UCAS personal statement examples can be a great coaching tool for applicants applying to medical schools in the UK through UCAS. Students will need to submit a personal statement with their UCAS application, to demonstrate why they want to be a medical doctor and how they meet the requirements of the discipline. UCAS personal statements need a blend of the relevant personal, professional, and academic qualities of the applicant in a compelling narrative. In this blog, we’ll tell you what is required of your UCAS personal statement and show you 5 prime examples of UCAS personal statement examples.
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If you are applying through UCAS to study medicine, your medicine 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.
UCAS Personal Statement Example #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 UCAS 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 organization
- 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.
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.
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.
Want to do a quick recap of the core values and attributes listed above to see how they're demonstrated in these examples? Take a look at this infographic:
UCAS Personal Statement Example #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)
Check out our video for a recap:
UCAS Personal Statement Example #3
I’ve been lucky in my life not to have to think about my health status. I’ve always been healthy. I’ve never broken a bone or had to take more than one or two visits to the emergency room in my childhood. I do my best to eat right, to exercise plenty, and I have the luxury of good genetic health, too. And being an able-bodied, healthy person is a luxury. It’s a privilege I’ve enjoyed. Others have not been as lucky as me.
I first realized how fortunate I was many years ago, when I first met Tim. Tim was the first friend I made as the new kid in fourth grade. As a shy kid, having moved across the country the previous week, introducing myself to a crowd of students who’d all known each other for years was scary. Tim made the transition easier, by immediately coming up to me and offering the hand of friendship. Tim was funny, outgoing, athletic, and a supportive friend. Tim also used a wheelchair every day of his life.
At the time, I’d never met someone who uses a wheelchair. I had no idea of the physical, mental, and emotional struggles Tim dealt with everyday, as a disabled person in a rural town, often without access to proper accommodations. Our school only had one ramp. Before I met Tim, I had no idea how much extra effort he needed to put in just to live his life the same way I did. After finding out about the ramp, I did some at-home research with my dad’s help on how much wheelchair ramps cost to install and the specifications needed for a proper ramp. Then I went around my neighbourhood, the schoolyard and even the local park asking for donations until, many weeks later, I had enough to present to the school to get Tim another ramp.
In our teens, Tim and I started competing together in obstacle runs. Essentially, a foot race with some extra challenge thrown in for fun. On top of running, it requires jumping, climbing, crawling and other physical feats of strength and endurance to complete. Together, Tim and I have completed seven races. Me on foot, Tim on wheels. Tim even purchased an expensive new wheelchair with modifications like smaller wheels with wider treads and a lowered back that would make it easier and more comfortable for him to compete.
Six of those races, we organized together. Our first race was completed in a nearby city, which had been organizing the event for many years, and had the facilities and crew to make it happen. There were hundreds of racers. Some of them were in wheelchairs, like Tim. From them, we learned it was possible to host an athletic event that was all-inclusive and all fun. We got to work planning and executing our own race in our rural town.
Where we lacked the paved foot trails and equipment to set up challenging obstacles, we used dirt paths through the woods. We climbed over and under logs, hung from the support beams of a bridge, scaled up rope ladders we made ourselves. We did a trial run, and Tim was able to complete our homemade obstacle course in the woods after we cleared out any safety concerns like rocks and sticks and installed some ropes and handholds for him to use.
Researching and installing these adaptations to the course reminded me of my campaign to install a wheelchair ramp at our school. It reinforced how important it was for Tim to have access to proper equipment. The more I researched, the more I realized how much extra expense it is for patients to get the medical equipment and aid they need to succeed. On top of that, how important it was to install equipment like ramps properly to avoid accidents and deterioration. My interest in learning about medical accessibility prompted me to look seriously at it as a future career.
My friendship with Tim is what inspired me to seek a career in medicine. No one should have to struggle to live their life as they please, without access to the infrastructure and equipment they need. Tim is living proof that people like him can succeed in spite of a lack of access. But he shouldn’t have to. It is my goal to contribute the skills I have learned through this experience to finding better solutions and providing easy access to all. Good living shouldn’t be a luxury for only a few.
UCAS Personal Statement Example #4
The hardest part of being a paramedic is not knowing. My patients are in my care for minutes at most, in the mad rush to the emergency room. For my patients, they will be the most critical minutes of their lives. For me, they are some of the longest minutes I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes long enough for me to learn their names, to learn about their lives. And then I pass them into the care of the emergency room staff, and my job is done. My care ends at the closed hospital doors.
Most of the time, I don’t get to find out what happened to my patients. If I was successful, and got them there in time, or not. If I’m lucky, I might hear something through the grapevine or on the news. But usually, it’s back on the rig and on to the next emergency call.
I chose to become a paramedic because I couldn’t imagine another profession that suited me more. But now, after having served as a paramedic for nearly a decade, I decided it was time to change course, and take my passion for patient care further. So, I decided to apply for medical school.
Being a physician means committing to contributing positively to the profession and knowing that caring for a patient goes beyond the boundaries of diagnosing a problem and prescribing a fix. Ensuring my patients make it through their emergency requires much more from me than my medical knowledge, my technical skill and my focused attention. It requires my care. I need to give my patients the best possible care by investing in them. Many times, I wouldn’t have been able to provide to answer to a question without knowing all the facts. Those personal questions that EMTs and doctors ask you do have a reason!
Attending medical school will give me a chance to grow. Not just through the expansion of my medical knowledge and the practice of my medical skill, but it will give me a chance to apply my experience as a paramedic to patients who are coming out of the other side of an emergency. I already know I possess the grace under pressure, the ability to make quick decisions and act on them, needed of a doctor. But I know by specializing my skillset and learning more about the medical profession, I’ll be able to step through the hospital doors and continue in my mission to care for my patients.
At this point in my life, I feel I am ready to don the white coat. I have nine years as an EMT and have received numerous commendations for my service. I know I provide the best care I possibly can, on every call. I am ready to learn, to develop myself, and to take my skills into the emergency room. It is my goal to be the empathetic presence patients can expect after their care. To be the voice of wisdom they can turn to. With a medical degree from [University], I believe I will achieve my goal.
Check out this video for how to write a killer introduction to your personal statement:
UCAS Personal Statement Example #5
I have always held a special connection with the elderly. As a child, I would often visit my great-grandmother in the small-town care home where she lived. Living so close and being able to visit her every week was a blessing for me. Hearing her stories and recollections was a unique learning experience for me, and an insight into another time.
My great-grandmother grew up in a rural area in the early 20th century. When she was a child, her family relied on lamps to light their home instead of electricity, and a water pump instead of a faucet for cooking and cleaning. Healthcare consisted of home remedies and a visit to the local doctor three towns away.
During my weekly visits, we would talk and play cards, and she would share her experiences with me. As I grew older, I began to take more notice of the nursing staff at her care home. I noted how they were perpetually understaffed, but always working hard to provide for the patients in our small town, some of whom had lived in the area their entire lives, like my great-grandmother. When I was a teen, I decided to volunteer my free time at the care home. It gave me a chance to continue visiting my great-grandmother and the other residents I had befriended, and I was able to do some good and add a gold star to my resume. Not only that, I was able to get hands-on experience caring for senior patients, learning what is required of senior care and expanding my knowledge of their healthcare.
But while I was volunteering there, working with patients sparked my passion. As I prepared for the end of high school and started working on my college applications, I realized the answer to what I wanted to do was right in front of me. I wanted to go into healthcare.
One patient in particular—a long-time resident and friend of my grandmother’s—related to me a story I will never forget. She’d grown up on a dairy farm with four siblings, and often helped her parents with the chores. After a fall off a ladder where her brother broke his arm, she and her brothers and sisters were able to quickly fashion a homemade splint for him, having crafted them before to fix a calf’s broken leg. The splint held until they were able to get her brother to the nearest town doctor.
Working in the care home, speaking to the different residents about their memories and experiences, it was fascinating to hear how much medicine and healthcare had evolved over the years. It was inspiring to compare the 40 km trek my great-great-grandparents had undertaken to ensure their children could see a doctor, to having full-time care in their very own home today. And it forged a bond between myself and senior patients, who remind me of how far we’ve come, and the areas where we’re lacking and need improvement.
I want to become a doctor so I can continue the work of caring for the senior patients like my great-grandmother. As a volunteer, I’ve already been able to experience what it is like to work in a seniors’ care home, but I know as a fully-fledged medical doctor I will be able to step up in numerous ways. Seniors have specialized healthcare needs, and many of them have lived through the continuous evolution of the field of medicine, so they have experiences to share, too.
I believe I can bring this first-hand and hands-on learning with me into medical school. But I am also eager to deepen my medical knowledge and learn how to be the best doctor I can be. I know I will be an asset to this program and an excellent future example of the kind of physicians this program can produce.
1. What is a UCAS personal statement?
A UCAS personal statement is part of your application to chosen medical schools. It’s an opportunity to express your passion for a field of study, and demonstrate the skills and experience you have that would be an asset to the profession.
2. What information needs to be in my UCAS personal statement?
A UCAS personal statement should answer the question: why do you want to be a medical doctor? It should include information on your personal motivations and experiences, as well as any professional experience in the medical field or extracurricular or volunteer activity relating to your motivation for applying.
3. What is the word count for UCAS personal statement?
UCAS personal statements should be around 550-600 words, or no more than 4,000 characters.
4. How should I structure my UCAS personal statement?
Personal statements should always include an introduction, a few body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
5. Is proofreading my UCAS personal statement important?
Yes! Proofreading is always important to make sure your essay is polished and free of errors. If an admissions committee sees you haven’t proofread your work, it may indicate you don’t have attention to detail or care for your work.
6. How long does writing a UCAS personal statement take?
It depends on how quickly you write, but it generally will take more than a day. Before you start writing, you’ll need to brainstorm ideas, research the schools you plan to apply to, draft your essay and make time for rewrites and edits. This is why it’s best to start writing as soon as possible.
7. What information about the school should I research before writing?
Focus on the information about the school’s culture, program curriculum and values. See how they align with your own values and experiences to see if it would be a good fit for you.
8. Do all UK medical school require a UCAS personal statement?
It depends on the program you’re applying to, but in general it is a requirement of most UK medical schools.
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