What Should a Medicine Personal Statement Include?
Advice & Insight From Personal Statement Specialists
When writing a Medicine Personal Statement, creating an organised structure is essential. Preferably it should be divided into the following sections:
This is the most important aspect of the personal statement; it ideally should begin the text and make up the core body of the introduction. Medicine is a long and expensive degree, and requires a high level of commitment. Therefore, medical schools will want to know why you have chosen this degree, to ensure that the right candidates are selected. Medical schools want students who are aware of the potential stresses of being a doctor, but want to pursue this career nonetheless. It is imperative that you provide a reason for applying to Medicine that is different and unique, and sets you apart from other medical applicants. It should be able to immediately capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to read your Personal Statement further.
Having said this, there is often a challenging balance between outlining your true motivations to study medicine, and divulging patient confidential information. The majority of admissions tutors would advise caution when utilising personal or family health experiences as an explanation for wanting to pursue a career in medicine. Some admissions tutors may go further and regard this as a breach of the patient: doctor professional boundary and would actively discourage such mentions in one’s personal statement.
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Most applicants will have work experience prior to applying to Medicine; ideally this would incorporate experience in a hospital setting, at a General Practice and at a care home or including other volunteering opportunities in the community. Certain candidates may additionally have experience of attending conferences or health commissioning events, truly going beyond the norm and highlighting their exceptional interest in the medical profession. The reason why this section of the Personal Statement is so vital is that is shows that applicants are aware of the realities of the healthcare profession, and have showed commitment to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a doctor. However, it must be noted that applicants may not have work experience in all three of the aforementioned fields – hospital experience in particular can be difficult to arrange – or alternatively students may only have had experience for a short period of time. Therefore, what is extremely important in this section is to demonstrate what you have learnt from your work experience. Even if one had spent 1 week on an acute ward at a top London hospital, if the student had not engaged with the clinicians or actively made an effort to learn about the profession, they may not have actually benefited from the experience. Conversely, if a student had spent a couple of days at a care home, but was interacting with patients and learning about treating chronic conditions, they may have been able to practice the essential skills required for a doctor, such as communication and empathy, proving them to be a worthy candidate. Having work experience should not just be a ‘tick box’ for medical school – it should provide the opportunity to learn about the healthcare profession.
This section of the Personal Statement provides you with the opportunity to show how you would contribute to university life and make the most of your 5/6 years of university. Medicine is an extremely rewarding field, but can be exceedingly stressful; therefore, it is important that you have hobbies or interests alongside your studies. Additionally, with all medical applicants being equally intelligent and academically capable, having unique interests can make you stand out and prove to be a well-rounded individual, whilst also showing that you are able to balance both academic and extra-curricular commitments. Some examples of achievements that could be included in the Personal Statement include school clubs, such as sport, or musical accomplishments. As well as stating these achievements, it can also be beneficial to briefly mention what you learnt from the experiences, and what skills you gained.
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It is important to be aware of and understand the qualities of a medical student and doctor and provide examples of how you have shown such skills. There are many different qualities that are necessary in the healthcare profession, particular ones including communication, teamwork and leadership. This section can be linked to the ‘extra-curricular’ part of the Personal Statement, for example if you had participated in any activities that highlight or require these skills. A common example used is the linking of sporting achievements to teamwork and leadership skills, as participating in team sports prepares students for – and teaches them how to – work alongside their peers.
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