One of the most important components to your professional school application is your “experience” descriptions, including those you “highlight” or mark as “most meaningful”. It is extremely important to put as much effort into your descriptions as you would your personal statement. They should be paragraph style (NOT bullet points), using your authentic, passionate voice.

Please see the following resources for help with writing your experience descriptions.

The Basics and Logistics

  • Character Counts and Most Meaningful/Highlighted
    • Dental
      • 600 characters for each description
      • Ability to mark 6 experiences as “highlighted”
    • Medical
      • MD: 15 experiences available; 3 marked as “most meaningful”
        • 700 characters for each description
        • 1325 additional characters for “most meaningful” descriptions
      • DO:
        • 600 characters for each description
    • Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant
      • 600 characters for each description
    • Veterinary
      • 600 characters for each description
      • Ability to mark 5 experiences as “most important”
  • Once you submit your application, you can NOT edit the experiences you have already entered, but you can add more.
  • Make sure you read each instruction manual carefully, making note of all the information you need, including, but not limited to:
    • Organization name; contact person and their information
    • Dates of experience
    • Hours (total and average)
  • If experience is “current” or “ongoing”, indicate that in the experience entry. Indicate hours worked and you can project how many hours you will complete in the future (be reasonable/realistic).
  • If you are limited on the number of entries you can put in (AMCAS) or have a number of “similar” experiences (ex: research projects, sporadic volunteer work, etc), make sure to meet with an advisor in the PPAC to strategize on how to enterthese experiences
  • Honors and awards should be exceptionally meaningful if you are going to enter them.

What to Include as Experiences

Each professional school application will require you to classify your experiences by “type”. If there are questions on what counts as healthcare experience vs. patient care vs. shadowing, etc. please ask your PPAC Advisor!

Broadly speaking, think about your past experiences and what has contributed to your personal and professional development, along with your motivation for your desired career. Define which experiences you will include that demonstrate/ show:

  • Your passion for serving others
  • Your dedication to your community and the people in it
  • Understanding your desired future career, including the nature of the work, diversity of employment within the field or specializations, and most importantly, type and necessity of care for patients.
  • Leadership abilities
  • Understanding of scientific inquiry (research and the process)
  • Professionalism and communication (verbal, written, and interpersonal) skills and your approach to these
  • Teamwork and ability to collaborate
  • Your understanding of how socioeconomic factors, healthcare disparities, and cultural backgrounds influence healthcare access and clinician/patient relationships
  • Your resiliency, adaptability, ability to overcome challenges
  • Your understanding of deep level self-reflection
  • Things that make you *YOU*! But, be careful about what hobbies, etc. you include!

How to Write Compelling Experience Descriptions

  • Before approaching each description individually, think about your application as a whole. What picture do you want to paint of you as an applicant and individual?
  • Generally speaking, your experience descriptions should convey:
    • What you did in your role, including level or responsibility and engagement
    • How you grew or changed from your experience
    • Unique perspectives on who you are as an applicant
  • Use your characters!
  • These are to be written in paragraph style, using authentic, professional language with no grammar, spelling or punctuation mistakes!
    • Do not bullet point your experience descriptions
    • Do not use “sales” language such as “I served...”, “I achieved...”
  • Remember you want to capture your reader/evaluator quickly and draw them in to your experience and why it makes you the applicant they want to invite for an interview or offer admissions to.
  • Highlight throughout your descriptions the value you are going to bring to medicine. Remember: professional schools get thousands of applications and reviewers/evaluators read hundreds of files. Make them know YOU and why they can’t “pass you up” as a future professional student in their program.
  • Quality over quantity. Don’t feel like the more experiences you have, the better. You want to add the experiences that contribute to your application as a whole- who you are, what you care about, and/or why you want to be in this profession.
  • Use experiences that occurred after high school. There are exceptions, but be sure to talk to your pre-professional advisor about whether or not to include experiences prior to college.