The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is something most of you will have done at various different levels and you’ll probably want to leverage it to help boost your chances of getting into Medical School. However, there’s no advantage to mentioning the DofE if you just briefly state in your Personal Statement “I have got my Bronze DofE award” because almost every applicant would have done the same.
If you mention the DofE you want to talk about specific things, show what you’ve learnt from it, and of course, link it to Medicine.
The expedition is what many people think of when mentioning their DofE experience, and it’s a great example because it teaches you things like leadership and teamwork. When including this in your Personal Statement you should think about the positives and negatives surrounding the team dynamics of your group. Did you run into any problems or challenges during the expedition and how did you resolve them? What was your role within the team? Were you able to look out for your fellow team members?
You would have also had an opportunity to lead the group for part of the walk, so make sure to reflect on your own performance as leader and how you feel your strategy could have been improved. What were your responsibilities as the leader? Why was that important for the particular task you were doing? It’s all about self-evaluation and showing an appreciation for the importance of these qualities.
Any form of volunteering is great for Medicine. For my DofE I spent time volunteering at a hospice – and obviously this has a clear link to Medicine, but the place of volunteering doesn’t necessarily have to be medically related for you to be able to mention it.
One of the main things that volunteering is really good for is showing your commitment, especially if you carried on for a long period of time. I know a lot of people continue the volunteering role that they started as part of the DofE, so if you’ve been doing something for six months to a year, or even longer, definitely write about it and make sure to mention the timescale.
The skill you chose to learn can be quite often linked to Medicine, so this is your opportunity to show how that would make you a better Doctor in the future. Perhaps you chose to learn sign language, for example? I decided to spend time learning a new language, which of course would be helpful.
Teaching children is another skill you might have decided to learn and that would be worth writing about. Being able to teach others is useful in the medical field; at almost every stage of your career you’ll be expected to some form of teaching with your juniors. Even if you can’t see the relevance of your skill to Medicine, being able to show your discipline and motivation and explain what the skill had also taught you is a good way to stand out.
If you choose to mention this in your Personal Statement, you should focus on your reflections of the experience. Think about the physical activity you chose to do and ask yourself: did it help you to relax? Did it help you to maintain a good work-life balance?
The physical section is important due to the fact that that you’re maintaining your own health and wellbeing, which is something that is drummed into you when you start Medical School. Being able to write about not just a healthy habit but also what you’ve learned from this experience will help Admissions Tutors understand you as a fully rounded person – and it may be a nice talking point when you’re mentioning how you’d fit in well during your Med School interview.
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