Choosing a Health Profession
Allied Health Program
How to Prepare
Prepare Health File
Prepare App. & Interview
Testing & Applications
Choose a Medical School
International Med Schools
Every application form contains one blank page for personal comments. This is your opportunity to speak about yourself and to persuade the medical school that you are a unique, attractive candidate. Your essay should demonstrate that you are well prepared for medical school and that you can express yourself clearly and succinctly.
Because this is a short essay, you must be highly selective. The important task is to decide what you want to say. You may wish to discuss significant courses that have influenced your decision to pursue a medical career. Perhaps you wish to stress your interest in medical research and therefore wish to focus on your research experience at Tulane. Has volunteer work been decisive? Or are you someone who has combined scientific interests with humanistic pursuit?
Whatever points you wish to make, remember to be concise, focused, positive, and personal; never be apologetic. Illustrate the central ideas of your essay with concrete examples drawn from your own experiences. Always be specific. When discussing your reasons for wishing to enter medicine, do not spout generalizations about your love of people or science or state that you are compassionate. Illustrate your point with tangible examples of your behavior which would lead your readers (the admissions’ committees) to the same conclusion. Make sure you assume an active role in these episodes, but do not exaggerate your responsibilities or importance either. When commenting on volunteering, include where you were volunteering, when you did the work, what precisely you did and why it was important or useful both to you and to the people you helped. When discussing any research activities indicate where, when, and with whom you worked; the purpose of the work; your results; and any publications or awards you received for the work. Other extracurricular activities such as sports or music have a place in the essay if you can show how they are related to qualities that are valuable to the study of medicine (e.g., determination, perseverance, self-discipline).
Your essay should go through many drafts as you simplify and refine it. Work on it carefully and get input on it from others. The admissions committees should not be the first outside eyes looking at your work. The Health Professions Advisors are willing to review polished essays. Also, when writing your personal statement, consider the following: Does each paragraph have a clear focus? Have you said exactly what you mean? Are there any sentences that are too long? Are there any statements which sound awkward? Are your verbs active and strong? Remember that medical school admissions committees already have a list of your activities and your academic transcript. Don't waste space duplicating information.
The physical presentation of your paper is as important as its content. Keep margins uniform. Do not distract your reader by overcrowding the page. Check and recheck your spelling, syntax, and typing. Word processing your essay provides an excellent way not only to refine your essay but later to print it.
Visit Tulane's Writing Workshop and Career Center for assistance with personal statements and resumes.
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