Before you begin writing, you should always know what you want to say. Taking these preliminary "pre-writing" steps will not only give you all the material you need to write a successful and convincing essay, but it will also help you to overcome any writer's block or anxiety you may feel along the way. Here are a few brainstorming exercises to get you started:
- What is most important information the admissions committee should know about you? What are the most compelling reasons for the admissions committee to be interested in you? Identify two to three pieces of information you wish to convey through your essay.
- What is most unusual, distinctive, unique, and/or impressive about you? Are there events or experiences in your background that might be of particular interest to the admissions committee?
- When did you originally become interested in medicine? What have you since learned about it and yourself? How have any internships, clinical experience, research, etc. contributed to your personal growth?
- Record any and all special or pivotal experiences that you remember, paying particular attention to those that have happened in recent years. Note any significant lessons you learned, achievements you reached, or unusual obstacles you have overcome. Include your feelings about these occurrences. How have these experiences led you to your decision to become a doctor?
- Assess your accomplishments, both academic and personal. What accomplishments are you most proud of? What obstacles have you overcome to achieve them? What do they say about you and your ability to be a good doctor? Write down everything that is meaningful to you, no matter how small you may think they are or how unrelated you may think they are to medicine. If something is important to you, then it speaks volumes about who you are and what makes you tick. Some accomplishments will be obvious, such as an award, while others may be less so, such as difficult personal circumstances you were forced to overcome.
- Compile an inventory of all the activities, experiences, and relationships/influences that have helped to define the person you are today. How have they shaped you as a person? How have they influenced your views and attitudes? What personality traits do they reflect in you? Once again, list everything that is significant to you, so matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Sometimes the most defining moments of our lives can be the ones we are inclined to dismiss.
- List your skills and personality traits. Don't limit yourself to just "medical" ones. Are there any skills you possess that set you apart? What critical skills do you possess (i.e. leadership, communication, analytical, etc.)? What are some words you would use to describe yourself? How would your friends and family describe you? What have you done to demonstrate these skills and personal qualities? How do these skills and qualities reflect on your ability to succeed in the medical world, whether as a student or physician?
- What are your goals and dreams? How does being a doctor fit into them?
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