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. Oran is a Medicine Offer Holder from Queens University Belfast.
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 dedicated care both of my grandmothers received has helped define my interest in Medicine. One who underwent open heart surgery and later treated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The care my other grandmother receives everyday as she is being treated for cancer also inspires me. The compassion and relentless focus on both of their physical and personal needs ensures that they are both with us today and it lit a fire in me to further investigate the field of medicine as a career.”
In my case I had a personal reason as to why I wanted to do medicine, but you do not always need a reason like I did. The first paragraph should have an initial reason as to why you want to study medicine but do not make it too waffly.
I spent a number of days shadowing a GP who works with the homeless population of Dublin. The clinics are based in homeless hostels and food halls. The experience showed me the complexity involved in the provision of health care to this marginalised group. One must take account of not just the physical presentation but also the environmental factors when developing a care plan. These care plans must involve a multi-disciplinary team working to ensure that the multi-faceted health care needs are being met. I learned similar things to this when I was working with my aunt in Manaus and Boa Vista in Brazil helping the refugees from Venezuela. I have also sat in with a consultant in infectious disease in a large scale teaching hospital in Dublin. This gave me great insight into the importance of team work within the hospital environment between the doctors, lab technicians and those working in pathology and the importance of getting clear information to the doctor as quickly as possible without mistakes.
Here I spoke about all the work experience I did. The admissions tutors do not want to just see a list of work experience you have like a CV they want to see what you learned from it as well. Try to have different types of experience, like in different areas of medicine. Also, do not give away everything you learned from the experience, save some for the interviews so you have more material to talk about. In my opinion it is best to show that you understand medicine is a team game and that as a doctor you do need help from other people not just other doctors but also nurses, social workers, lab technicians and so on. The reader wants to know that you understand what you are getting yourself into, that you know how to work as part of a team.
As part of Care Week in school I volunteered at Harold’s Cross Hospice. Here I helped patients with their food, moving around the wards and had general conversations with the patients. These simple conversations helped me grow as a person as I got to listen to these people and for me it was a very humbling experience. I mainly worked in the Palliative Care ward and it was here that I learned how medicine can’t always cure ill health but can ensure that a patient’s last days and weeks are spent with dignity, respect and in comfort. I also attended a lecture in RCSI about surgery, the lecture was given by the head of surgery in the university. We watched a video of him performing a Cholecystectomy on a patient and from this I learned how the surgeon must keep a level head at all times and how the vitals of the patient are always essential to know.
The reader also wants to see that you have also worked and volunteered in medical facilities as it shows that you like to help those who cannot help themselves. It looks good to the reader that you know that medicine isn’t always about curing people, it shows that you know that not all problems have a solution and that sometimes the best answer is to make the person as comfortable as possible before the go. Also, working in a stressful environment is part of medicine and the reader needs to know if you know how to keep a level head and work with what is in front of you. For me it was standing in on a surgery and it showed me how surgeons must always keep a level head and they must always know how a patient is doing.
I have been provided with many opportunities in my academic career to develop and hone my skills required to make an effective physician. I have won Gold Medal awards for having the top exam results of my class. I have also won the Gold Medal Essay award multiple times in English for having the best essay writing skills of my class. I am self-motivated and committed to life-long learning which is reflected in me taking on additional subjects for my Leaving Cert.
The reader also wants to see that you have academic evidence to show that you will be able to deal with the heavy workload that comes with studying medicine. Show off all academic awards you have won and briefly describe what the best awards you have stand for.
In school I was awarded the Bronze President Award which shows students how vital goal setting is and how to reach them. I have been certified by Toastmasters International for public speaking and I was a speaker at the 2018 Leaders on Our Level conference, speaking in front of 3000 students. I am a qualified lifeguard and this has taught me how to keep a level head when working under pressure. In Transition Year I had to teach the other years how to perform CPR and use an A.E.D. From this I learned how to lead, communicate and teach others valuable life skills.
The reader wants to know that you are not just a brain box but also that you know how to work with people. They want to see that you have good communication skills and that you know how to work as part of a team. They want to see if you have any experience as being a leader of a group because this will be asked as part of the interviews. Try and show that you can be an effective leader, maybe you worked as a tutor which shows that you can both lead and effectively communicate with people, for me it was teaching people how to perform CPR and how to use an AED and how to perform other first aid skills.
Medicine is forever evolving and growing. It’s always finding new ways of curing illnesses and developing new methods of surgery. I want to have a career that is challenging, that treasures life-long learning and rewards hard work. Medicine is at the coal face of relieving human suffering, it provides you with a set of tools that enables you to respond in an immediate way to those who turn to you for help. I strongly believe that I am ready to take on the responsibility that comes with the profession and the trust that those in my care will place in me.
In my last paragraph I wanted to show the reader that I know medicine is not an exact science, that it is constantly growing with new medical discoveries happening every day. I wanted to show that as a doctor you will never be finished learning. I also wanted to show that I understood the responsibility that comes with being a doctor. Your last paragraph should show that you understand that medicine is a team sport, that medicine is constantly evolving and that it is a stressful and time- consuming career. Your opening line and last paragraph should be strong parts of your statement.
If you do not know where to even start when it comes to writing your statement just write out a list of everything you have done. Write out a list of work experiences you have, a list of academic awards, list of skills you have learned that would help you be suited to medicine. These statements are tricky to get right so write out sample ones as much as you can and review it with your careers counsellor in school so they can help you narrow it down to the precise things you want to put into it.