03/08/20
Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of TheMedicalGeeks Podcast. Today we will share with you our top tips to boost the status of your personal statement.

Before we start, make sure to check out the rest of our personal statement episodes to help put things into context.

For now let’s get started.

I am your host Makeen, and let’s go!

Get the basics first

There are certain attributes that are assumed to be acquired by a physician, or an aspiring medical student. These include but are not limited to: leadership, resilience, emotional intelligence, discipline, being team players, extracurricular activities (where possible), academic involvement, empathy, communication skills, motivation and problem-solving. Of course, it is almost impossible to include all of these in 4000 characters! However, make sure you have a few down. You may have the opportunity to show off (some of) the rest during your interview. Wait to hear the last tip for directions on where to learn more about these qualities.

One way to take this idea to the next level is to do what we advised in one of our episodes on personal statements and ‘tailor’ your attributes. You can listen to that episode after finishing this one but here is a brief overview. Find out what the medical schools you are thinking of want to see in a personal statement. You can do this by visiting the medical school’s website, finding out what these attributes are, then talk about them in your personal statement. This may mean that you won’t get to talk about everything you want to talk about. But remember it is about prioritising.

Make it interesting

There are two ways to make a piece of writing interesting. Writing about interesting events; writing in an interesting way.

The former is probably not possible. Simply because the admissions staff reading your personal statement has probably read thousands of personal statements before. Plus, you may have had the chance to do interesting things that other students did not have the chance to do. This could make the admissions staff reluctant to be impressed by how countries you travelled to or how many hospital placements you’ve been to abroad.

The latter way is usually the more efficient one. This is basically based on writing in a way that grabs the attention of the reader. You don’t have to be a novelist for this, just follow certain steps. For example, avoid being descriptive and try to be more reflective. Write how certain events made you feel. Write about moments that made you question a belief or thought you have always held etc. For example, “I found the GP’s empathy striking. The fact that the patient feels like there is someone who listens to them and understands their pain makes me feel that this empathy is part of the treatment”.

Remember: it’s all about what you learnt from doing something, rather than doing the thing itself. For example, an honest reflection of your 2-day GP placement is likely to be more impressive than a mere description of your 3-week hospital placement in South Africa.

Don’t forget evidence

This is straightforward. Never think that it is enough to make a claim just to impress the reader. Always back it up with an event or an experience that demonstrates what you’re claiming. For example, don't write “I have the qualities of a leader.”. But write “I use my leadership skills to manage my local cricket team. My duties include organising events and ensuring the wellbeing of the players.”. Not only does this demonstrate your leadership skills, but it also gives an idea of how you use your leadership qualities.

The lack of evidence may either make your statement go unnoticed. Or, even worse, some admissions staff may be annoyed by too much lack of evidence!

Make it personal!

This may seem too obvious since it is called ‘personal statement’, however, a lot of students forget the personal aspect. Some applicants may be too keen to include generic qualities and stories that they have heard of. Whilst this may work for some people, it certainly won’t work for most. The best way to impress the reader of your personal statement is by making it specific to you. Talk about your life experience, your stories, your qualities.

This silly trick I’m about to say might help you achieve this goal. After you finish reading your statement, ask yourself: will you impress a first date if they read it? If so then you’re not in a bad place. However, please remember that this is one aspect of the personal statement only, qualities and attributes. I.e. a first date might not even care about academia. So using this trick is potentially counterproductive for Oxbridge applicants.

Know your personal statement

During your interview, you may be asked to elaborate on something in more depth. Be sure that you know your personal statement enough to talk about certain points when raised. This does not mean memorise your statement off by heart but just be aware of the things you claimed about yourself. For example, you may be asked to talk a little bit more about some of the challenges you have faced as a leader for your local cricket team.

Stay meaningful

If you had to prioritise what to say because you don’t have enough space to talk about everything, choose the more meaningful. I.e. choose the reflective over the descriptive.

Two birds in one stone!

Make sure you have read and understood ‘Tomorrow’s Doctors’ published by the GMC. Not only will this be more preparation for the UCAT Situational Judgement section, but it’ll also give you a good idea of the qualities and the attributes of the doctor you are expected to be at the end of your training. You will most definitely be able to bring up this guide in your interview. Doing so will surely impress the interviewer in front of you.

Conclusion

Well everyone this is the end of this episode. I hope you have found it helpful.

Be sure to check out our website at TheMedicalGeeks.com for more information on personal statements and other aspects of the medical application.

If you have any questions, be sure to drop us a question @themedicalgeeks.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more episodes, and stay safe.

I am your host Makeen and goodbye!

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