How Do I Structure My Personal Statement for Medicine?
There are three key elements of your Medicine personal statement that need to be covered: motivation, exploration, and suitability. This guide will show you how to structure your personal statement for Medicine and outline how to excel with each point.
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Personal Statement: Motivation
The first part of your personal statement should cover your motivation to study Medicine. It’s your chance to explain your motivation to study Medicine – and it needs to be clear, powerful and convincing. Think of this as your ‘I want to be a doctor’ paragraph.
Tips For Showing Your Motivation
There are usually two ways that people show motivation when writing their personal statement for Medicine:
- I love studying science and people, so I want to be a doctor
- I had a medical experience that lead to an epiphany, and now I want to be a doctor
Both of these are acceptable motivations – but you need to find a way to be unique.
Think about the following prompts:
- Why do I love science and what’s a personal example of this?
- What is it about caring for people that inspires me and what experience sparked this?
- How do the two things above fuse together in the career of a doctor?
If you had an experience that made you want to be a doctor, you can certainly use that. However, don’t feel that you will be disadvantaged if this is not the case. You don’t need to manufacture a medical epiphany if there wasn’t one.
If you truly were inspired by one moment, try these prompts:
- What was the experience exactly and what did you learn about Medicine?
- Why did this make you want to be a doctor?
- What did you do to solidify this emotional response in an analytical way?
Personal Statement: Exploration
Personal Statement exploration is when you show that you have explored the medical pathway, know what to expect from it and are ready for the challenge. The best way to do this is through work experience, volunteering and wider reading and study.
Tips For Explaining Your Exploration
The best ways to show exploration when writing your personal statement for medical school is to focus on work experience, volunteering, community work, and wider reading. Don’t just write a list – you need to reflect on how this has impacted you, too.
You should be clear about what you did – and where you gained your experience. It can be good to write in detail about something specific: what happened, how and — crucially — what did you learn?
And when it comes to wider reading, you should only mention texts that you’re familiar with and capable of discussing at interviews.
What Should I Mention from Work Experience?
- Teamwork. Did you work in multi-disciplinary teams in a hospital, and what did that teach you
- Communication. Did you witness a GP reassuring a patient, and what did you learn from that?
- Empathy. Were you able to listen and understand in a care home, and how did it make you feel?
- Reality. Did you experience the realities of being a doctor, such as breaking bad news, and how did this affect you?
Whatever work experience examples you cite, you must be prepared to talk about these, and more, at interviews.
Personal Statement: Suitability
Another key skill when writing your personal statement for Medicine is highlighting that you talk about your suitability for this pathway. You should show that you understand what qualities are desirable in a doctor – and how you also share these traits.
Tips For Demonstrating Your Suitability
The best way to demonstrate suitability in your personal statement is to avoid just name-checking the qualities a doctor needs. Good writers often abide by the expression: ‘show rather than tell.’
Saying ‘I am a very empathetic person’ is easy to do. And anyone can write that on a piece of paper. It’s better if you can show.
For example, you could write: “I worked for one year at my local care home. During this time, I formed a close relationship with an elderly lady with little in the way of friends and family. After some initial timidity, she spoke to me about the loss of her husband and how difficult it had been for her. Just by listening and understanding her point of view, I was able to form a close relationship. This helped me appreciate the value of empathy in a medical setting.”
There is nothing wrong with using ‘buzzwords’, as long as they are backed up. You need to demonstrate that you understand them – and that you have shown them in practice.
Remember, also, that suitability for Medicine requires knowing what Medicine is all about. You can establish this by speaking to medical students and doctors, reading widely and carrying out work experience.
How Should I Use Extracurricular Activities In My Personal Statement?
Extracurricular activities look great on your personal statement. A lot of universities, like Imperial, place a heavy emphasis on extracurricular activity in its own right. It shows you are a rounded candidate.
But you should also see it as a way of stressing why you are suitable for Medicine – and find ways to relate this to suitability.
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