The application system has several unique essay components, including the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay. While most students understand the meaning behind , many of them find writing the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay more challenging. We are here to show you how to write an outstanding TMDSAS personal characteristics essay and provide examples that inspire you to write your own!
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Because I grew up in Nigeria, a third-world country, I have firsthand knowledge of what the term “barrier to access” refers to. When I was living in Nigeria, I witnessed a lot of suffering as a result of the inadequate allocation of financial resources to health care. So, I can relate to the experience of underserved and disadvantaged populations in the United States. When I visited Australia as a hospital volunteer, I met several members of the Indigenous community who explained how their unique predicaments were often left ignored or insufficiently treated. Some of the underserved populations I served were in Corpus Christi, Laredo, and San Antonio. We provided free health screenings, physical assessments, sports physicals, and influenza vaccines to these disadvantaged populations.
My Nigerian background and nursing career have made me a culturally competent and compassionate caregiver. Being raised in a culture with different values and customs, I’m uniquely sensitive to the beliefs and practices of diverse groups. As a health care worker in the United States, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. This has made me more respectful of the beliefs, values, languages, and traditions of people that are different from mine. I can have a positive influence on my classmates by teaching them to respectfully interact with people who come from all different walks of life.
It was difficult for me to understand Americans and their system during my first few years in the country. Many Americans also had difficulty understanding me because we spoke with different accents. It sometimes frustrated people I was interacting with when I had to ask them to repeat what they said. Over the years, I’ve improved my comprehension skills by conditioning myself to listen carefully and repeat what people say to ensure that I understood what they are trying to convey. I will teach my classmates to listen carefully and patiently to people who speak differently from them and try to repeat what they say to ensure they have an understanding of what is said. This, I believe, will help ease the tension in situations where communication can be challenging.
I hope to share my experiences working with underserved populations with my classmates in medical school. I believe it’s imperative to broaden knowledge about the challenges certain populations face and to increase awareness of the health care disparities that occur even in developed countries. (2,494) characters)
Writing a TMDSAS Personal Characteristics Essay? Watch this video for a quick guide:
The following , both , as well as Dental schools and Vet schools, participate in the TMDSAS application service and therefore require the submission of a personal characteristics essay. Take note of the to help you decide which schools are ideal for you to apply to.
TMDSAS MD Schools
TMDSAS DO Schools
The below contain schools that also participate in the TMDSAS service. However, keep in mind that many other osteopathic schools use the traditional , the AACOMAS, so be sure to verify which system you need to use beforehand.
TMDSAS Veterinary Schools
TMDSAS Dental Schools
- Texas Tech University Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine
- The University of Texas Health San Antonio School of Dentistry
- The University of Texas Health School of Dentistry at Houston
Applying through TMDSAS? Watch this video to learn more!
Now that you know which schools require the submission of the personal characteristics essay, let’s discuss how you can make this . In 2500 characters or less, including spaces, students must respond to the following prompt:
Many students struggle to understand the meaning behind this prompt. If you find yourself thinking “what does that even mean?”, you're not alone. Decoding the prompt and figuring out how to answer it appropriately can be challenging. It is best to think of this essay as a . The admissions committee wants to know what form of diversity you can bring to your medical class that will benefit your peers. Diversity, in this sense, is a broad term referring to backgrounds, skills, insights, and experiences that you've had, that make you unique as a candidate and allow you to bring forth important and different knowledge, perspectives, and ideas.
Think about a medical school class, for example, made up of 100 students that are essentially identical. Let's say they are all from the same city, went to the same high school, same university, their parents had identical jobs, they had the same amount and type of siblings and are the same ethnicity. Would this medical school class be diverse and bring forth new thoughts, ideas, perspectives, and skills? Not overly, but to a small degree they would, because no matter how many items you can standardize, you still can't standardize every single aspect and the reality is, each of these individuals would still probably have something different to contribute.
Now think about a class that consists of 100 students from a variety of different backgrounds, ethnicities, childhoods, siblings, parents, teachers, cultures, experiences – the list is endless and amount of diversity would be bursting at the seams. So, this is what the characteristics essay is looking for: an extremely diverse class able to challenge one another, push each other, empathize, think differently, show compassion, change for the better. The more diverse a group of individuals, the richer and more creative the group becomes. In this essay, it's your responsibility to demonstrate how you are unique as a candidate and how you can enrich other students in your class based on your own personal experiences in life.
We see this time and time again, students who feel that they don't have anything to contribute to diversity. They may think that because they are not from a traditional “category of diversity” such as race, economic class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, culture, language, immigration and disability, that they have nothing worth discussing. This couldn't be further from the truth and has to do with a misunderstanding of the word “diversity”.
Diversity doesn't only apply to those who may fall into one of the traditional categories above and have an experience they want to share from it. Every single person has something to share and something that holds value. No person in the entire world has had your own unique experience, which is why no one in the world is exactly like you. Most people can appreciate this truth in their siblings, who even during their time growing up in the same household as you, under the same conditions or rules, are probably still different. That's because with each activity we do, or each interaction we have, we are changing, learning and gaining knowledge. It's impossible for someone to experience your identical life, even identical twins are not identical people, regardless of whether or not they look the same.
The idea of the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay is for the admissions committee to learn about what makes you unique, and how you can, in turn, benefit the incoming class. So, let's go over three categories you can consider to help you determine how you can demonstrate diversity in your essay. As with all personal essays, you need to first brainstorm who you are as a person, so you can learn about who you are as a candidate. Go through this exercise below; ask yourself these questions and fill in the answers so you can determine what makes you original. Remember, everyone has a story.
What's your story? Here're some questions for you to consider when you prepare your TMDSAS personal characteristics essay:
As previously mentioned, every student has something to contribute, you don't have to have climbed Mount Everest or traveled overseas for your experience to be worthwhile. For example, one student who lives in a rural town can have just as many meaningful experiences as a student from an urban city. Experiences don't have to be exotic or require travel, you just have to connect back to how that experience influenced you in your journey to become a physician.
Waiting for the city bus as I exited the empty high school library, I got a call from my stepfather. Before I could even say hello, he told me he was on his way to pick me up – my mother was in labor. In the delivery room, I watched the obstetrician perform precise horizontal incisions on my mother’s anaesthetized abdomen. I was amazed, horrified, and bewitched all at once. I had all sorts of questions for the doctor. My curiosity was sufficiently piqued.
That was my first “real” experience with medicine. The doctor who delivered my baby brother mentioned that the hospital had applications for a research and development project for high school students. I got the call a week later and started working immediately. During that time, I met other like-minded students who like me, were interested in learning basic biological techniques. Surprisingly, what was most rewarding about that experience wasn’t the end result of the study – it was meeting the people I was working with. The swift, crisp communication needed to perform was a lesson in patience and understanding. I found myself taking the lead in some situations, organizing tasks and making sure everyone had what they needed. What I learned was that what’s most important is that everyone can be a leader in their own right – and I think this is a lesson I can embody and use to empower my classmates in medical school.
Shortly after this experience, I met Dr. Sam Beemer. I witnessed her perform an appendectomy. The precise incision made in the lower right part of the patient’s abdomen was impressive. I observed the fastidious effort of the surgeon with the help of others, who each understand their role perfectly. I switched back and forth from watching the camera at the end of the laparoscope and the surgeons who were using the camera to guide their steady hands. This experience reinforced the lesson I learned as a researcher in understanding each other’s roles and giving them the tools to do their best work. This unspoken bond and respect should underlie all collaboration. Channeling this belief, I think I can teach my classmates that trust is as important understanding your role in a team.
These up-close experiences have shown me an appreciation for the medical profession that couldn’t possibly be captured in a textbook. I’d like to continue explore interesting research questions while developing the conscientiousness and courage I’ll need to become a skilled surgeon like the ones I met along my journey. (2,495 characters)
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When I moved three hours away from home to go to the university of my dreams, I knew it would a challenge, but I would never have expected it to be such a huge adjustment. I’m close to my family, but when it comes to my education, I wouldn’t compromise. When I got accepted, everything moved along so quickly. I applied for residency, picked my classes, and before I knew it, I was sitting on the bench in the rain watching my family wave goodbye as the bus exhaled and pulled out onto the busy street. I was quickly overwhelmed moving from a small town to a big city. Before the end of my first week at my new school, I booked an appointment with a counsellor at the wellness center. She prescribed me with some medication for my anxiety, which was sufficient to help me focus on my studies and enjoy the experience for what it was.
I was worried about taking medication for mental health reasons because of the stigma reinforced by misinformation. The psychiatrist I spoke with was warm, attentive, and compassionate; he explained in clear, comprehensible terms what I was going through and emphasized that we would work together to overcome my afflictions. I have two main takeaways from this experience: first, people shouldn’t be afraid to express their need for help in times of crisis, and second, that pharmaceutical treatment for mental health problems is often scorned because of false or exaggerated information.
When I was recovering from anxiety, I became an advocate for mental health awareness at a student club with over fifty members. We hosted educational events for people who wanted to learn more. We facilitated conversations, spread awareness, and connected people in need with campus resources. As an advocate, I learned that the more pernicious and undetectable barriers to psychiatric health care are often perpetuated by shame driven by collective implicit bias. When I reflect on this experience, I think of a friend I met named Gabrielle. Like me, she was struggling with depression and having a hard time with the transition to university life. We developed a friendship and spoke openly about our issues. It was cathartic, but it goes to show the transformative power that listening can have. In medical school, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey as an advocate and learning more about how to treat, counsel, and diagnose patients. I believe I can bring a sensitivity and empathy to this reality for my peers as we develop into medical professionals. (2,489 characters)
Refer to the following important dates for you to navigate the application in a timely fashion:
1. What is the TMDSAS personal characteristics essay?
The personal characteristics essay is one of the required components of your TMDSAS application. Simply put, you can regard this essay’s prompt as a diversity prompt. You must demonstrate what new perspectives, knowledge, or skills you can contribute to the incoming medical class. Note that the term diversity is meant very broadly here.
While you can write about traditional categories of diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status, you are also encouraged to get creative with what you include in your essay. Every single person on the planet has unique experiences and events that shaped who they are – dig deep and brainstorm distinctive narratives that you can include in your personal characteristics essay.
2. I do not have a history of diverse experiences or events. What should I write about?
As I already mentioned, you must get creative with your essay. Just because you have lived in the same town or city your entire life or never swam across Lake Ontario does not mean that you do not have a unique story to tell. There is no need to fabricate events or experiences, believe me. Ask yourself the following:
- Have you ever faced a challenge? How did it shape your character? What did you do to overcome it?
- Have you ever met a person whose worldview was completely different from yours? What did you learn? How did this impact you?
- What do you do in your free time? Do you have a passion outside of medicine? Do you play music, sports, or create art?
- Reflect on your family circumstances and how they shaped you and your desire to become a physician.
I can go on and on, but the point here is that your story is unique – share it with the admissions committee.
3. Why does TMDSAS require three essays? Isn't a personal statement enough?
While the personal statement asks why you are the right candidate for medical school, the personal characteristics essay asks you to demonstrate your unique experiences and skills that can broaden the perspectives of your future medical school peers, and the optional essay is your chance to discuss any experiences or events that are relevant to your application which you have not previously discussed. I know it may be frustrating to prepare so many primary essays for your application, but all your essays must be of the highest quality – do not think the personal characteristics essay is any less important than the personal essay.
Remember, the prompts are all different. To succeed, you must answer the prompt of the essay you are writing, whether it’s the personal statement, personal characteristics essay, optional essay, or the .
4. So how many experiences or events should I include in my essay?
I strongly advise you to stick to 1-3 experiences or events. Remember, you must show rather than tell your story. Include concrete examples, describe your feelings and mental state, explain how certain experiences or events shaped you. Do not simply say, for example, “I served in the military. It was challenging.” – give the reader a vivid image of you in the military and how it shaped your character. What can your peers in medical school learn from you and your experience? Sticking to 1-3 experiences will allow you to speak of them in detail.
5. How long is the personal characteristics essay?
TMDSAS limits your personal characteristics essay to 2500 characters including spaces.
6. Since it’s quite short, how should I structure this essay?
The composition of your personal characteristics essay will follow the academic essay structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. While this essay will be shorter than the personal statement, nevertheless, it must be well organized, clean, and easy to follow.
7. What happens if I make a mistake in my essay and I already submit it?
Unfortunately, you can’t change your essay after you submit it. The only items in your application that you can change after you submit your application include the following: contact information, colleges attended, college coursework, terms attended, planned enrollment, My Account, and Test Scores.
8. Is the TMDSAS personal characteristics the most important part of my application?
While this application component is absolutely essential, it is not the sole reason for your acceptance or . You will need to have other strong elements, including transcripts, evaluators, and standardized test scores.