How To Write The Perfect Medical School Personal Statement

Published on 27/01/2022 in
How to write the perfect medical personal statement

“In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods, than in giving health to men”

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 - 43 BCE)

You have already chosen to commit yourself to studying medicine in Europe, and we want to help you every step of the way. Many future students don’t know how to write their medicine personal statement. Every day we get asked questions such as:

  • What is a personal statement for a medical university?
  • How to write one?
  • What should I include in it?
  • What is the purpose of the medical personal statement?

Based on years of experience and our expert advisor’s guidelines, this article will provide you with the best tips and examples for writing your personal statement.

This post will assist you whether you haven't even considered what to include in your personal statement or have written it and want to double-check that you're on the right track.

What is a medical personal statement?

More than 100 medical schools in Europe teach medicine, dentistry, veterinary, and pharmacy in English. Each university has its entry requirements. Some may require you to sit an entrance exam in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, or Mathematics. Others have no entrance exam but just an interview.

As part of the application process, some medical schools will ask for additional materials such as CVs (application resume), recommendations, and more often, medicine personal statements or motivation letters.

A medical personal statement is a kind of essay. You get the chance to tell your personal story of why you have chosen medicine as a career. It is the first opportunity for admissions tutors to evaluate you as a person rather than a collection of grades and achievements. Therefore you must create a strong first impression. You have to think of it not as a burdensome part of the application process but as an excellent opportunity to shine among the other applicants.

What is the difference between a personal statement and a motivation letter?

As we mentioned earlier, some schools will require a personal statement and another motivation letter. It is essential to know the difference between them.

A personal statement is more about self-promotion. You should explain why you are the best candidate for a particular course and why you want to become a doctor. It is more about your personality traits and skills to help you achieve your dream career.

A motivation letter is more about your future study ambitions and how the programme you're applying to will assist you in achieving your objectives. In other words, why and how studying medicine will help you in the future.

What is the length of a personal statement?

Every medical university has its requirements regarding the length of the personal statement. Therefore, before you start writing it, you have to check the specific guidelines of the university you are applying to.

However, often it will have to be around 500 words. Yes, it must be short, accurate, and straightforward.

What role do personal statements play in medical schools?

There are a few ways that medical schools will use your personal statement.

  • It may not play a role in the selection process at all.
  • It will be read but not evaluated. However, if you manage to prepare an excellent essay, it will demonstrate your passion for medicine and for sure will not harm you in the long run.
  • It is used to aid in the decision-making process between two candidates who have identical academic results. See, an essay can be a turning point in your path of becoming a doctor.
  • Usually, medical universities use students' personal statements before interviews to prepare a few questions that you will be asked during the interview. This is actually another reason why many schools ask for this kind of essay. They use it as a starting point in discussions. As a result, it's a good idea to write about things that you'd be willing to expand on if requested.
Medicine personal statement

What do medical universities want to see in your personal statement?

Medical universities know that to be a good doctor, you need skills such as:

  • Self-reflection
  • Prioritising
  • Good time management
  • Working under pressure
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Willingness to accept accountability for your actions
  • Soft skills
  • Honesty

Keep these things in mind when you draft your essay. You shouldn’t just say, “I am empathetic”. Rather than that, you have to give an example and write about a situation when you demonstrated these skills.

Which medical schools in Europe should you apply to with a personal statement?

Some of the medical universities in Europe that require a medical student personal statement as part of the application process are:

Why is a personal statement so important?

It's one thing to demonstrate academic success and another to present yourself in a positive light as an individual. Striking a balance between the two is crucial. So take your time and carefully consider what you want to include and how you will present it.

The top 3 reasons why a medicine personal statement is so important are:

  1. It allows you to show your best qualities
  2. It can help you stand out from your competition
  3. It is a great way to prepare for your medical school interview

What should I include in my personal statement?

Let’s make it clear one more time. A personal statement is about YOU, your personal skills that make you an ideal applicant to study medicine in Europe. Hence, medical schools are looking to know more about:

  • What motivated you to study medicine? (Motivation)
  • What steps have you taken to get knowledge about it? (Exploration)
  • Why do you think you'd be a good fit for medicine? (Suitability)

Make sure to include a line about your hobbies/interests outside of school and reflect on past experiences that taught you something valuable like commitment, the ability to work in a team, and the importance of helping those in need.

How to structure a medical personal statement?

In general, medicine personal statement structure can be divided into 3 parts:

  • Introduction - motivation

In this paragraph, your main goal is to make the reader want to read more and tell what made you choose medicine as a career.

  • Main body - exploration and suitability

This is where you have to tell your story and how your qualities make you a perfect applicant. It is the ideal place to write about the knowledge you gained while shadowing a doctor, for example.

  • Conclusion - motivation

Bring everything together.

How to write a strong medical personal statement introduction?

Make sure you have an original and intriguing starting phrase that will entice the reader to continue reading. This is your only chance to leave a lasting impression and grab the admissions tutors attention.

One method to get their attention is to start with an incident or an “Aha!” moment that inspired your decision to pursue a career in medicine. The things that inspire or motivate you will reveal a lot about your personality. But from our experience, we know that very few students have such a moment in their life.

Many applicants have known they wanted to be a doctor since childhood or have developed an interest in medicine through time.

If you are one of them, the simple truth is that you just can’t start your essay with a fascinating experience or life-changing story. And that’s okay.

What to do then?

Step-by-step guide on how to start writing a personal statement for medicine:

1. Create a list with the qualities that you want to demonstrate

Take a piece of paper and write down the traits and abilities you want to reveal to the reader. There is no need to create a long list. Just think of 10 qualities that will help you become a great doctor. Some examples include:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Knowledge-seeking
  • Compassion
  • Understanding
  • Humanity
  • Courage
  • Team worker
  • Commitment

We have all heard the phrase “Quality over Quantity”. This seeing relates to your writing too. If you try to include all 10 points on your list, you will end up with an inconsistent and uninfluential opening of your essay. Therefore you have to revise your list and pick up only 2 or 3 qualities of yours. Please don’t waste time figuring out which ones are ideal because they don’t exist. Here the trick is to choose those that describe you best, and you can actually write about.

2. Think about a situation when you have shown these qualities

This step is self-explanatory, but here are some guidelines that you can follow to pick the perfect event to write about.

Choose a story that you can share in a few sentences (5 or 6). A good option is an event that comes from shadowing doctors, working in a clinic, volunteering, and extracurricular activity related to medicine.

Suppose you want to be original. Try to connect a travel story or work experience with the abilities you have chosen to highlight. This will guarantee you a unique story that will for sure impress the admissions committee.

3. Present your experience as a captivating story

If you are worried about the story you picked, let us tell you a secret. It is not about choosing the perfect topic but presenting it engagingly. Remember that one event can be written in both dull and intriguing ways. Strive for the second!

4. Show, don’t tell

Maybe this is the most crucial step of writing a medical personal statement. Don’t tell: “I have great communication skills.” Show it with your compelling story! The key is to demonstrate your qualities.

How to create great body paragraphs in a medicine personal statement?

In the body of your essay, you essentially want to expand the concepts stated in your introduction paragraph by using personal experiences as proof.

You have already written about why you want to study medicine. So it's time to dive in. Write in detail about the experiences that helped you grow and led to your decision to study medicine. Each key point should be given its own paragraph.

Here are a few steps that you can follow to write the best medicine personal statement ever:

  1. Explain why you wanted to participate in the experience you are writing about.
  2. Describe how you felt during the event.
  3. Describe your accomplishments and lessons learnt.
  4. What impact did your experience have on you and the environment around you?
  5. Explain how your experience influenced your desire to apply to medical school.

How to end a personal statement in a meaningful way?

Your medical personal statement conclusion should be like your introduction: showing your interest to study medicine. You have to wrap all things together and leave the reader with the desire to learn more about you.

You should re-emphasise your essay's main points and highlight these 3 things one more time:

  • Qualities that will make you one of the best doctors
  • Knowledge gained as a result of your formative experiences
  • Your sincere passion to be a medical student
Personal statement for medical school

Top tips for medicine personal statement from our expert advisors:

DO’S:

  • Connect your extracurricular activities to how they will help you become a better doctor
  • Tell a story
  • Always double-check for grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Show professionalism
  • Use clear, direct language
  • Ask your family for an opinion

DON’TS:

  • Don’t lie, be true to yourself
  • Don’t try to cover everything
  • Don’t use cliches
  • Don't forget about the proper structure

Checklist for your md personal statement

Before sending your medical personal statement, make sure you cover the following:

  1. Is your first paragraph clear about why you want to be a doctor?
  2. Have you thought about what you learned from each of the situations you've mentioned?
  3. Is there a phrase or two regarding your hobbies or outside interests?
  4. Is your grammar correct?
  5. Do you show that you possess the qualities necessary for this profession?
  6. Do you indicate that you understand the reality of a career in medicine?
  7. Is your final paragraph a summary of why you believe you are well-suited for the medicine course and career?
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Article written by Medlink Students
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