Following on from last month’s post on selecting medical schools, this month we are focusing on how to craft the perfect Personal Statement.
First and foremost, students must demonstrate, both in their Personal Statement and throughout their interview process, that they have a strong insight into the profession of medicine. Medical schools are looking for candidates who know the realities of the career – the good and the bad.
Work experience is the best way to demonstrate this, and therefore is central to writing a good statement.
‘Too often we get applications that look like a shopping list. We'd like to hear about a patient a student has come into contact with, or an experience they've had.’
- Paul Teulon, Kings College London
Students must reflect on their experiences. Reflection is key, and below we outline our four-step process on reflection:
- Write up experience and learning points straight away
- Do wider reading and research around it
- Revisit after a couple of weeks and supplement
- Use the highlights in your Personal Statement
Students must go into detail when they are reflecting:
‘You won't prove that you have the motivation for medicine by simply saying that you do.’
- The University of Oxford
Opening paragraphs are key!
Students need to be honest about why they want to study medicine:
‘The weakest personal statements begin with: “I want to do medicine because my grandfather had a disease.” I'd be nervous about someone who wanted to go into medicine for personal reasons, because they could be a nurse rather than a doctor’
- Kim Piper, from the school of medicine at Queen Mary University.
‘Shock tactics don't work in Personal Statements. Sometimes candidates describe a scene from their work experience where someone gets their leg sawn off in the jungle – or something similar. But that's not the most effective way to start.’
- Dr Kevin Murphy, admissions tutor for medicine at Imperial College London
The skills required to be a doctor and numerous. A great document you can post your students in the direction of is Tomorrow’s Doctors, written by the GMC. It outlines the qualities required in the profession – students will therefore be able to not only assess their suitability, but also outline personal examples highlighting what the profession is looking for.
We hope these handful of tips will help you pass on some valuable advice to your future medics.
Thank you for reading and next month we will be focusing in on the UKCAT Exam!
The Medic Portal