Home » Why Using AI to Write Your Medical School Admissions or Residency Application Personal Statement May Not Be Such a Bad Idea

Why Using AI to Write Your Medical School Admissions or Residency Application Personal Statement May Not Be Such a Bad Idea

Frustrated man writing a personal statement next to a calm AI bot.


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.


Being a good writer is a difficult skill to acquire and develop.  And, being a great writer, like dunking a basketball, may be beyond the achievable level of most of us. With that in mind the question arises as to whether it is acceptable and ethical for an essay writer–in particular someone writing a personal statement for their medical school applications or for their residency applications–to use a supplemental tool, such as an AI bot, that can instantly allow them to markedly improve their writing to the level that it is professional, and even elegant and stylish.  


The recent release of the ChatGPT from the company Open AI has brought this question from the theoretical future into the present. Articles in major news outlets including The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times have all written major pieces about the tremendous power of the ChatGPT tool to draft compositions in a myriad of styles and lengths, and in an incredibly high-quality level, all within seconds.  The implications of this tool on the education of pre-college and college students to develop their writing skills have been discussed, with authors of these articles stating emphatically that teaching writing and assessing the writing skills of particular students will change dramatically.  


While AI-based writing tools such as ChatGPT are clearly going to be very attractive to pre-college students who want help with their personal statement writing, I believe that this tool will be equally attractive to students applying to medical school and those in medical school applying to residency. Personal statement essays, and supplemental essays, are a key part of the application package for pre-med students and residency applicants.  The problem for many applicants is that they may have under-developed or naturally weak writing skills while simultaneously needing to write multiple high-quality essays. This is compounded by the time pressure of application prep and test deadlines (MCAT, USMLE, COMLEX) that exacerbate the issues around writing.  


Many students that we have worked with at Elite Medical Prep express anxiety about writing and often procrastinate. In particular, they struggle with finding a way to adequately express their personal stories and motivations for wanting to become a doctor and then which field they want to pursue in medicine.  The difficulty in ‘finding my voice’ in writing is a struggle I can relate to.  I remember writing and re-writing my essays, trying to find interesting and clear ways to express myself that would avoid boring or turning off the reader. Hardest of all was just getting started and getting the first draft in place. I never excelled in writing–in high school, college or even during my PhD–despite being a high-performing student. Being a great writer seemed unattainable, just as my lack of sufficient height, hand size, and athletic ability–and in particular jumping ability–prevented me from ever getting close to dunking a basketball. Playing basketball or any other sport well (at least recreationally) just like writing competently is generally obtainable with sufficient effort and practice. However, doing exceptionally athletic things like dunking a basketball, seem equivalent to writing excellently. These ideals are often unattainable for many.  


The arrival of the ChatGPT and similar AI-driven writing programs busts open a door for those looking to present themselves in a well-written medical school or residency application personal statement. The current incarnations of these programs allow the user to generate a high-quality draft in seconds using only a few prompts. While the text that is produced by AI may lack the personalization and human touch seen in a traditionally written personal statement, it provides a kind of floor of quality in the essay composition, structure, clarity, and grammar. It is akin to having the basketball rim dropped from 10 feet to 8 feet. At that height, the ability to dunk a basketball jumps dramatically, and even the vertically or athletically challenged can achieve this feat.  AI writing programs–at least the present versions such as ChatGPT–seem to open that possibility to writers of all abilities. In medical school and in the medical profession, writing clearly is a key element of doing the job. Most writing used in medicine are clinical notes describing the presentation, assessment and plan, and where clearly worded and very succinct notes are prized above elegance and style. However, the application personal statement writing associated with medical school and residency applications benefit from more than just clarity and conciseness. In the sea of applicants, the essay needs to have style and elegance that allows it to stand out–to be a slam dunk.  Thus, the AI writing software may not be able to generate outstanding essays for medical school applicants or residency applicants. But, it may lower the height of the proverbial basketball rim in essay writing and let the applicant start from an easier position. A strong first or second draft of an essay generated with help from AI can let that applicant strive towards an excellent essay.


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About the Author

Marcel Brus-Ramer, MD, PhD

Completing his BA in economics at Rutgers University in 2000, Marcel Brus-Ramer went on to complete his Diplome de Recherche at Paris Diderot University in…

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