6 Things to Avoid in Your Medical School Essays
by Story2, on Jun 27, 2016 5:30:00 AM
The kids in school worshipped Batman or Spider Man. My little sister loved fairies and princesses and magic. And every Sunday morning, Dad made us wake up early to hear about his hero. Everyone had their superhero, but me. That all changed in the 10th grade - when I met an orthopedist at Career Day. This guy was everything that a superhero is supposed to be: smart, caring, unorthodox, instinctual successful and with an ability to save lives. Since then, I have worked every day to ensure that I will have superpowers like that.
What to avoid... Broad, vague generalizations. Your writing must be full of concrete, very specific statements and stories. Don’t just respond to “Why Medicine” by saying that you want to help people. Make it clear why you are fascinated by the human body and science. Include your personal observations about the medical field and experiences shadowing doctors.
Don’t feel compelled to firmly declare your future specialization in any of your application essays. It is okay to mention what you are considering – cancer research, public health, women’s health, primary care – but it is generally assumed that your interests may develop and change as you progress in medical school, and it looks better if you appear open-minded.
Avoid very controversial topics in your essays – religion, politics. Obviously, if you are applying to a religious institution that requests an essay about your spiritual practice, then it is appropriate to expound on it. Just be sure that you don’t express any strong viewpoint that may offend a reader.
Don’t forget that your personal statement on your primary should be about medicine. It is acceptable to focus on other involvements in your secondary essays and show how they make you a multifaceted person. Just make sure that you are answering the question “Why do you want to go to medical school” in your primary essay.
Don’t cram your application with every achievement you have on your record since high school. You want to showcase your most important accomplishments, those that are related to your future aspirations and reveal qualities that will make you a good doctor. If you discuss piano playing in a secondary essay, make sure it is an important activity and relevant in some way.
Avoid repetition. You can allude to a story from your primary essay in a secondary essay for context, but do not tell the same story twice. You want to use all parts of your application to show different sides of you and your experience.
Be careful when mentioning alternative medicine (acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal remedies, etc) in applications to conservative minded schools, since there is no way of knowing the personal standpoint of your reader. There is nothing wrong with wanting to develop yoga classes for cancer patients, but just make sure you present yourself in a manner that is consistent with a school’s orientation.
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