Does the perfect medical school personal statement exist? What do good personal statements for medical school look like? All of these questions and more will be answered below!
When you’re writing your personal statement for medical school, you’ll want to keep the three E’s in mind: engagement, enthusiasm, and explanation.
You want your personal statement to be engaging throughout, to clearly illustrate your enthusiasm to join the medical school, and to explain your motivation for pursuing this field.
But this is easier said than done! Including all of these elements in your personal statement while simultaneously ensuring it stands out and showcases your individuality can be challenging.
Luckily, this guide will ease these difficulties! In it, we’ll not only provide you with a step-by-step of how to write your own personal statement, but we’ll also go over 15 medical school personal statement examples!
Before we give you a run down of how to write a winning personal statement for medical school, it will be beneficial to read some samples and explain why they’re successful! Here are 15 excellent personal statement for medical school examples you can draw inspiration from!
Please note, the names and identifying details in these personal statements have been removed to ensure anonymity.
Sarah was the second victim they brought to the hospital that night. Pellets from the shotgun covered the entire right side of her body. The shooter had hit multiple individuals at the birthday party, and Sarah was transported to our emergency department soon after. She was the first patient I ever treated as an EMT.
After evaluating and stabilizing her condition, I used saline and gauze to clean the blood off her exposed skin, making a special effort to gently wash the contours of her face. Jeff, the ER technician I was shadowing that evening, diligently watched my every move. "He's got you looking good as new!" he said, breaking the heavy silence. At that moment, I saw a delicate smile emerge from her shocked, shell-like demeanor. I had treated her physical injuries, and he had addressed her mental well-being. Together, we had cared for the patient. At that moment, I began to understand the charge and function of the modern physician. My journey to that emergency room began in an unexpected place: the rolling foothills of Kentucky in the small town I call home, surrounded by cow farms and fields of soybeans. My parents had immigrated from Nigeria and taught English and Philosophy at our local university. My childhood was a perpetual humanities classroom. Seneca's "Letters from a Stoic" better characterized my understanding of human suffering than the halls of a hospital emergency department.
However, by my freshman year of high school, I knew that my academic interest lay not within ancient literature but rather within the living cell. In my mind, the cell is a metropolis waiting to be explored. I began to carve a professional path to pursue my fascination with the cell and study the mechanisms that create and sustain life. However, during my sophomore year, my diabetic father’s cognitive impairments developed into severe early-onset dementia. As much as I hoped to pursue my interests as a molecular biologist, my perspectives began to shift. My upbringing in the humanities and the challenge of caring for my father deepened my understanding of how our shared human experiences give meaning to our existence. I could spend my life studying the functions and pathologies of the cell. But, beyond the boundaries of its membrane, remains a human being with tangible, immediate needs, just like my father.
To understand this duality between biology and the human experience, I have spent my college career immersed in both research and clinical activities. My passion for molecular biology is manifested in my undergraduate research. My scientific exploration of the cell reinforced my fascination with its mechanisms and cultivated my desire to discover new molecular phenomena. Beyond research, I worked to build a new program in partnership with an internationally renowned medical center that trained undergraduate students to provide social support to geriatric inpatients. As co-president and avid volunteer, I have spent over a hundred hours listening to patients and their life stories as they sat in isolation in their hospital rooms.
Hand in hand, I comforted Mr. Stevens in the face of imminent mortality as he simultaneously mourned his terminal kidney failure and the death of his wife just weeks earlier. Listening to Mrs. Williams jokingly talk about her "adventures" completing word search puzzles during the pandemic always made me laugh. I witnessed a spectrum of human experience as defined by the heritage and identity of these patients, leaving each interaction filled with purpose and meaning. In the quiet rooms of the geriatric ward and the tense hallways of the emergency department, I confronted the vulnerability within the patient experience. I began to understand the individual in the context of disease.
As a researcher, my curiosity with the cell led to a fascination with its hallmark pathology: cancer. In my sophomore year, I worked to redesign a novel inhibitor of HSP90, a molecular chaperone implicated in over 600 types of cancer. Later, as a radiation immunology intern, I genetically modified cancer cell lines, studied their pathology in mice, and worked to find correlations between tumor RNA expression and therapeutic outcomes in human pancreatic cancer. The spectrum between basic and clinical cancer research inspires me with its potential to revolutionize the lives of patients. As a future oncologist, I endeavor to harness the power within biomedical discovery and our shared human experience to push back the boundaries of cancerous dysfunction in favor of the patients I serve.
As I closed the door to Sarah's room and followed Jeff to our next patient, I carried the realization that biomedical science and humanities are not only entwined but entirely interdependent. To serve a patient effectively is to address the disease in the context of the human. I embrace the charge to work at this complex interface. I want to lead patients through their most vulnerable moments with the competency and empathy demanded of the profession as I expand my knowledge of our molecular profile through attentive study and avid research.
This is a powerful personal statement for numerous reasons:
This is the type of statement that leaves a lasting impression on the admissions committee!
My family immigrated from Cuba to the United States roughly 27 years ago. My father fled to the U.S. on a wooden makeshift raft and my mother came as a political refugee—making me a first generation American. After moving to the U.S., my family faced significant adversity—financial, language, and community barriers. As a result of these difficulties, I noticed that my family adopted a “avoid doctors unless you absolutely cannot,” mentality.
The first time my family looked into healthcare resources was during the arrival of my maternal great grandmother to the United States, a previous political prisoner in Cuba. While in solitary confinement for 12 years, she developed thrombosis in her legs, with doctors in Cuba only offering amputation. No one in the family spoke English, and there was a disconnect between providers and my grandmother—both sides could only comprehend about half of what was happening. The physicians were limited on time given the line of patients waiting. However, my family was not only fluent in another language, but they were also from a culture that avoided healthcare professionals. These factors were not able to be conveyed in a 20-minute conversation involving translation issues with an interpreter. Eventually, through other immigrants, they found Dr. Alvarez, an Argentinean physician. He was Spanish speaking and offered her surgical vein reconstruction—most importantly, he was able to build rapport with her quickly, and my grandmother went ahead with his suggested care. After that experience with Dr. Alvarez, my mother would cross state lines to take me to a Spanish-speaking pediatrician, Dr. Arias.
Observing my family’s determination in finding physicians like Dr. Alvarez and Dr. Arias made me realize the importance of Hispanic, Spanish-speaking, culturally competent physicians in the U.S. I spent time learning about healthcare inequities between Hispanic populations and other ethnicities, inside and outside the classroom. I was driven to pursue a career in medicine to be an advocate and manage care for patients from vulnerable communities—bridging the divide in comprehension and quality of care between Hispanic and other underrepresented minorities in the United States.
During my first week at college, I became a volunteer at [Hospital]. My first job was to be an admissions ambassador, a liaison helping patients navigate the hospital. Hispanic patients frequently approached me for guidance. “Olivia,” an Ecuadorian mother with her 3-year-old daughter in a stroller approached me one day. She was lost trying to find a physician’s office. I could see her daughter recently had a surgical procedure done on her little hand. After a few detours, I located the physician’s office. He happened to be there and was eager to have me translate. Olivia asked several questions regarding accrued treatment costs. She was running out of money. After assessing the situation and helping express her concerns to the physician, we reached out to the appropriate personnel and helped her navigate the system—she was relieved by the end of the conversation. I couldn’t help but think back to my own family and struggles they faced as refugees navigating the U.S. healthcare system. Being a resource in this manner brought me a new sense of fulfillment, further inspiring me to pursue medicine.
The comfort my interpreting skills brought to Hispanic patients at [Hospital] sparked my desire to seek more formal interpreting positions. I located a free clinic treating uninsured adults, the [Local Clinic]. As a medical interpreter and patient advocate, I helped Hispanic patients through their check-ups and physical exams. I also worked in the OB-GYN clinic, guiding Hispanic women through intimate conversations with their providers. Many of these patients were a bit hesitant to open up, but after I spoke to them in Spanish, they became more comfortable and told their stories. I remember one story in particular about “Catalina,” a woman from Mexico that immigrated to the U.S. less than a year before visiting the clinic. While waiting for the medical student to return from presenting her case to the attending, she asked me what my future plans were. I told Catalina I wanted to become a physician, and her eyes lit up—she was incredibly supportive, telling me there needed to be more Hispanic physicians and encouraged me to stay on the path. While healthcare is not an easy road, interactions like these continue to drive me—I want to be able to ease concerns, allowing patients to open up.
My family background and personal experiences as an interpreter have ignited my desire to become a physician that provides culturally competent care to patients from vulnerable communities and increase minority representation in the healthcare space. Discovering the positive impact I had as a bridge between patients and the U.S. healthcare system alone, made me imagine the impact I could have as their physician in the future. A career in medicine with public service at the center will allow me to provide direct medical care without the need for this bridge. This would enable me to address health inequities vulnerable communities are burdened by while being a role model for future first generation Americans.
What stands out the most in this essay is the student’s passion! It’s clear they’re determined to make healthcare more accessible and inclusive, which is an excellent goal to have as a future physician. The student also hits the mark in the following ways:
Overall, this statement is focused and clear. It illustrates this student’s past, present, and potential future as a healthcare provider.
There are sounds, throughout the course of a day, that demand our attention and those that blend, seamlessly, into the static noise of detail that our brain chooses to filter. There is an immediacy to the social demand of a friend calling our name, the ping of an incoming text, and the incessant honking of a car as we attempt to merge lanes. On the other hand, we tend to ignore, even mute, the soft bubbling of a kettle on the stove, the footsteps of someone walking by, and the ticking of a clock.
In a society characterized by a constant influx of information, I believe the mere act of listening can be easily overlooked. Furthermore, listening is the foundation for empathy: the ability to not only understand what another is going through but also to take part in their journey is the bedrock of human relationships. I have come to realize that listening to others – not simply hearing them – is a necessary component to any relationship: the former being intentional and the latter unintentional.
For me, a fulfilling career combines my fascination with the sciences, my desire to serve the community and provides the chance to grow from a variety of relationships through listening. The field of medicine uniquely brings together my diverse interests and experiences while fulfilling my desire to help my fellow man.
Through the study of biology, I have gained a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the biotic and abiotic environment. Combined with the exploration of the “instructions” for life, encoded within molecules no wider than strands of hair, I have cultivated a child-like fascination for the human body. The study of economics has provided insight into decision-making and how that is manifested in a world with finite resources. Additionally, my research experiences working with the genetic diversity of Sporisorium ellisii and traumatic brain injuries have given me an appreciation for not only the reliability of the scientific method but also the bridge between creativity and impact. I want to continue to foster my curiosity through a field that explores the challenges facing human life both on a microscopic and macroscopic level.
Although I found my courses interesting, I also found them lacking - I desired to have a more hands-on role within the field. In part to ameliorate this void, I took an active role in leading the committee for a health clinic that my service fraternity hosted at a major hospital in the greater [Local] community. After months of soliciting and coordinating the assistance of various student organizations as well as local professionals, there were fewer than ten attendees during the entire five-hour clinic. Rather than simply admitting failure, I, along with other committee members, went out into the community for an explanation. After listening to locals, we discovered that there was mistrust in the healthcare system. The following year, we addressed the issue by choosing a location where the community frequently gathered: a local church. We were then met with much greater success, as locals interacted with both students and professionals to express concerns regarding healthcare. Actively listening to the individuals’ concerns was the catalyst that ultimately allowed for a greater impact on the community as a whole.
After discovering the impact that could be made from listening to the community, I endeavored to make a difference on a more personal level. I found that my yearning was sated by my experience teaching others leading me to work in an urban high school through City Year following graduation. My goal for the year was to challenge myself and strive to find commonalities that transcend physical differences. Working with these students gave me invaluable experience in understanding the impact backgrounds have on perspectives and helped me develop patience while adhering to time-dependent goals. The patient-doctor relationship is similar to that of the student- teacher: both parties must be willing to learn from one another. I want to not only use my skills to help those in need but also grow from serving my patients. Medicine provides a unique challenge requiring knowledge about the background of physical ailments and an understanding of the relevant social factors that comes about through deep personal relationships.
Through my interests and extracurricular involvement I have learned to remain inquisitive but not overzealous, patient but not complacent and supportive but not overbearing. Coupled with my time volunteering in hospitals and shadowing, I know that practicing medicine provides this harmony I am striving for. In my mind, there can be no greater fulfillment than having the opportunity to enter a dynamic profession that seeks to understand the nuances of the human body, to adapt to healthcare in the 21st century and to serve the community at-large not only as a source of knowledge but also as a student of the human condition. As I embark upon this journey, I hope to gain the skills necessary to champion for the betterment of my patients. I would cherish the opportunity to critically think about the human body, to build meaningful inter-personal relationships, to be a teacher and most importantly, to listen, rather than simply hear.
This personal statement is captivating from beginning to end, and here’s why:
All of these elements combined create a compelling narrative that showcases the applicant's suitability and passion for a career in medicine!
The shed behind the [Hospital] in Uganda was full of broken wheelchairs. I took one apart, and began to build the framework for a standing wheel that Jeremy, an eight-year-old with cerebral palsy, could spin in circles to strengthen his spastic rotator cuff. As I baked in the midday heat, I tried to ignore my own festering doubts about the integrity of my design project. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to help Jeremy overcome his condition just using discarded parts, but I couldn’t let that stop me from trying.
My path here had not been straightforward. What had started as a project focused on repairing old medical equipment had quickly become a firsthand exploration into patient care. In the United States, healthcare providers and engineers typically work separately from one another, but in Uganda, medical equipment maintenance is performed directly in hospital wards, often bringing me face-to-face with patients. In [Town], for example, I only happened to meet Jeremy, beaming at me from his bright-red walking frame, because I was fixing his hospital bed. I smiled back, assuming our interactions would end there. But he stayed, and as he laughed at my attempts to speak L’Uganda, I started to realize how refreshing it was to have the chance to talk with a patient being impacted by my work. Noticing the pain from his shaking left shoulder, I also grasped the limits on helping patients without face-to-face interaction; I would have never thought to build Jeremy a physical therapy device had I never met him in person. Over time, I grew increasingly interested in acting in a role that bridged the gap between patient and medical technology through direct contact.
Even with my newfound interest in patient care, my exposure to the realities of healthcare disparities proved equally profound. Most strikingly, I recall my time in [Hospital’s] neonatal ICU, where I witnessed multiple premature newborns being placed into incubators only meant to fit one infant. The incubators regulated body temperature, but overcrowding compromised their functionality. One day, this overcrowding resulted in the death of a newborn girl who succumbed to the cold. As the child’s mother grieved, I sat a few feet away, filled with guilt that my inability to fix every piece of equipment made me partly responsible for her loss. Noticing my frustration, my mentor, Dr. Carlos, told me, “three years ago, only a few of these incubators were working. Now only a few are left to fix.” A life had been lost, but by our equipment maintenance, many other lives had been saved. His words encouraged me to stay resolute in my belief that the gradual efforts of the composite healthcare team can - and will - bridge disparities in healthcare. This experience reaffirmed my desire to stay invested in the development of strong medical infrastructure, specifically in a role where I can directly work with patients to avoid the outcome I witnessed at [Hospital].
Returning to [Location], I discovered that inequities in medical care, so plainly visible in the developing world, were hidden right under my nose at home. Volunteering at the [Nursing Home], a Medicaid-funded nursing home for the disadvantaged, I found that another crucial component to addressing these inequities is to connect with those who feel neglected. Here, I came across obstacles to medical care I had grown to expect, such as understaffing, older equipment, and an inability to finance high-cost treatments. However, most residents’ frustrations with their medical care were secondary to their struggles with social isolation. Olivia, one of my favorite residents, has COPD and end-stage renal failure, and cannot sit up in her bed.
Despite all her ailments, nothing hurt her more than the fact that no one came to visit her. Week by week, as we discussed everything from Latin etymology to the merits of broccoli as a side to chicken wings, I watched Olivia’s smile grow with every visit I paid her. The ability I had to brighten her day just by giving her an hour of my time every week helped me appreciate the unique privilege physicians must have to set patients at ease by letting them know that someone is continually invested in their well-being. After a few months at the [Nursing Home], Olivia surprised me with the comment that she didn’t feel alone anymore. I marveled at how just by being present in a patient’s life, I had made my own small contribution to overcome her emotional pain. I was inspired to pursue a role where I could expand upon my ability to heal patients by providing not only emotional support, but also clinical care.
My medical journey has been wayward. It has taken me to Uganda, where a boy taught me to value the patients I encounter even more than the machines I fix. It has led me back to America, where a nursing home resident made me realize the simple but powerful gesture of healing by forming connections. It has been demanding, but extremely fulfilling. As a physician, I hope to merge the lessons from all my experiences to work at the interface of science, society, and person, contributing to advancements in medical infrastructure while never losing sight of the individual patients who make medicine so meaningful.
As you read through this medical school personal statement example, pay particular attention to the way the author implements the following techniques into their personal statement:
Consider using some of these techniques to elevate your own personal statement!
As two surgical residents rushed into my room at 10:30 pm with a cart of equipment, a few nightmare scenarios raced through my mind. Where are they going to stick that tube? Why the scissors?
It turned out that my team of doctors had decided that a nasogastric (NG) tube needed to be placed immediately. By that point I had already been through a lot: years of immunosuppressant drugs and steroids that made my face moon-shaped, a series of surgeries to rearrange my digestive tract, and a few bowel obstructions that led me to the emergency room. For some reason, none of those experiences haunt me more than recalling that NG tube on that night. Five painful attempts to force the tube down my nose and into my throat were all unsuccessful. I was in tears, one of the residents was in tears, and blood and mucus covered my hospital gown; the night had gone downhill fast.
Enduring grueling medical interventions was nothing out of the ordinary for me, but the lack of conversation or connection with my team left me emotionally unprepared and in shock. Alone and recovering from surgery, I was vulnerable at that moment and suddenly felt like the doctors were not on my team. I began to feel like the residents were disappointed in me and that I had caused the procedure to fail. I still remember being unable to process what had happened and staring out the window all that night. I knew that residents had already undergone years of training, yet seeing one resident cry made me wonder if she was just as scared as I was. In the same way that nothing could have prepared me for that night, countless hours of training as a medical student does not necessarily prepare one to gain the trust of a vulnerable, anxious patient.
In the days following this experience, I developed a new appreciation for my primary care physician at the time, colorectal surgeon Dr. [NAME]. It is frightening to be surgically sliced into, but Dr. [NAME] had a way about him of making every decision and action seem perfectly natural and safe. He greeted me the same way every morning: “kak dila, Aaronchik,” asking me how I was doing and calling me by the Russian name only my mom used. We would speak in English, but when he dropped in a Russian word at the beginning or end it reminded me that he recognized me not just as a patient, but as a person. His constant efforts to connect with me and reassure me were the basis of my confidence in Dr. [NAME]. I knew that he had gone through extensive training and was technically qualified, but his emotional appeals were the overwhelming factor in the state of my morale. The atmosphere of security Dr. [NAME] brought into the room was the most memorable part of my interactions with him and separated him from all the other physicians I had seen.
In the years prior to the NG tube incident unfolding, through countless conversations with attendings, residents, and medical students who took care of me throughout my adolescence, I cultivated a deep-rooted interest in pursuing a medical career. I learned a great deal about the intellectual and physical challenges of medical school and residency. However, my challenging experience with the NG tube provided me with a new understanding of patient care: I realized that it is not necessarily about what you know but about how you integrate that knowledge to make a meaningful connection with a human being under your care.
Dr. [NAME] exemplified how critical it is as a physician to instill palpable trust, not through pedigree and authority but through humanity. Thinking about Dr. [NAME] crystallized the feelings I had for years as a patient, that the field of medicine could be better, not only through technical advances but through the human touch and word, and that I could directly make this happen. Attending medical school will provide me with the tools and education I need to return to the wards, not as a patient but as a provider. In the back of my mind, I will always retain the inspiration of Dr. [NAME], who helped me recognize that my perspective from hardship will one day benefit those under my care.
As another one of the excellent medical school personal statement examples shared in this guide, let’s breakdown what makes this essay so effective:
All of these features work together to ensure this personal statement follows the three E’s!
“[NAME] is a seventeen-year-old female with suicidal ideations.” The emergency room nurse continued her report as I nervously riffled through [NAME]’s transfer of care paperwork. Looking toward the room where [NAME] and her parents were waiting to speak with me, I could not shake the overwhelming feeling that I was unprepared.
As a new EMT, I was filled with excitement and anticipation to gain experience in the medical field. After months of training, I was finally using my skills to help real patients. As I saw it, this would affirm my desire to become a doctor, a goal I have had since my aunt was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer when I was eight years old. I witnessed firsthand the comfort that my aunt’s medical team brought to my family during such a daunting time in our lives, and I knew then that I wanted to one day be that source of knowledge and support for others.
My aunt’s illness also illuminated my interest in the science of medicine. I spent a lot of time learning from my uncle, a medical research scientist, who answered my countless questions about astrocytomas, innovative surgeries, and chemotherapies. I carried my fascination for the medical field with me throughout my undergraduate education, where my coursework, research, and my EMT training prepared me to care for patients biologically. And while I knew how to assess vitals, manage an airway, deliver medications, and even the physiologic processes of those actions, I now found myself face-to-face with a much more personal facet of medicine. I felt utterly underqualified to care for [NAME] psychologically.
I knocked apprehensively on the glass sliding door to the emergency department exam room. “Hi [NAME], my name is [NAME]. I’m an EMT with the ambulance service here to transport you to the mental health facility. How are you feeling?” [NAME]’s solemn expression and her parents’ frightened eyes heightened my nerves. Had I already asked the wrong thing? Was I equipped to handle this situation?
After helping [NAME] into the ambulance and taking my seat, I searched for something to say. The nurse had explained that social pressures including moving away for college were exacerbating [NAME]’s struggles with anxiety and depression. I was afraid that approaching topics such as friends and school, as I normally would with patients her age, would make her more upset. Reaching for the blood pressure cuff near her stack of belongings, I spotted a novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
“Are you reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? I love that book!” I exclaimed, nervously hoping for a connection.
As it turned out, like me, [NAME] loved to read. I smiled as she looked up and began talking excitedly about her favorite books. [NAME] continued to open up, but an uneasiness returned to her voice when she asked me about the facility and how long her treatment would take. I knew my answer was not one she wanted to hear.
Preparing to deliver the difficult news, I was reminded of talking to my sisters. Growing up, uncertain times were the norm for me and my sisters because of our aunt’s diagnosis. Like me, my sisters were afraid and confused as we watched one of our favorite people slowly succumb to her illness. As the oldest, I often took on the responsibility of explaining my aunt’s condition to my sisters in a way I knew they would understand. When it came time for my aunt to go into hospice care, I wanted to be the one to tell my sisters, knowing I could string the words together delicately for them. It was through caring for my younger sisters that I developed the communication skills needed to discuss difficult subjects.
Holding [NAME]’s hand as I would my own sister’s, I explained that she would likely miss out on time with friends and family during her treatment. I consoled her and gave reassurance that her wellbeing was the main priority of both her medical team and her loved ones.
Offering [NAME] some solace during that uncertain time in her life exemplifies why I want to go into medicine. Through my aunt’s physicians and the ones I have shadowed, I have always been inspired by the role each played in ensuring that patients felt comfortable, informed, and cared for. As an EMT, comforting words were the most I had to offer [NAME], and I learned that these are sometimes the most important medicine we have to offer. I want to be a physician so I can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to care for patients both medically and emotionally through hard times.
While not every patient opens up as [NAME] did, I always do my best to ensure each patient feels safe and heard. I often think of my aunt and my sisters during these encounters and how I would want them to be treated. Studying medicine will be a way for me to honor my family’s story and to use the way it has shaped me to care for others. While I still at times doubt myself when caring for patients, these situations drive my motivation to become a physician. I have learned that I enjoy working in an ever-advancing field where each day brings unique challenges. A career in medicine will always be fulfilling, as every patient interaction is an opportunity for me to become better. I am excited to continue to face challenging situations throughout my career which will push me to be an empathetic physician.
As you read through these medical school personal statement examples, you’ll notice many of them focus on patient care that goes beyond simply diagnosing and treating illness. Instead, they focus on empathetic care and comfort.
This is because so many personal statements tend to focus solely on the former, and approaching patient care from a different angle can make your statement more distinct.
This essay also focuses on being an empathetic physician, which helps it stand out. Here are some other parts of the essay that also stand out:
Overall, the student is able to demonstrate their passion, limitations, and skills while also proving their dedication to patient-centered care and knowledge that comprehensive patient care involves treating the mind and body.
The radio went off, and we burst into action. My crew and I grabbed our medical equipment, taking off in the direction of the dispatch, a student overdose in a nearby freshman dorm room.
I had joined the [COLLEGE]’s Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) as a freshman because I wanted to be a doctor. I’ve had this dream since I was four, when I began going on rounds with my father at the hospital. I loved seeing the positive impact my father’s job had on people. It made me proud of my father to know that his care helped all of those patients, struggling with fear and anxiety over their ailments, feel safe and comforted. I knew that one day I wanted to have the same impact on people. That excitement about medicine led to my study of pre-medicine and health care economics in college. But my studies, my health care research, and shadowing doctors were not enough to satisfy my medical aspirations. I wanted to participate firsthand. MERT was an opportunity to gain hands-on medical experience.
That night, on the short way over to the dorm, my mind raced. I was just a freshman, with barely more than an untested skill set and a few months of response experience. Not surprisingly, I was second-guessing myself. An overdose? Can I even treat that? And then suddenly there I was, on scene, unbelievably scared. I looked around the room, put on my gloves, took a deep breath, and forgot my fears.
“Hello, my name is [NAME]. I’m an EMT. What’s going on today?”
A freshman, stressed about school and family issues, had overdosed on antidepressants mixed with a few Tylenol and chased with some vodka. She was having trouble breathing, so we started to set up an oxygen mask to help her. But she fought us. She kept trying to take the mask off, repeatedly telling us that she did not want it, then yelling at us that she didn’t need it.
I began to plead with her, my voice nearly breaking. As I slowly attempted to wrestle the mask back into place over her mouth and nose, I told her that we were just trying to help. Her response will never leave me. In a sudden fit of calm, she grabbed my hand, kissed it, looked me in the eyes and said, “I know.”
We continued to care for our patient. Soon enough, the paramedics arrived on scene and they strapped her into a stair chair to be taken to the ambulance and then to the hospital.
My team and I sat in the squad room immediately after the call shaking and wired. As we debriefed and enjoyed a post-call pizza, I began to realize the importance of our interventions. I had seen my fair share of drunken patients, minor injuries, and flu patients—ailments that, while dangerous, allow the care provider time to think, ask questions, and assess. But here, the intervention required had been more immediate. The more experienced EMTs around me walked me through the debrief. They aided me in overcoming my panic and apprehension that we could have done more and that this could have happened to someone I knew.
I thought back to what the patient had said to me, that she knew I wanted to help. Her words made me think about why I wanted to help. On one level, the answer was simple: I wanted to help because I knew I could. But on a deeper level, I helped because I want to have the same positive impact on people as my father. I want to make people feel safe and cared for. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than using my knowledge and skills to assist someone who really needs me.
This event was a turning point for me. I began to dedicate as much time as possible to MERT, eventually rising through the ranks to become a clinical crew chief and then captain.
More recently, toward the end of junior year, I had another overdose call. Another stressed college student, but this time he was completely unresponsive from a heroin overdose. Through proper airway management, I assisted in saving his life. This time there was no second-guessing or anxiety, just a determination to help the patient. I led my crew through the call and, after the call, the debrief. As a leader in MERT, I was able to walk them through overcoming their own feelings of doubt and anxiety, so they could be proud of the work they had done.
Being a college EMT offers a unique set of difficulties. We treat our friends and colleagues, seeing them at their worst. And when it’s all over, we have to sit down, write up what we saw in a patient care report, and then try to go back to just being college students who eat pizza with their friends on weeknights. But I love the work I do with MERT and the determination, stress-management, and compassion I get to practice through it.
MERT has become an integral part of my life. It challenges me every day to learn more and apply my knowledge in critical situations. This has been a hugely influential step for me on my path to becoming a doctor. I know that as I continue learning and striving as an EMT, I will encounter many more high-stress, high-stakes situations. These experiences will shape me as I grow into a more proficient, emotionally adept care provider. I look forward to the challenges I will encounter as an EMT, and later as a doctor.
Sharing a tale where you’re the hero who saves a patient is always a great way to spruce up your personal statement, as this student has! However, that’s not the only aspect that makes this a winning personal statement:
While this type of experience can certainly add intrigue to your personal statement, remember that you don’t need to share such a heroic tale to write a captivating essay! Any experience you share in your personal statement, if explained descriptively and connected to your desire to pursue medicine, can be powerful!
“We only use around 10% of our brains.” Ms. [LAST NAME]’s voice permeated through the silent 4th grade classroom. All of us intently took notes while she read off of the day’s lesson plan. My brow furrowed - was this correct?
At the dinner table, I asked my parents. They smiled, and told me to use my resources to find out. I used the family computer to ask Google, and as I suspected, website after website labeled the statement as a myth. Many sources echoed a similar rationale, stating that “FDG-PET, relying on the high quantities of glucose absorbed by Neurons and Glia, shows large amounts of brain activity even when we’re asleep.” I read the statement again. And again. We’d learned about glucose in our science class, but what in the world were Neurons and Glia?
My curiosity pushed me down a rabbit hole. The more I read, the more questions I had. What’s an action potential? What’s a synapse? I kept searching until I heard my mother say “Tulog na, [NAME]” It was time to go to bed.
Progressing through school, I never fully understood the answers to my questions. This changed when I took psychology, where we focused on the brain. Although this knowledge answered my 4th grade self’s inquiries, tens more replaced them, all culminating in one large question: how does our brain, and body as a whole, even work?
Looking for answers, I turned to AI. Believing it to be the closest estimate to how the brain worked, I learned Python and other languages. The deeper I went, the more enamored I became - fixing bugs was extremely gratifying, creating a positive feedback loop. Eventually, I wrote and trained my own AI, my first triumph in a sea of errors. By 10th grade, I was set on entering the world of Computer Science (CS). At the time, however, I didn’t realize that something was missing from this profession.
My perspective changed in 11th grade because of one word: Hyperaldosteronism. Battling with hypertension and hypokalemia throughout the majority of his life, my dad finally had a diagnosis. The culprit was a peanut sized tumor in his adrenal glands. The surgeon was confident in its removal. I was amazed - she, in her early 30s, had devised a minimally invasive procedure to resect the tumor. In the same way us coders wrote, debugged, and endlessly tested code, this surgeon studied, tested, and applied her knowledge of human anatomy to craft a less invasive but equally successful procedure. This experience helped me understand exactly what CS was missing: the element of serving others.
Upon diving into what it meant to be a healthcare professional, I realized medicine held the same allure as CS; both were mentally stimulating, and learning the etiology of diseases gave that same feeling of gratification that pushed me in CS. However, instead of a screen displaying lines of code, it was a smiling face that evidenced a job well done. This contrast became apparent when shadowing a neurosurgeon. Our first case was a veteran presenting for a post-op checkup. Previously rendered unable to walk because of an IED, I watched in awe as he took his first steps in 5 years. “It still hurts like hell,” he muttered jokingly. His wife replied, “but you’re walking ain’tcha?” The joy that emanated from deep patient-provider relationships recapitulated itself as I observed how other physicians went the extra mile to guide their patients through tough moments in their lives. Sure, it would take an extra 10 minutes to fully explain a treatment plan, but every one of those seconds was a brick in the shared path to healing.
At [PROGRAM], I’ve explored the intersection of computer science and patient care. Working in a Digital Pathology lab, I am able to apply the concepts of computer vision to aid pathologists in their meticulous investigation of patient slides. My PI believes in using the creative process to solve problems, which provides the independence for us to experience the beauty of the scientific method. Despite the steep learning curve of such an approach, each “eureka!” moment became easier and easier to achieve. This culminated in [TOOL NAME], a tool developed by our lab to expedite the process of validating uncountably many slide annotations. Although I felt a great sense of accomplishment seeing my 3 years of work elegantly manifest in a simple yet powerful tool, the same sense of longing that irked me in high school once again reared its ugly head. I missed the patient-provider interactions of clinical work that completed the field for me.
To that end, I have continued to pursue the provider perspective of medicine. From Cardiology and Endocrinology to Gastroenterology and Neurology, each opportunity showcased the importance of compassionate care. Through these amazing physicians, I was able to see the difference the extra mile makes as patient after patient thanked their provider for explaining their condition and the rationale for their treatment.
With these experiences, my love for medicine has grown immensely. While I am immersed in these clinical settings, it’s apparent that there’s no way humans only use 10% of their brains; rather, seeing and modeling the compassionate work of my physician role models has made it clear I use 100% of my brain when serving those facing paralytic questions of health.
Here’s what works well in this medical school personal statement example:
In summary, this personal statement effectively combines the writer's intellectual pursuits, personal experiences, and reflections to showcase their commitment to medicine. It also portrays their understanding of the importance of compassionate care and their unique perspective as someone with a background in computer science.
If you have a passion other than medicine, use it to your advantage to make your statement memorable! The committee knows you aren’t just interested in medicine, so give them deeper insight into your background and what makes you, you!
“I don’t know.” Those were the words of my infectious disease specialist, who saw me after I lost 20 pounds and was suffering from a temperature of 100-102˚F nearly 24 hours a day. What followed in the next eight months was a battery of tests; everything from Lupus to cancer was ruled out, and upon coming to a diagnostic dead end, I confronted those three devastating words. How could they come out of a physician’s mouth? My disease was labeled as a fever of unknown origin, or FUO. Unlike the other times I had been sick, there was no pill to take or treatment plan to follow.
This experience not only fueled my desire to pursue medicine, but also helped me overcome what was the toughest year of my life. I emerged from the FUO with a new sense of resilience that I attribute to the myriad of interactions with my doctor. Furthermore, I always carried the implicit lesson I learned from him: that it is vital to recognize you will not know everything, but it is equally as important to keep searching for answers.
Ultimately, this poignant realization transformed my deeply ingrained fear of the unknown into a passion to seek, confront, and solve challenging problems. More importantly, it provided a path to pursue that passion; I knew that guiding people through harrowing times, regardless of whether I had all the answers, would give me the same satisfaction that exuded from my doctor when the FUO finally faded away a year later. Specifically, I recognized the courage and commitment that drove my doctor to never surrender were also virtues of my own character. This was made apparent in many experiences, such as rescuing a brother and sister from the deep end as a lifeguard or consoling a decompensating man in the back of an ambulance as an EMT.
My experiences during my FUO and the shadowing of others in healthcare revealed the importance of being comfortable with uncertainty. I have realized that success does not come from “faking it until you make it;” instead, it stems from reaching out to others with the purpose of expanding your own knowledge so that you may in turn guide those who are lost. Early on, I was afraid to do this, as I thought physicians, and therefore me as well, should always have an answer. However, after observing what I believed was an omniscient hospitalist ask the nurses about what they thought of each patient before even walking into the patients’ rooms, that fear subsided.
This realization affected my attitude in the lab as well. To me, research is an archetypal form of the unknown; it is impossible to predict whether a single transformation, let alone an entire experiment, will succeed. My new mentality caused the failed iterations of my antibody cloning projects to become valuable information rather than red X’s in my notebook, and instead of hesitating to tell my PI that “It didn’t work, again,” I strode into his office, determined to brainstorm a new strategy. While this uncertainty was unnerving at first, my lesson on confronting such situations anchored my resolve to be both relentless in effort and unafraid to approach others for guidance.
Despite the drive that emanates from having a passion constantly being reinforced by experiences inside and outside of a healthcare setting, I knew that without certain principles such as resiliency, I would be unable to help others like my specialist helped me. His tenacity inspired me to seek a volunteer experience abroad that challenged me to develop a critical consciousness in an unfamiliar culture. While the societal ills plaguing low-income Scottish communities were similar to those in the U.S., it was difficult to persuade the community members that I was an advocate rather than a critical outsider. The service-users were initially skeptical of my intentions, but I was able to break free from the “voluntourism” stereotype by adapting my dialogue to fit the nuances I encountered.
Attacking this problem required reaching out to [NAME], my supervisor. Whether it was how to respond to someone who tried to warn me about the “dangers of the neighborhood” or brainstorming a more appropriate phrase in the workout guide I was creating, I treated the uncertainty and problems I encountered as temporary roadblocks that could be overcome with enough effort. Ultimately, drawing upon my resiliency resulted in a community gym guide that the organization later printed en masse to hand out to new members. In light of my previous problems in acclimating to the culture, I was ecstatic to hear that I had made a lasting impact on people in what otherwise would have been a transient experience.
Ironically, hearing “I don’t know” from a physician ultimately led me to realizing that I want to become one. I believe the principles and lessons derived from that event and the experiences that followed have set me on the path to medical school with the wind at my back. While I dread the day I utter those three words to my patient, I know that admitting so will never dampen my desire to change lives. It is my values and passion in conjunction with the knowledge gained from facing challenges riddled with uncertainty that I will confidently guide others through their toughest times so they too can pursue their passions unencumbered by sickness or fear.
By employing these writing techniques, the author creates a personal statement that is both compelling and impactful–two traits you’ll notice all of the medical school personal statement examples in this guide have!
When I first learned how to whistle as a child, I couldn’t stop. My whistling was endless, from morning to night, until my exasperated parents told me an old Korean superstition that whistling at night brings out snakes and evil spirits. The fact that they were saying this to tame my newfound talents flew past my head. To keep the snakes and spirits safely at bay, I dutifully stopped whistling after sundown.
Because my parents are both doctors who worked long hours during my childhood, they often could not pick me up after school. As the shadows grew longer and darker in the empty school hallways, I would often avoid bad omens out of fear of what could be lurking, such as steering clear of the 13th classroom. At my violin recitals, I would cross my fingers and knock on wood hoping my parents would be able to get out of work and attend. A lot of the time, I was unable to see my parents’ faces among the audience as I got up on the stage. My superstitious beliefs consumed my mind, and I found myself relentlessly performing these habits without a second thought as to their effectiveness.
All throughout high school, I felt pressured to follow in my parents’ footsteps and become a physician. From my childhood experiences, my understanding of medicine was limited to the sacrifices my parents made as they were both hard workers and dedicated physicians. My dad had to stay in South Korea to support us, while my mom lived the life of a single mom in America, without actually being a single mom. I had and still have deep respect for their sacrifices, but I also saw the toll it took on our family. As I entered [COLLEGE], I started taking pre-med courses, but by then, I had a complicated relationship with medicine and had internal conflicts about what it meant to be a doctor.
Just as my childhood superstitious tendencies had been engraved in me without taking a critical look at them, I saw my parents’ lives as doctors as examples of what I should be without questioning it. I didn’t have my own true passion at that point to support this goal. I took some time to reflect within and considered other avenues for my future. Instead of pursuing medicine, I decided to major in Psychology and Public Health.
When my friend was in a bus accident, I spent a great deal of time in the ICU. When I wasn’t by her bedside, I looked around the ICU, curious about the doctors’ discussing their patients’ progress and their ability to heal others, the spotless, white equipment everywhere, and the quiet, contemplative environment filled with people dedicated to helping their fellow human being in pain. This profound experience inspired me to shadow an ICU physician at [HOSPITAL NAME] Hospital to gain real firsthand experience and to decide if this was truly the right path for me.
My experiences there transformed my thoughts about what it meant to be a doctor, when the mother of a coma patient clutched at the coat of the attending physician, begging for answers as to why her previously healthy, happy daughter was now fighting for her life. Suddenly, being a doctor was not just science classes and doctor parents missing my recitals as a child. Being a doctor meant having the education and abilities to give comfort to patients’ families, just as much as it meant treating illness and saving lives. The way that the attending calmly communicated methods of recourse and explanations for the coma struck something within me. No one else in the world could have given that mother the relief and counsel that she needed at a time when she was at her most vulnerable. I wanted nothing more than to take on that role and finally knew, after all this experience, that medicine was my calling.
As a senior student teetering on graduation and going out into the world, and with all the new insight I had gained through shadowing, I decided that becoming a physician was one of my ultimate life goals. With the renewed sense of direction I garnered, along with the firm conviction that a career in medicine is the right path for me, I am confident that I will be able to take on a rigorous pre-med curriculum and succeed. During the time that I was not pre-med, I was able to discover my passion for medicine. As such, this time in my life was instrumental in getting me to where I am today. It would be the privilege of a lifetime to be accepted into [COLLEGE NAME]’s post-baccalaureate program, and I know that it would provide an extraordinary foundation to become a great physician.
Here are some key points to consider as you reflect on this personal statement:
The author's ability to convey their personal experiences and evoke emotion makes this statement stand out. It is a testament to their growth, resilience, and unwavering determination to pursue medicine.
Warm covers slide off my body as I come to my senses. In the corner of my eyes, dust dances in the amber rays that shine through the blinds. As my fingers tap away at my phone, astray text catches my eye. My childhood friend, [NAME], took his own life at a park in our hometown.
Caught in a moment I could never prepare for, my mind races. I inhale, then exhale. “This changes nothing,” I assure myself. Tears soak my eyes and my vision blurs.
As the days passed, I found it difficult to look at life and school the same way. I grappled with the question of how I could become a doctor knowing that I would witness death again. Cycling through the stages of grief, I became irate on certain days and felt hopeless on others.
To cope, I went to great lengths to watch my diet, manage my sleep hygiene and ensure that my health came first. Through countless nights, I would flip through pages on various philosophies and religions; of note to me were Buddhism, Christianity and Stoicism. No amount of self care and enlightenment could bring [NAME] back. Instead, it helped me come to terms with the difficult truth that I had been denying: [NAME]’s passing changed everything.
As I came to accept [NAME]’s passing, I developed the belief that we are responsible for ascribing meaning to the sacrifices of those who have passed. Since [NAME] had struggled with addiction, I began reading to better understand the functions of addiction and observe the many ways it manifested, seeking to spread mental health awareness on campus.
With this knowledge, I would aim to help patients find value in their own lives, in spite of the physical and mental ailments they may face. My responsibility as a doctor would be two-fold - just as I would be responsible for diagnosing and treating patients on a physical level, I must also ensure that their emotional needs are met and they feel comfortable working with me as their doctor.
With time, I saw the impact of my approach pay off. I enlisted to become co-director of the advocacy branch of [COLLEGE NAME]s Active Minds chapter, spreading my story in hopes it would inspire others. I reached out to students who were struggling with their own mental health and provided them with aid and support using the iCBT tools I learned through [COLLEGE NAME]’s STAND program.
By taking into account the lives of the patients and their own mental wellbeing, their path to recovery can be much smoother - their quality of life will improve and they will realize that the doctor is working for the betterment of the patient’s life.
It was through these connections that I began to discover my innate passion and talent for guiding others. By ensuring fellow students and friends felt heard and understood, I could ease their worries and alleviate their tensions in life.
I find this property of the human condition charming; all it takes is a touch of connection to realize that the strife and tiredness that so often arises in life does not control us. I wish to give my future patients hope that even if they are suffering from a physical or mental condition, there will always be a blissful part of our soul that we can find ourselves comfortable in during the healing process.
Though many clinicians are involved in this healing process and can provide this necessary ‘calming presence,’ great doctors effectively shoulder an immense amount of trust and responsibility from both their patients and their colleagues. They often decide how to treat patients while balancing their wealth of knowledge with empathy and compassion.
As a doctor, I would work to use this influence in order to ensure that the needs of people of color, women, LGBTQ+ communities and individuals facing mental illness are properly addressed. My time at [COLLEGE] allowed me to interact and work with members of these communities - opportunities that I did not have in the more culturally homogenous state of [STATE].
My care for patients would extend beyond empathy and compassion. Whether I was looking to elevate my experience in research by administering psychological tests to patients taking initiative to elevate my involvement in Active Minds, [COLLEGE]s mental health organization, I have always sought for ways to pursue new and enriching experiences beyond what was expected of me.
Rather than taking a top-down approach to medicine, it would be my job to facilitate a connection that allows both the patient and myself to grow and understand more about one another.
Just as I would learn more about each patient and case that I review, I know that I would constantly have to research and incorporate new developments in medicine. I hope to embrace these changes in an effort to understand how the body and mind continue to evolve. By approaching each day as a learning experience, rather than a set mission with a set end, I hope to continue expanding my knowledge by understanding patients better, staying informed on the latest treatments and navigating public policy well beyond medical school and residency.
[NAME]’s passing brought me much heartache and grief. Through time, this grief has become a transformative experience. Rather than lamenting on his passing, I hope to do well on his legacy. Just as his deep laughter once brought joy to my life, perhaps my work will afford a future patient many more days of laughter and life.
There are multiple aspects of this medical school personal statement example that work well:
This personal statement is emotional and captivating. It provides the committee with a glimpse of who this student is, what they have been through, and how they resiliently used adversity as inspiration to become a better physician and person overall.
While many students focus on proving their ability to be great physicians, few also prove their ability and desire to be great people overall, but the two go hand in hand! Demonstrating both can make you a more attractive and well-rounded candidate.
The doctor’s voice faded as I stared blankly at the wall behind her. Tears welled in my eyes, and the staccato sips of the oxygen regulator quickened with my pulse. The words “We can’t do anything for you,” echoed and stung.
Just a couple of years before, I identified as a healthy, active young woman, but now I felt like a prisoner in my own body. Bound to 24-hour oxygen, I was nearing end-stage pulmonary hypertension from multiple blood clots that turned to scar tissue in my lungs, and the doctor was telling me the disease would only progress.
Just as vividly as I remember the doctor saying nothing could be done, I also remember the day the care team came into my hospital room after my pulmonary thromboendarterectomy to discuss the Results of my most recent pulmonary diffusion scan. My heart pounded. I wanted nothing more than to hear that I would be okay and that I could return to activities like running and backpacking that previously brought me so much joy.
As my physician pointed out the differences between my pre- and post-op scans, smiles and tears emerged on every face in the room. After two years of severely limited lung capacity, my lungs had nearly normalized, the hypertension was gone, and my heart would heal over the next few months.
I am often at a loss for words when trying to convey the impact my doctors and care team had on the trajectory of my life, and I would not be who I am today without their empathy and dedication to improving my health. Although I always had a strong interest in medicine, this transformative experience inspired me to pursue a career as a physician so I may help others as my physicians have helped me.
One month after my surgery, I went back to school motivated and eager to advance in my prerequisites and achieve my goal of attending medical school and becoming a physician. I earned As in every class I took, often setting the curve on exams and accepting requests by professors to tutor my peers.
Outside of school, I sought out non-profit organizations that aligned with my values and fueled my passion for service, health equity, and education. I dedicated my time to Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) where I helped organize fundraisers to repeal [STATE]s Three Strikes sentencing law.
I also volunteer at the [CLINIC NAME] where I am conducting a client-based study that will impact clinic policy, procedures, and recruitment to better serve marginalized communities.
Along the way, I discovered a love and gift for human connection. Through these human connections, I learned that being a physician does not always mean “fixing” people’s ailments, but making sure people feel heard and validated as they receive the care every human deserves.
While working as a medical assistant, I helped take care of a young, female patient who suffered from a worsening and debilitating eye condition. She came to us desperate, scared, and discouraged after being referred out of six clinics.
When she arrived, I gathered a thorough medical history, taking note of the details leading up to and following the start of her symptoms. As she described her significant decline in vision, she broke down and shared how terrified she was. Drawing from my own experience, I gave her time and space to express her fears and concerns, reassuring her that we were there to take care of her.
Given her recent travel history, we identified a parasitic infection as a likely diagnosis, and we urgently referred her to the top infectious disease clinic in our area. Following this appointment, the patient emailed our clinic to thank us for listening to her and making her feel like she mattered.
During times of uncertainty, the most reassuring gift my physicians gave me was their time, allowing me to feel understood and supported. Knowing I have the capacity and tools to do the same for others is one of the many motivations that will carry me through medical school and beyond.
Reflecting on these experiences, I now understand medicine to be as much of a social practice as it is a scientific one, and, as a physician, I will prioritize patient advocacy, empathetic listening, cultural competency, and holistic approaches to care.
Additionally, after seeing medicine through the lens of a patient, I am fortunate to know what is at stake when someone’s health is stripped from them and am not afraid to be vulnerable or express humility when faced with challenges that do not have a clear resolution. I believe uncovering patient-specific variables is not only key to avoiding generalizations and potential misdiagnoses, but also to fostering the meaningful doctor-patient relationships essential for successful, equitable treatment.
I have been a runner since I was twelve years old but thought I would never run again after I got sick. When running now, my mind sometimes wanders back to that day in the doctor’s office when I sat tethered to an oxygen tank and struggled to accept that life as I knew it was over. I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, listen to the rhythmic taps of my shoes on the pavement, and take inventory of the immense gratitude I feel for life and the physicians who gave me mine back.
I smile, open my eyes, and run into that feeling of lightness, knowing I can provide that for others.
If out of all the medical school personal statement examples, this one catches your eye, here are its most noteworthy features that you can implement in your own essay:
This personal statement is highly reflective, shows the writer’s vulnerability and humility, and proves they have clear goals that they are highly motivated to achieve!
The gravity of a phone call was something I had not fully understood until May 7, 2022. Mere weeks after her wedding, my cousin reached out to our family and delivered news none of us were prepared for. My aunt, affectionately called [AUNT’S NAME] in our native language Telugu, had fallen down the stairs and vomited. My cousin explained that [AUNT’S NAME]'s speech was impaired after the fall, but we did not expect to hear the unimaginable - she was diagnosed with glioblastoma. I felt my cousin's words on a visceral level, trying to put together the pieces she relayed over the phone. [AUNT’S NAME] was the light of every room she walked into, and as a nurse she was able to share her benevolence with patients.
Hearing she was no longer her full-of life self reflected how quickly things would never be the same. Within weeks, she was at [HOSPITAL] undergoing a craniotomy to extract her frontal lobe tumors. The uncertainty my family felt on the ride to visit her post-operation was palpable. Upon arriving, we were assured by the neurosurgeons that the surgery was successful and her tumors were removed. The thorough explanations with which they answered our endless inquiries were immediately noticeable, and I appreciated their patience and compassion in ensuring we were updated on her condition even after a lengthy operation. [AUNT’S NAME] underwent chemotherapy and radiation shortly after. We visited her in August, and the toll these procedures took on her was evident. She could not speak how she once did and her memory and mobility declined: it was painful to see her like this. On Christmas Eve, we visited her as she lay on the hospice bed, opening her eyes every few seconds. She could not experience the new year.
What startled me the most about [AUNT’S NAME]'s death was how sudden everything happened. How could someone who was happy and dancing in April be no longer here with us by December? Glioblastoma had the staggering ability to transform someone who brought warmth and light to everyone into a shell of her former self. As someone fascinated with healthcare since middle school, I had been confident in the ability of medicine to cure any patient's condition. But the doctors did their best, and it still was not enough to save [AUNT’S NAME]'s life. All of their education, training, and work could not fix her affliction.
Arriving at that realization, I candidly reflected on the true societal value of physicians. The advocacy and support they gave our family during our darkest moments together was nothing short of meritorious. The neurosurgeons and oncologists used their medical knowledge to form a treatment plan around my aunt, and their contributions made all the difference despite her tumors' aggressiveness. More importantly, they prioritized explaining their work to our family in a comprehensible and empathetic way very few others can and ensured she was comfortable during her final days. After recognizing their impact, I felt a calling to also provide care and empathy for patients and their families during moments of need, knowing how much that meant to our family. Much like [AUNT’S NAME] was a shining light in our lives, her doctors provided light for us in the form of knowledge and empathy in our darkest hours. Invigorated to experience what it was like to be an advocate for patients like [AUNT’S NAME], I sought to witness firsthand the work physicians do.
My experience shadowing Dr. [NAME] enabled me to connect with patients from all walks of life. I gained clinical experience working at his clinic and, during my time there, was able to interact with patients like [NAME], who had such severe peripheral neuropathy that he was unable to even pick up a cup of water. Realizing [NAME] was once vibrant and healthy like [AUNT’S NAME] was, I knew [NAME] had the ability and privilege to guide him through this condition beyond merely prescribing medications. I saw my aunt in [NAME], and I knew having the assistance of [NAME] meant the world to him as he navigated living with his condition.
The ephemerality of life I understood following [AUNT’S NAME]s death compelled me to further dedicate my efforts towards serving disadvantaged people through volunteer work. From helping coordinate food drives to serving the homeless at soup kitchens, I was able to connect with local communities by offering hope to the underserved. These experiences developed in me a desire and commitment to apply my medical knowledge in treating patients of various backgrounds with the end goal of improving my community's health. My experiences fostering relationships with patients perpetually remind me of how gratifying it is hearing people from different walks of life and being their advocate throughout their journey of overcoming the illnesses they have.
My desire to complete graduate-level coursework is attributed to my eagerness to pursue a career in medicine. I believe this will hone my study skills and enhance my work ethic so I can excel in medical school and beyond. In addition to developing my study skills, I hope to actively engage in the community and continue shadowing to strengthen my competence to serve patients as their resolute advocate by offering hope in their lowest times.
It’s not unusual for students to write about their own or a loved one’s experience being ill in their medical school personal statement. While the topic may be common, there are ways to still ensure you stand out! Here’s how this student does so:
Overall, these aspects contribute to the effectiveness of the writing by creating an emotionally resonant narrative, highlighting personal growth and reflection, and emphasizing the writer's commitment to compassionate care!
They may take a similar direction as other students, but their anecdote is highly personal which ensures their personal statement is distinct nonetheless!
I woke up suddenly in agony, unable to move my leg. I shouted over to my mom feeling confused and helpless. I was only 11 years old and had never felt this type of pain. The pain endured, simply getting out of bed was a daily struggle. I met with dozens of specialists looking for answers. However, no one was able to diagnose me, deferring the disability as something musculoskeletal with no real solution. I felt demoralized that I was unable to run around with my friends anymore. The hospital became a revolving door. This pain was consuming my life. No one seemed to understand my urgency. After six long months of little progress, I began to lose hope that I would ever be the same. That was when I met Dr. [NAME].
His attention towards my ailment was different. His demeanor of a warm smile and pure enthusiasm made me feel immediately at ease. He was the only doctor that spoke directly to me, instead of to my parents. For the first time, I felt like I mattered. Although I was not sure he would find the solution to my problem, I knew I found someone who would do everything in his power to try. Fortunately, Dr. [NAME]s investment in my well-being helped determine I was suffering from a psoas impingement. Shortly after surgery, I was able to move my leg again, pain-free. Within a few months, to my surprise, I was able to walk without pain. From that moment on, I wanted to be just like Dr. [NAME]. I wanted to be a vector of hope. I wanted to be a doctor.
In college, I wanted to test my own volition for medicine. After volunteering in the ER, I became a [CITY] EMT. While I cherished the responsibility of knowing my patients entrusted me with their health, I experienced first hand that my role was far more than having medical knowledge as a first responder. I recall [NAME], a veteran whom I met transporting from dialysis every week. As I helped him onto bed, I heard him ask an aide for water. When I returned for the nurse’s signature, I noticed he still had not gotten his water and so got it for him instead. [NAME] was a bilateral amputee and due to his limited mobility, was completely dependent on his caregivers.
Although I could not understand [NAME]’s struggles, I knew how it felt to be in a vulnerable state from my own experience as a patient. I could not change [NAME]’s situation; however, I had the opportunity to give [NAME] the same sense of relevance that Dr. [NAME] gave me. I tried to make [NAME] feel at ease – listening and validating his concerns. I connected with him as a person and not just a patient, enabling him to regain a sense of autonomy despite his disabling circumstances. I began to visit him outside of work and helped him find a prosthetist. Seeing the impact I was able to have on [NAME] and so many others as an EMT, further solidified my desire to become a doctor.
Following graduation, I embarked on a unique opportunity to work for Count Me In (CMI), a research organization at the [INSTITUTE NAME]. CMI applies a patient-centered approach to cancer research, partnering directly with patients and empowering them as experts of their own disease. I analyze patient medical records for all metastatic and rare cancers. Initially, it was challenging because most patients were terminally-ill. Each new record was like starting a book that I knew was going to have an unfortunate ending. I found myself subconsciously reconstructing the patient’s narrative. It was difficult to recount their years of trauma only as a bystander without any ability to change their outcome.
Fortunately, I was able to meet several patients including [NAME], a patient diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I will always remember the enthusiasm she spoke with as she described how grateful she was for being a part of CMI. She emphasized how it helped her regain a sense of control over her disease and provided purpose to her suffering. It was empowering to see her excitement for the potential of her data helping others and sense of fulfillment from being involved in her own cancer’s research. I realized the reward of assisting patients attain a sense of autonomy superseded any emotional struggle I may experience studying their hardships.
I applied to medical school in 2018 following graduation and again in 2020. Since my last application, I have continued to work for CMI, allowing me countless meaningful patient interactions through advisory council meetings and virtual conferences. Each encounter has been a reminder to stay on course, reinforcing my desire to become a physician dedicated to helping patients. CMI has given me the tools and skills needed to be a strong and effective champion of patient advocacy. As a doctor, I will leverage this experience to push for patient autonomy and prioritize patients at the forefront of their care.
My decision to reapply reflects my conviction that I will be an impactful physician attuned to my patients’ needs. It reflects my endurance as an applicant, which will pay dividends in the long and difficult journey that is medical school and residency. Furthermore, I believe this endurance will allow me to serve as a source of strength for my patients in their disease pathologies, never giving up on finding a solution. I want nothing more than to be a physician. I want to be like Dr. [NAME]. I want to be Dr. [WRITER’S NAME]
Here’s what makes this personal statement effective:
While this personal statement certainly tugs at the heartstrings, it goes beyond simply telling a sad story. Using their difficult experience, they share their inspiration to become a physician, demonstrate their perseverance, and prove they’re dedicated to medicine.
“Who is Wilson and can you tell him that I have basketball practice tonight?” I joked to an assembly of doctors and nurses surrounding my hospital bed. Rather than starting my senior year of high school, I was admitted to the hospital and subjected to several days of relentless testing and consultations. Ultimately, it was confirmed that I was one of 30,000 people in the world diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a rare copper metabolism disorder that can cause fulminant liver failure. This reserved me a status 1A spot on the national transplant list, a status generally reserved for those who have a prognosis of only a few days of survival. Over the next nine days, I was encephalopathic – dozing in and out of consciousness. Due to the compassionate and selfless act of a twenty--year--old named [NAME], I overcame the inevitable. When no cadaveric donors were available, [NAME] chose to donate a portion of her liver to give me a fighting chance to live. The seventeen-hour surgery and subsequent procedures over the following weeks kick-started an arduous road to recovery and gave me a newfound appreciation for what it means to live. My journey, although daunting, instilled in me a high regard for the fragility of life and has inspired me to want to help others preserve it.
Prior to my own four-month hospital stay, I was no stranger to the weight of a patient’s room. At ten years old, a time when most kids rely on their mom, I instead fulfilled a very different role as mine battled breast cancer. Attending every chemotherapy appointment, emergency room visit, and trip to pick out a new wig, I served as a part of my mom’s care team. I could always be found by her side, painting her nails or watching marathons of I Love Lucy on days when she did not have the strength to get out of bed. Despite all efforts, I lost her. However, I found solace with a newfound appreciation for the impact of death. While she may have physically departed from my presence, her lessons and memories continue to have a hold. My mom’s diagnosis revealed her zest for perseverance. She taught me the immeasurable value of emotional support, which empowered me to provide that to others. I decided to run for the position of Philanthropy Chairman of my sorority at [COLLEGE] and was elected. With this appointment, I strengthened our chapter’s ties with Breastcancer.org — an online forum that supports patients and their families as they are battling breast cancer. I was responsible for raising money and awareness and organized a basketball tournament with the entire student body to support the cause. Just as I sat by my mom’s side throughout every part of her journey, I know she is guiding me wherever my journey leads. And it is because of her that I found resilience when I fought my own battles 7 years later.
Through my personal struggles as a liver transplant recipient, I was invested in understanding more about my disease process. This desire further sparked my interest in the field of medicine and catalyzed my scientific curiosity to be involved in research. I was given the fortuitous opportunity to study organ rejection patterns and the efficacy of two immunosuppressants - Tacrolimus and Sirolimus. Working alongside Dr. [NAME], my former physician while I was a patient at [HOSPITAL], I gained experience on the power of research. My project entailed retrospectively reviewing the Nemours transplant database and collecting data on all liver transplant recipients. Additionally, I had the opportunity to speak and relate directly to patients and their families. Through my firsthand experiences as both a patient and a research assistant, I know that research is an integral component of medical education and advancement. I hope to continue my involvement in investigative and clinical outcomes research in medical school and as a future physician.
Furthermore, I have quickly realized the sense of satisfaction and purpose I gain from sharing my story with others. I solidified my commitment to medicine by enrolling in the [COLLEGE]’s Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate program. To further bolster my education, I became a medical scribe and inserted myself at the center of the patient-provider interaction. I empower my patients to ask questions and provide them with a say in their own care. With this experience, I have learned that bedside manner is just as important as having the medical knowledge to diagnose and treat illness. As someone who has spent time both in hospital beds and preparing beds for medical procedures, I understand the anxiety and complications that come with human health and take pride in sharing my emotional support with my patients each day.
Rather than allowing my diagnosis to define me, I named my puppy Wilson to remind myself of my journey and perseverance. As I put on my scrubs each morning and take Wilson for a walk, my motivation to become a physician grows stronger. My past has enabled me to appreciate the importance of compassion, value of human life, and the kind of person I want to become. I have fully immersed myself in the field and am ready to embark on the next chapter of my life as a future physician—Wilson always at my side.
The following elements make this a winning personal statement:
In case these 15 personal statement examples aren’t enough, you can access a dozen more samples to spark your creativity and help you write a stellar statement!
After reviewing the above medical school personal statement examples, you likely noticed some patterns and have a rough idea of how to structure your statement. But, if you’re still feeling a bit unsure about diving into the writing process, here’s a simple roadmap to get you started:
Although writing your personal statement may seem overwhelming at first, following these steps and reflecting on the effective elements of the medical school personal statement examples above should help you complete this application requirement with more confidence!
We’ve gone over several medical school personal statement examples, provided you with a run-down of how to approach your statement, and hopefully instilled some hope and motivation in you to begin your writing journey.
In case you have any remaining concerns about this application component, here are the answers to frequently asked questions about personal statements for med school!
Your medical school personal statement should clearly articulate your genuine interest in the field and explain what drives you to become a doctor. This could be a personal story, an influential experience, or a deep-rooted desire to make a positive impact on people's lives through healthcare.
You should also share relevant personal experiences that have shaped your decision to pursue medicine and discuss your proudest accomplishments, whether it be extracurriculars, academic achievements, or volunteer endeavors.
Ensure your narrative is unique and that you highlight the qualities that make you a strong candidate for medical school.
Start your statements as all of the medical school personal statement examples in this guide have—with a unique and intriguing hook. Share an experience that influenced you to become a physician and fully immerse your reader by being descriptive and focusing on several senses.
Try to involve your reader in your writing by painting a vivid picture for them!
While there are endless topics you can choose to write about in your personal statement, you should avoid doing the following:
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be one step closer to writing an excellent med school personal statement!
Remember, your personal statement is your opportunity to make a lasting impression on the admissions committee. It’s your time to highlight your achievements and share those transformative experiences that made you realize your calling and the impact you want to make in the world!
Be genuine, think outside of the box, tell your story, and let your passion for medicine shine through. Good luck!