What is the personal statement?
Personal statement is an essential element of the UCAS application form. It is your first opportunity to give the universities which you’ve applied to an idea of who you are, and why you’d make an excellent medical student all within 4000 characters (around 500 words).
Each university uses the personal statement slightly differently (details of which can be found on their website). Generally, the personal statement will have some weight in the decision to offer a candidate an interview or a place.
It may be helpful to look at your personal statement as an essay about yourself. Like with an essay, it has an introduction (the core themes), body (explaining the core themes) and conclusion (bringing the information from the essay together).
What to include in Medicine Personal Statement – checklist
- Your motivation to study medicine (put in introduction and conclusion)
- Clinical experience (paid or voluntary) and what you have learnt from it about medicine (put in the first paragraph)
- Personal qualities and experience that make you a good fit for a career in medicine (put in the second and third paragraphs)
- Back these statements up with examples from extracurricular activities and clinical experience
- Further reading
- Academic achievements
What qualities should I include in my personal statement?
Your medical school personal statement will serve two principal functions. To allow the university to get to know you and to demonstrate that you’ll make a fantastic Doctor! Qualities that the University of Oxford list on their website as essential for a good Doctor include:
- Honesty and integrity
- Ethical awareness
- A good team worker
- Capacity for sustained and intense work
- Intellectual curiosity
- Communication skills
The best way to demonstrate you have these qualities is to back up your claims with personal experience e.g. “as president of my school’s student union I have developed my leadership skills through organising X, Y and Z” When writing your personal statement try and demonstrate as many of these qualities as possible. This will show you’re a rounded individual, with a suitable personality to work in the medical profession.
Should I include work experience in my Medicine personal statement?
Yes. The best way to confirm whether medicine is the career path for you is to experience it first-hand. Therefore, universities almost always ask for applicants to have completed work experience in a caring environment.
Admissions tutors understand that clinical experience can be difficult to arrange, for this reason, they’re less focused on what you have and more on what you’ve learnt. You can observe a neurosurgeon for a week but if you learn nothing, it’s useless.
How do I decide what experience to include?
If you’re lucky enough to have multiple periods of work experience, you’ll need to be selective about what you include. Avoid simply listing everything you’ve done. Instead, focus on two or three key experiences, describe them and say what you learnt and why it helped you decide you want to do medicine.
Read our guide on how to reflect on your Medical work experience here.
Should I include hobbies in my Medicine Personal Statement?
Absolutely yes. With medicine being such an academically challenging course, it’s easy to disregard the importance of having other hobbies and interests. Universities, however, stress the importance of having a life out of medicine.
Direct quote from the University of Manchester’s website: “Doctors must be able to communicate and empathise with their patients. This is enhanced by some shared life experiences”.
Should I include further reading?
Yes. Further reading is an opportunity to gain more of an understanding of the medical profession. Reading scientific publications are a great way to demonstrate an interest in the medical field.
Writing about further reading alongside work experience e.g. shadowing a neurologist followed by reading a neurology journal, can show you have the inherent interest and passion for learning all Medical Schools require.
How to talk about personal qualities and experience
This section is your opportunity to let Medical Schools get to know you, and for you to demonstrate you already hold many of the personality traits of a good doctor. Like when discussing work experience, avoid listing all your non-academic achievements without adding an element of reflection.
Some good qualities to demonstrate through personal experience include
- Positions of responsibility and leadership i.e. Head Student or sports team captain.
- Working as a part of a team i.e. being on a sports team or having a weekend job.
- Basic teaching abilities i.e. mentoring younger students.
Similarly, to work experience, admissions tutors understand that some students have more opportunities to pursue a wider range of interests. The concern here is that you have some spare time and do something productive with it.
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP WITH YOUR MEDICINE PERSONAL STATEMENT