How to write a medical personal statement
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Make a list

The best place to start would certainly be to make a list of your current achievements, commitments and activities. Then to consider what you learnt from each of those items and how they might be transferable to medicine. Remember, the personal statement is not necessarily about showing off about all that you've done, but more about demonstrating you have the skills to do well in this career, and therefore, showing what you learnt from what you have done.

Make your opener novel

The university panel will be reading hundreds of personal statements during the application period. We have personal experience of how mind straining this can be - including novelty in your opener (something unique to you) will wake them up and make them pay more attention to the rest of your personal statement.

Start writing (forget the word count)

Just commit what you have to paper and start writing. This is often the hardest part as it requires being creative, so make sure you start this when you are feeling fresh. Sticking to a rigid word count at this point will limit creativity, instead focus on creating content.

Tell the truth

You would be surprised at the number of people that make things up on their personal statement. The truth is, when it comes to the interview, students that do are not as good at lying as they think they are. Remember you will be speaking to medical professionals who spend their entire lives communicating with patients and colleagues, constantly reading body language, verbal and non-verbal communication. It's also not ethical so we would advise not doing it (at all), and there is absolutely no need - the statement is about demonstrating how your day-to-day experiences can be transferable to medicine.

Create subsections

Your personal statement is the first impression you make on interviewers. Structure is key. You want your PS to represent your journey in a way that demonstrates organisation of thought and maturity of character. Your first and last paragraphs should always emphasise why you want to/should do medicine! Following this you want to split your personal statement into four basic sections:

1) Motivation:- In essence, what your "why"? What drives you to do medicine? What experiences have you had, or what idea of medicine do you hold that really gives you the desire to pursue this challenging career path. This is important as despite have all of the accomplishments imaginable, if you don't have the drive to really "want" to do medicine, you will eventually drop out, or burn out.

Check out this video by Simon Sinek on finding your "why" for inspiration:

2) Exploration:- What you have done to learn about the career you are interested in:- Your work experience (try to get a range of fields, medicine, surgery, GP). - Your volunteering (longevity is key here! instead of going all out for a month at a care home, try going once a week for 20mins over 2 years). - Always discuss what you observed and what you learnt! When reflecting on your experiences talk about integrity, hard work, intelligence, team work, leadership, organisation, listening, developing rapport, empathy.

3) Suitability:- What you have done to show you have the qualities to be a good doctor: 

- Your academic ability (talk about what skills you've gained from your subjects. - Analytical ability or precision analysis for example. - Your extra curricular activities (talk about societies, such as debating, medical societies; try to be an active member of your society). - Talk about your sporting interests, leadership skills, teamwork, ability to motivate others. - Jobs you've had e.g. being a tutor where breaking down complex topics into ones more easily understandable is a key skill. - Anything else e.g. musical interests (how are these skills relevant to medicine).

4) Motivation:- Again! End with what you want to achieve and where you want to be. Be pragmatic and demonstrate you understand the challenges that lie ahead, but how your drive and the "motivation" you described earlier will help you to push on, and to be successful. 

We provide additional talking points during our conference - Medicine 4 The Masses.

Get people to read and review it

Get as many reviews on your personal statement as possible. Taking different perspectives is important. Just be careful, opinions are opinions and different people will tell you different things based on their subjective experiences. It is up to you to decide which advice to take and which to reject. Ultimately however, getting opinions forces you to actively reflect and refine what you are writing. Reviews are critical - check out our medical personal statement reviewers at They range from medical student to consultants, with free reviews also available:–_Online_Service

Good luck ! 

Follow the tags "Deeban Ratneswaran", "Taimur Shafi" and "Osler's Room" to hear more from us.



Dr Taimur Shafi

FY1 King's College Hospital

Dr Culadeeban Ratneswaran

Originally published 26 November 2018 , updated 10/03/2020

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