My Personal Statement


My African driver springs to his feet.

“Yes, Sahib.”

“Pass me another baby, I think this one has died.” I lay the dead infant in the pile by my feet. What I’d really like him to do is pass me an ice-cold bottle of the local beer. Compassion is hot, thirsty work. There is no ice in this wretched refugee camp, mores the pity, but as I’m here to help I will suffer in silence. I stare into the eyes of the African baby who is suffering from HIV or dengue fever or something gross and look out into the hot, dusty savannah and ask, “Why? Why gender-neutral and non-judgmental Deity (or Deities) does this have to happen?”

“And Why, Mbuto, is the air-conditioning on my Land Rover broken again?”

“One thousand pardons, Sahib, but the parts have not arrived.”

I will suffer. I have lived a life of privilege and my suffering serves to link me to the suffering of mankind. I roll the window down. God it’s hot. How can people live here? Why don’t they move where it’s cool? Still, I see by the vacant stare from the walking skeletons who insist on blocking the road that they appreciate my compassion and I know that in a small way, I am making a difference in their lives.

Africa. Oh wretched continent! How long must you suffer? How long will you provide the venue to compensate for a low MCAT score? How many must die before I am accepted to a top-tier medical school?

When did I first discover that I, myself, desired to be a doctor? Some come to the decision late in life, often not until the age of five. The non-traditional applicants might not know until they are seven or even, as hard as it is to believe, until the end of ninth grade. I came, myself, to the realization that I, myself, wanted to be a doctor on the way through the birth canal when I realized that my large head was causing a partial third degree vaginal laceration. I quickly threw a couple of sutures into the fascia between contractions so strong was my desire to help people.

My dedication to service was just beginning. At five I was counseling the first-graders on their reproductive options. By twelve I was volunteering at a suicide crisis center/free needle exchange hot-line for troubled transgendered teens. I’ll never forget Jose, a young Hispanic male with HIV who had just been kicked out of his casa by his conservative Catholic parents. He had turned to black tar heroin as his only solace and he was literally at the end of his rope when he called.

“How about a condom, Hose,” I asked. The J, as you know, is pronounced like an H in Spanish.

Annoying silence on the line. Hesus, I was there to help him.

“Condoms will solve all of your problems,” I continued, “In fact, in a paper of which I was listed as the fourth author, we found that condoms prevent all kinds of diseases including HIV which I have a suspicion is the root of your depression.”

More silence. No one had ever had such a rapport with him. He was speechless and grateful and I took his sobs as evidence of my compassion.

“Hey, it was double-blinded and placebo controlled, vato.” Cultural competence is important and I value my diverse upbringing which has exposed me to peoples of many different ethnicities. I always say “What up, Homes?” to the nice young negroes who assemble my Big Mac and I think they accept me as a soul brother.

“We also have needles, amigo. Clean needles would prevent HIV too.”

My desire to be a physician has mirrored my desire to actualize my potential to serve humanity in many capacities. This may be something unheard of from medical school applicant but I have a strong desire to help people. I manifest this desire by my dedication to obtaining all kinds of exposure to all different kinds of people but mostly those from underserved and underprivileged populations. In fact, during a stint in a Doctors Without Borders spin-off chapter I learned the true meaning of underserved while staffing a mall health care pavilion in La Jolla, California.

Most of my friends are black or latino and I am a “Junior Cousin” of the Nation of Islam where I teach infidel abasement techniques to the Mohammed (PBUHN) Scouts. I also am active in the fight for women’s reproductive rights except of course for women in Afghanistan who were better off before our current racist war.

As Maya Angelou once said, “All men (and womyn) are prepared to accomplish the incredible if their ideals are threatened.” I feel this embodies my philosophy best because the prospect of grad school is too horrible to contemplate.

25 thoughts on “My Personal Statement

  1. “How about a condom, Hose,” I asked. The J, as you know, is pronounced like an H in Spanish.

    Annoying silence on the line. Hesus, I was there to help him.”

    HAHAHAHAHA, this just made me laugh entirely too loud while “studying” in the computer lab here at EVMS.

  2. How do you come up with this stuff?
    Have you used this (or other similar works) for anything else than web entertainment?

    Absolutely hilarious.
    Great post, as usual.

  3. “How long will you provide the venue to compensate for a low MCAT score?”

    Hilarious…I’ve started reading on this blog pretty recently and I return just about every day and find something new. Nice job – Leigh

  4. Here’s the beginning from my 5th essay draft…the “I don’t give a crap, but I do” version.

    I have no stories about my stint in a developing African nation helping poor children because I am from a developing African Nation. In fact, I might have played a leading role as “Sick African Child” in someone else’s personal statement without ever signing a release form or receiving monetary compensation.


  5. You know, Panda Bear, I really liked your essay on mid-levels and physicians, and I think you’re a smart fellow: probably someone with whom I could see myself working side-by-side.

    But your AMCAS essay is one of the dumbest essays I’ve ever read.

    First off, there is something to be said about a well-organized, eloquent and flowing essay than some plain-spoken collection of anecdotes and extraneous wise-cracks. For example, your entire paragraph describing your in-utero decision to become a physican and placing sutures in your mother’s cervix is not clever, well-placed humor. It was so out of place, in fact, that I’d say you were drunk when you wrote this essay. Moreover, your (inappropriate) use of the terms “fascia” and “third degree vaginal lacerations” was totally out of left field…not because no admissions committee member would ever think you knew anything significant about fascias and lacerations, but because they were utterly irrelevant to the point you were trying to make–i.e. that you knew early on that you wanted to be a physician.

    In addition to being somewhat incoherent, your essay was at its core a cookie-cutter effort; immediately beginning your essay with a vignette about one of your experiences related to the medical profession is hardly unique. Where yours differed from most others is that you continued on with the anecdotes, and did so in irrelevant detail.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think that most personal statements are waste of time for both the writer and the reader. Anyone can spend hours writine an eloquently-worded essay that patently misrepresents themselves without telling any lies. Clearly, you didn’t do that, and I applaud your willingness to take liberties with your essay(even if you took them because you thought they’d actually help your cause). But at very least, most essays are “essays” rather than comedic acts.

    Maybe I’m just a bit more old-school, but I tend to think that the first priority in writing an essay is making it informative, not making it entertaining.

    (You have got to be shitting me, right? -PB)

  6. Panda Bear, I shit you not.

    Boy, you’re one cocky little fellow, aren’t you. You are so confident that your essay is a literary masterpiece that anyone who criticizes it “has got to be shitting you”.

    (Dude…”My Personal Statement” is a joke, a satire, a spoof. Didn’t you get that or did you think that this was my actual personal statement? -PB)

  7. Well, did this “joke, satire, spoof” get submitted to AMCAS? If it did, then everything I said applies.

    If not, then I’d ask the following question instead: how was I supposed to know that it was a joke? Simply the sheer degree of its silliness?

    (You’re supposed to know it’s a joke because it’s obviously a joke…at least to anyone who has a sense of humor. -PB)

  8. A sense of humor I have. And indeed, I thought the essay was (mildly) humorous. Still, I thought that you very well might have been incredibly ballsy–i.e. ballsy enough to have submitted that as your statement!

  9. lmao! you’re all hilarious. Idk if the ps or BillyGoat vs. PandaBear match is more hilarious. Billyyyyyy the Goat versus Panda the Beaaaaar! tonight at 7pm eastern time! lol. I think the PS is really great PB. Love it.

  10. Sincerity is a very important part of the personal statement. Based on your essay, you entertain at the expense of sincerity. Afterall, medicine is overall a relatively conservative profession, and I think it would be wiser to just be old school.

  11. Don’t worry PB (although I am sure you do not), I’m willing to bet BillyGoat (what’s with these names?) is maybe a bit jealous that he probably does not have the ability and/or gusto to write something as entertaining as this, hence the rant. Also, I thought the part about the in-utero decision was definitely a piece of clever, well-placed humor. Why do some people take everything so seriously?

  12. My favorite parts are “I, myself”. Too funny. Some of the people commenting (ie BGG) should probably find work in a field that involves a little less skill understanding, um, human beings (I’m guessing he also has a hard time reading facial expressions).

  13. I wanted to take advice from you since you’ve already gone through the whole med school stuff and obviously have experience in this process. So I wrote my personal statement exactly like the one you wrote above, but I got rejected from every single medical school despite the fact that I got a 46 on my MCAT and have saved babies in Africa and I told them that I wanted to help people? Why Panda? Why did you get in while I got rejected.

  14. BillyGoatGruff obviously doesn’t understand the satirical approach you have taken to reconstructing an intrepid, epic and HILARIOUS rendition of a typical personal statement, or at least, one which many pre meds aspire to be able to write, without lying.

    PandaBear, I shadowed you once or twice a few years ago, I won’t name hospitals but I’d like to meet again sometime and chat. You’re a pretty funny guy. Billy goat needs to go save more African babies apparently.

  15. BillyGoatGruff must be fun at parties. Very funny PB; I’m very happy I found your blog. Keep it up!

  16. I now feel just a bit more inspired to blog my own sarcastic tongue-in-cheek critiques of my life in an amusing and entertaining way.

    What a lovely blog!

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