Learn How to Craft a Compelling Medical Personal Statement

Learn How to Craft a Compelling Medical Personal Statement

A robust personal statement can secure an interview at medical school. Here, we will work through the entire process of crafting a winning personal statement – including different sections, tips, and an example from a student who received an offer from Oxford. 

Personal Statement for Medical school: First Sections Explained 

You write a personal statement in the medical university entrance exam. First, you must consider the introduction for your personal statement. This should focus on you as a high achieving student, and one whose empathy and ethics are driving them towards a career in Medicine. In general, you should not focus on personal experiences in the past, although it may be tempting to include these. Many students will begin their statement in this way – with a personal story or anecdote – but in reality this does little to show your genuine interest in the subject or attributes – you don’t need an ‘origins story’ – rather a realistic approach to a difficult profession. Therefore, try to begin with your motivation. Work to grab the reader with a clear example of something you’ve done, for example, that has particularly informed your desire to study the degree. Ensure that your introduction is succinct – don’t waste any words. 

Next, you need to consider the work experience section of the personal statement. Of course, you need to have work experience in order to write about it. You must therefore secure a range of work experience in good time, before you begin writing the statement. Typically, you should have at least two examples of secondary and tertiary care, one example of primary care, and additionally work in a voluntary setting, like a care home. Ensure that you reflect adequately on all experience, and that you link it back to Medicine – think about how it highlights the role of a doctor, or how you hope to practise in the future. 

Personal Statement for Medical school: Final Sections Explained

Personal Statement for Medical school: Final Sections Explained

The next section that you should consider including is the research section. This is becoming increasingly important, as students are generally looking to increase their exposure to research before university, especially with the EPQ now being a feature of so many personal statements. If you’ve done an EPQ, ensure that you reflect on it and appropriately link it to Medicine and your future hopes in the career. Equally, remember that the EPQ is not a truly exceptional achievement, so don’t spend too much time on it. However, further research will set you apart here. That could be work done at a particular place or organisation outside of school, research projects that you took on beyond the EPQ, or even essays that you have written for a national competition that required extensive scientific research. Ideally, you’ll have something published, which you can reflect on and use to show your true passion for research.

Next, you need to work on the extracurricular component of the personal statement. This section should be centred around attributes and attainment. The activities that you do should be seen as a way of demonstrating your attributes, or showing how exceptional you are. As you work to demonstrate attributes, you must ensure that your activities highlight resilience, teamworking, empathy, motivation, leadership, and communication. You will therefore need to reflect on activities, rather than just mention them – and as always, show, don’t tell. Remember that a specific achievement will have far more impact on an assessor than a vague statement – for example, being able to mention a specific sporting achievement will demonstrate your ability and drive much more than simply stating that you play that sport.

Lastly, you need to conclude your Medicine personal statement. A good conclusion will be a short section, perhaps just a few sentences, and will flow from the previous section. You should be able to emphasise your desire for the subject, tie together the narrative that you have created, and reaffirm to the admissions tutor why you are an excellent candidate. 

Personal Statement Writing Tips

First, you should start early. It is never too early to start thinking about your personal statement. In fact, we recommend that you begin working on it several months before the application deadline. This will give you enough time to brainstorm, draft, and revise your statement until you are satisfied with the final product. Ensure that you understand exactly what you need to cover – all of which can be found above. Then, you should begin by brainstorming and creating an outline. Start by jotting down your ideas and experiences, and how they relate to Medicine.

Ensure that you then consider how to hook your reader – you might use a quote or specific achievement at the outset of your personal statement to grab their attention. As mentioned above, it’s vital that you show, rather than tell – demonstrate your attributes through specific achievements. Using concrete examples and vivid descriptions will bring your experiences to life and show the admissions committee why you are a strong candidate for medical school.

Throughout, be honest to yourself. Your personal statement should be an honest reflection of who you are and what you believe. Avoid writing what you think the admissions committee wants to hear, and instead, focus on sharing your unique perspective and experiences. Be true to yourself and let your personality shine through in your writing – remember that you’ll need to speak about the personal statement at the interview as well. Equally, avoid clichés – admissions teams will have heard people stating that they have ‘always wanted to help others’ hundreds of times – this will add nothing to your statement. Lastly, ensure that you edit and proofread carefully. Once you have completed a draft of your personal statement, take the time to edit and proofread it carefully. Check for spelling and grammatical errors, and make sure that your writing flows smoothly and logically. Ensure that you ask friends and mentors to review your statement and provide feedback – both for content and accuracy.

Personal Statement Example for Medical School

My ambition to be a doctor stems from my longing to help people at their most vulnerable, when they seek not only answers but also understanding and compassion. This aspiration is strengthened by my interest in unravelling cellular biology and understanding how it can be applied in a clinical context.

I am intrigued by the complexity of the human genome and the implications of the current work on it, resulting in me writing an essay on CRISPR-cas9 for the DNA Day Competition where I focused on its future benefits, such as in immunotherapy, and potential concerns. This also led me to dedicate my EPQ question to answer “To what extent is our personality determined by our genes?” where I focused on the dopamine receptor D4 gene among others and their influence on personality traits.

I remain fascinated by the way our genes define most aspects of our lives. Genetics also drew me to cancer, particularly treatment, inspiring me to take a MOOC concerning different cancer drugs and ending with an independent research task on the future of cancer diagnostics. I focused on nanotechnology; its implications were so surprising that I presented the idea to my school’s Medical Society. Reading “The Emperor of all Maladies” alerted me to the importance of empirical research and a multidisciplinary approach in the continuous struggle against cancer.

I received great insight into the primary, secondary and tertiary structure of the NHS through my three work experiences. My GP placement signified to me the importance of their work and the challenges they face relating to increased patient numbers and demands. It was an opportunity to discuss potential solutions and their social and ethical implications, a factor which encouraged me to read “Medical Ethics: A Very Short Introduction.” Teamwork was a vital theme in my surgery placement, where I witnessed MDT meetings on a departmental, interdepartmental and inter-hospital level. The use of the WHO safety checklist allowed me to reflect on the measures taken by hospitals to minimise errors, a theme I am aware of from reading “The Checklist Manifesto.” In my oncology placement, I saw doctors, with great professionalism and compassion, wade into patients’ emotional melee. The ability to infer the root of patient worry and skilfully tackle it was compelling and I hope to emulate such people-centred care.

Forming an empathetic relationship with residents at my local care home was a humbling experience. It encouraged me to further serve my local community through going to soup kitchens on Tuesdays and connecting with the homeless, giving me an opportunity to understand life from the point of view of others. Inspired by this, a group of friends and I planned a special Christmas event where we brought presents and sang carols to children across London hospitals; it was motivational to see their positivity at a time when they were poorly.

On a life-changing humanitarian trip to Kenya I taught local children English and comforted the ill and lonely, thus enabling me to see how fortunate I am and the duty I have to aid others.

I was awarded the Jack Petchey award in recognition of my commitment to school life such as being House Captain. This meant I attended numerous meetings with teachers, led student conferences and gave house assemblies to the lower years, all requiring thorough organisation and teamwork. Outside of school, I am an avid chess player and my interests have led me to win first place in Research and Chess competitions within the national Coptic Festival for three years running. Being a member of my church’s football team, I attend weekly training sessions which is a great way to relieve stress.

Being a successful doctor is not only about having great grades or many achievements. It is about having a zeal for people and science that endures coffee-driven nights, stress and fatigue. My self-evaluative, caring nature, evidenced by my work-experience and volunteering, demonstrates this.

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