Sample Medical School Personal Statements

Get accepted to your top choice medical school with your compelling essay.


Medical School Sample Personal Statements and Essays

We’ve compiled samples to give you ideas for your own essay.

Pay close attention to the consistent format of these effective personal statements:


Give the admissions committee (adcom) readers a clear picture of you as an individual, a student, and a future medical professional. Make them want to meet you after they finish reading your essay.

How can these sample essays help you?

You plan to become a physician, a highly respected professional who will have great responsibility over the health and well being of your future patients. How can you prove to the admissions committee that you have the intelligence, the maturity, the compassion, and the dedication needed to succeed in your goal? 

The sample essays below are all arguments in favor of top med schools accepting these applicants. And they worked. They show a variety of experiences and thought processes that all led to the same outcome. However, while the paths to this decision point vary widely, these winning essays share several things in common. 

As you read them, take note of how the stories are built sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, adding to the evidence that the writer is worthy of acceptance. This evidence includes showing a sustained focus, mature self-reflection, and professional and educational experiences that have helped prepare the applicant to succeed. 

As you write your essay, include your most compelling, memorable and meaningful experiences that are relevant to your decision to become a doctor. Each sentence should add to the reader’s understanding of who you are, what your strengths are, and why you will make an outstanding physician. Your resulting essay will help the adcom appreciate your intellectual and psychological strengths as well as your motivations, and conclude that you are worthy of acceptance into a top medical school. 

6 tips for creating successful med school personal statements

Here are the elements these essays all have in common:

  1. Captivating opening paragraph that frames the overall story
  2. Consistent theme showing the experiences that led to applying to med school 
  3. Evidence that the writer has what it takes to succeed
  4. Thoughtful perspective
  5. Vivid language in active voice 
  6. Helpful transitions

Now let’s explore what you can learn from some of these outstanding sample med school essays:

Lessons from Med School Sample Essay #1: Emergency 911 

"Call 911!" I shouted to my friend as I sprinted down the street. The young Caucasian male had been thrown fifteen yards from the site of impact and surprisingly was still conscious upon my arrival. "My name is Michael. Can you tell me your name?" In his late twenties, he gasped in response as his eyes searched desperately in every direction for help, for comfort, for assurance, for loved ones, for death, until his eyes met mine.  READ MORE >> 

What makes this essay work:

  • Dramatic opening paragraph:

This paragraph is unusually long as an opener, but it is both dramatic and lays out the high-stakes situation where the writer is desperately trying to save the life of a young man. As an EMT, the writer is safe in sharing so much detail, because he establishes his bona fides as medically knowledgeable. From the urgent opening sentence of “Call 911!” to the sad final sentence, “I had lost my first patient,” the writer has bookended a particularly transformative experience, one that confirmed his goal of becoming a doctor.   

  • Consistent theme:

The theme of a med school essay in which the applicant first deals with the inevitable reality of seeing a patient die can become hackneyed through overuse. This essay is saved from that fate because after acknowledging the pain of this reality check, he immediately commits to expanding his knowledge and skills to better serve the Hispanic community where he lives. While this is not an extraordinary story for an EMT, the substance, self-awareness and focus the writer brings to the topic makes it a compelling read.

  • Evidence supports the stated goal: 

This applicant is already a certified EMT, evidence of a serious interest in a medical career. Through going on ambulance ride-alongs, he realizes the barrier in communication between many doctors and their Spanish-speaking patients and takes steps to both learn medical Spanish and to shadow a doctor working in a Mexican clinic. These concrete steps affirm that this applicant has serious intent.  

Lessons from Med School Sample Essay #2: The Non-Traditional Applicant

Modest one-room houses lay scattered across the desert landscape. Their rooftops a seemingly helpless shield against the intense heat generated by the mid-July sun. The steel security bars that guarded the windows and doors of every house seemed to belie the large welcome sign at the entrance to the ABC Indian Reservation. READ MORE >>

What works well in this essay: 

  • Compelling lead:

    This story begins in a hot desert landscape, an unexpected and dramatic starting point. Can’t you just feel the heat and sense the loneliness of the remote Indian Reservation? Equally powerful in this first paragraph is seeing the writer facing the need to suddenly and completely rethink the approach he had carefully planned to address the tribal leaders. His excitement is dashed. His confidence has plummeted. He is totally unprepared for the mistrust facing him and his plan, and he needs to improvise--quick. Who wouldn’t want to read on to see how he resolves this dramatic turn of events? 

  • Solid storytelling that leads to a satisfying conclusion:

    This nontraditional med school applicant is reinventing himself in this essay. From the realization that he wants more human involvement and interaction in his work, he takes this new self-knowledge and shows us the steps he took to achieve his new goal. The steps are logical and well thought out, so his conclusion that he is well prepared in every way for med school makes perfect sense.

  • Evidence on hand to support his theme:

    Through taking prerequisite courses in medicine (and achieving high grades) to bedside hospital volunteering (which provides emotional satisfaction) to helping to write a medical research paper (which provides a feeling that he is making a meaningful contribution), the writer offers evidence that he is well suited for his new career goal in medicine. Each experience shared is relevant to the story. Any reader will agree that his future as a physician is promising.

  • Thoughtful perspective:

    From the opening paragraph the writer shows his ability to adapt to new situations and realities with quick thinking and psychological openness. He assesses each stage in his journey, testing it for intellectual viability and emotional satisfaction. His journey of reflective self-discovery is one that that adcoms will value.

  • Vivid imagery:

    As with any strong essay, there are no wasted words here. Each sentence builds on a foundation, taking us further into a story that has movement and vitality. Additionally, the sprinkling of sentences with vivid imagery and action adds to the essay’s power:

    “Their rooftops a seemingly helpless shield against the intense heat generated by the mid-July sun.”

    “With perspiration forming on my brow, I decided I would need to take a new approach to salvage this meeting. So I discarded my rehearsed speech, stepped out from behind the safety of the podium, and began to solicit the council members' questions and concerns.”

    “I too found it personally gratifying to provide individuals with emotional support by holding an elderly woman's hand as a physician drew a blood sample or befriending frightened patients with a smile and conversation.”

Lessons from Med School Sample Essay #3: The Dental School Applicant

I could hardly keep myself from staring at the girl: the right side of her face was misshapen and bigger than the left. Only later did I notice that Cheryl, about nine at the time, had light brown hair, lively brown eyes, and a captivating smile. When she walked into the candy shop where I worked six years ago, Cheryl told me she was a student of my former fourth grade teacher with whom I had kept in contact.  READ MORE >>

What makes this essay work:

  • Compelling lead:

    The reader is riveted by what the writer first describes: a child with a deformed face. Yet the writer doesn’t stay focused on the disturbing image; she segues immediately to the child’s charm, liveliness, and positivity. By the end of the intro paragraph, the reader is rewarded by seeing how this child has become almost a role model for the writer, a gateway to a new professional destination.

  • Solid storytelling that leads to a satisfying conclusion:

    In five tightly written paragraphs, the writer explains what she calls a “circuitous path” to applying to dental school. In fact, since meeting Cheryl in the candy shop, every professional decision she made flowed logically from her motivation to find a career where she could help others like this disfigured child. Notice how each experience builds upon one another, including disappointments along the way, until she finds her calling in the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery. By the last sentence, the writer has neatly tied the entire essay together.

  • Consistent theme

    From the first sentence to the last, this essay remains tightly focused on the writer’s path to applying to dental school. Every sentence is relevant to the story, and every sentence takes the reader further along an interesting journey.

  • Thoughtful perspective:

    In showing how her thinking about her career evolved after meeting Cheryl, the writer reveals herself as a person of emotional depth. Her choices to learn about various fields of psychology and healthcare reveal a dedication to finding her true “north star.”

  • Engaging prose:

    The writer takes her story farther, faster, by using active voice: “I supervised the daily activities of pre-adolescents. . .”  “I was increasingly disappointed with the lack of progress I saw. . .” “My friendship with Cheryl motivated me to enter a field. . . ” The buoyant storytelling holds our interest. Notice also the helpful transitions at the beginning of each new paragraph; each links what we have just read with where the writer is taking us now, keeping us rooted in the narrative.  

Lessons from Medical School Sample Essay #4: The Traveler

On the first day that I walked into the Church Nursing Home, I was unsure of what to expect. A jumble of questions ran through my mind simultaneously: Is this the right job for me? Will I be capable of aiding the elderly residents? Will I enjoy what I do? A couple of hours later, these questions were largely forgotten as I slowly cut chicken pieces and fed them to Frau Meyer.  READ MORE >>

This applicant effectively links the expansive benefits of travel to his medical ambitions. Sharing vivid anecdotes from these experiences, his reflections allow the reader to easily imagine him as a talented physician in the future.

What makes this essay work:

  • Engaging opening that frames the storyline:

    Many fine application essays open with imagery so vibrant that it could be mistaken for fiction. This essay is no different. We meet the writer in the setting of a nursing home overseas, where he questions whether his volunteer experiences there will help him determine his career path. Notice how the first sentence reflects a worry: “I was unsure of what to expect,” but by the final sentence he concludes with satisfaction, “I needed to travel to Heidelberg, Germany to confirm my interest in clinical medicine.” With this framing, we appreciate the essay’s theme.

  • Reflections and contrasts about varied experiences in medicine:

    The writer’s reactions to various encounters reveal a maturing mindset: the “unenlightening and uninspiring” experience volunteering in a New York hospital versus the feeling of being “needed and wanted” in the nursing home in Heidelberg; the “disconcerting . .  . constant cost-benefit analysis required in applied biomedical research” versus the “broader view of basic research and . . .  how it can expand knowledge -- even without the promise of immediate profit” at the University of Heidelberg. These reflections demonstrate thoughtfulness born of experience.

  • How traveling has expanded his potential as a physician:

    Of the five tightly constructed paragraphs in this substantial essay, the final two paragraphs home in on how travel has had an “intrinsically broadening impact” and stimulated an “open mind” to people and situations. This sophisticated view will be desirable traits to the adcom.

  • Out-of-the-box theme:

    Related to point 3, while this essay’s foundation is built on the writer’s sincere and dedicated aspirations for a medical career, he has allowed himself the space to write about the broadening intellectual benefits of travel, linking them to his professional potential. Even when writing about children working in a factory in Egypt, he brings an expanded mindset and greater cross-cultural understanding that will no doubt benefit him in his career. 

Read sample application essays

Now that you have the tools to write your compelling essay, check out Sample Application Essays to see what you will be able to accomplish.

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If you want to get into the best school, you need to stand out from other applicants. US News reports the average medical school acceptance rate at 26.55%, but our med school clients enjoy an 85% ACCEPTANCE RATE. How can you separate yourself from the competition successfully? By creating a great personal statement.


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