Sample Medical School Entrance Essays

Admission Essay & Personal Statement Development Services

Medical School Sample Essays


Getting into the right medical school can seem like pure chance. Why do some people get into the school of their choice ahead of other applicants with similar grades and test scores? Many times, it's not just luck. The medical school admission essay is a critical part of the application process. In most circumstances, you won't be able to interview with an admissions board to impress them with your personal traits. Your medical school personal statement is often times the best -- and only -- way to show admissions officers that you possess the intangible qualities that would make you an invaluable asset to the university.

Sometimes the hardest subject to write about is yourself. AdmissionEssays can help you take your unique personal experiences and use them to create a compelling, intriguing medical school application essay that will help you to stand out from the competition. Below are several sample admissions essays to give you a sense of the type of powerful writing that is required to make your application get noticed.

The most difficult decision I ever had to make was also the one that had only one real answer. My entire life, until 3 years ago, had been spent working my way up in Jordan, breaking boundaries and forging ahead. Growing up female in an Islamic country has its share of challenges, especially if you are athletic and keenly interested in the sciences, both of which traditionally being viewed as boys’ realms...
My grandmother always used to say to me “nothing in life is easy if it’s worth having”, and I am just so sad that she can’t see me now, turning away from the easy (by comparison) path towards one I know will bring a lifetime of challenges and fulfillment. I always respected her and have tried to make my entire family proud of me. I am the first person from my working class family to go to college, and while I am proud of accomplishing this goal, which was by no means easy financially or emotionally, my career path after graduation has not been as fulfilling as I was hoping it would be...
The field of osteopathic medicine has a strong draw for me because I have been able to witness first hand the total effects of a physical ailment on someone very close to me: my father. He has always suffered from a liver condition, but this affects far more than just the affected organ. His entire personality has been altered by his battle, and therefore every aspect of his mind and body must be considered when treating his physical ailment...
Question: Please discuss your expectations as a future physician (max 500 words)

Having a mother who is a physician has given me a unique insight into how challenging, and rewarding, a career in medicine can be. When my family first moved to the United States 8 years ago I really didn’t know what to expect from my new homeland, and though I met many children from families with working mothers, I must admit I did look enviously on at the children who were being picked up from school by their homemaker mothers, expecting to go home to a family dinner...
Question: What significant accomplishments or life experiences make you unique? (max 250words)

I have had the good fortune in life to grow up in more than one culture. My family is Indian, but we have lived for long stretches of time in several places, most significantly in Spain, Germany, and now the United States. Being embraced by these colorful, and sometimes very disparate, cultures has given me an ability to relate to people from many different backgrounds because I know what it feels like to recently arrive in what seems like a new world and have to find some common ground with the people around you quickly...
My parents, who, through hard work and effort, built a successful Japanese restaurant from nothing in the middle of North Dakota, where prior to their arrival the only other ethnic food available was a taco stand that also served hamburgers, always used to say to my brother and me: “perfection is in the details”. This quote used to bother me as a young person because I wanted perfection to be a complete picture, not just a piece of the puzzle, but as I have grown up and learned to appreciate how much effort one needs to exert to achieve the “perfect” anything, I see the wisdom of their saying and now I too espouse it...
If you never stop learning, life will always be interesting and filled with new opportunities. My quest to continually stretch myself has led me to plan a return to school at an age when most people are thinking more about their children’s college loans rather than their own...
When I tell people that I am a massage therapist they often assume that my days are filled with massaging pampered women in day spas, and while I have done my share of work in such places, this is not what drove me into the field initially and not what makes up the bulk of my current clientele. My clients these days are in need of my services because of their various medical conditions and I take great pride in the fact that I am doing something to help them lead more comfortable, independent, and satisfying lives...
Hours before the doorbell rings and my first guests arrive I am in the kitchen chopping, sautéing, simmering and reducing. This isn’t easy work—I have the burn marks to prove it—and I’m sure very few of my guests have any idea of the effort that has gone into the meal that will eventually be placed before them, but what makes it all worthwhile are the smiles I see as the first bite is tasted, and the camaraderie and joviality that spreads around my dinner table as a direct result of my efforts...
Growing up in a family filled with esteemed professionals, ambition was expected of us. Going to college, grad school, and beyond—it was all implicit in my parents’ blueprint for my siblings and I. It was assumed that each of us had the intellect and drive to achieve great things, and that it was incumbent upon all of us to use those skills to somehow make the world a better place. For quite some time, I have struggled to place my finger on a career that would nurture my capabilities and interests, allowing me to make invaluable contributions to a field...

Part 2: How to Begin (Goal: Engage the Reader)

Before you begin to write, I recommend that you:

  1. Develop a list of qualities you want to demonstrate and
  2. Think of events or situations that highlight these qualities

Then, you should write about one of these events or situations in a way that demonstrates these qualities and captures the reader’s attention.

1.   List Your Greatest Qualities

To answer the personal statement prompt more easily, focus again on the question of what you want admissions committees to know about you beyond your numbers and achievements.

I’m not talking about your hobbies (e.g., “I followed Taylor Swift to every concert she performed in the US during this past year”), although you could certainly point to aspects of your lifestyle in your essay to make your point.

Instead, I’m talking about which of your qualities–character, personality traits, attitudes–you want to demonstrate. Examples include:

  • Extraordinary compassion
  • Kindness
  • Willingness to learn
  • Great listening skills
  • Optimism
  • Knowledge-seeking
  • Persistence
  • And so on

If you have difficulty thinking of your great qualities (many students do), ask family members or close friends what you’re good at and why they like you; that will take care of things :)

Finally, choose the two or three qualities that you want to focus on in your personal statement. Let’s use compassion and knowledge-seeking as the foundational qualities of an original example for this article.

(Note: I cannot overstate how important it is to think of the qualities you want to demonstrate in your personal statement before choosing a situation or event to write about. Students who decide on an event or situation first usually struggle to fit in their qualities within the confines of their story. On the other hand, students who choose the qualities they want to convey first are easily able to demonstrate them because the event or situation they settle on naturally highlights these qualities.)

2.   When or Where Have You Demonstrated These Qualities?

Now that I’m off my soapbox and you’ve chosen qualities to highlight, it’s time to list any event(s) or setting(s) where you’ve demonstrated them.

I should explicitly mention that this event or setting doesn't need to come from a clinical (e.g., shadowing a physician, interacting with a young adult patient at a cancer center, working with children in an international clinic) or research experience (e.g., making a finding in cancer research), although it’s OK if it involves an extracurricular activity directly related to medicine.

In fact, since most students start their essays by describing clinical or research experiences, starting off with something else–travel (e.g., a camping trip in Yellowstone), volunteering (e.g., building homes in New Orleans), family (e.g., spending time with and learning from your elderly and ill grandmother back home in New Hampshire), work (e.g., helping out at your parents’ donut shop)–will make you immediately stand out.

Let’s start with the example of building homes in New Orleans. Why? Because we could easily demonstrate compassion and knowledge-seeking through this experience. Notice how the qualities we select can choose the story for us?

3.  Describe Your Event as a Story

Here’s where the art of writing a great personal statement really comes in.

Admissions officers read thousands of essays, most of which are very cliché or dry. Therefore, it’s critical that you stand out by engaging the reader from the very beginning.

By far the best way to capture admissions officers early is by developing a story at the start of your essay about the event or situation you chose in Step 2.

In a previous article, I wrote about the three critical elements for writing a great admissions essay story: 1) a compelling character, 2) a relatable plot, and 3) authenticity) 

However, I want to go one step beyond that article and provide an actual example of how the same event can be written in a routine vs. compelling way. That way, you can avoid the common pitfalls of typical personal statements and write a standout one.

Routine

One of my most eye-opening experiences came when I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans during the summer months of 2014. Up to that point, I had only heard about the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina 9 years earlier. Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to volunteer, it was not until I observed the emotional pounding the people of New Orleans had experienced that I developed a greater sense of compassion for their plight.

Compelling

New Orleans was hot and humid during the summer months of 2014–no surprise there. However, for a native Oregonian like me, waking up to 90-degree and 85% humidity days initially seemed like too much to bear. That was until I reflected on the fact that my temporary discomfort was minute in contrast to the destruction of communities and emotional pounding experienced by the people of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina 9 years earlier. Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to understand its effects on the community and volunteer, actually building homes and interacting with the locals, like 9 year-old Jermaine, who cried as I held his hand while we unveiled his rebuilt home, taught me that caring for people was as much about lifting spirits as making physical improvements.

Many people may feel the Routine example is pretty good. Upon closer look, however, it seems that:

  • The focus is as much on New Orleanians as the applicant
  • The story is not particularly relatable (unless the reader had also volunteered there)
  • There isn’t much support for the writer actually being touched by the people there

On the other hand, the Compelling example:

  • Keeps the spotlight on the applicant throughout (e.g., references being from Oregon, discusses her reflections, interacting with Jermaine)
  • Has a relatable plot (e.g., temporary discomfort, changing perspectives)
  • Is authentic (e.g., provides an example of how she lifted spirits)

(You can find yet another example of a typical vs. standout admissions essay introduction to engage readers in this earlier post.)

4.   Demonstrate Your Qualities

(Note: This section applies to all aspects of your essay.)

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the most common pieces of advice given for writing personal statements, but further guidance or examples are rarely provided to demonstrate what it looks like when done well.

This is unfortunate because the best way to understand how standout personal statements demonstrate qualities through an engaging story is by reading two examples of the same situation: one that “tells” about a quality, and another that “shows” a quality.

Let’s take a look at the last sentence of each story example I provided in the previous section to better understand this distinction.

Telling (from Routine story)

“…it was not until I observed the emotional pounding the people of New Orleans had experienced that I developed a greater sense of compassion for their plight.”

Showing (from Compelling story)

“…actually building homes and interacting with the locals, like 9 year-old Jermaine, who cried as I held his hand while we unveiled his rebuilt home, taught me that caring for people…”

Notice how the second example demonstrates compassion without ever mentioning the word "compassion" (hence no bolded words)?

Moreover, the same sentence demonstrates knowledge-seeking: “Although pictures and stories of the aftermath compelled me to understand its effects on the community and volunteer, actually building homes and interacting with the locals...”)

That’s what you’re going for.

Think about it. Who do you consider to be more kind:

  • A person who says, “I’m really nice!”; or
  • A person who you've seen do nice things for others?

Clearly, the second person will be seen as more kind, even if there's no difference between their levels of kindness.

Therefore, by demonstrating your qualities, you will look better to admissions committees, and also seem more authentic.

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