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4 Useful Tips on Writing Your Personal Statement or Essay

Written by Czech Hospital Placements on Friday, October 20, 2017

personal statement, essay, argument, shadowing, committee, AMCAS, UCAS

The key to be genuine once expressing your ideas, opinions, and thoughts in the personal statement lies in its very name. You need to keep it personal. It is your time to present how hard you've worked and that the healthcare is not for you just one of several options but the ONLY one. There is nothing else that can help you more to stand out then being authentic about your experiences, your knowledge of the field, and about the things that motivate you. When you are authentic, you have simply no competition.

The personal statement or essay is one of the most important parts of your application, and also one of the hardest ones. Why? Great results on exams will not guarantee you an invitation for an interview. On the other hand, good results and a terrific personal statement could. So take it as the opportunity to show to the acceptance committee why you are THE CANDIDATE they must invite. You want to answer two vital questions in it: why do you want to become a healthcare professional and why are you the best choice for the university or college?

At first, remember who the readers of your personal statement are. The members of the committee see hundreds or even thousands of applications, and they are looking for something real, authentic, and unique. It is time for you to show your personality, your passion and your commitment to the career that you want to do for the rest of our life. Be direct about why you have decided to be a healthcare professional. To a sentence: "I was always interested in becoming a doctor (nurse, dentist, etc.)" or "My parents are doctors so I want to be one as well" without anything else of substance, is very difficult to buy into. Something or someone must have happened to you that made you decide on a career in healthcare. So what made you make that choice? 

Secondly do not simply list your activities and accomplishments. Again, they receive a lot of general works. They are looking for someone who has observed professionals in action by volunteering in nursing or elderly care home, working with adults or children with disabilities, or having a work shadowing experience. That person should recognize the qualities that the professionals must have on the basis of his or her own observations and conclusions. During your volunteering experience or job shadowing, focus on what helps the professionals to work effectively with patients and other members of the hospital team. There is another reason why they want you to have this kind of experience. They need to feel that you will not give up when things get tough, and this is your only chance to show them that you know what the reality of the profession looks like. You need to know what you are applying for!

Another point to bring up is how long you were participating in your volunteer or shadowing work, and what you saw while you were there. Did you interact with patients? Did you talk with the healthcare professionals about all of the aspects of their work or specialty? What was the most moving moment of your experience? Do not just say that you shadowed a doctor in general surgery, tell them specifically what procedures you saw and what you gained from the experience.

Some of you are perhaps worried that you do not have enough of this kind of experience. Don't give up! Apart from your clinical experience, the committee also looks at your activities outside of the school or hospital. What are your hobbies? How was your school or college life? For a healthcare professional, it is also important to have communicative skills and the ability to work in a team. Show that you have that! Tell them about social activities in which you have participated. Do not forget that you always have to link it to the course you are applying for. Why is it relevant to your field of study? Remember that your accomplishments and commitment are not too small to be in a personal statement. You just have to be able to connect it to your field of study. Try to build up piece by piece your argument to prove your interest! That is what personal recommendation is for.

For US (AMCAS): You are supposed to write 2 essays. Your first essay can have up to 5300 characters and is sent to all schools you are applying to. On the other hand, the secondary essays are sent to each school individually. Do not just copy them to all schools who have requested a second essay. Otherwise, you could forget to erase some of the information from the previous school. In the second essay, focus on why you want to study at this particular school as well.

For UK (UCAS): You write only 1 personal statement. This is sent to all schools you are applying for (the maximum is 4). As the job review is only for paid jobs, you should write a voluntary or unpaid work, study programs, and work shadowing experiences in the personal statement. Do not forget to be specific about them.

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