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. Lauren is a medical student studying at Nottingham University who received offers from Nottingham and Liverpool.
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".
I question why the human body does not continuously function like clock-work and wonder how doctors approach this problem. I have learnt from my work experience how the NHS operates, how critical excellent medical care is and what it involves. I am aware of the shortcomings of the NHS, yet I still want to become a doctor. A career in medicine would satisfy my strong desire to support and help those who are unwell. I have determination, empathy and compassion, stamina and a very strong work ethic. I am aware of the tribulations and challenges ahead of me in the career, but I know my vocation is strong enough to overcome these difficulties.
The first sentence is always the hardest. Probably the sentence I spent most time on. The opening paragraph is a bit like the closing, you have to say what your good at and why this is good for medicine. You have to brag in the opening and closing saying you have qualities that would mean you can do medicine. It probably wouldn’t do you well to say that medicine is always amazing and there are no faults because that sounds like you don’t know what you’re talking about. So if your talking about the career I was say to show them that you know its not all rainbows and ponies.
My 15 week experience on an orthopaedic ward at Lister Hospital showed me the importance of empathy in medicine. Although I only served dinners and assisted the housekeeper, I noticed how all the staff interacted with the patients with respect and understanding. I was careful to listen when patients spoke to me and did my best to ensure their requests and problems were dealt with. I witnessed a knee replacement and two hip replacements. I saw how complex the process was, from enlarging the hip socket to stitching the wound. I saw what a difference these operations make to the patient’s life. It is being able to make such a difference, especially to patients suffering pain or distress that makes me so want to become a doctor.
The basic structure of my personal statement was 3 paragraphs that had 3 values of being a doctor. This one was empathy. In doing this I am able to show that I am aware of the values a doctor should have and my ability to adapt my behaviour to suit this. From structuring my personal statement this way I avoid just listing my work experiences and am able to write about what I have actually LEARNT from them. Which is the whole point of doing them in the first place. In this paragraph I was also able to show commitment when I did 15 weeks, which is another value or skill you need to show.
In completing my EPQ on cryonics I explored the question of whether modern medicine has allowed us to control death, which was fascinating. I also enjoy reading around other aspects of medicine. In Dr Fong’s book on “Extreme Medicine”, I read how advances in medicine have led to complicated surgeries, such as deep hypothermic arrest. Then, having researched mental disorders and illnesses, I was amazed at how a small difference in the brain can drastically change someone’s life. Norman Doidge’s “The Brain that Changes Itself” sparked my interest which grew and I was encouraged to contact a consultant neurologist, Dr Mort, who spoke to me about neurology and medicine generally as my career path. I shadowed him in his clinics seeing real cases. A memorable incident was a woman who had fallen unconscious and was describing her situation; she cried and was very distressed. Impressed at how she instantly trusted Dr Mort, I realised the responsibility that doctors hold, and the ability that they have to relieve suffering and distress.
So for my second paragraph I wrote about what interested me in medicine and how I arrived at the decision to do medicine. This isn’t something that’s vital as long as you show motivation somewhere in your personal statement. But it also allowed me to show further reading and showed the reader that I have thought about what I would like to do. I was also able to tell them about my wide range of experience, as not a lot of people try and get experiences in neurological clinics. Again I was also able to tell them how I saw another value of being a doctor i.e. trust. Most of my paragraphs are also structured by me saying what experiences I did or read and then saying what I learnt e.g. the responsibility doctors hold.
The GMC’s “Good Medical Practice” states “You should meet patients’ language and communication needs.” I learnt the truth of this from volunteering for CHIPS for the past 3 months. I realised that you need to understand each child properly in order to communicate with them and aid them when distressed. E.g. when helping an autistic child, I needed first to recognise that he communicated in a different way and avoided being touched by others. I therefore had to understand the way he expressed himself and eventually he grew confident around me as I was able to communicate successfully with him. Subsequently he felt comfortable enough to lead me around by holding my hand and became more communicative by laughing and smiling. As a result I felt rewarded by the fact that I formed a connection. I also had the opportunity to work at Bentley House Care Home; this experience strengthened my communication skills with elderly people and allowed me to build good relationships with the residents. It was so rewarding when some of the residents were actually keen to talk to me.
I would definitely recommend reading the GMC’s guide to Good Medical Practice as this is full of values and rules a doctor should abide by. It will come in handy for SJT and interviews. Communication is obviously a really important skill to have and so I would recommend including somewhere that you can do this. I could write about lots of times I used good communication but it went well with building rapport with other people. This was a good paragraph in showing that I was able to change my behaviour to suit someone else’s. It shows a) I can understand that they have different needs and b) that I have the skills to meet them.
As with most would-be medics, I enjoy science and I enjoy people. However, my work experience has emphasised that Medicine is not a course to enter lightly. I realise that medical school and a medical career will be very demanding, being both mentally and physically taxing. I look forward with great enthusiasm to a career of lifelong learning in the profession. I will not be entering this course naively. The rewards of becoming a doctor would make every effort totally worthwhile.
For my closing paragraph I outlined to the reader that I am aware medicine is not easy and shown I have actually learnt something from my experience. Don’t be embarrassed about saying what your good at and what you can do. You only have so many words and this is not the time to be modest.