Writing the AMCAS essays for MD PhDs

Friday, July 11th, 2008

If you’re a 2009 MD/PhD applicant, you’re probably well on your way to completing your AMCAS primary application.  Most students submit their applications between the beginning of July and the middle of August (at the very latest). The value of an early start cannot be understated–especially for Texas and east coast schools.

1. Review the objectives for each essay, seek clarification from individual programs, and review example essays.

I found a book on the MD Personal statement mostly unhelpful. I tried the book Medical School Essays That Made a Difference but it didn’t help much. It included many essays that clearly made a negative differences, as the essays authors were rejected by most schools they applied to; in short, these essays were no better than a random assortment of essays. I finally got the ball rolling when I gave up on external inspiration and took a more introspective approach.

2. Start with the Personal Statement
. Begin outlining your personal statement, determine how you are going to represent yourself and what angle you are taking. Writing about yourself can be difficult (it took me nearly a month to draft my personal statement), and establishing your narrative and voice can take several iterations–why do you really want to do this? The personal statement should stand on its own and clearly explain your interest in medical school (MD only).

3. Build on your personal statement with the Why MD PhD and research essays.
In addition to a personal statement, MD PhD applicants are required to write a short “Why MD PhD statement” and a 10,000 character research statement (~4 pages). The best thing you can do is have these two essays reviewed by your laboratory PI and the post-docs you work around.  While it may be frightening to open yourself up for criticism, they will be able to help you establish clarity more so than most of your peers and people outside the field. In the “Why MD/PhD essay” will be required to carefully bridge the dichotomy between degrees many times over throughout the application process. See the Intransit.us guide for more thoughts on this.

Excellent Resources