Personal statements and essays give you a chance to represent yourself “beyond your numbers.”
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. Use your Personal Statement to distinguish yourself from other applicants and let Admissions Committees know who you are and why you are interested in becoming a healthcare professional.
Top Tips for Personal Statements
- Be genuine, authentic, and engaging
- Expect to write multiple drafts
- Avoid cliches
- Ask others to read and provide meaningful feedback (both about content and grammatical)
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
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.
The space alotted for your Personal Statement is 5,300 characters (approximately one single-spaced page). Spaces are included in the character count. You will receive an error message on the application if you exceed the space provided. Also, do not copy from Word or Google Doc as there could be formatting issues. It is recommended that you first copy into Notepad as a text file, remove any strange formatting, and then copy into the application.
Other health professions request similar information with variations on character count and exact prompt:
- Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS): 5300 character limit
- Dental (AADSAS): 4500 character limit
- Veterinary Medicine (VMCAS): 5000 character limit
MD/PhD Applicants write two additional essays within the AMCAS:
- Why MD/PhD: describe why you want the dual degree: 3000 character limit
- Significant Research Experience: describe your research experiences: 10000 character limit
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.
- 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.
- Explain why you are passionate about pursuing the MD/PhD and about the work that you’re doing.
- Explain how your research will benefit healthcare and patients, including internationally, if applicable.
- Talk about your ability to do research as an MD and think about how your rationale supports the MD/PhD program application.
- Explain how your interest/work bridges the gap between medicine (body to molecular) and science (molecular to body).
- You may write your research statement in a format such as “Worked in … lab with … pursuing the study of … . We gained insights on … and …
- Unless you’re citing a specific journal article and have space, you would not need to include citations.
- Write the research statements in paragraph form instead of a bulleted list.
- Ask your principal investigator if s/he is willing to review your personal statement and your MD/PhD essay.
Secondary Application Essays
Once you have submitted your primary application, some health professions schools will require that you submit additional information, as determined by individual schools. These applications are generically referred to as secondary, or supplemental applications.
Almost every professional school requires some form of secondary application. Some schools send secondaries as soon as the primary has been submitted. Some schools wait until after the primary application is processed. Still others will wait until the primary is processed, and then screen applicants based on the primary, and only send secondary applications to selected applicants. Secondary applications often involve one or many essay questions, and often involve a fee, averaging around $100. Expect to spend significant time writing essays in late June and July. These essays are school-specific and questions often relate back to the mission and values of each school.
Do not skip any "optional" questions! Even the "Is there anything else we should know about you?" question, you have the opportunity to highlight why that particular school is important to you and why you are a good fit. Many students skip these types of questions, and this is a prime reason why they may get passed over during the review process.
Watch for Secondary Application Questions in the Primary Application. Health Professions using the Liason Application Service (any application that is not AMCAS, TMDSAS, or individual school application) may have secondary application questions as part of the primary application. Be sure to check the "Program Materials" section carefully prior to submission of your primary application to make sure you have provided all the needed materials or essay requirements.
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