Residency

Personal Statement

Importance of your personal statement

Your personal statement is the most essential component of your residency application. It is the only part of the application that is not based on your test scores (USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS) or of other people’s perceptions of you (letters of recommendations, evaluations, MSPE). It serves to complement your qualifications and strengths in narrative form and emphasizes the reason for your interest in a particular specialty and residency program. With thousands of applicants to choose from, residency committees depend on personal statements as the decisive factor for candidacy into their program. A well-written personal statement will help distinguish you from all the rest!

Service Update Due to exceptionally high response for our Personal Statement service we are not accepting any new subscribers. Additionally, we do not plan to have this service available in near future. We recommend seeking an alternate service for assistance in writing a personal statement. We suggest getting feedback from your peers regarding recommendation for other service providers.

Tips for structuring your personal statement for residency

1. Introduction:

Create an impressive first line. Your opening line should draw attention to the reader.

DO give a brief introduction about yourself, your beliefs, your family, etc. Your first line can also be a quote, riddle, story or anecdote:

"I truly believe that learning is a continuous process in the lifetime of an individual."

DON'T open your personal statement with unappealing, boring facts:

"I want to be a doctor because both of my parents are physicians."

2. Medical training/experience:

Talk about how you became interested in a particular specialty and how it convinced your decision to pursue a career in medicine. You can even mention certain experiences or interests that play an integral part of your life.

DO mention which distinctive part of your basic or clinical training appealed most to you:

"My desire to choose a career in pediatrics was influenced after witnessing the sufferings of poor and underprivileged children during my pediatric clerkships in a small suburban town."

"I decided to choose internal medicine as my career of choice since I really enjoy taking care of patients with multiple medical problems."

DO talk about the experiences between you and your patients, how they perceive you and vice versa:

"The belief that a doctor should have good ethics and values has always helped me in my interactions with my patients."

DON'T mention any negative experiences, specialties you dislike or how you were rejected from medical school:

"My OBGYN attending always made me feel incompetent and because of that, I decided not to apply to OBGYN programs."

"Radiology is appealing to me because I don't have to deal directly with patients or people."

3. Choosing the United States for residency (for FMG's) and preparing for life as an intern:

Talk about why you are choosing to do residency in the United States and of your journey from medical school to the present.

DO mention why residency in the United States appeals to you:

"I intend to take full advantage of a residency program in internal medicine at your esteemed institution, which has an outstanding reputation in academics, research opportunities and a strong health care system."

DO talk about what you have been doing since you graduated from medical school:

"Upon graduating from medical school, I traveled to Gambia, West Africa for the opportunity to participate in medical humanitarian work with the United States Peace Corps."

DON'T mention how TV shows or how pop culture inspired your decision in choosing to do residency in America:

"As a devoted ER fan, I hope to get an emergency medicine residency at Chicago's Cook County Hospital, too."

"The TV show Dr. 90210 inspired me to pursue plastic surgery, where I hope to become a rich and famous Beverly Hills plastic surgeon just like Dr. Rey."

4. Summary about you:

Highlight your strengths and achievements.

DO be modest when describing yourself and your contributions to their program:

"My self-confidence, commitment and strong work ethic will contribute to my success in your program."

DON'T mention anything negative in your personal statement, especially when it comes to your strengths and achievements:

"Many of my medical colleagues may say that I appear to be detached when, in fact, I am just the happy-go-luck type."

5. Residency and beyond:

Talk about what you anticipate in residency and of your plans after completing your supervised training.

DO mention any personal goals you would like to embrace in your new residency program:

"I anticipate that working in psychiatry will be rewarding and look forward to serving as the role model in treating the mentally ill with the dignity and respect that they deserve."

DO discuss your career plans (academic medicine, medical research, private practice, etc.) after your completion of residency:

"I aspire to a career in academics following my residency in family medicine."

DON'T talk with uncertainty:

"I am not sure if I will enter private practice after my internal medicine residency and will decide that after taking Step 3."

6. Conclusion:

Briefly, wrap up your final thoughts here and discuss why you would be a great candidate in their residency program.

DO create one or two attention-grabbing sentences:

"On a personal note, being a physician is a privilege and an honor and should not be taken lightly."

DO restate your theme and link your conclusion back to your introduction. Give the reader a sense of completion and satisfaction in the closing of your personal statement:

"The combination of my graduate education, my volunteer work and research experience, as well as my training as an emergency medical technician makes me a distinguished candidate for an emergency medicine residency."

"I look ahead to the next phase of my training with great excitement and strong commitment."

DO state key points mentioned in the body of your statement and state it in a brief, conclusive manner:

"I welcome the opportunity for clinical research during my training."

DO explain why you should be accepted into their program:

"I possess the determination, resilience, mental strength and compassion to succeed as a valuable asset to your general surgery team."

DON'T leave the reader with a feeling of uncertainty in the last paragraph:

"Who knows where the road to residency will take me."

Things to remember when creating a personal statement:

  • Never make it appear as an extended version of your CV. Instead, discuss volunteer work, research experience, hobbies, awards, honors, accomplishments, etc.
  • Keep it brief. Avoid the use of unnecessary words or phrases by maintaining concise, direct sentences. Residency committees expect your personal statement to be about 5-8 small paragraphs.
  • Unite your essay with a central theme to create flow and avoid jumping around from topic to topic. Pay attention to detail.
  • Never mention negative events, failures, etc., when preparing your personal statement. Instead, focus on your strengths and highlight positive qualities, achievements and experiences.
  • Tailor your personal statement to specific programs. This will show your genuine interest in each program.
  • Request your colleagues, attending physicians and friends to proofread your work. You may have to revise your personal statement several times until you are satisfied with its content.
  • Don't plagiarize! Residency committees are aware of the many available templates and websites that people use to create their own personal statement. According to the ERAS website, it is highly recommended not to take information from these sites without giving credit to the author. You may get caught and it may affect your chances of securing any residency.