Concerned about writing your personal statement for your PharmCAS application? UCSOP wants to help! It’s actually simple – start by thinking of your personal statement as a story about you—specifically, your academic and personal journey. Be sure to include commentary and reflection on how your academic and personal experiences have led up to you wanting to become a pharmacist. Your story should focus on:
- YOU! Talk about yourself. This one of the rare occasions in life you have to actually write about YOU! Take advantage of this opportunity. Explain why you want to be a pharmacist. Talk about the academic, personal and/or work experiences that have led you this point in your academic career.
- Setting yourself apart. Explain how you are different! Committees are looking for something personal as well as analytical. This might require you to disclose information you would not normally share and/or examine your life (successes and failures) more critically.
- Pharmacy. The writing prompt for PharmCAS is specific in that it asks applicants to discuss why they want to pursue a career in pharmacy. In order to capture the attention of committees, it is important to include discussion on why being a pharmacist is important to you. Has it been a life-long dream? Was there an experience or event that led you down this path? Share those things with details to demonstrate your commitment to pharmacy practice.
Still have writer’s block? Brainstorm! Get out a paper (any paper) and a writing implement (pen, crayon, marker—whatever is nearby) and start answering some of these basic questions:
- What is special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about your life story? Do you have notable accomplishments? Have you traveled the world? Do you volunteer to work with patients at a local hospital? Do you currently work in a pharmacy? You get where I’m going here . . . BRAINSTORM!
- Why are you interested in pharmacy? What area of practice might you like to pursue? Community pharmacy? Academic pharmacy? Managed care? Hospital? (Find out more about career options in pharmacy by visiting: http://www.aacp.org/RESOURCES/STUDENT/PHARMACYFORYOU/PHARMACYCAREERINFO/Pages/default.aspx.)
- What work experiences do you have in relationship to pharmacy practice? If you haven’t worked in a pharmacy, what other types of work experiences will help you when working with patients or just with the rigor of the academic program (interpersonal skills, caregiving skills, attention-to-detail, etc.)?
- What obstacles or hardships (personal, professional, academic) have you encountered along your journey?
- What skills/characteristics do you possess—leadership, perseverance, enthusiasm, integrity, etc. that will allow you to be successful?
- Why should the admissions committee be interested in you in particular? Again, brainstorm some ideas. Past academic excellence? Job-related experience? Personal experience?
WRITE! After brainstorming, it’s time to write! You may find it helpful to make an outline using your brainstorming ideas. Organize your thoughts with a strong introductory paragraph. Tell the committee who you are but also consider how your story relates to the desire to join the pharmacy profession. And don’t forget to PROOFREAD. Share with others too! Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will catch mistakes you do not. Be sure not to hit submit until you are certain there aren’t any grammatical or content errors. And, above all, always be sure that your personal statement is just that, YOURS. Never copy or borrow another person’s work. This can delay your application or even stop the application process altogether!
Additional things to consider:
- Be mindful of the required word limit
- Proofread (more than once)
- Be sure to connect your discussion to pharmacy
- Be honest, open and truthful (but don’t overshare—you don’t want to include things that might cause a committee to question your judgment)
- Don’t write for a specific school*
Good luck with your application and your essay!
*The PharmCAS personal statement is intended for all schools to which you are applying.
Dr. Susan M. Gardner, Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs
University of Charleston School of Pharmacy