school to which you apply Preparation

5 The Admission Committee: Consider Your Audience Often consider themselves gatekeepers of the profession Research scientists, clinicians, med students, admissions officers Often are conservative Overly creative and unusual essays will receive a chuckle or two, but seldom receive serious consideration

6 MOST COMMON COMMENTS FROM 2008 STATEMENTS  Make sure it answers the question “Why do you want to be a doctor?”  Don’t simply restate your resume  Convey who you are as a person: your thoughts, your fears, your motivations…  Create an outline for your essay after it’s written. Does it make sense?  Look at the last paragraph. Does it sound like you're rushing to finish? Are you introducing new material?

7 Some Desirable Attributes Attribute realistic self-assessment resourceful accountable cooperative persistent resilient supported (emotionally) focused active learner flexible efficient organized Purposeful Capacity for work As indicated by… acknowledging limitations seeking help when appropriate accepting responsibility for learning working well with others completing tasks accepting disappointment and moving on not isolating self from others concentrating on the task at hand integrating and applying new information willingness to change making good use of time systematically taking care of business setting long-term and short-term goals Demonstrating good or improved performance

8 The Writing Process: Content Brainstorm possible topics – consider: What is important to you? Who are the most influential people in your life? What did they do for you? What have been the pivotal moments in your life? Looking back, what can you recall having changed you? How were you affected? Do you feel a passion for medicine? What is the source of that passion?

9 The Writing Process: Content Write your autobiographical sketch Pay attention to your emotions & reactions while you write – weave it in if it demonstrates positive characteristics like compassion, resiliency, courage, etc.

10 The Writing Process: Content  Provide new information and details  Convey YOUR personality  Distinguish yourself

11 The Writing Process: Content Future Plans - this topic only works if you can say something definitive that has some substantial basis If it is insincere, it will not fool anyone Personal Philosophy - this topic can be risky If you have strong convictions and those convictions reflect maturity and flexibility then it may be ok If there is a possibility that it will create controversy, it may be brought up in an interview (if you get to the interview stage)

12 The Writing Process: Tone Generate enthusiasm for your candidacy Be honest and sincere Use specific, vivid details that describe experiences & lessons learned as a result Strike a balance between “I” statements and the sense of accomplishment conveyed Get feedback from a trusted, knowledgeable reader Write and re-write until you are convinced that your statement is the best it can be

13 The Writing Process: Mechanics Be clear and concise Solicit help from someone who will not be concerned about hurting your feelings and who understands the purpose of the essay Help your reader understand without having to struggle to make sense of what you have said Remember to write an introduction and conclusion for each essay Read your essays out loud and listen carefully to what you hear Have someone proofread your essays to ensure that spelling & grammar are acceptable

14 Additional AMCAS Essays  Disadvantaged Status (1325 characters)  Felony (1325 characters)  Institutional Action (1325 characters)  Work/Activities (1325 characters)  MD/PhD Essay (3,000 characters)  Research Experience Essay for MD/PhD candidates (10,000 characters)

15 Get Organized: Supplemental Applications  Prepare a timeline to help you keep track of due dates  Keep all of your application materials in one place  Create one master chart that outlines all the requirements for each school’s application

16 Get Organized: Supplemental Applications  Respond and take advantage of essay questions or space for additional comments that are optional  Exercise caution by reading questions raised in the application before answering them

17 Supplemental Applications: Content Think of 3-4 adjectives that describe you as a desirable candidate Consider what evidence you could give your readers & make the argument Evidence is likely to come from descriptions of events or reflections about experiences that illustrate what you have learned from having had the experience Details and vocabulary you select in describing these instances will set your essay apart from all the others

18 Make a Favorable Impression  Make sure that supplemental applications are typed, error-free and aesthetically appealing  Pay special attention to the mechanics and organization of your essays  Make copies of everything before submission

19 Irregularities in Your Application Withdrawals, incompletes, repeated courses, academic action, probation, below-average grades, non-traditional background, re- application, etc. Schedule an appointment with me CALL 6-3377 (DO NOT BLITZ)

20 IMPORTANT!!! Plagiarism or misrepresentation WILL prompt an investigation

21 In Conclusion  Investigate schools before applying  Consider readers of your application  Reflect before you write  Correct obvious errors  Organize  Restrain use of the unusual in the process  Ask for help  Submit well in advance of deadlines

22 Helpful Resources  Career Services – Career Services  RWiT – RWiT  University of Wisconsin’s Writer’s Handbook – University of Wisconsin’s Writer’s Handbook  Purdue Writing Center – Purdue Writing Center

23 Review Sample Essays A few are attached to your handout and the book is available in Career Services Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Professional School Application (3 rd edition) by Evelyn Jackson & Harold Bardo (National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc. 2005).

24 Follow-Up  Personal Statement Review Service: Expect ~2 week turn-around (blitz Kim Sauerwein)  Appointments – Call 6-3377  Walk-in – Mondays 2-4pm in Parkhurst 9B – Thursdays 1:30-4pm (may call ahead to verify availability)

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