The Personal Statement is an essential part of applying for Dentistry. It is based on this document – alongside a reference from your school – that Universities will decide whether to offer you a chance to interview with them. Remember – unlike some other courses -
Dental schools do not admit without interview and you will not get an interview without a good personal statement, so it is important to get this right. Interview techniques and preparation will be discussed in another article.
There is a very high demand for a place as an undergraduate dentist in the UK. Not only from sixth form students in Year 13, but from dental students looking for deferred entry, postgraduate and mature students. So it is important that your personal statement stands out from the rest.
First of all, I urge you NOT to be tempted to lie about what you have done. If you get the interview there is every chance they will pick your personal statement to pieces and ask you about specific aspects! So that is our tip numero uno.
Your personal statement needs to be easy to read and structured. The admissions tutor may receive thousands of applications so they will appreciate their job being made slightly easier! We would recommend a structure that consists of;
- Work Experience and Previous Employment
- Extra Curricular Activities
We will speak about each in further detail.
The first paragraph will detail when and why you decided to become a dentist. Any particular life event or any specific reasons that helped you understand and picked this course. Try and tailor your personal statement purely for dentistry. To do this you may need to leave the final UCAS option blank so that you can write a totally dental focused account. There is no need at this point to direct your statement at a specific university and their course structure, this will be questioned upon when you get your interview.
Write your personal statement in your own style but be sure not to come across arrogant or cocky. It is very important to give reasons why certain aspects of your life precluded your decision to apply for dentistry. Remember: Nobody was ‘born’ to study dentistry, and financial benefits are rarely accepted as a motive!
2) Work Experience and Previous Employment.
Hopefully, you will have completed some form of dental work experience. It shows that you have thoroughly considered the profession and are sure that it is the job for you. Most UK dental schools will require a minimum of 10 working days work experience. (Check the Teethgeek page of entry requirements for dental school specific requirements.)
Do not worry if you have only done the minimum required and Joe next door has completed a year as a dental nurse and done volunteer work in the Caribbean. It is your ability to relate what you saw and what you learnt to your understanding of the course and career that counts. It is paramount not only to convey what you saw during work experience, but also how that reinforced your desire to study Dentistry.
Pay attention also to things happening around the dentist. How the dental nurse operates, how the practice operates as a whole and the significance of each member of staff and the role they play in the dental team.
You may also want to talk about any previous employment. You will need to culminate all the skills from your experience and again, relate them to dentistry. This may not be exclusively practical skills, time management and teamwork are equally important to the admissions tutor.
3) Extra Curricular Activities.
Tell your chosen Universities about things you do outside of school hours.
This could be anything from playing a musical instrument, travelling, and playing sports to volunteer work, school clubs and arts and crafts, any special interests and drama and performing arts.
You can talk about virtually anything as long as you demonstrate how it can contribute to making you a good dentist. A personal statement that reads like a list of achievements with no link to dentistry will be unlikely to yield an interview.
Commonly seen in successful personal statements are links to: Communication skills, Team leadership, manual dexterity, functioning in a team, patience and decision making.
In this final segment, summarise your qualities and drive home the fact you want to be a dentist. Lay down the core reasons why you would make not only a good dental student, but a good student overall.
Don’t forget to make your personal statement flow, read it and read it again out loud to yourself. Ask your parents, friends and teachers to proof read it. It is often helpful to see what others make of your writing.
Once you are happy with it yourself and the feedback that you are getting, submit and good luck!