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How do I begin my personal statements?

I am currently applying for medical school in May. I have to write a personal statement about my research experiences. What is the best way to start this? And how personal do you have to be? What are MD/PhD programs looking for in a personal statement about their research?

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Nicole’s Answer

Your personal statement should be directly addressed to the admittance committee. You can start off with "To whom it may concern." Then you need to introduce yourself - "Hello, my name is ____, I'm a graduate of ____ University. I am applying to [name the medical program and university you're applying to] for admittance in [year you want to matriculate].

Remember your personal statement is an opportunity to highlight your skills and previous experiences. You don't need to come out with a deeply personal story, but you should be able to articulate why you want to enter medicine. What inspired you to take up the profession, what skills do you already have, why do you think this particular program is a good fit. It helps to look up labs, professor's publications, and program details before you begin writing. You need to convince the school that you're a good fit for their program and that you're likely to succeed in the program. In my personal statements for my PhD program I detailed my passion for history and the skills I had learned in undergrad. The personal statement is one of the only moments in the application process in which your personality can shine through, so take advantage of that. Remember that thousands of students are writing these, and that whatever story you choose to tell needs to say something about your commitment to medicine, your interest in the field, and your likeliness to succeed.