Personal Statements

One of the biggest hurdles during application season is writing a personal statement…for me, I felt that if I could just find a good example of a personal statement then I could get started. That is why I wanted to publish my personal statements so that readers could find them and use that as examples of what to say during medical school and residency applications.

Medical School Personal Statment

Whenever I engaged in a discussion about my major choice, people assumed that I was planning to attend law school or become a professor. I, however, first dreamt of becoming a physician when I was very young. An English major is not the typical choice when discussing pre-medical studies but, then again, my academic journey was not a typical one.

I was raised to believe that everything I attempted was possible, that all of my talents were important, and that I should use all of these talents to improve the world that we live in. These three truths have given me strength on my journey thus far. The two loves of my life have always been medicine and literature. I once wrote a poem entitled “Healer” that depicts my life plan; “I will heal with my hands and I will heal with my words.”

I have always had faith in the power, even the healing power, of words, for it was the prospect of being able to heal and ease someone else’s pain that first drew me to medicine. Already have I expressed my appreciation for my upbringing, but on a deeper level, […] I realize just how important empathy, humanness, and love are when dealing with people, their illnesses, and their pain. So while I was focused on becoming a physician, I was drawn to major in English Literature from the very start, noting the emphasis not only on writing skills but on communication skills as well. My love of literature also stems from the fact that the study of it delves into the importance of close reading and objective analytics, skills that are useful in any occupation.

At the tender age of seventeen, however, after listening to the advice of others who were wary of me losing sight of my childhood dream, I entered college with a Biomedical Science major, and so, for the first two years of my undergraduate studies, I was surrounded by other earnest pre-meds who thought that science was the only road to medicine. I will admit that I enjoyed my major, especially falling in love with Genetics. I learned a great deal and was given many opportunities because of it, but I knew that I had lost a part of myself when I shunned my second love.

So, in my fifth semester, I decided that I could not give up completely on literature and the power of words. I reclaimed the notion that everything I attempted was possible and promised myself that I would achieve all of my goals despite what others think or say. In the spring semester of my junior year, I began working on my English major and was, somehow, still able to graduate in four years.

I will not pretend that my major change came without challenges, but I believe that everything I experienced was necessary to make me who I am today. I am not a rebel or anarchist as some assume. I am more than a scientist; I am a scientist who has an immense interest in Genetics and Hematology. I am more than a writer; I have written and edited over one hundred short stories and poems and seen two published. I am a person.

My interests stretch through a wide range of activities from writing, performing spoken word, working with soup kitchens in the inner city and rural areas, playing in a drum-line, tutoring, and conducting research. I realize that I am not one but all of these things. It amazes me how something as simple as a major change can open one’s eyes to the other aspects, or layers, that make her who she is. There are those who question my desire to become a medical doctor because of the field of study I selected, but to the inquiring minds, I say that I have never been more sure of my drive for medicine than I am now. I know what I was placed on this Earth to do and I will strive forward. My journey has made me stronger, wiser, and more able to understand the journeys of others, with their personal struggles and pain.

Recognizing my own humanness within the past few years of my life has allowed me to understand my fellow man. Everyone that I come in contact with is a person first, not a teacher, not a lawyer, not a nurse, and definitely not a patient. He or she is a person, with many layers, and should be treated as such. I only hope to keep this mindset throughout the rest of my life. If I do this, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be on the road to becoming the best person and physician possible.

Marks, 2014

Residency Personal Statement 

Some people become very good at writing about themselves and they are excellent at finding the perfect diction and syntax to represent who they are. Other people can find themselves in a lull and become incapable of stringing adjectives together in the hopes of describing everything that is “them.” I’m in the second group right now.

I have been writing about myself and why I want to be in medicine since I was a teenager. At first, it was for personal essays, and then it was to get accepted into college, and then for scholarships and internships, and then, finally, to get accepted into medical school. Who am I? “The girl with the English major. The girl with the Chemistry minor. The girl with the blog. The girl with the background in photography. The girl with the background in education.” Why do I want to be a doctor?

I could write about realizing that […] I could write about coming to the understanding that even though I was “healthy,” other children were not as blessed. I could write about my amazing pediatrician growing up and how colorful and fun her office was. I could write about how I thought, when I was three years old, that women couldn’t be physicians and how my parents quickly uplifted, educated, and redirected me, in the most beautiful and slightly dramatic way, to let me know that I, a little girl from Queens, New York, could do anything I could dream of. I could also write about how, from that moment, my dream never faltered.

I could write about so many of the stories and experiences that have shaped my life and yet, the summation of those stories still wouldn’t get close to talking about me.

I like quiet time. I like spending time with friends and family. I like taking pictures. Randomly, I like reading about aquatic animals. I like baking brownies. One thing that I love, however, is that I’ve been given this opportunity to become a physician. I don’t deserve it. None of us do. But I’ve loved every moment of this journey. And I don’t love it because of how it looks or what the title “physician” can do for me. I love it because, as a fourth-year medical student, I am so close to being a part of something that can change the world.

Truthfully, when I look back at everything that has brought me this far, like my undergraduate major, my major change, my hobbies, and my family experiences, one thing remains the same. I couldn’t have done any of it on my own. It took a village. It took a team. One story that I will tell is of the times I spent playing basketball in junior high and in high school. I wasn’t the star player or the top scorer. There were some games when I didn’t even start and others when I didn’t get off the bench. Whenever I was on the court, however, I gave my all for my team. I carried that enthusiasm for teamwork with me to college and to my jobs beyond the classroom.

With all of my interests, one thing that I know for sure is that no one can do anything alone. We’re all human. We all have human emotions. We all have human lives and, therefore at some points, we all can falter. We all need help, even in the little things. I’ve seen this in some of the projects that I’ve undertaken in recent years. Most dramatically, with my company, Fros And Coats, I’ve realized how much of a blessing my team is. Fros And Coats started as a blog post and then grew into a beautiful platform to uplift African American women in all fields of medicine. The support of friends, family, and classmates has really made a difference. Also, most recently with my children’s book, I needed the help and guidance of an experienced illustrator and publisher. The support that we gave each other allowed us to create something beautiful. And even though, I waited years to pursue publishing a children’s book, I’m glad that, when I did, I did it the right way, with an amazing team.

Life requires help. Aside from my extracurricular activities, on a day to day basis, I see it in the hospitals and I see it in the offices. No one is infallible, and I will not be the exception to that rule. This is why I am excited to be a part of a team that will uplift me, hold me accountable, and make medicine happen.

As I said, I’ve been talking about why I want to go into this profession for years. Once, while in college, someone asked me in a class discussion why I wanted to be a doctor. I answered steadily “because I want to change the world.” A few people giggled. And then someone said, “one doctor can’t change the world.” I smiled because they were correct. I responded with the answer that I still give today. The entire world? No, of course not. One doctor can’t change the entire world. But if I, as part of a phenomenal medical team, can touch and save one child, then we have changed that family’s world. I don’t have any children yet, but in my heart, I know that to be true for my future family as well. I look forward to, not only being a link to health and wellness to young boys and girls who look like me and in whom I see myself, but also, to inspiring all of my patients to be the best that they can be, mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially.

It’s not groundbreaking or revolutionary thinking but it’s me, without, I think, too many of the fancy adjectives. In some regards, I know that I am cliché and in others, I know that I don’t fit the mold. I’m so in love with this profession and everything that it has given and will give me. Ultimately, I am most looking forward to locking elbows with my future colleagues as they do their jobs and as I do mine. As we work towards the goal of better healthcare for the patients and families whom we serve, if we work together, not only will we get there faster, but it will be a whole lot more enjoyable for everyone involved and I’ve got to believe that that is what everyone wants.

Marks, 2018

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