Health Professions

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Applying to Professional Schools

Personal Statements and Essays

Personal statements and essays give you a chance to represent yourself “beyond your numbers.” They can be open-ended or directive. If directive, answer the question. If open-ended, be sure to include your motivation and qualifications for the profession.

Address W grades and any problems in a positive context. Avoid controversial subjects (ex. religion, sexual orientation) unless these truly define who you are or provide the primary impetus for your professional motivation.

Personal statements may mention an activity or experience that you will be doing during the summer in which you are applying, but which you cannot list in the application yet. Be sure to clarify.

Personal statements and essays are critically important and the most difficult part of the application. TAKE TIME before submitting your application to perfect your statement and/or required essay(s). There is no opportunity to resubmit.

Helpful tips for writing the research statement for the MD/PhD application.  These tips may also apply to other combined professional programs, such as DO/PhD, nursing/PhD, etc., that require a research statement in addition to the personal statement.  READ THE REQUIREMENTS for application details on your program.

  1. The research statements should be different from the personal statements.  Focus on what you have learned about research and what is most important about the research work that you have accomplished.
  2. Explain why you are passionate about pursuing the MD/PhD and about the work that you’re doing.
  3. Explain how your research will benefit healthcare and patients, including internationally, if applicable.
  4. Talk about your ability to do research as an MD and think about how your rationale supports the MD/PhD program application.
  5. Explain how your interest/work bridges the gap between medicine (body to molecular) and science (molecular to body).
  6. You may write your research statement in a format such as “Worked in … lab with … pursuing the study of … . We gained insights on … and …
  7. Unless you’re citing a specific journal article and have space, you would not need to include citations.
  8. Write the research statements in paragraph form instead of a bulleted list.
  9. Ask your principal investigator if s/he is willing to review your personal statement and your MD/PhD essay.

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