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Medical School Personal Statement Examples That Got 6 Acceptances

Featured Admissions Expert: Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

Medical School Personal Statement Examples That Got 6 Acceptances

These 30 exemplary medical school personal statement examples come from our students who enrolled in one of our application review programs. Most of these examples led to multiple acceptance for our students. For instance, the first example got our student accepted into SIX medical schools. Here's what you'll find in this article: We'll first go over 30 medical school personal statement samples, then we'll provide you a step-by-step guide for composing your own outstanding statement from scratch. If you follow this strategy, you're going to have a stellar statement whether you apply to the most competitive or the easiest medical schools to get into .

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Article Contents 36 min read

Stellar medical school personal statement examples that got multiple acceptances, medical school personal statement example #1.

I made my way to Hillary’s house after hearing about her alcoholic father’s incarceration. Seeing her tearfulness and at a loss for words, I took her hand and held it, hoping to make things more bearable. She squeezed back gently in reply, “thank you.” My silent gesture seemed to confer a soundless message of comfort, encouragement and support.

Through mentoring, I have developed meaningful relationships with individuals of all ages, including seven-year-old Hillary. Many of my mentees come from disadvantaged backgrounds; working with them has challenged me to become more understanding and compassionate. Although Hillary was not able to control her father’s alcoholism and I had no immediate solution to her problems, I felt truly fortunate to be able to comfort her with my presence. Though not always tangible, my small victories, such as the support I offered Hillary, hold great personal meaning. Similarly, medicine encompasses more than an understanding of tangible entities such as the science of disease and treatment—to be an excellent physician requires empathy, dedication, curiosity and love of problem solving. These are skills I have developed through my experiences both teaching and shadowing inspiring physicians.

Medicine encompasses more than hard science. My experience as a teaching assistant nurtured my passion for medicine; I found that helping students required more than knowledge of organic chemistry. Rather, I was only able to address their difficulties when I sought out their underlying fears and feelings. One student, Azra, struggled despite regularly attending office hours. She approached me, asking for help. As we worked together, I noticed that her frustration stemmed from how intimidated she was by problems. I helped her by listening to her as a fellow student and normalizing her struggles. “I remember doing badly on my first organic chem test, despite studying really hard,” I said to Azra while working on a problem. “Really? You’re a TA, shouldn’t you be perfect?” I looked up and explained that I had improved my grades through hard work. I could tell she instantly felt more hopeful, she said, “If you could do it, then I can too!” When she passed, receiving a B+;I felt as if I had passed too. That B+ meant so much: it was a tangible result of Azra’s hard work, but it was also symbol of our dedication to one another and the bond we forged working together.

My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems.

Shadowing physicians further taught me that medicine not only fuels my curiosity; it also challenges my problem solving skills. I enjoy the connections found in medicine, how things learned in one area can aid in coming up with a solution in another. For instance, while shadowing Dr. Steel I was asked, “What causes varicose veins and what are the complications?” I thought to myself, what could it be? I knew that veins have valves and thought back to my shadowing experience with Dr. Smith in the operating room. She had amputated a patient’s foot due to ulcers obstructing the venous circulation. I replied, “veins have valves and valve problems could lead to ulcers.” Dr. Steel smiled, “you’re right, but it doesn’t end there!” Medicine is not disconnected; it is not about interventional cardiology or orthopedic surgery. In fact, medicine is intertwined and collaborative. The ability to gather knowledge from many specialties and put seemingly distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.

It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.

Let's take a step back to consider what this medical school personal statement example does, not just what it says. It begins with an engaging hook in the first paragraph and ends with a compelling conclusion. The introduction draws you in, making the essay almost impossible to put down, while the conclusion paints a picture of someone who is both passionate and dedicated to the profession. In between the introduction and conclusion, this student makes excellent use of personal narrative. The anecdotes chosen demonstrate this individual's response to the common question, " Why do you want to be a doctor ?" while simultaneously making them come across as compassionate, curious, and reflective. The essay articulates a number of key qualities and competencies, which go far beyond the common trope, I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.

This person is clearly a talented writer, but this was the result of several rounds of edits with one of our medical school admissions consulting team members and a lot of hard work on the student's part. If your essay is not quite there yet, or if you're just getting started, don't sweat it. Do take note that writing a good personal essay takes advanced planning and significant effort.

I was one of those kids who always wanted to be doctor. I didn’t understand the responsibilities and heartbreaks, the difficult decisions, and the years of study and training that go with the title, but I did understand that the person in the white coat stood for knowledge, professionalism, and compassion. As a child, visits to the pediatrician were important events. I’d attend to my hair and clothes, and travel to the appointment in anticipation. I loved the interaction with my doctor. I loved that whoever I was in the larger world, I could enter the safe space of the doctor’s office, and for a moment my concerns were heard and evaluated. I listened as my mother communicated with the doctor. I’d be asked questions, respectfully examined, treatments and options would be weighed, and we would be on our way. My mother had been supported in her efforts to raise a well child, and I’d had a meaningful interaction with an adult who cared for my body and development. I understood medicine as an act of service, which aligned with my values, and became a dream.

I was hospitalized for several months as a teenager and was inspired by the experience, despite the illness. In the time of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, I met truly sick children. Children who were much more ill than me. Children who wouldn’t recover. We shared a four-bed room, and we shared our medical stories. Because of the old hospital building, there was little privacy in our room, and we couldn’t help but listen-in during rounds, learning the medical details, becoming “experts” in our four distinct cases. I had more mobility than some of the patients, and when the medical team and family members were unavailable, I’d run simple errands for my roommates, liaise informally with staff, and attend to needs. To bring physical relief, a cold compress, a warmed blanket, a message to a nurse, filled me with such an intense joy and sense of purpose that I applied for a volunteer position at the hospital even before my release.

I have since been volunteering in emergency departments, out-patient clinics, and long term care facilities. While the depth of human suffering is at times shocking and the iterations of illness astounding, it is in the long-term care facility that I had the most meaningful experiences by virtue of my responsibilities and the nature of the patients’ illnesses. Charles was 55 when he died. He had early onset Parkinson’s Disease with dementia that revealed itself with a small tremor when he was in his late twenties. Charles had a wife and three daughters who visited regularly, but whom he didn’t often remember. Over four years as a volunteer, my role with the family was to fill in the spaces left by Charles’ periodic inability to project his voice as well as his growing cognitive lapses. I would tell the family of his activities between their visits, and I would remind him of their visits and their news. This was a hard experience for me. I watched as 3 daughters, around my own age, incrementally lost their father. I became angry, and then I grew even more determined.

In the summer of third year of my Health Sciences degree, I was chosen to participate in an undergraduate research fellowship in biomedical research at my university. As part of this experience, I worked alongside graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, physicians, and faculty in Alzheimer’s research into biomarkers that might predict future disease. We collaborated in teams, and by way of the principal investigator’s careful leadership, I learned wherever one falls in terms of rank, each contribution is vital to the outcome. None of the work is in isolation. For instance, I was closely mentored by Will, a graduate student who had been in my role the previous summer. He, in turn, collaborated with post docs and medical students, turning to faculty when roadblocks were met. While one person’s knowledge and skill may be deeper than another’s, individual efforts make up the whole. Working in this team, aside from developing research skills, I realized that practicing medicine is not an individual pursuit, but a collaborative commitment to excellence in scholarship and leadership, which all begins with mentorship.

Building on this experience with teamwork in the lab, I participated in a global health initiative in Nepal for four months, where I worked alongside nurses, doctors, and translators. I worked in mobile rural health camps that offered tuberculosis care, monitored the health and development of babies and children under 5, and tended to minor injuries. We worked 11-hour days helping hundreds of people in the 3 days we spent in each location. Patients would already be in line before we woke each morning. I spent each day recording basic demographic information, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, weight, height, as well as random blood sugar levels, for each patient, before they lined up to see a doctor. Each day was exhausting and satisfying. We helped so many people. But this satisfaction was quickly displaced by a developing understanding of issues in health equity.

My desire to be doctor as a young person was not misguided, but simply naïve. I’ve since learned the role of empathy and compassion through my experiences as a patient and volunteer. I’ve broadened my contextual understanding of medicine in the lab and in Nepal. My purpose hasn’t changed, but what has developed is my understanding that to be a physician is to help people live healthy, dignified lives by practicing both medicine and social justice.

28 More Medical School Personal Statement Examples That Got Accepted

What my sister went through pushed me to strengthen my knowledge in medical education, patient care, and research. These events have influenced who I am today and helped me determine my own passions. I aspire to be a doctor because I want to make miracles, like my sister, happen. Life is something to cherish; it would not be the same if I did not have one of my four sisters to spend it with. As all stories have endings, I hope that mine ends with me fulfilling my dream of being a doctor, which has been the sole focus of my life to this point. I would love nothing more than to dedicate myself to such a rewarding career, where I achieve what those doctors did for my family. Their expertise allowed my sister to get all the care she needed for her heart, eyes, lungs, and overall growth. Those physicians gave me more than just my little sister, they gave me the determination and focus needed to succeed in the medical field, and for that, I am forever grateful. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #3","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #3"}]" code="tab4" template="BlogArticle">

I came to America, leaving my parents and friends behind, to grasp my chance at a better future. I believe this chance is now in front of me. Medicine is the only path I truly desire because it satisfies my curiosity about the human body and it allows me to directly interact with patients. I do not want to miss this chance to further hone my skills and knowledge, in order to provide better care for my patients. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement #4","title":"Medical School Personal Statement #4"}]" code="tab5" template="BlogArticle">

The time I have spent in various medical settings has confirmed my love for the field. Regardless of the environment, I am drawn to patients and their stories, like that scared young boy at AMC. I am aware that medicine is a constantly changing landscape; however, one thing that has remained steadfast over the years is putting the patient first, and I plan on doing this as a physician. All of my experiences have taught me a great deal about patient interaction and global health, however, I am left wanting more. I crave more knowledge to help patients and become more useful in the healthcare sector. I am certain medical school is the path that will help me reach my goal. One day, I hope to use my experiences to become an amazing doctor like the doctors that treated my sister, so I can help other children like her. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #5","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #5"}]" code="tab6" template="BlogArticle">

My interest in the field of medicine has developed overtime, with a common theme surrounding the importance of personal health and wellness. Through my journey in sports, travelling, and meeting some incredible individuals such as Michael, I have shifted my focus from thinking solely about the physical well-being, to understanding the importance of mental, spiritual, and social health as well. Being part of a profession that emphasizes continuous education, and application of knowledge to help people is very rewarding, and I will bring compassion, a hard work ethic and an attitude that is always focused on bettering patient outcomes. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example # 7","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example # 7"}]" code="tab8" template="BlogArticle">

Medicine embodies a hard science, but it is ultimately a profession that treats people. I have seen firsthand that medicine is not a \u201cone-treatment-fits-all\u201d practice, as an effective physician takes a holistic approach. This is the type of physician I aspire to be: one who refuses to shy away from the humanity of patients and their social context, and one who uses research and innovation to improve the human condition. So, when I rethink \u201cwhy medicine?\u201d, I know it\u2019s for me \u2013 because it is a holistic discipline, because it demands all of me, because I am ready to absorb the fascinating knowledge and science that dictates human life, and engage with humanity in a way no other profession allows for. Until the day that I dawn the coveted white coat, you can find me in inpatient units, comforting the many John\u2019s to come, or perhaps at the back of an operating room observing a mitral valve repair \u2013 dreaming of the day the puck is in my zone. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #8","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #8"}]" code="tab9" template="BlogArticle">

When I signed up to be a live DJ, I didn't know that the oral skills I practiced on-air would influence all aspects of my life, let alone lead me to consider a career in the art of healing. I see now, though, the importance of these key events in my life that have allowed me to develop excellent communication skills--whether that be empathic listening, reading and giving non-verbal cues, or verbal communication. I realize I have always been on a path towards medicine. Ultimately, I aim to continue to strengthen my skills as I establish my role as a medical student and leader: trusting my choices, effectively communicating, and taking action for people in need. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #9","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #9"}]" code="tab10" template="BlogArticle">

\u201cWhy didn\u2019t I pursue medicine sooner?\u201d Is the question that now occupies my mind. Leila made me aware of the unprofessional treatment delivered by some doctors. My subsequent activities confirmed my desire to become a doctor who cares deeply for his patients and provides the highest quality care. My passion for research fuels my scientific curiosity. I will continue to advocate for patient equality and fairness. Combining these qualities will allow me to succeed as a physician. ","label":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #10","title":"Medical School Personal Statement Example #10"}]" code="tab11" template="BlogArticle">

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Please note that all personal statements are the property of the students who wrote them, re-printed with permission. Names and identifying characteristics have been changed. Plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements. Plagiarism is grounds for disqualification from the application. ","label":"NOTE","title":"NOTE"}]" code="tab2" template="BlogArticle">

As one of the most important  medical school requirements , the personal statement tells your story of why you decided to pursue the medical profession. Keep in mind that personal statements are one of the key factors that affect medical school acceptance rates . This is why it's important to write a stellar essay!

“Personal statements are often emphasized in your application to medical school as this singular crucial factor that distinguishes you from every other applicant. Demonstrating the uniqueness of my qualities is precisely how I found myself getting multiple interviews and offers into medical school.” – Dr. Vincent Adeyemi, MD

But this is easier said than done. In fact, medical school personal statements remain one of the most challenging parts of students' journeys to medical school. Here's our student Melissa sharing her experience of working on her personal statement:

"I struggled making my personal statement personal... I couldn't incorporate my feelings, motives and life stories that inspired me to pursue medicine into my personal statement" -Melissa, BeMo Student

Our student Rishi, who is now a student at the Carver College of Medicine , learned about the importance of the medical school personal statement the hard way:

"If you're a reapplicant like me, you know we all dread it but you have to get ready to answer what has changed about your application that we should accept you this time. I had an existing personal statement that did not get me in the first time so there was definitely work to be done." - Rishi, BeMo Student

The importance of the medical school personal statement can actually increase if you are applying to medical school with any red flags or setbacks, as our student Kannan did:

"I got 511 on my second MCAT try... My goal was anything over median of 510 so anything over that was honestly good with me because it's just about [creating] a good personal statement at that point... I read online about how important the personal statement [is]... making sure [it's] really polished and so that's when I decided to get some professional help." - Kannan, BeMo Student

As you can see from these testimonials, your medical school personal statement can really make a difference. So we are here to help you get started writing your own personal statement. Let's approach this step-by-step. Below you will see how we will outline the steps to creating your very best personal statement. And don't forget that if you need to see more examples, you can also check out our AMCAS personal statement examples, AACOMAS personal statement examples and TMDSAS personal statement examples to further inspire you!

Here's a quick run-down of what we'll cover in the article:

Now let's dive in deeper!

#1 Understanding the Qualities of a Strong Med School Personal Statement

Before discussing how to write a strong medical school personal statement, we first need to understand the qualities of a strong essay. Similar to crafting strong medical school secondary essays , writing a strong personal statement is a challenging, yet extremely important, part of your MD or MD-PhD programs applications. Your AMCAS Work and Activities section may show the reader what you have done, but the personal statement explains why. This is how Dr. Neel Mistry, MD and our admissions expert, prepared for his medical school personal statement writing:

"The personal statement is an opportunity for you to shine and really impress the committee to invite you for an interview. The personal statement is your chance to be reflective and go beyond what is stated on your CV and [activities]. In order to stand out, it is important to answer the main questions [of medical school personal statements] well: a bit about yourself and what led you to medicine, why you would make an ideal medical student and future physician, what attracts you to [medicine], and what sets you apart from the other candidates. The key here is answering the last two questions well. Most candidates simply highlight what they have done, but do not reflect on it or mention how what they have done has prepared them for a future medical career." - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

“my essay also focused on volunteering in the local health clinic during the many summer breaks. volunteering was more than just another activity to tick off my bucket list for my medical school … i volunteered because i wanted to view medical practice through the lenses of already qualified doctors, not because i needed a reason to be a doctor. i understood that the admissions committee would be more interested in how i was motivated.” – dr. vincent adeyemi, md.

A personal statement should be deeply personal, giving the admissions committee insight into your passions and your ultimate decision to pursue a career in medicine. A compelling and introspective personal statement can make the difference between getting an interview and facing medical school rejection . Review our blogs to find out how to prepare for med school interviews and learn the most common medical school interview questions .

As you contemplate the task in front of you, you may be wondering what composing an essay has to do with entering the field of medicine. Many of our students were surprised to learn that medical school personal statements are so valued by med schools. The two things are more closely related than you think. A compelling personal statement demonstrates your written communication skills and highlights your accomplishments, passions, and aspirations. The ability to communicate a complex idea in a short space is an important skill as a physician. You should demonstrate your communication skills by writing a concise and meaningful statement that illustrates your best attributes. Leaving a lasting impression on your reader is what will lead to interview invitations.

A quick note: if you are applying to schools that do not require the formal medical school personal statement, such as medical schools in Canada , you should still learn how to write such essays. Many medical schools in Ontario , for example, ask for short essays for supplementary questionnaires. These are very similar to the personal statement. Knowing how to brainstorm, write, and format your answers is key to your success!!!

You want to give yourself as much time as possible to write your statement. Do not think you can do this in an evening or even in a week. Some statements take months. My best statement took almost a year to get right. Allow yourself time and start early to avoid added stress. Think of the ideas you want to include and brainstorm possible ways to highlight these ideas. Ask your friends for ideas or even brainstorm your ideas with people you trust. Get some feedback early to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

“I wrote scores of essays at my desk in those few weeks leading up to application submission. I needed it to be perfect. Do not let anyone tell you to settle. There was no moment when I had this shining light from the sky filtering into my room to motivate me. The ultimate trick is to keep writing. It is impossible to get that perfect essay on the first try, and you may not even get it on your fifteenth attempt, but the goal is to keep at it, keep making those edits, and never back down.” – Dr. Vincent Adeyemi, MD

All personal statements for medical school, often start by explaining why medicine is awesome; the admission committee already knows that. You should explain why you want a career in medicine. What is it about the practice of medicine that resonates with who you are? Naturally, this takes a lot of reflection around who you are. Here are some additional questions you can consider as you go about brainstorming for your essay:

  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What is something you want them to know about you that isn't in your application?
  • Where were you born, how did you grow up, and what type of childhood did you have growing up (perhaps including interesting stories about your siblings, parents, grandparents)?
  • What kinds of early exposure to the medical field left an impression on you as a child?
  • Did you become familiar with and interested in the field of medicine at an early stage of your life? If so, why?
  • What are your key strengths, and how have you developed these?
  • What steps did you take to familiarize yourself with the medical profession?
  • Did you shadow a physician? Did you volunteer or work in a clinical setting? Did you get involved in medical research?
  • What challenges have you faced? Have these made an impact on what you chose to study?
  • What are your favorite activities?
  • What kinds of extracurriculars for medical school or volunteer work have you done, and how have these shaped who you are, your priorities, and or your perspectives on a career in medicine?
  • What was your "Aha!" moment?
  • When did your desire to become a doctor solidify?
  • How did you make the decision to apply to medical school?

You shouldn't try to answer all of these in your essay. Try only a few main points that will carry over into the final draft. Use these to brainstorm and gather ideas. Start developing your narrative by prioritizing the most impactful responses to these prompts and the ideas that are most relevant to your own experiences and goals. The perfect personal statement not only shows the admissions committee that you have refined communication skills, but also conveys maturity and professionalism. It should also display your motivation and suitability for medical practice. Here's how our student Alison, who was a non-traditional applicant with a serious red flag in her application, used her brainstorming sessions with our admissions experts to get a theme going in her medical school personal statement and her overall application package:

"I think it was during my brainstorming session that we really started talking about... what the theme [was] going to be for my application. And I think that was really helpful in and of itself. Just [reflecting] 'Hey, what's your focus going to be like? How are we going to write this? What's the style going to be?' Just to create an element of consistency throughout..." Alison, BeMo Student, current student at Dell Medical School 

After brainstorming, you should be able to clearly see a few key ideas, skills, qualities, and intersections that you want to write about. Once you've isolated the elements you want to explore in your essay (usually 2-4 key ideas), you can begin building your outline. In terms of structure, this should follow the standard academic format, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

As you begin thinking about what to include in your personal essay, remember that you are writing for a specific audience with specific expectations. Your evaluator will be familiar with the key qualities desired by medical schools, as informed by the standards of the profession. But keep in mind that they too are human, and they respond well to well-crafted, engaging essays that tell a story. Here's what our student Alison had to share about keeping your audience in mind when writing your personal statement:

"Make it easy for the reader to be able to work [their] way through [your personal statement]. Because, at the end of the day, I think one thing that helped me a lot was being able to think about who was going to be reading this application and it's going to be these people that are sitting around a desk or sitting at a table and [go] through massive numbers of applications every single day. And the easier and more digestible that you can make it for them, gives you a little bit of a win." - Alison, BeMo student, current student at Dell Medical School

The admissions committee will be examining your essay through the lens of their particular school's mission, values, and priorities. You should think about your experiences with reference to the AAMC Core Competencies and to each school's mission statement so that you're working toward your narrative with the institution and broader discipline in mind.

Review AAMC Core Competencies : The AAMC Core Competencies are the key characteristics and skills sought by U.S. medical schools. These are separated into three general categories:

You are not expected to have mastered all of these competencies at this stage of your education. Display those that are relevant to your experiences will help demonstrate your commitment to the medical profession.

Review the school's mission statement: Educational institutions put a lot of time and care into drafting their school's vision. The mission statement will articulate the overall values and priorities of each university, giving you insight into what they might seek in candidates, and thus what you should try to display in your personal statement. Echoing the values of the university helps illustrate that you are a good fit for their intellectual culture. The mission statement may help you identify other priorities of the university, for example, whether they prioritize research-based or experiential-based education. All this research into your chosen medical schools will help you tremendously not only when you write you personal statement, but also the rest of your medical school application components, including your medical school letter of intent if you ever need to write one later.

Just like the personal statement is, in essence, a prompt without a prompt. They give you free rein to write your own prompt to tell your story. This is often difficult for students as they find it hard to get started without having a true direction. Below is a list of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Use these prompts as a starting point for your essay. Also, they are a great way of addressing why you want to be a doctor without saying something generic.

  • The moment your passion for medicine crystallized
  • The events that led you toward this path
  • Specific instances in which you experienced opportunities
  • Challenges that helped shape your worldview
  • Your compassion, resilience, or enthusiastic collaboration
  • Demonstrate your commitment to others
  • Your dependability
  • Your leadership skills
  • Your ability to problem-solve or to resolve a conflict

These are personal, impactful experiences that only you have had. Focus on the personal, and connect that to the values of your future profession. Do that and you will avoid writing the same essay as everyone else. Dr. Monica Taneja, MD and our admissions expert, shares her tip that got her accepted to the University of Maryland School of Medicine :

"I focused on my journey to medicine and opportunities that I sought out along the way. Everyone’s path and validation is unique, so walking the reader through your growth to the point of application will naturally be different, but that's what I wanted to share in my personal statement." - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

“the essay is not about what you have been through; it's about who it made you into.” – dr. vincent adeyemi, md.

Admissions committees don't want your resumé in narrative form. The most boring essays are those of applicants listing their accomplishments. Remember, all that stuff is already in the activities section of the application. This is where you should discuss interesting or important life events that shaped you and your interest in medicine (a service trip to rural Guatemala, a death in the family, a personal experience as a patient). One suggestion is to have an overarching theme to your essay to tie everything together, starting with an anecdote. Alternatively, you can use one big metaphor or analogy through the essay. Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD and experienced admissions committee member of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, encourages you to be creative when it comes to the theme of your personal statement:

"It is very easy to make the “cookie cutter” personal statement. To a reviewer who is reading tens of these at a time it can become quite boring. What I did was [tell] a story. Like any good novel, the stories' first lines are meant to hook the reader. This can be about anything if you can bring it back and relate it to your application. It could be about the time your friend was smashed up against the boards in hockey and you, with your limited first aid experience helped to treat him. It is important that the story be REAL." - Dr. Jaime Cazes, MD, University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

Your personal statement must be well-organized, showing a clear, logical progression, as well as connections between ideas. It is generally best to use a chronological progression since this mirrors your progression into a mature adult and gives you the opportunity to illustrate how you learned from early mistakes later on. Carry the theme throughout the statement to achieve continuity and cohesion. Use the theme to links ideas from each paragraph to the next and to unite your piece.

Medical School Personal Statement Structure

When working toward the initial draft of your essay, it is important to keep the following in mind: The essay should read like a chronological narrative and have good structure and flow. Just like any academic essay, it will need an introduction, body content, and a conclusion. If you're wondering whether a medical school advisor can help you with your medical school application, check out our blog for the answer.

Check out our video to learn how to create a killer introduction to your medical school personal statement:

Introduction

The introductory paragraph and, even more importantly, the introductory sentence of your essay, will most certainly make or break your overall statement. Ensure that you have a creative and captivating opening sentence that draws the reader in. This is your first and only chance to make a first impression and really capture the attention of the committee. Starting with an event or an Aha! moment that inspired your decision to pursue a medical profession is one way to grab their attention. The kinds of things that inspire or motivate you can say a lot about who you are as a person.

The broader introductory paragraph itself should serve several functions. First, it must draw your reader in with an eye-catching first line and an engaging hook or anecdote. It should point toward the qualities that most effectively demonstrate your desire and suitability for becoming a physician (you will discuss these qualities further in the body paragraphs). The thesis of the introduction is that you have certain skills, experiences, and characteristics and that these skills, experiences, and characteristics will lead you to thrive in the field of medicine. Finally, it must also serve as a roadmap to the reader, allowing them to understand where the remainder of the story is headed.

That is a lot of work for a single paragraph to do. To better help you envision what this looks like in practice, here is a sample introduction that hits these main points.

I was convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional chef. This was not just another far-fetched idealistic childhood dream that many of us had growing up. There was a sense of certainty about this dream that motivated me to devote countless hours to its practice. It was mostly the wonder that it brought to others and the way they were left in awe after they tried a dish that I recall enjoying the most creating as a young chef. But, when I was 13, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and I realized that sometimes cooking is not enough, as I quickly learned about the vital role physicians play in the life of everyday people like my family and myself. Although my grandfather ended up passing away from his illness, the impact that the healthcare team had on him, my family, and I will always serve as the initial starting point of my fascination with the medical profession. Since that time, I have spent years learning more about the human sciences through my undergraduate studies and research, have developed a deeper understanding of the demands and challenges of the medical profession through my various volunteer and extra-curricular experiences, and although it has been difficult along the way, I have continued to forge a more intimate fascination with the medical field that has motivated me to apply to medical school at this juncture of my life. ","label":"Sample Introduction","title":"Sample Introduction"}]" code="tab3" template="BlogArticle">

In the body of your essay, you essentially want to elaborate on the ideas that you have introduced in your opening paragraph by drawing on your personal experiences to provide evidence. Major points from the above sample introduction could be: dedication and resilience (practicing cooking for hours, and devoting years to undergraduate studies in human sciences), passion and emotional connection (being able to create something that inspired awe in others, and personally connecting with the work of the grandfather's healthcare team), motivation and drive (being inspired by the role physicians play in their patients' lives, participating in volunteer work and extracurriculars, and an enduring fascination with the field of medicine). Depending on the details, a selection of volunteer and extra-curricular experiences might also be discussed in more detail, in order to emphasize other traits like collaboration, teamwork, perseverance, or a sense of social responsibility – all key characteristics sought by medical schools. Just like an academic essay, you will devote one paragraph to each major point, explaining this in detail, supporting your claims with experiences from your life, and reflecting on the meaning of each plot point in your personal narrative, with reference to why you want to pursue a medical career.

Your final statement should not be a simple summary of the things you have discussed. It should be insightful, captivating, and leave the reader with a lasting impression. Although you want to re-emphasize the major ideas of your essay, you should try to be creative and captivating, much like your opening paragraph. Sometimes if you can link your opening idea to your last paragraph it will really tie the whole essay together. The conclusion is just as important as the introduction. It is your last chance to express your medical aspirations. You want to impress the reader while also leaving them wanting more. In this case, more would mean getting an interview so they can learn more about who you are! Leave them thinking I have got to meet this person.

The narrative you construct should display some of your most tightly held values, principles, or ethical positions, along with key accomplishments and activities. If you see yourself as someone who is committed to community service, and you have a track record of such service, your story should feature this and provide insight into why you care about your community and what you learned from your experiences. Saying that you value community service when you've never volunteered a day in your life is pointless. Stating that your family is one where we support each other through challenge and loss (if this is indeed true), is excellent because it lays the groundwork for telling a story while showing that you are orientated towards close relationships. You would then go on to offer a brief anecdote that supports this. You are showing how you live such principles, rather than just telling your reader that you have such principles:

"Remember to use specific personal examples throughout your statement to make it more impactful and memorable for the readers. Often, painting a picture in the reader’s mind in the form of a story helps with this." - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD

A lot of students make the mistake of verbalizing their personal attributes with a bunch of adjectives, such as, "This experience taught me to be a self-reliant leader, with excellent communication skills, and empathy for others..." In reality, this does nothing to convey these qualities. It's a mistake to simply list your skills or characteristics without showing the reader an example of a time you used them to solve a problem. If you simply list your skills or characteristics (telling), without demonstrating the ways you have applied them (showing), you risk coming across as arrogant. The person reading the essay may not believe you, as you've not really given them a way to see such values in your actions. It is better to construct a narrative to show the reader that you possess the traits that medical schools are looking for, rather than explicitly stating that you are an empathetic individual or capable of deep self-reflection. Instead of listing adjectives, tell your personal story and allow the admissions committee to paint the picture for themselves. This step is very challenging for many students, but it's one of the most important strategies used in successful essays. Writing this way will absolutely make your statement stand out from the rest.

While it may be tempting to write in a high academic tone, using terminology or jargon that is often complex or discipline-specific, requiring a specialized vocabulary for comprehension. You should actually aim to write for a non-specialist audience. Remember, in the world of medicine, describing a complex, clinical condition to a patient requires using specific but clear words. This is why your personal statement should show that you can do the same thing. Using large words in unwieldy ways makes you sound like you are compensating for poor communication skills. Use words that you believe most people understand. Read your personal statement back to a 14-year-old, and then again to someone for whom English is not their first language, to see if you're on the right path.

Ultimately, fancy words do not make you a good communicator; listening and ensuring reader comprehension makes you a good communicator. Instead of using complex terminology to tell the admissions committee that you have strong communication skills, show them your communication skills through clear, accessible prose, written with non-specialists in mind. A common refrain among writing instructors is, never use a $10 word where a $2 word will suffice. If you can say it in plain, accessible language, then this is what you should do.

Display Professionalism

Professionalism may seem like a difficult quality to display when only composing a personal statement. After all, the reader can't see your mannerisms, your personal style, or any of those little qualities that allow someone to appear professional. Professionalism is about respect for the experience of others on your team or in your workplace. It is displayed when you are able to step back from your own individual position and think about what is best for your colleagues and peers, considering their needs alongside your own. If a story is relevant to why you want to be a physician and demonstrates an example of how you were professional in a workplace setting, then it is appropriate to include in your essay.

One easy way to destroy a sense of professionalism is to act in a judgmental way towards others, particularly if you perceived and ultimately resolved an error on someone else's part. Sometimes students blame another medical professional for something that went wrong with a patient.

They might say something to the effect of, "The nurse kept brushing off the patient's concerns, refusing to ask the attending to increase her pain medications. Luckily, being the empathetic individual that I am, I took the time to listen to sit with the patient, eventually bringing her concerns to the attending physician, who thanked me for letting him know."

There are a couple of things wrong with this example. It seems like this person is putting down someone else in an attempt to make themselves look better. They come across as un-empathetic and judgmental of the nurse. Maybe she was having a busy day, or maybe the attending had just seen the patient for this issue and the patient didn't really need re-assessment. Reading this kind of account in a personal statement makes the reader question the maturity of the applicant and their ability to move past blaming others and resolve problems in a meaningful way. Instead of allocating blame, identify what the problem was for the patient and then focus on what you did to resolve it and reflect on what you learned from the whole experience.

One last note on professionalism: Being professional does not mean being overly stoic, hiding your emotions, or cultivating a bland personality. A lot of students are afraid to talk about how a situation made them feel in their personal statement. They worry that discussing feelings is inappropriate and will appear unprofessional. Unfortunately for these students, emotional intelligence is hugely important to the practice of medicine. In order to be a good doctor, one must be aware of their own emotions as well as those of their patients. Good doctors are able to quickly identify their own emotions and understand how their emotional reactions may inform their actions, and the ability to deliver appropriate care, in a given situation. Someone who is incapable of identifying their emotions is also incapable of managing them effectively and will likely struggle to identify the emotions of others. So, when writing your personal statement, think about how each experience made you feel, and what you learned from those feelings and that experience.

How to Write About Discrepancies and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Part of your essay's body can include a discussion of any discrepancies or gaps in your education, or disruptions in your academic performance. If you had to take time off, or if you had a term or course with low grades, or if you had any other extenuating circumstances that impacted your education, you can take time to address these here. It is very important to address these strategically. Do not approach this section as space to plead your case. Offer a brief summary of the situation, and then emphasize what you learned from such hardships. Always focus on the positive, illustrating how such difficulties made you stronger, more resilient, or more compassionate. Connect your experiences to the qualities desired by medical schools. Here's how I student Alison address an academic discrepancy in her application:

I had an academic dishonesty during undergrad, which, at the time, ended up being this big misunderstanding. But I was going to appeal this and get it off my record. I was supposed to start nursing school two weeks after this whole ordeal had gone down and, at our university, if you try to appeal your academic dishonesty then you'd have to take an incomplete in that class and I needed this class in order to start nursing school. So I wasn't able to [appeal]. So when I talked with the people at the nursing school they were like ‘it's no big deal, it's fine’. [But] it came back and it haunted me very much. When I was applying [to medical school] I started looking online [to see] how big of a deal is it to have this ‘red flag’ on my application. I started reading all of these horror stories on Student Doctor Network and all of these other forums about how if you have an academic dishonesty you shouldn't even bother applying, that you'll never get in. Schools will blacklist you and I was [wondering] what am I going do. [My advisor suggested I use the essay to talk about my discrepancy]. 

First off, if anyone out there has an academic violation don't read student doctor network. don't listen to anybody. you absolutely are still a potential medical student and schools are not going to blacklist you just because of one mistake that you made. that's all lies. don't listen to them. i don't even think it came up a single time during any of my interviews. i think a lot of that came back to how i wrote that essay and the biggest advice that i can give that i got from the [bemo] team is explain what happened… just give the facts. be very objective about it. in the last two thirds [of the essay] you want to focus on what you learned from it and how it made you a better person and how it's going to make you a better physician.” – alison, bemo student, current student at dell medical school.

We hope many of you find a peace of mind when you read Alison's story. Because it shows that with the right approach to your medical school personal statement, you can overcome even red flags or setbacks that made you dread the application process. Use your personal statement to emphasize your ability to persevere through it all but do so in a positive way. Most of all, if you feel like you have to explain yourself, take accountability for the situation. State that it is unfortunate and then redirect it to what you learned and how it will make you a better doctor. Always focus on being positive and do not lament on the negative situation too much.

Additional Mistakes to Avoid in Personal Statements:

Check out this video on the top 5 errors to avoid in your personal statement!

Step 3: Writing Your First Draft

As you can see, there is a LOT of planning and consideration to be done before actually starting your first draft. Properly brainstorming, outlining, and considering the content and style of your essay prior to beginning the essay will make the writing process much smoother than it would be you to try to jump right to the draft-writing stage. Now, you're not just staring at a blank page wondering what you could possibly write to impress the admissions committee. Instead, you've researched what the school desires from its students and what the medical profession prioritizes in terms of personal characteristics, you've sketched out some key moments from your life that exemplify those traits, and you have a detailed outline that just needs filling in.

As you're getting started, focus on getting content on the page, filling in your outline and getting your ideas arranged on the page. Your essay will go through multiple drafts and re-writes, so the first step is to free write and start articulating connections between your experiences and the characteristics you're highlighting. You can worry about flow, transitions, and perfect grammar in later drafts. The first draft is always a working draft, written with the understanding that its purpose is to act as a starting point, not an ending point. Once you've completed a draft, you can begin the revising process. The next section will break down what to do once you have your first draft completed.

You can also begin looking at things like style, voice, transitions, and overall theme. The best way to do this is to read your essay aloud. This may sound strange, but it is one of the single most impactful bits of writing advice a student can receive. When we're reading in our heads (and particularly when we're reading our own words), it is easy to skip over parts that may be awkwardly worded, or where the grammar is off. As our brains process information differently, depending on whether we're taking in visual or auditory information, this can also help you understand where the connections between ideas aren't as evident as you would like. Reading the essay aloud will help you begin internalizing the narrative you've crafted, so that you can come to more easily express this both formally in writing and informally in conversation (for example, in an interview).

#1 Did You Distinguish Yourself From Others?

Does your narrative sound unique? Is it different than your peers or did you write in a generic manner? Our admissions expert Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, shares how she got the attention of the admissions committee with her personal statement:

"I also found it helpful to give schools a 'punch-line'. As in I wanted them to remember 1-2 things about me that are my differentiators and I reiterated those throughout [the personal statement]." - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

Use your narrative to provide a compelling picture of who you are as a person, as a learner, as an advocate, and as a future medical professional. What can you offer? Remember, you will be getting a lot out of your med school experience, but the school will be getting a lot out of you, as well. You will be contributing your research efforts to your department, you will be participating in the academic community, and as you go on to become a successful medical professional you will impact the perception of your school's prestige. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, so use this opportunity to highlight what you bring to the table, and what you will contribute as a student at their institution. Let them know what it is about you that is an attribute to their program. Make them see you as a stand out from the crowd.

#2 Does My Essay Flow and is it Comprehensible?

Personal statements are a blessing and a curse for admission committees. They give them a better glimpse of who the applicant is than simple scores. Also, they are long and time-consuming to read. And often, they sound exactly alike. On occasion, a personal statement really makes an applicant shine. After reading page after page of redundant, cookie-cutter essays, an essay comes along with fluid prose and a compelling narrative, the reader snaps out of that feeling of monotony and gladly extends their enthusiastic attention.

Frankly, if the statement is pleasant to read, it will get read with more attention and appreciation. Flow is easier to craft through narrative, which is why you should root the statement in a story that demonstrates characteristics desirable to medical schools. Fluidity takes time to build, though, so your statement should be etched out through many drafts and should also be based on an outline. You need to brainstorm, then outline, then draft and re-draft, and then bring in editors and listeners for feedback (Note: You need someone to proofread your work. Bestselling authors have editors. Top scholars have editors. I need an editor. You need an editor. Everyone needs an editor). Then, check and double-check and fix anything that needs fixing. Then check again. Then submit. You want this to be a statement that captures the reader's interest by creating a fluid, comprehensible piece that leads the reader to not only read each paragraph but want to continue to the next sentence.

#3 Did You Check Your Grammar?

If you give yourself more than one night to write your statement, the chances of grammatical errors will decrease considerably. If you are pressed for time, upload your file into an online grammar website. Use the grammar checker on your word processor, but know that this, in itself, isn't enough. Use the eyes and ears of other people to check and double-check your grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Read your statement out loud to yourself and you will almost certainly find an error (and likely several errors). Use fresh eyes to review the statement several times before you actually submit it, by walking away from it for a day or so and then re-reading it. Start your essay early, so that you actually have time to do this. This step can make or break your essay. Do not waste all the effort you have put into writing, to only be discarded by the committee for using incorrect grammar and syntax.

#4 Did You Gather Feedback From Other People?

The most important tip in writing a strong application essay is this getting someone else to read your work. While the tips above are all very useful for writing a strong draft, nothing will benefit you more than getting an outside appraisal of your work. For example, it's very easy to overlook your own spelling or grammatical errors. You know your own story and you may think that your narrative and it's meaning make sense to your reader. You won't know that for sure without having someone else actually read it. This may sound obvious, but it's still an absolute necessity.

“It was very helpful for two of my mentors to review my statements before submitting my application. Ensure you trust the judgement and skills of the person to whom you would be giving your personal statement for review.” – Dr. Vincent Adeyemi, MD

Have someone you trust to read the essay and ask them what they thought of it. What was their impression of you after reading it? Did it make sense? Was it confusing? Do they have any questions? What was the tone of the essay? Do they see the connections you're trying to make? What were their takeaways from your essay, and do these align with your intended takeaways for your reader? Ideally, this person should have some knowledge of the application process or the medical profession, so that they can say whether you were successful in demonstrating that you are a suitable candidate for medical school. However, any external reader is better than no external reader at all.

Avoid having people too close to you read your work. They may refrain from being too critical in an effort to spare your feelings. This is the time to get brutal, honest feedback. If you know someone who is an editor but do not feel that they can be objective, try and find someone else.

Want more examples? Check out our video below:

FAQs and Final Notes

Your personal statement should tell your story and highlight specific experiences or aspects of your journey that have led you to medicine. If your first exposure or interest in the medical field was sparked from your own medical struggles, then you can certainly include this in your statement. What is most important is that you write about what factors or experiences attributed to you deciding that medicine is the right career path for you.

Sometimes students shy away from including their own personal struggles and describing how they felt during difficult times but this is a great way for admissions committees to gain perspective into who you are as a person and where your motivations lie. Remember, this is your story, not someone else's, so your statement should revolve around you. If you choose to discuss a personal hardship, what's most important is that you don't cast yourself as the victim and that you discuss what the experience taught you. Also, medical schools are not allowed to discriminate against students for discussing medical issues, so it is not looked at as a red flag unless you are talking about an issue inappropriately. For example, making yourself appear as the victim or not taking responsibility.

All US medical schools require the completion of a personal statement with your AMCAS, TMDSAS or AACOMAS applications.

Medical schools in Canada on the other hand, do not require or accept personal statements. In lieu of the personal statement, a few of these schools may require you to address a prompt in the form of an essay, or allow you to submit an explanation essay to describe any extenuating circumstances, but this is not the same as the US personal statement. For example, when applying through  OMSAS , the  University of Toronto medical school  requires applicants to complete four short, 250 words or less, personal essays.

Many students struggle with whether or not they should address an unfavorable grade in their personal statement. What one student does isn't necessarily the right decision for you.

To help you decide, think about whether or not that bad grade might reflect on your poorly. If you think it will, then it's best to address the academic misstep head-on instead of having admissions committees dwell on possible areas of concern. If you're addressing a poor evaluation, ensure that you take responsibility for your grade, discuss what you learned and how your performance will be improved in the future - then move on. It's important that you don't play the victim and you must always reflect on what lessons you've learned moving forward.

Of course not, just because you didn't wake up one morning and notice a lightbulb flashing the words medicine, doesn't mean that your experiences and journey to medicine are inferior to those who did. Students arrive to medicine in all sorts of ways, some change career paths later in life, some always knew they wanted to pursue medicine, and others slowly became interested in medicine through their life interactions and experiences. Your personal statement should address your own unique story to how you first became interested in medicine and when and how that interest turned to a concrete desire.

While your entire statement is important, the opening sentence can often make or break your statement. This is because admission committee members are reviewing hundreds, if not thousands of personal statements. If your opening sentence is not eye-catching, interesting, and memorable, you risk your statement blending in with the large pile of other statements. Have a look at our video above for tips and strategies for creating a fantastic opening sentence.

Having your statement reviewed by family and friends can be a good place to start, but unfortunately, it's near-impossible for them to provide you with unbiased feedback. Often, friends and family members are going to support us and rave about our achievements. Even if they may truly think your statement needs work, they may feel uncomfortable giving you their honest feedback at the risk of hurting your feelings.

In addition, family and friends don't know exactly what admission committee members are looking for in a personal statement, nor do they have years of experience reviewing personal statements and helping students put the best version of themselves forward. For these reasons, many students choose to seek the help of a professional medical school advisor to make sure they have the absolute best chances of acceptance to medical school the first time around.

If you have enough time set aside to write your statement without juggling multiple other commitments, it normally takes at least four weeks to write your statement. If you are working, in school, or volunteering and have other commitments, be prepared to spend 6-8 weeks.

Your conclusion should have a summary of the main points you have made in your essay, but it should not just be a summary. You should also end with something that makes the reader want to learn more about you (i.e. call you for an interview). A good way to do this is to include a call-back to your opening anecdote: how have you grown or matured since then? How are you more prepared now to begin medical school?

The goal is to show as many of them as you can in the WHOLE application: this includes your personal statement, sketch, reference letters, secondary essays, and even your GPA and MCAT (which show critical thinking and reasoning already). So, it’s not an issue to focus on only a few select experiences and competencies in the personal statement.

Yes, you can. However, if you used an experience as a most meaningful entry, pick something else to talk about in your essay. Remember, you want to highlight as many core competencies across your whole application). Or, if you do pick the same experience: pick a different specific encounter or project with a different lesson learned.

Once your essay is in good shape, it's best to submit to ensure your application is reviewed as soon as possible. Remember, with rolling admissions, as more time passes before you submit your application, your chances of acceptance decreases. Nerves are normal and wanting to tinker is also normal, but over-analyzing and constant adjustments can actually weaken your essay.

So, if you're thinking about making more changes, it's important to really reflect and think about WHY you want to change something and if it will actually make the essay stronger. If not your changes won't actually make the essay stronger or if it's a very minor change you're thinking of making, then you should likely leave it as is.

The reality is, medical school admission is an extremely competitive process. In order to have the best chance of success, every part of your application must be stellar. Also, every year some students get in whose GPAs or  MCAT scores  are below the median. How? Simply because they must have stood out in other parts of the application, such as the personal statement.

The ones that honestly made the most impact on you. You'll need to reflect on your whole life and think about which experiences helped you grow and pushed you to pursue medicine. Ideally, experiences that show commitment and progression are better than one-off or short-term activities, as they usually contribute more to growth.

Final Notes

This Ultimate Guide has demonstrated all the work that needs to be done to compose a successful, engaging personal statement for your medical school application. While it would be wonderful if there was an easy way to write your personal statement in a day, the reality is that this kind of composition takes a lot of work. As daunting as this may seem, this guide lays out a clear path. In summary, the following 5 steps are the basis of what you should take away from this guide. These 5 steps are your guide and sort of cheat sheet to writing your best personal statement.

5 Main Takeaways For Personal Statement Writing:

  • Brainstorming
  • Content and Theme
  • Multiple Drafts
  • Revision With Attention to Grammar

While a strong personal statement alone will not guarantee admission to medical school, it could absolutely squeeze you onto a  medical school waitlist , off the waitlist, and onto the offer list, or give someone on the admissions committee a reason to go to battle for your candidacy. Use this as an opportunity to highlight the incredible skills you've worked and studied to refine, the remarkable life experiences you've had, and the key qualities you possess in your own unique way. Show the admissions committee that you are someone they want to meet. Remember, in this context, wanting to meet you means wanting to bring you in for an interview!

Dr. Lauren Prufer is an admissions expert at BeMo. Dr. Prufer is also a medical resident at McMaster University. Her medical degree is from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. During her time in medical school, she developed a passion for sharing her knowledge with others through medical writing, research, and peer mentoring.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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I have been reading posts regarding this topic and this post is one of the most interesting and informative one I have read. Thank you for this!

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qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Medical School Expert

13 Qualities Of A Good Doctor (& How To Demonstrate Them)

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Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Being a good doctor takes the perfect mix of personal qualities, characteristics and attitudes, that all go into providing excellent care to patients.

Every doctor is an individual, so will approach medicine from a slightly different angle, but there are some qualities and attributes that crop up time and time again when investigating what makes great doctors good.

The top 13 qualities of a good doctor are:

  • Problem-solving

Conscientiousness

  • Effective communicator
  • Personal organisation
  • The ability to reflect
  • Ability to take responsibility
  • Academic ability
  • Dealing with uncertainty

Having worked as a doctor for a few years now, I’ve come across my fair share of excellent doctors, as well as a very small handful who lacked a couple of the key qualities above.

In this article, I’m going to explore each of the above qualities of a good doctor, look at how they relate to everyday clinical practice, and explore how you could demonstrate them if you were applying to medical school.

INCLUDED IN THIS GUIDE:

Problem-Solving

Every new patient you see in clinical practice is essentially a new problem to be solved.

You’re given bits of information from lots of different sources: what the patient is telling you, what you can feel when examining the patient, the results of any blood tests or scans you’ve performed…

It’s then your job as a doctor to put all these snippets together to solve the problem of the patient’s diagnosis.

Now, don’t get me wrong, sometime it’s a very easy problem to solve.

If a patient is presenting with a sore throat, cough and runny nose, they probably have a cold.

But, there are other times when you just pick up one sign that’s slightly off, such as a blood test that comes back just slightly above the normal range, that then leads you down a rabbit hole of diagnosing an otherwise symptomless disease.

Good doctors are almost always excellent problem solvers- whether or not they actually realise it themselves!

How You Could Demonstrate This Quality

  • Describe how you overcame a challenge you faced at your work e.g. how you dealt with a difficult customer

In reality, most of modern medicine isn’t wild left-field diagnoses in the style of Dr House.

The majority of your day-to-day work as a doctor hinges on following protocols with attention to detail.

This lets you pick up on anything the patient says that stands out as abnormal or any test results that return outside of the expected ranges.

A very simple test that doctors can perform is a urine dip test.

This test can detect microscopic amounts of blood in a person’s urine.

There are many different reasons for blood being found in a patient’s urine, such as if she’s on her period, but there’s always an outside chance that it can signal something far more serious (such as kidney cancer).

A doctor who’s not conscientious could easily put a positive result down to one of these many harmless reasons and not bother repeating the test.

But, a conscientious doctor would always take a second look at something that’s not expected and so may find something nasty far, far sooner.

  • Take on a committee role with one of your extra-curricular activities e.g. the role of treasurer for your hockey club

Effective Communicator

You can be the most technically brilliant doctor in the world, but if you can’t communicate your plan to the patient, they’re not going to follow your treatment regime and they’re not going to get any better.

It was only once I began work as a doctor that I truly started to gain an appreciation for just how important communication skills are.

Now, it had been drilled into us at medical school, the importance of good communication and how to converse clearly with patients, but it’s only once you start regularly interacting with the general public that you get a sense of what level you need to pitch your explanations at.

(Learn how to tackle the MMI communication station here. )

As a doctor, you’ve spent five years at medical school learning almost a whole other language of medical jargon and terms.

And with that background of knowledge, it’s just far too easy to forget what you didn’t know before going through the whole process.

I remember before medical school, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where the liver sat in the body.

Despite this, without thinking as a doctor, I could very easily launch into an explanation to a patient about their liver and what was wrong with it, completely forgetting that they may not even know what a liver really is!

Communication skills are vital for a doctor to be able to make themselves understood and keep the patient onside when it comes to their treatment regime.

  • Undertake some work experience that could help improve your communication skills e.g. volunteering to teach children to read at school

Personal Organisation

I can’t say I’ve ever been an amazingly organised person.

However, I can say that working as a junior doctor has genuinely greatly improved my personal organisation skills.

As a busy doctor on the wards or in a GP practice, you’ve got to keep track of a hundred different tasks and duties, all of varying importance and urgency.

The stakes are high because losing track of an important job you need to do could directly negatively impact the quality of care for a patient.

If a patient needs an urgent x-ray, and you forget to book it because you got distracted, it’s not going to look good for you.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Personal organisation is what will let you keep track of everything you need to do, prioritising the most urgent tasks to the top of your to-do list.

This will mean you get the important stuff done even if you’re being bombarded on all sides by nurses, patients or other doctors asking for things.

  • Present yourself in a well-kempt manner at your medical school interview and be sure to turn up in plenty of time!

Out of this entire list, I’ve got to say I think honesty is one of the most important qualities for a doctor to have.

You just can’t have a dishonest doctor.

Doctors have easy access to controlled drugs, private patient information and can make life-changing decisions for the person sat in front of them.

A good doctor would never prescribe a medication just because they’d get a kickback from the pharmaceutical company who sold it, they’d never steal controlled drugs to sell them, and they’d never look at a patient’s private medical record unless they needed to.

Honesty is such an important quality for a doctor to have that even minor breaches are often cause for a fitness to practice meeting with the GMC.

For example, if a doctor were to do something as relatively minor as lie to get out of a parking ticket, and this fact came to light, they’d very likely face professional repercussions due to the fact that this act called their professional integrity into question.

  • Prepare for ethical dilemma questions at your medicine interview as well as researching and understanding why honesty is such an important quality for a doctor to possess

Once you start work in healthcare, you very quickly learn that it is very much a team sport.

As much as TV shows or movies make out, the doctor is not the be-all and end-all of patient care.

A huge team works both clinically and behind the scenes to care for patients- both in and out of hospitals.

You’ve got doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, healthcare assistants, ward clerks, cleaners, phlebotomists and dieticians to name just a few of the professions that might be involved in delivering care to a patient.

To be a good doctor, you need to be able to act as a specialised cog in this larger healthcare machine, working closely and effectively with your colleagues.

Even between doctors, teamwork is essential to delivering high-quality care.

Doctors work with other doctors to ask for specialist opinions, doctors perform operations together and doctors help each other out on busy days on the ward.

If you can’t work collaboratively, then you’re just not going to be a productive member of the team- and so hinder the delivery of care to your patients.

  • Take part in team sports or team activities (e.g. group fundraising for a charity) that showcase you as an excellent team player

The Ability To Reflect

You very likely reflect on things without even knowing it.

Reflection is essentially just thinking about something that happened, thinking about why it happened and how you responded, and thinking about what you could do better next time.

In medicine, this process is central to becoming a better doctor.

Reflection is one of the best ways to learn from your experiences and implement positive change in your future practice.

Qualities Of A Good Doctor Pixel Infographic

As a doctor, this activity of reflecting is actually formalised into a written exercise.

In order to revalidate as a doctor every year, I have to produce a set number of written reflections detailing events I’ve experienced and what I learnt from them.

Although it may sound easy enough, there’s undoubtedly a bit of knack to getting good at reflecting.

I’d go so far as to say it’s actually a skill you’ll develop over a lifetime, but having the innate quality of being able to look back over your past actions and draw learning points out will definitely contribute to being a good doctor.

  • Make sure your personal statement includes reflections on your work experience and achievements and not just descriptions of what you’ve physically done

What makes practising medicine different from killing cancer cells in a laboratory, is that you’ve got a person, not a petri dish, at the receiving end of your actions.

In the often confusing and scary environments of A&E departments, operating theatres or intensive care units, a doctor can act as a point of contact to describe and explain exactly what’s happening (and what’s going to happen) to a patient.

It’s easy to forget how overwhelming healthcare settings can be, especially when you work there every day, but a strong sense of empathy will allow a doctor to appreciate how their patients may be feeling and so let them work to reassure them.

Empathy is integral to the patient experience.

Something as simple as fetching a cup of tea and a sandwich for a patient who’s been sat in A&E for 4 hours can turn their terrible evening into a slightly less terrible one.

From breaking bad news to commiserating family members, the quality of empathy is unquestionably vital to being a good doctor.

  • Gain an appreciation, through direct shadowing and volunteering, of the importance of empathy in clinical practice which you can draw on in your personal statement or at interview

Resilience isn’t necessarily something you’d immediately associate with being a good doctor.

However, I can assure you it’s just as important a quality as any other on this list.

The reality is, the road to both becoming a doctor, and working as one, can be a bit of a long old slog.

You’ve first got the years at medical school, with make-or-break exams around every corner, then comes the somewhat relentless feeling years as a junior doctor, working long hours for relatively little pay.

Finally, after approximately 10 years in the game, you can exit the training pipeline and take up a post as a consultant.

Sometimes, you’ve got to be resilient to keep on pushing.

That could be continuing to sort out jobs long after your shift officially finished, that could be maintaining concentration in an operation that’s taking much longer than expected, or that could be meeting your next patient with a friendly smile after the last one was openly rude about you and your team.

Without resilience, a doctor is far more likely to burn out and so stop being able to deliver good care to patients.

  • Include in your application any extra-curricular achievements that you’re proud of and took considerable effort to accomplish

Respect isn’t just about being polite to your patients and colleagues.

Respect is also about taking anything a patient or colleague tells you seriously and acting upon it if required.

This could be a patient telling you that they received a substandard quality of care.

Instead of just brushing them off as a troublemaker, a doctor who truly respects their patients would explore this report to find out if anything could be improved for next time.

That being said, the core quality of respect does include a requirement to treat people professionally.

Shouting at a nurse because she forgot to give a patient a medication you prescribed isn’t respecting her as an individual.

Ignoring requests for advice from other doctors isn’t showing them respect as clinical equals.

The quality of respect is embedded in everything a good doctor does, from dealing with angry patients to teaching medical students.

  • Respect should be a mindset that shines through in anything you do as a medicine applicant, whether that be through volunteering or answering a question at your interview

Ability To Take Responsibility

A good doctor is always willing to take responsibility for their actions.

No matter how serious the consequences may be.

The NHS has actually formalised this requirement to take responsibility into the ‘duty of candour.’

What this essentially means is that anytime harm does, or could have, come to a patient the healthcare professional involved has to tell them about it.

I had my first experience of fulfilling my duty of candour about a week into my first job as a junior doctor.

One of my colleagues had asked me to help them out with a few small jobs, one of which was to take some blood from a patient.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Only taking down the patient’s bed space, I went to that bed on the ward and duly took blood from the patient lying there.

What I didn’t know, was that the patient my colleague had wanted me to bleed had just moved spots on the ward.

I’d taken blood from the wrong patient so immediately went to the patient I’d bled to explain the situation and apologise.

Thankfully, they really didn’t mind that I’d made the mistake but the same requirement for candour holds true even if I’d performed an operation on the wrong patient.

  • At your medicine interview, they might ask you to talk about a time you made a mistake. Have an example prepared of how you responded quickly and honestly

Academic Ability

Academic ability is a quality required by doctors throughout their training.

There’s just no getting around the fact that to be a good doctor you have to learn and memorise a vast quantity of medical information.

Different types of drugs, their side effects, different diseases and their symptoms… Although as a doctor you can always look information up, you’re able to work much quicker and more efficiently if you have key facts memorised.

A second reason that to be a good doctor you have to be good academically is because of the sheer number of exams you have to take!

Unfortunately, exams don’t finish even once you’ve graduated from medical school.

Every medical specialty, whether that be anaesthetics, rheumatology or general practice, has its own specialist exams that doctors training in that field have to take.

Most people have excellent academic ability just by virtue of having been able to get into medical school, but it is certainly a quality that continues to be relevant throughout a doctor’s career.

  • Achieve top grades at school in order to support your medicine application

Dealing With Uncertainty

Finally, I think this last quality of a good doctor may be the most underrated on the list.

As a doctor, nine times out of ten you won’t be dealing with a complete information set.

Diseases very rarely present exactly as they’re described in the textbooks, so there’s always a bit of uncertainty regarding which symptoms a patient is describing could be down to a particular condition.

Every test we do in medicine has both false positive rates and false negative rates, so we can never be truly sure that a test has come back to us 100% accurate.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Often times the investigation that would give us a definite answer just can’t be done for every patient we see. For example, it would be far too expensive for the NHS to MRI every elderly person with knee pain when the vast majority could be diagnosed with arthritis without the need for a scan.

Doctors have to be masters of treating the ‘most likely’ scenario, whilst always bearing in mind the ‘most serious’ diagnosis that could be underlying a patient’s presentation.

GPs are arguably the experts at dealing with this uncertainty due to the fact they have far fewer tests at their fingertips compared to their hospital colleagues. However, every good doctor will manage it to some extent.

  • Talk about a time that you personally had to deal with an uncertain situation, how you dealt with it at the time and what you learnt from that experience

Final Thoughts

If you are in the process of applying to medicine, you may have recognised some of these qualities of a good doctor.

That’s because I selected the 13 most relevant qualities from the Medical Schools Council’s ‘Statement On The Core Values And Attributes Needed To Study Medicine.’

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the attributes needed to study medicine also feed into a doctor being good at their job.

Everyone will have their own slightly different definitions of what the qualities of a good doctor are, but I thought these 13 were as good as any and could easily see how each applied to my working life.

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The Medical School Personal Statement: How To Stand Out

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Posted in: Applying to Medical School

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Impressive GPAs and MCAT scores, research experience, physician shadowing, and meaningful volunteer work are only one part of a successful medical school application . You may meet all other medical school requirements , yet face rejection.

One thing can help you stand above the rest : A compelling personal statement.

The medical school personal statement is important because it highlights your hard work, your pre-medical school accomplishments, and why you’re a better candidate than everyone else. 

In other words: Who are you, what makes you unique, and why do you deserve a spot in our school?

We’ve helped thousands of prospective medical students increase their odds at acceptance with better personal statements. Now, we’ll show you exactly how to do it. 

Working on your personal statement? Speak with a member of our enrollment team who can walk you through the step-by-step med school application process from start to finish.

Table of contents, what’s in a great med school personal statement.

An excellent medical school personal statement should contain:

  • Passion for an area of the healthcare field.
  • Storytelling that captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence.
  • Emotion and personality to show (not tell) admissions committee members who you are.
  • A unique answer to the question, “Why do you want to be a doctor?”

A powerful personal statement shows that you are the kind of candidate who will make an exceptional physician and be a valuable asset to the school during your medical education. Additionally, it helps to distinguish your application from the many other students with similar MCAT scores and GPAs.

A weak personal statement would, in turn, have the opposite effect.

Not only does the personal statement weed out unqualified candidates, but it also serves as a foundation for many interview discussions and questions . 

Admission committee members often only have a few minutes to review an application. Personal statements provide them with the right amount of information. Since it’s possible this is the only part of your application they’ll read, it needs to be perfect .

When writing your personal statement, you’ll also want to note the AAMC core competencies that are expected of all medical professionals. Some, if not all, of these competencies should shine through in your application essay.

The AAMC premed competencies include: 

  • Professional competencies:  Factors like communication skills, interpersonal skills, commitment to learning and growth, compassion, dependability, and cultural awareness and humility
  • Science competencies:  Understanding of human behaviors and living systems, both of which are best demonstrated in data-driven measures like research, MCAT scores, and science GPA (in other words, not things that necessarily need to be displayed in your personal statement)
  • Thinking & Reasoning competencies:  Critical thinking, reasoning, scientific inquiry, and written communication

A MedSchoolCoach review for personal statements, secondary essays, and interview preparation.

It’s important to show passion for something specific — a group of underserved people, a type of patient, the benefit of a particular area of medicine, etc. Your passion should be evident, non-generic, and authentic. Ask yourself, “What makes a good doctor?”

It’s crucial to avoid cliches in your personal statement, like claiming you want to become a doctor “to help people.”

Dr. Renee Marinelli, Director of Advising at MedSchoolCoach, warns that certain cliches may not truly represent meaningful experiences that influenced your decision to pursue medicine.

You may have decided to become a doctor from experiencing a kind physician as a child, but that personal experience doesn’t convey genuine passion. Your enthusiasm for medicine doesn’t need to originate from a grand experience or sudden revelation.

Your interest in medicine probably developed gradually, perhaps when you fell in love with psychology during college and volunteered at nursing homes. You don’t need a lifelong dream to demonstrate passion and become an outstanding doctor.

2. Storytelling

A memorable personal statement captures the reader’s attention from the first sentence, which you can do with an interesting personal story or anecdote. Including some creativity, ingenuity, humor, and character.

Immersing the admissions committee in your personal statement allows you to show , not just tell , how your experiences have impacted your journey to medicine.

Don’t repeat the data your admissions committee can read on the rest of your application — SHOW the passions and experiences that have led you to this field using a narrative approach.

Consider the following examples of statements about a student’s volunteer experience at a food pantry:

"“Through my work at the local food pantry, I came to understand the daily battles many individuals face, and it allowed me to develop deeper empathy and compassion.” “When I saw Mr. Jones, a regular at the kitchen, struggling to maneuver his grocery cart through the door, I hustled over to assist him. My heart sunk when I saw he was wearing a new cast after having been assaulted the night prior.”

Which do you think performed better in terms of conveying personal characteristics? Your personal statement is a deep dive into one central theme, not about rehashing all of your experiences. 

3. Emotion & Personality

An engaging personal statement allows your unique personality and real emotions to shine through.

As Dr. Davietta Butty, a Northwestern School of Medicine graduate, avid writer, pediatrician, and MedSchoolCoach advisor, puts it,

“I think the best personal statements are the ones that showcase the applicant’s personality. Remember that this is your story and not anyone else’s, and you get to say it how it makes sense to you.” 

This is why storytelling is such an important part of personal statement writing. Your writing process should involve quite a bit of writing and editing to express emotion in a relatable, appropriate way.

A Note On Writing About Tragedy

One way you can show who you are is by expressing an appropriate level of emotion, particularly about challenging or tragic experiences. (But don’t worry — not everyone has a tragic backstory, and that’s perfectly fine!)

If you are discussing a tragedy, don’t go into an extended explanation of how you feel — show emotion and your personality while sticking to the plot.

Personal tragedies, such as the death of a loved one, can powerfully motivate a personal statement. In a field where life and death constantly clash, experiences with death might appear impressive qualifications; however, approach them cautiously.

Focus on the reasons behind your motivation, rather than the details of the tragedy. Explain how the experience impacted your medical career aspirations, including skill development or perspective changes.

How have you applied these new skills or perspectives? How would they contribute to your success as a medical student?

4. Why You Want To Be a Doctor

Becoming a doctor is no small feat. What journey brought you here?

Writing things like “I want to help people” or “I want to make a difference” won’t set you apart from all the other students applying for medical school .

Knowing who you want to serve, why you want to help them (in story form), and where you’d like to end up will show admissions officers that you are serious about your medical career.

After all, this career doesn’t just involve many years of post-graduate education — you need a significant motivation to see this career through. That’s what admissions committees are looking for!

Read Next: Medical School Interviews: What To Do Before, During & After  

How long is a personal statement for medical school?

Your statement is limited to:

  • 5,300 characters (including spaces) on the AMCAS application ( MD programs )
  • 5,000 characters on the TMDSAS (Texas MD programs)
  • 5,300 characters for AACOMAS ( DO programs )

That’s roughly 500-700 words, or 3 double-spaced pages of text.

We typically suggest our students divide their personal statement into about 5 full paragraphs — an intro, 2-3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Pro tip: Do not type directly into the text box — if something goes wrong, you’ll lose all of your work. Write in another program first, then copy and paste the edited copy into the application text box.

Use a text-only word processing tool (TextEdit on Mac devices or Basic Text Editor on Windows), or type the essay into Microsoft Word or a Google Doc. Just remember to save the file as a *.rtf. This will eliminate formatting issues when you copy and paste the essay into the AMCAS box.

How To Write a Personal Statement For Medical School

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion for medicine and your unique experiences. Be genuine, focused, and concise; your personal statement will leave a lasting impression on medical school admissions committees.

Some questions you may want to consider while writing your personal statement are:

  • Why have you selected the field of medicine?
  • What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
  • What do you want medical schools to know about you that has yet to be disclosed in another application section?

In addition, you may wish to include information such as unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits. Comment on significant academic record fluctuations not explained elsewhere in your application.

With thousands of students, we’ve developed a nine-step process for how to write a personal statement that’s sure to get noticed. Follow these steps in order to uplevel your personal statement writing.

1. Choose a central theme.

Sticking to one central theme for your personal statement may sound tricky, but sticking with a central theme can give your statement more of a rhythm.

Here are a few examples to use when thinking of a central theme:

  • What is an experience that challenged or changed your perspective on medicine?
  • Is there a relationship with a mentor or another inspiring individual that has significantly influenced you?
  • What was a challenging personal experience that you encountered?
  • List unique hardships, challenges, or obstacles that may have influenced your educational pursuits.
  • What is your motivation to seek a career in medicine?

2. Choose 2-4 personal qualities to highlight.

Keep this part brief and highlight the strengths that will make you an exceptional doctor.

What sets you apart from others? What makes you unique? What are you particularly proud of about yourself that may not be explained by a good GPA or MCAT score?

Here are a few examples of quality traits great doctors possess:

  • Persistence
  • Reliability
  • Accountability
  • Good judgment under pressure
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills

3. Identify 1-2 significant experiences that demonstrate these qualities.

In this section, you should include that these experiences exemplify the qualities above and outline your path to medicine.

The top experiences college admissions seek are research projects , volunteer activities, and mentorship.

Here are a few ways to narrow down what makes an experience significant:

  • Which experiences left you feeling transformed (either immediately, or in retrospect)?
  • Which experiences genuinely made you feel like you were making a difference or contributing in a meaningful way?
  • Which experiences radically shifted your perspectives or priorities?
  • Which experiences have truly made you who you are today?

Pro tip: If you’re still in your third year of pre-med and want to participate in more experiential projects that will support your future medical career, check out Global Medical Brigades . We partner with this student-led movement for better global health, and brigades are a transformative way to begin your medical career.

4. Write a compelling introduction.

Your personal statement introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. The first paragraph should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

Check out this webinar for more examples of what makes a great introduction.

5. Use storytelling to write the body paragraphs.

Since the goal is to achieve depth rather than breadth (5,000 characters isn’t a lot!), focus on key experiences instead of discussing everything you’ve accomplished. Remember, you’ll have the Work & Activities section to share other relevant experiences.

Use the following five-step formula to elaborate on important experiences in the body paragraphs of your personal statement:

  • Discuss why you pursued the experience.
  • Mention how you felt during the experience.
  • Describe what you accomplished and learned.
  • Discuss how your experience affected you and the world around you.
  • Describe how the experience influenced your decision to pursue medicine.

The best personal statements tell a story about who you are. “Show, don’t tell,” what you’ve experienced — immerse the reader in your narrative, and you’ll have a higher chance of being accepted to medical school.

6. Create an engaging conclusion.

Your goal is to make the person reading want to meet you and invite you to their school! Your conclusion should:

  • Talk about your future plans.
  • Define what medicine means to you.
  • Reflect on your growth.
  • Reiterate how you’d contribute to your school’s community and vision.

7. Use a spellchecker to proofread for basic errors.

Misusing “your” instead of “you’re” or misspelling a few important words can negatively impact how your personal statement is received. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be perfect on your personal statement.

Use Grammarly or a similar spellchecker to check for errors before completing your personal statement. You can also use an AI tool like ChatGPT for proofreading, although it’s more likely to make sweeping changes.

8. Edit your draft.

Editing your personal statement a few times over will benefit you in the long run. Give yourself time to write, edit, reread, and re-edit your personal statement before submitting it with your application.

You can use AI technology like ChatGPT for small edits or to help you add in information where you might feel stuck, but don’t rely too much on it.

9. Ask a few trusted people to read your draft.

Have at least one friend, family member, and at least one person who’s a medical professional review your draft. A  professor in your pre-med program would be a great person to review your draft.

Be willing to receive as much feedback as your trusted people are willing to give. Don’t get caught up in obsessing over one statement you really like if all three of your readers suggest cutting it.

If you’d like a professional eye on your personal statement, consider a personal statement editing service. Our editors are medical professionals, often who have reviewed personal statements and applications submitted to admissions committees.

We’d love to help you craft a personal statement that’s sure to stand out.

30 prompts to inspire your personal statement.

Here are 30 prompts to inspire your personal statement: 

  • Describe a defining moment in your life that solidified your desire to pursue a career in medicine.
  • Discuss a challenging situation you faced and how it shaped your perspective on healthcare.
  • Reflect on a time when you made a meaningful impact on someone’s life through your actions or support.
  • Explain your motivation for wanting to become a physician and how it has evolved over time.
  • Describe a personal quality or skill that will contribute to your success as a medical professional.
  • Discuss the importance of empathy and compassion in the medical profession and share a personal experience demonstrating these qualities.
  • Reflect on a specific medical case or patient that inspired you and how it influenced your future goals.
  • Share a story about an interaction with a mentor or role model who has inspired your path in medicine.
  • Describe a time when you overcame adversity or faced a significant challenge in your journey to medical school.
  • Explain how your background, culture, or upbringing has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
  • Discuss a medical issue or topic you’re passionate about and why it’s important to you.
  • Describe your experience working or volunteering in a healthcare setting and the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Reflect on a time when you had to adapt or be resilient in a challenging situation.
  • Discuss how your interest in research or innovation will contribute to your career as a physician.
  • Share a personal experience that has shaped your understanding of the importance of teamwork in healthcare.
  • Describe a leadership role you’ve held and how it has prepared you for a career in medicine.
  • Discuss the impact of a specific medical discovery or advancement on your decision to pursue medicine.
  • Reflect on your experience with a particular patient population or community and how it has influenced your perspective on healthcare.
  • Share your thoughts on the role of social responsibility in the medical profession.
  • Explain how your experiences with interdisciplinary collaboration have prepared you for a career in medicine.
  • Describe a time when you advocated for a patient or their needs.
  • Share your experience with a global health issue or project and how it has impacted your perspective on healthcare.
  • Discuss your interest in a specific medical specialty and why it appeals to you.
  • Reflect on a time when you encountered an ethical dilemma and how you resolved it.
  • Describe an experience that demonstrates your commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth.
  • Share a story about a time when you had to think critically and problem-solve in a healthcare setting.
  • Discuss how your experiences with diverse populations have informed your approach to patient care.
  • Describe an experience that highlights your ability to communicate effectively with others in a medical setting.
  • Reflect on a time when you demonstrated your commitment to patient-centered care.
  • Share your thoughts on the importance of balance and self-care in the medical profession and how you plan to maintain these practices throughout your career.

Avoid These Common Personal Statement Mistakes

A review of MedSchoolCoach's personal statement and secondary essay services.

Avoid these 5 common mistakes students make when writing their personal statements: 

  • Clichés : “I just want to help people,” “from a young age,” “I’ve always wanted to,” and “for as long as I can remember,” are just some of the overused phrases in personal statements. Other clichés we’ve seen often include saying that you’ve wanted to be a doctor for your whole life, using overly dramatic patient anecdotes, or prideful-sounding stories about how you saved a life as a pre-med student. Eliminate clichés from your writing.
  • Typos/grammatical errors: We covered this already, but the grammar in your statement should be flawless . It’s hard to catch your own typos, so use grammar checking tools like Grammarly and ask your readers to look for typographical errors or grammar problems, too.
  • Name-dropping: At best, naming a prominent member of the medical community in your statement sounds braggadocious and will probably be brushed off. At worst, an adcom reader may think poorly of the person you mention and dismiss you based on the connection. If you do know a well-known and well-respected person in the medical field and worked closely with them, request a letter of recommendation instead.
  • Restating your MCAT score or GPA : Every character in your personal statement counts (literally). Don’t restate information already found on your application. If your application essay is being read, an algorithm has already identified your prerequisite scores as being worthy of reviewing the rest of your application.
  • Using extensive quotes from other people: This is your chance to show who you are. Quoting a philosopher or trusted advisor in these few precious characters takes away from the impact you can have. A single short quote might be okay if it’s highly relevant to the story you’re telling, but don’t go beyond that.

Should you use ChatGPT to help you write?

ChatGPT is a great AI tool to help you get your personal statement off the ground. However, since this is your personal statement, ChatGPT won’t be able to effectively write transitions or tie your personal statement together.

Only you can effectively convey what being a doctor means to you. Only you carry the experiences in your mind and heart that have compelled you to pursue this competitive profession. Don’t rely on artificial intelligence to fake those experiences — it will show, and not in a good way.

We’ve found that ChatGPT can help speed the processes of ideation , editing, and grammar-checking. If you’re not using it to emulate human experiences but just treating it as a helpful assistant, go for it! 

When should you start writing your personal statement?

Begin writing your personal statement early enough to have months of reflection and editing time before your application cycle begins. We recommend writing your personal statement as the first step when applying to medical school , starting in December or January before applications open.

As you progress, anticipate revising multiple versions of your draft. Spend time reflecting on your life experiences and aspirations.

Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor and previous admissions committee member at GWU, recommends starting your personal statement in December/January if you plan to apply in May/June (you should!). 

This gives you plenty of time to have others review it or to get professional personal statement editing services. It also gives you time to write multiple drafts and be 100% satisfied with your final essay.

9 Personal Statement Examples That Led To Med School Acceptance

We’ve included some of our favorite medical school personal statement examples below. Each of these was written by a student who was accepted at one or more programs of their choice.

1. Embracing Diversity: Healing Through Cultural Connections

Student Accepted to Case Western SOM, Washington University SOM, University of Utah SOM, Northwestern University Feinberg SOM

With a flick and a flourish, the tongue depressor vanished, and from behind my ear suddenly appeared a coin. Growing up, my pediatrician often performed magic tricks, making going to the doctors’ feel like literal magic. I believed all healthcare facilities were equally mystifying, especially after experiencing a different type of magic in the organized chaos of the Emergency Department. Although it was no place for a six-year-old, childcare was often a challenge, and while my dad worked extra shifts in nursing school to provide for our family, I would find myself awed by the diligence and warmth of the healthcare providers.

Though I associated the hospital with feelings of comfort and care, it sometimes became a place of fear and uncertainty. One night, my two-year-old brother, Sean, began vomiting and coughing non-stop. My dad was deployed overseas, so my mother and I had no choice but to spend the night at the hospital, watching my brother slowly recover with the help of the healthcare providers. Little did I know, it would not be long before I was in the same place. Months later, I was hospitalized with pneumonia with pleural effusions, and as I struggled to breathe, I was terrified of having fluid sucked out of my chest. But each day physicians comforted me, asking how I was, taking time to reassure me that I was being taken care of, and explaining any questions related to my illness and treatment. Soon, I became excited to speak with the infectious disease doctor and residents, absorbing as much as I could to learn more about different illnesses.

In addition to conventional medical settings, I also came to view the magic of healing through other lenses. Growing up, Native American traditions were an important aspect of my life as my father had been actively involved with native spirituality, connecting back to his Algonquin heritage. We often attended Wi-wanyang-wa-c’i-pi ceremonies or Sun Dances, for healing through prayer and individuals making personal sacrifices for their community. Although I never sun danced myself, I spent hours in inipis, chewing on osha root, finding my own healing through songs. In addition to my father’s heritage, healing came from the curanderismo traditions of Peru, the home of my mother, who came from a long line of healers, which involved herbal remedies and ceremonies in the healing of the mind, body, energy and soul. I can still see my mother preparing mixtures of oils, herbs, and incense while performing healing rituals. The compassion and care she put into healing paralleled the Emergency Department healthcare providers.

Through the influence of these early life experiences, I decided to pursue a career in the health sciences. Shortly after starting college, I entered a difficult time in my life as I struggled with health and personal challenges. I suddenly felt weak and tired most days with aches all over my body. Soon, depression set in. I eventually visited a doctor, and through a series of tests, we discovered I had hypothyroidism. During this time, I also began dealing with an unprocessed childhood trauma. I decided to take time off school, and with thyroid replacement hormones and therapy, I slowly began to recover. But I still had ways to go, and due to financial challenges, I made the difficult decision to continue delaying my education and found work managing a donut shop. Unbeknownst to me, this experience would lead to significant personal growth by working with people from all walks of life and allowing me time for self-reflection. I found myself continuously reflecting on the experiences in the hospital that defined my childhood and the unmatched admiration I had for healthcare workers. With my renewed interest in medicine, I enrolled in classes to get my AEMT license to get more experience in the medical field.

As my health improved, I excelled in my classes, and after craving the connections of working with others, I became a medical assistant. In this position, I met “Marco,” a patient who came from Mexico for treatment. Though I spoke Spanish while growing up, I had little experience as a medical interpreter. However, I took the opportunity to speak with him to learn his story. Afterwards, he became more comfortable, and I helped walk him through the consultation process, interpreting the physician’s words and Marco’s questions. This moment showed me the power of connecting with others in their native language. As a result, I began volunteering at a homeless clinic to continue bridging the language barrier for patients and to help advocate for the Latinx community and those who struggle to find their voice.

My journey to become a doctor has been less direct than planned; however, my personal trials and tribulations have afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with incredible people who have been invaluable to my recovery and personal development. Most importantly, I have seen the value of compassionate and empathetic care. Though I have not recently witnessed any sleight of hand or vanishing acts, what healthcare providers do for patients can only be described as magic. I look forward to bringing my diverse background as a physician and expanding my abilities to help patients in their path to healing.

2. The Calling to Heal From the Battlefield

Student Accepted to Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, Yale SOM

I’ll never forget his screams of pain.

It was the first time I had heard a man cry for help, and it shook me to my core. It had been a long night of training in South Korea for me and my fellow Army Rangers. We were reaching the end, heavy with exhaustion, when my friend took the direct impact of an explosive to his leg. The shockwave momentarily rattled my sense of balance. Struggling to see in the dark, I switched on my headlamp. In that instant, all I could focus on was his face. His eyes darted back and forth, sweeping the surroundings for any semblance of help, but all I could do was stand there and watch as our medics treated him.

No amount of training prepared me to see a friend in pain. As I watched the helicopter fly him away, I couldn’t help but think— even though I’d gone through some of the best military training in the world, in that moment, I could do nothing for him. Fortunately, he is okay, but had there been no medic available, the situation could have ended with tragedy. That night, I realized that through a career in medicine, I could be more than just a bystander to suffering— I could be in the position to not only reduce unnecessary pain but to also help those affected by conflict and trauma be restored to the fullness of life.

Upon returning home from this deployment, I shifted my focus to developing my skills in trauma care. I completed various trainings on caring for casualties in a combat environment and preparing non-medic Rangers to provide self-aid or buddy-aid in the absence of a medical provider. In a final scenario-based training lane, I helped lead my team in the treatment and packaging of a trauma patient for evacuation, setting a record time in our company and earning a military medal. This achievement, however, was only the beginning. These trainings and my successes served as a foundation that I built upon to ensure I could provide life-saving care in combat situations.  I continued to hone this skillset over my next two combat deployments as a machine gunner to Afghanistan, where, I was prepared to use these critical abilities to decrease mortality on the battlefield. In medicine, like in the army, the actual practice of one’s craft may be life or death. Therefore, evolving both dependability and proficiency during training is imperative in preparation for that final test, both in war and in medicine.

After leaving the military, confronting injury and trauma continued to be a reality. A year after exiting the service, two Army Ranger leaders whom I knew were critically injured on a mission overseas. One was my former team leader, who was shot in the neck, and the other was caught in an explosion that later resulted in a triple amputation. The relentless efforts of doctors and nurses is the reason why both of these brave men are alive today. Recognizing that without the diligent care of these medical professionals, these men would not have survived, I became ever more dedicated to serving others.

While in college, this dedication pushed me to routinely visit the West Haven VA Hospital to provide a community of support for the older, disabled veterans there. I first began visiting this hospital for my own medical care but witnessing the suffering of the other veterans at the hospital spurred me to return repeatedly not as a patient, but as a friend to my fellow veterans.  As a veteran and student, seeing and hearing about the pain and loss of function experienced by many other veterans reminded me of the importance of advocacy in healthcare: to understand, to care for, and to fight for those who are unable to do so themselves.

I continued to see these effects of conflict while volunteering as a tutor to individuals from the Middle East who were affected by the very war I served in. Alaa lives in Syria and dreams of becoming a surgeon. Together, Alaa and I discussed chemistry, biology, and math. Despite his love of learning and dedication, the instability of his community, which was plagued by violence, often barred him from focusing on his studies and committing to a routine tutoring schedule. Although I’ll never intimately know the reality of growing up in a war-torn country, working with Alaa taught me to keep the bigger picture of healthcare in mind. It reminded me that a career as a physician would provide me with the capability to help those like Alaa who are affected by conflict.

When I reflect on medicine, I draw many parallels to my life in army special operations. The training is intense, the hours are long, and the structure is hierarchical. The mission, above all else, is to provide the best outcome for those around you. On my journey to a career in medicine, I plan to continue to add to what I’ve learned from my experiences so far: humility, empathy, dependability, communication, teamwork, and leading from the front. For over four years I lived by the Ranger Creed, and I plan to imbue the same ethos in serving as a physician— to keep myself mentally alert and morally straight, to shoulder more than my share of whatever task presents itself.  In crossing from the path of a warrior to that of a healer, I hope to continue a life of service to improve the human condition and reduce unnecessary suffering in the world one person at a time.

3. Community-based Health and Empathy: Serving Underserved Communities in Crisis

Student Accepted to Weill Cornell

My path to medicine was first influenced by early adolescent experiences trying to understand my place in society. Though I was not conscious of it at the time, I held a delicate balance between my identity as an Indian-American and an “American-American.”

In a single day, I could be shooting hoops and eating hotdogs at school while spending the evening playing Carrom and enjoying tandoori chicken at a family get-together. When our family moved from New York to California, I had the opportunity to attend a middle school with greater diversity, so I learned Spanish to salve the loss of moving away and assimilate into my new surroundings.

As I partook in related events and cuisine, I built an intermixed friend group and began to understand how culture influences our perception of those around us. While volunteering at senior centers in high school, I noticed a similar pattern to what I sometimes saw at school: seniors socializing in groups of shared ethnicity and culture. Moving from table to table, and therefore language to language, I also observed how each group shared different life experiences and perspectives on what constitutes health and wellness. Many seniors talked about barriers to receiving care or how their care differed from what they had envisioned. Listening to their stories on cultural experiences, healthcare disparities, and care expectations sparked my interest in becoming a physician and providing care for the whole community.

Intrigued by the science behind perception and health, I took electives during my undergraduate years to build a foundation in these domains. In particular, I was amazed by how computational approaches could help model the complexity of the human mind, so I pursued research at Cornell’s Laboratory of Rational Decision-Making. Our team used fMRI analysis to show how the framing of information affects its cognitive processing and perception. Thinking back to my discussions with seniors, I often wondered if more personalized health-related messaging could positively influence their opinions. Through shadowing, I had witnessed physicians engaging in honest and empathetic conversations to deliver medical information and manage patients’ expectations, but how did they navigate delicate conflicts where the patients’ perspectives diverged from their own?

My question was answered when I became a community representative for the Ethics Committee for On Lok PACE, an elderly care program. One memorable case was that of Mr. A.G, a blind 86-year-old man with radiation-induced frontal lobe injury who wanted to return home and cook despite his doctor’s expressed safety concerns. Estranged from family, Mr. A.G. relied on cooking to find fulfillment in his life. Recognizing the conflict between autonomy and beneficence, I joined the physicians in brainstorming and recommending ways he could cook while being supervised. I realized that the role of a physician was to mediate between the medical care plan and the patient’s wishes in order to make a decision that preserves their dignity. As we considered possibilities, the physicians’ genuine concern for the patient’s emotional well-being exemplified the compassion that I want to emulate as a future doctor. Our discussions emphasized the rigor of medicine—the challenge of ambiguity and the importance of working with an individual to serve their needs.

With COVID-19 ravaging our underserved communities, my desire to help others drove me towards community-based health as a contact tracer for my county’s Department of Public Health. My conversations uncovered dozens of heartbreaking stories that revealed how inequities in socioeconomic status and job security left poorer families facing significantly harsher quarantines than their wealthier counterparts. Moreover, many residents expressed fear or mistrust, such as a 7-person family who could not safely isolate in their 1 bedroom/1 bath apartment. I offered to arrange free hotel accommodations but was met with a guarded response from the father: “We’ll be fine. We can maintain the 6 feet.” While initially surprised, I recognized how my government affiliation could lead to a power dynamic that made the family feel uneasy. Thinking how to make myself more approachable, I employed motivational interviewing skills and even simple small talk to build rapport. When we returned to discussing the hotel, he trusted my intentions and accepted the offer. Our bond of mutual trust grew over two weeks of follow-ups, leaving me humbled yet gratified to see his family transition to a safer living situation. As a future physician, I realize I may encounter many first-time or wary patients; and I feel prepared to create a responsive environment that helps them feel comfortable about integrating into our health system.

Through my clinical and non-clinical experiences, I have witnessed the far-reaching impact of physicians, from building lasting connections with patients to being a rock of support during uncertain times. I cannot imagine a career without these dynamics—of improving the health and wellness of patients, families, and society and reducing healthcare disparities. While I know the path ahead is challenging, I am confident that I want to dedicate my life to this profession.

4. Creating a Judgment-Free Zone with The Power of Acceptance in Healthcare

Student Accepted to George Washington SOM and Health Sciences, Drexel University COM

Immigrating into a foreign country without speaking a word of the language is a terrifying task for anyone. My mentee at Computers4kids, Sahil, came to the United States at seventeen and had been struggling to integrate with society due to the language barrier. Although I was born in the United States, I can empathize with the struggle he encounters daily, since both my parents and many members of my family have dealt with the same issues. Often, these barriers exacerbate mundane issues the immigrant population faces as they have difficulty finding people who can understand and care for them. Since I am bilingual in Farsi, when Sahil approached me with his driving instructions manual written in Dari, I thought I could teach him the rules of the road with no issues. I asked him to read the first sentence, but he diverted his gaze and mumbled that he did not know how to read. As I realized he seemed embarrassed by his illiteracy, I placed my hand on his shoulder and assured him that he could learn. I increased my weekly hours at the site to spend an equal amount of time on the rules of the road and on phonetics and reading. Within a few months, he was more comfortable greeting others around the Computers4Kids site and participating in interactive projects. Upon reflection, I appreciate the importance of creating a judgment-free zone that encourages learning and reciprocal care. Once Sahil noticed that I saw him no differently after learning of his illiteracy, he was ready and willing to work on the basics of language and reading, instead of solely memorizing words.

I did not realize how pivotal a judgment-free zone in a medical environment is until I worked at the University of Virginia Emergency Department as a medical scribe. Although I had scribed at a smaller hospital before, I had always strived for a position at a high-volume healthcare center and level one trauma center. Close to the end of a long shift, I walked into the room of a patient with the chief complain of ‘Psychiatric Evaluation’.  A male patient with schizophrenia was hyperventilating and speaking through tears as he described seeing his deceased wife and daughter everywhere he looked. Between short breaths, he mentioned he was going to Florida to attack the person who “murdered his family”. The resident diffused the situation by acknowledging the patient’s feelings and suggesting that he stayed for psychiatric help instead of flying to Florida. Eventually, the patient agreed and was admitted. Seeing the resident create this judgment-free environment was eye opening, as the previously distressed patient was now accepting counseling. The powerful influence of acceptance can lead to valuable insights about patients’ lives, potentially increasing the range of care one can administer.

I decided to transition to primary care in the most recent fall season because I would be able to build a more personal relationship with families in my community. I began working at Union Mill Pediatrics and was finally able to serve the community I grew I up in. I was given the responsibility of acting as the primary contact for a few families with children who have autism. Dr. Maura and I perused the plan of care for one of these children, Ayaan, determined by the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), to ensure that set therapeutic goals were reasonable and generalizable. When I asked Salwa, Ayaan’s mother, about some of the goals set by her BCBA and the school, she mentioned they would repeat exercises he already knew how to complete. I informed Salwa of her right as a patient to bring up her concerns with Ayaan’s teachers. I was overjoyed when she updated me that she instructed Ayaan’s teacher to continue putting his hearing aid in despite Ayaan’s constant cries. Salwa explained that the tantrums would curb after two days, which proved to be true. Similarly to how I encourages Salwa to advocate for her son, I will advocate for my patients and help them develop confidence to speak about their needs. After finding her voice as the patient’s guardian, Salwa gained the confidence to ask about a support group as she faces difficulties raising Ayaan alone. After some research, I found a few active groups to send her. By proving to Salwa I had her best interests in heart, she opened up to me about her mental health issues, which enabled me to extend the appropriate resources her way.

I have witnessed the potential that physicians have at work to forever change a family’s quality of life by being open-minded and remaining judgment-free. As a physician, I will aim to provide for my community through attentive healthcare and community service. I will advocate for my patients with cultural, language or socioeconomic barriers to healthcare. Building a trusting relationship with my future patients can result in a more productive office visit and enhance my ability to administer holistic care. My goal is for patients to leave their visit with not only a reasonable plan of care, but also a greater appreciation of their health and their rights as patients.

5. The Intersection of Medicine and Creativity

Student Accepted to Hackensack Meridian SOM, Nova Southeastern CoOM/KPCOM

Growing up, I inherited a deep admiration for medicine. From my grandfather’s chilling stories as a forensic psychiatrist assessing mental fitness, to my father’s heroic accounts as a pediatric dentist operating on toddlers with severe tooth decay, I was enamored with the honor of healing. These exposures nurtured my natural curiosity and innate aptitude for the sciences. Yet my mother, who had studied dance and theatre, instilled in me a fervent love of the arts and creative practice. Following in her footsteps, I took up multiple musical instruments, attended a high school for the arts, and earned a degree in art history coupled with a dance minor. Still, my dream was to pursue medicine, and though it seems counterintuitive, my love of art has only facilitated my enduring love of science, reinforcing why pursuing a career as a holistic, health-centered physician is my deepest aspiration.

My affinity for the health sciences began in the dance studio, where I devoted many hours of my adolescence. Dance, insidious in its promotion of grotesque health practices, demanded that I limit my calories to 1,200 a day counting everything from ibuprofen to a stick of gum, and to dance through a severe hamstring tear. My conceptions of health were severely warped until college dance came to my rescue. These new progressive teachers uplifted dancers of all physical and cognitive abilities, distributed scientific journals on effective warm-up techniques, and abandoned conventional dance norms. I was disturbed by all the unlearning I had to do, but eager to reacquaint myself with my body and disseminate new knowledge. Thus, I was honored when dance again presented an opportunity in health, as I was hired to teach dance at my childhood summer camp. Here, I could separate my curriculum from unreasonable physical expectations and interpersonal competition. I found a fierce sense of joy and fulfillment from being an advocate for physical and emotional health, and I knew I wanted to continue helping others heal while also deconstructing my own negative health experiences.

These formative experiences in the arts profoundly supported my intellectual development, allowing me to thrive in science-based settings and ultimately prompting me to seek out colleges with robust research programs. At the University of Michigan, I had the privilege of participating in a campus research lab, undoubtedly resulting in my most valuable college experience. The world of scientific inquiry can be intimidating, but after a year of reading dozens of papers and learning novice lab protocols, I began my own independent investigation of zebrafish retinas. My goal was to uncover the mechanisms of retinal regeneration in fish, thus addressing vision loss. The excitement I felt in utilizing challenging lab techniques, working with animals, witnessing the culmination of my efforts through image analysis, and being a part of such life-altering research was unmatched. What once seemed like magic was now tangible; I was an artist helping craft the solutions to science’s unanswered questions. In the context of my multidisciplinary interests, my research reinforced the creative, humanitarian side of science, and that science was where I felt compelled to take action and build a career.

Art continued to deepen my passion for and understanding of medicine. The revolutionary approaches of my dance teachers modeled the importance of critique as it pertains to health. This was not a new concept to me; my high school art teachers had urged us to challenge institutional weaknesses. It was not until college, however, that I realized how this line of thinking intersects with medicine. Studying art history, I repeatedly encountered artists whose work tackled issues in health. Keith Haring confronted the AIDS crisis when society had turned on the gay population, and Marc Quinn confronted the disease of addiction in his self-portrait sculptures, made entirely of his own frozen blood. Art, I learned, is so often a response to disease, be it physical, mental, or sociological. These artists had been champions of health in light of its stigmas and politics; art thus fostered new intentions, instilling within me an ardent goal of social activism through medicine.

Art has contributed to my journey, and while it is not my ultimate goal, I hope to incorporate my artistically based insights into my work in science and medicine as a health and social justice advocate. I am driven to continue exploring these intersections, having compiled an entire portfolio on the connection between dance and science, researched disability in the arts, and pursued my personal interest in LGBTQ+ health advocacy by connecting with and shadowing a variety of gender care physicians. My intention to pursue medicine is personal, fulfilling, and pressing, and I take seriously the responsibility I will have as a physician to be a mogul for change in areas of healthcare that compromise the human experience. Further, my natural inclination towards science and involvement in academic research has instilled in me the confidence and skills necessary to be an effective medical practitioner. With this balanced mindset, I know I will contribute to a more ethical and well-rounded approach to healthcare.

6. Innovation in Medicine and a Quest for Discovery

Student Accepted to Johns Hopkins SOM, Washington University SOM, Hofstra Zucker SOM

As a notoriously picky nine-year-old with a penchant for grilled cheese, I was perplexed when I learned that my younger sister, Rachel, had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I felt a sting of betrayal knowing my comfort food was the culprit for Rachel’s terrible stomach aches. Yearning to understand how my favorite food was poisoning my favorite person, I developed an insatiable desire to discover the “why” behind Celiac. As Rachel’s doctor explained her disease, I was both fascinated that a simple protein could cause so much damage and inspired by the doctor’s compassion. He described every detail in a way Rachel would understand, addressed her every concern, and held her hand when she was scared. I wanted to be just like Rachel’s doctor so that I too could use science to decipher medical mysteries while also reassuring my patients that I would be their advocate and help them heal.

My interest in medicine drove me to learn more about what it meant to be a doctor. As a freshman in high school, I arranged a shadow day with Dr. M, a cardiologist. He taught me about echoes, showed me a pacemaker implantation, and in the midst of a cardioversion, even beckoned me over to press the button that discharged the defibrillator. I could not contain my excitement recounting how much I had learned during my first day in a clinical setting. From there, my curiosity skyrocketed and I embarked on a relentless pursuit to explore the spectrum of the medical field. I was moved by the supportive atmosphere of the NICU, struck by the precision involved in ophthalmology, absorbed by the puzzle-like reconstruction of Mohs surgery, and awed by the agility of cardiothoracic surgery. Between high school and college, I shadowed over a dozen physicians, cementing my interest and furthering my passion for a future medical career.

My college classes allowed me to immerse myself further in the study of the human body. Following my fascination with cancer, I secured an internship working on a melanoma immunotherapy clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health. I savored the stimulation, grasping new experimental techniques and developing assays; but my work took on even greater meaning when I learned that my grandfather had been enrolled in an early-stage immunotherapy trial himself while battling mucosal melanoma. Although immunotherapy did not heal my grandfather, I was immensely proud to be advancing the science years later. Through long nights and evolving experiments, I gave the trial its final push through an FDA approval checkpoint; ultimately, my contributions will help more grandparents go into remission. The most fulfilling moments came every Monday when I accompanied the leading physician scientists on their rounds. As I met patients, listened to their stories, and celebrated their improvements, the pulsating blister on my thumbpad from endless pipetting became akin to a medal of honor. Reflecting on these encounters, I wanted to continue driving scientific innovation, but I also wanted a more active and personal impact in the patient’s experience.

My desire to connect with patients brought me to Alliance Medical Ministry, a clinic serving uninsured, disadvantaged communities in North Carolina. I stepped up to lead efforts to organize a community COVID-19 vaccination clinic, communicating personally with every eligible patient and arranging vaccine appointments for over a thousand people across the hardest hit areas of Raleigh. The experience became even more rewarding when I trained to administer vaccines, becoming a stable, anchoring presence from the beginning to the end of the process. One memorable patient, “Amy,” had not seen a doctor in years because of the associated financial burden. When she came to the clinic suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, she was not even aware of her diabetes diagnosis. While I waited with her for transportation to the ER, she expressed her fears about contracting COVID at the hospital. However, she emphatically dismissed my suggestion about receiving a vaccine. I listened intently to all her concerns. Not only was she worried about the vaccine infecting her with the virus, but also her history of being denied healthcare due to her socioeconomic status had instilled fears that she would not be taken care of should she have an adverse reaction. I took her hand in mine and reassured her of the clinic’s mission to provide care regardless of ability to pay. I further explained everything I knew about how the vaccine worked, its safety and efficacy, and how my body reacted when I received my own injection. I could not help but beam behind my N95 when days later, Amy returned, sat in my chair and confidently rolled up her sleeve for me to give her the protective shot.

I have grown by exploring the multifaceted world of medicine through shadowing, pioneering research to advance patient care at the NIH, and cultivating trusting relationships with patients from the vaccine clinic. As a doctor, my desire to be an innovative thinker and problem solver will fuel my unrelenting quest for discovery throughout a lifetime of learning. Most importantly, I aspire to use my medical knowledge to improve lives and establish meaningful patient partnerships, just as Rachel’s doctor did with her.

7. Transforming Pain into Purpose: Inspiring Change in the Field of Medicine

Student Accepted to UCSF SOM, Harvard Medical School

Countless visits to specialists in hope of relief left me with a slew of inconclusive test results and uncertain diagnoses. “We cannot do anything else for you.” After twelve months of waging a war against my burning back, aching neck and tingling limbs, hearing these words at first felt like a death sentence, but I continued to advocate for myself with medical professionals. A year of combatting pain and dismissal led me to a group of compassionate and innovative physicians at the Stanford Pain Management Center (SPMC). Working alongside a diverse team including pain management specialists and my PCP, I began the long, non-linear process of uncovering the girl that had been buried in the devastating rubble of her body’s pain. From struggling with day-to-day activities like washing my hair and sitting in class to thriving as an avid weightlifter and zealous student over the span of a year, I realized I am passionate about preventing, managing and eliminating chronic illnesses through patient-centered incremental care and medical innovation.

A few days after my pain started, I was relieved to hear that I had most likely just strained some muscles, but after an empty bottle of muscle relaxers, the stings and aches had only intensified. I went on to see 15 specialists throughout California, including neurologists, physiatrists, and rheumatologists. Neurological exams. MRIs. Blood tests. All inconclusive. Time and time again, specialists dismissed my experience due to ambiguous test results and limited time. I spent months trying to convince doctors that I was losing my body; they thought I was losing my mind. Despite these letdowns, I did not stop fighting to regain control of my life. Armed with my medical records and a detailed journal of my symptoms, I continued scheduling appointments with the intention of finding a doctor who would dig deeper in the face of the unknown. Between visits, I researched my symptoms and searched for others with similar experiences. One story on Stanford Medicine’s blog, “Young Woman Overcomes Multiple Misdiagnoses and Gets Her Life Back”, particularly stood out to me and was the catalyst that led me to the SPMC. After bouncing from doctor to doctor, I had finally found a team of physicians who would take the profound toll of my pain on my physical and mental well-being seriously.

Throughout my year-long journey with my care team at the SPMC, I showed up for myself even when it felt like I would lose the war against my body. I confronted daily challenges with fortitude. When lifting my arms to tie my hair into a ponytail felt agonizing, YouTube tutorials trained me to become a braiding expert. Instead of lying in bed all day when my medication to relieve nerve pain left me struggling to stay awake, I explored innovative alternative therapies with my physicians; after I was fed up with the frustration of not knowing the source of my symptoms, I became a research subject in a clinical trial aimed at identifying and characterizing pain generators in patients suffering from “mysterious” chronic pain. At times, it felt like my efforts were only resulting in lost time. However, seeing how patient my care team was with me, offering long-term coordinated support and continually steering me towards a pain-free future, motivated me to grow stronger with every step of the process. Success was not  an immediate victory, but rather a long journey of incremental steps that produced steady, life-saving progress over time. My journey brought me relief as well as clarity with regard to  how I will care for my future patients. I will advocate for them even when complex conditions, inconclusive results and stereotypes discourage them from seeking continued care; work with them to continually adapt and improve an individualized plan tailored to their needs and goals, and engage in pioneering research and medical innovations that can directly benefit them.

Reflecting on the support system that enabled me to overcome the challenges of rehabilitation, I was inspired to help others navigate life with chronic pain in a more equitable and accessible way. Not everyone has the means to work indefinitely with a comprehensive care team, but most do have a smartphone. As a result, I partnered with a team of physicians and physical therapists at the University of California San Francisco to develop a free mobile application that guides individuals dealing with chronic pain through recovery. Based on my own journey, I was able to design the app with an understanding of the mental and physical toll that pain, fear, and loss of motivation take on patients struggling with chronic pain. Having features like an exercise bank with a real-time form checker and an AI-based chatbot to motivate users, address their concerns and connect them to specific health care resources, our application helped 65 of the 100 pilot users experience a significant reduction in pain and improvement in mental health in three months.

My journey has fostered my passion for patient-centered incremental medicine and medical innovation. From barely living to thriving, I have become a trailblazing warrior with the perseverance and resilience needed to pursue these passions and help both the patients I engage with and those around the world.

8. Overcoming Bias, Stigma, and Disparities in Medicine

Student Accepted to University of Florida COM

Growing up as a Black woman, my family’s experiences with racial bias in medicine were central to my perception of doctors. From my grandmother’s forced electric shock therapy in the Jim Crow South that resulted in severe brain damage, to my father’s ignored appendicitis that led to a near-death infection after rupturing, every trip to the doctor came with apprehension. Will these strange men with sharp tools heal me or hurt me? This question repeated in my head as I prepared to undergo my first surgery to remove suspiciously inflamed lymph nodes at age 11. I woke up groggy from anesthesia with a negative cancer diagnosis but a blistering third degree burn. The surgeon had successfully removed the malignant masses but had left the cauterizing iron resting on my neck in the process. Today when I look in the mirror and see the scar, I am reminded of the troubling reality that myths such as black people having thicker skin and less sensitive nerve endings are still pervasive in the medical field. By challenging the systemic disparities in medicine that disadvantage minority populations, I vow to my inner child that I will be a different kind of doctor, a doctor who values the patient as much as the procedure.

My experiences with a variety of communities, minority and majority, stem from growing up in a military household that came with frequent relocations. I was exposed to a wide range of communities from an early age—rural Oregon to tropical Hawaii, industrious Japan to politicized D.C, sunny San Diego and finally to radical Berkeley where I  began my pre-medical education. I chose to view medicine from an anthropological lens while at Cal and supplemented my coursework with community service.  As co-coordinator of UC Berkeley’s chapter of Peer Health Exchange, my 9th grade students were, at first,  mistrusting –even with my Angela Davis-esque afro, I was clearly not from Oakland and not quite old enough to be lecturing them. But it was the Good Samaritan Law lecture, during which students learned they would not face police penalty for calling 911 if a friend was in trouble, that I finally gained their trust. One student shared, “I always worried that I wouldn’t be able to call for help because I’m undocumented.”  Later as a health advocate at UCSF, I encountered the same sentiment from families in the pediatric clinic who worried that accessing healthcare for a sick child might put their immigration or legal status at risk. I learned that to get to the root of barriers to access, trust is invaluable. Navigating marginalized spaces with cultural competency is an asset that I pride myself in.

I carried this foundation into my research and clinical work on HIV, a disease that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities and is often left untreated by the stigmas surrounding medicine for these communities. As an HIV PreP Navigator at the Oasis clinic, I was on rotation when a thirteen-year-old girl was referred to the clinic after testing positive for HIV. We analyzed her T cell count and viral load, and discovered she fit the AIDs criteria.   In the following weeks, we worked on medication adherence, and as the girl’s CD4 count rose, so did her spirits and mine. Medicine is more than just a diagnosis and prescription—it is active compassionate treatment. It is holding steady when the entire ground seems to shake with the magnitude of an illness. It is being able to look a patient in the eye and truly see them despite the myriad of differences.

The disparities and differences in patient circumstances has been emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this disproportionate effect of the virus on minority communities, I worked at a COVID-19 testing facility in one of the most underserved and impoverished communities in the Los Angeles’ area. Assuring patients of the safety of Covid testing measures was a big part of the job. “Have you done it?” They would ask. “What about Tuskegee?”  Being Black, I felt the burden of responsibility that came with these questions. How could I have such faith in medicine knowing the traumatic past? My response was simple, “I believe in the science. I can explain PCR testing to you if you like.” By eradicating some of the mystery surrounding these lab techniques, people felt more comfortable.  The opportunity to serve as a trusted community leader by directly interacting with patients and working on a team with doctors, EMTs, and nurses amid an international crisis reaffirmed my journey into medicine.

Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” As an aspiring physician, these words have served as a motivating mantra. To “get off the ground” for me means to become the first medical doctor in a lineage of sharecroppers and farmers. Medicine has been my “sun” for as long as I can remember; its promise to bring light has kept me jumping at every opportunity. Like my grandmother, my father, and so many others, I have experienced disparity in medicine. The scars that mar our bodies are my constant reminder that there is much work to be done. I see medicine as the ability to directly enact that change, one patient at a time.

9. Navigating Personal Struggles to Become a Compassionate Physician

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I fight the heavy sleepiness that comes over me, but before I know it, I am out like a light. Forty-five minutes later, I wake up with a sore throat, watery eyes, and an intensely cold, painful feeling plaguing my entire right leg. Earlier, my parents and I arrived at the Beckman Laser Institute for another treatment of my port-wine stain birthmark. Despite my pleas to not undergo these procedures, my parents still took me twice a year. As I was rolled into the cold, sterile operating room on a gurney, I felt like I was experiencing everything from outside of myself. Despite my doctor’s and nurses’ best efforts to comfort me, I felt my heart racing. Feelings of apprehension and fear of the unknown flooded my senses at the sight of beeping machines and tubes that seemed to go everywhere. As the anesthesiologist began to administer the “sleepy juice,” I felt sad, realizing that my birthmark was a permanent resident on my leg and that I would have to receive this treatment for the rest of my life.

As an adult, I am grateful my parents continued to take me to the laser institute. Starting treatment so early aided in the lightening of my birthmark, which did wonders to improve my self-confidence. However, I suffered daily, feeling like I constantly had to hide something about myself. I kept my secret from everyone except my parents. Despite there being several medical doctors in my family, I knew that any sign of illness or disease would be held against me socially amongst other Egyptians. My secrecy was made even more difficult by the advice of my doctor to avoid certain physical activities, as they could worsen the underlying pathology of the veins in my legs. On his advice, I only wore long pants and would not run with other children during recess and gym class. This all added to the isolation I felt growing up, not knowing anyone with a similar condition to mine. Even as a child, no amount of explaining or encouragement could make me understand the benefit of those painful laser treatments.

What eventually changed my perspective was the team of compassionate doctors and nurses who have been caring for me since I began this journey. I was particularly touched when one of my doctors shared with me that she had also undergone a procedure that she would be performing on me. In that moment, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Not only was she a specialist in the field, but her empathy for what I would soon go through became a source of instant comfort and ease for me. I knew that what she said was heartfelt, and not simply an attempt to convince me to undergo a procedure. I realized then that one of the reasons I had felt so afraid was because I had been alone in what I was going through.

A few years later, I attended a conference held by the Vascular Birthmark Foundation, where a variety of specialists convened to discuss port-wine stain birthmarks and other related conditions. Once we arrived at the hotel where the conference would take place, I met a woman who had a facial port-wine stain birthmark. As we began sharing stories about our experiences with our condition, we connected over how difficult it had been to receive treatment. We both knew what it felt like to be told that the birthmark was simply a cosmetic issue, and that any form of treatment we received would have no corrective purpose, if it was even considered treatment in the first place. There was a certain sense of freedom that I felt in finally being able to talk about my illness with someone I could trust to understand. Thinking back to the doctor who connected with me over a procedure she had also experienced as a patient, I felt truly called in that moment to pursue my goal of becoming a vascular physician. My goal would be to become a source of comfort and familiarity for patients who struggle as I have, to give them the same relief that I experienced from finally being understood.

Despite the pains I went through, I now realize that the experiences I have had as a patient can help me better understand what it means to be a physician. By being an excellent listener and openly sharing my experiences with receiving treatment, I can foster an honest and safe physician-patient relationship. I believe this approach will not only comfort my patients, but also help them make informed decisions about their treatment. My commitment to this approach has also led me to choose a DO path for my medical career. Having researched the holistic treatment approach that a DO delivers, I realized that being treated by a DO would have done wonders for my self-confidence and overall health as a young patient. The aspects of my port wine stain that were always left untreated were the emotional and social side effects of my condition. As a DO in the dermatology or interventional radiology specialty, I hope to gain the tools to provide empathetic and comprehensive care to my patients that reassures them that they are not alone in their journey to better health.

Want to read a few more great samples? We also broke down the things that make these 3 personal statements excellent and compelling.

Other Resources For Personal Statement Writing

Do you want to learn even more about personal statements? Dive into these great resources!

FREE MEDICAL SCHOOL PERSONAL STATEMENT WEBINARS

Preparing Your Personal Statement For Medical Programs : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Director of Writing & College Advising, Jennifer Speegle.

Creating the First Draft of Your Medical School Personal Statement : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach advising and writing advisors, Ziggy Yoediono MD and James Fleming.

Where to Begin When Writing Your Personal Statement : Hosted by MedSchoolCoach Associate Director of Writing and College Advising, Jennifer Speegle, Associate Director of Advising, Ziggy Yoediono MD, and Writing Advisor, Carrie Coaplen Ph. D.

The Medical School Personal Statement – What Makes a Great Intro and Why It’s Important : Hosted by Director of Advising, Dr. Renee Marinelli, MD, Master Advisor, Dr. Ziggy Yoediono, MD, and Founder of MedSchoolCoach, Dr. Sahil Mehta, MD.

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What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Surprisingly Useful Skills for Physicians

What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Surprisingly Useful Skills for Physicians

It requires some serious intelligence and motivation to get accepted into medical school . As students work their way toward becoming practicing physicians, they develop even more qualities that equip them to be successful in the field.

So what makes a good doctor?

To find out, we spoke with a few physicians to learn more about what makes a quality doctor—and it’s not your  medical school GPA . Their insight can help you better understand what it is that distinguishes a great physician and if you would want to be a doctor.

7 Essential qualities of a good doctor

Being a great physician requires more than high exam scores and knowledge of medical terms. Learn about the lesser-known characteristics the best doctors share.

1. Good doctors are good communicators

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor,” says Dr. John Madden , an Emergency Physician and Director of the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development at St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine. “Patients will tell you what’s wrong if you just let them speak.”

“Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor.”

After all, good communication isn’t just for being friendly with patients. It’s also one of the most vital doctor skills because it helps physicians to understand their patients’ concerns and explain a diagnosis.

“They should answer questions using language that is clear without using too much medical terminology,” says Dr. Lisa Doggett , a family physician. “They should be honest but also offer hope, even when a situation is difficult. And they should help their patients feel empowered to improve their own health.”

2. Good doctors are organized and conscientious

Children are taught from a young age to practice organization in order to be successful in school. And for good reason — one can’t succeed in medicine without presence of mind and being vigilant about details.

“A doctor needs to make sure that her patients get recommended screening tests, that their questions are answered, and that patients have a clear plan of action upon leaving her office,” says Dr. Doggett. “She must be vigilant about following up on any tests that are done and communicating those results.”

3. Good doctors are empathetic and make patients feel cared for

Patients don’t care about their physician’s medical school grades or other accolades—they want to feel that they are in good hands. A good doctor knows how to make a patient feel as though they are being cared for, that their concerns are valid, and that they are being heard.

“The patient isn’t just a list of medical problems and medications.”

“Patients care more that their doctor actually cares for them than how many papers they’ve published,” says Dr. Edna Ma, an anesthesiologist at 90210 Surgery Medical Center . “Caring can be in the form of active listening and asking open-ended questions.” This doesn’t need to be limited to the reason for the visit, either. “The patient isn’t just a list of medical problems and medications,” Dr. Ma adds.

4. Good doctors are curious

When presented with befuddling symptoms, a good doctor should allow their inherent curiosity to lead them to an accurate diagnosis, even if it means tapping into additional resources.

“That may require extra research, reaching out to colleagues, or taking more time to gather a detailed history from the patient,” Dr. Doggett says. Taking these extra measures is important, she elaborates, to avoid making incorrect diagnoses.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

5. Good doctors are collaborative

Being a good communicator is critical not only for working with patients but also for relaying information across the health care system. Consider that when a patient goes to the hospital, their primary care physician often doesn’t learn of their visit unless they are informed by the patient or a family member.

“A good hospital-based doctor will call or send a note to the primary care physician to let them know the patient has been admitted,” Dr. Doggett explains. “The primary care doctor should then make an effort to gather hospital records and offer timely follow-up after discharge.” Similarly, a good medical specialist will involve a patient’s primary care doctor in any diagnoses or treatments.

6. Good doctors are persistent in advocating for their patients

Good doctors do whatever it takes to help meet their patients’ needs. Whether that means helping them navigate the health care system by finding specialists or acquiring the prescriptions they need, they should be willing to provide that support.

“A good doctor will be a strong advocate for their patients,” Dr. Doggett notes. She says this can entail helping patients in getting prescription medicine, securing an urgent appointment, enrolling in a patient assistance program, or accessing necessary services like physical therapy. The best doctors are willing to go the extra mile for their patients’ well-being.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

7. Good doctors have great bedside manner

Good bedside manner is more of an approach and combination of skills than anything, but Dr. Madden says it’s what separates a great physician from a good one. “Physicians should be personable, great listeners, and empathetic to the concerns of their patients,” he elaborates. “They should not be condescending or arrogant. They should treat others as they want to be treated.”

“Physicians should be personable, great listeners, and empathetic to the concerns of their patients.”

Start developing these key doctor skills

There is no single ingredient that makes a good doctor, but working to hone each of these physician skills can help put you on the path to a successful career in medicine . Additionally, many of these competencies are important for getting into medical school in the first place.

If you’re eager to discover more about how you can work toward gaining acceptance to a program, read our article,“ A Sneak Peek at the Medical School Application Process .”

Ready to go above and beyond?

Are you considering St. George’s University Medical School? If you need any more convincing, just reach out to some graduates or current students . They’re happy to tell you what their experiences were like.

If you feel like SGU could be the right medical school for you, take the next step. Continue your research by visiting our request information page.

*This article was originally published in April 2018. It was updated in 2021 to include additional information.

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Med School Insiders

Medical School Personal Statement Advice: 8 Key Factors

  • By Amit Pandey, M.D.
  • January 27, 2022
  • Medical School Application , Personal Statement

Many students feel the same way when it comes to writing a personal statement. Don’t worry, we’re not going to say excited or motivated . The feeling is dread and apprehension. And these feelings are not unfounded.

It’s difficult and even nerve-wracking to craft an essay that at once provides a cohesive summary of your life experience and demonstrates why these experiences make you fit to become a doctor. It’s not an easy task, which is why it’s important to seek out medical school personal statement advice from those who have years of experience working with students and directly on admissions committees.

With thoughtful preparation and an organized approach, the medical school personal statement can be a manageable (and even enjoyable) experience. There’s joy in producing something you are proud of, which you know will strengthen your application.

After reading the following key strategies, check out our Step-by-Step Guide: How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement .

1 | Read Examples of Real Personal Statements

A good way to start any task is to have a clear idea of what your goal or endpoint might look like. Reading successful personal statements may provide the inspiration or direction you need. Plus, it’s worthwhile to have a roadmap based on strong past personal statements.

Don’t read a statement thinking you’ll be able to copy it; read several personal statements to understand the themes, concepts, and strategies that might be successful. Every statement is different, as each individual is unique. There’s no cookie-cutter approach that will be successful for all.

If you have a relationship with anyone who has matriculated to medical school, consider asking if they’re willing to share their statement with you as an example. Med School Insiders has a database of personal statements that successfully resulted in medical school acceptance.

How to Start the Medical School Personal Statement

2 | Reflect on Past Experiences

Start by thinking about why you want to be a doctor. What moments in your past sparked your inspiration and dedication?

Honestly, most people have the same reasons: an intellectual interest in medicine and a desire to help people. Sound familiar? It’s okay to have the same motivations as the students you’re applying with. What you need to decide is which reasons are the most important to you and how your unique life experiences will help you succeed as a doctor.

What traits do you possess that make you an outstanding candidate? These traits will be unique to each individual but should tie into the values and components of medicine which interest you. Identify 3-4 personal strengths you want to illustrate. This is a personal decision that everyone needs to come to on their own.

Consider choosing experiences that correlate to some of the following categories. This is by no means an exhaustive list—your own personal statement should reflect your personal experiences.

  • Compassion/passion for patient interaction
  • Intellectual curiosity for medicine (academics, research, etc.)
  • Dedication and discipline
  • Perseverance over adversity
  • Interpersonal/professional skills

How to Approach Your Personal Statement: Dos and Don’ts

3 | Outline Before Writing

Once you have reflected on the experiences and traits that will make up your statement, create an outline to structure your approach. Generally, personal statements will follow a structure similar to the following outline. Again, your statement can certainly deviate from this, but it’s a good place to start.

  • Introduction/hook. (Use a strong hook. This is often an anecdote designed to catch the reader’s attention and entice them to keep reading.)
  • Experience 1
  • Experience 2
  • Experience 3
  • Conclusion (Generally summarizes and ties back to the introductory hook/theme. It should help the reader look towards the future and leave on a high note.)

With all that said, don’t get too caught up making sure you have the perfect idea and outline before you begin writing. Sometimes the best way to begin is by just writing and seeing where it takes you. The key is starting early to ensure you have enough time for plenty of editing, revisions, and rewriting.

Learn more about the Anatomy of a Stellar Medical School Personal Statement .

4 | Show, Don’t Tell

Simply listing your traits and accomplishments can come across like another version of your CV. This approach is boring and unpersuasive. You don’t want your personal statement to read like a resume, as this will not provide the personal touch necessary for a strong statement.

Instead of telling the reader you are motivated, conscientious, and passionate about medicine, show them through clearly illustrated examples. What experiences in your life show that you are motivated or conscientious? Provide proof through thoughtful memories, anecdotes, or stories that exemplify your strengths and desire to pursue medicine.

5 | Weave a Cohesive Story

It is crucial that your personal statement reads like a cohesive story with a beginning and end. It’s not just a random list of accomplishments. Use your introductory paragraph to introduce the theme or concept central to your desire to become a physician.

Each paragraph afterward should connect to and demonstrate that central theme. End the essay with a strong concluding statement that summarizes your main points and ties back to the introduction.

The whole personal statement should be a cohesive narrative that’s easy for the reader to follow. Stories are compelling, and they entice the reader to continue reading. What story are you trying to tell? What do you want the reader to come away with?

6 | Be Stringent About Spelling and Grammar

Spelling or grammar mistakes are automatic red flags that suggest carelessness and a lack of dedication. Do not take any chances. Use spell check functions in your word processor, Grammarly , and the Hemingway App , but do not depend on those alone.

It is imperative that you have people you trust read your statement carefully. A second, third, and fourth set of human eyes can uncover the errors you or the spelling and grammar apps may have missed.

7 | Get Lots of Feedback

Feedback from multiple sources is crucial. Be sure to have multiple trustworthy people read your statement. Perhaps even more importantly, seek the advice of individuals who have experience with the process. Remember that friends and family can help you review grammar and syntax, but they are inherently biased towards you, which means they won’t provide you with the tough insights you need to succeed.

Professors, research mentors, and recent medical school applicants are all great resources. For extra help, consider enlisting more formal assistance from a personal statement editing service. Med School Insiders has an outstanding medical school personal statement editing system with experienced physicians using a systematic yet personalized approach to ensure your success.

8 | Be Yourself

At the end of the day, honesty is the best policy. Be true to yourself. Don’t exaggerate, embellish, or lie about your experiences. It will become apparent at some point in the application process, and it will not serve you well.

The best personal statements reflect a genuine and honest answer to the questions: “ Why do you want to become a doctor? ” And, “ why are you a qualified candidate to do so? ” Stay true to yourself, and it will show in both your personal statement and your interviews . Remember that you could be asked about aspects of your personal statement during the interview process, so make sure you are comfortable speaking about the experiences you share in your essay.

Personal statements are key to securing an interview invitation. Take the time to reflect on yourself and your life experiences. You want to have a strong introduction, show your passion for the field, and convincingly convey what makes you ready to start this difficult yet exciting journey.

Do not hesitate to reach out to the Med School Insiders team . We offer Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages , including essay editing, one-on-one advising, and application editing services.

For more advice, read our free Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process .

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Amit Pandey, M.D.

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qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Personal Statement for Medicine

Composing a personal statement for any degree is a challenge but for medicine, this is your chance to illustrate your academic prowess and work experience alongside a genuine passion and fascination for the medical subjects you love. a personal statement can support your application if your exam results are slightly below your expectations or can enhance a strong set of grades for the best chance of acceptance., make the most of your words.

UCAS , the admissions service for universities in the UK, describes a personal statement as “your opportunity to sell yourself to your prospective school, college or training provider.” Students are given a 47 line, 4,000 character limit (which roughly equates to 500 words) in which to show off their appeal to the institutions of their choosing. 

Here, it’s important to get into the mind of the member of admissions staff that will be reading your statement – what do they want to see? 500 words may seem like plenty, but you’ll likely find that space is at a premium when you’re trying to find the perfect formula to impress your chosen university.

Research a career in medicine before you apply

The key things that medical schools will be looking for are evidence of motivation, explorative work experience and suitability for fitting into their learning environment.

Your personal statement is not only an opportunity to demonstrate your motivations for studying medicine, but also to convey a sense of insight into medicine as a career. It is a chance to reflect on your experiences thus far and outline your personal qualities which will enable you to excel as both a medical student and future doctor.

Developing an understanding about the roles and responsibilities of a doctor will help you prepare your personal statement with ease. Volunteering in your local community and undertaking work experience placements are examples of activities which may allow you to gain a deeper insight into medicine. However, reading official resources such as those produced by the General Medical Council (GMC) before you even begin to think about the content of your personal statement, can help to give your writing a clear focus and direction.

Check how universities will use your personal statement 

Your personal statement may be used in the selection process for interviews to a varying degree by each medical school. Having said this, on the whole, personal statements do not feature heavily in the selection process for interview. Whilst this is the case for most medical schools in the UK, a few medical schools will utilise a scoring system to assess the personal statement at some point in their selection process; either before interview (for interview selection) or at the interview itself.

If this is the case for one or more of the universities you intend to apply to, pay careful attention to any details on their website which discuss exactly what the admissions team are looking for in a personal statement. For example, the University of Oxford place a larger emphasis on showing an interest in medical science and academia.

Where to find this information

It is important to check exactly how the medical schools you intend to apply to will use your personal statement both before and during the interview. To access the most relevant and up-to-date information you should check the websites for each of the medical schools you may apply to. If you have any queries about how your personal statement will be used, or if anything you find on their websites is unclear, email the admissions team directly.

Key things to remember about your personal statement 

Writing a personal statement can be daunting, but we are here to help make the process less stressful. To break it down, we have listed some essential factors you should remember to focus on when writing your own personal statement:

  • Structure and flow: Creating a clear and organised structure allows the reader to follow your thought process and enables you, the writer, to include the most relevant information about yourself, given the restricted word count.
  • Authenticity: The clue is in the title; your personal statement should be personal! Be genuine and honest about your experiences and skills and let your personality shine through your writing. 
  • Relevance: With the limited word count, you need to include only the most relevant experiences and skills you have that are directly relevant to medicine. 
  • Specificity: Provide details about your experiences and give examples. Avoid any vague and general statements. 

Goals and aspirations: You should mention your goals and aspirations and what you want to get out of a degree in medicine. What are your short-term and long-term goals?

The aim of this section is for you to establish a structure that works for you, by deciding what the main components of your personal statement will be about.

Before diving into finding the best structure for your personal statement, it is important to remember there is no set format or st ructure. Reading a few example statements may help to give you an idea of where you start ; however it is all about finding the right balance that is appropriate for you. This balance will be based on your personal experiences and what has been important in shaping your journey towards Medicine.

You should start your personal statement with a clear introduction and end with a conclusion .

DEVELOPING A STRUCTURE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

Here, we will focus on developing a structure for the main body of your personal statement. The importance of having a well-thought-out structure is that it will make your thoughts and experiences easier to follow. A good structure will help reinforce the key content of your statement, further giving admissions tutors the impression that you have a focused understanding of medicine and yourself. 

T here is no one way to structure the main body ; in fact , there are many ways! The components you discuss will differ according to your experiences, and the weighting given to these components will largely be based on what medical schools you apply to.

EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL STATEMENT STRUCTURE 

Here is an example of how to divide the main body of your personal statement:

  • Interest in academia and wider reading
  • Work experience and voluntary commitments
  • Extra-curricular Activities

Remember, this is only one example. Alternatively, you could base your paragraphs on the qualities you want to demonstrate, such as:

  • Interest in medicine, science, and academia
  • Compassion, communication skills and empathy
  • Leadership, teamwork and problem-solving

These ideas are here to prompt you, so work around them based on your experiences. If there is a particularly valuable quality, such as resilience, that you are passionate about and have relevant experiences in, of course , this should be included!

The idea of convincing an admissions tutor, in around 500 words, that you are an ideal prospective medical student can be overwhelming. This, as well as the fact that they will be reading through hundreds of personal statements of people applying for the same course, might make you feel pressured to have an introduction that will grab their attention and set you aside from the majority.

DON’T FOCUS TOO MUCH ON YOUR INTRODUCTION

A powerful introduction will state an intrinsic motivation to study medicine, whilst also outlining your understanding of the career. However, your reasons for wanting to pursue medicine do not have to be entirely crammed into your introduction. 

W hile there is no set length for an introduction, you should make sure it is not too short that it seems rushed and neglected, but not so long that it is the same size as the paragraphs of your main body. A few sentences should be sufficient for an introduction.

TRY STARTING WITH THE MAIN BODY FIRST

It might seem logical and necessary to begin by writing the introduction, but this is not the case! It is perfectly reasonable to work on other parts of your personal statement and return to write the introduction at a later point in time. Some people even find that once they have written the majority of their personal statement, they are able to pick out points they think will work well for their introduction.

  • Be original: It is a personal statement , so keep it personal. It should accurately depict why you want to study medicine .
  • Give examples: Stories can add to the personal element of motivation to study medicine but ensure that this comes across as genuine. Do not try and pin your motivation down to a single event as this can appear naïve . I nstead , state how this scenario was one of the elements that led you to pursue medicine.
  • Use your time wisely: Do not spend all your time trying to think of a catchy opening. Remember that you can always come back to the introduction.
  • Remember you have a word limit: Keep your statements succinct and to the point.
  • Use a professional tone: Stay away from using humour as the person reading your personal statement may not receive it as well as you would hope. The aim is to be professional and put across your interest in medicine.

Keep in mind that depending on the interview style of the medical schools you are applying to; your personal statement can be used as part of your interview. They may pick out parts of your introduction and ask you to elaborate on them. 

C heck this beforehand and if applicable, remember this when stating your motivations to study medicine. If you would not be happy to talk about it in your interview, then avoid including it!

  • Using cliché words and phrases such as ‘passionate’, ‘fascinated’ and ‘from a young age I have always wanted to’
  • Using a quote without reflecting on how it adds to what you are trying to convey. If possible, avoid quotes and use your own words. After all, they are interested in what you have to say, not a scientist or author
  • Making blank statements that do not add to what you are saying.
  • Describing how TV shows attracted you to medicine, even if other reasons are raised, as this will reduce the power of your introduction.

Reflecting on your work experiences, wider reading and other relevant activities will form the bulk of the main body of your personal statement. Reflection is imperative to a successful application. A well-reflected personal statement shows that you have given serious thought to healthcare as a life-long career , and it goes down extremely well with the admission officers. The General Medical Council (GMC) has created a guide for medical students about reflection – most of the information is transferrable to medical applicants.

It is crucial to understand that the lessons and skills that you take away from an experience are far more superior to the number of activities you have undertaken or descriptions of consultations you may have seen. Therefore, this section will delve deeper into how you should reflect on an experience whilst undertaking it, as well as how this reflection can be incorporated concisely into your personal statement.

HOW TO REFLECT ON AN EXPERIENCE

Below are some general questions to think about when reflecting on any type of experience you have partaken in . R anging from clinical work experience placements to leadership roles, voluntary commitments, and par t-ti me jobs , you should ask yourself these questions when reflecting on your experiences.

  • Description of the experience: W hat was your role? If you are telling a story, what happened , or what was the task at hand?
  • Feelings and thoughts about the experience: What resonated with you or affected you the most?
  • Analysis and evaluation of the experience: W hat went well and what didn’t? Which parts stood out to you? Did you have any challenging experiences? How did you deal with them?
  • Conclusion and action plan: S ummary of what you learned and what you could have done differently . H ow could you relate this to your development as a doctor ?

HOW TO REFLECT ON YOUR LEARNING

The following questions will help you reflect and think critically about learning experiences. This includes anything you have read, listened to, or watched to gain a deeper insight into the life of a medical student and/or doctor.

  • Description: What is the idea or concept you have been exposed to?
  • Feelings and thoughts about what you have learned: What resonated with you or affected you the most?
  • Analysis: Is there anything that drew your attention or anything you found challenging? Does this build upon what you had previously known or read about? Has it changed the way you think, opened your eyes to something new, or made you more confident and assured in a belief you already had?
  • Conclusion and action plan: What other avenues of this concept would you like to explore? How can you implement what you’ve learned in your clinical practice?

HOW TO INCLUDE REFLECTION IN YOUR MEDICINE PERSONAL STATEMENT

Before you sit down and start typing away at your statement, we highly suggest that you first read through all of the reflective notes you wrote when undertaking any experience or activity that gave you an insight into medicine. This will allow you to look back at all of the wonderful experiences you have had and focus on the key points you can take away from them.

REFLECTION METHODS TO TRY

There are so many different approaches you can take to reflective writing in your personal statement , and different people prefer different methods. For example, you can structure your reflection according to Gibb’s reflective cycle . Another approach is the ‘STARR’ framework , which stands for ‘Situation, Task, Action, Result and Reflection’ . This is often a favourite among applicants for medicine interviews but can also be used in the personal statement to write structured reflections.

  • S ituation: What is the setting in which you have undertaken your experience?
  • T ask: What was the position or role you held?
  • A ction: What actions did you specifically carry out on a regular basis?
  • R esults: What was the most relevant and significant outcome of your activities?
  • R eflection: What skills and knowledge have you acquired as a result of this activity? How and why had this experience influence d you?

Work experience can be loosely defined as any activity that is designed to sufficiently broaden your understanding of a particular career path. The aim of this section is to provide you with examples of the different types of work experiences you can undertake and how you should go about reflecting on them in your personal statement.

WHY IS MEDICAL WORK EXPERIENCE IMPORTANT?

Most students will feel that work experience gives the most realistic perspective of medicine as a career. Through shadowing in consultations, watching surgeries, and perhaps even just being in a clinical environment, you will start to build your understanding of the role of a doctor. 

A pplying to medical school is a huge commitment, so exploring the working life of a physician is definitely a wise thing to do. Work experience allows you to gain valuable skills that may be useful throughout your university life and your career as well.

WHAT IS THE AIM OF WORK EXPERIENCE?

W ork experience is evidence to show that you have taken the time to find out more about the realities of a career in medicine. Therefore, it is a vital aspect of not only the personal statement but your medical school application as a whole. The purpose and overall aim of your work experience will broadly fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • To understand the realities of life as a doctor and medical student
  • To develop the skills and qualities needed for a career in medicine
  • To acquire more knowledge about your particular interests

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE WORK EXPERIENCE

Firstly, we will consider traditional in-person work experience activities, which are usually undertaken in a healthcare environment. This can include hospital, general practi c e, or pharmacy shadowing placements, as well as voluntary roles in a care home or hospice. To make the most out of these types of experiences, we would recommend the following:

  • Listen to the types of questions that healthcare professionals use when taking a history or interacting with patients. What did you think about their interactions with patients? How do they adapt their communication style?
  • Ask questions. This is an opportunity to ask all those burning questions ; don’t be shy! If possible, ask questions to a wide range of health care professionals about each of their individual roles as well as their experiences working in a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Research one of the common conditions that you have seen during your placement and are interested in finding out more about it.

The above points will form the basis of your reflection, so it is important to start thinking about them as you go along with your work experience. Keep a reflective diary to jot down these thoughts and experiences. This diary will become especially useful when sitting down to write your personal statement.

TIPS FOR WRITING ABOUT MEDICAL WORK EXPERIENCE

  • Mention the transferrable skills and attributes you will have developed. Skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and resilience in the face of adversity are vital to a career in medicine.
  • State clearly the insights you have gained. For example, as the GP demonstrates active listening and shows empathy, you will see that the patient immediately opens up and gives more information , which will be helpful in establishing a diagnosis. If this resonates with you, include this in your personal statement.
  • It is important to show that you understand the challenges a doctor will face. Be sure to reflect on any negative experiences which made you more aware of the demanding nature of the profession. What could have been done differently in the scenario you witnessed?
  • Be as concise as possible . D escriptions should be kept to a minimum. It is more important to highlight your thoughts, understanding and values before and after an experience, rather than details about the experience itself.
  • Viewing medical work experience as merely a tick box exercise. Try not to view work experience as a requirement for university statements or interviews. Instead, you should view this as a learning opportunity for yourself so that you can develop both academically and personally. If you have this mindset, you will be able to truly discover a lot more about the subject and about yourself too!
  • Concerning yourself too much with the medical jargon and knowledge you come across during your work experience, whether in-person or virtual. Focus on the attitudes and transferrable skills, and definitely do try to explore the science , but ultimately , medical school will teach you the required knowledge for your career
  • Breaching confidentiality when writing about your work experience, whether it be in your personal statement or reflective diary. This means that you do not include any identifiable information in your personal statement, such as, ‘I witnessed Mr Smith undergoing an ECG’.

Volunteering is the idea of offering your time or skills to benefit an unrelated person or organisation with no formal payment in return.

Relevant volunteering can be considered a form of work experience and can significantly enhance your personal statement. Whilst grades are important, medical schools are also highly interested in students who exhibit genuine care and compassion. 

Doing voluntary work can highlight this side of you and give some insight into the life of a doctor, which is very much a caring profession. Volunteering can assist you in developing the necessary skills and qualities relevant to medicine.

EXAMPLES OF VOLUNTEERING ROLES

The types of volunteering roles and commitments you can include in your personal statement, can vary extensively. Moreover, the volunteering you have undertaken does not need to be within a healthcare setting. It is more important that you can reflect on your experiences and appreciate how the skills you have developed are relevant to career in medicine. Below are just some examples of voluntary roles you may include in your personal statement:

  • Carehome/hospice volunteer
  • Hospital volunteer
  • School mentor
  • Charity shop assistant
  • Youth group coordinator
  • Foodbank volunteer

TIPS FOR WRITING ABOUT VOLUNTARY ROLES

  • Emphasise any long-term or frequent volunteering commitments. This shows commitment to medicine and determination. Whilst long-term volunteering is favoured, do not worry if you were unable to complete any due to the pandemic!
  • Use buzzwords alluding to the relevant skills and qualities learnt. Examples of buzzwords can include “contributed”, “enhanced” and “implemented”. 
  • Discuss briefly how you found any volunteering opportunities , especially if you organised it yourself. This shows initiative! If an opportunity is extremely rare or competitive, make sure to highlight this.
  • Group together experiences where you gained similar skills and insights, rather than discussing multiple experiences individually. This can get messy and take up a lot of your time
  • Speak about your feelings and emotions during your volunteering! This shows you are human and comes across much more genuine and sincere.
  • Clearly state your contribution and actions , not someone else’s!
  • Discuss any sacrifices, mistakes, or challenges you faced during your volunteering. Also , make sure you are prepared to describe what you did/would do differently to overcome these challenges!
  • Rambling on about experiences . U se the STARR structure to organise thoughts. Keep it concise!
  • Writing a long list of all the voluntary roles you have ever held. Focus on one or two that you benefitted from greatly and reflect on them.
  • Repeating experiences, certain insights, or qualities. Demonstrate variety in what you have learned.
  • Lie or exaggerate any details!
  • Superficially state what happened. If you are able to, delve further into your thoughts before, during and after volunteering.

When it comes to extra-curriculars, it ’s easy to get confused on what you should include and how to include it in your personal statement. As an aspiring medic, you might have done many different activities at school (and outside) that may be related or seemingly have nothing to do with each other. This could range from part-time jobs to being a prefect in your school, societies, clubs , or even your personal hobbies or sporting interests.

HOW TO WRITE ABOUT EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES 

In your personal statement, a great way to tie it all together is to use your activities to reflect on how they made you the person you are today. Instead of simply listing all of your positions or engagements, think about what qualities you were able to gain from them that would make you a better doctor. 

A mong others, qualities like compassion, empathy, time management, organisation, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership are essential in medicine, but they’re not necessarily born in a hospital or through direct engagement in clinical experiences. You have probably been doing some of these activities for a really long time, now let’s frame it in a different context for your application.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

In a large pool of applicants, it is easy to think , ‘ H ave I done enough?’. Sometimes, this can be the wrong question to ask, as most medical schools do not look at the ‘number’ of things you have done but rather how the things you’ve done can help you as a doctor. 

D o not worry if you have not done a lot of activities in your time at school. The number of things you’ve done doesn’t matter as much as:

  • What you’ve learned from them
  • How you’ve reflected on them
  • What moments and experiences you can improve on
  • How you’ve later developed as a person and an aspiring medic based on those experiences

WHAT GOES WHERE?

With a limited number of characters, every word counts. You want to make sure you make the most of everything you have done, but at the same time , frame it in the most effective way for your application. This is why you might want to focus on some activities over others or group some activities together to give yourself space to write about and reflect on your experiences in a more elaborate way and relate them to your future career. There are many ways you can group your activities, mainly either by the type of activity ( e.g., academic, sports, or volunteering ) or based on what qualities or skills you’ve developed as a result of partaking in this activity.

SHOULD I INCLUDE MY HOBBIES?

The short answer is yes if you want to, but – make sure you’re not just taking up space by listing them. You don’t need to elaborate on them too much if you don’t want to, but try to strike the balance so as to show the admissions committee you value your time spent doing these hobbies, but at the same time you’re not taking away from all the other elements of your personal statement. You could also relate them to having a work-life balance – an essential trait in medicine.

TIPS FOR WRITING ABOUT EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

  • Use your experiences to highlight your strengths and your skills. How did your activity help you develop a unique skill?
  • Focus on the activities that have benefited you the most.
  • Elaborate with insight and introspection on the activities you’ve chosen to focus on.
  • Group other activities together to help you use your limited characters where they matter most.
  • Listing things you have done without further elaborating on them.
  • Elaborating on every single activity or being repetitive – if they sound similar, group them, or take some out if you don’t think they’re important.
  • Faking interest or passion in something you do not actually like or mention ing an activity you did not really do. It takes away from the space you have to talk about things you are passionate about, which is a lot more valuable and impactful.

This is your final chance to make an impression on the admissions tutor, so make it count! The aim of your conclusion should be to tie together the key points that you included in the main body of your personal statement. Along with the introduction, this is one of the most difficult parts to write, so writing both at the end, after you have a coherent idea of the flow of your piece is advisable.

Ideally, it should only be a few sentences long. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to revisit your conclusion multiple times before submitting. It is important to end on a confident note by expressing a real passion for medicine.

TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR CONCLUSION 

  • Summarise and reiterate your key points: Include s kills, experiences, and interests and how these make you suitable for studying medicine. For example, if your experiences have taught you the importance of resilience, how will this skill help you to progress in your future career?
  • Mention the takeaway points: What do you want the admission tutor to remember about you ?
  • Revisit your conclusion and read it aloud to yourself: Reading it out to yourself and others helps to determine if you’re being concise and getting straight to the point without waffling.
  • Write a couple of drafts: By writing different versions of your conclusion, you might find various ways of conveying the same idea, some that you like more than others. This will help you write the best conclusion to suit you.
  • Acknowledge the difficulties and demanding nature of studying medicine: Studying medicine can be difficult, but you are equipped with the skills to handle this! You should showcase how the skills you’ve developed will assist you in overcoming difficulties .This will show you are the ideal candidate for studying medicine.
  • Writing a conclusion that is too long. You will probably find that the 4000 – character limit of the personal statement will restrict the length of your conclusion. So ideally, one or two succinct sentences should be more than enough to summarise.
  • Introducing completely new points – you do not want to leave the admissions tutor confused by bringing in new ideas that you cannot elaborate on further.
  • As with the introduction, avoid clichés and quotes.
  • Avoid repeating sentences from the main body of the personal statement.
  • Avoid making your conclusion too specific to one university. For example, don’t mention a particular teaching style if it is not offered by all the universities that you are applying for.

Now that you have written your personal statement, the hard part is over, right? Well, in all honesty , you might find yourself spending more time editing your personal statement than writing it! It is important to give yourself enough time to perfect your personal statement before the deadline. 

O ur advice at this point is – before you start editing, put your personal statement away. By the time you have finished writing, you will have read and re-read it countless times in the process. You need to take the time away from it to get a fresh look. This will be invaluable when you start editing.

SPELLING, PUNCTUATION, AND GRAMMAR

First things first, triple-check that your word processor has spell-check on with UK English, so that you can correct any spelling mistakes. It may sound obvious; however, technology can often malfunction!

You are a school-age pupil, so the piece should sound like you wrote it. It does not have to sound like you have taken letter-writing classes and have used a thesaurus on every other word. However, you also need to come across as professional. It is best not to use contractions such as don’t (do not), as it is too informal. Make sure you have used a combination of long and short sentences so that it has structure, as well as making sure every sentence doesn’t start with ‘I’.

READ YOUR STATEMENT OUT ALOUD

There are many ways of making sure your personal statement reads well. One method, which is particularly helpful is to read your personal statement aloud to someone else. It becomes very obvious when a sentence is too long and does not flow or make sense when you say it aloud. The person listening will be able to tell you which parts do not sound right. 

W hen we write, we often overestimate how well the writing sounds because you will , of course , know what you meant to say. However, to another person and the admissions team reading it – you want them to know exactly what you mean, rather than having to decode paragraphs that are not crystal clear .

You could try asking an English teacher at your school, or a friend who is studying English to read through it. The spelling, grammar and syntax are independent of the content , so this could be really useful in ensuring it flows well.

SEEKING ANOTHER OPINION

Whilst it may seem tempting to gain as many opinions as possible on your personal statement, it is better to seek the advice of a few trusted individuals. The medicine personal statement is , by nature , a subjective piece of writing. Having too many people read your personal statement and suggest changes, can become quite confusing and stressful very quickly! Here’s how you can avoid this situation: 

  • Make sure you are close to your final draft before giving your personal statement to someone else to read. However, still ensure you have enough time to make changes.
  • If your school has a careers advisor or team of teachers familiar with reading personal statements, it is worth having your personal statement read and critiqued by them.
  • When listening to feedback from others, consider all you can get, but don’t be afraid to not include all the feedback you receive since your personal statement should be truly reflective of only you.
  • If you would really like a raw opinion, find a way to have a teacher read it anonymously ! The admissions tutor will be reading your personal statement with no knowledge of who you are. If you want someone to read your personal statement with no knowledge of your background, print off a copy with your details omitted.

TIPS TO SHORTEN YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT

  • Do not waste characters writing about things that are elsewhere on your UCAS form. For example, your A-level (or equivalent) choices can all be entered in the qualifications section.
  • Remove unnecessary adverbs such as somewhat, rather, sometimes, fairly, pretty really, quite, basically, hopefully, luckily.
  • Use the verb form of a word over the noun form – this should reduce words. For example, ‘I created a MedSoc’ vs ‘A MedSoc was created by me’
  • Print off your personal statement to edit and cut words. Print it off in a different font to the one you typed it in. This will provide an experience of looking at your personal statement with ‘fresh eyes’.
  • Use the ‘Build, Blur, Corrode’ method to identify the weakest parts of your personal statement.
  • If you cannot bear to cut sentences, copy and paste them into a document called ‘Scrap’ , that way you know exactly where to find them if you were to want to add them again.
  • When focusing on a specific paragraph, copy it into a new blank document and separate each sentence with a line between them. Use this technique to perfect each individual sentence and identify those that are too long.
  • When retelling encounters from your work experience, details of what exactly happened are not always necessary!

YOUR PERSONAL STATEMENT IS READY TO GO

Once you’ve followed the steps and tips we have outlined, your personal statement is all ready to be submitted. You’ve finished another step in your application to med school! You’re essentially mid-way through the application process ; you should be proud of yourself that you have made it this far. 

Next, you should think about references from your teachers and prepare yourself for a medical school interview. Interviews can be intimidating, but don’t worry! We have created a guide to help you understand the process and how to complete the interviews to the best of your ability. 

HOW PREMED CAN HELP YOU

If you need some work experience to help enhance your med school application, we are here to help! At Premed, we offer in-person and online work experience to ensure you get a taste of life in the medical field. Boost your chances of getting into medical school by applying to one of our work experience courses today.

What should a medicine personal statement include?

When writing a personal statement for medicine, you should focus on including relevant work experience and any volunteer work. The majority of your writing should focus on these aspects as it is important to reflect on your experiences and how this makes the ideal candidate to study medicine. You may also want to include a few short sentences about some extra-curricular activities you partake in as well. 

What should you not say in a medical personal statement?

Don’t be generic about why you want to study medicine. You should demonstrate you have a passion for helping people by providing examples through any work experience or volunteering. Remember, an admissions tutor will read hundreds of personal statements so your application needs to be personal to you. 

Additionally, don’t provide general statements about your skills and experiences or simply list them. You should reflect on your experience and skills by supplying concrete examples to support your statements. This will show you can demonstrate these skills, enhancing your application. 

What do medical schools want in a personal statement?

What your personal statement should contain may differ from university to university but there are some common trends. For example, you should focus on writing about your skills and work experience and reflect on what you have learned from them. It is also ideal to state you understand what a career in medicine entails and how you are prepared to manage the challenges that come with a career in medicine. 

How should I structure my personal statement?

There are several ways you can structure a personal statement, there is no set structure! The way you write your personal statement should be personal to you based on your own experiences. An example of how you can structure your personal statement is:

Another example of a personal statement structure is: 

  • Interest in academia and medicine
  • Group of skills related to each other (e.g., compassion, empathy and communication)
  • Another group of skills related to each other (e.g., leadership, teamwork and problem-solving)

Remember, you also need to include an introduction and conclusion! 

How long should a personal statement be?

You have a limit of 4,000 characters for your personal statement based on UCAS guidelines . This is equivalent to approximately 550-1,000 words. This shows you need to be precise with what you include in your personal statement as you are limited by the words you have. 

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5 Tops Tips For Writing Your Personal Statement

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Writing a Personal Statement is hard! In this article, we’re going to run through our 5 top tips when it comes to tackling your Personal Statement and getting that all-important medical school place.

Ali Abdaal's Tips On Writing a Personal Statement

1. check the medical school selection criteria.

When constructing personal statements, it’s important you base everything you mention (whether from your work experience, volunteering or extra-curricular activities) around an almost universally adopted selection criteria. The GMC provides admissions guidelines for all medical schools in the UK and recommends universal traits and qualities to look for in applicants.

Medical School Qualities and Traits

Some of the qualities of a good doctor and traits medical schools look for are listed below (based upon Oxford and UCL admissions guidelines):

  • Communication: an ability to make knowledge and ideas clear using language appropriate to the audience and listening skills
  • Capacity for sustained and intense work
  • Individual strengths: social, musical and sporting interests or activities, for example
  • Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach
  • Empathy: an ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others
  • Understanding of a career in medicine: most importantly, the realities of being a doctor
  • Attitudes: including honesty, integrity and humility
  • Ethical Awareness
  • Intellectual curiosity: awareness of current scientific and medical affairs, for example
  • Teamwork: an ability to work with others
  • Motivation: a reasonably well-informed and strong desire to practice medicine

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These cover most, if not all, of the characteristics medical schools are looking for in an applicant. Of course, you can’t fit all of it in, but you should cover as much of it as possible, which is why it’s important to try to be relatively succinct in your writing. Alongside this, you should have an alignment of values and behaviours with the values of the NHS constitution .

Your understanding and appreciation of these values must reflect in your personal statement (and at interview).

Remember, although you definitely should give a personal and individual account of your experiences, you should also aim to tell medical schools what they want to hear.

How should you go about conveying these characteristics?

  • You should know what these qualities are and should find examples from your experiences to confirm you are aware of and have come to realize the importance of such traits in a doctor.
  • You should also give examples of possessing these characteristics yourself, perhaps through your extra-curricular skills or a demonstration of competency when volunteering or during work experience.

Here’s a tip, you could actually write out content for different areas (such as for communication, teamwork, empathy, etc.), grouping them under specific subheadings on a separate document, and then mix and match them all, inserting them at different places in your statement: this allows you to try out more options when writing your personal statement to begin with and forces you to prioritise certain content over others.

2. Focus Your Personal Statement On Reflection

As repeated several times already, when writing a personal statement, don’t go on too long describing what you did during your work experience or time volunteering. Focus instead on reflection, which includes talking about the things you came to realize and discovered about medicine in general and the specific qualities in doctors.

3. Provide Evidence For Every Point

It’s easy to claim to have various qualities and an understanding of what it means to be a doctor, but quite a few students we’ve come across fail to substantiate many of their assertions in their personal statements.

For example, don’t say you have a strong interest in the sciences without actually providing some support that is this the case. Similarly, don’t spout out a list of qualities (teamwork, the importance of communication, etc.) without providing some real-world examples of why they’re important.

4. Strive for Clear Structure and Perfect Grammar

Although unfair for those who don’t consider themselves strong writers, the truth is, good writing makes a big difference. All too often, students send us personal statements littered with grammatical errors – for example, one of the big things many students seem to struggle with is the correct and effective use of commas.

Our recommendation is that if you’re not a particularly good writer, you get somebody who is good to look through your personal statement, sentence by sentence, getting them to help reword phrases.

Personal Statement Structure

When it comes to the structure of your personal statement, it’s simple – just be organised with your content . If two things aren’t strongly related, then start a new paragraph.

For example, if you’re writing a paragraph on work experience in a hospital environment and want to talk about the GP next, it’s probably best to start a new paragraph for the GP; however, if you’re on the theme of communication, and you found a nice story that illustrates its importance from both the hospital and GP, then it’s reasonable to talk about this using examples from both your GP and hospital experiences in the same paragraph.

In a nutshell, lump related things together to make the reader’s life easier. Along with this, try to have some kind of connecting sentence that links between different themes for better flow, but only if you have enough space.

There’s much more to learn about Personal Statement structuring. Why not check out our Personal Statement Crash Course and Masterclasses , all included within 6med’s Personal Statement Bundle!

Check out these Personal Statement examples for inspiration:

Dentistry Personal Statement Examples – KCL (Emmy)

Dentistry Personal Statement Examples – KCL (Saif)

Dentistry Personal Statement Examples – Cardiff (Eera)

5. Redraft Your Personal Statement

Our final principle is this: keep drafting your personal statement, chipping away at it paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence. Never be content with your statement until you’ve at least drafted it several times; many of us had drafted our statements at least 20 times before we handed them in.

You should play around with individual sections of your personal statements. Set apart a day just to work on your opening paragraph or work experience sections. 

You can redraft based on your own thoughts (constantly reread your personal statement as if you were a super harsh critic), and you should send out your personal statement to willing doctors and medical students, as well as teachers – but make sure you send what you think is a strong draft (one you could pretty much submit) so as to not waste their time.

It may also help to get your draft reviewed regularly, so you can get another person’s opinion on what works and what doesn’t. This could be from a family member, friend, mentor or even an expert tutor. For example, you can submit 5 personal statement drafts to be reviewed by medical school experts when you sign up for 6med’s Personal Statement or Complete Bundles!

Need some extra guidance for your Personal Statement?

We have a bunch of Personal Statement resources available for free on our Personal Statement Resources page. Some of the top guides include:  

Need some extra guidance in your Personal Statement preparations?

Signing up to the Personal Statement Bundle means you’ll be guided by expert Medics who will help you write the perfect Personal Statement and provide unlimited redraft submissions. 

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Frank J. Ninivaggi M.D., DLF-A.P.A.

  • Personality

What Makes a Good Doctor "Good"?

Attention, connection, validation, and empathy lead to compassionate caring..

Posted October 6, 2020 | Reviewed by Matt Huston

Questions like this are open-ended but reasonably answered. Besides ample knowledge and good training, a doctor’s personality contributes to the practice of good medicine—recovery-oriented and shared decision-making .

Among the valuable characteristics of good doctors are listening and observational skills. Active connectedness encourages empathy, high reliability, and safety, the foundations for effectiveness.

Original photo by author, Frank J. Ninivaggi MD

Personality Factors and Their Sub-facets

Personality is the stable pattern of functionally related processes that include cognition , emotion , interpersonal relatedness, behavior, coping, and defenses.

H.J. Eysenck (1916-1977), a controversial British psychologist, first proposed a personality model that had two dimensions: extroversion - introversion (i.e., “E”) and stable-unstable (i.e., “N,” representing neuroticism). More robust and nuanced studies have produced the now-used “ Big Five ” personality model (Costa and McCrae 1992).

The Big Five factors are

1. Openness to Experience

2. Conscientiousness

3. Extroversion

4. Agreeableness

5. Neuroticism or Negative Emotionality

People have all five factors and can be higher or lower than other people on each one. Each characteristic or trait, with its many subordinate traits (i.e., “facets”), is a descriptive dimension yielding endless personality styles. The facets interacting in differing contexts impart one’s unique character. The emphasis is on personality styles rather than psychiatric disorders, as found in the DSM-5 .

Openness to Experience includes being open-minded, creative, adaptable to new perspectives, and intellectually curious, to name a few aspects. Flexible mindsets rather than mental rigidity characterize its dimensions.

Conscientiousness includes the sub-traits of being organized, aware of details and planning, following tasks to completion, being reliable, self-directed, persistent, industrious, maintaining “effortful control,” and being efficient. For doctors, the mental set of always “still learning” leads to creative problem-solving.

Extroversion signifies people who are energetic, assertive , gregarious, and outgoing. These “surgency” qualities can be challenging and stimulating. All interpersonal and social connectedness rests on the balance between extroversion and introversion, notably with the patient.

Agreeableness includes kindness, empathy, compassion, helpfulness, cooperativeness, sharing, and being friendly. These are “social lubricants.” Receptivity without judgment, ability to pause, and lingering with experiences are qualities of many agreeable people. Thus, safe spaces for continued dialog open. People who are high in this factor do not argue or oppose with criticism and premature judgment. Reactively argumentative people oppose what others say. This obstruction shuts down productive conversations by stirring fear and anger , all of which block understanding. Being productively agreeable does not require blind agreement but only considering another’s ideas, i.e., validating that they are their truth. This “relational mentalizing” is understanding even if short of acceptance. Agreeableness emphasizes emotional caring that rounds out cognitively conscientious care.

Neuroticism or negative emotionality reflects negative, unstable moods seen in stress , anxiety , worry, depression , anger, hostility, loneliness , and despair. Being able to readily adapt in the face of uncertainty counters negativity and opens onward exploration.

What Personality Facets Make a Doctor “Good”?

Most studies about good doctors show that high scores on Conscientiousness and Agreeableness correlate with good or stable mental health. The willingness to help is a large part of the factor of Agreeableness. Studies have suggested that well-modulated Conscientiousness and the wish to help are protective against the burnout syndrome. Implied is a heightened psychological resilience .

Almost two decades ago, the British Medical Journal (BMJ, 2002) devoted an entire issue to elaborating good doctors’ qualities. These included:

· Compassion/Warmth

· Understanding

· Competence

· Commitment

The Takeaway

The people we consider "good" often share the following characteristics:

· observant

· receptive

· attentive listener

· can tolerate ambiguity

· can manage temporary gaps in understanding without undue frustration and negativity

· seeks to improve problematic dilemmas (for doctors: e.g., symptoms) toward more favorable outcomes.

Goodness implies respect for the value of persons. Attentive listening sets the stage for trying to understand both their perspective and yours. A working hypothesis about diagnoses and a treatment plan emerges for good doctors. As opposed to simply demanding compliance or adherence, a mutual dialog elicits a participatory therapeutic alliance and yields better outcomes.

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Doctors considered “good” often say the rewards of their profession are the gratitude felt for meaningful relationships with patients, helping them to improve, and using skillful resources for finding workable solutions. These rewards override the difficulties of complex regulations, complicated patient presentations, and long hours. Remaining mindful remains a therapeutic asset.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2014) proposed more updated perspectives but concluded by saying that the entire endeavor to define a “good” doctor remains “a work in progress.”

BMJ ( British Medical Journal ). (2002). “What's a good doctor?” 28 September 2002(vol 325, issue 7366) doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7366.0/g

Lee, T. H. (2014). “Certifying the Good Physician: A Work in Progress”

JAMA ( Journal of the American Medical Association ), 312(22):2340-2342. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.13566

Ninivaggi, F.J. (2019). Learned Mindfulness: Physician Engagement and MD Wellness . Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Academic Press.

Cattell, R (1950). Personality: A systematic theoretical, and factual study . New York: McGraw-Hill.

Costa, P.T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory Manual (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) professional manual . Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Trzeciak, S. Mazzarelli, A. (2019). Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence That caring makes a difference. Studer Group, Pensacola, Florida.

Frank J. Ninivaggi M.D., DLF-A.P.A.

Frank John Ninivaggi, M.D., F.A.P.A., is an associate attending physician at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, an assistant clinical professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

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Medicine Personal Statement Examples

Last updated: 29/6/2023

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The personal statement is changing to a series of free text questions for 2026 entry onwards, however it remains unchanged for 2025 entry. Keep an eye on our live updates page for guidance on these changes.

Your UCAS personal statement is a chance to showcase the skills, attributes, and experiences which make you suited to studying medicine. This can be quite a daunting prospect, especially when you have to boil all that down to just 4,000 characters, or 47 lines. 

In this article, we will:

  • Examine examples of strong and weak medicine personal statements (interested in dentistry? Check out dentistry personal statement examples )
  • Help you learn what you should and shouldn't include in your medicine personal statement
Want to explore more examples? Our Personal Statement Course has over 100 personal statement examples to help you find your voice.

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What you'll find in this article:

Personal statement example 1 – introduction

Personal statement example 2 – introduction, personal statement example 1 – main body, personal statement example 2 – main body, personal statement example 1 – conclusion, personal statement example 2 – conclusion, strong personal statement example, weak personal statement example, what should your personal statement include.

To get into medical school , your personal statement should:

  • Demonstrate meaningful insight into the profession, in the form of work experience or independent research. This could be partly based on medical books or podcasts when medical work experience is not possible
  • Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and experiences
  • Mention your extracurricular activities
  • Discuss your academic interests and achievements
'At the moment I am working towards A-Level Chemistry, Biology and Maths. I achieved my AS-Level in Spanish but decided to drop it to focus on my more medically relevant subjects. I’ve been dreaming of studying medicine since I was a young child, and this was only reinforced when I contracted measles during my primary school exams. This affected my performance, but I found that this motivated me rather than discouraged me. A particularly inspiring doctor was heavily involved in helping me deal with the pressure. I was inspired by her to become a doctor myself and help others in a similar way. I am particularly interested in science and as such the practical side of medicine interested me. I’ve always enjoyed chemistry and biology the most, and have best learned when trying to link the pure science I learn in school back to it's practical and useful real-world applications. This is what is particularly interesting about medicine to me - you can apply pure, evidence-based science in a clinical and practical setting to have an obvious positive effect. Inspired by this interest, I invested in a subscription to the New Scientist magazine. I’ve read about a huge number of fascinating discoveries and how they’ve been applied in medical settings.'

This introductory section has some promising features, but there are areas the author could improve:

  • The introductory sentence doesn’t catch the reader’s attention or hold much relevance for a medical personal statement. This sentence would be better suited to a subsequent section on the author’s academic achievements, and it would need to be supplemented with a suitable explanation as to why the chosen subjects are relevant for medicine. 
  • The author uses an anecdote to illustrate why they first developed an interest in medicine. This is a good idea, but the anecdote they've chosen is not the most suitable. It references ‘primary school exams’, which uses the cliché of wanting to do medicine from a young age. This is not only overused, but is also underdeveloped. 
  • The applicant mentions feeling under pressure for these primary school exams. This won’t fill the reader with confidence that the author will be able to cope with the demands of medical school and a career as a doctor. 
  • The introduction should open with the anecdote rather than academic achievements. A strong and memorable opening line will catch the admission tutor’s attention, and gives the student an opportunity to summarise why they want to study medicine.
  • It is far too long. A good introduction should be around 4-6 lines.

There are some parts of the introduction that are more effective:

  • The part discussing why they enjoy chemistry and biology is useful – it links their love for pure science back to the passion they mentioned earlier for helping people. This demonstrates the blend of empathy and interest in science that medical schools will be looking for. 
  • The same part also introduces the candidate’s reading of medical literature, which they could choose to discuss in more depth later in the statement, or which might be something that interviewers could choose to examine in more detail.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement introduction example 1

'From a young age, my real fascination in life has been science - in particular, the incredible intricacy of the human body. My passion to discover more about its inner workings fuelled my motivation to study medicine, and the challenging yet rewarding nature of the job leaves me certain that I want to pursue it as a career. I think that my chosen A-Levels have only made me more determined to become a doctor, while simultaneously allowing me to develop and improve my skills. I have become a better problem-solver by studying physics and maths, while also learning the importance of accuracy and attention to detail. I’ve particularly enjoyed chemistry, which has again helped me improve my problem solving skills and my ability to think rationally and logically. Throughout my chemistry and biology A-Levels, I’ve been required to engage in practical work which has taught me how to design and construct an experiment. I’ve also become better at communicating with other members of my team, something I witnessed the importance of during my work experience in A&E. During recent months, I’ve started reading more medical publications such as the Lancet and the British Medical Journal. I’ve been particularly interested in how this evidence-based science can be applied to clinical practice to really make an impact on patients.'

This introduction contains some useful reflection and demonstrates some insight, but is quite jumbled. The main areas of weakness are as follows:

  • The content is good but much of it would be better suited to a later section and should be explored in more detail while being linked back to medicine (for example, the whole second half could be included in a longer segment on academia). 
  • The applicant mentions that they improved their problem-solving skills. How did they do this? Why is this important in medicine? 
  • They say that medicine is demanding but that this attracts them to the job. What experiences have they had to show the demanding nature of it? Why does this attract them to it? 
  • The author also briefly mentions a stint of work experience in A&E, but the rushed nature of the introduction means that they can’t go into detail about the experience or reflect on what exactly they learned from it. 
  • Similar to example 1, this introduction includes some clichés which detract from the author’s overall message. For example, that they have wanted to do medicine from a young age or that they love science (with no further explanation as to why). 
  • It is far too long. Again, an introduction should be a succinct summary of why you're interested in medicine, and not a brief account of all of your experiences.

The stronger parts of this introduction include the following:

  • The author does demonstrate that they can reflect on the skills they’ve improved through experience. For example, the analytical and problem-solving skills they gained from chemistry.
  • The candidate shows an understanding of the link between evidence-based science and clinical application when discussing how they did further research around their physics course. This shows a good level of curiosity and insight.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement introduction example

'I first became interested in studying medicine when I carried out a work experience placement with my father an elderly care specialist. I really enjoyed the experience and it gave me a deeper insight into the challenges doctors face. I now believe that I better understand the resilience - both mental and physical - that doctors need to cope with the heavy workload and emotional challenges. A few months ago I was given the opportunity to attend work experience in St Mary’s hospital in Manchester where I visited and observed many different specialties and areas of the hospital like A&E and the labs and witnessed how doctors carried out their jobs. For the past year I’ve been doing some other volunteering work too, such as, taking meals around to patients on the ward, asking them about their experience in the hospital and just chatting with them about how they’re feeling. They’re often delighted to have someone to talk to especially during Covid when they weren’t allowed to receive visitors. I saw how my communication and empathy made a real impact on the mood of the lonelier patients. I spent a few days working in the same hospital, shadowing doctors and Allied Health professionals in the stroke ward. I became much more familiar with the process doctors used for treating stroke patients, and developed an understanding of the role that physiotherapists and occupational therapists have in their rehabilitation. On top of that I organised a placement with the emergency medicine doctors and spent time in the haemapheresis unit at St Mary’s.'

This example does contain some of the features we look for in a complete main body section but could definitely be improved: 

  • The main issue with this is the list-like presentation, which goes hand-in-hand with a general lack of reflection or insight. Although it is good to discuss your work experience in your personal statement, it would be far better if the candidate focused on just one or two of the experiences mentioned, but went into far more detail about what they learned and the insight they gained. For example, after mentioning the role of Allied Health Professionals in the rehabilitation of stroke patients, they could go on to discuss how they came to appreciate the importance of these healthcare workers, and how the contribution of all these individuals within the multidisciplinary team is so important to achieving good outcomes.
  • Statements like ‘I [...] witnessed how doctors carry out their jobs’ make it seem as if the candidate really wasn’t paying attention. They need to explain what they mean by this. Were they impressed by the doctors’ effective teamwork and communication skills, or perhaps by their positive attitude and morale? Did they seem well-trained and effective? What did they learn from this that might help them in the future?  ‍
  • Similarly, the student simply states that they saw the effect of empathy on patients: ‘I saw how my communication and empathy made a real impact on the mood of the lonelier patients.’ This adopts a ‘telling’ approach, when the student needs to adopt a ‘showing’ approach. Simply telling us that they saw something does not adequately demonstrate an understanding of why those qualities are important, or what they actually mean. What does it mean to have empathy? What does that look like in real terms? How did they use it? What was the effect? Showing the tutor that you are empathetic is important, but simply saying it is disingenuous and shows a lack of understanding.
  • The candidate spends a number of characters name-dropping the exact hospital they visited and its location, which isn’t the best use of valuable space, as it has no real impact on the message they’re trying to convey.
  • Generally, it isn’t a good idea to talk about work experience with family members. Of course, this might be the reality, but try to have some other placements that you’ve organised yourself so that it doesn’t appear as if your family are doing all the hard work for you. At the very least, you could simply leave this information out.
  • There are a few grammatical errors here, especially regarding the use of commas. It’s important to use a spell checker or to ask an English teacher to check your work for you before submitting your statement.

The better features of this example are:

  • The candidate does show some insight into the role of a doctor when they talk about the resilience required by doctors to cope with the hard hours and challenging conditions. They just need to reflect in this way in other parts of the section, too.
  • The author has clearly done a lot of work experience and is right to discuss this in their personal statement. Just remember that you don’t need to squeeze in every single little placement.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement main body example main body

'I was pleased to be appointed as head boy in my last year of school, and as part of this role I headed up the school safety office. I carried out inspections of the dormitories, roll calls and helped in the running of school festivals and activity days. The office I was in charge of needed to ensure the safety of every student in the school and I helped plan and lead drills to prepare the students for storms, floods and fires. This role has made me a far better leader, and I also believe that I am now far more calm and logical when working under pressure or in uncertain situations. I’ve been an editor on the online school blog for over 2 years now and the experience has taught me how to work effectively in a team when under time pressure. In order to meet my deadlines I needed to remain motivated even when working independently, and I think that the diligence and work ethic I’ve developed as a result will be incredibly useful to me as a medical student. I took on the role of financial director for both the table tennis club and Model United Nations at my school. At first I struggled with the weight of responsibility as I was in charge of all of the clubs’ money and expenditures. However, I am now a far more organised individual as I came to appreciate the value of concise paperwork and of keeping a record of my actions. I not only manage the funds of the table tennis club but am also a regular member of it. I often play independently, and the lack of a specific coach means that I have to identify my own strengths and weaknesses. I am now far better at being honest about my weaknesses and then devising strategies for working on them. The sport has also allowed me to demonstrate my ability to work well in a team, but also to get my head down and work independently when necessary.'

This example is generally well written and showcases some of the features of a good main body section. However, there are some areas that can be improved:

  • This section would benefit from the ‘show, don’t tell’ approach. Instead of explaining specific situations or events through which the candidate demonstrated certain attributes, they simply state them and then link them vaguely to a more general role or activity.
  • The bigger problem, however, is that the author mentions a wide range of skills but falls short in linking these back to medicine.  ‍ For example, after reflecting on their role in the school safety office and the leadership skills they developed as a result, the author could talk about the senior role that doctors have within the multidisciplinary team and the importance of good leadership in a medical setting.  Similarly, the author mentions their ability to work independently but should really round this off by describing how this would benefit them in medical school, as the ability to progress your learning independently is crucial to success there. The student mentions an understanding of and proficiency with paperwork and recording their actions. Doctors must constantly do this when writing notes for each patient, so the candidate should really try to mention this in their statement to explain why their skills would be useful. The mention of teamwork could be followed by an explanation of why it is important in a medical setting and how the applicant witnessed this during their medical work experience. Finally, when the student talks about being able to identify and work on their weaknesses, they could use this as an opportunity to demonstrate further insight into the medical profession by discussing the importance of revalidation and audit in the modern NHS, or talking about how important it is for doctors to be able to work on their areas of weakness. 

Better aspects of this example:

  • The applicant doesn’t simply list the activities they have been a part of, but also explains what they learned from these and the skills and attributes they developed as a result. This reflective ability is exactly what assessors will be looking for.
  • The tone of the section is appropriate. The applicant doesn’t appear arrogant or over-confident, but at the same time, they manage to paint themselves in a good light, highlighting their range of skills relevant to medicine.
  • This example uses the character count effectively. Unlike the earlier examples, almost all of the sentences serve a purpose and are succinct.
  • They demonstrate a wide range of skills, most of which are very relevant to medicine.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement main body example 2

' I am a resilient and empathetic individual and I think that I have the qualities to thrive despite the social and academic challenges of university. Through my work experience I’ve gained an insight into the difficulties doctors face but this has not dampened my enthusiasm. My placements and voluntary work have only strengthened my commitment and dedication to studying medicine.'

The effectiveness of a conclusion depends on the rest of the statement before it, so it is hard to judge how good a conclusion is without seeing what the candidate has mentioned in the rest of their statement. Assuming this follows on logically from the statement, however, we can say that this conclusion is generally good for the following reasons:

  • It is brief, to the point, and highlights that the student holds some of the skills doctors need (this would of course need to be backed up with examples in the rest of the statement). 
  • The author doesn’t introduce any new ideas here, as that would be inappropriate, but rather reiterates their determination, which is exactly what admissions tutors want to see. 
  • The author demonstrates a balanced understanding of the demands of a medical career, illustrating this is a decision they have made rationally while considering the implications of their choice. 

As is always the case, this conclusion could still be improved:

  • The mention of the social challenges of university is a bit too honest, even though these exist for everyone. Mentioning them could give the impression that the student struggles socially (which is not something they would want to highlight), or that they intend to dive into the social side of university at the expense of their studies. 
  • If the candidate really insists on mentioning the social side, they should at least do this after discussing academics, and they should do it in the body of the statement, where they have space to explain what exactly they mean.
  • The student describes themselves as empathetic. This should be avoided, as it should be evident from the statement itself.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement conclusion example 1

'Over the years I have built up a large and extensive set of medical work experiences and volunteering opportunities. These have allowed me to demonstrate my ability to communicate effectively and work in a team, and they will allow me to become a more diligent student and effective doctor. I think that this, alongside my ability and strength of character mean that I should be considered for this course. I am excited to get started and begin to put my skills to good use.'

This is a reasonably strong conclusion. It provides a to-the-point summary of why the author believes they should be selected to study medicine and shows their excitement for starting this journey. However, there are some parts of this example that could be improved: 

  • The author mentions 'ability' and 'strength of character.' These are nebulous terms and not specific to medicine or a medical degree in any way.
  • The mention of a 'large and extensive range of medical work experiences' indicates overconfidence. Medical applicants are not expected to have any medical ability or any 'large and extensive range' of medical experience, nor is it probable that this candidate actually does (otherwise they wouldn’t need to go to medical school in the first place). Rather, medical students need a suitable set of skills and attributes in order to make the most of their medical education and become an effective doctor.
  • On a similar note, the applicant says that their range of medical work experience will make them a better student and doctor, but this is only true if they can reflect on their experience and learn from it. Impassively watching an operation or clinic without properly engaging with it won’t make you a better doctor in the future.

Key takeaways from Medicine personal statement conclusion example

We’ll now go on to look at an example of a strong personal statement. No personal statement is perfect, but this example demonstrates a good level of reflection, engagement and suitability to study medicine (we know this because the writer of this statement went on to receive four offers). 

It goes without saying that plagiarism of any of these examples is a bad idea. They are known to medical schools and will be flagged up when run through plagiarism detection software. 

Use these as examples of ways you could structure your own statement, how to reflect on experiences, and how to link them back to medicine and demonstrate suitable insight and motivation. 

'It is the coupling of patient-centred care with evidence-based science that draws me to medicine. The depth of medical science enthrals me, but seeing complex pathology affecting a real person is what drives home my captivation. As a doctor, you are not only there for people during their most vulnerable moments but are empowered by science to offer them help, and this capacity for doing good alongside the prospect of lifelong learning intrigues me. In recent years I have stayed busy academically - despite my medical focus I have kept a range of interests, studying Spanish and German to grow my social and cultural awareness and playing the violin and drums in groups to improve my confidence when working in teams and performing. This is similar to the team-working environment that dominates in medical settings, and I have found that my awareness of other cultures is a great help when interacting with the hugely diverse range of patients I meet during my volunteering work. The independent projects I am undertaking for my A-levels teach me how to rigorously construct and perform experiments, process data and present findings, developing my written communication. My work experience showed me the importance of these skills when making patients’ notes, and of course, medical academia must be concisely written and well constructed and communicated. Maths teaches me to problem-solve and recognise patterns, vital skills in diagnosis. Over the past two years, I have actively sought out and planned work experience and volunteering opportunities. My time last year in Critical Care showed me the importance of communication in healthcare to ensure patients understand their diagnosis and feel comfortable making decisions. I saw the value of empathy and patience when a doctor talked to a patient refusing to take her insulin and suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis. They tried to understand her position and remain compassionate despite her refusal. My experience deepened my insight into the realities of a medical career, as we were at the hospital for more than ten hours a day with breaks and lunches cut short by bleeps or calls from the ward. This helped me understand the physical resilience required by staff as I also came to appreciate the immense emotional burden they often had to bear. Despite this, the brilliant staff remained motivated and compassionate which I found inspirational. The Brighton and Sussex Medical School work experience and Observe GP courses I completed put emphasis on the value of holistic, patient-centred care, introducing me to specialities I had not previously considered such as geriatrics and oncology. Inspired by my experience I explored a variety of specialisms, reading memoirs (Do no harm) and textbooks (Oxford handbook of clinical medicine) alike. I investigated medical politics with my English persuasive piece, discussing the ethics behind the junior doctor strikes of 2016. I have been volunteering in a hospital ward since January, which helps improve my confidence and communication skills when talking to patients and relatives. I showed my ability to deal with unexpected situations when I found a patient smoking whilst on oxygen, and acted quickly to tell nurses. Over lockdown I felt privileged offering lonely patients some tea and a chat and seeing their mood change - it taught me that medicine is about treating patients as individuals, not a diagnosis. My work on the hospital door taught me to stay calm and interact assuredly with visitors, vital skills in public-service jobs like medicine. I coach tennis at a local club, planning and running sessions for younger children. I am responsible for players' safety and must manage risk while showing leadership qualities by making the sessions fun and inclusive. As a player, I am part of the self-run performance team, which forces me to better my ability without coaching. This means developing self-reflection and insight into my weaknesses, which I know to be integral skills for medics. One of the doctors I shadowed during my work experience was just starting her revalidation process and I saw the importance of self-awareness and honest reflection in meeting her targets and becoming a better doctor. I achieved my Gold Duke of Edinburgh certificate of achievement (and the Bronze and Silver awards), exhibiting my commitment and ability to self-reflect and improve. On our Silver expedition, we experienced severe rain, showing resilience by continuing when our kit was wet from day one. My diligence and academic ability will allow me to thrive in medical school, and I have the prerequisite qualities to become a compassionate and effective doctor. Despite the obstacles, I am determined to earn the privilege of being able to improve peoples' health. This is something that excites me and a career I would happily dedicate my life to.'

Strong personal statement example analysis

Introduction.

This statement is a good example of how a personal statement should be constructed and presented. The introduction is short and to the point, only dealing with the candidate’s motivations to study medicine while also demonstrating an insight into what the career involves. 

They demonstrate their insight briefly by mentioning that medicine involves lifelong learning. This is often seen as one of the challenges associated with the career but here they present it as an advantage which makes them seem more suited to the career. It also show they're a curious and interested individual who enjoys learning. 

The introduction's final sentence offers an opportunity for interviewers to probe the candidate further, to explore their curiosity, and ask them to explain what exactly attracts them to lifelong learning. An astute candidate would recognise this and try to think of a suitable answer in advance.

Paragraph 2 

The second paragraph opens the body of the statement by exploring the author’s academic interests. As with some of the previous example body paragraphs, the writer shows their reflective ability by explaining what each of their subjects taught them, and the skills they developed and demonstrated as a result. They improve upon this further by linking these skills back to medicine and explaining why they are important for doctors. 

This paragraph demonstrates the author’s work-life balance by showing their varied interests in languages and music, all without wasting characters by saying this directly. They also mention the diverse range of patients they encountered during their volunteering, which again implies an empathetic and conscientious nature while showing an insight into a medical career (particularly regarding the vast diversity of the patient cohort treated by the NHS). 

Their explanation of the relevance of maths could be more detailed, but again this could be something the applicant is hoping to be questioned on at interview. The candidate comes across as thoughtful and multi-talented, with the ability to reflect on their decisions and experiences, and with a suitable insight into how their strengths would play well into a medical career. 

In this particular paragraph, there isn’t much explanation as to how they drew their inferences about what a medical career entails from their volunteering and work experience (and what exactly these entailed), but these are explored in more detail later in the statement.

P aragraphs 3 and 4 

The next two paragraphs discuss the candidate’s work experience, beginning with a single work experience placement in detail. This is a better approach than the large lists of placements seen in the previous example body paragraphs. The author talks about a specific scenario and shows that they paid attention during their shadowing while also illustrating their ability to reflect on these experiences and the precise skills involved. 

The skills they mention here – communication, empathy, resilience – are skills that they specifically talk about developing and demonstrating through their activities in other parts of the statement. This shows that they have taken their learning and used it to inform the focus of their personal development. They also not only state that these skills are important for medics, but also explain why this is. For example, they explain that communication is important in helping patients relax and engage with their healthcare, and that resilience is required to deal with the antisocial hours.

In this section, the applicant briefly mentions a specific medical condition. This shows that they were engaging with the science during their placement and also provides interviewers with an opportunity to test the applicant’s scientific knowledge. Knowing this, the candidate would likely research diabetic ketoacidosis in order to be able to impress the panel. 

The author mentions some other virtual work experience opportunities they’ve been involved with and sets themselves up to discuss what these placements taught them. They then go on to explain the actions they took as a result of this, showing that they really engaged with the virtual placements and could identify what they learned and their areas of weakness. This is linked well to further reading and research they carried out, which illustrates their curiosity and engagement with medical science and literature. 

The reference to the junior doctor strikes at the end shows that they have engaged with medical news as well as the ethical side of medicine, which is something that many medical schools place a lot of emphasis on at interviews. Ideally, this section would explain how exactly they explored these different specialties and illustrate what they learned and how they developed their learning from the books mentioned.

Paragraphs 5 and 6 

These paragraphs discuss the applicant’s hospital volunteering and other extracurricular activities. The applicant doesn’t just state that they’ve volunteered in a hospital but goes into depth about the precise skills they developed as a result. They include an anecdote to illustrate their ability to react quickly and calmly in emergency situations, which is a great way to show that they’ve been paying attention (though this should really be backed up with an explanation as to why this is important in medicine). 

The candidate also shows their patient-centred approach when discussing how they cared for demoralised patients (again illustrating empathy and compassion). This style of healthcare is something that the modern NHS is really trying to promote, so showing an awareness of this and an aptitude for applying it practically will really impress your assessors. 

The author demonstrates another core attribute for medical students when talking about how their work on the front door of the hospital improved their confidence in communication, and they once more link this back to medicine. This last section could benefit from further explanation regarding the nature of their work on the hospital door and exactly how they developed these skills. 

In the second of these sections, the candidate simultaneously reflects on the skills they learnt from their tennis and explains how these apply to medicine, showing insight into the profession by mentioning and showing awareness of the process of revalidation. This will show assessors that the candidate paid attention during their work experience, reflected on what they learned, and then identified a way they could work on these skills in their own life.

The author name-checks the Duke of Edinburgh Award but then goes on to explain how exactly this helped them grow as a person. They link back to resilience, a skill they mentioned in an earlier section as being important for medics.

The conclusion is succinct and direct. Although clichéd in parts, it does a good job of summarising the points the candidate has made throughout the statement. They demonstrate confidence and dedication, not by introducing any confusing new information, but rather by remaking and reinforcing some of the author’s original claims from the introduction.

The following example illustrates how not to approach your personal statement. Now that you’ve read through the analysis of previous example passages and a complete example statement, try going through this statement yourself to identify the main recurring weaknesses and points for improvement. We’ve pointed out a few of the main ones at the end. You can even redraft it as a practice exercise.

' ‍ The combination of science with empathy and compassion is what attracts me most to a career in medicine. However, I wanted to ensure that the career was right for me so I attended a Medic Insight course in my local hospital. I enjoyed the course and it gave me new insight - the lectures and accounts from medical students and doctors helped me realise that medicine was the career for me. I was also introduced to the concept of the diagnostic puzzle which now particularly interests me. This is the challenge doctors face when trying to make a diagnosis, as they have to avoid differential diagnoses and use their skills and past experiences to come to a decision and produce the right prognosis. In order to gain further insight into both the positives and downsides of being a doctor, I organised some work experience in my local GP’s surgery. I managed to see consultations for chest pain, headaches, contraception and some chronic conditions which was very interesting. I also sat in on and observed the asthma clinic, which proved to be a very educational experience. During my experience, I tried to chat to as many doctors as possible about their jobs and what they enjoyed. I recently took up some work volunteering in a local elderly care home. Many of the residents had quite complex needs making it arduous work, but I learned a lot about caring for different people and some appropriate techniques for making them feel comfortable and at home. I became a better communicator as a result of my experience Nevertheless I really enjoyed my time there and I found it fulfilling when the patients managed to have fun or see their family. I appreciated how doctors often have high job satisfaction, as when I managed to facilitate a resident to do something not otherwise available to them I felt like I was making a real difference. My academic interests have also been very useful in developing skills that will be crucial as a doctor. I chose to study Physics and business at a-level and these have helped me develop more of an interest in scientific research and understanding; I’ve also become a more logical thinker as a result of the challenging questions we receive in physics exams. I know how important communication is as a doctor so I chose to study Mandarin, a language I know to be spoken widely around the globe. I was the lead violin in my school orchestra and also took part in the wind band, showing that I was willing to throw myself into school life. I really enjoyed our school’s concert, in which I had to perform a solo and demonstrate that I could stay calm under pressure and cope with great responsibility and i think that I’m now a better leader. This skill has also been improved in roles within my school on the pupil council and as form captain, which have improved my self-confidence. I needed to work hard in order to achieve my bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards, and have dedicated much of my time outside school to this endeavour over the past few years. I endured weekly sessions of Taekwondo, worked voluntarily in the charity shop Barnardo’s and took part in violin lessons.  As I’ve demonstrated throughout this statement I have an affinity for music, and so at university I plan to get involved with orchestras and bands. I also want to widen my horizons and discover new interests and hobbies, while trying to make new friends and cultivate a good work-life balance. I’m also keen to hike in the university’s surrounding territories. If I were allowed to study medicine, it would not only allow me to achieve one of my life goals, but to prove to you that I can become an effective, and successful doctor. I am absolutely dedicated to the study of medicine and know that I have the prerequisite skils and qualities to thrive in medical school and become a credit to your institution.”

Weak personal statement example analysis

  • This personal statement does have some promising features, but overall it isn’t well structured and lacks appropriate reflection and insight. You can see this by comparing it to the strong example above. The author in this weak example very rarely describes what exactly they learned or gained from an experience and rarely links this back to medicine. 
  • It reads quite like a list, with the candidate reeling off the experiences they’ve had or activities they’ve taken part in, without going into any real depth. They also use some vocabulary that implies that they really weren’t enjoying these experiences, such as when they speak of ‘enduring’ their time doing taekwondo, or of caring for residents being ‘arduous’ work. You don’t have to enjoy every activity you take part in, but implying that caring for people (a huge part of the job you are applying for and claiming to enjoy) is something you consider a chore isn’t a great start. This statement also has some questionable grammar and punctuation errors, which raises a red flag. Don’t forget to proofread your statement carefully before you submit it.
  • The candidate often starts off their sections in a promising way. For example, by stating that they started volunteering in a local GP practice to gain more insight into the profession, but they rarely actually follow through on this. You never find out what insight the candidate actually gained or how they used this to inform their decision to apply for medicine. 
  • Such lack of explanation and specificity is a theme throughout the statement. In the introduction, they say that personal accounts and lectures confirmed their wish to become a doctor, but they don’t actually explain how or why. They mention that their school subjects have helped them think more logically or improved their communication skills (which is good), but then they never go on to explain why this is relevant to medicine. They talk about leadership and self-confidence but again don’t link this back to the importance of self-confidence and the prominence of leadership in a medical setting.

To create an effective medicine personal statement, you need to provide plenty of detail. This includes concrete experiences demonstrating qualities that make a good doctor. If you can do this authentically, humbly and without selling yourself short, your personal statement will be in very good shape.

‍ ‍ If you're looking for more inspiration to craft a compelling medicine personal statement, check out our Personal Statement Online Course . It has over 100 personal statement examples, in-depth tutorials, and guidance from admissions experts, to help you create a ready-to-submit personal statement in just three days.

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Medicine Personal Statement

📋 47 lines., 📝4,000 characters., 🏆 an opportunity to sell yourself..

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Experience Bank

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Self-Review

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Introduction

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Work Experience

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Supercurricular

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Extracurricular

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Medicine Personal Statement Review for 2023 Entry

Reviewed by experts get feedback from those who know what medical schools want to see, quantitative mark scheme used our experts use a mark scheme to ensure your personal statement is perfect, get feedback within 48 hours fast feedback to give you plenty of time to improve , personal statement importance,  “no one can determine your destiny but you. will it be easy of course not. can you do it of course you can. but it requires patience and persistence. seize this moment of crisis as your opportunity to start fresh, and live your dreams.” – les brown.

🏆An opportunity to sell yourself

The Medicine personal statement is the first time admissions tutors will assess you as an individual and not a set of grades and results, so it is important for you make a good impression.  You will have 4,000 characters (around 500 words) over 47 lines to show how you possess the qualities needed to become a doctor. You should demonstrate your suitability to study medicine, for example, by showing your commitment , team-working skills and excellent communication skills to the admissions panel. Most importantly you should explain your motivation behind studying medicine and use your relevant volunteering and online work experience to show how you have explored the career path.   

🏛️ Different universities will use it at different stages in their application process and with different weightings

Some universities do not use it at all, such as Brighton and Sussex*   and St Georges* , whilst other universities, such as Manchester* , require an alternative form similar to the personal statement but not your personal statement itself. Universities including Leicester*  use it as part of a scoring system alongside other academic components to select applicants for interview. Other universities, such as Liverpool* , use your personal statement in one of their MMI stations at interview. Your personal statement, at universities such as Hull York* , may also be used for shortlisting at any point in the application process. Similarly, at Bristol* , the personal statement may be used to differentiate between applicants with identical interview scores. It is useful to be aware of how the medical schools that you are applying to will use your personal statement.

(*More information will usually be made clear in each of the universities online admissions procedures guidance. Always check the university website for up-to-date information!)

👇 We have provided a table below to give you guidance👇

(The information on the table was accurate at time of writing)

We at The Aspiring Medics do our best to ensure our information is up to date; always check the university website for up-to-date information

🔗Useful Links:

The Experience Bank

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🏗️Build your experience bank

An experience bank is essential in order to give you the framework to base your personal statement reflections around. It will help to ensure that your personal statement is as concise as possible. Without a clear strategy or intention, it can be very easy to write waffly answers that just waste the character count as opposed to showing your realistic insight or skills that you have developed. 

💱Learning to reflect is a skill 

Learning to reflect is an essential skill as a doctor. The greater you are able to build up the habit of using the STARR technique, the better your insights will be. This will not only help you when writing your personal statement, it will also be effective for interviews at your chosen medical schools. 

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⬇️Download your FREE Experience Bank

Our FREE Experience Bank gives you a framework to help you reflect upon your answers; it is based on the Medical School's COuncil Statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine. Check it out! 

Personal Statement Tips

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💯Quality not quantity 

One of the most common questions we get from A-Level students thinking of applying for medicine is: ‘What work experience should I do?’ While work experience is very important the reassuring caveat is that you don’t necessarily need month long experience in hospital wards or surgical theatres to get into the med school of your dreams. The way you reflect and present it in your personal statement or talk about it in an interview makes all the difference!  

🏛️ Reflect using the STARR technique

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Try and consider at least all of these things:

What did you learn?

About yourself?

About medicine as a career?

About your motivations to be a doctor?)

What skills were you able to develop?

What did you observe in others that impacted you?

The way you saw people operate in the real world may have surprised you or motivated you or even just shown you an aspect of the caring professions that you hadn’t thought of before.

How did it impact your view of the medical/care based/customer focused profession?

What downsides did you observe? What are the challenges faced by the people you saw?

Med schools want students who are aware of the realities of medicine before they sign up to a long degree. After all, the students are an investment and they don’t want students who will drop out when they realise a doctor isn’t like the TV shows. Having everything written down in front of you then allows you to really pick out what stood out and what you want to talk about . Allowing you to be concise in your personal statement and clear in interviews .

What universities want to know is what you’ve learned from your work experience. Our second top tip is to sit down with a blank piece of paper and reflect on the experiences you’ve had even before you consider putting it in your personal statement. ​

💉 Relating it to Medicine

Here is where you really stand out when talking about work experience. A strong and personal link from the work experience to how it influenced your desire to be a doctor is where you really show off. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got experience in a hospital, a care home, a primary school or even a morgue - the way you relate it to medicine is what matters.

Our top tip here is don’t get bogged down in exactly what you did , procedures you saw or niche operations you shadowed - hopefully med school will teach you all of that anyway! Instead, really focus on showing or telling them what you learnt or observed and how that relates to your ambitions in a clear but concise way. If you can convince them that you can gain valuable skills and insight from work experience then your much more likely to convince them that you’re suited to their course where they hope to train you to be a doctor from time spent on a ward.

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💬 Avoid Cliches

This is a tough one and hard to judge but definitely worth thinking about. It’s a fine line that you have to walk between making sure you get across the points they want to hear but also ensuring that you stand out . In an interview, it is especially important that you don’t sound too rehearsed when discussing work experience but still give off the impression that you have reflected upon it.

👼 Tell the Truth; Do NOT lie

Make sure that what you’re saying is really true! You will always sound more genuine and be more comfortable discussing your experience if the things you say you noticed and learned are real. Don’t feel that this is a box ticking exercise where you have to be able to give examples of a doctor responding well to a mistake, or carers showing kindness and compassion , or the team working well together. Instead, talk about what genuinely stood out to you .

🗣️ Crystallise your thoughts by talking to others 

Talk to others ; not only is it a great way of great way to crystallise your thoughts to help you write your personal statement, it will also serve as good practice for practice for interviews. Whether that be friends , who may also be applying for medicine, or family or teachers, anyone that is interested will do! Just the act of talking over and being comfortable discussing your work experience will help you realise what stood out to you as well as how best to present it to others.

❌ Write a bad first draft

At first, don't worry about how good your first draft. Bullet point your ideas, put everything down and then that will then remind you of other experiences as well as help you to think about what you have learned. 

✅Use the selection criteria of medical schools and NHS values to guide you 

The medical schools literally tell you what they are looking for; it's essentially a mark scheme. Know their selection criteria inside out and ensure that you are demonstrating each quality and are fully explaining them. Useful links can be found below

🦅 Show NOT tell

Do not just list off your experiences or just mention buzz words; ensure that you are really demonstrating how you developed personally and what new insights you have now gained as a result of the experience. It is NOT a CV!

💡 Conclusion

Overall, work experience is something that most med school applicants will have and it is likely to feature in your personal statements and any interviews you are invited to attend. What is going to make you stand out is presenting it in an impactful way that highlights the things you learned from it and how it affirmed your decision to be a doctor.

Personal Statement Structure

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💬 Importance of the Introduction and Conclusion 

Writing a good introduction and conclusion is vital in achieving personal statement success. They are arguably the most important paragraphs in your Medical school application. Your introduction is your chance to make a good first impression on the admissions panel. Until now, they have only received your grades/UCAT/BMAT score, so it is a chance for them to get to know you on a personal level and demonstrate to them why you want to be a doctor and believe that you have the necessary skills and qualities to achieve this.

Your introduction should make the panel want to read on further and not simply discard your application. Your conclusion is the last impression that the panel will have of you, so you want to make it a good one! Ultimately it is after this closing paragraph when the panel will score your personal statement against their criteria and, depending on how the Medical school you have applied to uses the personal statement, their decision to interview you or not will be made. 

✍️ Writing your Introduction 

The opening paragraph of your personal statement should explain to the admissions panel what motivates you to want to study medicine. You should make it personal to yourself, rather than generic.

Instead of writing what every applicant would say (i.e. that you want to make a difference to other people's lives), make it specific to you. It could be that a particular life event sparked your interest or reading a specific book or studying a specific topic at school , for example. One of the qualities of a doctor is to act openly and honestly , so the admissions panel would rather an authentic explanation of your motivations specific to you . 

While the introduction is there to set the scene for your personal statement, it does not stand alone. The rest of your personal statement needs to match the high quality of your introduction. Similarly, if the rest of your personal statement is of a high quality, then do not stress, your introduction is bound to be of that standard too.

🔚 Writing your Conclusion

The conclusion paragraph of your personal statement should not bring any information that you have not already previously mentioned. It should highlight the important points that you have mentioned and provide an overview. We suggest that this paragraph should be short, perhaps three sentences.

As a guide you could highlight the following points:

Your positive qualities and that you believe that these would make you a suitable candidate

The perspectives and insight that you have gained about being a doctor from your volunteering and work experience 

Most importantly your passion and commitment for studying medicine

Reflecting on your Own Drafts

Writing a personal statement is a difficult but necessary part of the medical school application process, which is often partly used to select candidates for an interview. It is therefore the first chance that applicants get to become more than just a statistic to the panel, and ultimately demonstrate to them why 5 / 6 years of time and money should be invested in you .

It is a chance for applicants to show the insight into the role of the doctor that you have acquired from various work experience and volunteering placements and, crucially, that they uphold the necessary values and have the work ethic to succeed in a career of lifelong learning. 

Being the only part of the medical school application process where there is unlimited time and resources available , it is understandable that applicants put a lot of pressure on themselves to make their personal statement as perfect as possible. This article hopes to address and give advice on some common barriers that applicants might face when reviewing their own personal statement.

📇 Keeping within the Word Count 

The word count for the personal statement is 4,000 characters and 47 lines . At first this might seem a generous amount, but can quickly become a challenge. With a lot of relevant experience and skills demonstrating your capabilities and knowledge of the role of a doctor, it can be difficult to decide which to include.

A good starting point is removing any duplicated information. For example, if you have already spoken about the importance of having good teamworking skills earlier in your personal statement, you do not need to reiterate this again. Secondly, make sure that you are reflecting at every opportunity. 

The admissions panel will gain no information about an applicant from them simply listing what they did on work experience. Instead, by describing what they learnt from their work experience placement, such as “the importance of team working skills between different members of the multidisciplinary team”, the applicant has shown that they have insight into the role of a doctor.

Similarly if candidates are talking about their hobbies/extra-curricular activities they should not just state everything that they do, but should relate that to the role of a doctor. For example, saying that in their free time they “run for their county and play the piano”, although impressive is using valuable characters by not adding much to the application. Saying that they “understand that medicine can be a demanding career and am planning to continue playing the piano as a stress relief” would be a much better use of the word count.  

📇 Receiving Conflicting Advice

 It can be difficult to know which advice to take when preparing your final draft for submission. The biggest advice we can give is that it is YOUR personal statement. Ultimately it is the applicants decision what is going to represent them and be submitted to their chosen universities.

Applicants should consider the source of the advice and whether it is someone's opinion that they value and trust before changing their work. Conflicting advice can be seen in a positive way by making the applicant think more deeply about the direction that they want to take their work. 

⚠️ Taking Constructive Criticism

It can be difficult to take criticism on something that you have worked so long and hard on such as your personal statement. However it is easy to be blindsided by your own work and is important to get feedback to help you to improve. Obviously this feedback does not have to be incorporated into your work, but it is important to acknowledge the points that have been made . It is good to remember that as a doctor and medical student you will constantly be receiving feedback from colleagues , mentors and patients to help better your own practice. 

Medical Schools Council - Values

The Medical Schools Council has outlined a list of core values and attributes they expect from medical students. This is not an exhaustive list and individual schools may have some extra qualities that they're looking for. It is important for you to show that you have spent considerable time developing these skills through your Personal Statement and your Interview. It is also important for you to reflect on experiences that helped you develop these skills. These experiences can include: work experience placements, experience of paid employment, volunteer work, participation in social activities and educational experiences. 

These values have been categorized into the following:

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Personal Statement Examples

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

10 Tips for Writing a Teacher's Reference

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Imperial Medicine Personal Statement (Teesta)

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

The Positive Aspects of Medicine

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Oxford Medicine Personal Statement (Tolu)

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Cambridge Medicine Personal Statement (Zute)

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

Oxford Medicine Personal Statement (Aaron)

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The opportunity for lifelong learning in an evolving field, the chance for patient contact and a desire to deepen my understanding of the human body is what initially drew me to a career in medicine. My work experience and volunteering convinced me that medicine is a challenging yet ultimately rewarding vocation positively impacting the lives of people everyday.

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Oxford Medical Student

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By volunteering at a dementia care home for the past year, I have realised how important a holistic approach can be in improving the welfare of the residents. I felt truly rewarded while reading a book to one of the residents and to see her spirits rise for the duration of that afternoon. The experience brought home the importance of considering the emotional wellbeing of a person and how it can be just as important as their physical wellbeing. I will never forget that moment, as it filled me with such pride to have improved this lady's day which further set in stone my aspiration to do the same for other patients as a doctor.

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Bristol Medical Student

Image by Sidharth Bhatia

Completing my Silver CREST and Industrial Cadet awards I have learned how to develop my independent research skills, as well as structure projects and meet deadlines. Seeking advice and scouring websites as part of my EPQ on pain receptors, I sought to compare sources and comprehend the etymology of medical terms. Doctors continually face ethically and emotionally challenging situations which I explored first hand, writing an article for Medic Mentor on whether death should be normalised for doctors. Considering contrasting viewpoints broadened my understanding of end of life care and the duties of a doctor.

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Further to my studies, I enjoy playing several sports and pushing myself physically. I’ve completed a double marathon, Gold DofE and an ascent of Mt. Toubkal in Morocco. Most moving to me however, were my experiences volunteering in Namibia which inspired me through the impact a small group of us could have on a community. I have gained a distinction in Grade 8 piano and am proud to be a Senior Prefect, organising weekly guest lecture series alongside my leadership role. I am also the chairman at my Explorer unit; responsible for the schedule and camps throughout the year.

Image by Peter Mason

For pursuing a medical degree, the UK is my primary choice owing to its tailored courses that provide students with maximum practical exposure. The link with the NHS makes the program more research-oriented. Upon becoming a doctor, my dream is to set up a research facility for cancer.

King's College London Medical Student

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Personal Statement for Medicine: Top 5 Traits

qualities of a good doctor personal statement

In this blog, we go over the top 5 personal statement traits that admissions tutors love!

There is no guaranteed formula for success. But the following list of personal statement ‘must-haves’ comes from doctors, admissions tutors and education professionals with years of experience.

Want expert feedback on your personal statement? Get your statement reviewed by an admissions tutor!

1. Reflection

You will have heard this word a lot and rightly so. Because this is what all medical schools want to see. But what is it? Well, reflection comes not just from doing, but from thinking about what you’ve done and extrapolating learning points. View your medically-related experiences like tokens you have accumulated. You can only cash these tokens in by reflecting on them properly.

Stating in one line that you shadowed a surgeon, without speaking about any specific incidents and what you learnt from them? That’s an uncashed token. Listing off work placements but not getting into detail about individual cases? Those are uncashed tokens.

Universities don’t take uncashed tokens!

The best medical school applicants follow this three step process when speaking about work experience in their personal statement for medicine to ensure they have reflected properly:

  • Where were you and what did you do?
  • What specific incident did you see?
  • What did this teach you?

Read about what each med school looks for in your work experience

2. People who understand what they are applying to

Admissions tutors don’t want to see a personal statement for medicine that talks excessively and/or exclusively about how amazing medicine is. It can be – at times. That’s why you are applying. But it’s not all about saving lives before punching a ticket and heading home.

There are times when medicine can’t help. People die. Patients can be ungrateful. You might see suffering and not be able to stop it. You need to break bad news. Hours are long and will take over evenings and weekends.

You need to show that you understand all this – and still believe this is the right path for you! The best students manage to get across the fact that they appreciate the realities of medical school and recognise the challenges ahead.

Read about how different universities use your personal statement

3. Clarity in language and structure

You’ve been spending a lot of time on your personal statement. To you, it’s one of the most important things in your life at the moment. Sorry to break it to you, but to an admissions tutor it is one medicine personal statement in a pile of twenty.

They are tired, they are busy. The best candidates make their life easy by showcasing achievements clearly and concisely. They use short, sharp sentences, with straightforward language. And they follow a logical progressions, from motivation, to work experience, to volunteering, extracurricular and a neat conclusion.

By making your credentials jump off the page, you avoid the risk of them being missed.

Read how to write about your exploration of medicine

Always be honest. Don’t exaggerate the things you have done, especially in a medical context. This will be really obvious to admissions tutors at medical schools. And don’t feel like you need to fabricate life-changing moments that meant you simply had to be a doctor. This isn’t a prerequisite. In fact, it can create a bit of suspicion, so if that is the case for you, make sure it is well backed up.

Read about what makes a good doctor

5. People who are well-rounded human beings

Medicine is a demanding degree. We all know that. But this does not mean that medical schools want you to give up all other interests. In fact, that might be seen as a big red flag. Rather, they want people with an outlet for stress. Well-rounded human beings with other interests, like sports, hobbies or regular activities. The top medical school applicants are usually those who are also involved in other things. So, get these things across in your personal statement for medicine– preferably in relation to key qualities like teamwork.

We hope this post has been helpful.

Good luck with your personal statements!

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Learn More:

  • How Medical Schools Use Your Personal Statement
  • How to Structure a Personal Statement
  • How to Write a Personal Statement

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COMMENTS

  1. 2024 Medical School Personal Statement Ultimate Guide (220+ Examples)

    But remember that the sample personal statements you find on Student Doctor ... Medical school admissions committees look to admit individuals with qualities befitting good doctors. These qualities can be demonstrated through experiences directly related to medicine, as well as through experiences that seemingly have little to do with medicine ...

  2. Medical School Personal Statement Examples That Got 6 Acceptances

    Medical School Personal Statement Example #3. Imagine holding a baby wearing doll clothes and a diaper made of gauze because she was too small. When I was 4 years old, my sister was born 4 months prematurely, weighing only 1 pound and 7 ounces. The doctors had no idea if she would survive.

  3. 13 Qualities Of A Good Doctor (& How To Demonstrate Them)

    Teamwork. The ability to reflect. Empathy. Resilience. Respect. Ability to take responsibility. Academic ability. Dealing with uncertainty. Having worked as a doctor for a few years now, I've come across my fair share of excellent doctors, as well as a very small handful who lacked a couple of the key qualities above.

  4. 3 Medical School Personal Statement Examples [2024 Update]

    Table of Contents. But First: 7 Steps to Writing an Engaging Personal Statement. Example 1 — From the Stretcher to the Spotlight: My Journey to Becoming an Emergency Medicine Physician. Example 2 — Early Clinical Work For Empathetic Patient Care. Example 3 — Beyond the Diagnosis: The Importance of Individualized Care in Medicine.

  5. 2024 How to Write a Medical School Personal Statement (11 Steps)

    Anatomy of a Medical School Personal Statement. A personal statement has a 5,300 character maximum, about 1.5 pages of single-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font. The challenge isn't trying to fill in words; the challenge is selecting the key moments in your life that made you want to be a doctor and expressing them concisely.

  6. Medical School Personal Statement Writing Guide + Examples

    Describe how the experience influenced your decision to pursue medicine. The best personal statements tell a story about who you are. "Show, don't tell," what you've experienced — immerse the reader in your narrative, and you'll have a higher chance of being accepted to medical school. 6. Create an engaging conclusion.

  7. What Makes a Good Doctor? 7 Useful Physician Skills

    Learn about the lesser-known characteristics the best doctors share. 1. Good doctors are good communicators. "Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor," says Dr. John Madden, an Emergency Physician and Director of the Office of Career Guidance and Student Development at St. George's University (SGU) School of Medicine ...

  8. The Anatomy of a Stellar Medical School Personal Statement

    The personal statement is your chance to share your dreams. You can describe your ambitions, goals, and feelings. Medical school admissions committees care about finding a diverse, passionate, and enthusiastic group of students who want to be physicians. Outlining your goals or dreams can help them understand who you are and why you want to be ...

  9. What To Include In Medical School Personal Statement

    The best personal statements focus on the qualities that would make you a special candidate and a superb doctor. Similarly, a persuasive med school personal statement demonstrates how you are unique and why you are motivated to pursue a career in medicine. ... Show examples of what you learned about the doctor-patient relationship as well as ...

  10. How To Write Your Medicine Personal Statement

    The student started off well by talking about the qualities of a good Doctor, but they followed it up by simply claiming they are a good team player without offering the Admissions Tutor any evidence for this. As a general rule, don't put claims in your Personal Statement that are unsubstantiated.

  11. Medical School Personal Statement Advice: 8 Key Factors

    Consider choosing experiences that correlate to some of the following categories. This is by no means an exhaustive list—your own personal statement should reflect your personal experiences. Compassion/passion for patient interaction. Intellectual curiosity for medicine (academics, research, etc.)

  12. 10-Step Checklist for a Medicine Personal Statement

    10-Step Checklist For Your Medicine Personal Statement. Follow this 10-step checklist to make sure your Medicine Personal Statement is the best that it can be. 31st August 2023. Get your Medicine Personal Statement ready for submission with this checklist to make sure it meets all the criteria. 1.

  13. Medicine Personal Statement

    Here is an example of how to divide the main body of your personal statement: Interest in academia and wider reading. Work experience and voluntary commitments. Extra-curricular Activities. Remember, this is only one example. Alternatively, you could base your paragraphs on the qualities you want to demonstrate, such as: Interest in medicine ...

  14. What Are The Qualities Of A Good Doctor?

    As Dr. John Madden of St. George's University mentions, "Being a good listener is critical to being a good doctor." Effective communication with patients is key to understanding patients' issues and concerns but also to explain a diagnosis to them. When explaining a diagnosis, good communication skills are highlighted by taking into account a patient's medical knowledge so they ...

  15. 5 Tops Tips For Writing Your Personal Statement

    Problem-solving: critical thinking, analytical approach. Empathy: an ability and willingness to imagine the feelings of others and understand the reasons for the views of others. Understanding of a career in medicine: most importantly, the realities of being a doctor. Attitudes: including honesty, integrity and humility.

  16. PDF What makes a good doctor?

    ability to communicate. Every medical school will highlight the particular qualities they are looking for on their websites. You should be able to demonstrate: More information about each of these attributes is included in the Medical Schools Council's statement, which is based on the NHS values (see More help and advice).

  17. What Makes a Good Doctor "Good"?

    Implied is a heightened psychological resilience. Almost two decades ago, the British Medical Journal (BMJ, 2002) devoted an entire issue to elaborating good doctors' qualities. These included ...

  18. Personal Insight Questions

    During your Medical School interview, you'll be asked some personal insight questions that are designed to help the interviewers understand you better. These interview questions often require you to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and link your personal qualities to those of a good Doctor. The answer guides to these personal insight ...

  19. Medicine Personal Statement Examples 2024

    The personal statement is changing to a series of free text questions for 2026 entry onwards, however it remains unchanged for 2025 entry. Keep an eye on our live updates page for guidance on these changes.. Your UCAS personal statement is a chance to showcase the skills, attributes, and experiences which make you suited to studying medicine. This can be quite a daunting prospect, especially ...

  20. Medicine Personal Statement

    The Medicine personal statement is the first time admissions tutors will assess you as an individual and not a set of grades and results, so it is important for you make a good impression. You will have 4,000 characters (around 500 words) over 47 lines to show how you possess the qualities needed to become a doctor.

  21. Personal Statement for Medicine: Top 5 Traits

    Read about what makes a good doctor. 5. People who are well-rounded human beings. Medicine is a demanding degree. We all know that. But this does not mean that medical schools want you to give up all other interests. In fact, that might be seen as a big red flag. Rather, they want people with an outlet for stress.

  22. PDF Statement on the core values and

    to become good doctors. Other sources used in the development of this statement include the values set out in the NHS Constitution and the MSC's Role of the Doctor Consensus Statement. The GMC sets the outcomes for undergraduate medical education which are the skills, attitudes and behaviours that medical students should demonstrate before they

  23. Skills That Make A Good Doctor

    Empathy is the ability to understand and appreciate the emotions and feelings of others. Empathy is among the vital doctor skills. Patients and their families are often in difficult, life-changing, or stressful situations, and doctors should provide care in a way that meets both the physical and emotional needs of their patients.