How can I prove that applying for medicine is my OWN decision?
The first time I became interested in medicine was by watching my father at work.
He is a GP and has been my main inspiration.
I have admired his work since being a young child and some of my work experience also includes attending his clinics.
I’m worried that if I’m honest and include my experiences with my father in my personal statement, it will look as though I’ve been pressured into becoming a doctor to follow my father into medicine.
I’ve never been pressured into medicine by my dad but how can I avoid giving that impression in my personal statement??
This is a common concern of many children of doctors who assume that if they apply to follow in their parents footsteps people will assume they’ve been pressured into doing this by Dr Mum or Dad.
There is a short and a long answer to this problem.
The short answer is that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. As long as you submit a reasonable and balanced personal statement, nobody on an admissions panel is going to worry about whether you’ve been pressured by your parents to study medicine.
The facts are that doctors are more likely to discourage their children from following their footsteps into a difficult and stressful career.
In fact non-medical parents are often much more likely to pressure their children into medicine than medics.
OK, now for the long answer.
If you are especially clumsy about how you write your personal statement, you may give a strong impression of having been overly encouraged into medicine from a very young age by your pushy medical parent. Very few medical applicants are unwise enough to do this but I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm to point out some obvious stuff.
1. Don’t say that your medical parent has been your main and only inspiration for pursuing a medical career.
You can say that they were an early inspiration but do show that you have left the comfort of your parental embrace and sought out experiences for yourself.
Which of these sounds more convincing?
“My inspiration to study medicine comes from my mother who tended to her patients day and night, tirelessly. My dream in life would be to emulate her character and contribute to humanity as she did. “
“An early inspiration towards medicine came from my mother who worked as a rural doctor in difficult circumstances. Over recent months I have organised a series of work experience placements that have shown me many other aspects of medicine, including GP in an inner city and general surgery in a teaching hospital. My experiences have all been inspiring and I have enjoyed the opportunity to experience the huge breadth of career options within medicine…”
I hope you agree that the second one is better.
2. Don’t declare every unfair advantage you’ve had.
Undoubtedly you will have had more of an idea about the work of a doctor simply by being in a medical family. We know you’ve had a head start in some ways and that’s OK, as long as you haven’t exploited your situation to disadvantage everyone else.
“Through my fathers colleagues, I was fortunate to be given work experience in…..”
That doesn’t sound very fair does it?
3. Give some intelligent insights.
OK, so you are a doctors son or daughter and you are applying for medicine. I think you really should have something interesting to say about what it was like growing up or perhaps what unique insights into medicine you obtained, or even how the experience will better inform your life and career in the future. Remember that many of the people reading your statement and interviewing you will be doctors but also parents and will be fascinated to read about this sort of thing.
“Growing up in a medical family gave me some insights into the level of commitment required in a medical career and I distinctly remember my father having to leave a family dinner on numerous occasions to attend an emergency. I feel I have some understanding of the importance of work-life balance in a medical career as well as the need for an understanding partner!”
4. Don’t be overly paranoid.
As stated in the short answer at the start, don’t over-think this issue and nobody else will either. Your situation is not unique, many other applicants and many of the admissions panel will come from medical families.
Historically (ie only 20-30 years ago) it was not unusual for a medical father to phone the admissions panel before his sons interview, or for a medical school to look favourably at the application of a daughter of a previous graduate. Today this sort of unfair influence is completely unacceptable but there are many older doctors who remember that era very well indeed.
In conclusion, find something else to stress about and of course, feel free to email us about it!
Best of luck!
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