• Izzy McNestry

What should I read for my medical school personal statement? Which books should I write about?

Which books should you write about in your medical school personal statement? Reading from a range of perspectives provides massive insight into unfamiliar lifestyles such as living with disabilities, differing religions, and differing cultures.




It is ultimately up to you what you decide to read and write about in your personal statement. I have provided some examples below of books that I love to read and write about that you could also use as inspiration for your personal statement!






Exploring unfamiliar perspectives


Increasing your awareness and understanding makes you more relatable,

with the aim of improving your doctor-patient relationship



  • Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

o Very easy book to read from the perspective of Christopher Boone, a character with autism.


  • Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

o Explores the effects of deterioration of mental health.


  • Dr Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat

o Recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre world of neurological disorders.





Accounts written by healthcare professionals


It goes without saying that everyone’s experience is different, especially

working for one of the world’s largest employers in an ever-changing

political climate, so it’s important to be realistic in your expectations.




  • Christie Watson, A Nurse’s Story

o Never underestimate how important it is to read from the perspectives of your future colleagues. Teamwork is one of the most important skills within medicine, so being aware of your team members jobs is crucial.



  • Atul Gawande, Being Mortal

o This can be a fantastic text for those who are anxious thinking about geriatric care and difficult conversations. Some great advice would be to expose yourself as much as possible to areas that intimidate you to ensure you can be as versatile as possible in your interviews.


  • Bill Bryson, The Body

o Don’t be fooled into thinking The Body will read like an anatomy textbook! Bryson writes in a colloquial, engaging style for easy reading throughout this truly fascinating book - highly recommend.


  • David Nott, War Doctor

o A powerful and intensely moving memoir by an NHS surgeon who volunteered in war zones, operating under the most extreme circumstances.


  • Henry Marsh, Do No Harm

o Henry Marsh offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity.


  • Adam Kay, This is Going to Hurt

o Appears again and again in medical personal statements! Whether you’re a medical student or not, this account makes for a hilarious, heart-breaking read, packed with raw anecdotes and NHS politics.



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