In this series of blogs, medical students and medicine offer holders share and explain their personal statement so that you can learn from our experiences and reflections. Ayanfe is an undergraduate medical student at the University of Cambridge.
Disclaimer: Please do NOT be tempted to use our personal statements as a model/foundation/plan. UCAS is very strict about plagiarism, more information can be found here.
Please remember that there is no such thing as a model personal statement. By definition, it is supposed to be unique and there is no "golden formula".
The largest known mystery bestowed to humanity is one we are most familiar with: the human body. I would like to venture into the vocation of medicine and accept the challenge to explore the infinite complexities of the body and to use it for the benefit of others.
The intro was the last part of my personal statement that I wrote and required the most editing. It states why I want to study medicine concisely while being engaging. This final sentence expresses that my interest in medicine has 2 components; my intrigue in science and the human body, as the duty to care.
To gain an understanding of the different roles of a doctor, I spent time observing a wide range of specialists at my local hospitals. During my time in the operating theatres and the Intensive Care Unit, I witnessed the importance of teamwork between the multidisciplinary team in a highly pressured environment, in which they all work interdependently in perfect collaboration with the ultimate goal to ensure the best care for the patient as possible. On the final day, I was especially inspired by the special relationship between the doctors and the patients; built on the foundation of trust and respect. I observed this after the result of a cystoscopy prompted the patient to say, “Do whatever you want, I trust you”. As I watched this truly humbling scene, I could not help but smile as it revealed to me the responsibility that a doctor has. However, rather than a burden, it is a privilege. There is no greater honour than for someone to wholly trust you with their life and to have confidence in your ability.
This paragraph focused on my work experience. I reflected on what I saw and always linked it back to the role of a doctor. The multidisciplinary team is important to mention whether in your personal statement or at your interview. It is important to convey that you know that doctors do not work in isolation but as part of a team. I chose to highlight the interaction between the surgeon and the patient because it was a particularly memorable part of my work experience. It was an example of the relationship in which the doctor has a duty of care, as well have control over the life of the patient.
Through volunteering at a local care home, the importance of the emotional and physical care of patients was illuminated. It was also a stark reminder of the mental and physical decline accompanying ageing, one of the prominent challenges to our health care system. With about 80% of residents with dementia and the loneliness it can lead to, I learnt the ability to adapt to all challenges faced, but more importantly, to remain emotionally intelligent and sensitive, especially to the most vulnerable. As an inquisitive person, this particular experience sparked a fascination in the fragility of the human mind and the study of neurodegeneration, allowing me to broaden my knowledge by seeking answers independently. I am particularly fascinated by the work of Bennet Omalu on CTE and the effect of contact sports on these conditions.
This paragraph includes my volunteering, as well as some extra reading and research that I did. As I mentioned before, I made sure to link everything I saw, experienced and read back to the role of a doctor/ skills needed by someone to succeed as a doctor. I also made sure to highlight the soft skills of emotional intelligence and being sensitive, as being a doctor requires you to also communicate with people who were at their most vulnerable. I linked this to a specific neurodegenerative disease that I was very interested in at the time. When it came to interviews, I made sure that I could answer questions on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy CTE, as well as other diseases that affect the elderly such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Mentioning specific interests or books you might have read are encouraged to add to an Oxbridge personal statement, but a few lines will be enough, due to the restricting character limit.
Whilst volunteering at my local GP as an assistant receptionist, I gained an insight into the NHS beyond patient contact and recognised the importance of efficient management and teamwork. This is vital for all healthcare professionals to work in tandem in order to provide the best possible care.
Teamwork is an important skill to have as a doctor, as shown in the above paragraph, so I further emphasised it. When mentioning work experience or volunteering, I used a structure of mentioning where I did it, what I saw and learnt during my time and then linked it back to the role of a doctor or skills needed as a doctor.
I have refined my time management skills in order to pursue extracurricular activities and responsibilities while maintaining my academic focus. In school, I act as a leader in the prefect team and have been a member of the school council committee for 3 years. These leadership positions have honed my organisation skills and developed my leadership skills, which are essential to a doctor’s role. As well as my A-levels, I spent the last year volunteering in my local primary school, which has developed my ability to communicate and engage with people of all ages, by adapting my tone and body language to whoever I am speaking to and the situation, just as a doctor would.
This paragraph was dedicated to my academic extracurriculars and volunteering. I made sure to explain how the skills developed in doing activities to express how they made me a suitable candidate for medicine.
After speaking to many doctors, I understand the stressful nature of medicine and the importance of maintaining a balance between my social and working life. Engaging in athletics and netball has proved as a useful outlet in which to release stress, as well as teaching me diligence and determination. In addition, I have been a dedicated member of my church choir for the past 10 years performing in numerous concerts and events. These activities have developed my ability to work effectively in a team as well as an individual.
The purpose of this paragraph is to show that I understood the medical field and I wasn’t looking at it through rose-tinted glasses and having unrealistic expectations. However, as well as acknowledging this, I was important to show how I would resolve it and this is the perfect opportunity to mention non-academic extracurriculars and hobbies. It also allowed me to show other skills that are beneficial to a doctor, such as long-term commitment (choir), diligence and teamwork, which also links to the importance of teamwork that I had stated in an earlier paragraph.
I am aware of the demanding and arduous nature of medicine, with the lifelong commitment to continuous learning and devotion to helping others. Nevertheless, I am unwavering in my belief that my experiences have developed the social and emotional nature, academic ability and drive required to be successful in this extremely rewarding profession.