Understanding how to structure your Personal Statement for Medicine will firstly help you to plan your writing. Note down the three key categories of Motivation, Exploration and Suitability – then write bullet points with everything you want to include for each one.
Once you have a plan, you’re ready to start writing your first draft. You can start with the introduction – but if you’re finding this hard, there’s no problem with leaving it until the end.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, take a look at these successful Personal Statement examples from medical students.
Example: “I aspire to study Medicine because I enjoy science and my experiences of volunteering and observational placements cemented my decision. The opportunity to talk to patients and have an impact on them by giving my time was an incredibly important experience for me.”
You need to start your Personal Statement by explaining why you want to study Medicine. This example shows a multifaceted reason for wanting to study Medicine by linking science and interaction with people. It’s a good idea to give a layered reason for wanting to study Medicine, as it shows that you appreciate the variety of skills that are needed.
Example: “Speaking to a patient in Breast Surgery, I was impressed by how the Doctors involved the patient in the decision making process. They always considered her emotional needs as well as her physical illness, highlighting to me the need for Doctors to be empathetic.”
This is a good example of writing about work experience, because it covers an activity that the student carried out as well as what they learned from it. It includes a key learning point around empathy – one of the skills needed to be a good Doctor. It also demonstrates active learning rather than passive shadowing, which is important as you want your Personal Statement to have an active tone to show that you were participating in activities.
Example: “Tutoring GCSE students in Maths has helped me to develop my communication skills by explaining complex topics in a simple manner. I know this is useful in Medicine as Doctors need to communicate with patients and also participate in peer teaching.”
Medicine is not just about academic skills, so it’s important to show that you appreciate the importance of other skills such as communication and teamwork. In this example, the student doesn’t just say that they have good communication skills – they explain why, state how they developed these skills and back it all up with evidence.
Example: “I developed good time management skills while balancing being a school prefect, head of the Junior Medics Society and a mentor for Maths and Chemistry.”
This example shows that the student has one of the key skills needed to study Medicine and be a good Doctor, which in this case is good time management. Instead of just listing the various extracurricular activities they participated in at school, hoping to impress the Admissions Tutors with everything they’ve done, they have stated an important skill for Medicine that they possess and used their extracurricular activities as evidence for it.
Example: “To further understand the challenges faced by cancer researchers, I completed an online course which introduced me to the principles of chemotherapy. I realised the difficulty was finding ways to target tumours while sparing body cells, reflecting how neoplasms are derived from our own cells and have mechanisms to evade our immune system.”
It’s a good idea to show that you have an interest in Medicine beyond your A-Level science curriculum. In this example, the student has stated an area of Medicine they are particularly interested in and what they did to explore it further. They have also mentioned what they learned from doing their course, which shows that they engaged with the teaching and this is a useful skill for studying Medicine.
Example: “I want to study Medicine because I have always had an aptitude for science and excelled in school. Several of my family members are Doctors, so I gained an understanding of the career at a young age.”
This is not a compelling enough reason for why the student wants to study Medicine. A strong academic background is naturally important for your application, but this isn’t all it takes to be a good Doctor. You need to have a passion for helping and caring for people, and your Personal Statement should demonstrate this with evidence. Also, it isn’t wise to say that you’ve always wanted to be a Doctor because it runs in your family, as this makes your decision feel less independent.
Example: “I carried out work experience on a cardiology ward where I saw Doctors doing stent insertion and coronary bypasses on patients. I also observed the Doctors and nurses doing multidisciplinary meetings to decide how to treat the patients.”
This is a bad example when it comes to writing about work experience because it lacks reflections. The placement may have been a valuable experience, but the student has simply listed what they saw rather than talking about what they learned. If you watched procedures and observed multidisciplinary meetings during your placement, what did it teach you about the role of a Doctor and the skills that are essential on a daily basis?
Example: “While carrying out work experience in a surgery ward, I saw the importance of teamwork when carrying out an appendectomy. I believe I am a good team player too.”
The student started off well by talking about the qualities of a good Doctor, but they followed it up by simply claiming they are a good team player without offering the Admissions Tutor any evidence for this. As a general rule, don’t put claims in your Personal Statement that are unsubstantiated. If you want to say that you’re a good team player, what proof can you provide?
Example: “Outside of school I enjoy playing hockey, tennis and football. I have been doing competitive dance for the last six years and I won the regional championships last year.”
It’s brilliant that the student has been involved in so many activities outside of school – however, they have forgotten to link these skills to Medicine. To improve this, they need to mention the skills they have learned from doing these activities, such as teamwork and time management. Remember that the purpose of your Personal Statement is to showcase your suitability to study Medicine, so you need to link everything back to this and prove why you are a strong candidate.
Example: “I have achieved gold medals in the senior level Maths and Chemistry national olympiads. This shows that I have excelled academically, and as such I believe that studying Medicine will come naturally to me.”
It’s good that the student has performed well in academic competitions, but their reflection on it comes across as boastful and implies that they think Medicine is all about academic ability. Medicine is a difficult course, leading to a challenging career – so by claiming that Medicine will come naturally to them, the student is showing that they haven’t really done their research and are perhaps applying with unrealistic expectations of the course/career. After mentioning the olympiads, they could have avoided the next sentence and instead talked about how the olympiads helped them to develop their problem solving skills, which will be useful when they study Medicine.
When you’ve spent hours writing your Personal Statement for Medicine, you might struggle to view it objectively, like an Admissions Tutor will. Here are some ways for you to check your Personal Statement thoroughly:
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