Personal Statement Exploration
So, you’ve established in the first paragraph of your personal statement your motivation to study medicine. But what have you done about it? The University of Oxford says: ‘You won’t prove that you have the motivation for medicine by simply saying that you do.’
You also need to 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. We call this Personal Statement Exploration.
Personal Statement Exploration: How Do I Use Work Experience On My Personal Statement?
To learn more about work experience in general, please visit the relevant part of the Application Guide. We are now going to outline how to ensure that this experience is used effectively on your personal statement.
Work experience, volunteering or community work is a key differentiator when applying to study Medicine and is classified as key criteria by most Medical Schools.
On your personal statement, it should therefore ideally follow directly on from your motivation, although a key moment from work experience might even be worked into the motivation itself.
Make a clear delineation between your experiences in hospitals, GPs, care homes etc. and ensure that you are clear about what you did, where.
But don’t go into ‘list mode’. While you should start with the high level details, you need to range all the way down specific cases: what happened, how and — crucially — what did you learn?
This last point comes from reflection. You should keep a journal of your work experiences and subsequent reflections.
We provide a free tool specifically designed for this purpose in your personal portfolio.
Personal Statement Exploration: What Things From My Work Experience Should I Use?
Good things to look out for are on work experience and bring to your personal statement are examples of:
- Teamwork — e.g. multi-disciplinary teams in a hospital
- Communication — e.g. reassurance in a GP
- Empathy — e.g. listening and understanding in a care home
- The realities of being a doctor — e.g. breaking bad news
Remember: whatever examples you cite, you must be prepared to talk about these, and more, at interview.
Personal Statement Exploration: How Should I Refer To Wider Reading?
When writing about things you’ve read, be they research papers, articles or books, the same rule of reflection applies.
Mentioning wider reading on your personal statement is an invitation to discuss further at interview. So make sure that anything you say you’ve read, you really have read and know back to front.
Mentioning a book and not knowing what it’s about is a surprisingly common and quite devastating error! Likewise, if you mention a magazine that you read, make sure that when it comes to interview you can cite recent articles.
Good sources of medical information include: The Student BMJ, New Scientist and BBC Health.