Sample Medical School Admissions Essays (Courtesy of EssayEdge)
Med School Essay TwoI firmly believe in the powerful message of Ecclesiastes 3:1, which states that every endeavor man can undertake has its own time and meaning. Looking back on my own life, I see these different seasons as stages of growth that have helped me to understand my own potential and the path that I wish to take in life. I feel that I have lived deeply and fully, and now wish to apply the valuable life lessons I have gained to what I feel is my true calling. Now is the season to explore the fascinating world of medicine, and to finally make that dream a reality.
As a child, I never believed that I could succeed. Growing up in one foster home after another, I lacked the stability that a youth needs in order to excel in classes and build a proper foundation for the future. I was pregnant by the age of eighteen, and dropped out of school to try to forge a future for my children. Life was difficult but fulfilling, and I found much joy in being the mother of two lovely children. The day my second child was diagnosed with Krabbe’s disease, however, all of my happiness seemed to vanish before my very eyes.
Krabbe’s disease is both terminal and debilitating, and the doctors gave my daughter a life expectancy of eighteen months. Swallowing my shock and sorrow, I devoted myself to making the most of the precious time I had left with my child. I researched intensively on Krabbe’s disease, learning as much as I could about its mechanisms and the course it would run. I applied these lessons to caring for my daughter, and provided her with the twenty-four hour a day care that she required. Because I was afraid she would die at any moment, I never left her side, even to go to work. In order to pay the bills, I took in outside sewing and odd jobs. But no sacrifice was too great for my daughter. She lived to the age of four, long past her expectancy, which the doctors attributed to my constant care.
Being such an intimate witness to the struggle of life and death left me with a deep sense of human fragility. I realized that the human body is so very intricate and beautiful in its complex delicacy. Working closely with doctors, studying medical texts, and nursing a very sick little girl gave me my first taste of medicine. I was too numbed with pain, however, to focus my thoughts on any plans to enter that field. I instead tried to deal with my grief while providing for my remaining child as a single mother. During the next few years, I worked as a secretary and a beautician, and eventually opened a beauty salon of my own. As a business owner, I entered a new world of innovative ideas and social responsibility. Running the salon taught me the valuable lesson of “people pleasing,” and I gained the confidence and communication skills to fight for my rights as a businesswoman. I also devoted much time and funding to my community. I knew full well the horrors of poverty, and often performed services for the local nursing home and charities. My life was finally beginning to stabilize, and I decided that the time had come to think about the dream of medicine that had grown during my daughter’s illness.
Because my days were devoted to running the beauty salon, I attended college during the nights. I was hesitant at first; although I felt drawn to medicine, I did not know if I could handle the coursework. I therefore decided to explore the field before committing myself to it. I found part-time work in the medical office of a local prison, which gave me much exposure to the rigors of health care. Working with prisoners was an amazing experience, for it taught me that all humans need compassion, no matter what their past or their crimes. Whenever a man walked into the clinic, I saw him not as a prisoner, but as a human being in need of help. I poured all of my compassion into my work, and did my best to ensure that these men were receiving the care that every human deserves.
Because I was in a prison environment, the office granted me much more opportunity for hands-on care than I could have found in a public setting. For instance, I often changed bandages and assisted in minor surgeries. On one memorable day, I helped treat a young boy who had nearly cut off his thumb while working in the kitchen. The knife had bitten deep into his palm, and his thumb seemed to be dangling by a thread. Far from feeling repulsion, I was fascinated by the sight of his hand’s internal parts. I realized that I was viewing the physiological structures that enabled movement, and found the experience to be breathtaking. My resolve snapped into place. I knew then that medicine was my true calling, and I enrolled in Georgia Southern University immediately as a full-time student.
Attending college at this point in my life has not been easy. I live seventy miles away from campus, and commute every day. The distance always seems so tiny when I think of the wealth of information I am gaining in my classes, and the many noble goals that are now within my grasp. College is certainly not the only aspect of my life right now. I revel in white water rafting, horseback riding, and cabinet making, and enjoy the challenges and hard work that fill these activities. Having been married to a farmer for the past ten years, I also know the basics of running a farm. I am an advocate for birth control, and have devoted much of my time to convincing sexually active adolescents to seek family planning services. Additionally, I have striven to prepare myself for making meaningful contributions to my community. Because I am from a region with a large Hispanic population, I spent a summer in Costa Rica strengthening my knowledge of the Spanish language, as well as broadening my cultural awareness of other peoples and customs. I believe that a physician must be attuned to all of the needs of the community, be they physical or emotional or cultural.
Now is the season for me to tackle my true goal of medicine. I believe that all of my life experiences have been necessary to bring me to this point. I am mentally prepared and persistent enough to excel at any endeavor, and have developed the compassion and commitment to medicine that will drive me through the years to come. I look forward to my future with great anticipation, and know that the time has finally come for me to realize my dreams.
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Sample Medical School Application Essay - After
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Like many residents in internal medicine, I started my training unsure of which specialty I would choose for my fellowship. I had very broad clinical interests and desired a field in which I could connect with patients on a personal and professional basis. Despite these expansive interests, I had not even considered geriatrics until I met the patient in Room 74.
The patient in Room 74 was a tiny, elderly lady with mild dementia who had been admitted to my care because she was suffering from a urinary tract infection. Starting her on a routine of antibiotics, I noticed that while her physical condition improved, her spirit remained listless and depressed. The woman accepted her treatment reluctantly, even crying or screaming at times at the nursing staff. The other physicians attributed her behavior to the dementia, but I wondered whether there might be something more complex going on in her pathology. Surmising that her outbursts might be the result of loneliness rather than confusion--that she did, in other words, have a firm grasp of reality--I decided to see whether some personal attention could help improve her condition. I spent a little time at the end of each shift talking to the woman. After I earned her trust, she confided in me her story. She said that she lived alone and had recently lost her husband and son. She felt lonely and had no friends. Realizing that her asocial behavior was the result of deep-seated pain, I gave the best medicine I could offer: my friendship.
While working to convince the woman that she could trust and depend on me, I simultaneously contacted social services to see about long-term emotional support after her discharge. Working together, we identified her one remaining son in California and convinced him to take an active interest in his mother's care. In addition, we helped relocate the woman to an assisted living facility where she could actively volunteer in the hospital's senior center. After the woman's discharge, I heard from the social worker that she was doing well.
One day several months later, I had a wonderful surprise during my rotation in ambulatory medicine. Working at the local senior center, I was approached by a tiny but very happy-looking woman. She asked whether I remembered her, and I immediately recognized the kindness of her voice. It was my patient. I was surprised by how much she had changed. As her eyes sparkled with life and interest, she uttered a phrase that I will never forget: "Thank you doctor for what you have done for me. You have made my life so happy."
Just as the patient in Room 74 helped me realize how much I, as a doctor, can contribute to geriatric medicine, my experience studying in the United States showed me how much I, as a person, can contribute to the health care system of my native country. Growing up in Thailand, I experienced an underdeveloped health care system in which the poorest and weakest members of society often receive inadequate or non-existent care. Even elders with caring families often lack the resources to secure the medical attention they deserve. Conventional wisdom in Thailand holds that growing older logically entails becoming forgetful and frail, and the elderly are among the most medically underserved populations in the country.
This is the reason why I have decided to become a geriatric specialist, helping to change outdated conceptions about the elderly in Thailand. To prepare for such work, I recently completed an elective rotation in geriatrics. The rotation showed me the special needs of an aging population, and introduced me to the unique emotional and social issues that arise from artificially extended lifetimes in the era of modern medicine.
The next step on my path toward specialization in geriatrics is completing a fellowship in the field to prepare for my practice in Thailand. I have been honored by the offer of an assistant professorship at my medical school in Thailand, and I look forward to diffusing my knowledge of geriatric care to a new generation of doctors. Geriatrics is a young but blossoming field in Thailand, and the country's aging population has created the urgent need for a stronger, more responsive system of elderly care.
Drawing on the advanced geriatric training and intensive clinical experience of a fellowship at XXX Medical School, I hope to advance my mission of improving the quality of elderly care in Thailand. I am confident that my past experiences and sincere dedication to healing will allow me to succeed in your program, and I look forward to the challenge and reward of an engaging fellowship.
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I read your personal statement for a geriatric fellowship with great interest. I enjoyed your creative use of an anecdote to capture the reader's attention and to highlight your interest in, and dedication to, this demanding field of medicine. Good work.
Many of the changes I made to your essay were confined to the sentence level. I reworked awkward phrases, varied vocabulary, adjusted tone, and increased the direction and flow of your writing. I corrected grammatical errors such as "geriatric staffs" and "many researches," and I eliminated tautological phrases such as "treating her with standard treatment." I also varied sentence length to intersperse long sentences with short, pithy phrases.
In addition, I proposed significant adjustments to the content and structure of your essay. I reworked sentences and whole passages to ensure that you make the strongest case possible for receiving a geriatric fellowship. In addition, I examined your statements at the micro level, determining whether you needed to include additional detail or vary your approach. As a result of this analysis, I have provided a number of suggestions on how you can improve your essay to make it more effective.
The following are some specific comments on the individual paragraphs of your essay:
Your overall approach to this long and comprehensive paragraph is effective. The anecdote you employ is interesting and revealing, and it will undoubtedly hold the attention of a busy fellowship director.
While your ideas are strong, your original presentation was rather congested. Rather than group all your arguments into a single paragraph, I suggest breaking this discussion into multiple parts to make it easier to digest. See my suggestions in the text.
On the micro level, I also found that your diction, tone, and sentence structures in this section needed to be adjusted to make them more eloquent. I reworked each of your sentences carefully, rephrasing your ideas to reflect the kind of vocabulary and nuance that fellowship committees reward.
For instance, I replaced the weak sentence, "I had had the most wonderful and valuable experience with my patient," with, "I had not even considered geriatrics until I met the patient in Room 74." This sentence serves as a lead-in to your next paragraph, and it creates much-needed suspense.
I also chose the device of "Room 74" to protect the identity of your patient. Another possible technique would be to write, "Ms. X," or to make up a generic name like "Helen" or "Emily." The choice is yours. Typically, I have noticed that applicants prefer to show that they have maintained patient confidentiality since this is a hallmark of the medical profession.
The second paragraph of your original essay is also very strong, but it was again necessary to impose a more manageable structure upon your ideas. I have broken up the paragraph into multiple parts so that the reader grasps the progression of your ideas.
In addition, your essay seemed to jump erratically from the discussion of your patient to your reflections on the state of geriatric care in Thailand. This is a crucial transition in your essay, and I have reworked it from scratch to ensure that each idea flows naturally into the next.
One section in which you might consider giving more detail is the discussion of your elective rotation in geriatrics. I provided the sentence, "The rotation showed me the special needs of an aging population, and introduced me to the unique emotional and social issues that arise from artificially extended lifetimes in the era of modern medicine," but you may want to personalize this sentence further. If possible, you should talk about how this rotation advanced your interest in the academic side of geriatrics.
For the conclusion, I tried to emphasize how the fellowship you seek will advance your career goals, particularly since you have already received an offer for an assistant professorship. I expanded upon the connection between your fellowship and your ultimate goal of improving geriatric care in Thailand, but be sure to revise any of my ideas that do not accurately reflect your ambitions or priorities.
Overall, excellent work! Your essay was a pleasure to read and to edit. I wish you the best of luck with your application.
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