A Cambridge Graduate’s Guide To Writing A Veterinary Personal Statement
With the deadline for UK vet school applications looming, many prospective students will be searching for how to write a personal statement for veterinary medicine.
Writing a personal statement and attempting to condense all your enthusiasm, work experience, and passion into 4000 words may seem daunting, but by starting early and having a framework in mind is it achievable!
In this article, I talk about how to write a great personal statement for vet school. The framework below helped me obtain four veterinary school offers– so hopefully it will be of use to you!
I have provided some prompts for each section that you can work through. Do not feel like you must stick to this (or any) rigid framework as a personal statement is, as it says on the tin, personal.
This section is quite important, as oftentimes assessors will be sifting through heaps of statements and you do not want to sound like a cliche. Writing ‘Ever since I was a little child all I ever wanted was to become a vet’ (without providing any further insight) is a statement you might want to avoid.
I urge you to delve deeper into your reasoning, finding your ‘why’. What made you want to pursue this career in the first place? Emphasize making it your personal story.
If you are feeling stuck, begin by listing down a few reasons, then move on to the next section. You want to get some ideas down on paper, then revisit them the next day with a fresh mind to reiterate them.
Prompts: What made you pick up that book about veterinary medicine? What was it about your pet that made you want to become a vet? Was there a specific incident with an animal? A person who inspired you?
In this section, each sentence should be carefully curated with an aim to boost your application.
Every sentence should serve a purpose, whether it is to highlight your achievements, your qualities, your understanding of the veterinary profession, or your passion for a particular animal.
In my personal statement, I wrote two paragraphs on my work experience, elaborating on the insights I gained from each placement and how it reinforced my decision to pursue veterinary medicine.
It is not about how cool the work experience was, but about the knowledge I gained from completing said work experience.
Discuss the lessons learned and the things which inspired or sparked an interest in you.
In my personal statement, I wrote one paragraph on extracurricular activities that I was involved in school and one paragraph on my hobbies and interests outside of school. These paragraphs were important as they demonstrated my time management skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and my ability to handle stressful situations.
This is necessary for one to cope with the challenging (but very rewarding) degree that is veterinary medicine. Vet schools tend to look for well-rounded applicants, so having hobbies that are non-veterinary related are important as you need to have strategies in place to take care of your mental and physical health.
Other attributes that are desirable in a veterinary applicant include being a team player (demonstrated by team activities) and being empathetic (demonstrated through volunteering efforts).
Prompts: On work experience: How did you feel after attending that work experience? Was it what you expected, or did you learn something new from that experience? How did it change your perception of the veterinary profession? Did it inspire you to take any further action, what did you do?
On extracurriculars and hobbies: What were you involved in and what qualities did you acquire through that activity? Did you achieve a certain milestone through that society/ sport you were involved in? How does it help prepare you for the veterinary degree?
You have written the best introduction and reiterated the main body of your personal statement countless times, what now?
Now you should drive home the main message as to why you are the best candidate for the application. There are many ways to do this.
In my personal statement, I summarized the main reasons why I was fit to pursue veterinary medicine. In your conclusion, you can also talk about a specific interest you have, or discuss the type of vet you aspire to be, as this can serve as a great conversation starter during interviews.
Here are some extra tips before you embark on your personal statement journey:
Start writing early so that you have time to refine and reiterate your drafts before the deadline. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, so writing a couple of sentences a day and listing down your ideas in bullet points is better than nothing.
Get it proofread by a teacher, a person in the veterinary or medical profession or someone whom you trust. A fresh pair of eyes can help ensure your personal statement reads well, has the correct terminology, and is free from grammar or spelling mistakes.
Ensure that you demonstrate an understanding of the veterinary profession and convey that you know that it is not all about animals but also about people too.
Finally, remember that it does not have to be perfect!
Your personal statement is only part of an application and that the assessor will be considering your grades, work experience and interview as well.
Have faith, believe in yourself, and do your best! The application process may be intimidating, but it is worth it to embark on a meaningful and rewarding career in the veterinary profession.
For more on vet school life, check out May Yean’s blog here, or check our guest blog on: ‘Life as a vet student: why it’s all worth it – with YouTuber Jess Cliffe’.