Don’t just provide a list of tasks you completed while volunteering – you really need to reflect on what you learned from the experience. This is what admissions tutors want you to write about in your Personal Statement, and also what interviewers want you to discuss at your Medical School interviews.
Did you gain any new skills from volunteering? Skills that are relevant to working in Medicine, such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving, are particularly good to mention. Did volunteering teach you anything about the realities of working in a medical or healthcare-related environment?
When writing your Personal Statement, you need to think about Motivation, Exploration and Suitability – essentially covering why you want to pursue Medicine, what you have done to explore Medicine as a career, and why you are suited to becoming a Doctor.
Volunteering (and work experience) can be relevant in all three of these areas. For example, you might have:
Obviously, your Personal Statement shouldn’t just be about volunteering – but remember that you may be able to include it in more ways than you thought!
Even if you didn’t volunteer in a medical or healthcare-related environment, you can still link your volunteering experience to Medicine.
People skills are just as important as academic skills when it comes to working as a Doctor, and many voluntary roles involve interacting with the public. It’s also likely that you worked with other volunteers, which must have involved teamwork – and balancing the time commitment of volunteer work with staying on top of your studies must have required good time management.
These are all relevant skills to working in Medicine, so you can discuss them in your Personal Statement and provide examples from your volunteering as evidence.
Volunteering can be tough at times and Doctors need to be resilient, so you might want to cite a situation where, for example, you overcame a challenge.
If you reflect on voluntary work (or work experience) in a purely positive way, admissions tutors and interviewers might think that you are bending the truth to tell them what you believe they want to hear.
In the application process, they are looking for candidates who understand the realities of working in Medicine. The ideal candidate will be able to cope with stress, failure and difficult tasks such as breaking bad news – so if any aspects of your volunteer work have made you a more resilient person, this is useful to mention in your Personal Statement.
Find out more: Medicine Personal Statement Examples
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