29th May 2018
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With this Personal Statement, the writer received interview offers from St George’s University of London, Keele, Hull and York Medical School and Exeter. They received admission offers from Exeter and St George’s and they are due to start at St George’s in September.
Here, they break their personal statement down into parts, analysing each section as they go so you can learn from their experience.
In my role as an emergency medic with an event ambulance company, I have learned much about the skills required for the treatment of a patient. I have seen the importance of a calm, scientific approach, relying on knowledge of clinical skills and trauma management, as well as learning from advice from my seniors. Whilst assisting a paramedic move a patient with an incomplete lesion of the lumbar spine, it became apparent to me just how important teamwork is, having to communicate every action to each other to properly use a spinal scoop. I continue to train in my spare time, learning more of the wide range of skills necessary to treat a diversity physiological problems in differing situations.
The first paragraph is where you need to capture the admissions officer’s attention, which I have done with the first line. It is a good time to talk about yourself: ideally show that you have experience in medical roles, and demonstrate that you appreciate and understand the realities of medicine. Talk about the skills necessary for medicine and why you have them.
You should give specific examples to back up your points. Be sure to use medical terms correctly.
If you have done research or training in the field it is good to talk about it to show your dedication to long term learning.
This was reinforced when I shadowed a GP on call with the local ambulance trust. It became obvious how diverse a doctor’s skill set must be to rapidly gain control of an emergency situation and lead the paramedics. Watching the crew deal with a cardiac arrest, the importance of teamwork was obvious as each member carried out their roles instinctively, communicating effectively when required. The urgency of this setting was in contrast to a GP surgery where the doctor was able to employ a more holistic approach due to a relationship built up over time.
It is very important to talk about your medical work experience placements. Whilst you should mention briefly that you did to provide context, it is much more beneficial to talk about what you saw and learnt. Reflect on a situation where you saw the necessity of a critical skill e.g. teamwork and why it was important.
You should also reflect on how you have seen something of the real world of medicine and the stresses and difficulties of it. This shows you understand what you are applying for.
I have also seen the importance of a different type of communication through a voluntary placement in a care home. I was amazed by how much of a difference simply talking to the residents made to them, especially when an empathetic relationship started to develop, an important skill with an ageing population. I was able to employ some outside knowledge gained from studying a MOOC in palliative care which gave me more of an idea as to what the medical staff at the care home were aiming to achieve with their patients, and allowed me to understand the more complex procedures they were performing. These experiences have exposed me to the some of the difficult realities of medicine especially when there is little to be done to help a patient.
It is good to reflect on current issues in modern medicine, such as the elderly crisis. This shows you grasp the issues facing you and the realities of a career in medicine.
If you have done extra learning that is relevant to your work experience, it is good to mention it as it shows that you have taken the time to research something that particularly interests you. Independent learning is important medicine so it’s vital you show off this skill.
I enjoy learning and have expanded my breadth of knowledge of core sciences beyond the constraints of the school curriculum through a MOOC on the digestive system which allowed me to discover the role of the reticuloendothelial system in immune response. Through reading select articles from the New England Journal of Medicine I have seen something of the cutting edge of medicine, even if I may not always fully understand it.
You should demonstrate your skills in self-directed learning. Talk about what you have done to learn more about the subject for which you are applying, and why the subject particularly interests you. Give a specific example using technical terms to show a little of what you learnt.
Reading journals shows your dedication to learning too.
Whilst you may be interested in this field, you are not yet a doctor, so don’t overestimate your knowledge.
I enjoy my A-level subjects and have taken part in Biology and Physics Olympiads in which I gained gold and silver, and am a member of the Science society. Further to this, I founded the school Medical Society, inviting a GP and the Executive Medical Director of SWAST to give lectures to an audience of younger pupils interested in studying medicine.
Here I’ve talked about my other academic activities to demonstrate my academic rigour. It’s a good idea to also talk about anything that shows you have taken the initiative to start something like a medical society or similar.
Outside the curriculum, I am a keen musician, playing piano at grade 6 and singing in two school choirs. I enjoy sports; swimming and playing rugby, having represented Devon at U16 level. As a monitor and Deputy Head of House my responsibilities required me to relate empathetically to help younger children with problems. I have participated in Public Speaking and directed 10 of my peers in a house play, which taught me much about teamwork, communication and leadership skills.
Remember you are applying to join a university community, and they will want you to be involved in other activities. Talk about your outside interests and hobbies. You can then relate these to medicine e.g. sports teams equals teamwork.
I am excited by the prospect of studying a field of science which offers so much to people while allowing for continual learning.
Finish with a short statement, showing your desire to study the subject. It will help save characters as you don’t need a long conclusion.