If you’re thinking about entering a career in medicine, our Careers Consultant Jean Harris provides her tips and advice on writing a personal statement for entry onto a medicine course.
Your UCAS personal statement will largely determine whether your application proceeds beyond the initial stage.
There are thousands of applicants for medicine who meet the minimum academic requirements. In the personal statement you have just 4,000 characters spread over 47 lines of text (including spaces and blank lines) – about 600 words, to convince an admissions tutor that you merit further consideration.
How can you maximise your chances of success?
- Be rock solid. Admissions tutors are experts in identifying ‘weaknesses’ in terms of an applicant’s passion, enthusiasm, commitment and knowledge of the medical profession. If you have any doubts it will come across in your personal statement. You have to be convinced you have it what it takes to make it as a doctor.
- Treat writing your personal statement as you would an assignment. Leave producing the finished article till later on in the process. Consider; what is being asked for, how you meet the requirements and how you can evidence them.
- Begin at the beginning – gather your thoughts and evidence. The assignment is straightforward – ‘tell us about your motivation to study medicine’.
- Check out what applicants need to demonstrate on the BMA website.
- Check out the website of the university you are applying to; many have tips and hints about what they look for in a personal statement.
- Organise your thoughts. UCAS has a worksheet and mind map available to help you. Ensure you detail;
- What motivates you to be a doctor and any relevant personal experiences you have had.
- What will make you a great doctor, your personal attributes – together with examples of how you have demonstrated them.
- Your knowledge of both the practice of medicine and current related issues and how you have developed that knowledge e.g. work experience – what you have done and how this has increased your insights/knowledge of medicine, ways you keep up to speed with medical issues
- Be clear about what you have learnt from your experience, whatever that experience is and wherever it was gained.
- The more relevant the supporting experience is, the better, but it is essential to have some experience to back up your claims.
- Make sure anything you include in your personal statement is relevant.
- Admissions tutors are looking for an applicant who shows they know what a good doctor is, that they can be that good doctor and that they have the evidence to back it up.
How to write your personal statement.
- Check out the website of the university you are applying to, many have tips and hints about their personal statement preferences.
- General advice is available at UCAS.
- Construct your CV in a Word Document. You can edit and spell-check it before pasting it to your form. Stick to a basic format – no bold, underlining, italics etc.
- There is no one definitive formula.
- Get on with it in good time. Medicine applications must be received at UCAS by October 15th in the year preceding entry.
- Be prepared to write and re-write it several times.
- Back up claims to skills and/or knowledge.
- When saying what you have done ensure you also spell out what you learnt about yourself/medicine/people.
- Be truthful. If you are called for interview it’s likely you’ll be asked more about what you have said on your statement.
- Be passionate but also concise. Don’t use over long complex sentences.
- Before pasting your personal statement to your UCAS form, double check the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Get someone to check it over for you. When you have pasted it, preview it in the form and double check that the text fits appropriately.
- Check out the following helpful websites for tips and ideas on what to cover and how to structure a personal statement for medicine
- Medical Interviews
- The Medical School Application Guide
- The Student Room has many sample personal statements to read as well as general tips.
- Studential gives some examples, comments and an indication of which applicants subsequently got interviews.
- Keep it personal and unique to you. Check out examples but remember it must be all about you. UCAS uses plagiarism software to review all personal statements. Suspect statements are flagged and you and your chosen universities are notified. This can lead to an application being immediately rejected.
Do seek help and advice in good time:
- Check out the help available from the Careers Centre (including our drop-in service).
- Check out any help that may be available in your faculty. The Faculty’s VLE is a good place to find out what’s on offer.
Do look out for further blog posts on medicine interview preparation and what to do if your application is unsuccessful.