Yusuf's Personal Statement (Oxford University)
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. Yusuf is an undergraduate medical student at Oxford university and received offers from Oxford, Sheffield and St. George's.
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".
Fuelled by an innate curiosity, I am intrigued by the complexities of the human body and the diversity of medicine. Being able to work with a vast spectrum of patients and alongside other healthcare professionals promises an emotionally fulfilling career. The wide range of diseases and combinations thereof will allow me to be perpetually challenged yet intellectually stimulated.
Some students like to talk about a childhood moment in which they had the revelation that they wanted to do medicine; others speak about how they have always wanted to study medicine from a young age. Really it's about being honest and showing a realistic insight into medicine. For me, it was wanting to apply science directly to disease (intellectual curiosity) as well as being able to work with patients and other healthcare professionals (emotionally fulfilling).
Attending multidisciplinary meetings during work experience helped me grasp the varied input that is required in all aspects of patient care. It exemplified the kind of teamwork and opportunities for continued professional development that I aspire to be a part of. Lifelong learning and education are cornerstones of medicine. Observing a thoracocentesis revealed the importance of tailored communication in a doctor's role as practitioner, teacher and supervisor as I witnessed the consultant explain the procedure to myself, trainees and the patient in appropriate detail. This is a skill I have honed by mentoring students of varying age and ability. It has been a pleasure to see them learn and progress over time, showing me the value of dedication to improvement that is so important in medicine.
Simply stating your work placements isn't insightful for medical schools. They're not interested in the exact sort of placement you did but they are interested in what you've taken away from those experiences; what personal insight it gave you. It's important to not over-exaggerate the impact it had, it's about getting the balance between coming across as genuine and being insightful.
I found further evidence of medicine's compelling dynamism at a Research & Development site. Here I was introduced to chlorhexidine and its application to reduce omphalitis and thus infant mortality in Nepal. It illustrated the importance of research and the ensuing challenges faced in improving standards of living. Being actively involved in Model United Nations (MUN) for the last four years, I have discussed topics including the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria at conferences. Wishing to draw attention to such issues, I am spearheading a MUN conference as a platform for debate.
Not only is it important to demonstrate that you understand the qualities required for a doctor but you also want to show (and not tell) that you possess them. Throughout your personal statement, you want to create hooks for the admissions tutors and so having a few unique examples is really useful. Your involvement in academic projects and debates can be a really way of demonstrating intellectual curiosity.
Working as an optical assistant and volunteering at a dementia care home, I made sure to seize opportunities to develop a foundation for my clinical skills. By engaging in conversation with them about their treasured memories, I learned just how therapeutic it can be for a patient to have someone spare a moment to listen. It struck me just how important even the smallest gestures could be for those at the mercy of chronic disease. Being part of a patient's journey to recovery is an element of medicine I find appealing and I have gained an appreciation for the intricacies of the human eye.
As well as your academic ability, you really want to ensure you are showing the admissions tutors that you have begun to develop the foundations for your interpersonal skills. Your voluntary work and part-time jobs will be fantastic ways to show your commitment, empathy and communication skills.
Completing my Silver CREST and Industrial Cadet awards I have learned how to develop my independent research skills, as well as structure projects and meet deadlines. Seeking advice and scouring websites as part of my EPQ on pain receptors, I sought to compare sources and comprehend the etymology of medical terms. Doctors continually face ethically and emotionally challenging situations which I explored first hand, writing an article for Medic Mentor on whether death should be normalised for doctors. Considering contrasting viewpoints broadened my understanding of end of life care and the duties of a doctor.
I knew I wanted to have an academic focus on my personal statement because I was applying to Oxford. Please don't treat your personal statement as a CV simply listing off all the science projects that you've done and articles you've written. It's about quality over quantity.
Earning the position as Head Boy, I have further improved my leadership skills through appropriate delegation and adapting to last minute changes. Practising karate and engaging in drama, public speaking and debating has immensely strengthened my time management and self-discipline, as well as being valued outlets for enjoyment and creative thinking away from my studies. Additionally, I am in the process of completing my Gold DofE award where teamwork and resilience under pressure will be crucial to resolve challenges encountered.
Medicine is very demanding both as a university course but also as a career and therefore you want to show the admissions tutors that you already have developed coping mechanisms that will mean that you are able to manage high workloads and the stress involved.
I believe my greatest achievement will be the impact I make on the lives of others by continuously striving to push the limits of my potential with my desire to improve and hunger to learn. Medicine will pose many challenges, of that I am certain, but I believe no other degree or career could provide me with such a lifelong sense of fulfilment.
I ended my personal statement with summarising my motivations for being a doctor as well as reinforcing how I have a realistic understanding of medicine but for me the positives outweigh the negatives.