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, so it is vital that your medicine personal statement is well written and structured to ensure you get the interview.
It can be overwhelming, especially to start writing, but if you stick around to the end of the article, I’ll give you a few tips on how to deal with this, so you’ll have a much clearer idea on how to get going! Let me know in the comments if you’ve started writing your medicine personal statement yet. Let’s get straight to it!
1. Jot down all of your biggest achievements!
So, a good way to start writing your medicine personal statement is to jot down absolutely all your achievements, especially ones that will stand out from other applicants. It can be easy to talk on and on about your GP shadowing and how you were in the hockey first team and forget about key achievements.
Examples of Achievements
- Academic e.g. poster presentation
- Social, e.g. being volunteer of the month at your 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.
2. Make your motivation for medicine original.
Why do you want to study medicine? This is the big question in your medicine personal statement. As a prospective medical student, hopefully you have already thought this through and have some ideas, however it is vital that you fully comprehend your motivations as you will need to be able to back your answers in your interviews, and your medicine personal statement might be what the interviewers use as a reference.
Try to make it as original as possible: most people will say something along the lines of ‘I love helping people and I love science’. That doesn’t sound passionate does it? I also imagine lots of applicants will draw the NHS response to the COVID-19 outbreak into their motivations for this year, so just be aware of this!
Your passion has to jump out from the page from the introduction, 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 are applying to traditional/intercalating courses such as Oxbridge, do focus on the scientific background of medicine in your motivation.
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 Do NOT lie.
This is a very important point. We all elaborate a little and embellish our experiences on our CV and medicine personal statement, but it is very important not to lie. If you lie in your interview or medicine personal statement and are caught out you will be instantly rejected by the university, as this is clearly not what they want in future doctors.
It isn’t worth risking and anything written in your medicine personal statement can be asked about at interview, so if you say you have read a specific book, make sure you have read it cover to cover!
I also think a decent tip here is to reread your medicine personal statement before your interview and come up with answers to any points that could be questioned.
I will come back to how you can write your medicine personal statement so you can prepare answers that they are likely to ask in interview.
4 Link your extracurriculars (and everything) back to how they will make you a better medic.
Extra-curriculars are vital in developing skills required to be a doctor, so do 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.
- 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 people who are well rounded!
5 Reflect when talking about work experience.
By now you will have completed most or all of your work experience. When getting work experience, it is so much better to make the effort to secure your own shadowing and volunteering, even if it’s only at a GP or nursing home, rather than, say, your Mum organising your work experience through her friend that so happens to be a top brain surgeon.
Everyone has different contacts and universities understand that it can be so difficult to get work experience, so if you have spent hours emailing endless hospitals and GPs sorting out your own shadowing, do mention that you organised your WE yourself! (if you have space of course). Show initiative, that is what medical schools will want to see.
Another key point is that you must reflect!! If I tell you that I spent my first semester at medical school writing a 3000 word essay on reflection as a doctor, hopefully you get the idea that medical school LOVE reflection.
As mentioned with extra-curriculars, what did you learn? What challenges were you faced with?
You need to show that you understand that medicine is not easy, and that you have thought about all the negative points of a career in medicine, and perhaps how you will deal with these?
You also need to show your understanding of multidisciplinary teams and how all staff, from the administration team to the surgeons, are key in medicine.
So perhaps: Which medical professionals did you speak with? I cannot stress how important it is to expand on what you learnt and how you developed as a person rather than just listing that you did x,y,z in hospital.
6. You don’t need to include everything
It is a common mistake for students to cram as much information as possible in. Admissions staff would rather hear about one particular experience in detail, with your reflection and how you feel you would be a great doctor from this, than little detail about 10 different work shadowing experiences you’ve had that you enjoyed.
It really is quality over quantity! I mentioned earlier that there are tricks to be able to prepare for possible questions that interviewers may ask you, especially in panel interviews.
By mentioning a certain point, say that you found a particular chapter in book X, rather interesting, but not going to much into detail (as you need to keep an eye on those 4000 characters), you are quite literally handing the interviewers a question for you on a plate.
This ensures you can be more prepared for the interview- but do not expect the question to be asked!
7 Remember the character and line limit
It is so important to start early, so that you can write freely and include everything you’d ideally like to, using your list of achievements mentioned in Tip 1! It is so much better to write too much and cut down than to limit yourself early on and miss out key points.
By giving a first long draft to a medical professional or teacher to read, they may give you a better idea of what you should and shouldn’t include.
If you would like help in editing your medicine personal statement, make sure to check out our personal statement review service
Trusted Personal Statement Review:
When you do begin to cut down, remember those 4000 characters. Ask yourself- why have I included this? Is it absolutely necessary? Cut all the jargon that doesn’t tell the admissions tutor that you absolutely have to be taken at their medical school. Some people do not understand that this is not a fancy English essay – you do not need those extravagant descriptive words, make it snappy and to the point.
8 Write it yourself
As I mentioned earlier, nearly every applicant will have at least one person read over their medicine personal statement and provide suggestions for edits, change the grammar and re-word sentences – but do remember this is YOUR medicine personal statement.
It is important that the words come from you and that ultimately it is your writing.
This may not seem important but at interview it can become very apparent if a candidate did not write their medicine personal statement themselves based on the language used.
Feel free to reject advice, even this! It is you that wants to go to medical school, not your mum or your teacher. This is quite literally a statement that is personal to YOU! Do not change it if it’s what you believe.
9 Don’t forget good structure!
Structure is important! Use paragraphs to split up the block of text, each with their own topics ie work experience, academic achievements. This makes it easier to follow. An important point is that you do not have to write it in order! Start where you are most keen to, it is always hardest to write the first words.
I would actually recommend not to start with the intro as you will have a better idea of how to phrase your motivation after writing about your work experience, academic and extra-curricular achievements. Then you can copy paste everything into order. Another key point is that flow is so important!
Simply by using connecting words at the beginning of the paragraph can show that the though before leads into this one.
Link it together, for example when starting your work experience paragraph, mention that your motivation (previous paragraph) for medicine was developed during your WE. A statement that isn’t cohesive is difficult to follow.
10 Check, check and double check
This may sound obvious but check your spelling and grammar, not just once but multiple times. Personal statements are often given a mark by universities, and poor spelling and grammar are easy ways to gain marks. You will have to write essays at medical school, so show them 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 decent sources), learn the GMC’s good medical practise, confidentiality and also look at the suggested reading and links for the universities you are applying to.
The admissions team will sit there with tick boxes to ensure your statement includes everything it needs to. Make it easier for them. Drop in key words from your research, such as ethical practice or a theory suggested in a journal mentioned on their website, to show you are the ideal candidate.
12 Do not be too hard on yourself!
I have mentioned that you should try and be as original as you can to stand out. At the end of the day, you’re all applying for medicine- they are bound to look similar. So do not stress too much. Some universities put more weighting on the medicine personal statement than others, so do not spend longer than you need to.
Final bonus tip:
Take a break, come back with a fresh pair of eyes when you’re stuck. You should be writing about something that you’re really passionate about, so do enjoy it! Show off what you have achieved, you deserve that recognition!
If you need further advice then please contact us – we’re always on hand to help with your application. Let us know in the comments if you this article useful and best of luck with your medicine personal statement!