Medicine at Cambridge
UCAS Personal Statement
My initial attraction to medicine was the ability to study and apply my interests in science to real life situations. However, the indisputable impact of doctors within society extends further from curing illness. My placement shadowing an anaesthetist team at UCLH led me to recognise the need for excellent clarity and communication in healthcare. A miscommunication in surgery led to delays and unexpected problems, but I was inspired by how quickly the team resolved the issue. The resilience displayed was admirable, reinforcing my desire to pursue a career where a person's humanity is just as important as medical knowledge.
The academic rigour required from the course excites me, especially since attending a medicine residential at Trinity College, Cambridge. Attending lectures on different aspects of biology showed me that I was particularly interested in cancer and treatments. A taster day at UCL's biochemical engineering exposed me to a relatively new treatment, CAR-T therapy, which applied my knowledge of T-Cells from immunology in biology to an application in medicine. Tutoring has developed my communication. Working with young children and assisting year 11s made me adaptable in information relay. My bilingual background refined these skills by translating for parents. Reconstructing information into another language is a principle applied in medicine: doctors must communicate differently to patients and colleagues; they should reassure those from non-clinical backgrounds highlighting the interpersonal skills alongside clinical knowledge required. I have worked with children with special educational needs, particularly autism: a condition causing extreme stress at the slightest discomfort. Supporting their education has taught me empathy and patience.
My work with First Give meant I could help the charity "Victim Support". Learning of people's traumatising experiences yet being unable to change anything reflected how doctors could feel helpless. Kalanithi's "When Breath Becomes Air" explores how the compassion to support a patient through a tough time is most important and further reinforced my desire to pursue a career where I could make a similar emotional impact. To gain a rounded insight of doctors' daily lives, I observed ward rounds at the Royal Free Hospital. I met a patient due a cystectomy being questioned to assess fitness for surgery. Recognising the difficulty to retrieve accuracy with qualitative responses, the questioning for more specific history was insightful. The analytical skills honed through my study of English Literature were crucial when collating patient symptoms to reach a diagnosis.
Contributing to my local community, one of my proudest achievements was the establishment of a project to bridge the generational barrier gap between the elderly and the youth by running various activities. By delegating responsibilities in our team, we pitched to a judges' panel at City Hall, securing the funding of £1500 to realise our idea. Coming up with new ideas is pivotal in experimental medicine as shadowing a PhD student at King's College London helped me understand processes behind treatments administered to patients. Specifically, research was conducted into a HIV cure with proteins acting as inhibitors to the enzymes required by the virus to use host DNA to replicate, through western blotting techniques. I wanted to pursue this degree as it is an ever-changing field where I will constantly learn new discoveries from the forefront of scientific research changing approaches to medicine.
My diligence, innovation and strong academic background make me well suited to a medical degree but my experiences offering empathy and support within clinical and non-clinical settings demonstrate my will to become a compassionate doctor.
Behind the Statement
How did you make start on your personal statement or begin planning?
I started off by writing down a list of all of the experiences, insight days/events and books I had read relating to my course. I then ensured to group them into categories depending on what skills I gained from each experience- for example teamwork, research or empathy. This ensured that I would focus on these skills when writing my personal statement and made them stand out.
How did you decide what experiences to include in your personal statement? What did you cut out?
As clinical experience is quite important in a medicine application, I made sure to prioritise these. As well as this, I ensured to include any experiences where I was able to demonstrate the key skills required in the medical field, such as empathy, teamwork or communication. The main thing I considered when choosing what to include is making sure that it demonstrates my skills and how I have developed them in relation to the course, rather than just stating a fact.
How did you get these experiences in the first place?
The clinical work experience in my opinion was the hardest to get. The way I went about this is emailing consultants in all the hospitals near me and explaining my position and if they have any work experience available. As they are very busy, it was quite common that I did not get an answer. However, I had to be quite persistent and this meant that I finally got answers from a couple of places. It is also important to search further out. Although you might have to travel a little, it will make it easier to find a place if you leave more options open.
How did you structure your personal statement?
As mentioned briefly above, I tried to structure my personal statement based on the skills obtained from each experience.
How did you decide on an introduction for your personal statement?
I made sure to begin my personal statement with what attracted me to the course and why I wanted to do it. I also made sure to include an example straight from the beginning of my personal statement to back up these opinions.
How did you decide on a conclusion for your personal statement?
My conclusion was quite short as I was running out of characters but I made sure to reiterate the main reasons I wanted to pursue a degree in medicine. I believe using the rule of three to summarise the reasons creates a short but impactful ending.
What do you think are the strengths of your personal statement?
I believe the main strength of my personal statement is that I made sure to demonstrate the skills or knowledge taken from each experience and link it back to the degree to show how it was relevant, rather than just state these. Also, I made sure to include the academic research I was interested in and how I expanded my knowledge in this, rather than just focusing on the clinical side which is important to demonstrate that I would enjoy the degree as well as the career afterwards.
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