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After you submit your essay, I will review based on the level of essay editing service you’ve chosen. I offer proofreading, personal critiques and brainstorming to help dig out your story and make sure it shines.
This personal statement for medical school received high praise for this student, who wrote to tell me, “I just wanted to let you know that the acceptances have started to come in, and I couldn’t have done it without you. The dean of one school called to let me know I was accepted and said that they actually read my essay out loud to the admissions committee, something they’d never done before. He said someone cried! Crazy…You were incredible to work with and I hope I get the privilege of writing with you again in a few years on my residency essays. Thank you again, I owe you one.”
The reason why this personal statement works so well is, yes, this student had amazing stories to share, but notice that he is fully invested in using storytelling techniques. He uses dialogue, accesses all his senses (we not only know what he’s seeing, but feeling, smelling, hearing, and tasting), includes the smallest details (like a plaid shirt) and really places us inside each of his scenes, all of which help answer why he wants to be a doctor.
Seven short rings of the bell, followed by one long. The sound something had gone very wrong.
I was aboard the amphibious ship USS Peleliu parked off the coast of the Horn of Africa. My battalion surgeon, Dr. Jesse Rohloff, and I immediately ran, ducking through hatches and sliding down ladders to reach our “ready room.” There, we learned there was a fire caused by a welding accident in the lower bay, and there were injuries.
By the time we made it down the slick ramps, we were swimming in a sea of oily smoke. Two Marines had been run over and one pinned when a seven-ton truck backed into a shipping container while trying to escape the fire. The most injured man wore a greasy flight suit, one boot, and had a degloved ankle and foot. He was in despair, convinced his career was over and he would lose his leg.
But under Dr. Rohloff’s care, “it’s never going to be OK” turned into “he is going to make everything better.” I assisted in the OR, talking with the patient, retracting skin, and passing surgical instruments to Dr. Rohloff. This moment brought the six months I’d spent shadowing him into sharp relief. I wanted to become a doctor.
While it is a cornerstone of my life now, I wasn’t always fascinated by science. I grew up in Griswold, Conn., where I spent afternoons clearing tilled-up rocks from cornfields. In high school, my math teacher was also the gym teacher, and physics and chemistry were taught by Mr. Smith.
I formed an immediate kinship with him, who, before teaching, was the commander of the USS Sculpin, a diesel-powered precursor to the nuclear submarine my father served aboard. He brought the sciences to life with beneath-the-sea stories and worldly examples.
One day, we found he had set up wooden boards on concrete bricks. He stood there, unassuming in his plaid shirt. With a deafening “HAIYAA!”, his hand sent wood splinters across his desk. He then calmly lectured about force and momentum.
It was Mr. Smith who inflamed my passion for science. And it was Mr. Smith who encouraged me to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
I entered the Academy ready for whatever they could throw at me. I was, in fact, not ready for what happened next. In July 2001, I injured my temporal lobe during a training accident, nearly destroying my ability to remember auditory information.
I would love to write about the accident, but I don’t remember it. All that remains is a 3×5 index card that read:
1) What happened?
You were in an accident, you hit your head. You have other injuries, you’ll see them in a second.
2) Woah, look how swollen my hip is.
Yes, there is more.
3) Is everyone else ok?
Yes, you’re the only one hurt.
My brain rebooted like a computer every two minutes, so that, by the time I got to the bottom of the card, I asked the first question again.
After a week, I was discharged from Walter Reed, assigned physical therapy and returned to school. But words — yes, literally — went in one ear and out the other. I struggled academically and my path towards military service was in jeopardy. To succeed, I had to learn how to learn again.
Recovering forced my brain to demonstrate its plasticity. I made tangible progress every day, even if progress was just failing better than I had before. I graduated on time.
I served in the Marine Corps for nine years, leading Marines worldwide. But what I wanted out of my career shifted with Dr. Rohloff. Our jobs often intersected. In Jordan, we observed the heart-breaking needs of a community served by a single doctor. We brought him supplies while he graciously over-caffeinated us with tiny cups of sickeningly sweet Turkish coffee. We discussed the best ways to treat patients with little-to-no equipment.
Now knowing I wanted a career in medicine, I turned in my body armor and retired boots covered in the dirt of 27 countries. My first step was going back to school. But could I learn? I remember feeling terrified to see my grades. Then I got my first A. At that moment I realized how far I had come from the 3×5 notecard. Each book I’d read about the pathogenesis of my injury, each practice session memorizing lists, and each better failure brought me to the point always waiting for me in the distance: a career serving others as a doctor.
Today, I work as a trauma technician and see the differences doctors can make. As a former patient and teacher, patient education is one of the primary reasons why I want to become a physician. Medicine will allow me to leverage my life experiences to bring calm into chaos and help patients understand their diseases. As a doctor, I want to remove the barriers preventing patients from managing their health appropriately and help them “get the A” they might not otherwise think is within reach.
The question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” seems like it would have an easy answer. But mine has many layers. It may have crystallized in the belly of a burning ship, but that synthesis only took place because of what came before it. In Jordan. In Walter Reed. With Mr. Smith. As a result, the discipline, compassion, and leadership required of a doctor are attributes I deeply admire. I also believe they are ones I have within me. So I guess the easiest way to answer “why I want to be a doctor” is to tell you, “because that’s who I’ve become.”
This student, who is now in medical school, worked hard on her essay, which started with a collection of loosely-affiliated ideas. But once she got the hang of storytelling, her writing started to flow. I love this essay because she was able to include four stories showcasing different reasons for why she wants to be a doctor and why she’s built to be one. I will also never stop being in love with the woman who asks her, “Are they even?”
Winds knocking me over like palm trees during a hurricane is not what I expected when I woke up that morning. I was at Camp Perry during the hottest part of summer, and I could see Lake Erie and mayflies swarming almost every possible surface around me. As I had all week, I was wearing a scorching hot full leather shooting suit as part of my outdoor precision rifle competition.
On this last day of competition, my whole body was swaying side to side like a rocking chair as I tried to aim at a bullseye smaller than a pencil eraser 50 meters away. My mind was relaxed but adrenaline made my heart feel like it was pounding out of my chest. I shot two zeros, the lowest possible score one can receive. My coach came up to me and said, “All you need to do is have fun, stay focused, and not give up because half the firing line has already done so.” I knew I was going to struggle, and I did. But I knew that I was not going to give up.
My teammate, coach, and I turned the stressful, intimidating situation into a match filled with encouragement, communication, and teamwork as we approached each of the 120 shots we had to take. Despite the setbacks, I learned I can focus, adapt, and overcome tasks in a team setting. On that flat Ohio firing line, I also realized I have what it takes to become a doctor.
As a child, I tagged along with my father to Valley View Retirement Community when he did occupational therapy sessions with residents. I saw how medical staff cared for the elderly and I wanted to do the same. Later, I volunteered there as a transport aide. Some of my favorite moments were when I wheeled residents to therapy down the long hallways, which smelled like different variations of my grandmothers’ perfume. One resident I transported wore a large, floral-patterned nightgown. One day, she wanted me to guess her age and I said a lower number than I knew was correct. She giggled and said she was 99. I also liked to spend time with a lady who asked me to help finish drawing on her eyebrows with a pencil that was way too dark for her fair skin and silver hair. I distinctly remember her asking me in a loud voice, “Are they even?”
My experiences at the nursing home taught me how to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds. They were excited when I came and loved to share their stories. However, it was frustrating to me that I couldn’t help residents who were in pain or dealing with an illness. I want to be a doctor so I can continue to radiate compassion and comfort while being able to physically help people like those residents.
It was after an ambulance ride-along that I realized I specifically want to care for people who live in underserved rural areas. As a volunteer for an EMS station in my town, I had just come back from an ambulance run. I sat on the couch in the EMS lounge with a fiery, red-headed paramedic named Trish, who was excited to tell me why she became a paramedic. Belleville, the central Pennsylvanian town I come from, has a large Amish community that practically fills the country roads with different colors of horse-drawn buggies. Trish explained that her passion was educating and assisting with Amish births. She said that they lack medical insurance or are too far away from medical facilities to receive proper care. Her passion was contagious. I realized there are so many medically underserved areas that need physicians like my rural area. I am inspired to create change by tending to people like I saw on my ambulance rides as well as other diverse rural populations.
To be a doctor you have to have what it takes and, when it boils down to it, that means you need to be willing to lead. I realized this one day while I was shadowing an anesthesiologist named Dr. Swick at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. One minute I was sitting in the calm operating room observing a surgery and the next minute the room erupted in chaos as the patient started coding. Before I realized what was going on, nurses were yelling at me to call a code and were grabbing all sorts of items from the drawers around me. People from all over the hospital started flooding into the room like water out of a broken dam.
After many rounds of compressions and using the crash cart, Dr. Swick turned my way and said, “We have a heartbeat.” When our eyes locked and I heard those words, I knew I was meant to be a leader like Dr. Swick. I knew I could handle high-stress medical situations and realized that I have what it takes to perform under pressure.
This experience reminded me of that day back at Camp Perry where I was shooting in the wind. The doctors in that operating room were faced with a tough situation where they could not give up. They had to work together, communicate, focus, think critically, and adapt to the stressful environment. I see myself in those doctors and I am made for a medical career. Just like in rifle, I am aiming to accomplish my dream of becoming a doctor. I will not give up until my target goal is reached.