Personal statement workshop



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PERSONAL STATEMENT WORKSHOP

  • Advisors:
  • Jacqueline Sedgwick, MD
  • Aparna Sreenivasan, PhD
  • Matthew Schechter
  • Sophia Wang
  • UCSF MS3’s

THE PLAN

  • A series of short, 2-minute exercises to get the writing and thinking started
  • Specific pointers on how to write and how not to write your personal statement
  • Illustration of key writing techniques with excerpts from our own personal statements

2-MINUTE PROMPTS

  • Brainstorm ideas for upperclassmen
  • Start the reflection process for lowerclassmen
  • Generate material to work with
  • Pen/paper, or laptop
  • Completely personal (you won’t be asked to share)
  • Write in any style, don’t sweat the grammar
  • Try to be as specific as possible with examples
  • Keep the pen moving on the page until the time is called!

WHY DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A DOCTOR?

  • (or PA, or nurse, or dentist, or other health professional)

ASIDE FROM HEALTHCARE, WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?

  • How might this relate to a career in medicine?

WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AS A PERSON?

  • Think about what you are good at doing, and write about why you are good at doing that thing.
  • What is your mother most proud of you about?

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION IN LIFE? WHY?

  • What motivates you to get up in the morning, what makes your clock tick? What gives you satisfaction?
  • How is this demonstrated in the things you do?

THINK ABOUT A SITUATION YOU’VE BEEN IN OUTSIDE OF YOUR CONTROL: HOW DID DEAL WITH IT?

  • Maybe it was a situation of adversity, failure, conflict, or uncertainty?
  • What did you learn from this experience about yourself?

WHAT EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD THAT HAVE CONVINCED YOU THAT MEDICINE IS THE RIGHT CAREER FOR YOU?

  • Underclassmen, if you haven’t had this “experience” in healthcare yet, write about a hypothetical experience that you think would be important to you personally

REFLECT…

  • Which questions were easiest to answer?
  • Which were hardest?
  • Any surprising answers?
  • For which questions did you want to continue writing after time was up?

PERSONAL STATEMENT: NUTS AND BOLTS

  • Primary & secondary essays
  • What to discuss and highlight
  • How to approach/craft your essay
  • Do’s & don’ts

PRIMARY AMCAS ESSAY

  • 5300 characters ~1.5 single-spaced pages
  • Purpose is to help you stand out and make the admissions committee give you more attention
  • Average application reader sees 40-50 per day!
  • Audience is MD’s, PhD’s, med students
  • http://www.studentdoctor.net/2008/03/essay-workshop-101-lesson-2-what-they-look-for/

SECONDARY ESSAYS

  • Role varies greatly from school to school; some schools don’t even use them
  • May be serve to help select for interviews, confirm you are the real author of your primary, and break ties on the admissions list
  • Be thorough and thoughtful but turn them in as fast as you can!
  • Arrive at different times: upon AMCAS submission, AMCAS verification, all materials received, or not at all

SECONDARY ESSAYS

  • Example Secondary Prompts:
    • • What do you think will be your greatest personal challenge as a physician, and how will you address this?
    • • How will you contribute to the diversity of your medical school class?
    • • Are there any special circumstances that we should be aware of?
    • • Describe why you think you’re a good fit for our medical school.

PERSONAL STATEMENT… WHAT DO I SAY???

  • Make sure it is clear why you are going
  • into medicine
  • Make sure your unique voice and
  • personality come across
  • Construct a narrative or story

WHY MEDICINE…

  •  I look for a sustained understanding of why the candidate wants to enter medicine, how they’ve tested their interest, and how they’ve prepared for medical school.” -Admissions Officer
  • How did you come to know—not simply why do you know—that you want to be a doctor? How you have demonstrated this interest?
  • How has your interest in medicine changed and developed over time?
  • What were your doubts about medicine? How did you overcome your doubts?
  • Why MD and not other helping professions?
  • http://www.studentdoctor.net/2008/01/essay-workshop-101-lesson-4-question-specific-themes/#want

BE REAL

  • “The most boring, dry essays are those that go on about how the applicant loves science and working with people and wants to serve humanity, but offer few personal details that give a sense of what the applicant is like.” -Admissions Officer
  • What makes you awesome?
  • Use stories to illustrate your ideas
  • Drop formalities and write about something personally meaningful
  • Give ample details and use colorful imagery
  • Be Honest!
  • http://www.studentdoctor.net/2008/03/essay-workshop-101-lesson-2-what-they-look-for/

TELL A STORY

  • The medical profession combines knowledge and wisdom from just about every aspect of life which is directed towards helping humanity. A physician is not just part of the heath care team but the leader of the health care team. He is free to practice broadly or to acquire a specialty of his own choosing. Thus medicine offers the challenges and fulfillment that I am seeking in a career.”
  • Versus
  • “I am constantly reminded of how much I have to learn. I look at a baby and notice its cute, pudgy toes. Dr. V. plays with it while conversing with its mother, and in less than a minute has noted its responsiveness, strength, and attachment to its parent, and checked its reflexes, color and hydration. Gingerly, I search for the tympanic membrane in the ears of a cooperative child and touch an infant’s warm, soft belly, willing my hands to have a measure of Dr. V.’s competence.”
  • http://www.cmu.edu/hpp/achieve/pstips.html

HOW TO START

  • Without thinking of your PS, free write about:
    • Your proudest accomplishments, big and small
    • Your skills, both academic and personal
    • Your major influences
    • Your goals
  • Come up with a “thesis” that fits
  • Develop an illustrative anecdote to start
  • Don’t worry about how you’re going to conclude
  • http://www.studentdoctor.net/2008/02/essay-workshop-101-lesson-3-brainstorming/

DO’S AND DON’TS

  • Do provide information, insight, or perspective that cannot be found elsewhere in your application.
  • Do eschew obfuscation. In other words, write clearly.
  • Do edit. Proofread. Spelling check will not catch every thing! Than, proof read again and get some one else too give there thoughts. Be as close to perfection as possible.
  • Additionally, use creative transitions between ideas.
  • http://www.accepted.com/medical/dosdonts.aspx

DO’S AND DON’TS

  • Don't start or end your essay with cliché: "I was born in...," or "My parents came from..." “Thank you for considering my application”
  • Don't include information that doesn't support your thesis.
  • Don't write an autobiography or resume in prose; avoid repeating information found elsewhere on the application unless relevant
  • Don't be afraid to start over if the essay just isn't working
  • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/04/

SOPHIA’S PERSONAL STATEMENT – TYING TOGETHER LOTS OF RANDOM EXPERIENCES

  • Everything makes sense and it really is all related and connected…because it’s all connected through you, your motivations, your personality and your values
  • What did I want my readers to know about me? Why did I like doing the things that I did?
  • “I want to be capable, practical, able to take action, get my hands dirty and solve people's problems. That was the summer that I started to measure everything I studied by one simple yardstick: "Is it useful?“”
  • “I love being on the boundary between disciplines.”
  • Being Useful
  • Interdisciplinary

MATTHEW’S PERSONAL STATEMENT – USING ANECDOTES EFFECTIVELY

  • Tell stories like you want to hear them – crisp, descriptive, dramatic without being cliché
  • Weave in positive personal attributes where appropriate
  • Use transitions to tie the story to your thesis

Juan's hand was heavy with concrete: a lump of solid cement covered his sturdy palm. I was working the evening shift as a second year premedical intern when he walked into the ED, tired and dirty. He spoke no English, so with my high school Spanish I helped the resident assess the patient. Two days prior, while pouring concrete, Juan had slashed his hand on exposed rebar. He avoided immediate treatment and instead filled the gash with concrete to protect his wound; now he couldn't get the hardened cement off.

  • Juan's hand was heavy with concrete: a lump of solid cement covered his sturdy palm. I was working the evening shift as a second year premedical intern when he walked into the ED, tired and dirty. He spoke no English, so with my high school Spanish I helped the resident assess the patient. Two days prior, while pouring concrete, Juan had slashed his hand on exposed rebar. He avoided immediate treatment and instead filled the gash with concrete to protect his wound; now he couldn't get the hardened cement off.
  • Juan's hand was heavy with concrete: a lump of solid cement covered his sturdy palm. I was working the evening shift as a second year premedical intern when he walked into the ED, tired and dirty. He spoke no English, so with my high school Spanish I helped the resident assess the patient. Two days prior, while pouring concrete, Juan had slashed his hand on exposed rebar. He avoided immediate treatment and instead filled the gash with concrete to protect his wound; now he couldn't get the hardened cement off.

…Terrified of deportation, he had entirely avoided standard medical care. As I reassured Juan of his right to confidentiality, a wave of relief washed over him. He no longer had to choose between his health and his freedom.

  • …Terrified of deportation, he had entirely avoided standard medical care. As I reassured Juan of his right to confidentiality, a wave of relief washed over him. He no longer had to choose between his health and his freedom.
  • Beyond the personal fulfillment of helping a man in distress, Juan's case is so memorable because it showed me that quality care often calls for more than treating just the body. Healing Juan also required an assessment of his individual circumstances, followed by appropriate guidance. Unlike any other profession, compassionate medical care demands a balance of scientific ability and interpersonal talent. As my passions have matured I've discovered that, more than anything else, enterprises which synthesize these two skills bring me immense satisfaction.
  • …Terrified of deportation, he had entirely avoided standard medical care. As I reassured Juan of his right to confidentiality, a wave of relief washed over him. He no longer had to choose between his health and his freedom.
  • Beyond the personal fulfillment of helping a man in distress, Juan's case is so memorable because it showed me that quality care often calls for more than treating just the body. Healing Juan also required an assessment of his individual circumstances, followed by appropriate guidance. Unlike any other profession, compassionate medical care demands a balance of scientific ability and interpersonal talent. As my passions have matured I've discovered that, more than anything else, enterprises which synthesize these two skills bring me immense satisfaction.

WHERE WE’VE BEEN…

    • Put pencil to paper
    • Nuts and bolts of the med school personal statement
    • Specific examples of key components
    • And now, time for Q & A


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