UK Medicine Personal Statement Examples (UCAS)
If you are applying through UCAS to study medicine, your personal statement has one key goal: to demonstrate why you want to become a medical doctor. This must be done by conveying your motivations, explaining why you are a good fit for the profession, and demonstrating what you have done to learn about medicine as a career. A strong personal statement will weave a narrative that paints a picture of who you are as a student, as a candidate for the program(s) to which you are applying, and as a person.
The medicine personal statement for UCAS must be no longer than 4,000 characters (including spaces), and is submitted as part of the overall UCAS application. The due date for UCAS is mid-October, and thus this is also the due date for your personal statement and the rest of your application materials.
Below, we’ll discuss the components of a strong medicine personal statement for UK applicants applying through UCAS, but first, let’s look at a sample essay. Pay attention to the tone set by the narrative in this personal statement, and how it weaves together personal, professional, and academic qualities and aspirations.
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Sample Medicine Personal Statement #1:
I’ve had a good deal of privilege in my life. My family isn’t wealthy, but we’ve always had enough food, access to resources, reasonable shelter, the ability to fulfill all needs and many wants. The biggest realization of my life has been understanding just how privileged that basic description is. Through volunteer work and guided inquiry, I have come to see how central physicians are to contributing to their communities and to increasing equitable access to healthcare worldwide. At home and abroad, for individuals and populations, physicians play a critical role in advancing well-being and equality. I want to be on the frontlines of providing access to care, so I can contribute to that global effort.
Two years ago, the Missing Maps Project came to my school. Missing Maps is a project founded by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which crowdsources map creation for vulnerable developing areas. While we take something as basic as maps for granted, many places in the world still need mapping; Google Maps doesn’t chart places like rural South Sudan. These maps help groups like MSF reach those in need of care, particularly following conflicts or other disasters. Participating in this project and learning about MSF introduced me to the world of humanitarian medical aid, expanding my understanding of how physicians can contribute to social justice work. It also gave me a whole new perspective of what such work requires in our shared world. If something as fundamental as basic mapping can mean the difference between someone receiving aid or not, this means the gaps in access to care are much larger than I’d once assumed; it also means that there are ways for medical and humanitarian individuals to come together to make real and lasting impact in the struggle for social justice.
Working on this project sparked my interest in pursuing medicine as a career. It was immensely satisfying to contribute meaningfully, but the deeper I looked into the issue, the more I wanted to be one of the people heading to the areas we mapped. I started volunteering at King’s College Hospital and took on several shadowing opportunities with local physicians. I was scheduled for a volunteer shift at King’s at 8am on June 14. When I awoke that morning, news of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire was everywhere. I rushed to the hospital, knowing that there would be patients in need, worried families, and dedicated staff, all whom I could help in some way – even if only with a warm blanket, a kind word, or a cup of tea. Being in the hospital that day and seeing the camaraderie of the health team, the precision of their efforts, and their love for the community put so many things into perspective for me. I was grateful to contribute and support them in any way, but I also determined there and then to pursue medicine not just as a career, but as a calling.
Along with shadowing physicians and pushing myself to excel academically, I completed an Emergency First Aid course. Soon after, I received advanced First Aid training and began working as an Event First Aid Volunteer through the Red Cross. Physician shadowing and first aid work helped me understand the practicals of healthcare work. I learned that I have a knack for the technical elements of providing such care, and that I can maintain composure in tense situations. I also learned that the mundane realities and long hours of a physician’s work are well worth the meaning derived from that work.
I have excelled in my science A levels and enjoy the precision and problem-solving needed to do so. More than that, though, I am driven by the desire to know enough to bring people care when they need it, to run toward those in crisis and provide aid. I want to become a physician so I can use my academic skills, my experiences, and my privileges to acquire more knowledge and advance wellness, caring for my community and building bridges over the gaps of access to care, both at home and abroad. (3966 characters)
Writing a Strong Medicine Personal Statement
In essence, your UCAS personal statement for medicine has one job: to answer the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” This singular goal, however, is more complex than it seems. Discussing your motivation requires more than simply articulating your own personal reasons for pursuing medicine; it also requires you to show what makes you suitable for such a profession, what you’ve done to learn more about the profession, and what drives you to follow this particular path.
Describing personal experiences that shaped your perspective and aspiration is definitely part of the personal statement essay, but you also need to summarize key roles you’ve had and activities you’ve completed, in ways that show your reader that you are already taking this pursuit seriously. That is to say, while desire and motivation are part of your story, these must be backed up with evidence. What have you done to learn more about the day-to-day realities of practicing medicine? What volunteer or paid work have you done that have helped you develop the qualities sought in aspiring medical professionals? What self-directed learning have you undertaken to personally advance your knowledge?
Admissions committees review your personal statement to determine how your experiences have shaped you and your desire to practice medicine, and how you have used your experiences and opportunities to demonstrate key qualities of the medical profession. Per the Medical Schools Council’s Statement on the Core Values and Attributes Needed to Study Medicine, those key qualities are:
- Motivation to study medicine and genuine interest in the medical profession
- Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
- The ability to reflect on your own work
- Personal organisation
- Academic ability
- Problem solving
- Dealing with uncertainty
- Manage risk and deal effectively with problems
- Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
- Insight into your own health
- Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
- Ability to treat people with respect
- Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations
- Empathy and the ability to care for others
Obviously, it would be impossible to convey all of these in one 4000-character essay. You’ll need to think through your goals and priorities to isolate a few that particularly resonate with you and that you can display effectively in such a small amount of space. Note that, while you should ideally have some direct experience with the medical profession – through volunteering, shadowing, or paid work in medical settings – it is not necessary for all of your experiences or reflections to be medical in nature. Extra-curriculars, sports, non-medical paid work (like customer service), or even personal events in your life are fair game, so long as they are directed toward demonstrating the kinds of qualities and characteristics sought in medical professionals. Working as a team, communicating effectively, solving problems, taking responsibility, and resolving conflict are in no way unique to the practice of medicine, but they are all needed to thrive as a medical professional.
As you’re brainstorming material for your personal statement, it’s also advisable to look at the mission statements, curricula, course structure, and selection criteria of the schools to which you are applying. These can vary considerably from school-to-school, and you want to ensure you’re a “good fit” for the programs to which you’re applying. If a school prioritizes rural population health and this isn’t a priority for you, then you may not fit in as well there as you would elsewhere. If the curriculum is built heavily around Problem-Based Learning (PBL), and you know that self-directed small group work isn’t how you learn best, then you may not thrive in that particular institution. Knowing who you are – your strengths, weaknesses, and goals – is key to both choosing the best schools for you and for composing a compelling personal statement.
Looking for inspiration in writing your medicine personal statement? Check out this video:
Remember, you don’t need to list everything you’ve done or every accomplishment on your CV; the application reviewers will see all of this in your full application package. The personal statement is the space where you reflect on meaning, and demonstrate the kinds of qualities that simply can’t be articulated in a dry recitation of activities, events, or awards. If you’re applying to medicine, in particular, you’re going to be competing with other students who likely have very strong academics (just like you!), so you need to find other ways to really stand out.
Follow this link for our Ultimate Guide to UK Medical School Applications, including more information on writing a strong Medicine Personal Statement for the UCAS application!
With the above in mind, let’s look at another sample personal statement. Notice how it demonstrates curiosity, scholastic dedication and accomplishment, growing commitment to the field of medicine, and practical investigation of the realities of medical work, all via a compelling and unconventional narrative that draws the reader in. It doesn’t simply list characteristics, but allows the reader to intuit these through the experiences and themes chosen.
Sample Medicine Personal Statement #2:
My passion for medicine was sparked in an unconventional place: my garden. I have vivid memories from my youth, spending time nourishing life in the flower and vegetable beds my mother diligently tended every year. When I was very young, I admittedly just liked playing in the dirt. As I grew, however, I understood the beauty of watching each tiny seed reach invariably toward the sun, taking on new and evolving forms at each stage of growth, struggling defiantly from the soil with a singular goal: to live. I witnessed how my mother’s care strengthened the tiny seedlings, the response each fragile life had to her efforts. A bit more nitrogen here, a bit less calcium there; snip this off, secure that with a tie; protect them from anything that could harm them. That sense of awe at life’s workings has propelled me toward the field of medicine.
Two years ago, I began volunteering in a local retirement home, helping residents to meals and ensuring basic needs were met. In the hours before or after my shifts, I visited with welcoming residents, keeping them company and learning about their lives. The lessons they taught me, their zest for life in its golden years, helped me connect my fascination with life’s processes to my desire to foster wellness in others. I also began learning the daily realities of providing care from the medical staff. I saw them burst into action when a code was called, and I watched them develop meaningful relationships with the residents, who thrived under their expertise and warmth. Being part of a team devoted to the care and comfort of others quickly became a calling.
I began shadowing physicians at Lincoln County Hospital, particularly in the rehabilitation ward. Watching doctors and other medical professionals work with patients overcoming tremendous injury, watching those patients themselves in their tenacious effort to heal and thrive, helped me see both the highs and lows of medicine. I cannot help but be invested in the patients’ efforts – efforts that sometimes exceed expectations, and that sometimes fall short. I’ve seen doctors, nurses, and patients alike light up as a trauma patient took his first independent steps in months; I have seen the dashed hopes when a similar patient was not able to support herself in the expected timeframe. What draws me in, though, is that drive – shared by medical professionals and those under their care – that continuous reaching toward the light, toward wellness, toward growth. Between my scholastic accomplishments, my innate curiosity, and my sense of awe for all those who strive for their own well-being and that of others, I am confident that my vocational path leads to the practice of medicine.
My A levels have left me enthralled with the sciences, especially the hands-on learning that takes place in labs. Learning more about biology and chemistry, the living systems of all bodies, has nurtured the curiosity I developed in my youth, while also helping me refine my practical problem-solving skills. Uncovering the hidden processes that sustain life, and the equilibrium that keeps those processes running, leaves me eagerly anticipating new modules and assignments for the knowledge they will bring. As demonstrated in my supporting materials, this dedication has resulted in excellent marks and the gold medal in the Biology Olympiads. What matters most to me, though, is the refined understanding and the deeper questions I am able to ask with each step of the learning process.
My mother’s love of gardening instilled in me a love for caring and tending and a sense of wonder for the functions of life, and my own academic interests have propelled me toward the sciences. The field of medicine allows me to combine both of these, while also learning more about how to prioritize the wellness and well-being of others. To pursue this in the noble field of medicine would be to combine my deepest passions and follow my most intense interests, and to do so in the service of others. (3999 characters)
Do you struggle with writing the opening paragraph of your essays? Check out this video, "How to Write a Killer Introduction to Your Med School Personal Statement"!
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