Sample Personal Statement for Master in Public Health
Picking shells on a local beach as a ten-year-old girl one beautiful summer afternoon, I saw a crowd of people gathering some distance away. When I managed to squeeze inside the crowd, I saw two drowned boys lying on the beach. They had just been salvaged from the sea. Doctors in a nearby seaside clinic were immediately sent for but on that particular day only one was on duty. She applied first-aid measures to one of the boys and asked a young man, an on-looker in the crowd, to follow what she was doing to save the other boy. Whereas the professionally-trained doctor save her patient with her expertise, the inexperienced young man did not really know how to proceed. By the time the doctor took over, the other boy was already dead.
That was my first experience of witnessing how proper medical treatment could miraculously save a person’s life out of impending danger and this experience was defining. I was determined to become an “angel in white” who could be equipped to contribute to the physical welfare of the people. This determination prompted me, by the time I completed my junior middle school, to seize the first opportunity to realize my aspiration—an education in nursing specialty at a local polytechnic school.
When I completed my studies three years later, I was employed by XX Hospital, XX Province, and I worked as a clinical nurse for three years. At that time, a secondary education in nursing at a polytechnic school was the highest academic education one could obtain in China. Yet I was convinced that, with the social and economic development of China, nurses were bound to receive higher levels of academic training. Therefore I made persistent efforts to improve my English proficiency and taught myself all the advanced courses in senior middle school. Being fully prepared, I succeeded in entering the Junior College of XX Medical University when it administered the province’s and also the country’s unprecedented entrance examination in 1988.
For three years I underwent more rigorous and systematic training in nursing and I was the sole “Outstanding Graduate of XX Province” in my class. Upon graduation, I returned to my former hospital and as its first nurse with a junior college degree I worked as nursing instructor, responsible for training all the nurses of the hospital. Meanwhile I continued to accumulate clinical nursing experience and further improve my English proficiency (in 1993 I scored 610 in my TOEFL test, which was a rare achievement among Chinese nurses at that time).
My seven-year professional experience as a nurse and my sound command of English theretofore ushered in the golden period of my career. In 1994, I wrote a job-application letter to the American president of the newly-established XXX Hospital, which is jointed administrated by XX Medical University and the Medical Center of XX University. My impressive qualifications resulted in my exceptional recruitment by the hospital and ever since then I have been working in a predominantly American hospital culture and in a English-speaking environment under the leadership of the American vice president in charge of nursing. For nearly a decade by now, I have undergone several major transformations in my career, from a clinical nurse to an administrator—first as Nurse Manager, then as Medical-Surgical Nursing Director, and finally as Director of XXOffice.
As Nurse Manager from 1994 to 1997, I introduced into my management the American Performance Evaluation System of Nurse Positions, which significantly standardized nurse conduct and improved nurse performance. Demonstrating distinguished professional performance and potential, I was promoted to work as Medical-Surgical Nursing Director from 1997 to 2002, supervising the nurses and their managers on a dozen of floors. I also directed various departments in their ward management, documentation of medical records, disinfection and quarantine, nursing and continued education. I continued to introduce advanced American nursing concepts and procedures and offer regular vocational training to nurses as the hospital leading nursing specialist. I emphasized on the total nursing concept and on the quality improvement of patient-oriented nursing services
My greatest challenge and achievement at this hospital so far is working as Director of XX Office. In November 2002, the top management decided that our hospital was to participate in the XX certification project administered by the United States’ XX, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The project is extremely challenging because XX certification is totally unprecedented in China(so far only two Asian hospitals have passed this certification), all the certification materials are in English and extensive contacts must be made with many experts based in the United States. The project encompasses all the fields of hospital management ranging from medical therapy, medical technology, nursing, administration and even logistics. I was appointed as Director of XX Office for my professional knowledge as well as leadership caliber.
Under my leadership, the XX Office translated two thick volumes on XX Standards and Certification Inspection Process, modified the existing system and work flow in accordance with the system and work flow of the Medical Center of XX University, formulated both the short-term and the long-term work objectives, and established a highly efficient organizational framework. I organized the overall professional training and proposed and implemented the sustained quality improvement. My diligent execution of my responsibilities have paved the way for the hospital’s final passing of the certification early next year.
Over the past decade, I have developed a full international perspective. In 1994, I paid a week-long visit to the XX Hospital in XX. From April to July 1996 I studied nursing management at the Medical Center of XX University and again in 2003 I studied hospital quality management there. In addition, I attended the International Summer Practicum on Quality Improvement and Accreditation at XX’s headquarters in XX and the 2003 Healthcare Quality Overview and Certification Workshop sponsored by XX for Healthcare Quality. Domestically, I have participated in nearly ten workshops, seminars and programs in XX, XXand elsewhere.
In terms of research, I have published about 10 research papers in leading technical journals of the country and co-edited a book XX. Since 1999, I have been serving as member of the Surgical Academic Committee of XX Provincial Nursing Society and as such launched two national surgical general nursing workshops. Among countless honors and awards, I have won the Award for Innovation in Medical Science and Technology of XXProvince for my contributions to the project XX. Another project I have participated in XX is applying for sponsorship from the Provincial Education Commission as a major research project. What’s more, I completed my on-job undergraduate program (1998-2001) in the specialty of Executive Administration, obtaining a B.A. degree in jurisprudence.
In China it used to be supposed that the construction of a well-developed public health system is not so important and that only economic development is paramount. The SARS epidemic last year has exposed the fragile condition of China’s public health system. My involvement in XX certification made me realize earlier than others that China sorely needs to make drastic efforts to perfect its public health system. An examination of my own academic background in nursing, my academic and professional background in administration, my exposure to American medical system and practices, makes it apparent to me that a Master’s program in Public Health is most appropriate for me in further facilitating my career development. For this reason, I would like to apply for a MPH program from XX School of Public Health, concentrating on Health Policy and Management.
I am interested in studying at XX School of Public Health because I believe it can give me an unparalleled education on public health on the policy and management level. Founded in 1922, your school has long enjoyed a prestigious academic position and has been doing pioneering work in improving the health service system and reducing health risks in the United States and throughout the world. I hope to be exposed to innovative research and high-level academic training to acquire effective management skills and scientific decision-making techniques.
A systematic education at Harvard will be vital for my future career as a senior public health administrator in that it will allow me to incorporate American administrative patterns of public health with China’s realities. I will be able to perform some creative work in reforming China’s existing public health system and make it serve a greater multitude of people. In this regard, I deem my proposed study as a very meaningful part of my career pursuit.
Why a Statement of Purpose and Objectives is Important
Statement of Purpose and Objectives are used as part of the application process for many Ph.D. programs, medical schools, fellowship programs, and even, in some cases, hiring new employees. They help assess an individual’s commitment to their chosen area of study or work. In addition to strong writing skills, the admissions committee is also looking for something that standardized tests and GPAs cannot quantify — the writer’s personal story or sense of purpose as it relates to the program or position he or she is seeking (hence the name “Statement of Purpose and Objectives”). While the weight of the statement in terms of the overall application may vary from place to place, it is undoubtedly a key factor in the decision-making process.
The more you can engage your reader with a personal story of why your chosen field is important to you, as well as your long-range career goals and purpose for pursuing further study or work in that field, the more compelling your statement will be. In writing your essay it is important to keep two goals in mind: 1) To persuade the admissions or hiring committee that they want to admit you to their program or to hire you; and 2) That you are far more than a GPA or test score. You are a real person who would be an asset to the school or to the organization.
The Three-Step Process to Writing a Statement of Purpose and Objectives:
- In this step you engage in self-reflection, research and the development of ideas for your Statement of Purpose and Objectives. Allow yourself plenty of time to perform this step, and consider the following questions:
- What events, personal experiences, or difficult situations shaped my character?
- What experiences were most influential in choosing my career path?
- What skills, knowledge, and experiences distinguish me from other candidates?
- What do I find meaningful or purposeful (passion)?
- What are my goals or hopes for my future career?
- What are my hobbies?
2. Selecting Your Statement Topic
As you begin Step Two, ask yourself: “What impression do I hope to create through my statement?” Select a topic that will allow you to synthesize the information from Step One into a well written document that will leave a positive and memorable impression. Consider some of the following tips as you make your selection:
- Avoid using gimmicks, but select a topic that grabs the readers’ attention in the first paragraph
- Provide vivid supporting experiences to your topic
- Avoid repeating information that can be found elsewhere in your application (such as GPA)
- Seek feedback from your professors, advisors, and career counselor about the topic
3. Tips for Writing Your Statement of Purpose and Objectives
- As you write your statement, keep in mind that your goal is to convince admissions or the hiring committee that you are the candidate they want.
- Start by creating an outline and journaling your first draft of your statement
- Be original – make it interesting
- Be yourself – your readers want to learn about who you are as a person
Tips for Writing Your Statement of Purpose and Objectives
- Less is more – don’t try to impress the readers with your vocabulary and “big words”
- Use imagery and clear, vivid prose – describe your life experiences using graphic images
- Determine if there is a theme to your statement – a common thread.
- Spend the most time on your introduction—it is essential that you grab the reader’s attention immediately. Often experts recommend that you rewrite your introduction after you have the body of the essay written.
- Don’t summarize in your introduction—the reader may not continue reading
- Create curiosity or intrigue in the reader’s mind by raising questions
- If there is a theme to your statement, introduce your theme at the beginning
- Relate all paragraphs in the body of essay to the introduction; or to your theme
- Make smooth transitions to preserve the flow of your essay
- Conclusions are crucial; this is your last chance to convince the reader of your qualifications. Do not use phrases such as “in conclusion” “in summary.” Consider the following suggestions:
- Link your conclusion to you introduction to create a sense of balance by restating the introduction’s phrases
- Focus on your career goals – where do you see yourself in 5/10 years
- Discuss the broader implications of your discussion
- Redefine a term previously used in the body of your essay
- End with a famous quote that is relevant to your argument (caution: quotes are overused, so be certain it really fits)
- It may be appropriate to leave the reader with unanswered questions or ambiguity rather than to try to answer large philosophical questions
- Take a break from a draft of your statement – then come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes
- Ask someone else to read a draft of your statement and request feedback. In addition to reading for content and flow, others may spot grammatical errors or typos that you overlooked.
- Research the organization or institution where you are applying. Learn as much as you can about it and integrate that information into your essay as appropriate
- Read examples of Statement of Purpose and Objectives (online and in books); contact Career & Professional Development Services
- Talk to other professionals in your field, alumni, friends and family who know you well, to generate thoughts and ideas for the topic matter
- Remember – if there are specific questions asked on the application or by the admissions or hiring committee.