How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School, Part 2
Common Writing Mistakes

The Best You PAL Academy premed pre-dental pre-health advising coaching How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Common Writing Mistakes

It’s that time!!!  Being a competitive applicant when applying to medical or dental school takes having a bright and shiny application package … and beyond your metrics (grades and MCAT/DAT scores), it’s your personal statement that does the talking for you.  So.  What does your personal statement say about you?  Is it as awesome as you are?  Does it showcase you in your best and brightest, shiniest light?  Is it the personal statement that is compelling and persuasive, free from the common writing mistakes that students make all the time – like “preaching to choir” or “throwing shade,” and is it filled with all the substantiating support you need to validate your reasons for wanting to become a doctor, or a dentist?  And for that matter, have you adequately answered the question of why you want to be a doctor beyond the overly simplistic, “Because I want to help people”?

Your personal statement is IMPORTANT for solidifying your chances of getting in.  I’m guessing you’d hate to fill out your AMCAS, AADSAS, or AACOMAS application, thinking “It’s just an application … fill in the blanks … easy peasy,” and submit “your story” not being sure if it’s filled in with all the delicious, wonderful competitive facts about you that your admissions committees need and want to know about you to determine if you are ready … if you are a good fit for their program … if you are a good fit for becoming a healthcare professional with patients whose lives depend on you — I’m guessing you’d hate to do all of this to find out after you submit that NO, you didn’t give them the best you have to show them.  In fact, that would really suck.

I’ve been reading students’ personal statements for over a decade, and I have never had a student bring me a truly competitive, shiny statement on their first try.  Almost always, they’ve failed with even the most basic purpose of the personal statement: to fully answer the question Why do you want to be a doctor?  with persuasive substantiation.  And they go on to further undermine their competitive status by unintentionally filling their statement with common writing mistakes – and I’m not talking about failing to punctuate correctly or misspelling a word (although, those aren’t good either); I’m talking about content-specific logically fallacious writing, things like “putting doctors on pedestals” and “writing with rose colored glasses on” (both of which convey an immature knowledge of what the practice of medicine is all about, and both will undermine your competitive status).  So it’s important for you to have an informed understanding of what the expectations are for you, your personal statement, your application, your secondaries, and your interviews.  Make sure you get the facts, and please, don’t simply rely on Well, so-and-so did such-and-such and s/he got in, so that must be the right way.  There are so many problems wrong with that reasoning … too many to get into in this blog post, but in the following video, I give you explicit explanation as to what your goal is and why.

So, please take a few moments to watch this video and get the information you need to make sure you write a personal statement that is truly reflective of the best you have to offer – that is persuasive and compelling – and that will make sure you Stand Up, Stand Out and Shine!!!

When you get done with this video, if you would like to dig deeper into understanding how to make sure your personal statement is compelling and persuasive, filled with substantiated, meaningful content, and shows you off for all the AWESOME that you are, then make sure you are writing free from the Common Writing Mistakes students make so often by checking out my new webinar workshop:  How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Volume 2: Common Writing Mistakes.  Click here for more information.

Two more webinar workshops are in this series with more information on Content Development (what you should be writing about to show yourself in your brightest, most competitive light) and Writing Your Best Shining Draft … meaning, making sure you polish your personal statement until it gleams!

Webinar Workshop How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! The Best You PAL Academy premed pre-dental pre-health advising coaching

Your personal statement is so very important!  Think about how much time you’ve spent getting to this point.  Don’t stop giving your best!  Get in there and make your future happen!!!  You get this super, amazing opportunity to “talk” directly to your admissions committees … your personal statement is you answering their question, “So, why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?” … and they are most definitely paying very close attention to what you have to offer.  So make sure you take this opportunity to really compel them, persuade them, … convince them that you are Ready! That you are the right candidate for their program! And that you are the right person to become a healthcare provider to your future patients!!!

You can do this!

My best wishes to you for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate :0)

 

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School, Part 1
Content Discovery

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School Content Discovery; The Best You PAL Academy; premed pre-dental advising coaching

It’s that time!!!  Being a competitive applicant when applying to medical or dental school takes having a bright and shiny application package … and beyond your metrics (grades and MCAT/DAT scores), it’s your personal statement that does the talking for you.  So.  What does your personal statement say about you?  Is it as awesome as you are?  Does it showcase you in your best and brightest, shiniest light?  Is it the personal statement that is compelling and persuasive, free from the common writing mistakes that students make all the time – like “preaching to choir” or “throwing shade,” and is it filled with all the substantiating support you need to validate your reasons for wanting to become a doctor, or a dentist?  And for that matter, have you adequately answered the question of why you want to be a doctor beyond the overly simplistic, “Because I want to help people”?

Your personal statement is IMPORTANT for solidifying your chances of getting in.  I’m guessing you’d hate to fill out your AMCAS, AADSAS, or AACOMAS application, thinking “It’s just an application … fill in the blanks … easy peasy,” and submit “your story” not being sure if it’s filled in with all the delicious, wonderful competitive facts about you that your admissions committees need and want to know about you to determine if you are ready … if you are a good fit for their program … if you are a good fit for becoming a healthcare professional with patients whose lives depend on you — I’m guessing you’d hate to do all of this to find out after you submit that NO, you didn’t give them the best you have to show them.  In fact, that would really suck.

I’ve been reading students’ personal statements for over a decade, and I have never had a student bring me a truly competitive, shiny statement on their first try.  Almost always, they’ve failed with even the most basic purpose of the personal statement: to fully answer the question Why do you want to be a doctor?  with persuasive substantiation.  And they go on to further undermine their competitive status by unintentionally filling their statement with common writing mistakes – and I’m not talking about failing to punctuate correctly or misspelling a word (although, those aren’t good either); I’m talking about content-specific logically fallacious writing, things like “putting doctors on pedestals” and “writing with rose colored glasses on” (both of which convey an immature knowledge of what the practice of medicine is all about, and both will undermine your competitive status).  So it’s important for you to have an informed understanding of what the expectations are for you, your personal statement, your application, your secondaries, and your interviews.  Make sure you get the facts, and please, don’t simply rely on Well, so-and-so did such-and-such and s/he got in, so that must be the right way.  There are so many problems wrong with that reasoning … too many to get into in this blog post, but in the following video, I give you explicit explanation as to what your goal is and why.

So, please take a few moments to watch this video and get the information you need to make sure you write a personal statement that is truly reflective of the best you have to offer – that is persuasive and compelling – and that will make sure you Stand Up, Stand Out and Shine!!!

When you get done with this video, if you would like to dig deeper into understanding how to discover the content you really should be writing about, then check out my new webinar workshop:  How to Write the Best Medical School Personal Statement, EVER! Volume 1: Content Discovery.  Click here for more information.

Two more webinar workshops will follow with more information on Common Writing Mistakes (what are they, and how you write withOUT them) and Writing Your Best Shining Draft … meaning, making sure you polish your personal statement until it gleams!

How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement for Medical School Content Discovery; The Best You PAL Academy; premed pre-dental advising coaching

Your personal statement is so very important!  Think about how much time you’ve spent getting to this point.  Don’t stop giving your best!  Get in there and make your future happen!!!  You get this super, amazing opportunity to “talk” directly to your admissions committees … your personal statement is you answering their question, “So, why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?” … and they are most definitely paying very close attention to what you have to offer.  So make sure you take this opportunity to really compel them, persuade them, … convince them that you are Ready! That you are the right candidate for their program! And that you are the right person to become a healthcare provider to your future patients!!!

You can do this!

My best wishes to you for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate :0)

 

Final exams are done. You did it!!! What’s next?

The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health Academic Life Advising Coaching YOU DID IT!

Congratulations!!!  You did it!!!  You made it through your semester.  Finals and project are done, and you get your first chance to breathe.  You’ve earned your belly bumpin’ high fives and hugs for digging in and getting it done!  So take a moment to hug yourself and smile at your accomplishment – be proud of your hard work and awesome learning, and after a short break, ask yourself, “What can I do now to help me achieve my dream?”

If you are pre-med, pre-dental, or pre-health in any form, there’s always something you can be doing to strengthen your competitive status.  And right now, as Spummer (Spring-Summer) approaches, ask yourself what your next steps are.  If you are a fresh-human or sophomore (or junior or senior not applying this application cycle), then how do you want to spend your time?  Will you be volunteering?  Working?  Traveling?  Researching?  Taking more coursework?  Studying abroad?  Whatever it is, how are you growing and developing into the candidate that will be the one that WOWS and compels?  If you are a junior or senior getting ready to apply, then you should be thinking about your personal statement.  It’s time to get on that … and it’s not as easy as it sounds.  You can check out my webpage about personal statements to learn more.

So take a well earned rest, and as your body and mind rejuve and you find yourself ready to take on your next step, think about what you need to do next so you can become the applicant who stands up, stands out, and shines!!!  :0)

Good job!!!

Big hugs!

Mary Kate :0)

Almost there!
So, just bring it!!!

Bring it! The Best You PAL Academy Pre-health premed pre-dental advising and coaching

 

I know you’re busy with finals and end-of-semester projects … and breathing has likely become voluntary … so, remember to breathe!  And, then.  Just know that you’ve got this!  You can do this!  You know what you need to do to kick ass, and you’re going to do it!!!  So let this POSitude SQUEE you on, and get in there and be your AWESOME SAUCE self!!!  Show your future medical and dental schools you are the right candidate for them and for your future patients!!!  Bring it!!!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate  :0)

Failure … it’s an option on the road to happiness and success!

Failure is an option. The Best You PAL Academy. Pre-health Academic Life Advising and Coaching

“Fall on your face.  Fail.  Fail spectacularly.  Because when you fail, you learn.  When you fail, you live.”  Harriet Lauler, The Last Word

You can’t be perfect.  Nobody can.

In life you can’t know everything.  You can’t predict everything.

Failure is out there.  It happens at some point to everyone.

But you can learn.  You can grow.  You can adapt.  You can reflect and build yourself into the person who best fits you – which is one of those things you aren’t born knowing.  No one is.

You have to discover your likes.  Dislikes.  Strengths.  Weaknesses.  What drives you.  What you value.  What motivates you.  … What your defining characteristics are.

You didn’t come with a manual.  None of us did.  So it is with every try – with every attempt – that we risk failure – failure that we’ve been programmed or taught to fear.  But it is through failure – if we choose to learn from it, grow from it, pay attention to it, etc. – that we become our best selves.  It is how we learn about who we are.  It is integral to the process of self-discovery.  And when we dive in and invest in ourselves – when we give ourselves our best efforts – we find what makes us happy, what makes us successful, what makes our worlds go around.  For as odd and counterintuitive as it may sound, to become your best, happy, successful self, you must try, and to do that, you have to accept failure as the possibility that shows the right way.

So don’t be afraid to fail.  For if you are – you are less likely to try, and if you don’t try – you will never truly know how uniquely special and wonderful you are!

Big Hugs!  I hope this POSitude is a healthy living “You Can Do It!” that fully resonates with you!

Mary Kate

 

PS:  Take it from me, a perfectionist of the highest order and someone who used to take failure as though it were a walk through the gates of hell:

1. Perfectionism is exhausting work.

2. People tend to take advantage of all of your hard work, leaving you to rightly feel underappreciated, used, and even abused.

3. Perfectionism is based on the unobtainable absolute of always being right, or the best, or … perfect, obviously.  Food for thought: who defines what is perfect, and how do they know; are they perfect?

4. And most importantly, for the longest time, I gave perfectionism my all, until I became pretty damn near perfect – I was charting at the top of my academics, with my research, with my work, I had merit scholarships, academic awards, professors pushing me onward and upward, and I went.  Harder, faster, until I crashed.  I failed.

I’d been too busy being perfect to ever ask myself if I was happy.  I was successful by academic and work standards.  I felt tremendous and worthy accomplishment.  But was I happy?  What did I have in my life beyond my work, academics, and research?  Real friends?  Someone I loved to come home to?  A life beyond work?  Was the only thing I wanted in my life to be work, school, and research? 

Turns out, no.  I wanted more.  A lot more!  I changed my path.  I started doing all the things that sounded interesting, fun, and/or exciting to me, beyond the career I’d been building.  Some things I liked, loved, and/or was good at.  Others, not so much.  But I tried.  Sometimes I failed.  And every time that happened, I examined, reflected upon, … and learned from it.  I found what really motivates me.  What I really value.  What I love.  All of the good stuff, including liking and loving myself and finding my honeybun and real friends.  And along with that, I found out lots of things that I don’t like or that I don’t want to do again.  The things that “aren’t me.”  And that’s ok, because in this process of self-discovery and living, I found success and happiness!

For me, I’ve learned that perfection is happily and successfully honed imperfection!

 

PPS:  So, I failed at perfectionism, as everyone eventually does.  But I do want to add that all my hard work, for all those years, it built in me a self-confidence I’d never had.  I learned what I was capable of.  I learned how to excel, stupendously.  And I’d be lying if I said I don’t still strive for excellence, because I do in everything in my life.  But now, I’m not afraid to explore and try new things, knowing that failure is an option.  I’m not afraid of failure.  I know it will be okay.  Failure will teach me what I need to know about myself and my life, and I know I’ll get where I need and want to be in who I am and the life that – way more often than not – makes me happy!

 

You’ve Got This!!!

You've Got This Premed Pre-dental Pre-health The Best You PAL Academy advising and coaching

No matter what someone else has accomplished, they haven’t had to do it in your shoes. It’s an unfair (and frankly, irrelevant) comparison, so don’t beat yourself up by allowing yourself to feel that you are less or unworthy. That’s unkind to you, and if anybody should be being nice to you, it’s you.

Love yourself. Be kind.

If you want something better in your life, or out of yourself, then make it a goal, and then give yourself the support and steps you need to accomplish it!

Life is hard enough. Bring yourself up and know that, even if it takes time, You’ve Got This!!!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate

Does Life Actually Get Better?

It's Going to Get Better The Best You PAL Academy pre-health life advising and coaching

These days, many of us are feeling down, depressed, scared, overwhelmed … all kinds of difficult to process and handle emotional states.

Wouldn’t it just be lovely if life was one constantly wonderful breath of fresh air and everything going right?  But it isn’t, and it doesn’t.  That’s the nature of life in all of its diversity and complexity.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I can’t fix everything … but I’m life-battle-tested, and I’ve gained experience and insight that I hope can help you.  So first let me set the stage.  I know when you look at me now, you most likely see a bubbly, lively, happy, SQUEE, PINK human oozing positivity who could have never been through hell and come out the other side like I am today.  So clearly, what could I possibly know???  And what could I have to offer???

Well, it’s true that I am a very SQUEE human these days when I think about the life I’ve built and how far I’ve come.  But there was a time …  A time when life was harder.  So hard that I even seriously considered ending it all.  I’m not going to turn this into a depressing, heavy-on-the-dramatics autobiography of holy-shit, that really sucked.  But to summarize, there was poverty, neglect, abuse, hunger … tremendous family drama and trauma that drove me to leave home as a teen.  I lived on the streets, in apartments without electricity, hot water, or appliances.  But I was excited to be surviving on my own – kind of.  My weekly grocery allotment from working 3 part-time, minimum wage jobs, every waking moment that I could, was $10.  That got me ice for my cooler, a box of cereal, jug of milk, loaf of bread, and a jar of peanut butter or package of cheese slices – each week.  So, not a lot of food.  No phone.  No TV.  Not a lot of things.  Just work and my hope for something better.  At that time, I had crap for self-esteem and no self-confidence.  I got walked on a lot.  Boyfriends and people who took easy advantage.  There’s more, but I think you get the idea.  My life wasn’t always the PINK that it is now.  And in all of that, I remember a time or … actually a few, when I thought, What’s the point?  Giving up looked so appealing.  My life was a wreck, and I couldn’t fathom ever being happy or successful.

Thank goodness for every benevolent human with kinds words of support, the occasional meal and roof over my head, and even hugs.  One of those wonderful people said words to me that I am certain kept me alive.  He said, “If this is it … if this is your rock bottom … then the only place you have left to go … is UP!  So hang in there.  It will get better.”

Years of hard work and determination, finding myself, learning to like and love myself, caring about me and who I was becoming … joining the military to get a life-leg up … getting an education starting in my local community college, one class at a time, until I built a more secure environment for myself, then full-time.  Then a medium-sized liberal arts college.  Then Big Ten for my senior year.  I went from stuck on the streets to becoming a 4.0 earning, merit- and scholarship-honored graduate of Michigan State University.  And then on to graduate school at the University of Michigan.  My beginnings almost guaranteed failure.  I was the kid who was never supposed to succeed.  But I did.

I lived through it.  Overcame it.  And now I live with happiness in my heart, and a hopefulness for getting to share it with you.

And so if that can render me any shred of cred, then let me share with you my insight … with my sincere hope to help.

Sometimes things go wrong.  You try real hard, but your efforts get smacked down, and you’re left bruised and battered.  You can find yourself in a slump feeling zero, zilch, nada for motivation.  When this happens it can be super hard to pull yourself out of the funk.  And it can lead to a “Why me?” moment.  And you can even start feeling worse, maybe even self-pity.  If this does happen, don’t be even harder on yourself.  It’s natural – reasonable – to take an emotional hit.  And for a moment in time, it’s okay.  When we experience loss, disappointment, sadness … anything of the kind … we need time to process it.  To cope.  And to get our bearings back.

But the real danger exists of falling onto the downward spiral of uber self-destructive negativity.  And you don’t need that – even if in your funk, you might feel like you want it.

Keep in mind that your life needs you to process, cope, and heal from these “things go wrong” times, so you can move forward.  And this is where it can get super hard.  Especially when your motivation hits rock bottom.  It’s tough.  It’s your life.  And your responsibility to get back in there and fix it.  But sometimes, we need help.  I’ve learned the value and the amazing power of a support network.  Even when mine has been nothing more than a stranger, passing in the night, but offering a helping hand.

But if I may, I offer to you … invest!  Invest in you.  Invest in the good people around you.  I’ve learned that most people seem to have a helluva time building positive relationships with others.  Communication – actually talking to and sharing with another person.  Caring.  Knowing that none of us are perfect, but that we have “our people” out there.  People who value what we value.  People who want to try.  Who want to help.  Who want to be a part of something more than being alone and lonely.  Build your community … your peeps.  Your tribe.  Your support network.  Whatever you want to call it.  But invest in and build positive relationships … connectivity!  And when things go wrong, and you have a hard time coping and getting back up, then your peeps will care … and they will be there for you!!!

The bottom line is that if you want out of the funk, then you are going to have brush off your knees and get back up.  Let go of the baggage holding you down.  Find your willpower.  Your reasons for wanting this thing – this life thing – your happiness – your success.  And you are going to have to make it happen.  You can either do this alone, or you can do it together.

I’ve learned the power and value of my peeps!  My group has never been big, and it has often been transient.  But when I’ve needed it most, people have been there for me, and they will for you, too!

Know that your life is waiting for you to be the positive change and impact you need.  And that you can do it!!!  It will get better!!!  It may take time, but you’ve got this!!!

And just in case you don’t have anyone else, yet, to hug you and to let you know you are strong enough, you are good enough, you are special, and you are needed, then let me squeeze you tight and hold you until you can stand again.

My very best wishes to you always, for your healthiness, happiness, and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate

What life do you want to live?

What life do you want to live? Premed pre-dental pre-health coach and advisor. The Best You PAL Academy

 

When you look to your future, what do you see?  Where do you live?  City? Big?  Small?  Or maybe somewhere more rural?  House?  Apartment?  What job/career do you have?  What lifestyle do you live?  Do you prefer being alone?  Or do you have a significant other?  A family?  How big?  Pets?  What do you do for fun and relaxation?  What vehicle do you drive?  And this list of questions gets longer and can be more specific depending on how detailed you want or need to get.

And maybe you’re thinking, Hell, I don’t know.  I’ll figure it out when I get there.  Certainly, that’s an option.  It’s your life, so you can totally play it that way.  Your life, your choices.  And that’s a wonderful, beautiful, awesome, cool thing!

But for creating success and happiness, there is a tried and true, helpful method that you might like to try: Visualization.  It comes in a number of forms: lists, dream boards, bubble charts, meditative visualization exercises, positive thinking, etc.  In their simplest, most direct forms, they, however, are not usually enough – in my experience.  To dream it and see it does not necessarily make it real.  That usually takes an action plan … the action(s) you will take to get from point A to point B.

Why is this important?  Well having a dream, goals, etc., is a wonderful, hopeful, positive thing, but without your action plan – your actionable steps that you will take – then stats show your chances of success diminish almost unbelievably.

So in my own life, I do something that truly helps me, and I want to share it with you in case it can help you, too!  I take my positive thinking, dream boarding, and visualization a step further.  I add my action plan.  And I created a “visualization action planner” to organize my thought and plans.  This helps me to see where I am at in relation to where I want to be.  And by adding a step-by-step action plan, I can see what needs to be done, and then turn it into my real action plan by doing the steps and making ME and my life happen.  On the backside of my planner, or on a separate visualization board, I heighten my dream/vision with pictures of the things I see, want, and need.

This can be an incredibly powerful and motivational exercise, especially if you keep your planner with you – refreshing and reminding yourself of your goals, dreams, and necessary steps.

And as a reassurance for those of you who might say, “But what if I change my mind along the way, and want new or different things?” … well, that’s fabulous, if the new things have come to you through your growth and development.  And it’s absolutely no problem.  Again, being your wonderful life, you get to decide who you want to be, and you can change your mind and redirect yourself as you need and want to.  And all you have to do is revisit your planner and make the changes you need.  And voila!  You’re back on your path to becoming your desired future self!!!

It doesn’t matter where you are in your life – high school, college, premed, pre-dental, pre-health, graduate school, working, just out there living your life, etc. – this visualization action planner can work for you.  It’s for anyone who sees a “future me” that is different from their “today me.”  So, if this is you, give it a try.  All you have to do is click here to get a downloadable pdf that you can print off as many times as you need to build the life you want!!!!

What life do you want to live? Vizualization Action Planner Graphic Organizer Premed pre-dental pre-health coach and advisor. The Best You PAL Academy

To go along with this positive dream planning and activating visualization activity, there is a supplemental informational video book Making Good Choices available in the Academy and at Amazon.  You can check it out here in the Academy and at Amazon.

Making Good Choices The Best You PAL Academy Pre-med Pre-dental Pre-health success advising coaching

 

Happy planning and actualizing your life!!!

My best wishes to you always for your happiness and success!

Big Hugs,

Mary Kate  :0)

Why do you want to be a doctor?

Why do you want to be a doctor? Premed, pre-dental, prehealth advising coach. The Best You PAL Academy

Why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?

As a pre-health advisor, I’ve been asking premed students this question for over a decade.  I used to find it surprising how often students couldn’t answer this question beyond, “Because I want to help people,” but not anymore.  It seems like the simplest of questions to be asking of someone who is bending their life, education, and will toward what will most likely be a lifetime career choice – although, it is most definitely NOT unheard of peeps going the medical school distance (and racking up the hefty ~$200,000 debt that goes with it) to only find themselves NOT where they want to be and changing career paths.  (And just to be fair, this doesn’t just happen with premed students.  It happens with pre-dental students, too.  It can happen in any career field.)

I’ve got to say, I think I’ve heard it all.  But one of my comical favorites is when students come into my office and launch into their whole excited speech about how they watch Grey’s Anatomy (or Chicago Hope, or … insert the name of any medical drama on TV), and, “Like, ohmigod! I so want to be a doct’r!” said with a Valley Girl accent and all.  The excitement is wonderful and promising, but at the same time, this scenario raises the question of whether the student wants to be a doctor, or an actor playing a doctor in a drama.

One of my most shocking pre-health experiences related to this topic was listening to a student on YouTube giving how-to interview advice immediately following his MMI interview – the confidence he portrayed – all the while explaining how the one question that stumped him – the one he didn’t see coming – was when he was asked why he wanted to be a doctor.  I don’t even know how he got the interview.

But so, above, I said, “I used to find it surprising, … but not anymore.”  Well, the reason it’s “not anymore” is because I’ve been watching the journeys of student all these years, and I understand how easily it happens.  Oftentimes, it starts with the basics: an interest in science + liking helping people + needing an educational outcome that will result in a job = pursuit of healthcare.  But that’s not really enough.  Yet, with this shaky formula, students hop on the wheel of get done, and they start pounding through their pre-reqs, taking on research, volunteering wherever the other students have told them to volunteer, and next thing you know, they’re sitting in my office trying to figure out what to write about in their personal statements.

So I ask them, “Well, why do you want to be a doctor, and how do you know?”

And they look at me all happy and say, “Because I want to help people!”

“Fantastic,” I say.  “But why do you want to help people with the use of medicine: medical practices and techniques?”

And that’s when I get the confused look of “What?” from them.

Here’s the thing.  Each year, about 50,000 students apply to medical schools (AMCAS applicants.  There are also stats for AACOMAS and AADSAS), but only about half (less than half, really) get in.  There’s a review process called holistic review.  In a nutshell, it’s how medical school admissions committees examine your readiness for taking the next steps toward becoming a doctor, specifically, medical school.  Most schools like to review your whole package in an attempt to build as full of a picture about you as they can before deciding whether to invite you for an interview (and then subsequently, whether they will offer you a seat in their program).  How each school weights each element of your application package is entirely up to them, but generally speaking, the personal statement carries a LOT of weight.

As a side note, I also saw a YouTube video in which it was being reported that the personal statement is 30% of your package.  I can’t emphasize this enough: PLEASE BE CAREFUL CONSUMING INACCURATE INFORMATION ON THE WEB.  Reasonably, the personal statement potentially counts for 30% of your app at some schools, but which ones?  Be careful of blanket statement facts when it comes to the holistic review process.  Schools decide how they want to value your information, and it varies from school to school.  So the most that can be said, is that the personal statement is usually a big deal.  And here’s the reason why:

As part of the holistic review process there is E-A-M: Experiences-Attributes-Metrics.  Metrics are your numerical stats: cumulative GPA, science GPA, and MCAT scores, along with your grade trends over the course of your academics.  But there’s more to you than just numbers.  What kind of communicator are you?  What has been your distance traveled?  What are your values and beliefs?  What kind of healthcare experiences have you engaged in and what have you learned?  Do you have leadership skills?  Can you work effectively and collaboratively in a team?  And this list of questions goes on and on.  Your reviewers need more from you than just numbers.  They need answers.  They need an explanation.  They need your story.  They need to know why it is you want to be a doctor, and how you know.  And that’s where the personal statement comes in, your experience descriptions, letters of evaluation, and sometimes certain prompts from your secondaries can add to that pictures, and if you get an interview from all of that, then your interview will build out the remainder of your picture that you are providing them with to judge your readiness.

50,000 applicants getting whittled down to less than half is a lot work.  And many of those students will never see an interview.  So certainly, it seems reasonable that when committees are reviewing applicants and red flags pop up, it gets easier to dismiss them as not being ready.  For instance, red flags can be things like lower than average grades or MCAT scores or even a student who fails to articulate why medicine is the right pursuit for them.

So if I may, I encourage you to figure out why it is that you want to be a doctor beyond helping people.  There are lots and lots of ways to help people, but doctors help people using medical practices, methodologies, etc.  Things like drugs and surgeries.  Why is that your cup of tea?

And understand, you have to be able to articulate this … with substantiated examples.  Like perhaps that time when you were volunteering at hospice and an experience with a patient moved you mind, body, and soul.  Why?  Why did this experience impact you the way it did?  What did you learn about medicine?  Patient care?  Yourself?  Etc.

So perhaps you can begin to see how having an interest in science and liking to help people is just the beginning.  You use your choices – your experiences (volunteer, research, work, travel, etc) – to investigate who you are and what you want, and why you want it.  And when you do that during your journey to determine if you want to be a doctor, you will build the answer within yourself, so that when it comes time to write your personal statement, you will have a story about you that includes your experiences, attributes, and values … and your self-understanding reasons for wanting to be a doctor.

Best wishes to you for your happiness and success!
Big Hugs,

Mary Kate :0)

“I’m premed. What’s the number one thing I need to do to prepare?”

I'm premed. What the number 1 thing I need to do to prepare? Premed. Pre-dental. Pre-health advisor and coach. The Best You PAL Academy

“I’m premed.  What’s the number one thing I need to do to prepare?”

As a pre-health advisor and coach, that’s a question I really wish my students would ask me, but they don’t.  Not often.  Not usually.   Beyond the basics, like “Which pre-req courses do I need to take?” and “What do I need to major in?” and “How many hours do I need to volunteer?” they ask questions like “Can I still get into medical school, even though I’m not good at science?” and “How do I get into medical school with bad grades?” and “How do I get into medical school with low MCAT scores?”

I take every single one of these questions seriously, and I guide each student with insight that is personalized and necessary to help each of them understand and achieve their personal and individualized goals.

But just for a second, let’s say you asked.  Because…it’s important.

So, “Hey, Mary Kate.  I’m premed.  What’s the number one thing I need to do to prepare?”

Truthfully?  Learn to care.  Learn to care about others.  About health.  About illness and the road to recovery.  About your future patients’ needs.  And about what it truly means to be a healthcare provider.  And learn that if this isn’t what you care about, then it’s entirely okay – you have greatness in you, and you will move the mountains you want to and care about moving – but if healthcare isn’t what you care about, then getting into medical school isn’t the right path for you.

I’m not trying to sound preachy.  I’m just being realistic, both for you and for your future patients.  To truly care about them and for them, you need to think about what they need from you.

So let’s take a moment in a role that you are likely familiar with – the role of the patient.

As a patient, would you be okay with having a doctor diagnose you who wasn’t able to demonstrate proficiency in their health-based coursework?  Would you be okay following guidance from a doctor who really doesn’t care about your health or your healing?  Would you be okay being “cared for” by a person who doesn’t really care about you?

Probably not.  But let’s also take a moment to look at where questions like, “How do I get into med school with bad grades?” come from.  As a student, you have a challenging task in front of you: figuring out what in the hell you want to do with the rest of your life.  You’re gonna need a job.  And a job that pays well would be lovely.  Maybe you were pretty good at science in high school.  Maybe you love helping people.  And maybe you put these two things together and thought, Healthcare!

These maybes are very likely true for you as they are true for so many of my students.  But then they get to college, and the courses get harder, academic responsibilities become exciting (or maybe they don’t), other options open up, all kinds of things can happen.  But what needs to happen – if you truly want to be a doctor (or any kind of healthcare provider) – is you need to figure out if you truly care about helping people through the use of the science-based-health-based methodologies and practices of doctors (or whichever kind of healthcare provider you want to be).  The first thing you need to do is determine if you care!

And you do this by taking science coursework and determining if you like it and are good at it.  You do this by volunteering in clinical settings and getting patient care skills, so you can learn all about the practice of healthcare.  What it is.  How it gets done.  What the complications are.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  And the reasons why at the end of the day, you still see yourself helping your future patients.

When you care … or stated a little differently … when you truly want something, then you will make it happen.  You will dig in and tackle any troubles you encounter in your academics, because your patients need you to be competent.  They need to be able to rely on you and the care you provide.  They need you to be compassionate.  And have empathy.  They need you to be a problem solver.  They need you to be all of these things, so you can be confident, competent, and compassionate in caring for them.  You will happily volunteer for as long as it takes to build the personal attributes, skills, values, and lessons learned desired by medical schools in their chosen applicants (because they are thinking of what your future patients need from you).  You will find patient care opportunities, and you will learn all that you can about what you love about helping people; what your strengths are; and what you have to offer that is unique and wonderful for your future patients.  When you care, you will make the right choices for both you and for your future patients.

So.  Honestly.  If you care about your future patients, then becoming a healthcare provider is the next logical step for you, and you will be asking all the right questions, and you will be doing everything you can to tackle the requirements in front of you.  You will get help when you need it.  You will seek out the mentoring relationships you need.  You will do it all, and it will invigorate you.  And even exhaust you at times.  But you’ll expect that, because you’ll know that being a healthcare provider is hard, but amazing, and rewarding work!  And you will be happy!  And you will achieve success and make your dream of becoming a doctor come true!!!

Big hugs and my best wishes to you always for your happiness, healthiness, and success!

Mary Kate

 

Mary Kate Kopec · Copyright © 2018. All rights Reserved.

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