An admission into medicine is a journey by any account - trust me, we’ve all been there. Yet, as a graduate entrant, for you the journey has been a bit 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 – you’re applying to study medicine! Exciting, but daunting. One of the first steps in the medical school application process is to get that personal statement firmed up to strengthen your application.
I know what you’re thinking:
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.
Even though there is no strict template to use 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 focused on skills that you have learned and developed remain the order of the day.
If you’re struggling with a first draft and you would like a full breakdown on how to structure your personal statement, you can check out our blog post on that very topic.
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 as a medic.
But what does reflection mean? While we go into this in more detail our blog, here are a few examples of how you can reflect on your life, school or work experience:
The next 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 – work experience, 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, different aspects of teamwork) and how you have developed them.
So when talking about your academic achievements, undergraduate degree or your career, consider what transferable skills you may have developed from this experience that others may not have. Typical examples include critical analysis, research or teamwork 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.
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). How do you prove that you want to study medicine without dismissing your previous experience?
The key is to highlight the great skills or core values that you have developed and discuss the highlights, 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 on a multi-disciplinary team! I know this sounds like you’re walking on a tightrope, but you can NOT avoid this topic. 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 carefully.
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, extra-curricular activities, talks attended, awards won – include them! This is proof that you are able to excel at this level of education!
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.
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 (formerly the UKCAT) or BMAT exam to see whether you're 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 sciences, 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.
If you need some help, take a look at some of our personal statement blogs that break down the structure, personal statement examples, top tips and more. We can guide you through the application process, help you ace your medical school interview and start your future career as a medic in no time!
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