Writing a personal statement for Medicine

medicineEvery Medical School will have its own criteria when considering a personal statement. The Manchester Medical School website has some advice on the application process, including what they are looking for in a personal statement.

Their focus is on:

  • Reasons for choosing Medicine
  • Amount of work in a caring role
  • Interests/Hobbies

They are also interested in:

  • Knowledge/experience of the healthcare system in the UK
  • Evidence of teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Determination/conscientiousness
  • Intellectual potential
  • How you deal with stress

You should check the guidelines given by the institutions you are applying to.

The first thing to bear in mind is that writing a solid personal statement is going to take time. Don’t try to do everything in one go. Give yourself plenty of time to write and re-write. It is likely that you’ll go through a few (or many) drafts before you are happy with your statement.

The personal statement is about you. Medicine is a vocational course so you need to demonstrate your vocation. The admission tutors want to know who you are, what makes you tick and not necessarily a list of qualifications. Why do you want to become a doctor? What factors influenced you? Do you have any particular interests within the field of medicine?

The amount of work in a caring role should not be merely a list of placements but a reflection on what you have learned from those experiences and how has that influenced you to apply for Medicine. Remember that empathy and people skills are very important in this area of work.

Hobbies and interests should be relevant to your application. This does not mean that they have to be medical related but that you should demonstrate how they equipped you with skills that are valuable for the course you’re applying for. They will also confirm that you have a good balance in your life: you have a interests outside studying.

Beware of plagiarism. Don’t borrow from others however tempting that is. First, it will most likely be spotted as UCAS uses specialist software to tackle plagiarism. Second, as much as you identify yourself with somebody else’s words, the bottom line is they are not yours. You must find your own voice.

Double check for spelling, grammar and typos. Avoid exclamation marks and question marks. Ask a friend or a teacher to check it out for you; a pair of fresh eyes will always spot little mistakes you missed.  Don’t rely on spell-check because it doesn’t always work in the way you expect. For example, if you write “clinical trail” instead of “clinical trial” the spell-check might not correct it.

Avoid clichés. Supposedly all applicants love science and want to help others. Go beyond the generalities. Also you won’t necessarily impress the admissions panel with a quote that inspired you. They have heard it all.

In the Manchester Medical School, the interviewing panel includes clinicians and academics, some of which are non-clinical. Avoid flowery language and jargon as that will come across as pretentious. It is best to assume your audience will be well informed but non-clinical as that might very well be the case.

Once you have a draft that you are happy with you can always get feedback from one of our applications advisers.

Mariana Pinheiro
Careers Information Team

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