Your Medicine Personal Statement:
Making it stand out
Your medicine personal statement should be built upon a solid foundation that follows the same basic principles of any submission through the UCAS system. You still need to have a captivating first sentence and introduction and a strong middle section to carry the reader through. At the end you need an inspiring conclusion that leaves the reader excited to see what you are going to achieve.
You also have a luxury that not every university applicant has: simplicity.
You are applying for a course which leads initially in one single direction, to become a foundation year doctor. This allows you to focus your personal statement with laser precision. Don’t miss this golden opportunity!
The following 7 steps contained within this guide are the fine tuning that is required when applying to medicine. Don’t think of it as a complete resource for you personal statement. These are the extras you need to include and the emphasis that you don’t want to miss.
Refer to these at any point in writing your medicine personal statement but as with any work, it’s best to have an idea of everything right from the start. If you are staring at a blank piece of paper you might want to look at the resources here first.
Number 1 – Who You Want To Become
The overwhelming majority of degrees, medicine included, allow you to apply to a range of professions after graduation. That being said the admissions team are screening for what will potentially become tomorrow’s doctors. If you take anything away from this article make sure this is it.
Not only do you need to show that you are the right applicant for the course, you need to present as the next generation of the medical team.
This means being mature, professional and having a background one would expect of a doctor. Taking you through the expected qualities of a doctor would require a whole other article, but for now you can follow the link. Make sure you keep a note of these and refer back to them once you have started writing your statement.
Do the strengths you are writing about align with these expected qualities?
Are you presenting experiences in a way that best supports your desire to be a doctor?
If you cannot find a way of linking what you are writing about with the listed qualities of a doctor then you are wasting your time and precious character space in your medicine personal statement. Find a more relevant achievement or reword what you have written to better highlight how it relates to your future career.
Number 2 – Exaggeration
Perhaps the most tiring mistake for admissions tutors to read is stretching of the truth. The reader will sometimes be a lay person (in relation to medicine), sometimes a university lecturer and others a doctor.
Regardless of who is reading your medicine personal statement, you can be sure that be the time they read yours they have read hundreds, if not thousands over the years. This means picking up on white lies and exaggeration almost becomes second nature.
Don’t do it!
At the very worst it will taint the rest of your application and end with a rejection letter. At best you will be questioned thoroughly at interview and come away empty handed once the game is up.
Think carefully when writing your statement. If you feel the need to construct a story to impress the admissions team, should you be applying at all?
Number 3 – Name Dropping
The evil twin of exaggeration and even more tiring for the admissions team. Yes you may have actually done the amazing things you are talking about. Yes you might have actually seen the complex medical procedures you are talking about. So what?
Those who are feeling unconfident about their medicine personal statement can sometimes panic and exaggerate. Those brimming with too much confidence are in danger of slipping into name dropping. Many fall prey to it by accident, as it is more subtle than stretching the truth.
There is not much that is less impressive to an interview panel than reading the following in your personal statement:
“First I saw a cholecystectomy and then an abdominal aortic aneurysm repair”
Only to be met with the following response when questioned at interview:
“Oh, um, I’m not sure actually I was just observing”
Too many applicants forget that everything they write about in their personal statement could be a subject of discussion at interview. It simply comes across as arrogance if you list jargon and technical terminology. You need to demonstrate follow up interest and learning using your own initiative.
Number 4 – Chasing the (family) dream
Everyone has dreams and aspirations. Without them, humans would not have accomplished all they have in their short time on earth.
As grand as this all sounds, it does not translate perfectly when writing your medicine personal statement. There is a big difference between a dreamer and an academic. Only one has the resolve and drive to work towards their vision.
Medicine can be grandiose and over the centuries has has enjoyed high status in society from time to time. Your desire to be a doctor however must be grounded in reality. This includes your understanding of the hard work required to get there.
Did you watch a documentary (or worse a TV show) about doctors that you really liked?
Is one of your family a doctor who inspires you?
Did you have a sick relative once, perhaps a grandparent who died?
Any of the above sounding familiar? While one or all of these anecdotes might be true for your life, they are definitely not core reasons for becoming a doctor.
First and foremost, they are not special or unique to you. These experiences could have happened to anyone and you have not sought them out. They are passive experiences and do not immediately infer that you a) want to become a doctor or b) would make a good doctor.
At Acrosophy when we have helped students in the past we have had some pushback when marking down sentences about relatives who are clinicians. Let us make it clear here:
If you are just stating it as a fact, it means nothing.
It is a far cry from mentioning it as a starting point and then discussing your further learning and initiative.
“Ever since I was young I have always been interested in Medicine because my Dad/Mum/Any other family member or close friend was a doctor and they were so inspiring/interesting/etc.”
The above is probably the worst way you can start a medicine personal statement, even if you improve from there on out. It immediately tells the reader that instead of being interested in medicine you are interested in medicine-by-proxy. That is, you are interested in someone else’s interest in medicine!
What they want to see is your own interest in science and humanity and an inquisitive and caring nature. None of this will be seen if you are talking about someone else.
Number 5 – Reality Check
Closely associated with the previous point, this is about showing true understanding of the role of a doctor. This can be easily confused with the qualities of a doctor so be sure not to miss it out. Make sure to include all aspects required in your medicine personal statement.
University admissions teams want you to show you are a well rounded individual with a number of extracurricular activities to prove it. Aside from the holistic aspect, having hobbies and other interests shows that you will have the ability to destress in the future.
Having the ability to cope is one thing but an awareness that you are entering a high pressure profession is more important. This means stating that plainly in your medicine personal statement, and is an easy way to start talking about your extracurricular interests.
Number 6 – Ethics
Ethics are paramount whatever your chosen profession. When dealing daily with potentially life and death situations, a solid grasp of the fundamentals of ethics is a must.
From examining and treating patients to writing consent forms and carrying out audits, ethics are at the forefront of every doctors’ mind. While the philosophy of ethics can be taught, probity is a quality you are expected to hold within you naturally.
From this springs the basis of all interactions you have with patients and colleagues. A grasp of the complexities and importance of ethical issues clinicians face on a daily basis shows the admissions team you are thinking ahead. This is more impressive than merely focussing on gaining entry to study medicine.
Number 7 – Completing Your Medicine Personal Statement
Reading all of this without having put much pen to paper? Writing your medicine personal statement is always easier and more efficient if you start early and plan ahead so don’t jump ahead. Read our general personal statement guides here first to give your medicine personal statement a strong foundation.
If you have already started and missed any of the above points it is always best to rethink a certain paragraph rather than shunting in a new sentence on it’s own. Your writing needs to flow naturally from one topic to another rather than reading like a collection of statements.
If this seems like a big task, don’t worry! We know writing your medicine personal statement can be a daunting task. No matter what stage you are at we have an ever growing list of resources for your medical school application. If you don’t know where to start you can access our ever growing blog here.
Subscribe to Acrosophy we’ll send you our Quick Start PDF to get your writing started. If you’re looking for more structure and guidance, our members get access to our personal statement workbook which takes you from beginning to end, making sure nothing is missed out and all your achievements are presented in the best way for medical school. Click here to become a member today and take the stress out of writing a great medicine personal statement.facebook twitter instagram Acrosophy Excellence in Application