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How to Analyse your own Skills & Attributes

How to Analyse your own Skills & Attributes

Why Medicine Question
Why Medicine Question
Colette Tolley
2nd-year Medical Student at University of Oxford
June 10, 2021

How do I analyse my own skills and attributes?

To analyse your own skills and attributes, and how they relate to skills Medical Schools look for, think about:

  1. Your personal qualities (attributes)
  2. Your skills, including:
  • a. Skills developed through your academic studies
  • b. Skills developed during your work experience
  • c. Skills developed through extra-curricular activities

Analysing Your Own Skills Checklist

  • A personal attribute is a quality or characteristic of a person
  • Medical Schools all have lists of qualities they desire
  • Skills are generally taught and can be improved through training
  • Think about what you are good at – make a list
  • Be specific with your skills
  • Demonstrate how you used your skills before

What are personal attributes?

A personal attribute is a quality or characteristic of a person. This quality alludes something inherent about them such as kindness, ambition and sensibility. Attributes are different to skills. Skills are generally taught and can be improved through training. An example of a skill is non-verbal communication.

Individually, you will have a set of qualities or attributes that make you shine. Your personal qualities affect your style of going about day to day life and the way you’ll respond to different situations. Therefore, the better you know yourself, the better you’ll be able to perform in different situations. Including the Medical School application process.

Certain attributes are associated with making good Doctors! These include:  professional, calm, empathetic, attentive, humility, passion, dependable, self-motivated, positive attitude, team orientated and being an effective communicator. You’ll definitely have a few of these, but having all of them is not necessary, knowing your strong points rather than trying to be a bit of everything will come across as far more genuine at interview.

How can I identify my personal attributes?

It’s likely you’ll be doing this analysis for your medical application. Remember, personal attributes are PERSONAL. There’s no right or wrong set to have, they’re a reflection of who you are, no two people will be the same.

To find your personal attributes, start by writing down the 10 attributes that you think describe you best. Then ask friends and family to do the same. Your personal attributes will be clear to those who know you best. Look for attributes mentioned multiple times and then find specific examples where you have demonstrated these.

Identifying your personal attributes summary!

  • Write down 10 attributes that describe you best
  • Ask friends and family to do the same
  • Look for attributes mentioned multiple times
  • Find specific examples of how you’ve demonstrated these attributes

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How do medical schools look at personal attributes?

Medical Schools all have lists of qualities they desire in potential applicants and will test for at interview. For example, The University of Oxford look for ethical awareness, capacity for sustained and intense work and intellectual curiosity amongst other qualities. Knowing where your strong areas lie within those being tested will give you an advantage at interview as you’ll have had time to prepare beforehand.

Skills: What are they and what do they show?

Skills are generally taught and can be improved through training. Demonstrating how you’ve developed skills from academic studies, work experience and extra-curricular activities is a great way to show Medical Schools that you’re capable of learning.

Some skills are specific such as auscultating a chest with a stethoscope. Some skills are non-specific and therefore transferrable such as analytical skills. Highlighting transferrable skills is particularly useful during your interviews as they demonstrate how you may perform as a doctor.

When thinking about what skills you have, it may be helpful to group them into three categories: skills developed through academic study, skills developed through work experience and skills developed through extra-curricular activities.

How can I Identify my own skills?

Identifying your own skills can be done by thinking about what you’re good at, how you’ve demonstrated that you’re good at it and how you’ve gotten better at the said action. The table below lists 5 examples of the 3 types of skill discussed above. This list is intended to help get you started, there are plenty more skills you could demonstrate!

Skills from academic work Skills from work experience Skills from extra-curricular activities

  • Analytical skills
  • Time management
  • Independent learning
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills 

Communication skills

  • Team-working
  • Problem solving
  • Taking initiative
  • Adaptability and flexibility

Specific skills i.e. musical ability

  • Competitiveness
  • Leadership
  • Creativity
  • Patience

How to identify your own skills

  • Create a table like the one above
  • List events/ accomplishments from each which are important to you
  • Think about what skills you demonstrated during these events/ accomplishments

This method is useful as it will provide examples to go with each skill, so you can back up your statements.

How to demonstrate personal skills and attributes in your personal statement

The key to showing what skills and attributes you have is being specific! Use an example of a time where you have demonstrated a skill or attribute and say what you learnt from it to give statements in your personal statement and interviews more credibility.

Here’s a point by point breakdown of how you can do this, using analytical skills as an example!

This technique is useful for listing skills or attributes in your personal statement and also extremely helpful when structuring interview answers. As it highlights the important of having specific examples to give medical school admissions staff context!

1.  Introduce the skill and when you used it

“I demonstrated and improved my analytical skills when completing an extended essay on the lifecycle of dragonflies for a London schools biological essay writing competition”

2.  Say how you used the skill

“When writing the essay, I read and analysed over 30 scientific papers on the matter. When looking at these papers I had to analyse the information to see if it was of high quality, relevant to the essay and then draw conclusions from the information.”

3.  Say what you learnt from this experience and if you developed the skill

“Writing this essay taught me that not all information in scientific papers is relevant and that comparing information from different papers can help to draw useful conclusions. I feel that through writing this essay my analytical skills improved.”

4.  Relate the importance of having the skill back to medicine!

“Analytical skills are important to Doctors, as they will be required to evaluate new research from scientific papers and draw their own conclusions as part of the responsibility of ‘life-long learning’.”

Final words

When analysing your skills and attributes, make sure to stay true to your own and use strong, specific examples. There’s only so much you can show admissions tutors in the 4000 characters of a personal statement, and limited time in an interview, so focus on providing quality, backed up examples.

Using strong, specific examples will really demonstrate to a medical school that you’ve taken time to reflect on and analyse your own skills and attributes before applying and have a strong insight into what makes you tick! They’ll like this, as it’s important for medical students and doctors to be able to recognise what they’re good at and understand what they can bring to the multidisciplinary team.

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