Medicine Personal Statement: Ten Top Tips

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Here are 10 top tips for writing a great Medicine personal statement. You should use these in conjunction with our series of articles that break down the personal statement into different sections. 

Interest the reader at the start

It’s worth spending time on the introduction. It will, to some extent, have an immediate impact on the admissions tutor reading it; it’s likely that they will form some impression of you from it. As such, crafting an excellent first few sentences is a useful pursuit. While you don’t need to agonise over this for weeks, you should run the introduction past multiple people (different teachers at school would be sensible) and see how you can iterate it. Only stop when it’s clear you’ve produced something easy to read that grabs your reader. 

Consider what you’re trying to convey about yourself

What kind of doctor do you want to be? What are your real reasons for wanting to study Medicine? If you think about these questions honestly, you’ll be able to better convey who you are and why you should be offered an interview. If, for example, you’re passionate about science and really want to become a doctor so that you can combine research with hands-on experience, then make sure that this comes across in your personal statement. On the other hand, if you’re much more interested in the blend of empathy and leadership that is vital for being a doctor, then focus on your people skills and reflect throughout on these. Try not to simply tick off every attribute to the same degree; whilst you should show an awareness of all that is needed, you should also show your personality. 

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Consider what schools you’re applying to

Make sure to think about what kind of medical schools you’re applying to. Search their websites and look for specifics on what they expect from personal statements. In general, the MSC Alliance document on the attributes expected in medical students will provide a good starting point. However, different schools will have slightly different focuses, and this could be particularly pronounced if you apply to Cambridge as one option, and a much less scientifically oriented course as another. 

Mention specific achievements

You can save valuable space in the personal statement by letting a specific achievement do some of the ‘heavy lifting’ for you. For example, one of our exemplar personal statements features a student who received a Jack Petchey award – simply mentioning this evidences their achievement without the need for extra words, as the tutor will either know, or research, that the Jack Petchey Award is specifically for young people who’ve ‘gone above and beyond to achieve – perhaps when others thought they might fail.’ Outside recognition (i.e. recognition from a specific body / prize committee / region etc) shows that the student is objectively reaching a very high level – be that in their work with others, their research, or sports.

Show passion through work experience

Remember to use your work experience to evidence your passion for the career, as well as to show your understanding of it. Showing a range of work experience is a simple first step here, as it demonstrates your interest; beyond that you should show how elements of your work experience pushed you to want to learn more, or do more. For example, you might explain that something you saw led to you taking on a particular research task, such was your interest in that area of Medicine. Alternatively, you might link the work experience to books that you’ve read, and which demonstrate your desire to learn more about Medicine and surround yourself in it. 

Always reflect

This is vital, and something that can be easily missed by students eager to cram as much information as possible into the statement. All experiences, activities, books read, or achievements can be seen as a chance to reflect. In particular, you must reflect on your work experience as you guide the reader through it, and relate it to your desire to study Medicine. Equally, ensure that you reflect on your extracurriculars and link them to the necessary attributes to study Medicine. There are no mysteries to doing well when reflecting – you need to consider core attributes of medical students and core competencies of doctors.

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Remember that you’ll need to talk about it at interview

Given you’ve drafted such a great personal statement, you’ll need to remember that you’ll likely have to speak about it at your interviews! As such, this means that you should be confident in all aspects of it. In particular, if you mention complex scientific or medical concepts, ensure that you’ve researched them thoroughly. Additionally, ensure that you’ve given due thought to all the achievements and extracurriculars you mention, and that you can speak about them confidently. Practise fielding questions on your work experience. 

Show that you understand that Medicine is difficult

All good personal statements will clearly demonstrate that the author knows how difficult Medicine is. You can see this multiple times through our exemplar personal statements, and from the passages taken from them as part of our series of articles on the Medicine Personal Statement. Admissions tutors are looking for students who will do well at medical school, and part of that is an awareness of how tough it can be. Referencing the ‘challenge’ of medical school, showing that you’ve spoken to doctors and medical students, referencing challenging parts of your work experience, and demonstrating resilience in your life so far will all factor into this section of the personal statement. 

Use your conclusion to bring everything together

The conclusion is your chance to leave a good impression on the reader. Think back to what you set out to say in your personal statement. What attributes are particularly important to you? What in particular motivates you to study Medicine? What in particular shows that you will be able to take on the challenge? An interesting way to look at this is that a good introduction and a good conclusion can often be very similar – both ought to succinctly emphasise to your reader that you’re well-suited to study Medicine, and both ought to leave an impression on them.

Double-check your grammar and wording; ask someone medical

It might seem obvious, but many students will fail to check. This can sometimes come down to fatigue – after drafting and re-drafting the statement countless times, it can be frustrating. You might wish to simply submit, and not check back through. Certainly you might not be in the mood to have others check. However, correct grammar, mature and precise wording, and the careful deployment of technical / medical terminology throughout the personal statement can have a huge impact. It can immediately set a personal statement apart, and make an assessor realise that they are dealing with a high-calibre student. As such, if you can ask someone medical to check over the personal statement, you should do this. They might be able to spot key words or phrases that you could change to make it sound more natural to a doctor reading it, and to show that you’ve surrounded yourself in the world of Medicine as much as you possibly can.

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