The above link is to an essay that I consider to be effective, entertaining, and engaging. After reading about 15 med school personal statements, I got a terrifying glimpse of what it means to be on an admissions board. Everyone talked about “helping people” in the most contrived way. An abstract idea that they hoped to reach for. I got bored, and often times, I just closed the page even before I finished. So when I stumbled across this website with excellent examples of medical school personal statements (I encourage anyone who is applying med school to check it out), it was a breath of fresh air. An essay that rose above monotony and mediocrity.
Yes, the author talks about helping people – but never so explicitly that you dismiss it for a run-of-the-mill essay. He talks about how emotionally connecting with a terminal AIDS patient actually made him reconsider medicine. To see someone who had been so neglected emotionally, and kept in virtual isolation, he wondered whether this was a field he would be proud to be a part of. Through the story, he searches for reasons why all his academic and clinical experience did not prepare him for this patient. He mentions volunteering at a hospital, research lab work, financial instability also, but frames it as a self-depreciate story that doesn’t make him sound like he is listing his experiences or being pompous.
In the end, he re-affirms his connection to medicine because it will give him a lifetime of opportunity to connect with patients. Sometimes, all people really need is to be invited out for a Big Mac.