Allied Health Application Essay

Writing Personal Statements

A tale of three statements...what do you think of each?  Who would you rather study with for the next four years?  Which makes it easier to know the student and make an admissions decision?  Why?

                #1 -- (An excerpt From Accepted.com)

    As the time approached for me to set my personal and professional goals, I made a conscientious decision to enter a field which would provide me with a sense of achievement and, at the same time, produce a positive impact on mankind. It became apparent to me that the practice of medicine would fulfill these objectives. In retrospect, my ever-growing commitment to medicine has been crystallizing for years. My intense interest in social issues, education, and athletics seems particularly appropriate to this field and has prepared me well for such a critical choice...
    I’ve been asked many times why I wish to become a physician. Upon considerable reflection, the thought of possessing the ability to help others provides me with tremendous internal gratification and offers the feeling that my life’s efforts have been focused in a positive direction. Becoming a physician is the culmination of a lifelong dream; and I am prepared to dedicate myself, as I have in the past, to achieving this goal.

#2 -- (an excerpt from a former student)
     A homeless man takes a sip out of his mysterious brown bag and stumbles to rest beneath a tree. A woman in raunchy clothing struts along the sidewalk. pharmacist awaits his next customer. Migrant tomato pickers head to work in an old school bus. The downtown scenery is filled with run-down buildings, trash, and deprivation. This is my neighborhood.
    At a young age, I helped at my parent’s motel business, developing an understanding of hard work and dedication while observing the rough lifestyle of impoverished people and lack of simple health education. Today, I am still concerned whether my neighbors have routine checkups, test for STIs, adequate nutrition, or are troubled with any diseases. My motivation to help my neighbors along with my passion for human health, fitness, and nutrition has shaped my choice of undergraduate studies and has directed me toward the path of becoming a public health educator.

#3 -- (an excerpt from a former student)   
     “Look at the person sitting to your left . . . now look to the right . . . now to the front, back, and every which way diagonally.”
   Each new, fresh-out-of-high-school Gator followed the professor’s instructions and acknowledged—with his or her own blend of straight “A” confidence and freshman cockiness—the other newbies in the lecture hall. The professor’s steel-faced smile, however, told me we weren’t in Kansas any longer: “Not one of these people will get into medical school.”    I had been a student of the University of Florida for exactly twenty-two minutes, and I had already decided to give up a goal I had defended for eight years. What would Pop-Pop say?           
     The Geriatric Neurology Unit of Naples Community Hospital may not be the destination of choice for an evening out—unless, of course, one mistakes “L-Dopa” for the newest import from Miami. Otherwise, it’s true: a hospital can be a sad place to visit—especially for a ten-year-old. However, when my Pop-Pop—my once-burly, sauerkraut-making, soccer-playing personal hero—was sidelined by both Parkinson’s and prostate cancer, I visited him every chance I could and hoped that my mother was right: “Laughter is the best medicine.”  



The Personal Statement for Centralized Application Systems

Keep in mind that all writing is READER-CENTERED and PURPOSE-DRIVEN.

  • Who are the readers here?    An Admissions committee. 
  • What is their job?    To make yes/no decisions about admission into med school.
  • What do they want to know?    They want to know what distinguishes you from the other hundreds of applicants who are also smart, well-educated, and interesting.
  • What is the purpose of your writing?    To show this committee that you are more than a collection of admirable statistics—that you are a person worthy of cultivating, of educating, of eventually calling a colleague.
  • How do you fulfill this purpose?    By telling the story of yourself.

To this end, here are some pointers on writing personal statements.

  1. Show, don’t Tell. Demonstrate, don’t state. Relate, don’t Pontificate. In other words, give the reader the "hands-on" tour— you think that your diligent, hard-working, ambitious, compassionate, etc., then SHOW the reader this through an experience in your life that demonstrates this quality. Don’t just use the words; they’ve got no reason to believe you!
  2. Related to above, but from the other direction…you have the wonderful experiences, but you don’t finish the task by telling the reader what you gained. Take the Admissions Committee through your experience, but don’t leave them to make their own conclusions. They won’t. They’re too busy reading personal statements. Show them what you want them to see about you. 
  3. Contextualize all information – if you give a fact, make it important to the story. If you use an adjective, show that it’s true. 
  4. Avoid clichés. After all, a "simple joy" implies such a thing as a "complex joy" and what is that?  
  5. Be careful of using faulty logic. Just because your family has sixteen medical professionals doesn’t really make it "natural" that you should become one. Your experiences in the emergency room don’t necessarily result in an interest in medicine. Lots of people have professionals in their families and they don’t run out to become doctors. Lots of women have babies and yet never become ob/gyns. If this is how it worked for you, then great! Say it simply then relate a particular experience that really demonstrates your interest in medicine.
  6. Doctors are not the only ones on the planet who help people. 
  7. Don’t exaggerate. Nobody under 50 gets to claim "innumerable times" or "untold amounts" or "infinite varieties" of anything. 
  8. Not every noun requires an adjective. 
  9. Wanting to help people is an admirable quality. Be careful of sounding like the Super Savior of Humanity, though. Phrases like "less fortunate" and "down trodden" are patronizing. Instead, talk about wanting to help people with limited access to health care or setting up neighborhood clinics so that affordable health care is available to more people. Finally, when the readers are finished with your personal statement, do they know you? Life has got to mean more than a series of points on a résumé. Is yours represented?



Basic Moves of a Personal Statement for Specific Graduate School Programs

How does one write a successful personal statement? There are two main criteria:

  1. Follow directions exactly;
  2. Distinguish yourself from the crowd.


Follow Directions 

This ought to easy, but applicants often miss this one. If ever there were a time when you wanted to impress an audience with how well you can read and understand directions, this is the time. So, read questions carefully and answer what they ask for. Stick to word/page limits!! Though some of the allied health professions, such as CSD, use automated application systems ( the CSDCAS, in your case), you may need to write differently for each school. Some schools have brief, very focused personal statement questions, some have vague questions with no page limit guidelines, and still others favor a series of essays rather than a single statement. Whichever the case, the key to keeping calm is selecting potential schools early and getting together all the admissions material you need. Since it costs nothing to get the materials, go ahead and gather any school which legitimately peaks your interest. Then, at your leisure:

  1. Read each school thoroughly.
  2. select the schools you want to apply to.
  3. throw the other material out to de-clutter your desk.
  4. rank schools from first to last choice
  5. prepare to write!


Distinguish Yourself from the Crowd 

Let's clarify from the very beginning that we are NOT talking about experimental writing styles here. You are not going to write in theatrical dialogue or trochaic feet or an AABB rhyme scheme or haiku or in cartoon bubbles. The personal statement is an essay, not a piece of performance art.

  1. Motivation for studying -- opening paragraph -- anecdotal/narrative  (why?)
  2. Qualities/Experiences -- told by example -- a few focused, well-developed arguments --  no listing, re-hashing of résumé (why you?)
  3. Future Plans -- what populations, organizational settings, research are you interested in?  Not set in stone, but need some indication (what are your plans?)
  4. School Choice -- why this program?  Argument shows "this is me, this is you, this is why we are a perfect match"  (why us?)

A Note for those pursuing med school

Note: the AMCAS made changes beginning with the 2012 cycle that includes new essay information -- with regards to the personal statement, you need to be aware of the new "3 most meaningful experiences" section. This section frees you from having to include everything in the personal statement because you'll have the opportunity to write about your experiences elsewhere. This means the personal statement can focus more on motivation and qualities.



Best Practices for all Personal Statements

"Best Practices" is a new fancy term for using techniques with a proven history of working well (sort of like "evidence based", but without the research requirement attached).  There are a couple of them pertaining to personal statement writing that are missed surprisingly often.  Here are a few of the biggies that will help.

  1. Most Important Rule -- say nothing in your personal statement that isn't directly relevant to helping an admissions committee make a decision about your merit as a graduate student. This especially includes quoting other people (why should they care what Einstein or Maya Angelou or Luke/Mark/John or anyone else has ever said?  What does it have to do with your ability to succeed?),

  2. Be truthful.  Do not lie.  I know, this one seems obvious...but you'd be surprised.  You can manage vocabularly choice (and you should), but you may not say something that isn't true.

  3. Keep it positive.  Do not write negatively about yourself or your profession or anyone else!  If you need to explain a dip in grades, do so briefly and objectively; do not belabour whatever trauma/situation caused the problem.  Also, do not to say things like "I went into CSD because I couldn't cut in organic chemistry, thereby destroying my dreams of being a pediatrician."  Always find the "positive" (meaning not negative, not meaning ridiculously idealistic) way of communicating the same information.  For instance, another way of expressing the previous example is -- "Though I'd planned on becoming a pediatrician, I found that speech pathology provides the sort of sustained, personal contact with children I really crave as part of my career."

  4. Details sell.  Lists do not.  Do not rehash your résumé.  Instead, choose a few experiences that were particularly meaningful and/or can illustrate qualities  that you want the admissions committee to know.  To succeed as illustrative examples, experiences must have the following 3 parts (you can't expect the readers to fill in missing parts -- they have too many essays to read to spend time performing literary interpretation):

        1. Tell the story (what happened)

        2. Tell what you learned (what you got out of it)

        3.  Tell how what you learned applies to success in grad school or in your profession (why it matters).

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Application Essays

** If you experience difficulty in submitting your applications, please contact support@copehealthscholars.org and a representative from our team will reach out to you shortly. **

Essays are the most important component of your application. We recommend you write your essays outside of the online application and copy/paste them into the online application when you are ready to submit. The essay questions for each program are below.


Health Scholar (Accelerated & Fast Track)

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.
  2. How does the Health Scholar program fit into your overall career goal?
  3. How would you utilize your role as a Health Scholar to improve the patient experience in a hospital?
  4. It is often said that what you put into this program is what you get out of it. What do you plan on investing into this program and how will you follow through with your initial goals?

For Accelerated and Fast Track only:

  1. One of the goals of the Health Scholar Program is to guide you in your career path. What do you hope to accomplish for your future career by completing this program at a much faster pace?
  2. Please describe a non-academic situation or experience where time management was a major factor and what you learned from the experience.
  3. Please list all of your current obligations and the time requirement for each one. Do you foresee any problems (e.g., transportation, time constraints) with fulfilling the additional commitments that come with being an  Accelerated or Fast Track Health Scholar?

Junior Health Scholar (Accelerated) 

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. What do you think makes a good health care provider? What qualities must one possess? Please write a well-developed response in the space provided.
  2. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.
  3. It is often said that what you put into this program is what you get out. What do you plan on investing in this program and how will you follow through with your initial goals?

Pre-College Health Scholar 

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. Please tell us why you are applying to this program.
  2. What is one of the greatest challenges or conflicts you have faced, and how did you overcome it?
  3. What do you think makes a good health care provider? What qualities must one possess? Please write a well-developed response in the space provided.
  4. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.
  5. It is often said that what you put into this program is what you get out. What do you plan on investing in this program and how will you follow through with your initial goals?

Summer Intensive Health Scholar

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates  What does this statement mean to you and how does it apply to your desired career path?
  2. Why are you interested in this program? How will participating in the program help further your educational or career pursuits?
  3. What motivates you to pursue a career in health care? For example, you may describe an impactful experience, influential relationship or key moment in your education.
  4. Describe a time when you experienced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Pre-Health Professions Health Scholar

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates  What does this statement mean to you and how does it apply to your desired career path?
  2. Why are you interested in this program? How will participating in the program help further your educational or career pursuits?
  3. What motivates you to pursue a career in health care? For example, you may describe an impactful experience, influential relationship or key moment in your education.
  4. Describe a time when you experienced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Pre-Med Scholar

All essays are required. There is a 300-500 word limit for each essay.

  1. “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” – Hippocrates  What does this statement mean to you and how does it apply to your desired career path?
  2. Why are you interested in this program? How will participating in the program help further your educational or career pursuits?
  3. What motivates you to pursue a career in health care? For example, you may describe an impactful experience, influential relationship or key moment in your education.
  4. Describe a time when you experienced a challenge, setback or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

International Health Scholar

Both essays are required. There is a 500-1000 word limit for each essay.

  1. Please tell us why you are applying to this program.
  2. What is one of the greatest challenges or conflicts you have faced, and how did you overcome it?

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