Personal Statement

The personal statement is probably the most important piece of writing you will have to write for years. I found this to be the hardest part of the application as I wouldn't normally write a page of writing outlining my achievements and talking about my work experience. Therefore, I would recommend spending as much time as possible on it. There is no harm in starting as early as May/June in the year you are planning to apply as it gives you more time to get it perfect.

What structure should I follow? 

Most personal statements for Medicine follow the same structure. They start with an introduction which is an opening statement outlining your reasons for applying. The main body of the personal statement will be about your work experience and possibly your academic achievements. This is usually followed be a short section on your extra-curricular activities and then a conclusion to sum up.

The best personal statements tend to show that the individual is well-rounded and has gained a good insight into a medical career through their work experiences. There is a great deal of reflection upon their experiences, giving the whole personal statement a more mature and articulate feel. Remember the old phrase 'quality not quantity'? Well this certainly applies here, as it is the quality of what you write that is more important than writing a list of your achievements.

What goes in each section? 

The introduction should encapsulate your reasons for choosing Medicine as a career path in a single paragraph. It should be attention-grabbing and engaging, which will make the admissions tutor want to continue reading. They have to read through thousands of them and if yours immediately captures their attention, you will have already made an impression that lasts throughout. Although I would refrain from using a joke or quote, as it can come off as cliched; you are probably best off just explaining your personal reasons as to why you want to study Medicine.

For your first draft, I would try not to think too much about writing your introduction; the best thing to do is just to write the first thing that comes up in your head when you are asked why you want to study medicine. You can always amend this later as you think of better phrases to write. Most people want to become a doctor for similar reasons, but each individual has their own personal take on it, and this is what you want to get across in the introduction. If you are really struggling for words, then take a look at some past personal statements for ideas on how to express  your desire to study medicine, but be careful not to copy their wording as UCAS have very advanced programs for plagiarism detection.

The main body of your personal statement should be focused on your work experience and other activities related to medicine. You could possibly include a small section about academics, although I would omit this entirely if you have an extensive portfolio of work experience you can talk about.
For each of your experiences, you should mention what you got out of it and how it helped you decide that Medicine is the right career choice for you. I have included a separate post about work experience, which I recommend reading. It is quite important that you are able to reflect on your experiences, as this is a skill that you will need in medical school and as a doctor.
In addition to work experience, I would also mention anything else you have done related to medicine. For example, I completed a research project evaluating the use of stem cell therapy on a range of different conditions, I carry out First Aid duty with St John Ambulance and I regularly read health news, particularly issues relating to health economics and technological advancements in medicine.

Following this, there should be a section about your personal qualities. These can be demonstrated through your extra-curricular activities, but you need to show that you have the right skills to succeed as a doctor. These include communication, teamwork, leadership and empathy. Extra-curricular activities also show that you participate in many activities in addition to getting good grades, which show that you can effectively manage your time.
Note that it will be almost impossible to include all your amazing qualities in such a short space so it is important to prioritise what you think are your best attributes and how you can demonstrate them. Also, different universities regard some skills as slightly more important than others, and you can often find this out by visiting their open days and looking at their websites. If this is the case, then it is important that you showcase how you have the skills they are looking for in a medical applicant.
It will also help if you explain your skills rather than simply stating you are good at time management. For example, simply stating that you have good time management skills will not be enough - you need to say how you are good at this e.g. by managing to have a part-time job as well as doing A levels.

The conclusion should be a short, strong ending which summarises what you have outlined in the personal statement. Be careful not to repeat yourself as this is just wasting space!

Any other recommendations? 

I would highly recommend the personal statement book from ISC Medical.

Get into Medical School - Write the perfect personal statement. Effective techniques & over 100 examples of real successful personal statements (UCAS Medicine)

They have some very detailed advice on writing your personal statement, and it certainly helped me to write mine. Perhaps the best thing about the book is that it has a huge bank of past personal statements, some of which have been analysed to show what was good about them and what could have been improved. This helps you to see what is good and what you should avoid doing to write an effective piece of writing.

Look at the criteria for the universities you will be applying to. Each medical school focuses on different skills/qualities that they are looking for in their applicants and you want to show your chosen universities that you display the skills to be a good medical student and doctor at their university.

I also recommend getting a few different people to read it. However, be careful with this as everyone will give you different pieces of advice. You will need to take on board what others say and then use your best judgement to adapt your personal statement accordingly. Don't feel the need to follow all the feedback you are given as ultimately it is your personal statement and you should write whatever you feel comfortable writing. Taking small bits of feedback from different people can cause a 'snowball' effect and result in a personal statement that is hugely different from the original. Save copies of every draft you make and re-read your improved version and compare it to the previous one - only then will you really see if the feedback has been useful.

Comments

  1. Thank you for share this informative post.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Also very good to writer on such things.

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  4. Hi, these tips are really helpful to write personal statement.

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  5. Hi, any advice on writing a personal statement for someone who is applying for medicine and another course (Vet med)? Thank you very much for the tips

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I am not an expert on the Vet Med process. However, I think that the personal statement is very similar to the Medicine one, but from what I have gathered from some people I know that have applied, the work experience aspect seems even more important.

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    2. Thank you very much, but i meant applying for both courses in UCAS. So that means you have to write one personal statement for both veterinary medicine and medicine. I'm worried that including detailed descriptions of both work experiences would make me seem like im not dedicated to either vet/med. For example, would writing about my experiences at a farm and my interest in veterinary medicine make me seem indecisive to the medical schools, hence the personal statement not being good? Thanks!

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    3. I wouldn't apply to both courses at the same time - you are right in saying that if you include both work experiences, it seems like you aren't dedicated to either one. So you would need to pick one and apply only to that course.

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    4. Yes i think I'd have to do that :/ But thanks anyways!

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  6. I'm quite sure about their suggestions and ideas.

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  7. Good to see this interesting post.

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