The personal statement is an integral part of the medical school application – and you may be asked about yours at your interview. In this blog, I will go through some ways you can begin planning your personal statement structure and things to include.
It’s important to grab the attention of the reader to make sure and be different but not go over the top. For example, avoid “ever since I was 10 years old I have wanted to be a doctor”. You may want to start with a quote, but this is quite common so can become repetitive for the admissions tutors reading. If you do use a quote, make sure it’s applicable to you in case you’re questioned on it!
Personally, I started with an honest statement about how choosing to apply to study medicine was not a decision that I have taken lightly. If there was a unique moment or experience which helped you confirm your decision you could begin with this, but don’t exaggerate too much – beware of the cliches!
Your motivation to study medicine and work experience
This section should form the bulk of the personal statement. It’s not enough to just talk about how motivated you are to study medicine, you must convey this in the personal statement by talking about the work experience and volunteering you have arranged.
It’s beneficial to keep a log of all the experiences you have acquired over the time and divide the different experiences based on what you learnt from them. For example, shadowing allowed you to see the work environment of a doctor. Volunteering at a care home allowed you to hone your communication and empathy skills. Remember to be specific about what you learnt from the experience rather than long lists of what you’ve done!
The medical school already know your grades and UKCAT scores, so the personal statement is the perfect opportunity to show off your extra-curricular activities.
Again, it’s important you don’t just list these interests. Carefully select ones where you can demonstrate a skill or quality relevant to studying medicine. Perfect examples include ones related to leadership, organisational skills and team working.
If you have other talents in music or a sport, mention these too because this shows you can find a balance between your academics and non-academic interests. You will be able to offer the wider university community something, in addition to just the medical school. Balancing work and leisure is a very important skill in medical school and beyond and this will therefore reflect well on you.
Arguably, this is the most important part of the statement, because this will be the last thing the admissions tutors will read. It is important to be succinct and finish strongly. The best way to do this is to reassure them that you have reflected on what a medical career entails. Convey that you are committed to lifelong learning – and that your work experience and extracurricular activities to date have provided you with a strong foundation to succeed in a career in medicine.
Words: Hassan Ahmed
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