How to write a graduate entry medicine personal statement
Personal statements · September 09, 2019 Mr Jasen Soopramanien
Jasen is a Medical Student at King’s College London (KCL). He has worked with theMSAG since 2015 as our Personal Statement Co-manager and as an Interview Coach.
An admission into medicine is a journey by any account. Trust me, we’ve all been there. Yet, as a graduate entrant, the journey has been even longer. You’ve taken the scenic route. An extra stop or two along the way. But now you’ve decided to prolong your education for another few years (yikes) – you’re applying to study medicine! Exciting, but daunting. I know what you’re thinking:
- “I haven’t written a personal statement for years.”
- “Does UCAS still even exist?”
- “I swear these 18-year-old kids look younger by the day.”
- “Does my dissertation count as work experience?”
- “I haven’t visited a care home since I was 17 – am I still allowed to apply?”
Don’t fret, we’re here to help!
Here, we are going to outline 6 key tips that will help to make your personal statement for graduate entry medicine stand out!
1. Do the basics right
When it comes to writing your personal statement, the basics of its structure and content remain the same. A clearly structured piece of writing, with paragraphs focussed on skills that you have learned and developed remain the order of the day.
There is always a temptation to list all the honours and achievements that you have gained while at school and university. However, listing on its own is not the key point. You need to reflect on those experiences to display your maturity of thought and true understanding of what it takes to become a medical student and further succeed in a career in medicine.
2. Don’t forget your roots
The first tip is to embrace your background – don’t be ashamed of the path that you’ve already taken. Whether you’ve studied Biomedical sciences or English literature, you’ve gained something unique in that experience which has improved your application. Therefore, you should definitely discuss this in your personal statement, but how you go about this discussion is the key.
Although competing against the next batch of enthusiastic, determined, fresh-faced high school graduates may seem daunting, you have something they don’t have – life experience and invaluable skills learned at University level. You need to use this to your advantage.
When thinking of your personal statement, we always advise that you consider your skills (e.g. communication skills) and how you have developed them.
So when talking about your undergraduate degree or your career, consider what transferrable skills you may have developed from this experience that others may not have. Typical examples include critical analysis and research skills from a dissertation or project; dealing with challenges with customers or clients from working in a client-facing career or even, becoming more adept at balancing your work and your personal life. These are skills that are invaluable in medicine that others without an undergraduate degree may not have.
3. A double-edged sword
Talking about your degree is a double-edged sword though. You don’t want to seem too eager about the degree (or surely you’d just continue along that path) and you don’t want to slate the degree either (because that’s just rude). A curious conundrum, eh?
The key is to highlight the great skills that you have developed and discuss the highlights from that experience, but explain what your personal motivation is and what was missing, leading to your application to medical school.
Do not belittle your first degree especially if it is a healthcare or science based degree. Don’t forget that you’ll be working in an Multi-Disciplinary Team! I know this sounds like you’re walking on a tightrope, so best to avoid it right? Well, no, in short. That’s because the obvious question to be asked is WHY you are now choosing medicine after having already completed a different degree. So it needs to be confronted, albeit on tiptoes.
4. Blow your own trumpet
If you don’t, who will? Of course, a personal statement is the time to show off how amazing you are and try to brag about yourself a lot – that’s why many people find them so awkward. Self-marketing is a hard skill to conquer.
However, there’s an added dimension for a graduate. Universities are keen to see what you can contribute back to the campus life and dynamic. Your time during your first degree is an opportunity to demonstrate exactly how you have made the most of the opportunities at hand as well as what you can contribute back.
This can be demonstrated in many ways, such as sports clubs you may be a part of, societies, talks attended, awards won – include them! This is proof that you are able to excel at this level of education!
5. Why medicine?
Ah, the age old question. However, this question has more value now than ever before. Why medicine? Why now? What is it that draws you to this profession at this stage of your life?
How has your previous degree/past experiences/previous career enhanced your motivation to study medicine? These are all questions that need to be answered in your personal statement. Your motivation to study medicine will be called into question, but in many ways you can flip this on its head and use it to prove that you want it even more, now that you are older, wiser and much more experienced.
An admissions tutor will be worried that since you have changed direction, you may do it again in the future. Therefore, you need to prove and convince them that this is the final destination on your scenic journey.
6. Can you think like a scientist?
Applicants to graduate entry programmes are not restricted to biomedical sciences degree students. We appreciate that many applicants may have careers in other fields, even outside of the field of science. Recently, we helped an actor to get into Medical school!
The examiners are aware that if you don’t have much of a science background, the first couple of years of medical school is going to be a challenge. So, despite putting you through the GAMSAT, UCAT or BMAT exam to see whether your scientifically competent, you also want to get this across in your personal statement. Think about online courses, events or roles that you’ve had which can make you come across as someone who appreciates the science subjects, can think critically and has a passion for learning. This will make you a more convincing and credible candidate.
So that was a quick guide to bolster your personal statement for graduate entry medicine! I know that the time management between applying to medical school and completing a degree or having a career is no easy feat, but hopefully these tips should help to ease the burden a little!
We hope this blog post is helpful. For more help check out our personal statement review service and medical personal statement tutoring, and if you have any questions then make sure to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.