So this is the biggest element in the UCAS section, and the section everyone hates. Mainly because you have to big yourself up and everyone hates talking about themselves. One bit of advice is to not read any example statements. They can influence how you write and there is a chance that what you would have written as an individual is better than the example statements.
Firstly look at the structure. Make the statement tell a tale of how you decided to study medicine. There are lots of ways of doing this but the way I structured mine was to:
- The reason ( I included when I realized I wanted to study medicine and the particular elements which interested me)
- Work experience (I included experience from the specialties of which I have an interest in). It is also really important to highlight what skills you developed/ witnessed and how they would apply to work as a doctor.
- Hobbies You need to prove you are not a bookworm robot. These people do not make good doctors. Show how you are an interesting person ( as my old secondary teacher used to say). I included my love of Sherlock Holmes and the societies I took part in during my undergraduate degree).
- Conclusion I reflected on a moment which hit me hard during work experience bringing in core NHS values.
Try to include anything unique in your personal statement. There are thousands of students applying – what makes you stand out. I attended the RSM NHS debate last year. It was a great way to see what medical professionals thought the problems of the NHS were. It was also an amazing opportunity to see the late Stephen Hawking give a talk, something that had been on my bucket list. A key element to this is that I talked to only 4 other medical applicants that day. That means only 4 people could have had that on their personal statements. It shows that you are willing to increase your knowledge outside of your curriculum.
Link everything back to medicine – Yes you may play the piano, but how is that relevant? An example would be self-discipline, dexterity and a hobby outside of medicine. Play a sport? Examples are teamwork (but explain specifically), leadership, teaching and a hobby outside medicine.
It would be worth reading GMC articles on what makes a good doctor and linking your personal statement back to that. When you carry out work experience, observe how the doctors interact with everyone and how the skills they use match your own.
Essentially this 1000 character essay is personal to you. DO NOT LIE. They may test you on this during interviews (especially if they are the traditional panel interviews) and if you can’t expand on the examples within your statement, then you are demonstrating a skill not desired by the medical profession, deceit.
You will have to write and re-write this statement. I re-did mine 14 times before I decided on the final copy. I recommend saving each draft because you may use some of the phrases from earlier drafts.
Try and avoid cliches – Ever since I was born is a common one but factually is silly. You were not coming out of your mother professing a desire to one day become a doctor, nor were your first words stethoscope or pills. It makes your personal statement over dramatized and, compared to someone who discovered they wanted to become a doctor at age 22 but has evidence as to why and can demonstrate a complete understanding of what it is like to be a doctor, your birth proclamation will seem immature.
This is also an area where your undergraduate degree can come into play. I studied Neuroscience so I looked at what skills I had developed during my degree and how they would be useful to a medical degree. This can be applied to non-science degrees as well, something that is essential for GEM courses as some universities open their courses to non-science graduates.
So that is it ! My tips for writing a personal statment. Remember it is about you, let someone proof read it for grammatical errors but don’t let anyone influence how you write this.