It’s finally over, it’s past May 15th! To applicants who were fortunate enough to be accepted to multiple schools May 15th is a rather important date. When you apply to medical school you’ll have to agree that you’ll enter a gentle(wo)man’s agreement, if you’re offered multiple acceptances you’ll withdraw from all schools but one by May 15th. I’m not entirely sure if this date is always the 15th, but the effect is still the same — you need finalize your decision in spring. Yesterday, Boston University (BU) sent me my reading list, syllabus, immunization schedule, and other pertinent information you’d likely want to know as medical student. When I went to BU’s interview, I was impressed upon by how much information they gave us about their school. One big reason why I selected BU was because they gave us tons of information, so me an informed mutual selection when it came to choosing to go to BU.
Anyways, as promised, I’m going to release my personal statement. Hopefully you’ll find it useful. I can’t emphasize enough that every personal statement is different, and there’s no particular reason to model yours after mine. You’ll have your own story, and your own way of doing things. I will note that I used that evil word, “compassion”, in the introduction; however, it was used an introduction premise so I didn’t feel that guilty about it. Also, I think I would of toned down some of the language a little bit, I took a lot of calculated risks — but obviously, with five acceptances it sort of worked out. I do believe I made a few last minute edits before hitting the submit button, those didn’t make it to the save that’s displayed here. But more or less, it’s the finalized personal statement. I think I may have the other version somewhere on my computer (sorry guys, I never imagined I’d be posting it online when writing it originally), if I find it I’ll update this post with it under the version posted now. If it helps with “logistics”, I’ll let you know that this personal statement was about the 7th or 8th draft (not counting uber rough drafts). At first, I thought it’d be easy: I’d just gut the other personal statement drafts I’ve written, they were said to “read well”. But, it didn’t go as planned; though, I was able to use the original premises I had to construct a whole new narrative to really convince people (admissions committees, and well myself) “why medicine” and not something else.
A lot of people have shared their personal statements’ with me, and I appreciate how much bravery it took to share your personal story with a stranger, so I’m merely reciprocating the favor. Everyone has a story that we don’t share. I suppose, if you know me personally then you’re about to learn a lot about me that you might not of known. But, don’t feel that I’ve dismissed you. Instead realize that I too didn’t know myself that well until I wrote my own personal statement. I didn’t like everything I found, and it took time to deal with that — I found myself even taking writing breaks from time to time, to not think about “me”. That’s the funny thing about a “personal statement”, you learn a lot about yourself while doing it.
Well, time to be embarrassed now =), hope it helps! (Some information has been replaced to maintain confidentiality)
“College sounds nice, but look at us, look where we are, how’s this apply to us?” heckled an anxious audience member, skeptical of my discussion of academia.
I was no stranger to criticism while delivering a speech. This sullied and decrepit dormitory, hidden away behind a series of imposing rusted barbed wire fences, a men’s prison was a new social milieu for me. Surrounded by thirty inmates, knuckles and faces veiled in gang and racial tattoos, as their gazes locked on me it I realized my half Windsor-knot wasn’t helping my credibility. It was understandable, as my introduction divided us by focusing on my recent accomplishments: volunteering, obtaining scholarships and research opportunities and becoming a first-generation college graduate and medical school applicant. I kept calm, remembering why I wanted to become a physician: many close family members had died of preventable or easily treatable diseases. But before even considering applying to medical school I wanted to extensively train in what I feel makes a competent physician: ethics, hard work, developing trust, and compassion for others. That day I was learning to toss aside my biases; as a future physician I must do the same for the good of my patients.
It was Winston Churchill who claimed “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I spent a lot of my adolescence in the intensive care unit, although upon reflection severe asthma was both a curse and an opportunity to develop empathy that would serve me well inthe future. A marriage of science and medicine gave me many second chances in life. Gnarled intravenous lines delivering mysterious aliquots of treatment, ethereal nebulizer smoke, flashing indicators and innocuous baby blue gowns and booties became my normal milieu. One occasion my potassium spiked, bringing caustic pain. I was mystified by pain accompanying no obvious physical injuries. It was my first lesson in basic electrophysiology; ion concentrations correlated with perception—a curiosity I would pursue in college.
Graduating from high school I immediately worked full time to help with family bills and pay for college. Family problems led to me living in my car for seven months while attending school, this in turn translated into many distractions from school and lowered grades. Eventually I figured out how to work around being homeless. When I was hospitalized as a child I learned that the best way to heal is to help others, so I started volunteering at a local hospital. I learned that being a physician meant serving others, such as an elderly patient named Maria, who was hospitalized with an acute flare up of the Epstein-Barr virus. Because her limbs were paralyzed, I fed her, occasionally wiping food off of her rosy cheeks, while she beguiled me with her misadventures as a young woman during World War II in the Philippines. Working with physically and mentally disabled children I learned the concept of ‘tough love’. I eventually saved up enough to get an apartment with friends and eventually I transferred to X University (XU).
My second quarter into XU, I received a call; my mother was brought to a mental institution by the police after she’d slit her own wrist. I coped but fought hard to not allow it to affect my grades. I was invited to join a new muscle electrophysiology lab. Through what I learned in this lab I was better able to bridge the gap between the science and the biology that made medicine possible. I performed well in the Organic Chemistry series and was recommended as a tutor in the sequence and general chemistry. I enjoyed the challenge as well as learning how science ties into biology. I took on more responsibility in the lab as a co-principal investigator on a project to investigate the effects on extracellular ATP and the effects on ionic conductance. We proposed that ATP acts as a neurotransmitter (NT) on adult myofibers, creating a hyper-excitable muscle – a discovery with medical implications. This project resulted in my induction as a McNair Scholar and an opportunity to present my analyzed data at a research symposium at Berkeley. Experimenting with NT and toxins on muscles gave me a small preview of mechanisms of medical treatments.
My academic, clinical, research and community service experience solidified my resolve to become a physician. This resolve was strengthened when a doctor replaced a central catheter with a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) in my grandmother’s arm, claiming increased safety. A clot formed and her arm engorged due to poor venous return. A month later, during corrective surgery, she died due to a pulmonary edema secondary to thromboembolism. After a brief literature search, I found that PICC nearly doubled the risk for clotting. This experience reminded me that a clinician must continually follow and keep abreast of the latest medical research. To help with this goal I’m currently training as a volunteer research assistant at X Hospital. I hope to enter medical school and complete my mission by becoming a physician, able to utilize the latest discoveries and technologies to better my patient’s lives.
Here are my personal statement tips:
You can find me on twitter at @doctorORbust