Gaining in a place in medical school requires more than strong academic ability. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they possess a range of skills and attributes that are required to study medicine. For more information on these skills and attributes, the Medical Schools Council's Selecting for Excellence report has produced a Statement on the core values and attributes need to study medicine.
In order for you to demonstrate this to us and set yourself apart from all other applicants, you need to submit an excellent personal statement. All Personal Statements will be reviewed prior to interview invites being sent out. If you are invited to interview, your Personal Statement will be assessed during the interview.
We recommend that you structure your Personal Statement to cover the following three areas:
Prepare a draft of your Personal Statement before completing the UCAS form:
- Tell us all about yourself, why you want to study medicine; your hopes for your career.
- Rather than just list all the work experience that has been undertaken, it is more revealing if you can tell us what you have learned about a medical career and its implications.
- If you have had difficulty in undertaking research, eg there are no medical placements available for you locally, then you should inform us of these difficulties and concentrate on researching your career in other ways.
Applicants should be aware when writing their personal statement that UCAS uses software to detect any evidence of plagiarism. Should plagiarism be detected, the application will be withdrawn from the selection process.
The following are suggestions on how you might address the non-academic requirements for medicine.
When considering a career in medicine, you should:
- Research to confirm your ideas
- Discuss your options with career advisors
- Get a feel for life as a doctor
A good personal statement will demonstrate:
- Attempts to experience the work of a doctor (the day to day involvement)
- Attempts to research the training involved for a career in medicine (both at university and after qualifying)
- Understanding of the level of commitment required (the 'highs' and 'lows' of being a doctor)
This can be achieved by:
- Job shadowing (observing GPs and/or Hospital doctors at work)
- Talking with doctors (and medical students) about their lives, careers, future plans etc.
- Reading literature regarding recent medical breakthroughs, newspaper articles etc.
- Choose your schools for positive reasons, having found out as much about different schools' curricula, facilities, clinical attachments, location etc. as possible. You may be asked to justify your choice at interview. Your research should include use of university websites, prospectuses and leaflets; discussions with medical students and doctors
- Contact Medical Admissions departments, as criteria for admission may vary between schools, as might individual admissions processes
- Visit the medical school to ensure you are making a suitable choice. The appeal of chosen institutions may well be confirmed or dismissed by the student who has spent some time exploring the Medical School site and facilities, and questioning staff and undergraduate students
- Attend Medical School Open Days, which may tell you a lot about the ethos of that particular school
Some examples of core qualities that a good doctor might have include:
- Good communication skills
- Evidence of concern for the welfare of others
- Demonstration of being trustworthy and honest
A good Personal Statement will demonstrate:
- What you think a doctors 'core qualities' are and how you display these
This can be achieved by:
- Gain an appreciation of the concerns of patients for example the disabled and the elderly.
- Undertaking (paid/unpaid) work of a caring nature
- Undertaking work which benefits school colleagues
- Be involved in caring/charity groups at school
- Personal experience of using "people skills" in social/work situations
- Develop your sense of social awareness and demonstrate you can shoulder responsibilities:
- Continue to be involved with school life: clubs, mentoring, buddy and anti-bullying campaigns etc.
- Undertake paid part-time work with the public
- Recommended Reading - For further information regarding core qualities of doctors, you might find it useful to read the GMC's Good Medical Practice (2013)
Show you are an all-rounder: doctors' lives are busy and challenging and time management is very important:
- Work hard at school
- Enjoy your free time to the full
Demonstrate you are able to work in teams, and are able to assume different roles within the team:
- Undertake leisure, sporting, creative activities
- Activities at school
- Activities outside school
- Attitude to colleagues
- Ability to participate fully in school life and help others to do so
- School honours and prizes.
An annual programme of workshops are delivered in Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness. These include;
- Careers in Health (S3 Grampian/S4 Highland): a general introduction to Health careers but with certain activities specifically geared to Medicine.
- So You Want to be a Doctor? (S4 Grampian / S5 Highland); A day of hands-on Clinical Skills activities led by clinicians and other health professionals.
- Medicine and Medical Science (S5 Grampian / S5 Highland): a day-conference style event at which doctors in a range of specialities give presentations about their work.
- Talking about Careers in Medicine (S5 Moray only) a day-conference style event at which doctors in a range of specialities give presentations about their work.
More specific support is provided for Reach school pupils in S6 who are planning an application to Medicine in a series of three workshops: How to write a Personal Statement; UKCAT practice; and Mock Multiple Mini-Interviews.
Medical student ambassadors are recruited and trained to provide support to Reach schools. A team of 2/3 students establish a comfortable relationship with specific schools and where possible the team goes into school to give:
- Motivational talks to pupils (own experience of admissions and undergraduate experience).
- Structured advice about work experience/voluntary work/other activities that will enrich an application.
- Advice on writing a UCAS Personal Statement, Interview process etc.
- Email contact and liaison.
There is also NHS work experience schemes, Doctors at Work, run by both NHS Grampian and NHS Highland, which takes place in the summer months, for school pupils at the end of S5, who are preparing for an application to medicine. There are also some places on this scheme for local graduates.
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