How to Tell Your Story in Your Personal Statement as a Foreign-Trained Dentist

  • foreign-trained dentist writing personal statement


The application cycle for ADEA CAAPID 2019-2020 just opened! University of Minnesota has just been added to the CAAPID directory, giving international dentists an additional school to apply to.

Now that the new application cycle has finally opened, you need to check out the requirements of the schools you are interested in thoroughly. Although an early application is highly encouraged, it is also important to consolidate everything neatly and coherently. Remember, both presentation and timely submission matter!

At IDC, a lot of international dentists seek help due to the difficulty they have experienced in crafting their personal statements. Some of the candidates already have an idea of what it takes to craft a strong personal statement but there are some other applicants out there who have no idea where to begin. This article is for those of you who need valuable information about how to navigate through writing a well-crafted personal statement. I will also be sharing some tips from my experience about how this document can make an impact on the evaluators.


What is a personal statement?

Let us start with a little overview on what a personal statement is and its importance. A personal statement is the most important essay representing your candidacy.  A dental school personal statement is usually a one-page essay (not exceeding 5200 characters, including spaces, carriages, numbers, letters, etc.) It gives dental schools a clear picture of who you are. It also answers why you want to pursue a career in dentistry.

In this essay, you must show the admissions committee that you have thought more specifically about your goal of becoming a dentist; it also reemphasizes the sincerity of your motivation. Furthermore, it reassures the committee that you understand what becoming a doctor means, as well as understanding that it is more than being a hero or even getting the privilege to write D.D.S. after your name. Lastly, your personal statement is your chance to make a good first impression so that schools would want to interview you eventually.

What makes a good personal statement?

The one must for an impactful personal statement is a theme. The pattern that we usually see in the personal statements written by international dentists is that there is a layer of formality that interferes with the flow. This could be due the difference in writing style among different countries. Although it is understandable, it is important to remember that you should deliver something that will be interesting to the evaluators of the US dental schools. It should be easy for the evaluators to figure out a concrete theme for your personal statement among the pile of thousands!

How to write one?

When it comes to finally writing your essay, it is best to sit down in a quiet place with a clear and relaxed mind. Dive into your memory and jot down everything that is related to your profession personally. To make things easier, answer the following questions:

  • Why did you choose dentistry?
  • How was your experience at the dental school?
  • Any personal stories of patient contacts, leadership, achievements
  • ‘Show’ how you have contributed to the society
  • How has dentistry changed you for the better?
  • What are your short and long-term goals?
  • What motivates you to pursue education in the USA?

Sharing personal stories and having a natural ‘flow’ and ‘direction’ for your personal statement makes it more unique and unforgettable. It is a challenging task to explain a gap year or limited clinical experience but this task is still doable! In situations like this, make sure that you provide rational reasons and articulate such sensitive areas convincingly.

More tips for writing your personal statement!

Give yourself time to organize your thoughts, write well and edit as necessary. Make your writing crisp and concise. Proofread multiple times. Writing the draft of your personal statement first for your application would give you ample time to revise. This will allow you to come back to it multiple times with better ideas. Compare your personal statement to a standardized one provide by universities on their website. Highlight what grabbed your attention in it. The sooner you start, the better it is. This would give you more time to get it reviewed from your seniors or avail an editing service if required.

Writing and submitting it is not enough. You should put effort into making it stand out! This would encourage the admissions committee to invite you for an interview.

Your personal statement is not just an essay.You can use your it as an opportunity to show the strengths that you cannot show in your academic background.  Through it, you can also demonstrate your enthusiasm, potential and suitability.


So, what area is the most difficult for you when writing your personal statement? Share them with us at the comment section below!


  1. Anna April 10, 2019 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    How would a concise yet informative essay come across to the admissions team? There is no theme in my essay, but I simply state why I chose dentistry and the experiences I’ve had in school in my home country, as well as working as a Dental Assistant in the U.S. I was told by an advisor that in this regard, my profile would stand out since many applicants try to be overly creative instead of getting to the point. Any thoughts on that?

    • Christ Barcenas April 10, 2019 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Ana, that is a very big but good question. It would be hard to give you an answer over the comment as this is a bit complex. With that being said, I’d suggest signing up for an application review session with Kevin to discuss this.


  2. Devyani March 15, 2019 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    I have some confusion regarding how to begin my story.

    • Christ Barcenas March 17, 2019 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Devyani,

      Starting is always one of the hardest parts in crafting your personal statement but you can start with brainstorming first before actually writing. Do not stress to much on writing a killer introduction but rather focus on the reasons why you chose to pursue this career.

      Hope this helps!

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