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Advice on constructing a Personal Statement and Referee info

Discussion in 'Personal Statements and UCAS forms' started by Kev, Jul 3, 2004.

  1. Kev

    Kev Guest

    The following information is from the University of Manchester medical faculty website. I have posted it on here as Manchester has a new website (they merge with UMIST in September 2004) and when the old site closes I suspect this info may disappear for ever, so I am preserving it for future generations :wink:

    I think it is probably some of the best advice around in regards to setting out your personal statement for medical school. It also contains valuable information for referees too (believe me many referees need advice!). This is what the Admissions Tutor and their team say they want to see, so it can only boost your chances if you follow their advice!

    The information is equally valid for all the other medical schools. I hope you find it useful.

    Personal Statement

    Reasons for choosing medicine.
    This may appear obvious to you. It is not obvious to us. The Admissions Co-ordinator and the Admissions Tutors have not met you and know nothing about you. It is vital that you tell us why you wish to be a doctor. Do not be afraid of apparently ‘trite’ comments such as a desire to help people or a desire to care. There is no ‘correct’ answer to this question but not to address it at all would seriously weaken your application.

    Amount of work experience in a caring role
    We are not looking for necessarily medically-related work experience, such as shadowing a GP or consultant. Such experience can be difficult to obtain for students under the age of 18. However, we are interested in caring experience which may or may not be medically-related. Tell us how you got involved in such work, how long you have been doing it, how much time you spend each week and, most importantly, what you have gained from it.

    Interests/hobbies.

    Medicine is about being able to communicate. True communication calls for some shared life experiences and empathy with others. Hence the student who is totally absorbed in his/her studies to the exclusion of almost all else is less likely to make a good doctor. Tell us about your interests and hobbies. Tell us why you pursue them. How long have you been involved? Have you achieved any outside recognition [e.g awards, certificates, etc..]. The Medical School is aware that some students may have more opportunities than others to pursue a wide range of interests. We are not so much concerned with exactly what you do in your spare time but that you have some spare time and that you do something with it.

    Presentation and style
    We would prefer your personal statement to be typewritten. If not, it should be handwritten legibly in black ink. Please remember that the form is photocopied down to half its size before it is seen by the Admissions Tutors and Admissions Co-ordinator. It must thus be legible after this is done. Applications will be marked down for careless errors of grammar and spelling.

    Reference


    This likely to be written by your Head Teacher, College Principal or the head of your year/Form Tutor. Mature students should approach an academic supervisor whenever possible, a ‘character reference’ is not sufficient. We do, however, want to know what the writer of the reference thinks about you as a whole person, not merely about your academic achievements and potential. Please ensure that whoever is writing the reference sees a copy of these guidelines.

    The areas in which we require information comprise:

    Commitment to medicine
    Whilst the length of time that a student has been committed to a medical career may be relevant here, it is not the only factor. Equally important are the steps that the student has taken to confirm this commitment [work experience in a caring role – see above, talking to medical and paramedical professionals and even work experience in other areas which have convinced thestudent that those areas are ‘not for them’]. Some insight into the student’s awareness of the realities, advantages and disadvantages of a medial career, would be useful here.

    Staying power/perseverance
    This section could equally be titled ‘commitment to academic study’. Whilst we are obviously interested in whether the student works at an appropriate level of intensity, inputs work on time and is reliable, some insight into the students’ interest and enthusiasm for the subject would also be useful. ‘Late developers’ should not be disadvantaged by this process. We are keen to hear about students who have blossomed in their interest and commitment relatively late in their school career or as a graduate or other mature applicant.

    Communication skills
    The ability to communicate is essential to the practice of medicine. However, communication is not merely about articulation and vocabulary, but it is also about listening. Thus whilst we are interested in students’ contributions to class discussion and extra curricular activity, we would be pleased to hear about how the student relates to others, in particular the less gifted students or younger students, and how well they accept criticism.

    Humanity/humility
    There is clearly some overlap here with ‘communication’ but information in this section should primarily deal with how the referee feels about the student’s ability to care and empathise [is there practical evidence of this?], and how the student sees him/herself in the school and wider community or in the case of mature applicants in the workplace or in higher education.

    Intellectual potential
    This is not only evidenced by GCSE grades and achieved or predicted A-level grades or degrees. It is important for the referee to tell us about ‘late academic developers’ e.g. the student who achieves the bare minimum GCSE grade ‘A’ passes but is likely to blossom at ‘A’ level and beyond. Other evidence of intellectual potential beyond the mere ability to pass exams is important here.

    Leadership qualities
    These may be displayed within the school or in the wider community. Appointment as a prefect is an example. However, the University is
    aware that not all schools operate a Prefect system. Being a Prefect of course does not necessarily imply good leadership skills, and further evidence for such skills should be offered in this section. The opinion of the referee is important. Where a school or college has had little opportunity to assess this area, we would encourage the referee to obtain independent information from other sources.

    Team work
    These skills may be demonstrated either within or outside school. We recognise that not all students have sporting aptitudes, but participating in sport is not the only way in which students can excel in this area. Social and charity involvement would be relevant here as would membership of a team in class practices, field trips, hikes, expeditions etc. will also be important. Once again, Manchester Medical School recognises that not all schools and colleges will have equal opportunities to assess teamwork skills and therefore where such opportunities do not exist within school, we strongly encourage the referee to obtain independent information from other sources.

    Mitigating Circumstance
    The Medical School strongly recommends that in addition to all the above sections, any mitigating circumstances which may affect not only academic performance but any aspect of the information contained in the UCAS form should be included in the referee’s report. These may be personal or family illness,other family circumstances, change of teachers during a course, problems with school facilities, etc., etc. These will be taken into account in the admissions process at all stages.


    Reproduced with permission from the Medical Admissions Office, University of Manchester.
     
    #1 Kev, Jul 3, 2004
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2005
  2. balti123

    balti123 New Member

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    hey kev,,,, i will b applying for med nex year (hopefully) if everything goes to plan. so i would like to thank you for the information you ve given. I ve found it very useful so once again thankxxxxxxxxxx.
     
  3. Cat

    Cat New Member

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    I think I might take a copy of that referance information so that my form tutor can get my reference better next time, thanks Kev.
     
  4. blackjack

    blackjack New Member

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    hi
    i just wanted to know if i do include everything into my p.s, how long shud it be?
     
  5. correctomondo

    correctomondo New Member

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    your ps can only be 47 lines long (when you transfer it from word onto the ucas form it gets shortened by about 3-5 lines though). remember its quality not quantity so don't think you have to use all 47 lines.
     
  6. tripty

    tripty New Member

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    hello kev. juz wanna thank ya a lot. it waz really thoughtful of u to jot down those informations. i made a copy of it and i know it will be dead helpful 4 me while making my p.s.
    love,tripty.
     
  7. Saagar

    Saagar New Member

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    Has anyone gt any Personal Statements which we can see, that have been accepted onto a medical course? It really would benefit us to see examples! thanks
     
  8. The Messiah

    The Messiah New Member

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    It wouldn't, because personal statements are personal. Just type up what you can and send them privately to different member. They'll be more than happy to help you.....
     
  9. cynical one

    cynical one New Member

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    hi! thanks for the info. it was really useful.nice of you to post it.
     
  10. dandelionfluff

    dandelionfluff New Member

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    47 lines

    how much detail do they really want about hobbies/interests etc? i play 3 instruments, am in practically every band in school, play hockey, basketball, do d of e, debating, did world challenge and all that-but how much is actually relevant?

    i don't want it to just sound like a list, and i need room for other things (why medicine, why me, work experience etc).

    another question (sorry)- how much work exp do i need. i've done some work shadowing at various places (gp, neurosurgeon, radiologist), i worked in a hospital for a bit and i help at brownies and since quite recently an old folks' home. i also went on medlink... does this help show interest or is it again irrelevant?

    thanks
    (sorry for all the questions)
     
  11. Babli

    Babli New Member

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    can u suggest a ratio for medicine related: other achievements?
     
  12. tripty

    tripty New Member

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    hi babli
    u got AAAABB ???????wow............
     
  13. Babli

    Babli New Member

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    thats in scottish highers so its not v. good.
     
  14. jay-mob

    jay-mob New Member

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    Well depends, you may get an interview at dundee, aberdeen or st andrews, the glasgow and edinburgh medical school are harder but give it a try, if you have these grades in science related subjetcs, if you are doing advanced higher this year its even a bonus.

    I did four advanced highers but you don't need so many, just two should be fine, minimum one shows your enthusiams towards deepening your knowledge in the fields.

    babli if you got any questions pm me.
     
    #14 jay-mob, Aug 26, 2005
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2005
  15. pilly84

    pilly84 New Member

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    Dandelionfluff -

    It is fine to mention your instruments etc in a bit of a list (I play 3 too) but I think the most important thing is to say what you have learnt from it all e.g. - teamwork from playing in an orchestra. As for relevance - EVERYTHING is relevant. You aren't at medical school yet so they aren't expecting everything that you do to be medically based. If you think of the qualities doctors need (e.g. communication skills), you can relate loads of things you have done (but aren't necessarily anything to do with medicine) to them.

    Your sections on why medicine and work experience need to be a bit more substantial than the rest. As an idea, I remember in my ps (and in quite a few of the others I've seen) why medicine and work experience/voluntary work tend to be longish paragraphs and the rest fits in with the 47 lines limit. I'm sorry I couldn't be anymore vague but I don't want you to think that you HAVE to stick to these guidelines.

    As for work experience - its not the amount you do, its what you gain from it. Make sure you point out in your ps what you learnt not only about medicine but also about the NHS, teamwork, stress (lol!) etc. Hospital, Brownies, old folks' home - its all good. The point is, you didn't actually have to be there but you still turned up - again it is important to mention what you gained from all of this. You could also mention what you think you could offer the medical profession. Really sell yourself!

    Hope that helps

    Pilly
     
  16. Kev

    Kev Guest

    Try and avoid making lists, it uses too much space and sounds dull. Never bullet point. All those experiences are great but what's important is what YOU got out of doing them, what YOU learnt and how they will help YOU in your future.

    Good luck, writing the PS was the hardest part of the sdmissions process I found.
     
  17. Babli

    Babli New Member

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    thx 4 all your help. wish me good luck.
     
  18. pilly84

    pilly84 New Member

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    Good luck! :)
     
  19. samed

    samed Member

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    AS i am taking a gap year i will be continuing with my voluntary work. However i have done a fair bit and i have 4 paragraphs about each placement and what i learned at each one, is that ok?
     
  20. mysterious

    mysterious New Member

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    im kinda stuck. as a mature applicant, im applying as an individual. my ref is old tutor from uni. the ref section- when i viewed it as a printerable version, it says DO NOT SEND THIS PRINTOUT TO UCAS, wat does tht mean? where AM i meant to send it to?
    some1 help pleaseee!!
     

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