The style of your medical school essay should be based on where you are submitting your application. For most people, this will be the AMCAS system. However, there are notable exceptions, including Osteopathic programs (D.O.), the Texas state medical school system, and schools that do not participate in centralized application services. While all are similar in that each is looking for insight into your decision to pursue a career as a doctor, tailoring medical school essays to the type of program to which you are applying can make a big difference in how your essay will be received.
For an AMCAS medical school essay, stay focused on being able to translate evidence-based science to care for the each patient’s needs. Demonstrate an understanding that best medical practices are a direct result of high-quality research. Most of all, express an understanding that being a physician is a dedication to a lifetime of learning from both current literature and direct clinical experience.
Medical school essays for DO programs need to reflect the osteopathic focus on the individual as a holistic being. Express why this approach appeals to you and why you think that (1) you will be a better practitioner because of this and (2) why you feel this approach is necessary for patients to achieve optimal wellbeing. Nevertheless, remember that osteopathy is ultimately a difference in philosophy and has the same basis in science as MD programs. In short, your DO medical school essay should still emphasize evidence-based care but from a holistic perspective.
State of Texas:
There is a smaller character limit available for Texas medical school essays. For this reason, it is all the more important to get to the point quickly. While your medical school essay still needs to have a cohesive logical flow from one idea to the next, it is advisable to reduce language flourishes and focus on conveying your message to the admissions committee succinctly.
Schools not participating in Centralized Services:
By not looking to a centralized service for their pool of applicants, these schools are sending a strong message that they want a medical school essay that is written specifically for their school. No general medical school essays, please. Often this is a good match as the students applying to these schools are looking for a unique medical school experience. Therefore, make strong and direct connections between the program’s offerings and your goals as well as specific references to opportunities within the program that you would not be able to have elsewhere.
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