Overview of the Series
In this series of articles, I will be sharing excerpts of case studies on several of my former students (with their permission, of course). Names and other identifying information have been changed, but the material facts — MCAT score, GPA, etc. — are unchanged. The full case studies are published in my book, Pre-Med Success Stories.
I’ll present each case study in three parts — an introduction of the student, followed by an in-depth assessment of the student’s profile and chances for admission to medical school, and then finally I’ll explain what happened to the student once s/he applied.
In this article, I will tell you how Paul did in part three of this three-part series.
Part II — What Are Paul’s Core Themes?
If you’ve been following these premed case studies, you should know that I generally advise organizing your application into a few core themes. Once you have a general structure of ideas, you can make your application a whole instead of it being many different parts. It is crucial that you make these connections.
For Paul, he has plenty of themes that run throughout his life, many of which require explaining on his part. For one, he should talk about his aspirations in neuroscience or psychiatry. Since his ER work influenced him so greatly, he should tie that into his career goal of working with the mentally ill. On this note, he should also discuss his passion for studying the human psyche and brain. He needs to make it clear that he’s an interdisciplinary individual and that there’s more to medicine than just science and logic — it involves interpersonal relationships, and this can’t be separated from medical practice. Related, but not as important, is also Paul’s work with deaf children at the Harold Treny Clinic for the Profoundly Deaf and his own self-confidence.
The Personal Statement
Paul’s first draft was quite good. He began with an anecdote about working with a kid at camp, then talked about research and the beauty of the human brain, continued with his experiences of working at a deaf children’s clinic, and finally discussed the need for knowledge and care in his closing. However, I decided to get picky with the details. He described his interactions with children well, but I wanted him to elaborate how it transformed him. Instead of only talking about the progress the patient made, I also wanted him to mention his own progress in conjunction with that.
(Author’s note: You can read Paul’s final personal statement in Pre-Med Success Stories.)
Paul took instruction easily and, by his final draft, we identified which stories would be most hard-hitting. He completely reworked his initial draft which was a leftover from the last time he applied. Most importantly, we emphasized the core themes he and I discussed. By the end of it, he had written on a truly emotional interaction with a child at camp. He was happy with the final result.
Interested in what happened to Paul? In part three, I’ll tell you where he got in and what made him stand out as a candidate.