How to stand out from the crowd with your personal statement

As part of your medical school application, you will need to write a personal statement. This deadline is earlier than all other UCAS applications, you must apply by the 15th October. Your personals statement provides you with the opportunity to move beyond your academic qualifications and really illustrate your true personal strengths, abilities and characteristics that make you most suited to study medicine and become a professional. So it’s nothing to fear!

Short specific paragraphs

There is no set template to follow when writing your personal statement, as each one is unique and specific to you. That being said, there are a few guidelines that may to ensure you write your statement to reflect your abilities in the best possible way. It may be tempting to express how you have always wanted to be a doctor – that it is your lifelong dream. Be careful as this is what admission teams read all the time. Instead, open you statement with sound justifications and reasons as to why you want to embark on a career as a doctor and how you have been working toward this to achieve your ultimate goal. Make sure your personal statement is clear, not exaggerated and captures your personality.

It would be useful to divide your statement into short paragraphs, each focusing on a single item, to make it easier for the reader to clearly see your skills and characteristics. You could break up your statement into sections on voluntary and charity work, part time jobs, memberships of clubs and societies, interests and hobbies, and anything else that is unique to you.  For every section, it is always useful to make sure you state concrete examples to demonstrate the attributes you are describing, to show how you have learnt from the experience. Providing details and evidence demonstrates that you were truly engaged in the experience.

Reflection

Even if you think something is not really relevant, such as a part time job, reflect on the skills necessary in that role that would be required in the medical field, for example team working, organisation and punctuality. Reflection, or the ability to understand what you have learnt from an experience, is a key skill for medical professionals, and to demonstrate this ability at this early state is certainly a bonus.

The majority of medical schools will invite successful candidates from the application stage to attend an interview with one or more tutors. It is during this interview you will be invited to discuss things from your personal statement further. So ensure you are honest in what you write. Indeed, integrity is another key skills for medical professionals.  

Start early!

A final piece of advice is to start your personal statement early. You will definitely need to go through several drafts before settling on a final version. You may even wish to have a trusted friend or family member read over your statement to ensure you have fully captured your experiences and personal characteristics. It can be difficult to write about one’s self so this is a good opportunity for feedback.