Writing a Personal Statement for Health Professions Program

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WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT FOR
HEALTH PROFESSIONS PROGRAM
ADMISSION
The personal statement is your opportunity to
distinguish yourself from the hundreds of other
health profession program applicants.
Read
the essay you’ve
been given.
Think
about this essay as
we talk about
characteristics of a good
one.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
USE YOUR OWN VOICE



Make your statement personal. Don’t derive your
statement from a website and don’t use quotes or
clichés. Use your own words !
Speak through your own voice. By doing this, you
lend originality to your essay.
Identify what is unique about YOU that cannot be
gleaned from the cold, hard facts of your application.
Here is a list of clichés to avoid:
add insult to injury
after all is said and done
against the current
the agony of defeat
agree to disagree
all walks of life
at this point in time
avoid like the plague
the ball’s in his court
be that as it may
better half
better late than never
beyond a shadow of doubt
the birds and the bees
bite the dust
bitter end
bottom of my heart
bottom of the barrel
brainchild
bring down the house
bring home the bacon
broad daylight
brutal murder
burn the midnight oil
by the same token
calm, cool, and collected
chip off the old block
cloud nine
cold as ice
cold, hard facts
come to grips with
cool as a cucumber
crack of dawn
dead as a doornail
do or die
down and out
down for the count
to each his own
every dog has its day
face the music
facts of life
few and far between
fit as a fiddle
fresh as a daisy
gone but not forgotten
green with envy
happy medium
heave a sigh of relief
higher than a kite
hit me like a ton of bricks
hit the nail on the head
hotter than hell
hush fell over the crowd
hustle and bustle
in a nutshell
larger than life
last but not least
last-ditch
last straw
light as a feather
FROM THE
WRITING CENTER
like father, like son
live from hand to mouth
live like a king
lying through her teeth
method to her madness
more than meets the eye
needle in a haystack
nip in the bud
nose to the grindstone
off his rocker
off the beaten track
off the wall
once and for all
one rotten apple spoils the barrel
only time will tell
out of the blue
paint the town red
put your best foot forward
put your foot in your mouth
quick as a flash
quick as lightning
raise (rear) its ugly head
raving lunatic
rude awakening
sell like hotcakes
sharp as a razor
sharp as a tack
short and sweet
short end of the stick
sigh of relief
silver platter
sink or swim
skeleton in the closet
skin of your teeth
slow but sure
smart as a whip
smooth sailing
sneaking suspicion
soft place in my heart
stick out like a sore thumb
straight and narrow
straw that broke the camel’s back
strike while the iron is hot
tangled web
thin as a rail
tip of the iceberg
tough nut to crack
tried and true
truth is stranger than fiction
twinkling of an eye
two-edged (double edged) sword
up in arms
vicious cycle
vital role
walk a fine line
walking on air
walk the straight and narrow
wet blanket
when all is said and done
when the going gets tough, the
tough get going
work like a dog
wreak havoc
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
ORGANIZE

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Let your structure flow from the content you have
chosen. Many essays use time, life changing events,
important activities, influential people. They tell a
story that is interesting and grabs the reader from
the first paragraph.
An organized essay looks well thought out and neat.
Don’t forget that paragraphs separate ideas and
make it easier on the reader!
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
ORGANIZE (CONT.)


Be clear and concise. Don’t confuse quantity with
quality. Adhere to character limits, if given!
Remember what you learned in English Composition.
Organize the essay and or paragraphs with an
introduction, body and conclusion. Have a theme or
thesis.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
SELF-REFLECT


Saying you like science and want to help people or
animals doesn’t go far enough. It does nothing to
differentiate you from hundreds of other applicants.
You have to discuss things more deeply. What can
you do as a member of the health profession you’ve
chosen that you could not do in another profession
and what strengths do you have to do it?
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
SELF-REFLECT (CONT.)
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
Reflect on the “journey” that got you to this place in
time and what it reveals about you.
If necessary, use the opportunity to explain (not
excuse!) any deficiencies in your application and/or
how you’ve grown into a person who is well suited for
this career.
To get started: Use the “Questions to Ask Yourself”
handout. Write a couple of paragraphs for each
question.
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Writing A Personal Statement
Taken from http://gradschool.about.com/od/essaywriting/a/questps.htm
Who am I?
What characteristics do I possess (e.g. honest, compassionate, loyal)?
What skills do I have (e.g. analytical, communication, organizational)?
How have I changed/grown over the years? What caused these changes and how have they affected me?
What makes me unique? How am I different from other applicants?
Why should the admissions committee be interested in me?
Are there any obstacles that I had to overcome and how have I dealt with these difficulties from my past?
Are there any experiences from my past that have affected my life? Can I relate these experiences to my goals?
Who has influenced me over the years (e.g. parent, sibling, teacher, or friend) and how have they influenced me?
What are my career goals?
Why do I want to continue my studies?
When did I become fascinated by my field of study?
Why am I interested in my field of study?
What have I learned about my subject of interest?
How has my discipline shaped me? What has my field of study taught me about myself?
How can I address my academic record?
Do I have any gaps or inconsistencies on my records (transcript and/or exam scores) that I can explain?
Are there any awards, recognition, or honors that I have received and that are worth mentioning?
How do field services enhance my application?
What internships and/or jobs have I had in the past?
What have I learned from my internship and/or job experiences? What skills have I acquired?
How are my internship and/or job experiences related to my field of interest? Have they prepared me for my future career?
Have I been involved in any social services? How it contributed to my growth and how is it related to my goals?
What extracurricular activities have I participated in and how do they contribute to my professional goals?
Who is my audience?
Who will be reading my personal statement?
How can I make my essay compelling to the readers?
Why am I applying to this program?
Why am I applying to this institution?
How will attending this graduate school help me grow as an individual and prepare me for my future career?
What do I offer the program? Why should a school take me on?
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
EXCELLENT WRITING MECHANICS

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You must be fastidious about basics such as spelling
and subject/verb agreement.
Make sure you do not have a sentence fragment or run
on sentences.
Use punctuation correctly.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
EXCELLENT WRITING MECHANICS (CONT.)


Avoid slang, jargon, casual or racy language, use of
the second person voice. Use the first person “I” most
of the time.
Always have someone (or several someones!) proofread your statement.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
SHOW YOUR EMOTION
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Write with feeling! One way to convey your passion is
to use emotional language.
Although you have to show your passion in your
essay, you must be careful not to overdo it.
Convey positive, upbeat emotions associated with the
professional choice you’ve made. Be cautious about
using humor.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
USE UNIQUE EXAMPLES
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Use specific examples to support assertions. Example:
Don’t just say you’re a hard worker. Describe a
situation that proves it.
Thousands of personal statements discuss initiative,
but only hundreds show initiative with concrete
examples of demonstrated motivation and leadership.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
MAKE THE READER WANT YOU

Project confidence and a positive outlook.

Be professional; neither too casual nor too formal.

Write something that is pleasant and engaging. Make
the reader want to meet the person that wrote that
essay at an interview.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO……
Repeat/reword information already available in other
parts of the application.
Make excuses or blame others for any low grades or
other problems with your credentials.
Get overly personal, including dwelling on physical and
mental health issues. Reveal yourself as an unique
individual, but do it professionally.
WHAT YOU SHOULD NOT DO… (CONT.)
Stretch the truth to make yourself look good. Don’t
“pad” the resume with minor activities or be
anything less than totally honest.
Fail to respond to a specific question, if it was
asked. Don’t “cut and paste” copies of your
personal essay without being careful that it is
appropriate for where you’re placing it.
Especially be careful if you’ve mentioned a
school name. School A doesn’t want to hear that
you’ve always wanted to attend School B!
What you should NOT do…
(cont.)
Fail to follow directions, if given.
Write about emotionally charged, highly controversial
topics unless asked to do so.
Be negative, whiny, arrogant, defensive……..You get the
idea.
Read
the new essay
you’ve been given.
Think
about this essay
is different from the
first one.
THE “GOOD” STATEMENT….
Starts with a “hook”.
 Moves on to a clear statement as to the writer’s
purpose.
 Weaves in elements of the “hook” and makes it
clear why the “hook” was chosen to illustrate the
writer’s purpose.
 Ends on a positive, confident note. Summarizes
but doesn’t say so.

WEBSITES FOR MORE INFORMATION
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http://www.college-admissionessay.com/medicalschoolpersonalstatement.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_4717754_writepersonal-statement-medical-school.html
Note : These are medical school only, but the
ideas are relatively universal. Consult Career
Services for more information.
THE WRITING CENTER
 Use
SU’s Writing Center early and
often.
 It’s free!
 Expect to write and re-write your
personal statement several times.
This means you can’t wait until the
last minute!
 Consult the website too:
http://www.salisbury.edu/uwc/

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