Should You Use AI to Write Your Medical School Admissions or Residency Application Personal Statement? Probably Not.
The recent release of the AI writing program chatGPT has brought AI-based writing to a much more advanced level. The implications of this technology on essay writing for medical school applications and residency applications are uncertain but likely profound. Two of the senior members of Elite Medical Prep have written blogs reflecting their differing opinions on what this means and whether students should use this tool in their application essays. You can read our counterargument here.
The personal statement, my friends, is dead.
The personal statement is dead, and it was AI that killed it.
At least, that’s what they would have us believe. In the space of the past week, The Atlantic alone has run multiple pieces on the death of personal writing at the hands of AI bots such as ChatGPT. (Interestingly, this strange death did not seem to claim think pieces in prestige media publications, as both of these pieces were written by…people.) Desert News was, if a little less certain about it, asking a similar question: “Does AI Mean the Death of the College Essay?”
As a senior tutor at Elite Medical Prep and the lead tutor in charge of Personal Statement Editing, I am, of course, skeptical. (And, as Betteridge’s law of headlines reminds us, “any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.)
We could go on and on about whether or not AI will one day mean the end of essays, the end of art, and the end of the world. For today’s applicant, however, the uncertain future of the personal statement is ultimately irrelevant. For now, at least, the medical school and residency application personal statement is still alive, and you have to write one, and so, you ask yourself, “should I use an AI bot, like ChatGPT, to do it?”
The short answer to that question is “no.” (On some level, I think, students intuitively sense this. After all, you were at least uncertain enough about it to Google your way to this blog post on the subject…) To understand why the answer is no, however, you need to understand why it is that you’re writing a personal statement in the first place.
Generally speaking, we write a personal statement for three reasons: (1) it offers an opportunity to explain peculiarities–like leaves of absence–which are not addressed elsewhere within our applications; (2) it provides us with a space to go beyond the tangibles and show programs who we really are as people; and, (3) it provides our interviewers with a framework for asking us questions during our interviews. So, the question becomes, how well can AI really help you with these things?
Obviously, on the first point, AI is useless. It knows neither you nor your application, and so it cannot discuss the peculiarities of either one.
But what about points two and three? Can AI show an admissions officer who you are? Can it lay the groundwork for a meaningful in-depth conversation about who you are at your core? And if so, can it do that better than you can yourself?
These questions answer themselves: of course it cannot. AI does not know you, so it cannot communicate anything personal about you, and anything it communicates about you cannot be personal. This is so glaringly obvious, in fact, that it isn’t even new: artists have been writing for ages about the problems with outsourcing your personal communications.
(There is, of course, a fourth reason you shouldn’t use an AI to write your personal statement: it is dishonest, and, therefore, morally wrong. After all, you wouldn’t have an AI take your tests for you, would you?)
Perhaps, someday in the future, bots will be able to use digital footprints and social media posts to create unique personal statements that really do speak to who you are as a person. (Whether or not we should look forward to that day is another question.) But for now, they cannot. Instead, they can only produce for you the same exact personal statement that they would produce for anyone else.
So, ask yourself this: is there really anything personal about that?
For help with your residency/medical school application, essay editing, and medical exam tutoring, Elite Medical Prep is here to help! Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more today!