The way to prove your qualification is not to list attributes you believe you possess but to discuss concrete experiences that show your abilities and qualities. Details about the process are paramount. What we mean by the “process” is that you should focus on the path to achievement. The rest of your application has already summarized your accomplishments and your activities. Show the reader what you did in concrete terms, and again, highlight your active roles.
The experiences that demonstrate your qualification are not necessarily distinct from those that explain your motivation. You shouldn’t plan on dividing the essay into two separate sections for each, but rather organize the structure by topic and extrapolate insights as they develop. We will cover structure in greater depth in its own section, but it’s important that you begin thinking in terms of an integrated essay.
Some degree of hospital experience is usually expected, though it’s more essential to the “testing your interest” aspect we discussed in the last section of the course than to your qualification. The main point you’re trying to convey here is your ability to work well with patients and in the clinical setting.
This applicant showcases strengths in sensitivity and communication skills by describing a specific encounter. You may feel reluctant to devote an entire paragraph to one anecdote, but a concrete, detailed story can tell us more about your abilities than a paragraph that lists predictable qualities and generic lessons. Another mistake that people tend to make is to name a specific patient but then resort back to clichéd, vague lines, such as “I was able to ease his pain by providing emotional support.” In contrast, this applicant offers vivid images of his patient and actually shows us what he did to provide comfort.
If you have had opportunities to engage in more hands-on work, then you should by all means include it, particularly if you are pursuing dentistry or are interested in surgery as a specialty. This applicant describes her work as a research technician and some of the specific procedures in which she has been involved.
Your shadowing experience might overlap with the previous section’s material, but the emphasis here is on what you learned through observation. There is less potential here for forceful points because observation is a passive activity, but it can be useful for proving your in-depth understanding of the profession.
This applicant makes precisely that point: “Working with the surgeon has been an exceptional experience for me because he has allowed me to observe him in every phase of his activities, from his initial consultations with patients to the various surgeries themselves.” He goes on to give details about the range of surgeries he has observed. It’s important to note, however, that even here a specific episode could have been useful. Instead of trying to cram details about everything to which you were exposed, you might focus on one memorable incident that epitomizes the field as you view it.
A strong research background helps your case because the laboratory is such an integral part of the medical school experience. It’s not possible to prove your intellectual capability through a short description of your projects, so that’s not the real goal here. Instead, you should try to convey such intangible qualities as creativity, initiative, and original thinking. Note: You should limit technical details to what you need to establish context.
This applicant describes his work in language that the average reader can understand, but with enough detail for us to appreciate the depth of his responsibilities. He demonstrates a strong understanding of the work that research requires and an ability to execute a project independently. The essay does not, however, provide evidence of the skills we mentioned above.
The way to convey such qualities as creativity and original thinking is to focus on your contribution rather than your research topic. For example, you could describe a situation where you recognized a flaw in a procedure and had the initiative to show your supervisor how efficiency could be improved. No matter how minor your contribution seems, it’s better to focus on some tangible input that you had than to describe the project as a whole. As always, the key is to delineate your active role.
Of course, we recognize that many undergraduates simply do not have the level of responsibility that would put them in position to make significant contributions. Nevertheless, you should examine your experiences carefully to search for any tangible impact you might have had beyond carrying out the instructions of your superiors.
It’s very possible to demonstrate the relevant qualities you possess for medicine in non-medical experiences. In most cases your goal will be to demonstrate an ability to work and interact effectively with people.
This applicant spends substantial time discussing his position as a camp counselor. He showcases an ability to lead others as well as an inner strength that enabled him to overcome personal challenges. Thus he does an effective job of describing both the external situation and his personal response. He then makes a strong transition to medicine by pinpointing similarities between his previous experiences and the challenges he expects to face.
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