This is part of a series of blog posts where members of the 6med team attach and comment on their own medicine personal statements. Jonathan (contributor to the BMAT Crash Course) applied to Cambridge, Southampton, Manchester and Sheffield, and received offers from Cambridge, Southampton and Manchester.
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
I first became interested in Medicine when my teacher had to give up her job to look after a relative with motor neurone disease; I was shocked to discover the devastating impact of such illnesses. I began finding out about careers in Medicine, asking my GP questions about his work, speaking with university medical researchers, and reading publications such as the Student BMJ. I am fascinated by medical research such as Richard Faull’s work on neurogenesis, as it is exciting to see how the brain’s own repair mechanisms could be used to provide new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. I have also found the human aspects of Medicine to be at least as important as providing a cure. For example, an article in the BMJ on salivation problems in the elderly caught my attention, as it demonstrated how innovative problem solving can complement science to improve the quality of people’s lives. This had a particular impact on me, because by that time I had been volunteering for four years at care homes and I had begun to appreciate the tremendous benefits that even simple medical interventions can bring. I helped to produce an improvement in the motor skills of a resident over the course of six months using ball games, painting and exercises, and it was wonderful to see his spirits rising as his physical ability increased. I believe that a career in Medicine would provide me with an ideal combination of intellectual challenge, problem solving, and interaction with people.
This is a fairly normal way to open a personal statement: “why did I become interested in Medicine?” Make sure everything you write is true, because you’ll be asked about it. In this paragraph I’ve talked about my inspiration to take medicine, people I’ve talked to about the career, books/publications I had read (really read them!), and some work experience that I’d had. These are all important parts of an application and although they don’t need to go in your first paragraph necessarily, I think it’s important to put them in early or they will get forgotten.
Studying Medicine would allow me to pursue my lifelong interest in science. I am studying Physics and Chemistry to IB Higher level, and won my school’s IB prize for Chemistry in my Lower 6th year. I also enjoy scientific activities outside school; my prize-winning project investigating aerofoil performance taught me about scientific method and the application of physical principles. I also approach my hobbies from a scientific point of view, actively engaging with problem solving aspects and using scientific method to improve my performance: I recently wrote a 4000 word study on methods for solving the Rubik’s cube, and I study the formal theory of chess. This approach, coupled with my determination and commitment, has driven me to set and achieve high goals. I am now ranked in the world’s top 200 Rubik’s cube solvers. Similarly, while participating in a science competition to design a timing device, I began to lead the group proactively, and used mathematical modelling to improve accuracy. Our design went on to win overall.
In this paragraph I’m talking about schoolwork and relevant extracurricular activities. I would suggest not lingering on any one point for too long. It’s important to introduce your hobbies as well as explain why you’ve mentioned it, for example what skills it demonstrated and how it will help you in the future.
I am aware that a good doctor also needs to have the right personal qualities. During work experience at The Royal Marsden, I learnt the need for leadership and teamwork, particularly in situations requiring the application of multiple disciplines to a single clinical problem. I have cultivated these qualities through many years of playing in musical ensembles, running the Debating Society at my school, and becoming a School Prefect. I also realise that communicating positively with patients is a vital part of a doctor’s role. I have therefore developed my communication skills by becoming involved in debating, and I chose the IB syllabus to allow me to continue studying two languages throughout Sixth Form. I also have a wide range of extracurricular interests which have improved my time-management and concentration: I play squash, hockey and tennis, enjoy long distance cycling, have completed my silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and I am working towards my diploma on the cello.
Medicine personal statements differ from other kinds because the end goal is to be a Doctor, and there is a big focus on interpersonal skills when you do clinical training. This paragraph was me attempting to show an interest in working alongside people and the ability to work well in teams.
My interest in Medicine began at a young age, but as my passion for science and empathy for people developed, it became clear that this really is the career for me. I am sure the skills and determination that have brought me success in the past would stand me in good stead for the rigours of medical study, and I am eager to apply myself to the challenge.
A good ending in my opinion sums up your important points and lays everything on the table in a short, snappy paragraph. Always think about the person reading it. They’ll remember the beginning and the ending the most, while the middle will be less well remembered. So make sure your first and last paragraphs are top notch.