Why is the Med School Personal Statement So Important?

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Session 14

The med school application essay, better known as the personal statement, is very important. It’s a key factor in whether or not you’ll get an interview invite.

I personally think that a personal statement is more important than an interview. Out of thousands of applications that come into a medical school, only roughly 16% of students get an interview invite.

One of the biggest obstacles a student needs to break through is with personal statement.

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[01:10] It’s Your Personal Statement, Not Other People’s

I asked Dr. Rivera, the Dean at NYU, why the personal statement is so important and why they use it at NYU.

He said that in the ideal world, the personal statement would do xyz – being impactful and showing why you want to be a doctor and show your journey. But he said that in reality, most personal statements don’t do that anymore. They’re no longer personal. He even calls it a “village” statement since so many people are giving their input to the student.

When a student edits an essay with me, I don’t really tell them what to put on their personal statements. I just give them feedback on what they have written.

This being said, an editor of your personal statement shouldn’t give you advice on what needs to be in your personal statement.The only advice would be why what you’re writing is important.

[02:47] Why Is the Personal Statement Important

The personal statement is important because it’s the gateway between you and an interview. If all numbers were equal and everybody is doing the same extracurriculars, then your personal statement is still going to be a very unique journey about why you’re applying to medical school. In a well-crafted personal statement, that story is going to resonate with the person reading it.

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[03:27] The Goal of the Personal Statement

The goal of your personal statement is to get that admissions committee member to make them want to talk to you more.

I did a mock interview with a student and she had an interview a couple of weeks ago at a mid-western MD school. She interviewed with the Dean of Admissions. And he said her personal statement is the best he has ever read.


Because she told her story about why she wants to be a doctor. She talked about the seed that was planted and what she did to water it. She told a unique story.

Everybody’s story is unique.

In her personal statement, she didn’t really talk about her medicine. She had a very common problem of just telling me how motivated and dedicated she was. She had this theme throughout and she did everything I told her not to do inn her first draft. After my feedback, she immediately turned it around and wrote an amazing story.

[05:00] Tell Your Story

If you haven’t yet and you’re still in this planning phase, think about why you want to be a doctor. What experiences have you had along the way are supporting you in that journey? Tell that story. Show that story.


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