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Veterinary Medicine Personal Statements Student Room

If you're applying to study veterinary science, a personal statement will be just one part of your application. Chances are you will also have to fill out a work experience questionnaire, do a test and possibly go to an interview as well.

"The work experience questionnaire is there to check that the student meets our minimum work experience requirements," says Vikki Cannon, head of admissions and recruitment at the Royal Veterinary College.

Some courses don't even look at the personal statement. Dr Kieron Salmon, director of admissions at the University of Liverpool, says: "In our experience, very few personal statements are 'personal'. They read very similarly and have hints of having being written under the guidance of a teacher or parent. So we focus more on face-to-face interviews."

But for the courses that do ask for one, the personal statement can play a really important role.

"If you get it wrong, then it can be the difference between you getting an interview and not getting an interview," says Cannon.

So here are some tips to help you when it comes to writing yours.

What to include

Why do you want to be a vet?

"What we're looking for from a personal statement is to get a feel for why they want to be a vet and an understanding of what they've done about it," says Cannon.

It's also worth thinking about your long-term career aims and what kind of vet you want to be.

Sam Hillage, assistant faculty registrar at the University of Surrey, says: "Showing your motivation and talking about some of your career aspirations would be good. Also acknowledging the diversity of roles in the field."

Work experience

"Sometimes people forget to actually mention the four weeks of work experience they've done," says Hillage. "As that's a mandatory requirement, it's important they get that in."

It might be that a particular moment from your work experience has stuck with you, and if you link that to why you want to be a vet and what you've learned, it can impress tutors.

Claire Phillips, director of admissions at Edinburgh University's Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies says: "Sometimes it can be something quite minor that they have seen on work experience that has made an impression and shown them what it is all about."

Relevant hobbies

Use your statement to show your wider interests as well as your interest in veterinary medicine. Phillips says: "We're looking for a holistic, rounded student. It's not just about academic ability, we want to see people who have other things outside work and academics."

Try to link your hobbies back to your interest in veterinary medicine, but don't worry if not everything is relevant.

"It could be sport, music, voluntary work – it doesn't have to be animal-related," says Phillips.

"Being academically very good is not everything. They need an outlet to cope with the veterinary profession when they qualify. It's a tough job, especially if they go into a practice, so the fact they have something outside of academia is important."

Don't forget to mention people

A vet should understand that a big part of their job is dealing with people, say tutors.

"Some people just explain conditions or talk about animals, but it is important to talk about the sensitivity of the profession," says Phillips.

"You need to be aware that it's not just theory but about the overall sensitivity to people."

You could get this across by talking about some of the human interactions you encountered on your work experience, perhaps how you observed a vet dealing with a client.

Things to avoid

Spelling mistakes

You might not be applying to study English, but good spelling is still important.

Phillips says: "It's a professional degree and communication skills are very important."

And if you're going to refer to particular medical terms, it's really important that you spell them correctly.

"The number of people who write that they've witnessed caesareans in their personal statement but can't spell caesarean is amazing," says Cannon.

"One bad spelling isn't going to lose you a place, but you are marked on the quality of your writing, so if it was littered with spelling mistakes then it might be a problem."

"I've wanted to be a vet since I was..."

"We're not interested in the fact that you've wanted to be a vet for the last 16 years," says Cannon.

"You could have been interested in being a vet for the last 16 months, it's what you do about it that is the interesting thing."

That's not to say you should avoid the phrase altogether. Just make sure you link it back to why you would be good on the course.

Cannon says: "Lots of them will start their personal statement with: 'I've known I wanted to be a vet since I was 3, 4, 5, 6'. But then a lot of them do go on and say why. That's what we're looking for."

Too much technical detail

You might want to include some reference to a strand of veterinary medicine or a type of technology that interests you, but don't go overboard.

Sam Hillage, assistant faculty registrar at the University of Surrey, says: "I'd avoid getting bogged down in a lot of technical detail.

"While it's good to show you have some technical knowledge, it's not necessarily what we look for in a personal statement."

Mentioning the most up-to-date technology won't always win brownie points. "It's the more grounded things that make an impression," says Phillips.

Don't forget to mention animals

It might sound really obvious that a personal statement for veterinary science should include animals. But not everyone remembers. "Sometimes we get people who focus very much on the science side of things, without ever really mentioning animals," Cannon says.

Equally, make sure not to go too far in the other direction.

Cannon says: "Saying 'I want to be a vet because I like cats' doesn't really tell us anything."

• If you're looking for more help in getting to vet school, why not apply for a place on a summer school? This year, the Royal Veterinary College is offering 50 places on a summer course with the Sutton Trust that will teach you what it's like to be a vet and give you tips on applying to study veterinary medicine at uni.

The scheme, sponsored by Barclays, is free to students from low and middle income backgrounds. If you're interested in applying for a place, take a look at the Sutton Trust's website.

Veterinary Science Personal Statement

I have always wanted a career in veterinary medicine, combining my compassion for animals with my analytical skills and scientific interests. As a child I was responsible for the welfare of household pets and was intrigued by their husbandry and care; delivered at home or at the vets. I maintain an interest in current affairs in animal welfare, such as the outbreak of foot and mouth and more recently, Blue Tongue. As a result I found Biology fascinating at A-level, understanding the immune response in animals and especially enjoyed exploring animal physiology. Mathematics has strengthened my ability to think in a logical sequence; an essential quality in approaching a problem orientated course. A level English Language has enabled me to explore the art of persuasive writing and construct powerful arguments in the support of ethical animal research. I believe being a Veterinary surgeon would provide a career that is both challenging and rewarding in a changing society.

During 9 weeks work experience I was able to see how Biology linked with the care and welfare of animals. When spending time in an Australian zoo, shadowing a keeper, animals were fed Lucerne; I was able to understand why this plant was of more nutritional value as it contains nitrogen fixing bacteria in its root nodules. This placement enabled me to improve my organizational skills. Being responsible for sorting feeds, I managed my time ensuring all animals were cared for appropriately. Experience with primates and marsupials led me to develop an interest in exotic animals.

I developed animal handling skills at a city farm, with a diverse range of animals. Time spent on a working farm demonstrated the interdependence between humans and animals. I saw the difference between the commercial and economic state of trade as well as animal environment interaction. I demonstrated my capability to work on my own initiative, and cope under pressure when complications emerged. I supported the farmer during a lambing period as he checked for problems during births. My ability to cope in intense situations was augmented through a Marine Mammal Medic qualification at a VetSim conference. The ability to work under pressure is an invaluable skill for Veterinary surgeons undertaking complex and timed operations.

These placements showed me the importance of correct care and husbandry of animals and experience at the RSPCA provided an insight into the repercussions of incorrect care. During time at a stables, I gained important knowledge on common health issues affecting horses. For example, reducing time spent in fields and on hard ground prevents Laminitis. Two weeks spent at a small animal Veterinary Practice, reinforced the professional role of the veterinary surgeon in the administration of care. I was able to observe the animals from initial diagnoses through surgical procedures and recovery. I viewed routine operations such as spaying and neutering as well as complex operations including lumpectomies. While employed at a Pet Food Superstore, I saw the need for good communication skills with pet owners, enabling them to choose the best diet for their animals.

My interest in organisms and their environments led me to become a member in my school’s Eco-team. I am responsible for aiding the organization of a conference, while raising awareness on issues such as conservation of energy and recycling. I have achieved my Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award with Explorer Scouts, and am continuing towards Gold; showing that when I set myself a goal, I am determined to achieve it. I am a keen martial artist, currently Brown belt in Tae Kwon Do. I play the flute at Grade 7 Distinction standard, and am aiming to take grade 8. These activities demonstrate my perseverance and determination, attributes I feel are imperative to becoming a veterinary surgeon. I have the drive, skill and genuine interest to enjoy and succeed in this course and I look forward to it with motivation and enthusiasm.

Comments

General Comments:

Overall this is a good statement, with a lot of good points. The experience needs to link it back to skills that are required for being a vet and why - it is important to reflect on any experience, by providing examples. With work experience, quality is better than quantity - you don't have to list everything you've done, but make sure what you do mention, you also mention what you learned from it and why it made you want to be a vet. Skills only need to be mentioned once, which would save some space. Another improvement to make is to try and include length of time at placements; most of the vet schools will want to see how long you have been on placements. Was it a morning or a week at the RSPCA etc?

A more original starting sentence would be better as stating you are have a compassion for animals is pretty much a given for applicants to vet med! Equally, there is a need to reword the closing sentence to make it specific to the applicant and things they have done. They are listing words off without backing them up with examples, which is an important aspect of a PS.

Comments on the statement:

I have always wanted a career in veterinary medicine, combining my compassion for animals with my analytical skills and scientific interests. This is not a very original starting sentence, everyone applying for this course will have scientific interests and compassion for animals As a child I was responsible for the welfare of household pets and was intrigued by their husbandry and care, delivered at home or at the vets. This is a good way of including young interest without being too cliché I maintain an interest in animal welfare current affairswelfare would be more to do with the animals living conditions etc. Welfare may still be good even if disease breaks out! such as the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and more recently, bluetongueThis needs to be expanded on later to discuss how this interest is developed: what books are read, etc.

 this does not really link to the earlier comment that well, it would be better as a separate paragraph I found A-level Biology fascinating , describing biology as fascinating is a rather overused sentence in vetmed applications understanding the immune response in animals and especially enjoyed exploring animal physiology. Why did you enjoy these? It is nice to know you understand the immune response but It would be better to mention and expand on one of these, rather than vaguely mention one Mathematics has strengthened my ability to think logically; an essential quality in approaching a problem orientated course. A-level English Language has enabled me to explore the art of persuasive writing and construct powerful arguments in the support of ethical animal research. This seems very much like trying to 'tick the boxes' and doesn't really add anything that 99% of other applications won't have I believe being a veterinary surgeon would provide a career that is both challenging and rewarding in a changing society. Why will it? It is worth the applicant expanding on this. Also, this doesn't really work well in an A Level paragraph - it sounds more like an intro or a conclusion

During nine Spell out simple numbers, so use "nine" instead weeks work experience I was able to see how biology is linked with the care and welfare of animals. Examples? When spending time in an Australian zoo, how long? shadowing a keeper, animals were fed Lucerne; I was able to understand why this plant was of more more than what? nutritional value as it contains nitrogen fixing bacteria in its root nodules. It's a bit unclear whether or not the work at the Australian zoo is the work experienced mentioned at the start of the paragraph. For all we know, it could be two separate events, so this needs to be looked at to become less ambiguous  Ensuring that all the animals were cared for appropriately whilst admistering diets enabled me to improve my organisational skills by managing my time effectively. Anything else? Experience with primates and marsupials led me to develop an interest in exotic animals. This is a short sentence, with no backing up of the statement. Expland a bit more about what experience and what interest

I developed animal handling skills such as? at a city farm how long? with a diverse range of animals what animals? Mention some as examples Time spent on a  farm what type of farm, how long? demonstrated the interdependence between humans and animals. I saw the difference between the commercial and economic state of trade as well as animal environment interaction good. I demonstrated my capability to work using my own initiative, and cope under pressure when complications emerged any examples?During lambing I worked with a farmer to deal with any malpresentations that occurred. My ability to cope in intense situations was augmented through a Marine Mammal Medic qualification at a VetSim conference This may not be worth mentioning, especially if pressed for space. Many people have done this conference and the MMM qualification. It doesn’t add much to the applicants application, and the space would be better spent talking about things that are specific to them The ability to work under pressure is an invaluable skill for veterinary surgeons undertaking complex and timed operations.

These placements If the applicant is saying "these placements" then the sentence relates to something said immediately beforehand, so it shouldn't be in a new paragraph showed me the importance of correct care and husbandry of animals and experience at the RSPCA how long? provided an insight into the repercussions of incorrect care. During time at a stables how long?, I gained important knowledge on common health issues affecting horses. For example, reducing time spent in fields and on hard ground prevents laminitis. Two weeks spent at a small animal veterinary practice, reinforced the professional role of the veterinary surgeon in the administration of care. I was able to observe the animals from initial diagnoses through surgical procedures and recovery. I viewed routine operations such as spaying and neutering as well as complex operations including lumpectomies. It would be beneficial to add more about this. It sounds like the applicant is starting to list operations they have seen, so they should expand a little bit as to what they learnt from it. While employed at a Pet Food Superstore, I saw the need for good communication skills with pet owners, enabling them to choose the best diet for their animals. This last sentence is a bit awkwardly worded.

All of these points need backing up with evidence, answering the questions 'how?' and 'why?' to really show that the applicant has solid knowledge of what it is like to be a vet. E.g. 'what are the repercussions of incorrect care? What can be done to overcome it?' These show the admissions tutors that you've really thought about your experience. Also, mention why things are interesting.

My interest in organisms and their environments led me to become a member of my school’s Eco-team. I am responsible for aiding the organization of a conference, while raising awareness on issues such as conservation of energy and recycling what skills has this developed? How will it benefit the applicant as a person or as a vet? I have achieved my Silver Duke of Edinburgh award with Explorer Scouts, and am completing my Gold award, "towards" sounds very passive, like they might get there, rather than actually doing it. If the applicant is working on it already then they should state that showing that when I set myself a goal, I am determined to achieve it. This is cliched I am a keen martial artist, currently Brown belt in Tae Kwon Do. I play the flute at Grade 7 Distinction standard, and am aiming to take grade 8 again, "aiming" sounds passive, are they taking it or not? Also, don't start sentences in a row with 'I', as they don't flow well together. These activities demonstrate my perseverance and determination, attributes I feel are imperative to becoming a veterinary surgeon. Good to discuss skills in this way I have the drive, skill and genuine interest to enjoy and succeed in this course and I look forward to it with motivation and enthusiasm. it sounds like the applicant is trying to finish with a good sentence here, but it ends up feeling more like they are listing off several words that they feel are positive. The extra curricular hobbies should not be in the conclusion and this should be a separate paragraph


Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018

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