As a pastor, his faith which is rooted in serving others is the driving force in becoming a physician. Should you discuss your faith in applications?
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[01:02] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“Hello everyone. I was hoping to get some feedback on how much my faith as a Christian should be discussed in my application process, interviews, etc. A typical applicant might not mention that type of thing as much, but I feel like I should since it has essentially shaped my life over the past few years, and in many ways led me to want to pursue medicine. Let me give a little background info.
I graduated from college with a B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish in Spring 2015 with a GPA of 3.90. In the few years prior, I had become a Christian and knew that at some point I wanted to pursue being a minister in some way. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to intern at a church near where I grew up. I worked that job and was soon trained up to be the student pastor, which is what I have been doing up until now. I knew the whole time that this was not something I wanted to make a career out of, but it was a good opportunity at the right time in life. My experiences working as a minister have been huge in my maturity and overall growth as a person. Not to mention my increased communication skills because of the demand of the job. Working at a church has also meant getting a lot of experience in community service and helping underserved populations.
My faith is a big driving force in wanting to become a physician as Christianity is rooted in serving others. I’ve been able to help people spiritually and emotionally as a minister, but I look forward to helping people in a tangible, physical way as a physician. I’m hoping to blend those things as a doctor one day.
During the past three years, I have also gotten married and had a child.
Back to the earlier question: Would there be any reason to shy away from talking about my faith? Would it create any negative bias or stigma on my application that might hurt my chances? Thanks for the input.”
[03:00] Would Discussing Your Faith Help?
Will discussing your faith and your experiences around that hurt your application? If you want to talk about it because it’s going to help with your application, then stop selling yourself to the admissions committee.
The question here is how has being a minister led you to want to become a physician. Your whole story needs to surround why you need to be a physician.
[05:10] Serving Others
If you tell them you want to be a physician because you want to serve others, then you can continue being a minister and serve others. The question here instead, is where does this more tangible, physical helping come from? This is the story you need to tell in your personal statements, in your extracurriculars, and so on. Where are you getting this experience that has led you to know that you want to be a physician?
If it doesn’t really have that much to do with wanting to be a physician, don’t focus on how being a minister has helped your communication skills or grow as a person.
[06:55] Dealing with the Bias
There could be some sort of negative bias and someone reading your application may shy away from you. But you have to be true to yourself. You have to tell your story. If you really feel like you have to talk about being a minister and being a Christian in your application, go for it.
Just understand that the goal is to talk about why you want to be a physician and not try to sell yourself as to what your background has given you that you think is important to being a physician.
If you go down this route without the sales pitch, understand that there could be negative bias out there, not probably, but there could be.
[08:27] Final Words
Don’t sell yourself. This process is not a sales pitch. In your personal statement, just lay out why you want to be a physician. Check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement as well as The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. These will help you craft your story – without selling yourself – to help you stand out!
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