Personal Statement

A compelling personal statement, also called a personal comments essay, is a key part of the primary application. This statement is crucial for telling an admissions committee who you are, explaining why you are a unique candidate, and illustrating why you are pursuing a career in the health professions. Communicating your journey to medicine and why you’re a strong candidate will help you personalize yourself in the eyes of the committee.

To view a workshop on personal statements led by our office, please visit our website here. To view the presentation slides, click here.

Key points to discuss

  • Personal qualities—key strengths in the core competencies
  • Preparation—what experiences have you learned from along the way
  • Motivation—preparation and desire for pursuing medicine
  • Vision—impact you wish to make in the field and your goals

Questions you might answer in your personal statement

  • Why did you choose medicine as a career?
  • What was the turning point in your life, or the collection of key experiences, that let you know that medicine was your career of choice?
  • Give an example of a big challenge you’ve faced and how you resolved it.
  • What people most influenced your life and why?
  • What are your future goals and why?

Organization

  • Background information
  • Your values
  • Your interest in medicine
  • Any personal events
  • Other work experiences
  • Any influential incidents that have shaped your life
  • Any challenges you have overcome

“Do”s

  • Start early and revise often: this process will take time and a number of revisions along the way—give yourself enough time to edit without feeling overwhelmed
  • Use first-person voice (“I”, “my”, “me”)
  • Keep it simple: use only vivid details and the strongest, most appropriate stories
  • Show, don’t tell: display to the committee that you possess a certain quality or strength; show what’s happening with gripping verbs and images
  • Include thoughts and feelings: stand out to the committee by being interesting and engaging in your writing as you make the personal connection between you and medicine
  • Develop a strong idea or element of your story and weave it throughout: try to make a theme to tie your experiences together and unify your story
  • Seek as much feedback as you can: have multiple people review your personal statement, including people who know you well, individuals who know the health professions field, and others who may be able to provide external, objective feedback

“Don’t”s

  • Use cliches: avoid generalities such as a “desire to help people” or a “fascination with science”
  • Re-list activities: the committee has seen your work and activities already; use this opportunity to focus on noteworthy and specific aspects of your involvement
  • Focus too heavily on high school experiences: while these can shape your interests, committees will want to understand your mature decisions for pursuing a health career
  • Be too self-congratulatory or self-deprecating: acknowledge you successes as well as your failures, but do not dwell on them
  • Get caught up in the style at first: you will go through many drafts of your statement, so start with getting thoughts down on paper and go back later to refine the style

Resources

The process of reflecting on your experiences, drafting different versions of your story, and refining your statement to tell your story in the most compelling way takes time and effort. You will go through many iterations, and we strongly encourage you to take advantage of on-campus resources to review and workshop your statement with you.

Review the UConn Center for Career Development’s advice on personal statement writing and schedule an appointment with a career coach for one-on-one guidance.

Utilize as well the UConn Writing Center’s information on personal statement writing and schedule an appointment with a writing center tutor for personal help. (NOTE: the Writing Center is currently closed until June 8th, 2021).

Additional Resources:

AAMC Advisor Corner: Crafting Your Personal Statement

AACOM Personal Statement

ADEA Personal Statement

The Princeton Review: 15 Tips for Your Medical School Personal Statement

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine: Sample Personal Statements

U.S. News: Two Medical School Admissions Essays That Admissions Officers Loved

Aspiring Doc Diaries: A Personal Plea to Pre-Meds