July 3, 2014, by studentcontributor
Writing your personal statement
Hi I’m Cat, and I’m one of the medical students here at the University of Nottingham where I have just finished my second year. I’m sure many of you are starting to write your personal statements ready for applying in autumn, so here are a few pointers!
Creating the perfect personal statement is a key part of the application process for medical school; you want to portray the best representation of yourself within a relatively small number of words. Getting started as soon as possible is key; it means you’ll have more time to redraft it and get it to read exactly how you want it to! It’s also worth looking at the websites for the universities that you are planning on applying to, as they may have specific advice on what they want to see in your personal statement; different universities may be looking for different things.
Your introduction should be interesting and original – most admissions staff will be sceptical of a clichéd opening sentence. Be honest, and show that you’ve carefully thought about why you want to apply to medical school. Remember you’re applying for a vocational degree, so they also want to see that you want the career that follows graduation! It’s unwise to say that you want to become a certain type of doctor though, as it would show you to be close-minded.
Medical schools are looking for evidence that you have an insight as to how the medical profession works and a realistic idea of what the career entails, which is gained mainly through work experience. They want to see what you’ve learned from your work experience rather than how much work you have actually done, so instead of reeling off a list of your work experience, tell them what about it has affirmed your decision to apply to medical school. For example, you could talk about how a particular doctor-patient encounter played out, and what about it inspired you to choose to apply for Medicine. Showing a degree of reflection on what you have observed through your work experience is also valuable.
Of course your personal statement isn’t all about work experience! Medical schools also want to see that you have other interests, and so if you’re a musician/keen sportsperson/involved with your local theatre then they want to hear about it. You can talk about what skills your extracurricular activities have given you that will be useful in the future e.g. being able to work well in a team.
You could also briefly talk about any extra reading/work you’ve done in relation to your application, as this shows you’ve gone above and beyond the bare minimum and are motivated to become a medical student; it’s never enough to just say you’re motivated, you need to show it! Examples of extra reading could include reading scientific journals/medical journals (such as the British Medical Journal).
At the end of the day, you want your personal statement to make you stand out from the crowd, and to be an accurate portrayal of yourself whilst remaining honest. Focus on work experience, volunteering (such as a prefect role, peer mentoring or helping in the community), extracurricular activities and extra reading. If you’re taking a Gap Year it’s a good idea to talk about your plans for the year too.
Best of luck with all your applications!
If you want any more advice, you could check out these links: