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Medical School Essay Samples - Essay Writing Center amcas examples

      • 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.

        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.
    • 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.
      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 this article.

    • Revise, revise, revise. Have multiple readers look at your essay and make suggestions. Go over your essay yourself many times and rewrite it several times until you feel that it communicates your message effectively and creatively.
      Not only do you need a strong academic track record in the sciences, med schools are looking for applicants who have developed the personality characteristics that will serve them well as a doctor. In your essay, you might want to write about compassion, team work, and respect for patient autonomy. You don’t need to write about all three, but the anecdotes that you choose should reflect an applicant who has not only technical knowhow but ethics and interpersonal skills.

    • Make the opening sentence memorable. Admissions officers will read dozens of personal statements in a day. You must say something at the very beginning to catch their attention, encourage them to read the essay in detail, and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
      Of course, you are free to answer this question any way you like. However, unless the answer is that you want to make patient’s lives better, medicine might not be for you. From beginning to end, make sure that your essay is patient-focused.

    • Character traits to portray in your essay include: maturity, intellect, critical thinking skills, leadership, tolerance, perseverance, and sincerity.

    Medical School Essay Two

    Prompt: Where do you hope to be in ten years’ time?

    If you had told me ten years ago that I would be writing this essay and planning for yet another ten years into the future, part of me would have been surprised.

    I am a planner and a maker of to-do lists, and it has always been my plan to follow in the steps of my father and become a physician.
    I thought I would take a break from the normal posting and post the essay I used on my AMCAS application it gives a very broad view of my background and may be useful to those applying to medical school as a sample essay. I will also be posting some of my secondary essays as there is a lack of good examples of answers to other questions that medical schools may ask.

    This plan was derailed when I was called to active duty to serve in Iraq as part of the War on Terror.

    I joined the National Guard before graduating high school and continued my service when I began college.

    My goal was to receive training that would be valuable for my future medical career, as I was working in the field of emergency health care.
    I believe medicine and puzzles are in the same vein. After participating in health fairs, working at a clinic, and observing physicians, I understand that pinpointing the exact needs of a patient is difficult at times. In a way, disease itself can be a puzzle, and doctors sometimes detect it only one piece at a time - a cough here, lanugo there. Signs and symptoms act as clues that whittle down the possibilities until only a few remain. Then all that is left is to fill in the word and complete the puzzle. Voila!

    It was also a way to help me pay for college. When I was called to active duty in Iraq for my first deployment, I was forced to withdraw from school, and my deployment was subsequently extended. I spent a total of 24 months deployed overseas, where I provided in-the-field medical support to our combat troops.
    Our second essay contest winner was a medical student who made their submission an AMCAS-style personal statement. It serves as a great example for an effective personal statement and we thought it was a good read overall!

    While the experience was invaluable not only in terms of my future medical career but also in terms of developing leadership and creative thinking skills, it put my undergraduate studies on hold for over two years. Consequently, my carefully-planned journey towards medical school and a medical career was thrown off course. Thus, while ten-year plans are valuable, I have learned from experience how easily such plans can dissolve in situations that are beyond one’s control, as well as the value of perseverance and flexibility.

    Eventually, I returned to school.

    Despite my best efforts to graduate within two years, it took me another three years, as I suffered greatly from post-traumatic stress disorder following my time in Iraq. I considered abandoning my dream of becoming a physician altogether, since I was several years behind my peers with whom I had taken biology and chemistry classes before my deployment.
    Life is college is not always smooth, and you might have some areas in your transcript or test scores that warrant further explanation. Applicants can be very apprehensive about addressing these issues within the essay out of fear that what they write will harm their application. Therefore, when writing about these situations, always be factual about what occurred and then move quickly to how you resolved the issue and have become a more mature and resilient applicant as a result.

    Thanks to the unceasing encouragement of my academic advisor, who even stayed in contact with me when I was overseas, I gathered my strength and courage and began studying for the MCAT. To my surprise, my score was beyond satisfactory and while I am several years behind my original ten-year plan, I am now applying to Brown University’s School of Medicine.

    I can describe my new ten-year plan, but I will do so with both optimism and also caution, knowing that I will inevitably face unforeseen complications and will need to adapt appropriately.

    One of the many insights I gained as a member of the National Guard and by serving in war-time was the incredible creativity medical specialists in the Armed Forces employ to deliver health care services to our wounded soldiers on the ground. I was part of a team that was saving lives under incredibly difficult circumstances—sometimes while under heavy fire and with only the most basic of resources. I am now interested in how I can use these skills to deliver health care in similar circumstances where basic medical infrastructure is lacking. While there is seemingly little in common between the deserts of Fallujah and rural Wyoming, where I’m currently working as a volunteer first responder in a small town located more than 60 miles from the nearest hospital, I see a lot of potential uses for the skills that I gained as a National Guardsman. As I learned from my father, who worked with Doctors Without Borders for a number of years, there is quite a bit in common between my field of knowledge from the military and working in post-conflict zones. I feel I have a unique experience from which to draw as I embark on my medical school journey, experiences that can be applied both here and abroad.

    In ten years’ time, I hope to be trained in the field of emergency medicine, which, surprisingly, is a specialization that is actually lacking here in the United States as compared to similarly developed countries.

    I hope to conduct research in the field of health care infrastructure and work with government agencies and legislators to find creative solutions to improving access to emergency facilities in currently underserved areas of the United States, with an aim towards providing comprehensive policy reports and recommendations on how the US can once again be the world leader in health outcomes. While the problems inherent in our health care system are not one-dimensional and require a dynamic approach, one of the solutions as I see it is to think less in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and more in terms of access to primary care. Much of the care that I provide as a first responder and volunteer is extremely effective and also relatively cheap. More money is always helpful when facing a complex social and political problem, but we must think of solutions above and beyond more money and more taxes. In ten years I want to be a key player in the health care debate in this country and offering innovative solutions to delivering high quality and cost-effective health care to all our nation’s citizens, especially to those in rural and otherwise underserved areas.

    Of course, my policy interests do not replace my passion for helping others and delivering emergency medicine.

    As a doctor, I hope to continue serving in areas of the country that, for one reason or another, are lagging behind in basic health care infrastructure. Eventually, I would also like to take my knowledge and talents abroad and serve in the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders.

    In short, I see the role of physicians in society as multifunctional: they are not only doctors who heal, they are also leaders, innovators, social scientists, and patriots.

    Although my path to medical school has not always been the most direct, my varied and circuitous journey has given me a set of skills and experiences that many otherwise qualified applicants lack. I have no doubt that the next ten years will be similarly unpredictable, but I can assure you that no matter what obstacles I face, my goal will remain the same. I sincerely hope to begin the next phase of my journey at Brown University. Thank you for your kind attention.

    Additional Tips for a Successful Medical School Essay

    • Regardless of the prompt, you should always address the question of why you want to go to medical school in your essay.
  • Try to always give concrete examples rather than make general statements. If you say that you have perseverance, describe an event in your life that demonstrates perseverance.
  • There should be an overall message or theme in your essay. In the example above, the theme is overcoming unexpected obstacles.
  • Make sure you check and recheck for spelling and grammar!
  • Unless you’re very sure you can pull it off, it is usually not a good idea to use humor or to employ the skills you learned in creative writing class in your personal statement. While you want to paint a picture, you don’t want to be too poetic or literary.
  • Turn potential weaknesses into positives. As in the example above, address any potential weaknesses in your application and make them strengths, if possible. If you have low MCAT scores or something else that can’t be easily explained or turned into a positive, simply don’t mention it.
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