These cover most, if not all, of the characteristics medical schools are looking for in an applicant. Of course, you can’t fit all of it in, but you should cover as much of it as possible, which is why it’s important to try to be relatively succinct in your writing. Alongside this, you should have an alignment of values and behaviours with the values of the NHS constitution. Your understanding and appreciation of these values must reflect in your personal statement (and at interview).
You can find a copy of the constitution here.
On top of this, you should also have a read of ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ and consider incorporating some of its ideas into your personal statement or at interview.
Remember, although you definitely should give a personal and individual account of your experiences, you should also aim to tell medical schools what they want to hear. Here’s a tip, you could actually write out content for different areas (such as for communication, teamwork, empathy, etc.), grouping them under specific subheadings on a separate document, and then mix and match them all, inserting them at different places in your statement: this allows you to try out more options when writing your personal statement to begin with and forces you to prioritise certain content over others.
2. Limit your descriptions and focus on reflection
As repeated several times already, don’t go on too long describing what you did during your work experience or time volunteering, and focus instead on reflection, which includes talking about the things you came to realize and discovered about medicine in general and the specific qualities in doctors.
3. Provide support for every claim you make
It’s easy to claim to have various qualities and an understanding of what it means to be a doctor, but quite a few students we’ve come across fail to substantiate many of their assertions in their personal statements. For example, don’t say you have a strong interest in the sciences without actually providing some support that is this the case. Similarly, don’t spout out a list of qualities (teamwork, the importance of communication, etc.) without providing some real-world examples of why they’re important.
4. Ensure you have perfect grammar, a clear flowing structure, and a professional yet friendly writing style
Although unfair for those who don’t consider themselves strong writers, the truth is good writing makes a big difference. All too often, students send us personal statements littered with grammatical errors – for example, one of the big things many students seem to struggle with is the correct and effective use of commas. Our recommendation is that if you’re not a particularly good writer, you get somebody who is good to look through your personal statement, sentence by sentence, getting them to reword phrases for you. If you’re not a bad writer but want to find ways of making your personal statement read better, then consider checking out ‘The Little Red Writing Book’, which contains lots of tips and tricks to help you write in a personable manner. You should have a look at our selection of previously successful model statements because they can give you an idea of how to best phrase certain ideas or experiences.