How to Nail Your Personal Statement

You’ve done it—you’ve made the big decision to go into medicine. Maybe you’re applying to medical school, maybe PA school, or maybe you’ve graduated and now you’re applying to jobs, but it’s time to get started on your applications. As you’re filling out your information and deciding who to use as your references, you hit the personal statement. What are you supposed to do now? How do you write about yourself? How do you stand out?

What is a personal statement?

Well, it’s just that: personal. It’s your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions staff.

How do I even go about writing one?

First, review the guidelines. Note the length, any specific questions or prompts you should address, and know your audience. The fastest way to disqualify yourself is to not follow directions.

Next, before you start worrying about what each university or job requires, think about what makes you, you. How are you unique, what sets you apart from the crowd? This is your opportunity to shine, so don’t be shy—don’t miss this opportunity!

Imagine that you’re already there

When deciding on the career or educational path you wish to follow, it’s important to envision yourself there. Imagine yourself in the corporate office delivering a message at the weekly meeting or practicing medicine in a busy trauma facility. Think about what unique skills you can bring to this field. What life accomplishments have you made that allow you to complement the field? How are you a better candidate than the next person?

Do your homework

It’s also important that you know the organization. Educate yourself on all of its nooks and crannies: How was it started, what makes it tick, and what is the mission? For instance, the physician assistant career started at Duke University. It began due to a shortage of physicians, and many able-bodied servicemen were returning from the Vietnam War who could quickly be trained and help with the shortage. To be a physician assistant, it requires an accredited college and passing the PANCE offered through the NCCPA. Know the national organization AAPA and your local organization as well as what the specific role of a physician assistant is. Understand that the career was designed to serve in rural and urban areas that are underserved.

Finally, you’re ready to start. Follow these tips to nail it!

1. Introduce yourself

Tell them who you are and why you’re unique and the right fit. Dive right in here and make sure to tailor this to the organization’s mission. Also, state how this degree or job will help you achieve your goals.

My name is Jane Doe and I want to attend (insert university) because I’m dedicated to serving the underserved. Throughout my undergraduate career, I volunteered at the local shelter serving warm meals to the homeless, and I volunteered at the hospital in the children’s ward. I also traveled with my local church to rural Mexico to help in a medical clinic the last two summers where I discovered my passion for caring for others. I know that I can make a difference in even more lives if given the opportunity to advance my medical career.

2. Explain how you’ve prepared

Make sure to include any accomplishments or awards you’ve achieved. Also, add any relevant education or job skills here.

I graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology with an emphasis on the medical sciences. I completed my degree in three years with great focus and organization. I accomplished this with cum laude honors while working in phlebotomy at the hospital and maintaining five hours per week volunteering. Despite all of this hard work, I still found time for fun. I enjoy kayaking down the Hood River and participating in 5K runs.

3. Seal the deal.

You’ve introduced yourself and pointed out all of the qualities that demonstrate your success. The admissions staff or hiring committee has an idea of what you’ve sacrificed and where you’ve excelled. Now finish it off with why you’re the one for the job. What goals do you have moving forward in the field?

In closing, I want to thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to a chance to meet you and discuss my goals further. As a physician assistant, I will be able to help those most in need by having more time to listen to the patient, educate the patient, and facilitate a more successful and efficient practice with my supervising physician.


Best of luck, and make sure to let us know when you get into the program or job of your dreams!


Read these posts for more tips about finding a fulfilling career.


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