As well as high academic achievements and praise, medical schools will often look for certain key skills and characteristics in potential applications that they believe help to make the perfect candidate for their academy.
However, besides academic success, potential schools and interviewers also look at candidates’ personal statements to get a better feel for who they are as a person.
With growing numbers of rejection from medical schools following more applications year on year, eager students have begun to ask the burning question, “what should be in a medical personal statement?”.
That’s why we’ve put together this article explaining the best things you can put in your personal statement and how they can benefit you. Keep reading to find out all about the things you can use, what examiners are looking for and how successful these features typically are for candidates applying to medicine.
Explain Why You Chose Their Course
When applying to a university or medical school, it’s important to address them directly to show your interest and enthusiasm in their course. Personal statements are the perfect way to showcase your passion for the field you are applying for to convince them that you are the perfect candidate for them.
A recent survey has uncovered that, out of 118 universities featured on UCAS, 89% of them used personal statements in their decision making. With so many taking it into account during the selection process, it’s vital that you stand out and sell yourself directly to the academy you are applying for by addressing them.
Explaining why you chose their specific course can be a great way for you to write about your interests in a natural, unforced way. Having the chance to detail what passions of yours align with that of the university can not only make you seem dedicated but also well-organised, as academies will recognise that you have researched them and have a strong understanding of what they do.
Candidates that fail to directly address why they want to study at their chosen academy within the first few paragraphs of their statement will seem disinterested and unprepared. It could come across to interviewers as if the candidate has applied to a range of different places in the hopes that they get into one, rather than carefully planning and researching the best choice for them.
Furthermore, it can make it harder for the academy to accept you as they don’t know if your goals and objectives align with theirs; it’s important to remember that universities are looking for students who will work best alongside them, and it can be hard to make that judgement with little to no application of who the applicant is and why they’re choosing that course.
Give Examples Of Any Related Experience
It can be difficult to get work experience for education in medicine, especially for the more specialist and high-risk sectors that require extensive training and research. That’s why any relevant work experience or academic work can be a great benefit to a candidate who wants to get an edge against their competition and appear more qualified to their chosen academy.
Research has concluded that 58% of employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented”, with a student’s personality coming second, with 48% favouring this. With many education facilities preferring students who have real-life experience in their field, it’s even more important to make any experience you may have clearly expressed in your medical personal statement.
Candidates who fail to put any related experience may struggle to compete against those who have extensive experience and research in their chosen field. This is because those who have experience can appear ambitious and proactive, making potential medical schools view them in a better light. To compete against other applicants successfully, you should look for placements on similar courses, summer schools and work experience that can help you to make your medical personal statement more appealing and informative of your interest in studying your field.
Medical schools vary greatly in how they choose to assess candidate’s personal statements. Some use a scoring system to get a numerical value for each one, whereas others look at them more holistically. Regardless of the way your medical school chooses to value personal statements, they will always be focusing on the experience you have before joining their academy. This can often be a telling factor of what you are capable of and if you will continue to perform whilst studying with them.
Show You Know What The Course Will Involve
Your medical personal statement is all about telling admissions staff why you’re suitable to study at their college or university. As a result, it would be sensible to show that you have in-depth knowledge of what the course requires, the curriculum and research opportunities that you may be given.
Showing an understanding of what the course will involve can help interviewers confirm that you know what you are applying for. This will make it easier for them to take your application more seriously and can be strategic for making them look upon you favourably against other candidates.
Furthermore, it can help to show some of your own personal qualities in your statement in a natural, unforced way. Researching the course can help you to come across as prepared and ready to learn, which are qualities that any academy would desire in their students. This can be great for subtly telling interviewers and academies a little more about yourself and why you would be a great fit for them. It’s most important to make sure that they get a feel for who you are as a person, which is why showing an understanding of the course can be such a beneficial part of your personal statement.
Demonstrating a knowledge of the course can also be a great way to show interviewers that you know what the realities of being a doctor really are. In your personal statement, you should always acknowledge that a career in medicine is a challenging one, with lots of hard work that goes into it. This will not only show admissions tutors that you are well-informed and researched but also that you are dedicated, hard-working and passionate about the field that you have chosen to follow.
Studies have found that, on average, you only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression. Telling the examiner that you know what the course you are applying for entails within the first few seconds already sets the tone for what you are like as a person and what you plan to be like as a doctor in the future.
Demonstrate Qualities Of A Doctor
Although this has been largely covered in the other sections, it’s important to reiterate how crucial it is to show that you have the qualities needed to become a doctor.
To best do this, you should think about the qualities that are needed to be a doctor (empathy, ability to work in a team, etc) and make sure your personal statement reflects them. Instead of just listing the qualities that you believe you own, you should use real-life examples and scenarios that show them in action and how you acquired them. Examples of these qualities could be found in work experience, volunteering experience, extracurricular activities or other areas of your life that can help to back up your claims.
Research has found that 28,690 students apply for medicine every year, with a 41.2% rise in rejections in more recent years. With more and more students applying for increasingly limited placements, it’s becoming increasingly important to show why you are a better fit for a medical place than other applicants.
Another great way to demonstrate that you have the qualities that a doctor needs is to reflect on what you actually learned through experience. Whilst demonstrating skills through experience is incredibly helpful to an application, providing insight into what you learned and how that has benefitted your career thus far can be even more impactful in showing how you will make the most of the placement if you get it. Applicants who reflect on what they have done, how it has benefitted them and how they continue to grow because of it typically have a far greater chance of being successful in their application.
Even if you don’t have any defining experiences that you can use to show the qualities that an academy may be looking for, you can still use your own personal traits to show examples. If you are a well researched and dedicated individual, you can use examples of this to still display your ability to become a doctor.
We hope that you’ve found this article both helpful and informative, and that we answered the question “what should be in a medical personal statement?” to your liking. For more content like this, check out the other articles on our blog page, or contact a member of our team for more help.