With UCAS applications around the corner, thousands of dental applicants around the UK & across the globe are starting the laborious process of scripting & redrafting their personal statement, which makes up a big part of a dental application.
Below, we’ve created a guide for you to share with potential dental applicants, to give them an essential guide to creating a professional, structured & strong personal statement.
You’re finally ready to apply for dentistry! After hours of work experience, weeks of deliberation and months of planning the moment has suddenly arrived – all you have to do now is write a personal statement to show universities what a valuable asset you would be to their fine dental institution.
But what do you write about? How do you make yourself stand out from thousands of other candidates competing for the few spaces in the small number of dental schools that exist? (There are only 13 undergraduate dental schools in the UK, usually with less than 100 spaces per dental school.)
It is normal for a personal statement to be completed after many drafts – keep on improving it and pruning away any unnecessary content until it is gold standard. Writing a personal statement can be a daunting task, especially when applying for one of the most competitive courses in the world. There is no need to panic though, below is a 5 step guide to writing your personal statement, with examples.
- Basic reasons why you wish to pursue a career in dentistry
- Work experience and what you learned about dentistry
- Extracurricular achievements
- Academic achievements
- Conclusion (Optional)
PRO TIP: Make sure you keep it relevant to the first point throughout the statement! Having weeks of work experience and being a high flyer is not enough – you must keep referring back to how these have caused you to desire a career in dentistry and how these would make you a competent dental student.
1. Basic reasons why you wish to pursue a career in dentistry:
- When did your interest begin? “My interest in dentistry began when I… visited my dentist as a small child/did work experience in year 11/had to receive orthodontic care.” When did you actually decide you wanted to become a dentist? Be honest here – admissions tutors would frown on you if your passion for teeth began before you had developed your own.
- How does the career attract you? “What really appealed to me was… the amazing manual dexterity required/the artistic aspects of the career/the ability of the dentist to alleviate immediate pain.” Keep this relevant to dentistry, there are plenty of careers where you can help people, such as medicine, nursing, teaching, etc
- How would you be as a dentist? “I feel like I would thrive in a career which… would allow me to treat oral pain/has artistic and scientific aspects to it/enables me to have such a positive effect on so many people, daily.” Make sure you don’t mention money, or any similar rewards you believe dentists could earn from their job.
2. Work experience and what you learned about dentistry
- Where did you do your work experience? “I observed dentists at… a general dental practice/a community dental practice/a dental hospital.”
- What did you learn from your work experience? “I learnt about… the extreme precision required when treating caries with fillings/the communication skills required to educate patients about oral health/the importance of teamwork to perform patient centred care.” Ensure you focus not just on how much work experience you’ve undergone or what you’ve seen – but also what you’ve gained from the whole experience.
- How did this develop a further interest in dentistry? “The care shown by the dentist I shadowed… inspired me to become a regular reader of the BDJ/motivated me to search the internet about caries/encouraged me to volunteer with a health-related charity.” Show that you have gained something by shadowing a dentist and you understand what the job entails.
3. Extracurricular achievements – Anything which demonstrates the qualities of a good dentist, such as teamwork skills, communication, manual dexterity, hard work, compassion and leadership. Examples include:
- Sports/music/drama etc – demonstrate commitment
- Role in school/society – demonstrate leadership and teamwork
- Volunteering – demonstrate compassion
4. Academic achievements – Perhaps you achieved gold in a chemistry/maths/biology challenge/olympiad (or any other subject!) Were you ever commended for a project you undertook? Maybe you write a blog or for your school newspaper in your spare time? Try and demonstrate that you not only have achieved very high grades (GCSEs, A-levels etc), but you are an intellectual in numerous other ways. A good way to demonstrate this could be to write about an article you read or dental related topic you studied, but if this is untrue it is better not to include it so you don’t get caught out at an interview.
5. Conclusion – Many personal statements end in a concluding sentence or two, either summarising what has already been stated, or as a last ditch attempt to reach 4000 characters. Personally, I did not write a conclusion and would advise against it as I felt as though I could use the space more effectively elsewhere. However, if you do feel as though it would enhance your personal statement, try not to make it too cheesy or pretentious (e.g My adoration of the oral cavity/structure of braces/teeth has led me to this noble path of dentistry – I hope to join you in your fine institution and ultimately own 90% of dental surgeries in the country.)
- Try not to impress the admissions tutors with long, obscure words from dictionary.com or thesaurus.com. (On a side note: Never google translate an essay for your French/Spanish/German homework) Admissions tutors are human too. Many of them will simply ignore the sentence; they do not have time to pick up a dictionary for you.
- Keep sentences at an appropriate length. Excessive dashes, colons or exclamation marks are not advisable.
- Never use slang.
- Don’t sound self-obsessed. Starting every sentence with “I” is an easy habit to fall into.
- Stick to dentistry. If you care so much about ridding the universe of disease, death and illness why aren’t you applying for nursing/medicine or any other field in healthcare?