Sample Personal Statement from a successful (was accepted to Med School) Metro State student’s application.
It must have been my hundredth time sitting in a dark, vintage theater waiting for show time. As I peeked out from behind the curtain, I scanned the room and recognized the usual clientele: a few hundred people, one group with cigarettes in one hand and a drink in the other, and the less ripe fans cordoned off in a balcony, discussing with a friend their most recent frustrations with life. Neither they nor I could wait for the music to begin so we could have our weekly dose of rock and roll that electrified and inspired us all, if only for the night. When show time arrived, I grabbed my Stratocaster, stepped up to the microphone, and let her rip. As the front woman of a rock band, it was my responsibility to bring joy to these people’s lives, and making their days just a little bit brighter was what fueled every second of my performance. The younger fans, in particular, made it all worthwhile. They never failed to remind me how deeply music could touch people. Once, after a show, a shy teenage girl approached me. She thanked me for writing the album she used to get her up when she was feeling low. I wondered what got her down then took solace in the fact that, whatever it was, I was able to help in my own small way.
My first guitar was given to me for Christmas at the age of ten. I loved its curves and nylon strings, and I adored how it harmonized so beautifully with me when we landed on just the right notes. At that time I had no idea the implications that accompanied learning how to play it. This was not going to be a private love affair between me and this instrument, but instead the development of a unique ability to create an outlet for others. In time, my passion compelled me to establish my own band and subsequently that outlet. Hearing one’s innermost thoughts channeled through their fellow musicians, then amplified for hundreds of people to hear can be terribly unnerving. However, the unbridled feverishness that it evokes in the crowd and the alliance that forms between everyone in the room transforms any fear into pure exhilaration. So when audiences screamed for more, we pushed ourselves to give them as much volume and energy as our amps and bodies could give.
Given that most of my years have been used for the creation of music it is not obvious why I would now want to have a career solving medical anomalies. The secret is that my life was always an unusual paradox where science was my hobby and music was my job. Any time not spent writing songs was used for reading all brands of scientific literature. Even as a child, I could be found researching the illnesses of friends and family in an attempt to deliver a diagnosis. As with any other sort of mystery or puzzle, I would become fanatical about collecting clues and finding answers. However, my amateur research and diagnoses had their limitations. My decision to be “premed” was propelled by the overwhelming urges that compounded while neglecting my scientific potential. Though I maintain an intense passion for music, I know that helping people through art is not all I have to offer. To reveal to myself my deepest and truest passions, I have sifted through my past, extracted my most meaningful experiences and discovered the following: 1) I have an earnest love of making people’s lives better, whether in grand or small ways, 2) I am obsessively fascinated by and curious about the pathophysiology of human disease, and 3) I thrive when leading a team toward a common goal, and I understand the need to do my very best when there are people depending on me.
On my first day as an undergraduate of premedical studies, I knew I’d made the right decision, and more importantly, a life-altering one. Not for a single day has that certainty faltered, in fact, it has only strengthened with time and experience. My time volunteering in hospitals has been met not only with profound gratification that I am making things a little bit better for people at their absolute worst, but also extreme frustration that I am not yet trained to make them healthy. I once watched a cardiac arrest victim slip away as a team of about twenty people worked for nearly an hour to save him. All I could do was watch with a feeling of utter defeat and helplessness as his vital readings plummeted on the monitor. Of course, the doctors had done their best, but still, I wished desperately that I had some sort of skill to offer them and this man. This was another kind of alliance in which I felt I was meant to play a part.
Likewise, researching reactive oxygen species and pediatric pulmonary hypertension in a developmental lung biology lab has shown me that questioning and studying the cell and molecular level of human disease is the most exciting and intellectually satisfying activity I can provide for myself. However, I remain eager for the proper training that will give my thought processes the sophistication that is required to develop new questions that will become novel discoveries. I believe my creativity will compliment the rationality that is the essence of biomedical research, and the unique ways in which I have learned to relate to people through music, will smoothly translate to an effective medium to help people through medicine.
Notes for MD/PhD Statement of Purpose
1) – add depth and sophistication to the understanding of the pathophysiology of human disease that I am treating as an MD
– more able to apply newest basic scientific developments to advancing patient care
– more able to recognize and understand the limitations of current medical practices
– PhDs do not practice patient care, which is an integral part of my interests
-PhDs have less of an understanding of current medical problems and limitations
2) – Reading and hearing about biomedical research in popular literature and shows highlighting human disease.
– Inspired by friend in medical school
– Began my undergrad with the knowledge that I wanted to be a physician-scientist, but was unaware of the dual degree
– Time doing research, meeting MD PhDs compelled me to pursue dual degree
– Recognition of the limitations and lack of elegance in MDs technical ability as well as manner in which they approach questions
3) Creativity = attacking questions with novelty, maturity = attacking questions with rationality, persistence and dedication = patience with the tricky uncertainty that is inherent in biomedical research. Makes me able to focus, troubleshoot, and think judiciously. Get answers expediently.
4 ) Cancer because of cleverness of pathogenesis, ubiquity, elusiveness. Developmental biology because of similarly fascinating mechanisms of development, and is a risk to all.
5) Work in academic setting where my time is split between research and clinical work, have my own lab, teach up and coming physicians, scientists, and physician-scientists, have a healthy number of publications that give my past, present and future research credibility, participate in peer review, be member of several relevant societies and attend national and international meetings to network, brainstorm, and be educated on the newest findings and ongoing research.
Curiosity has always been a dominant aspect of my personality. Even as a very small child, my introduction to a new animal, an insect, a word, an illness or anything else unprecedented and mysterious, always compelled me to reach for the nearest encyclopedia. Over the years, my interest in the sciences narrowed to a concentration on the pathophysiology of human disease. While pursuing a career in music, my interest in biomedical research was quenched largely by popular scientific literature and television shows. My free time was always spent reading up on the latest advancements in cancer research, or watching documentary-style shows about unsolvable medical mysteries. I wished that I possessed the knowledge base to even begin to address the questions that these people were tackling. When I realized that my love for science was something that I could possibly nurture and use in a practical way, I decided that medicine and biomedical research would be the best was to comprehensively satisfy my passions while having a positive impact on the world.
My pursuit of the dual MD/PhD degree is based on my desires to be immediately involved in the health of my patients, and also to address holes in the current knowledge of human disease. Without the training received in medical school, I would not be exposed to the practice of medicine, which would greatly decrease my ability to recognize these holes and weaknesses that affect existing medical practices. Additionally, I would be neglecting an integral component of my passions, which is helping people through medicine. However, the knowledge gained in graduate school will provide a level of sophistication to my understanding of the illnesses that I will be treating as an MD. It will significantly polish and enhance the manner in which I develop and approach questions, and search for answers. The depth and complexity of understanding and treating patient illness are becoming increasingly profound and intricate. MD/PhDs can most effectively navigate this terrain because they have the ideal training to apply the newest basic scientific findings to advancing patient care.
I began my undergraduate degree with full awareness that I wanted to be a physician-scientist, an oncologist-cancer researcher, to be exact. In spite of that, I was unaware of the possibility of the dual degree. My understanding was that there were simply medical doctors who also participated in biomedical research. In the summer of 2009, I joined a developmental lung biology lab that studies pediatric pulmonary hypertension. This is where I learned about the differences in MDs and PhDs, and about the existence of the MD/PhD.