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Personal Statements watch

    • Thread Starter


    My guidence teacher just told us our ucas applications have to be in to her in 3 weeks! Ive done a few personal statements before, and when i read over them they always make me cringe! I am applying for medicine and i have quite alot of work experience to put on my form, but i always struggle to REALLY answer that horrible question; Why do you want to be a doctor? Whatever i write sounds either cliche. Im not hinting around for anyones personal statement or anything, but im struggling to give the impression in my statement that i truely want to be a good doctor, and have the personal qualitys. I know im being vauge..but does anyone have any advice?

    Thanks, jo-jo

    Have a look at the PS forum - there are two OxBridge medics (Helena - cantab and Elles - oxon) who have volunteered to give advice... Maybe you should contact them...

    What makes a good doctor is dedication to his/her patients, willingness to learn lifelong, acceptance that you cannot do everything, the ability to work harder than others, knowledge/acceptance that working hours are long and at unusual times.
    If all this is you I think you could become a good doctor.

    *fluffy says whilst neatly deflecting an PS in danger of whinging their way to her..*

    yeah - the Ask a Helper Forum for PSs currently has 4 of us medics signed up.. so you could post there.

    but for generic 'what should be in a PS' type stuff i thought i'd post here so everyone can see.. (as ever, with the standard disclaimer, i'm obviously not actually an admissions tutor! but i'm going into my 3rd year now & have been involved with various uni access & admissions-y stuff, got 3 offers my time round coming from a school pretty switched on with medicine apps., have now observed 3 online forum intakes & been critiquing PS since last year. although all this is just my opinion.)

    so - firstly.. it's a personal statement. by all means use templates etc. to guide you & perhaps listen to advice, but ultimately it's you it's selling.. & your name on the ap. so don't be pressured into things & perhaps don't take too many opinions all pulling you in a different direction.

    might be handy to start off making a list of all the things you've done in terms of work experience/voluntary work. even if you didn't expressly do them with medicine in mind (good, good, that's what i like to see :p: ) things you've been involved in - school community service, charity projects, volunteer work etc. are all highly relevant.

    secondly the 'selling yourself' part - that's what it is, the chance to have your say on the ap. & is basically designed to get you to interview. as we all probably know medicine is fairly tough to even get an interview for, especially at some unis - so definitely worth time crafting your PS.

    lying is very bad. & highly likely you'll get caught out either at interview or some point in your career which can void any offers/places etc. presenting yourself in a light that looks uber fantastic, yet true, is not bad & is necessary. avoid faux modesty or underplaying your suitability for medicine... but similarly - you want the AT to think you'd be a nice student to have around & ultimately a good Dr, not recoil in horror at your arrogance.

    in terms of language - it's my thoughts that a medicine PS should be of the ilk of 'clear concise effective communication' not 'verbose highly sophisticated rhetoric masterpiece' that might be better suited to a less vocational, more academic & wordy degree. someone to check for grammar, spelling, punctuation is handy. remember - ATs have plenty to read & not much time to devote to all - don't be remembered for the wrong reasons or let silly avoidable mistakes over shadow the content.

    on this note - they don't have long - don't waffle on or make vague grand statements about saving the world & helping people.. keep it foccused, concise & realistic/evidenced. & as a stylistic point i'd try & avoid potentially patronising overtly must-tick-boxes statements like 'team work is very important for good doctors & effective hospitals. i have shown my teamwork in..' they know what qualities they're looking for & why they're releveant!

    so content..

    WHY MEDICINE is the vital question. be honest, really think. our med. co-ordinator just kept asking 'why' to all my 'i like science & people' type offerings.. until i got at what i think is the real reason. assuming this isn't entirely offputting 'i like dead bodies' then honesty is a good thing. being more unique & refreshing is also good.

    but you need to elaborate on this & say HOW you know medicine is right for you.. ah yes, the all important work experience. should be at least a significant paragraph. & remember to focuss on what you learnt, not a list of what you saw.

    other content you may want to include - any unusual subjects - how would they help you study medicine?
    voluntary activities? emphasise these, especially if they show sustained commitment etc. what did you learn again?
    then extra curriculars - what do you gain from these. leadership, teamwork, relaxation all relevant here

    perhaps check the uni prospectuses to see what qualities/skills they mention as important.particularly emphasise & make sure you cover them? especially for non interviewing unis!

    you might want to make your PS more academic - have you read any popular science books? read any journals? etc. BUT prepare to be grilled on them at interviews.. & remember - while this may turn on some schools, it may turn of others so to speak..

    a note on academics - i would avoid any mention of your UMS results/school prizes etc. have your referee deal with this (make sure they KNOW - we filled in forms to remind them..) - firstly it makes it look more official & secondly - saves value PS space for the important personal qualities.

    future ambitions? controversy over this - read the other thread.

    & finally - a conclusion - don't just stop!
    the intro & conclusion are VITAL. i personally think the conclusion is the hardest.. perhaps what you're especially looking forward to at med school, why you could be a good dr etc?

    Hope this may help.

    Blinking marvellous, Elles. This goes on my offical list of bookmarks -that merits my rep for today...

    Yeah thanks elles thats great!

    The thing I noticed last year is that I think admissions tutors (or the people who read the PS) can find out your motivation or enthusiasm for medicine from other things than just the "why medicine" opening paragraph. I'll be honest, my reason was very bland and cliched. Building on A2 biology and having an interface between practical science and people was basically it. Like you, I didn't know what to put so ended up with something very cliched.

    But I also included things like reading StudentBMJ and New scientist (make sure you actually DO read these though if you put something similar down), I did a lot of shadowing and work experience and wrote a huge amount on what I learnt. I talked about my personal qualities and how they related to medicine, including my involvement in sports, quiz, prefect teams etc. Try to keep focus of what you're writing the PS for but it doesn't all have to directly relate to wearing a white coat and healing the sick every day. Oh and keep re-reading and thinking of other ways to express an idea. I don't know how many drafts I did, too many probably but it worked. Ask your teachers to read it, your parents etc. even if they have no background in medicine. It can give a different perspective on what you've written. Good luck.
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Updated: September 3, 2005

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