Personal statements

Write your personal statement as early as you can – you will undoubtedly go through many drafts of it
Save your drafts – you might find that previous versions contained some phrase that you might want to use in your final document.

Make sure you do not have any mistakes in your personal statement – this includes easy-to-make mistakes such as spelling or punctuation. Get someone to proofread your personal statement (in return you can read their personal statement) since it is often easier to spot the mistakes of others rather than your own. Try to get the proofreading done when you are almost done with your personal statement.

Many people end up having similar personal statements – this is rather ironic because the whole point of a personal statement is that it’s personal. The reason this probably arises is because medicine personal statements tend to follow certain format (introduction, work experience, extra-curriculars etc). To help you stand out it is important that you reflect on your activities and really demonstrate that you have thought about your activities and your reasons carefully.

This means not simply writing about what you’ve done but what you gained from it. A list of achievements won’t differentiate you from the other applicants but writing in detail about the ways you developed because of your experiences just might.

To do this you can try using this structure. Think about your experience and focus on the skills or attributes this requires. Explain why those skills are necessary for a doctor and, if possible, give an example of medical staff using that skill from your work experience.

Reflecting on your work experience and showing that you have learned from the experience (rather than stood in a corner for two weeks) is important. Think about a few stand-out moments – patients you saw or doctors you admired – and how they changed the way you think or feel about medicine.

The key point here is that you need to be able to give evidence to support your statements. It’s not enough to say “I am a great leader” – you need to be able to show that you have that skill through your experiences. An example of this would be “My experience coaching my school’s hockey team has allowed to gain an insight into leading a diverse group, allowing for differences in ability and making sure everyone continues to improve and enjoy themselves. Doctors need to do this when they lead multidisciplinary teams with people from different specialisms and levels of experience. On my work experience in a Medicine of the Elderly ward I was really struck by how the consultant understood each person’s role and was able to delegate or defer to them as necessary”. Giving specific examples is best.

If you require some inspiration, The Student Room Medicine Wiki page has a section on personal statements where users have “donated” their personal statements for use. There’s over 100 freely available examples on the website.