This is the part of a series of blog posts where members of the 6med team attach and comment on their own medicine personal statements. Ali (one of our co-founders) applied to study Medicine at Cambridge, Imperial, UCL and Kings, and received offers from Cambridge, Imperial and Kings.
Please be aware that these examples are meant purely for the sake of inspiration, and should absolutely NOT be used as a model around which to base your own personal statement. UCAS have a rather strict system that detects plagiarism – more details can be found here: https://www.ucas.com/ucas/undergraduate/apply-and-track/filling-your-application/fraud-and-similarity
Personal Statement and Comments
Standing in theatre for seven hours during a triple bypass surgery made me appreciate the resilience and tenacity required to be a successful doctor. The level of focus and adrenaline flowing through the room was tangible, as the surgical team worked calmly through every complication that arose, stopping only when the final stitch was sewn. This display of sheer determination deeply inspired me, and strengthened my resolve to study medicine.
Standard introduction. I opened with an interesting example from work experience – obviously, this kind of introduction means you have to know a decent amount about what a triple heart bypass is, what it’s used for etc.
To gain a better insight into the lives of doctors, I observed ward rounds and clinics in different hospitals. I was struck by the patients’ gratitude towards and utmost respect for the doctors, even when things weren’t going as planned. I was able to contrast the experience with the healthcare system in Pakistan, where I spent a week shadowing both consultants and juniors. Although there was a huge disparity in facilities, I could see that doctors everywhere work towards a common goal, doing everything they can for the patient, with teamwork and communication playing a vital part in that process. I am enthused by the prospect of becoming a part of such a dynamic and stimulating field.
One of the benefits of doing work experience in a different country is that you can always make some interesting comments when you compare/contrast their healthcare system with the NHS. I haven’t specified how many “different hospitals” I visited – the names and numbers of hospitals is pretty irrelevant.
Two weeks spent in a GP surgery (coupled with five years of being a St John Ambulance cadet) highlighted to me the importance of primary care and society’s dependence upon these services. What stood out most was how the doctor was able to explain her observations to the patient in an understandable and relatable manner – a style that I hope to emulate in my own work.
In all honesty, I don’t particularly like this paragraph. It lacks a clear sense of style, but it does name-drop 5 years in St. John Ambulance, which can only be a good thing.
I also volunteered at a special school over the last year, where I taught ICT to mentally and physically disabled young people. Although this was a challenge at times, I learnt valuable lessons in patience and empathy, and the experience was immensely rewarding. I was particularly drawn to, and worked with, a child with autism. He was quiet and reserved, but our various discussions about trivial matters really brought out his personality, which shone brightly in his final presentation to the class. In addition, I have worked at a maths study centre for the past four years, where I enjoy identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses, and working with them over a long period of time. This is another aspect of medicine which I am attracted to – being part of a patient’s life and seeing them progress through treatment to hopeful recovery.
A few points here – firstly, the name of the school is irrelevant, and would have been a waste of words had I included it. Secondly, it’s generally a good idea to mention a specific patient/student, rather than making solely general comments about the experience of working with the patients/students as a whole. Thirdly, working at a maths study centre doesn’t have much of an explicit relationship with Medicine, so it requires a quick sentence to link it back and make it relevant to Medicine.
Being a naturally inquisitive person, I have always been drawn by the allure of science. I am fascinated by the workings of the human body in particular, and recently came across Oliver Sacks’ “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, which introduced me to other mental disorders and opened my eyes to the world of neurology. I find it amazing how even the smallest defect has the potential to alter a person’s entire being, and hope to learn more about this intriguing subject, along with others, at medical school.
The classic technique of mentioning a book that you’ve “read”. I threw this paragraph in because I was applying to Cambridge and Imperial, two universities renowned for their “love of science”. Although interestingly, it was only in my King’s interview that I was actually asked anything about this book/neurology. Obviously, if you’re mentioning a book in your personal statement, you need to be able to talk about it, so be very careful about saying you’ve read something you actually haven’t, or mentioning a really complicated book that you don’t really understand.
Having spoken to many doctors and students, I understand that medicine can be a stressful profession, which is why it is important to find a good work-life balance. I personally enjoy playing tennis and chess, and have also been running my own web design studio since the age of thirteen. This, along with my prefect duties, has really improved my organisation and ability to work under pressure. Finally, I have recently discovered the world of magic and hypnosis, the psychology behind which I find incredibly fascinating. I take pleasure in sharing with people that moment of wonder, and have found that becoming a magician has also improved my confidence and communication skills. After a year of practice, I gave my first public performance at a hospice last month, and am now a regular volunteer there.
Always good to end with a quick paragraph about extra-curricular activities. I think I’ve got a decent, quirky bunch of things here which are all interesting topics of conversation at interviews. I was fully prepared to answer questions about what web design, magic and/or hypnosis had to do with Medicine – if you’re someone (like me) who doesn’t have the classic “I played football at county level” or “I’m a diploma pianist”, it’s helpful to have one or two interesting activities/hobbies that you can talk passionately about.
From watching open heart surgery to caring for vulnerable children, I have really enjoyed the blend of science and human interaction that medicine offers. No other career would allow me to combine my love of science with an inherently caring nature, while making a profound difference in people’s lives.
Standard conclusion. Not reinventing the wheel, just drawing it together in a nice, somewhat cliched fashion.
About the Author: Ali Abdaal
I'm a medical student at Cambridge University, and one of the co-founders of 6med. I created the BMAT Crash Course and Interview Crash Course, and helped code BMAT Ninja and UKCAT Ninja. If you need a hand with anything, feel free to give me a shout!
Personal Statement For Medical School
When applying to study Medicine, you must include a short piece of writing with your UCAS form called a personal statement. When writing a personal statement for Medical School, the aim is to persuade whoever reads it that you are a great candidate to study Medicine.
This page provides the headline information on how to write a personal statement for medical school, before offering a step-by-step guide on what you need to do. Don’t forget to use all the subpages to make the most of the section.Get your Personal Statement reviewed by an expert
What Is A Personal Statement?
According to the UCAS website, ‘a personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself to your prospective school, college or training provider.’
That pretty much sums it up. You need to sell yourself to Medical Schools. And you have to do this in up to 4,000 characters, which will make up roughly 500 words, over 47 lines of 12-point script.
That means being very precise and using your unique selling points as well as possible to gain an edge over the competition.
What Should My Personal Statement for Medical School Include?
Broadly speaking, your Personal Statement needs to cover three main strands:
- Motivation — Why do you want to study Medicine?
- Exploration — What have you done to learn about it?
- Suitability — Why are you a great fit for it?
The Medic Portal provides pages on each one of these in turn, along with an additional page on writing style.
Medicine Personal Statement: Top Tips
Want expert personal statement tips from TMP’s tutors? Hear Afra’s top tips in the video below!
How Should I Structure My Personal Statement for Medical School?
Of course, this is a matter of personal preference. But you need to make sure you have a clear and logical framework. We would suggest that following the below, gives you strong foundation from which to showcase your attributes. In brackets, we state the main (but not only) function of each segment.
- Why I want to be a doctor (motivation)
- Work experience (exploration)
- Volunteering (exploration)
- Wider Reading and study (exploration)
- Extracurricular (suitability)
- Conclusion (motivation)
What You Need To Do
- Keep your reflective diary up to date. You can do this by using your free personal portfolio. This will prove to be a goldmine of material for your personal statement.
- Plan your structure properly. This might follow our guidelines above but it doesn’t have to. Just make sure it is clear.
- Start drafting. Make notes for each section in your structure. Don’t worry if you are writing too much, you can edit it down to the best bits later.
- Edit and refine. Begin honing your draft down into something resembling the final form in the appropriate writing style.
- Get advice. When you’re fairly happy with your personal statement for medical school, give it to parents, teachers, friends and family. Get feedback and make improvements.
- Get a professional review. Send your personal statement for medical school to The Medic Portal for professional feedback. Incorporate this feedback and repeat step 5.
- Upload and submit. Transfer the final version from Word onto the UCAS website. Since there’s no spell check on UCAS, this should be done only just before submission.