Medicine Personal Statement: 12 Top Tips
The medicine personal statement is your first chance to show off what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve been preparing for medical school. It is vital that your medicine personal statement is well written and structured to ensure you get that all important interview invitation.
It can be overwhelming when you’re first faced with a blank document and have to somehow convey all of your work experience and passions in just a page. This article will give some of our top tips for personal statement writing based on years of experience.
1. Jot down all of your biggest achievements!
A good way to start writing your medicine personal statement is to make a list of absolutely all of your achievements so far. The personal statement isn’t very long so you most likely won’t be able to mention everything here. Making a list will help you pick out which achievements will help you to stand out from other applicants, so you can prioritise what to talk about.
Examples of Achievements
- Academic e.g. poster presentation
- Social, e.g. being volunteer of the month at at local care home
- Highlight key skills e.g. leading a project as a prefect
Writing all these down beforehand will mean you don’t forget to slot them in later. This list will also be helpful when it comes to interview preparation!
2. Make your motivation for medicine original
Why do you want to study medicine? This is the big question to answer in your medicine personal statement. As a future medical student, hopefully you have already thought this through and have some ideas. It is very important that you fully understand your motivations as this will be key for interview preparation too. At some medical schools your personal statement is used as a prompt for questions during your interview, particularly during the motivation question. It won’t look great if you give a completely different answer for wanting to study medicine at interview compared to what you’ve written in your personal statement, especially if the interview has it right in front of them!
Try to make your answer as original as possible: most people will say something along the lines of ‘I love helping people and I love science’. While these are very valid answers, and definitely good reasons to want to study medicine, they aren’t very original and won’t help you stand out.
Your passion has to jump out from the page, so don’t be afraid to rewrite this until it shows exactly how keen you are to study medicine. It is up to you how you start your introduction, but a unique and relevant anecdote may make you stand out from other applicants.
If you’re unsure of how to phrase your motivation for studying medicine, keep reading and I’ll give you some guidance on how to get around this when we chat about work experience.
3. Don’t lie
This is a very important point. We all elaborate a little and embellish our experiences on our CV every now and again, but it is very important not to lie. If you lie in your interview or medicine personal statement and are caught, you will be instantly rejected by the university. This is clearly not a good quality for future doctors. It isn’t worth risking.
4 Link your extracurriculars (and everything) back to how they will make you a better medic
Extra-curriculars are important in developing skills required of a doctor. Don’t be afraid to show off everything you have achieved during your time at school, whether that be debating club, hockey or jazz band.
But what is important here is that, firstly, you link it back to how it will make you a better medic. Try thinking about your extracurriculars in terms of:
- What skills have you developed?
- Name things that have challenged you?
- What have you learnt about working in a team?
- Are you keen to continue these at university? Medical schools want you to bring something as part of the medical school community!
5. Reflect when talking about work experience
By now you will have completed most (if not all!) of your work experience. When getting work experience, it is much better to make the effort to secure your own shadowing or volunteering, rather than someone else organising your on your behalf. This shows you’re proactive and motivated – both excellent qualities for a future doctor!
The most important point regarding work experience is to reflect. Self-reflection is a key skill for a doctor, and you will be expected to reflect on your experiences throughout your entire medical career – even up to consultant level!
Instead of just describing what you did, instead talk more about what you’ve learnt from this experience. Include both positive and negative points as it shows honesty and a realistic understanding of a career in medicine. You should also try and apply what you’ve learnt to show personal growth. For example, did you observe some excellent communication skills that you then tried to replicate in your volunteering? What did you learn about the realities of medicine? How will this impact on your future practice?
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6. You don’t need to include everything
It is a common mistake for students to cram as much as possible in. When it comes to work experience on your personal statement, quality is better than quantity. Admissions staff would much rather hear about one particular experience in detail with insightful reflection rather than reading a list of 10 different shadowing experiences.
7. Remember the character and line limit
Try and start outlining your personal statement early so that you can write freely and include everything you’d ideally like to, using your list of achievements mentioned in Tip 1! Once you’ve written this you can cut it down to the correct character and line limit.
If you would like help in editing your medicine personal statement, make sure to check out our personal statement review service
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Remember – your personal statement must be under 4000 characters and 47 lines. This is roughly only 500 words!
8. Write it yourself
Remember that this is a personal statement. It should be written by you. Nearly everyone has someone to check or proof-read their personal statement, but you should be the one who is ultimately writing and driving the process.
Remember that your personal statement can be used as trigger material at interview. It is very obvious when a candidate hasn’t written their own personal statement so do not fall into this trap.
9. Don’t forget good structure
Structure is important! Use paragraphs to split up the block of text, each with their own topics such aswork experience or academic achievements. This makes the overall text easier to follow. You should begin with your overall motivation for medicine, which you can then link to your work experience reflections which should be the main body of the text.
You should end with a short conclusion. This will be the lasting impression your statement gives off to the admissions team! Tell them why you’d make an excellent doctor in one short summary sentance.
10. Check, check and double check
This may sound obvious but, check your spelling and grammar. Not just once but multiple times and after every single change to a draft you make. Poor grammar and spelling suggests that you’re careless, have poor attention to detail and is just generally unprofessional. You will have to write essays at medical school and beyond, so show the admissions team you can do it well!
11. Do your research
As well as reading books and attending extra lectures to widen your breadth of knowledge, it is also important to familiarise yourself with what makes a good doctor.
Read medical newspaper articles (from good sources), take a look the GMC’s good medical practise, confidentiality and also look at the suggested reading and links for the universities you are applying to.
12. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
At the end of the day every applicant has decided to study medicine, and if you’re a school leaver especially, you’ve likely all come from similar backgrounds. Personal statements are bound to look similar, but this ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s less about how impressive or unique your experiences have been, and more about how well you can reflect on these experiences to demonstrate the skills needed of a doctor. Try not to stress too much!
Personal Statement Check
It can help to have an expert review your personal statement – Click below to find out more about how you can get a fast-track personal statement review from one of our expert team
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