PS Tip 88: Medical school personal statement

When writing a medical school personal statement, all of the usual rules apply. You should make sure you address the course spec, plan and edit your statement ruthlessly, and do your very best to make the most of any work or voluntary experience you might have.

With that said, there are two additional things that medical schools look for, whether they say so or not.

1. Are you aware of the realities of medicine?
2. Do you have systems in place to help you cope with the stresses of life as a doctor?

A huge number of people apply for medical courses every year, without the first notion of how hard and unpleasant the work will sometimes be. Patients will die, people will shout at you, and you’ll have to work extremely long shifts at all hours of the day and night.

I promise, I’m not saying this to put you off.

Universities know that the drop-out rate for medical school is far and away the highest of any course, and they really want assurance that you already know how hard it’s going to be – at least as much as is possible at this stage. To this end, it’s important that you explain how your work and personal experiences have prepared you for these realities, and that you’ve retained your empathy and desire to help other people.

Beyond this, however, it also helps if you can demonstrate that you have ways of de-stressing in your spare time – whether that be exercise, sport, reading, or a passion for musical theatre, you shouldn’t give the impression that medicine is the only thing you’re interested in.

One final thing – If you’re applying for medical school as a biochemistry graduate, that last part was doubly important. Biochemistry has a bit of a reputation for attracting people with no people skills; an entirely unfair stereotype, but one that must be addressed if you want to be successful.

There’s a lot to squeeze into a personal statement when applying to medical schools, and these are some of the most difficult UCAS statements to write. With difficulty, comes opportunity – if you do a good job, you’ll immediately jump ahead of the crowd.

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