When I was twelve years old, a drunk driver hit the car my mother was driving while I was in the backseat. I have very few memories of the accident, but I do faintly recall a serious but calming face as I was gently lifted out of the car. The paramedic held my hand as we traveled to the hospital.
The clinical trial had not worked, and there was nothing more that could be done, the oncologist said. My grandpa had been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in November of 2006 and this latest development was devastating news for my family. For seven months my family often questioned and
second-guessed the oncologist’s erratic treatment plan, which didn’t seem to make any sense. The doctor never gave my
grandpa any options; instead, he dictated how the treatment would proceed. My grandpa had been taken off chemotherapy in order to be enrolled in a clinical trial that the oncologist himself was running. The benefits of the
clinical trial were unclear and my family felt my grandpa was being enrolled for the sake of the trial and not his own health. Once chemotherapy ended and the trial started, my grandpa’s condition worsened greatly and after the clinical trial ended, the oncologist informed him there was
nothing more that could be done, but he had at least six months left to live. The following week Hospice Care came to see my grandpa and told him he had two weeks to live. He died a few days later. At many times during the process I personally became very
frustrated with his oncologist and I wished I could have done something to help my grandpa get better.
I was in the hospital for several weeks and that same paramedic came to visit me almost every day. During my stay, I also got to know the various doctors and nurses in the hospital on a personal level. I remember feeling anxiety about my
condition, but not sadness or even fear.
I distinctly remember a conversation I had with a psychiatric patient at Aftercare. He had just revealed to me his identity as Batman, and he also believed he was Jesus. During downtime in-between tests he decided to confide in me some of his dreams and aspirations. He swiftly pulled out a sketchpad and said confidently, “When I get better, I’m going back to art school.” Any doubts stemming from his earlier ramblings vanished at the sight of his charcoal-laden sheets filled with lifelike characters. “They’re… really good,” I stammered. I was looking for the right words to say, but there are times when emotions are so overwhelming that words fail. I nodded in approval and motioned that we should get back to testing. Those next few hours of testing flew by as I ruminated what I had experienced. After working 3 years at the clinic, I had been so caught up in the routine of “figuring out” brain function that I missed
the most important aspect of the job: the people. And so, just as the crossword puzzle is a 15×15 symbol of cold, hard New York streets, a person is the polar
opposite; patients are breathing, fluid, and multi-dimensional. I have come to love both, but there is really nothing I want more in the world than to see a broken person restored, a dream reignited, to see Mr. Batman regain sanity and take up art school again. The prospect of healing others brings me joy that surpasses even completing the
challenging crosswords in the Sunday paper.
It seemed to me that those around me, particularly my family, were more fearful of what might happen to me than I was. I don’t believe it was innocence or ignorance, but rather a trust in the abilities of my doctors
Looking back on my grandpa’s death, it is hard not to question the motives of the oncologist. While I will never know for sure what actually happened, I can learn from the experience and make sure that none of my future patients go through similar situations
. During my shadowing
experience with Dr. Smith, I was able to observe many of the qualities I believe physicians should possess. I believe that doctors have a
responsibility to let the patient decide how he is treated. As a doctor, I would listen to each patient’s concerns and explain all of his options clearly and thoroughly. I would recommend what I felt was the best course of action but ultimately leave the decision to the
patient. I would also spend the time necessary to stay current with medical research so I could
provide the best care possible. Dr. Smith embodied these characteristics and they were greatly appreciated by his patients, who felt like they were actively involved in the decision-making and healing process.
It was as if my doctors and I had a silent bond. Now that I’m older I fear death and sickness in a more intense way than I remember experiencing it as a child. My experience as a child sparked a keen interest in how we approach pediatric care, especially as it relates to our psychological and emotional support of children facing
serious medical conditions.
As a doctor I would also like to make a difference in the lives of those who are disadvantaged. I grew up in an area that was economically disadvantaged and I witnessed first-hand the hardships that this situation presents. My high school was made up of 75% minorities and many of my friends could barely afford gas and only dreamt of receiving proper medical care. Despite the challenges, I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood experiences in my neighborhood and became very interested in learning the culture of recent
immigrants and even undocumented families. I came to realize that although they might not have the means to pay, they are hard-working and deserve proper care. Another thing that I noticed was missing is the knowledge of basic preventative care
measures. For whatever reason, information about how
to prevent disease and basic risk factors did not reach the community. I would like to be able to return to my community, or a similar one, as a doctor and give back
to those who are less fortunate by helping them receive proper care and educating them about preventative medicine.
It was here that I experienced first-hand the power and compassion of medicine, not only in healing but also in bringing unlikely individuals together, such as adults and children, in uncommon yet profound ways.
Also, it is common for applicants to begin their essay with an anecdote from their childhood. In our experience, med schools are really only interested in your life after you began college and won’t particularly be impressed with anything before that regardless
of how important it was in
your path to choosing this career. Instead, choose stories that show the adult you taking concrete steps in the field of medicine.
And it was here that I began to take seriously the possibility of becoming a pediatric surgeon.
My interest was sparked even more when, as an undergraduate, I was asked to assist in a study one of my professors was conducting on how children experience and process fear and the prospect of death.
This professor was not in the medical field; rather, her background is in cultural anthropology.
While I have come to realize that curing cancer in a research setting is not for me, many of my underlying goals remain. Rather than working towards a cure in a lab, I want to work toward curing individual patients on a more personal level
. During my shadowing experience with Dr. House, I came to understand that a total cure might not be possible for each patient. Nonetheless, I know that as a physician I can make a positive impact on the lives of my patients and that is why I want to go into medicine.
I was very honored to be part of this project at such an early stage of my career. During the study, we discovered that children face death in extremely different ways than adults do. We found that children facing fatal illnesses are very aware of their condition, even when it hasn’t been fully explained to them, and on the whole were willing to fight their illnesses, but were also more accepting of their
potential fate than many adults facing similar diagnoses.
Working with the concierge volunteers, I helped patients out of their cars and into wheelchairs, brought patients to their beds, and helped visitors find their family members. Most patients would arrive miserable, either very sick or injured. I had the opportunity to observe many of their interactions with the doctors and nurses and
I realized this is what I want to do with my life. The patients placed their trust in the doctors, and the doctors worked hard to diagnose and treat their problems. When the patients left, they were generally much happier and often they
would even thank me for my minimal role in their care. This is the kind of impact I want to make as a doctor. I want to be able to send a patient home knowing I have helped her become healthier and made a
positive impact on her life. This is also the impact I wished I could have made on my grandpa.
We concluded our study by asking whether and to what extent this discovery should impact the type of care given to children in contrast to adults. I am eager to continue this sort of research as I pursue my medical career.
The New York Times prints a new puzzle each day, and so does the Washington Post, USA Today, and the list continues. The unlimited supply of puzzles mirrors the abundance of human disease and the physician’s ongoing duty to unravel the mystery, to resolve the pain. A great cruciverbalist begins with the basics of learning “crosswordese
,” a nuanced language; I am prepared to do the
same with health, starting with my education in medical
school. Even so, I am always humbled by what little I know and am prepared to make mistakes and learn along the way. After all, I would never do a crossword puzzle in pen.
The intersection of medicine, psychology, and socialization or culture (in this case, the social variables differentiating adults from children) is quite fascinating and is a field that is in need of better research
When I first came to college, I wanted to cure cancer. I had always been fascinated by science and I loved helping others, so cancer research seemed to combine my passions. However, as I progressed in college
, I realized there was something about the research atmosphere that was missing for me. When I worked in Dr. Grey’s cancer research lab during the spring of my sophomore year, I enjoyed applying the science but I missed human interaction. That summer, I volunteered in the emergency room of Seattle Grace Hospital and I knew I wanted to be a doctor.
Although much headway has been made in this area in the past twenty or so years, I feel there is a still a tendency in medicine to treat diseases the same way no matter who the patient is. We are slowly learning that procedures and drugs are not always universally effective.
Four-letter word for “dignitary.” The combinations surge through my mind: emir? agha? tsar? or perhaps the lesser-used variant, czar? I know it’s also too early to rule out specific names - there were plenty of rulers named Omar - although the clue is suspiciously unspecific. Quickly my eyes jump two columns to the intersecting clue, 53-Across, completely ignoring
the blur outside the window that indicates my train has left the Times Square station. “Nooks’ counterparts.” I am certain the answer is “crannies.” This means 49-Down must end in r, so I eliminate “agha” in my mind. Slowly, the pieces come together, the wordplay sending my brain into mental gymnastics. At the end of two hours, I find myself staring at a completed crossword puzzle, and as trivial as it is, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Not only must we alter our care of patients depending upon these cultural and social factors, we may also need to alter our entire emotional and psychological approach to them as well.
It is for this reason that I’m applying to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as it has one of the top programs for pediatric surgery in the country, as well as several renowned researchers delving into the social, generational, and cultural questions in which I’m interested.
My approach to medicine will be multidisciplinary, which is evidenced by the fact that I’m already double-majoring in early childhood psychology and pre-med, with a minor in cultural anthropology.
AMCAS is a centralized application service for medical schools, allowing you to save time by submitting just one application. With over 140 MD granting institutions participating, you’ll likely use AMCAS if you’re applying to medical
school in the US. While this service does enhance convenience, it also makes it even more difficult to stand out. Most applicants will have similar backgrounds to yours, and the AMCAS personal statement is
your biggest opportunity to show who you are as an individual and persuade the admissions officers to choose you.
This is the type of extraordinary care that I received as a child—care that seemed to approach my injuries with a much larger and deeper picture than that which pure medicine cannot offer—and it is this sort of care I want to provide my future patients.
Give the admissions committee (adcom) readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and a future medical professional. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading your essay.
I turned what might have been a debilitating event in my life—a devastating car accident—into the inspiration that has shaped my life since. I am driven and passionate. And while I know that the pediatric surgery program at Johns
Hopkins will likely be the second biggest challenge I will face in my life, I know that I am up for it. I am ready to be challenged and prove to myself what I’ve been telling myself since that fateful car accident
: I will be a doctor.
In non-academic settings, I also pursued activities that would sharpen my intellect. To me, the act of teaching was a form of problem-solving; a good teacher finds the most effective way to convey information to students
. So I accepted the challenge and taught in both international and domestic settings. In church, I assumed leadership positions because it forced me to think critically to resolve conflicts; and in lab, I volunteered to help write a review on the biological mechanisms of weight regain. It was exactly what I loved: isolating a specific human phenomenon and investigating how it worked.
AMCAS essays are limited to 5300 characters—not words! This includes spaces. Make sure the information you include in your essay doesn't conflict with the information in your other application materials. In general, provide additional information that isn’t found in your other application materials. Look at the essay as an opportunity to tell your story rather than a burden.
Tips for a Successful Medical School Essay
- If you’re applying through AMCAS, remember to keep your essay more general rather than tailored to a specific medical school, because your essay will be seen by multiple schools.
The following is a real medical school personal statement example that a premed student used on AMCAS to get admitted to several medical schools. The names of people and places have been changed to protect them. IMPORTANT: Do NOT copy any portion of this page. This is considered theft and medical schools will recognize your dishonesty.
Keep the interview in mind as you write. You will most likely be asked questions regarding your essay during the interview, so think about the experiences you want to talk about. When you are copying and pasting from a word processor to the AMCAS application online, formatting and font will be lost. Don’t waste your time making it look nice.
Ultimately, that decision is yours, but the admissions officers will be looking for you to show passion for patients and potential to excel both in medical school and in your future career as a doctor. To help, consider these four questions
Be sure to look through the essay once you’ve copied it into AMCAS and edit appropriately for any odd characters that result from pasting. Avoid overly controversial topics. While it is fine to take a position and back up your position with evidence, you don’t want to sound narrow-minded.
Given that the average applicant in 2009-2010 applied to 13 programs, the AMCAS can save you a ton of time by allowing you to submit just one application rather than a dozen or more. Learn more about the AMCAs personal statement in