Your medical school personal statement is the one thing that university admission boards use to get to know you before they’ve even met you! It’s one thing to write about yourself, but it’s quite another to big yourself up. When you come to writing your personal statement you will probably find that it can be a lot more challenging than you’d expect.
Writing your personal statement can be a difficult challenge, and I’m sure you want to get it just right. When I was applying for medicine, I was able to write a near-perfect personal statement. So, if you are looking to do the same keep on reading to find out how to write the perfect medical school personal statement.
How should I structure my medical school personal statement?
When planning out your personal statement, you should arrange your paragraphs in an order that will flow from one paragraph to the next. For instance, all of your work experience paragraphs should be together and all of your extracurricular activities should be together.
The structure of your personal statement is a vital part in making in ensuring that the reader understands what you are trying to convey. Your personal statement should be arranged in paragraphs starting with an introduction and ending with a strong conclusion.
The paragraphs in the main body of your personal statement should each have a clear topic of discussion. Include a sufficient amount of transition words to improve the readability of your personal statement.
Read your work out loud. This will allow you to hear how your work reads. If you are finding that it isn’t flowing then you may need to change how the structure of your sentences and paragraphs or the language you are using.
For example, if your sentence looks like: ‘On my work experience I was able to observe how doctors interact with their patients’ try and rearrange the structure to ‘Whilst on my work experience, I observed the doctor-patient relationship’.
How to Write my personal Statement Introduction
Your introduction is going to be the first thing your reader reads so you really need to grab their attention. As you are writing a medical school personal statement, tell them why you want to study medicine! If you have one, you can write a short anecdote about when you decided to study medicine or why you made this life-changing decision.
Top tip # 1: Avoid cliché phrases.
How to write my personal statement Paragraphs
The paragraphs you have will be the bulk of your personal statement. This is where you include all the meaty things that will prove to the reader why you want to study medicine.
Each paragraph should have a clear topic and a good structure.
Top tip #2: Keep it concise, you don’t have many words to put in your personal statement so remove as many ’empty’ words as you can. If it’s isn’t improving your personal statement it can go!
Example: In summer last year, I was able to attend a renal clinic… (12 words). Last summer, I attend a renal clinic… (7 words)
What should you include in your paragraphs?
So, what should you include in your personal statement for medical school? The main topics medicine admission officers love to hear about are:
- Work Experience: hospital placements, GP shadowing, hospice care, paid work, volunteering etc!
- Hobbies: gym, sports, cooking/baking etc!
- Extra-curricular: DofE, clubs and societies etc!
- Relevant books and Healthcare journal articles you’ve read e.g BMJ
They have already seen the science subjects you are taking and your predicted grades, but what sets you apart from the other applicants? Think why should they pick me?
How to talk about work experience
Start by writing about what you did, where you did it, but keep this part brief. Then follow by talking about what you observed, what you learned and what you took away from the experience. Is there anything that you will take on board when you become a medical student and then a doctor e.g. good communication skills?
If you have lots of work experience that is great! You should have a wide range of points you can bring up in your personal statement. Now you need to decide which parts are the most interesting AND the things you learnt about the most. What you learnt/took away from your work experience is very important in showing you are able to reflect on your experiences. Start by writing everything you have down and go from there. Use emotive language and remember to be concise!
If you don’t have much work experience that’s okay. Work with what you have. Explain in more depth what you saw and learned. Remember paid work is accepted as work experience by many medical schools (be sure to check on your university choices websites).
Top tip #3: Never make anything up in your personal statement! You may be asked about it in your interviews and can be tripped up for lying.
What do you do in your free time?
It is easy to think that your hobbies outside school aren’t relevant to your medical school applications. However, that isn’t true at all. It is actually very important because it shows the reader that you are a well-rounded person and have the ability to juggle commitments and relieve stress. So put that in there, it looks good!
Weighting your points
Your personal statement can only be 4000 characters (including spaces) which isn’t very much. You will most likely find yourself in a situation where you are frantically trying to cut your personal statement down. So, you need to make every word worthy of being in your personal statement.
Remember, you need to sell yourself! Make sure you are not including anything that does not represent you in the best possible way because it is just a waste otherwise.
For any healthcare related courses, it is important to really show off your work experience. Work experience is the most relevant information to show your motivations to study medicine.
Don’t focus too much on your A level subjects, unless there is something really relevant to medicine that you want to write about. Most people that are applying to medicine take biology and chemistry so talking about it won’t help you stand out from other applicants.
Have you taken a Gap year?
If you have taken a year out this past year, you really need to show off what you have achieved in this year and how you have grown as a person.
What is a more perfect way to show your commitment to study medicine than if this is your second, third or even more attempts at applying to medicine? Well done to you, this definitely shows that you have a lot of perseverance and determination.
Ensure that your personal statement captures that you will keep trying until you get in. Demonstrate your passion and even state it to clearly let the reader know.
How to write your Personal Statement Conclusion
The endings of anything should always end strong. Personal statements are no different. Since you’re working with a finite number of words, your personal statement conclusion shouldn’t be too lengthy. Tie in together everything you have said and end it in a really strong sentence.
Consider writing about how you have weighed up the pros and cons of studying medicine extensively and have come to the conclusion that is the perfect course for you.
To end, you can be confident and bold by stating that you will enjoy the lifelong fulfilling career that medicine brings!
Top tip #4: Never introduce any new points in your personal statement conclusion.
How do I Proof my medical school personal statement?
Make sure you read and re-read your personal statement as many times as humanly possible. You want to make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect because if it’s not nothing will stop the reader from throwing your personal statement away. In short, it is a costly mistake that is easily avoidable.
Top tip #5: Read your personal statement out loud to help you assess the flow of your writing and spelling and grammar!
I recommend getting your family to read your personal statement and also at least one teacher before you submit it.
Top tip #6: Don’t ask too many people to edit your personal statement. As too many opinions can become conflicting and confusing.
Submit your personal statement
Well done your personal statement is now perfect. If you are happy with your work, go ahead and submit it to UCAS and await all of your fantastic offers!