The AACOMAS personal statement is an opportunity to tell your story and how your journey has led you to osteopathic medicine specifically.
Why do you want to study osteopathic medicine? How do your values align with those of osteopathy? What drew you to medicine? What drives you? Admissions committees expect a lot more than a rehash of your CV. This is your chance to let an admissions committee know who you really are beyond your grades.
This post will cover AACOMAS personal statements, including how they fit within the application process, how to write a personal statement for a DO school, and common mistakes to avoid.
Not sure what application type you need to submit? Read our guide to AMCAS vs. AACOMAS vs. TMDSAS Med School Application Differences to find out how the three application services compare.
What is a Medical School Personal Statement?
Your grades and MCAT score are certainly vital pieces of your medical school application, but your personal statement is the heart. The personal statement is your chance to sell yourself to an admissions committee and speak about who you are beyond your grades and accomplishments.
Why do you want to devote your life to helping and healing people? What moments and experiences in your past crystalized your ambition to pursue medicine? When did you know you had to become an osteopathic doctor? Who in your life inspires you? What separates you from the other candidates?
This isn’t your CV in complete sentences. The personal statement is your opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are and the journey that got you to where you are today.
The Anatomy of a AACOMAS Application
Each year at the start of May, the AACOMAS application opens for submissions. Colleges begin to receive applications around mid-June. For your best chance of success, it’s important to get your application submitted as quickly as possible after submissions open.
Your chances of acceptance decrease the later you submit your application because of rolling admissions, so it’s a very bad idea to procrastinate. Staying on top of your deadlines could be the difference between acceptance and rejection. Complete your primary application as well as your secondary applications long before the actual submission deadline.
Consider our timeline below, which includes possible and ideal schedules.
The personal statement is only one piece of your primary application. In order to submit a successful application, you must work on multiple application components at once.
- GPA and MCAT Score
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Evaluation (also called Letters of Recommendation)
- Experiences and Achievements Section
- Mini Essays
- Depending on the schools you apply to, you may also be required to take a Casper test.
Read our complete AACOMAS Application Guide For DO Schools for more information about the other application components.
What Makes the AACOMAS Personal Statement Different?
The major thing that separates the AACOMAS personal statement from the AMCAS personal statement is the specificity of the initial question; instead of asking “why do you want to be a doctor,” the AACOMAS personal statement asks why you want to study osteopathic medicine.
Osteopaths (DOs) take pride in their holistic approach to patient care and focus on preventative medicine. DOs treat the person—not the symptoms. The focus of osteopathy is on recognizing the connections between different systems and organs in the body and their influence on each other. This is how DOs differentiate themselves from allopathic doctors (MDs), and these differences are the core of the osteopathic philosophy.
Therefore your personal statement must illustrate your interest in the osteopathic approach to medicine and show that you understand the values of osteopathy with clear examples from your own life.
How have your experiences shaped your aspiration to become an osteopath? The AACOMAS personal statement is your chance to demonstrate to admissions committees that you have the ability, passion, and determination it takes to succeed in osteopathic medical school.
AACOMAS Personal Statement Character Limit
The AACOMAS personal statement is the same length as the AMCAS personal statement. You are limited to 5300 characters, which is around 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. You don’t have a lot of room to tell your life story, which means the challenge is choosing the key moments from your life that inspired you to want to become a DO and communicating them in an engaging yet concise way.
How to Write a AACOMAS Personal Statement
1 | Take Time to Reflect on Your Past Experiences
Writing your personal statement will take a lot of time. Don’t think you’re going to be able to crank this out in an afternoon. Begin thinking about your personal statement as soon as possible, and give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm ideas and reflect on the events in your life that have led you to this point.
This is your opportunity to sell yourself to an admissions committee. What about your life and experiences make you unique? Think of your personal statement as your superhero origin story. What drives you? You may be naturally gifted in all things science and school-related, but why do you want to apply your skills to a field as demanding as medicine? Why do you want to dedicate your life to helping people?
Take The Batman. Does Batman fight crime because he’s naturally smart and strong and was born wealthy? Those things are true of Batman, but they don’t speak to why Bruce Wayne has dedicated his life to fighting crime and protecting the innocent. Seeing his parents shot and killed before his eyes forever changed Bruce Wayne and set him on the path to becoming Gotham’s dark knight. He fights in the hope that no other child in Gotham will be orphaned like he was.
Do you want to pursue medicine because you have a natural aptitude for it, or is it because of something deeper? Who in your life inspired you? What key events shaped your desire and made it clear to you that you had to become an osteopath?
2 | Illustrate Osteopathic Values
Demonstrating why you want to pursue a career in medicine is one thing, but the AACOMAS personal statement requires you to tailor your experiences to the osteopathic philosophy. Why do you want to study osteopathy specifically? What moments in your life have caused you to believe more strongly in the osteopathic approach to medicine versus the allopathic approach?
According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), there are four osteopathic principles:
- The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind, and spirit.
- The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance.
- Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated.
- Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function.
How did you find osteopathy? Did certain events in your life lead you to believe more strongly in the holistic approach of osteopathy? Did a trusted mentor inspire you to pursue a career as a DO?
Speak about these moments and how they have shaped your medical education journey. How do your values align with osteopathic medicine, and how do examples from your own life illustrate this alignment?
Read the full Philosophy of Osteopathic Medicine from AACOM.
3 | Provide Concrete Examples
It’s not enough to say you’re ‘compassionate’ or ‘driven.’ You need to demonstrate these strengths with concrete examples from your life. Admissions committees need to see your passion for osteopathic medicine reflected in the stories you share.
They’re not going to take you at your word; you need to back up your claims with tangible evidence. Sharing a story that exemplifies your better qualities is a lot more impactful to an admissions committee than simply stating that you’re resilient. How do you know you’re resilient? What are some specific moments in your life when you had to demonstrate resilience? When in your life have you displayed the qualities you want an admissions committee to know you have?
Show, don’t tell. If you want the admissions committee to know you’re hardworking, describe a moment in your life that demonstrates this quality.
4 | Develop a Narrative Across Your Application
You are applying to medical school along with thousands of fellow applicants, and many of them share your motivations, qualifications, and grades.
Standing out in this field is tough; if you and a fellow applicant have the exact same grades and clinical hours, what makes you the more appealing candidate?
Your personal statement is your chance to differentiate yourself from the competition. It’s an opportunity to tell your story. Repeating your CV but in paragraph form is monotonous and will do nothing to help you stand out amongst the competition.
A personal statement is a story, not a list of your accomplishments. The admissions committee needs to be excited to learn more about you, and you can inspire this excitement by developing a narrative across your entire application. Demonstrate how your skills and experiences make you an ideal candidate who has much to offer their program.
5 | Choose Clear and Direct Language
You may be telling a story, but don’t worry about sounding poetic. Extravagant word choices and flowery language won’t impress an admissions committee. 5300 characters is not a lot of space, so choose clear, concise language over long, complicated words and convoluted sentence structure.
If you read over a sentence and think you can simplify it—do so. Find the simplest, clearest way to convey your message.
Tools like the Hemingway App can help you keep your language clear, direct, and concise.
6 | Leave Enough Time to Adapt and Edit
Writing a personal statement isn’t something you’re going to start and finish in a couple of days or even a couple of weeks. You will need to spend ample time reflecting on your past in order to develop a first draft of your personal statement, and it may take several drafts before you land on something that really works.
Don’t be shy about sharing your personal statement with friends, family, and mentors. Your personal statement won’t improve without detailed, constructive feedback. For your best chances of success, speak to a mentor or professor who has been involved in the admissions process and ask them to review your personal statement. They will have invaluable insight.
If you don’t have anyone in your life to fill these shoes, consider hiring an editing service that’s able to do more than correct your spelling and grammar. For best results, your personal statement should be reviewed by people who have an intimate, behind-the-scenes understanding of what an admissions committee is really looking for.
This is why it’s so important to start this process early. You need plenty of time on either side of writing your personal statement for reflection and revision. Don’t procrastinate on your personal statement; start as soon as possible.
For a more in-depth look at writing a personal statement, read our Personal Statement Guide, which includes 11 steps for starting, writing, and editing your personal statement.
Common Personal Statement Mistakes to Avoid
Please don’t make these common personal statement mistakes. The personal statement is a critical piece of your application; it deserves ample attention, careful planning, and rigorous editing.
- Failing to connect your personal statement to osteopathic values.
- Using the same personal statement for AMCAS and AACOMAS applications.
- Leaving your personal statement to the last minute. (You should begin months in advance.)
- Not developing a cohesive narrative across your application.
- Listing your accomplishments or rehashing your CV and extracurriculars.
- Overusing the word “I.”
- Using flowery language or words you found in a thesaurus.
- Explaining what medicine is all about. (The admissions committee already understands medicine.)
- Using clichés. (Every applicant likes science and wants to help people.)
- Fabricating stories or lying about your personal experiences.
- Making excuses for poor grades or a low MCAT score.
- Speaking negatively about another physician or healthcare professional.
- Pleading for an interview or acceptance.
- Making spelling or grammar errors.
- Editing your personal statement by yourself.
Make Your AACOMAS Personal Statement Stand Out
Med School Insiders will help you create a stand out AACOMAS personal statement. We offer a range of personal statement editing packages, from general editing to unlimited editing with a physician who will be there to advise you every step of the way.
We’re dedicated to creating a generation of happier, healthier, and more effective future doctors. Our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages are tailored to your needs and the specific schools you are applying to. We can help you with every aspect of your application, including MCAT tutoring, mock interviews, secondary editing, and student advising. Our team is built of doctors who have years of experience serving on both MD and DO admissions committees, so you’ll receive key insights into the selection process.