Post-baccalaureate premedical programs require one central essay as a primary component of the application process. (Some programs also require one or two short essays on more targeted topics than the “big” essay.) The central application essay usually gives some broad prompt or none at all; most often the directions will suggest that the applicant write about his or her reasons for wanting to pursue a career in medicine. The focus of the essay will diverge for applicants who are seeking to enroll in a “career changer” post-bac program as opposed to a “record enhancing” program; the essay for career changer programs should address very clearly why you want to be a doctor and include evidence that you’ve tested your impulse and know what you’re getting into. Here are some tips for writing an outstanding career changer post-bac application essay :
1. Ask yourself how, why, and when. Articulate clearly in compelling prose how, why, and when you became interested in medicine. Admissions committees want to know what prompted you to consider medicine in the first place. Was it an experience with a family member’s illness? The influence of someone you know in the medical profession? Volunteer work that inspired you? A global experience? Trace your path to medicine for your reader. Make it clear how you got to the point of pursuing a career in medicine.
2. Show that you’ve gotten your hands dirty. Post-bac programs want proof that you’ve investigated the medical profession. Once you realized you were interested in medicine did you seek out experiences that proved—both to yourself and to admissions committees—that you’re suited to the profession and that you have a realistic view of what it entails? If you haven’t yet gotten this experience hold off on your application. You need to take time to make sure that the extensive training involved is truly worth the effort. There is only one way to figure this out: by getting medical experience. If you have volunteered in a medical setting (or worked in one) describe the experience for your reader. Show what you learned about patient care, the responsibility of caring for others, and the demands of the profession.
3. Show what you will you add to the medical profession. Readers assess whether your goals are realistic and informed. Based on your past experiences have you established future goals? Can you envision what you might add to the medical profession? Those who have thought this through and can articulate it usually write more convincing essays. You don’t need to know exactly what field of medicine you might pursue but having broad goals as to what you might achieve helps convince readers that you know what’s ahead and that you’re dedicated to your goals.
4. Show your personal traits. One of the purposes of the personal statement is to help readers get a sense of you as an individual. Through the descriptions of your experiences—and by demonstrating what you have chosen to study, engage in, and contribute to—you will give the readers a taste of your personal traits and, thereby, a sense of who you are. This helps them assess what you might add to their post-bac program and how you might enrich the student body and ultimately the medical profession.
5. Show passion, enthusiasm, and excitement. Showing your passion—for an intellectual pursuit, an artistic endeavor, or your new goal—helps readers understand what drives you. If you’re switching careers you are presumably energized by your new career choice of medicine: show it. If you’ve done in-depth research on a particular topic that interests you, show your passion and explain why it inspired you to dedicate your time to it. And show enthusiasm and interest in the program to which you’re applying; all programs want enthusiastic students!
The personal statement is a means for you to tell your story and trace your path to medicine. Writing the essay serves a useful purpose: it allows you to dig deep within yourself and crystallize your path to medicine, thereby convincing the reader that you should be a member of their incoming post-bac class.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School and Post Bac Program Admissions Consulting