Preparing your personal statement

This is your opportunity to elaborate upon your relevant experiences. How did your experiences motivate you or solidify your desire to pursue a career in health care? What stories can you tell from your clinical experiences that show what kind of health care provider you would be? You volunteered a lot of hours, but what did you learn from your volunteer experience, and how can you apply this knowledge to a career in health care? You had leadership roles in college - what do these experiences say about your communication skills or your ability to work in a team environment? You have research experience - how can you use your new skills in a health care setting? What sets you apart from the thousands of other qualified applicants?

In general, your personal statement should consist of stories and specific examples that show why you want to do what you want to do. Your statement should be easy to read, interesting, and absolutely free of typos or grammatical errors. Ask lots of people to read your statement and to provide honest feedback. 

Some suggestions to consider:

  • Proofread your essay! Little errors can signal lack of attention to detail.
  • Tell stories about your experiences! Stories are very effective at showing WHY and HOW you would be a good health care provider.
  • Quality > quantity! Work to improve the clarity of your essay by removing extra words. Do not try to tell ALL the stories, just tell the ones that are most important.
  • Be clear about your motivation for a career in health care.
  • Have lots of people read your essay - friends, family members, professors, HPAC members. Ask them not only to catch errors, but to make sure that your essay reflects the best of who you are.
  • If explaining anything negative on your application (such as a bad semester, conduct probation, etc.), be open and honest. Mention the facts and move on.  Explain your side of the story, but do not make excuses.
  • Creativity and quality are important, but sincerity and honesty are even more so. Make sure the essay is written in your authentic 'voice'.

Statement Prompts

Each application service has room for a personal statement, and each has its own instructions. Read the prompts carefully; some example prompts are below.

AMCAS - "This is your opportunity to provide personal information that is otherwise not included on your application. Consider and construct your comments carefully; many admissions committees place significant weight on this section."

AACOMAS - "We encourage you to provide your motivation for applying to the field of osteopathic medicine in this section."

ADEA - "Your Applicant Essay provides an opportunity to explain why you desire to pursue a dental education."

CASPA - "Write a brief statement expressing your motivation or desire to become a physician assistant"

VMCAS - "Your personal statement should help the admission committee(s) learn something about you as a person, about the development of your interest in veterinary medicine, and about your career goals."