If you’re in the midst of building your application for UCL Medicine, reviewing UCL Medicine personal statement examples can help inspire the content of this critical document. The problem many applicants have with the personal statement is that they don’t know how to distil personal and clinical experiences to show how they pertain to the medical program. UCL Medicine is one of the most competitive and distinguished ; reading can help you capture and organise the most compelling aspects of your candidacy.
In this article, we go over some UCL Medicine personal statement examples to show you what an effective essay looks like.
On my first day working at a long-term care facility, after getting acquainted with the residents, most of whom were sociable and excited to see a new face, I met a man named Frank. He was an emaciated, sick man with no family who had suffered a stroke a few weeks before I arrived. I met Frank in the dining hall, hunched over a chess board, not touching the pieces. The other nurses told me that his stroke severely affected his speech. He never spoke to the other residents or the nurses and doctors who cared for him, and he never had any visitors. I made my way over to the table and introduced myself. His ability to move was also severely restricted. I slid a pawn to C4; he slid his to E5. He glanced up at me with a glimmer in his eye – internally, he was smiling. I started working with an occupational therapist named Vicky; we took Frank to his doctor’s appointments and on field trips to the park. Sadly, he passed away from complications a few weeks later.
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Back then, I knew I wanted to pursue medicine – but after I’d seen the ‘dark’ side of it, I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for that kind of life, witnessing the grief and isolation suffered by some of the people you meet and develop a connection with. But it wasn’t like I was witnessing all of this for the first time. I was well acquainted with death from a young age – my first job was at my father’s funeral home. I was one of the service workers who directed attendants to the seating at the venue. I developed a numbness to the grief and sadness that I was surrounded by, so it felt strange to be so affected by Frank’s passing.
My father introduced me to a forensic pathologist, who graciously invited me to shadow him for a couple of weeks. It was interesting to observe the meticulous process of sampling and investigating the body through a combination of techniques: visual exams, microbiological exams, organ removal, and tissue analysis.
Befriending Frank knocked me off balance for a while – it wasn’t until I started working in research that my spirits were revitalised. My mentor, Dr. Staples, who taught biology, was hosting a research seminar on how intermittent fasting helps slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. I worked on one of her later research projects, which was a review of palliative care tools and interventions for people with severe mental illness.
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One of the findings that resonated with me was that palliative psychiatry – namely, that branch of psychiatric study concerned with increasing the quality of life in people suffering from incurable mental illnesses – is about acknowledging that curative treatment is not always possible. It reminded me of Frank and the reprehensible emotional neglect that I was witness to. The diffidence I was experiencing in relation to pursuing health care was suddenly disarmed. I realised that I could contribute something meaningful to the emotional side of medicine that, in my experience, has unfortunately been overlooked in many areas.
I had the opportunity to work as an assistant in a small local clinic. It was run by just one doctor and his wife and children. Because the clinic was in the middle of an elderly community, most of his patients were older. Dr. Steiner was kind, gentle and adept at maintaining a calm and calculated demeanour. One evening when the clinic was closing, I asked him how he was able to keep his spirits up when so many of his patients were palliative. He explained that his job was to do his best to make sure his patients live to the fullest for as long as they possibly can – ‘but I’m not a robot’, he said, ‘I feel emotions too. But when my patients no longer come through that doorway, I feel grateful for having had the chance to know and help them’.
At UCL Medicine, I can embrace a compassionate approach to medicine and palliative care specifically. My research and clinical experiences have taught me the value of being an empathetic, feeling medical professional who can help patients in end-of-life care make the most of their lives, spending it with their families and doing the things they love. The supportive and end-of-life care research at UCL connects with the work I want to do as a medical professional, particularly when it comes to improving the health of residents in care homes. The year 5 module involving ‘the health of the older person’ is an enormously interesting opportunity that I would love to pursue to prepare for clinical and professional practice in this rewarding and challenging field.
I took the puck from past the red line, split the defenseman, and wound up for a shot – suddenly, the thunderous roar of the crowd came to a halt. Everything went dark. I woke up in a daze, my teammates standing over me, offering puzzled, anxious stares. Two paramedics rolled me onto a stretcher, asking how many fingers they were holding up. I had no idea. The adrenaline in my system numbed the pain until I made it to the hospital where I was told that my leg was broken. The first person I saw was the doctor, who, as soon as he noticed I was awake, told me to take it easy and lay my head back. Bewildered, I asked him what had happened – he explained that I’d taken ‘quite the fall’ during the game.
The injury ended my dream of becoming a professional hockey player, not that it was all that likely to begin with. This was in Year 11 of secondary education. There was a silver lining, however. Because I was on crutches for six weeks, I returned to an old hobby I’d been neglecting: reading non-fiction. I’d read a book written by a surgeon documenting some of his most interesting patient cases and what he remembered about the procedures; it was surprisingly emotional. I noticed that as I was reading, I started to imagine myself in the position of the surgeon; that was when I began thinking about the possibility of pursuing a career in medicine.
Being injured also gave me the freedom to explore other interests and passions. One of those activities was joining the big brother program – I made a friend in Harry, a 10-year-old boy with autism who came from an impoverished home. He was a kind, thoughtful kid. Although this experience shaped my desire to work with a younger patient population, I have to say my most meaningful endeavour was going on a round trip to Italy, Spain, and Portugal for a shadowing expedition.
The hospital in Rome had a very diverse specialisation group; I shadowed a cardiologist, a neurologist, and a surgeon. What took me by surprise was the precise communication maintained in each network; for instance, the cardiologists communicate with general practitioners, sometimes surgeons, the orthopaedists also liaison with surgery and pathology departments, and so on.
The clinic in Spain was in a destitute community, where some of the burdens in the health care system were made apparent by extremely long wait times and underfunding, a major concern for the region reporting an increase in mental health concerns. As a volunteer, I met some patients who said they’d been on the waitlist for surgery for months. I had to reflect on my situation living in a community not burdened by the same issues in our health care system – the fact that I was given immediate treatment for my broken leg and concussion gave me the advantage of a faster recovery.
When I returned to the UK, I felt inspired to make a difference in my own community, so I volunteered at a mass vaccination clinic. My job was to assist clients with accessibility needs, such as those who were mobility, sight, or hearing impaired; I also cleaned surfaces and greeted and answered client questions about the vaccination. In the waiting area, I spoke casually with patrons, some of whom were understandably anxious about needles, or about the side effects of the vaccine. I aimed to dispel some of their concerns or engage in conversation about unrelated topics; for the younger groups, we offered candy and a high-five after they were vaccinated.
I’ve not settled on an exact patient population whom I’d prefer to work with just yet. This is why the prospect of working in a variety of patient domains, including child and family health, women’s and men’s health, and care of the older person is something that I’m eager to explore. Based on my volunteer and traveling experience which underscored the fluctuations in medical care accessibility across communities and nations, I want to preserve the awareness of the social determinants of health – this is one of the building blocks of what I would consider an effective health care system. Working in the heart of London at some of the major teaching hospitals offers unlimited clinical experience, and I think that the gradual and customisable curriculum with Student Selection Components makes a reasonable compromise between dependence and freedom.
Growing up, my parents were very strict and traditionalist, which, I acknowledge, can be a euphemism for irrational projected anger – a subconscious revolt against that which they were unfairly subjected to as children. My younger brother and I were both playing the piano at the age of six, performing in concerts and bands with other docile children. Every day after school starting in first grade, we had piano lessons, then tutoring where we would complete homework that we weren’t assigned in class, with more advanced material we weren’t supposed to be learning yet. I started writing short stories and having them published in prestigious literary journals at the age of 14. I was at the top of my class in every major subject, including biology, chemistry, physics, and English. And yet, I never felt like those accomplishments meant anything.
I was miserable. Being forced to commit to a life of painstaking discipline was no way to live, and in my senior year of high school, it all came crashing down. I told my parents that I was going to take a year off to travel and think about what I wanted to do with my life. Luckily, and to my surprise, they fully supported my decision to travel abroad and discover the virtue of experiencing new cultures and embodying new values. Initially, I thought it was a ploy to get me to develop ‘gratitude’, which I’m sure they thought I lacked. But truly, I wanted freedom. No, I needed it.
As I thought about what my future might look like, I had trouble shaking the desire to explore something academic because the truth was and still is that I’ve always wanted to do research. But to see if this was something I would truly enjoy, I knew I had to get my hands dirty. I joined a summer research group in a city that was three hours away by bus. It wasn’t exactly as far as I initially thought I would go, but it was a start. I was mentored by a woman named Dr. Jonnie, a distinguished biomedical researcher, and we got to choose the project based on our interests. Being a musician, I’ve always wanted to learn more about the possible benefits of music therapy for mental health or chronic physical conditions. When my proposal was approved, it was time to work. We collected salivary samples to evaluate cortisol levels for a group of 20 patients undergoing treatment – we took a sample before, an hour after, and two hours after a music therapy intervention. We discovered, quite interestingly, that the most significant reduction in cortisol levels was an hour after the session.
The research project verified my hesitant desire to pursue a career in medicine – why medicine? Well, shortly after that research project which I presented at a seminar among other eminent researchers and students, Dr. Jonnie pulled some strings and introduced me to a psychiatrist who invited me to volunteer at her community health centre for children and youth. I really enjoyed working with kids. They reminded me that I still had a lot of growing up to do. I offered support through activity and conversation for children who were dealing with family conflict or relationship issues. We connected a lot of families to counselling services and other community support networks, which was rewarding. For once in my life, I was doing something for the benefit of someone else; it felt good, and not just because I was doing it of my own accord. It resonated with something profound within me.
Medical school is my choice, not my parents’. And as much as it may please them that it’s the choice I’m making, I can say confidently that it was a decision I made on my own. I knew even before medical school was an option that I wanted to conduct meaningful research; my experience working with children in the community mental health sector confirms that a school known for its medical sciences research will benefit my career the most. UCL, with its country-leading paediatric and child health department, can support my primary interests while allowing me to explore other specialities at some of the largest and most advanced clinical campuses. The current research activities of the medical professionals at UCL concerning social support and mental health-related risk factors for various physical conditions resonate with the limited experience I have but feel strongly about. I would be thrilled to explore these areas in more detail with some of the assiduous and dedicated researchers at your institution.
1. What is the selection procedure for application materials at UCL Medicine?
UCL Medicine applicants will be assessed on the following factors: predicted and actual grades; attributes, skills, behaviours, and values needed to work within the health care service; BMAT scores.
2. What qualities does UCL Medicine look for in the interview?
UCL Medicine looks for evidence of academic curiosity; motivation for a career in medicine; problem-solving capability; professional attitudes and values; teamwork and leadership; and communication skills.
3. What should I talk about in the personal statement?
You should structure your personal statement to reflect on how your skills and experiences have helped prepare you for a career in medicine. Focus on research experience, volunteer experience, and work experiences, ideally in a clinical setting.
4. How can I show intellectual curiosity in my personal statement?
Show enthusiasm for the research being conducted at UCL Medicine and demonstrate how your own interests align with theirs. Read some of their most recent publications to get an idea of what’s being worked on.
5. How should I structure my personal statement?
Remember, the personal statement is a formal essay. You need to have a clear introduction, body and conclusion with an identifiable thesis statement. Your introduction can include relevant background information, and your body should discuss relevant experiences. The conclusion should summarise and confirm that UCL Medicine is right for you.
6. Is UCL Medicine a competitive school?
The acceptance rate of UCL Medicine is 8.7%, making it a highly competitive program.
7. What should I avoid in my personal statement?
Avoid showing a lack of empathy or personality. The purpose of the personal statement is to show the admissions committee who you are as a person and as a prospective medical professional; don’t discuss experiences unrelated to either of those things.