Personal Statement Writing

The personal statement is the most important part of the UCAS application no matter the course you are applying for. It is meant to tell the admission tutors about your personality and experiences. Writing a personal statement doesn't take one day- especially a medicine personal statement. There are a few things you will have to consider.



Planning:
You can't just jump straight into writing a personal statement. What are you going to write about? 

Work experience and volunteer work:
  • Get a piece of paper ready and write a list of all the work experiences and volunteering you have carried out. It could be shadowing healthcare professionals in a hospital, volunteering in a care/nursing home, volunteering in a charity shop, working as a health care assistant or even working as a customer service assistant in 99p stores. Any experience that involves interacting with people is relevant in medicine.
Hobbies and interests:
  • Take some time to write a list of all the things you are interested in. It could be singing or dancing or playing an instrument. It could be playing football or the fact that you were the leader of a soceity at College. These things tell the admission tutors the kind of person you are.
Achievements:
  • It might also be helpful to write down a list of any awards or achievements you've had in the past that you think might be necessary.



Structure:
The structure of your personal statement is also very important. You have to be able to decide what to include in each paragraph. Below is the most common structure of a medicine personal statement.
  • Opening paragraph/introduction (Paragraph 1)
  • Work experience (Paragraph 2,3 and 4)
  • Hobbies, interests and volunteer work (Paragraph 5)
  • Conclusion (Paragraph 6)
Introduction: 
The introductory paragraph of your personal statement is very important because you need to grasp the reader's attention from the very beginning. There are so many different ways in which people start their personal statements.

  • Quotes: It could be an Albert Einstein quote or one from Grey's Anatomy. However, you have to be aware that this has been done so many times in the past and so may come across as cliche.
  • Fact about medicine: It could be about how fascinating the human body is or the function of the heart. There is nothing wrong with these facts but personally, I don't think writing out a bunch of facts (the admissions tutors already know about) will add any value to your personal statement. 
  • Joke: Care must be taken as there is a possibility that not everyone who is going to read it will have a sense of humour.
  • Why medicine?: You have limited space so it might be better to go straight to the point and write about why you want to do medicine. You might want to take some time out to think carefully about this. Whether it's because you love working with people or because you want to help others or because you are in love with the sciences, it has to be your own reason. I'm sure thousands of applicants will have similar reasons but what will make yours stand out will be how you relate it to your work experience or life experiences. For example you could have been actively involved in the care of a family member who was ill and this experience inspired you to help others. Or you might have been in a situation yourself where you had to be taken care of by medical professionals and this was your inspiration. Whatever the reason, you have to try to make it your own. It's the only way you can make your personal statement unique.
Work experience:
This usually takes up most of the personal statement. 
  • It is very important to understand that it is not about quantity but always about quality. It doesn't matter how many placements you've had or how long you've been shadowing health care professionals for. It won't really help if you basically list out all the work experience. What admissions tutors are looking for are what you learnt from all these experiences.
  • Also even though it is good to have work experience in a healthcare setting, you wouldn't be at a disadvantage if they are not all hospital-based. As long as you are able to pick up the key skills you developed and relate them back to the medical field you will be fine. 
  • Some key skills admissions tutors would be looking out for include communication, time management, dealing with pressure, using initiative, working independently, empathic, people skills and so many more. 
  • Also, quoting instances or situations will be more clever than actually saying "Oh I did this and I improved my communication skills". Don't to relate these skills to medicine.
Hobbies/interests/Volunteering:
  • Again you will have to focus on the skills you gained doing these and how they helped develop you as a person. It won't be enough just saying you were the captain of the football team at College but that being the captain helped build your leadership skills, problem solving and decision making skills as you were perhaps actively involved in making major decisions and solving disputes between team members.
Conclusion:
  • This paragraph is also very important. It is important that you are able to tell the admission tutors what makes you special and why they should choose you instead of the other applicants. Tell them what you have to offer, highlighting the key skills you have. Tell them how passionate you are and how determined you are to be able to use these skills to help others in the future. 
  • Be careful not to come across as arrogant by writing statements like "I look forward to seeing you at the interview" 
Image from UCAS blog

Sounds like a lot of hard work? Well it is. So you better get started right now. It might seem like a long way but once you've planned it and sorted out the structure, you'll eventually get there. You can find sample medicine personal statements here and get help with writing your personal statement here.
Wish you guys all the best.