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Key Skills for Medicine for 2019 Entry: People Skills

Key Skills for Medicine_ People Skills

Welcome to our new blog series, Key Skills for Medicine for 2019 Entry! This series will explore different skills needed for medicine – from scientific interest to people skills – and how to demonstrate them easily.

This blog will focus on developing and demonstrating people skills.

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Medicine is a career where people skills are required at every step of the way, whether it be with patients or colleagues. In this blog, I will give you 5 examples of ways you can demonstrate people skills in your personal statement. This list is not exhaustive, but is intended to give you an idea of what to think about.

1. Voluntary work

Voluntary work is expected on your personal statement, usually as a demonstration of your empathy and commitment to caring. However, you can also link it in as a way of showing people skills, as most voluntary work involves working with others.

This may be the team of volunteers that you worked with, in which case you should write about how you communicated with them, what made it effective, and what you were able to achieve as a result. The people skills may have also been related to the voluntary work itself – you may have helped out in a care home, or primary school, or in a food bank.

You can write about your communication with different groups of people, including whether your experiences helped you gain new people skills. For example, working with young people is very different to working with older people, and you could mention this to show the variation in your people skills.

2. Mentoring programmes

Many schools and colleges have mentoring programmes, which you can usually opt into joining. Often this involves being paired up with a younger student, having meetings to talk about their progress and their concerns, and supporting them through any academic or personal problems they are facing.

This is a fantastic way to show people skills as it shows that you are able to work with people at a different academic level to you, build a long-term working relationship, and have responsibility for others.

3. Group projects

This is something you probably will have taken part in throughout your school life, as group projects are often a necessary part of lessons or extra-curricular activities. Think about one or two specific group projects that you took part in, what you were able to achieve, and how you achieved it.

Working in a group isn’t always easy, and there are often problems due to clashes of personality or ideas. Writing about how you handled such situations really demonstrates your people skills through teamwork. Similar examples to consider writing about would be the organisation of events as a group, for example, a school production, or a charity bake sale.

3. Leadership roles

As well as teamwork and one-on-one communication skills, “people skills” includes effective leadership, and this is required for a career in medicine. At every stage in your career, there will be someone junior to you who will require your leadership.

Ways you could show this in your personal statement include being the leader of a school club or sports-team, being a school prefect or even leading a group project in the classroom. Write about what techniques you used to show demonstrate effective leadership, and what success you had as a result.

4. Employment

Many students have part-time jobs, and there are very few jobs that don’t require working with other people. This is a perfect way to show people skills, particularly because it is out in the “real world” as opposed to being in your usual environment of school. 

Talk about what your role is at work, including any challenges you may face, and how you overcome them. It’s good to be specific, because it shows that you’re not just writing “buzzwords” for the sake of getting accepted. It also looks great because it demonstrates time-management skills at the same time!

Overall

There are probably many things that you’ve already achieved which can demonstrate your people skills – it’s just a matter of being able to pick them out. If you haven’t though, there’s nothing to worry about, as you have plenty of time in the upcoming months to get involved in things to demonstrate this. Ultimately, this isn’t just a loophole you have to jump through – you genuinely do need to have good people skills to succeed in a medical career, so it’s to your advantage to develop in this area.

Words: Mariam Al-Attar

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