Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Personal Statements and Work Experience

So one of the main things that anyone wanting to attend university will be freaking out slightly about, will be personal statements. Over the last week or so i have really been looking into “how to write a PS”, looking at other peoples examples and keeping a check on the Student Room Forums. At the moment, it is application time for the second years wanting to do medicine, dentistry, veterinary and, for some, law.

When it comes to a PS one thing I have heard being said over and over again is “it’s not what you've done, it’s what you’ve learned”. This basically means, it doesn't matter if you shadowed the country’s best surgeon for a day or whether you’ve volunteered in a care home for six months- its what knowledge you gain and how you develop as a person because of the experience. In actual fact; the person who volunteered for six months will probably be more attractive to application tutors as this shows commitment.
If you did get to see open heart surgery as part of your work experience; great! You will always remember something like that, but it doesn't really matter; you will have had no idea what was going on so how does this really give you an advantage? The fact that you were lucky when it came to applying for work experience, doesn’t mean anything about you. And the fact that you may have been able to practice some clinical skills won't give you any advantage over others applying. If you need to know something like that you will be taught it when you get to medical school! In reality, if you did get to practice some clinical skills, you probably weren’t qualified to do them; so why shout about it?! If you do mention a procedure you have seen, the chances are you will be asked about it in your interview; are you really going to be prepared for this? Having pretty much no knowledge of what is actually going on?

There are loads of different things that i have looked into for work experience, and if i am honest; i’ve not been very proactive about it :/ But here are a few of the most obvious places to start.

Things that could count towards work experience:
  • GP surgery (but definitely not your own! They will most likely throw your application away before they’ve even read it! This is mainly because of confidentiality reasons)
  • Charity shops
  • Beavers/cubs/scouts/brownies
  • Pharmacy
  • Hospice
  • Physiotherapy department
  • Care homes

The list could really go on forever. I have volunteered as a young leader at a local beaver group for nearly two years now, and i have recently started working in a pharmacy. They both are completely different fields of work experience but have both helped me to develop skills essential to being a doctor.

So the moral of the story? Try to get a few different placements for a longer period of time; or else you could look uncommitted and fickle.
And it doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you will be able to gain some personal skills and knowledge from them and be able to draw upon these during an least thats what i have been told :)

These are two pretty good examples of a personal statement that i found whilst i was meant to be doing a biology essay on stem cells- at least it wasn’t a complete waste of time!

Number 1- Tries to include humor- being an applications tutor must be a little bit boring so make your statement stand out.

Number 2- A little bit wordy and needs to show more of what he learnt from work experience, not actually what he did, but quite interesting.

One other thing- The Student Room. I literally live and die by the website, and i would highly recommend that anyone wanting to apply for uni creates an account. It has everything you could ever need to know about anything to do with being a student.
Here is a page all about writing a personal statement for medical school. Have a quick look if you have the time.

Anywho, have fun writing a big long essay about how great you are!!

Peace out and much loves, Lottie <3

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