If you are applying to medical school, you will have to include a personal statement along with your UCAS form. The reason for it is to convince the person reading your personal statement as to why you are a good candidate to study Medicine.
Your personal statement is the first chance you will have to make a lasting impression on the admissions tutors of any medical school you apply to. It is worth making your statement the best you possibly can.
At some medical schools, personal statement accounts for a large amount of the total admission score. Since medical schools offer admission to students who are not just intelligent, but also empathetic and communicative, you can use your personal statement to create a good impression on the admission officers.
Admission officers read hundreds of personal statement during the admission process. Your medicine personal statement is the best shot at leaving a lasting impression.
Here are some do’s and don’ts that you should follow when writing your personal statement for medical school:
DO ensure that the statement addresses two essential points.
Two critical points that you should address are the reason(s) why you want to pursue Medicine and why you are the right candidate for medical schools. Most students end up answering just one of them, mostly the first one, and it is not enough. Admission officers are looking for personal statements that offer an insight into the qualities of the applicant, and you should be able to provide it through your statement to avoid getting overlooked.
DO give yourself enough time to write your Medicine personal statement.
You should allow yourself at least six months of writing and revise the personal statement before you submit it. Create a draft first by making notes for different sections in your structure. Even if you are writing too much, you can always edit it later. Remember to save all your drafts so that you do not miss something important during the editing process. Review the draft and ensure that the final draft is written in an appropriate writing style. When you start working on it early, you will have time to re-work later on and do not have to rush into completing it at the last moment.
DO be original and treat humour with caution.
Your personal statement must be written by you and not have someone else write it for you. Most admission officers use fraud detection software to check for plagiarism, and it can have serious consequences. All you need to do is show your passion for Medicine and not be pretentious as admission officers can easily identify which ones are genuine and which are fake.
DO reflect on work experience and what you learned.
Medical schools are different in how they assess work experience but primarily look for evidence that you have a realistic understanding of Medicine and in particular the physical, organisational and emotional demands of a medical career. More important is your ability to demonstrate and reflect on what you have learned, both about yourself and about Medicine.
It is what you learn about yourself; about other people and about how effective care is delivered and received that counts, not what you did. What you did is only a piece of the puzzle: make sure you can convey what attributes you demonstrate (or observe) and what you learned.
DON’T pick a subject matter only because you think it is what the admission officers want.
Admission officers have already read thousands of personal statements that reflect on subject matter like “I want to make a difference in the world”, “I want to help people”, etc. They are looking for personal statements that offer a more personal story about their growth as a person and experiences that you will be able to share during the interview. However, it would be best if you avoided controversial subjects as you might not know who is reading your essay.
DON’T just list your skills and accomplishments in your personal statement.
Many students end up writing a list of skills and accomplishments without backing it up. A great way to do this is by providing an example and reflecting on it. For example, rather than say something like “I have good communication skills” it is more powerful to share a specific experience and mentioning how you used your communication skills then reflecting on what you learned. The personal statement allows you to show the side that is not reflected in your application or your recommendation letters. Instead of telling the officer about your skills, you need to show it to them using appropriate narrative to show your traits that make you a great candidate for the medical school.
DON’T rely on your computer to check for spellings, grammar, and punctuations.
Spelling and grammar mistakes in your personal statement can be a turn off for the admission officers. You need to pay attention to the spellings and proofread it multiple times before submitting it. You can also have someone else proofread for you for mistakes that you might not notice. It may be worth signing up for free grammar checking software like Grammarly.