Creating a Well Crafted Medical Residency Personal Statement

There are many ways to make an impression from bringing flowers on your first date to insulting someone’s shoes before realizing they’re your new boss. While applying for a medical residency program, you have many chances to make an impression such as your MyERAS application, Letters of Recommendation, and test scores. But, no avenue gives you as much control and is the best for establishing who you are as a Medical Residency Personal Statement. Your personal statement is one of the few places where you can really introduce yourself and show your personality, not just as a faceless test score or among a crowd of applications, but as a unique person.

Gathering the right information can be challenging, to say the least, when there’s so much to say and so little time. You really want to think about what should belong in the picture and what really doesn’t. I suggest starting with some brainstorming that touches on you, your experiences, qualities, and interests and aspirations. Getting any assignment started can be difficult when you’re just staring at a blank page, but by brainstorming, you can take some of the pressure off.

You have all of the information you need, you just don’t know it yet. There are lots of resources out there to help you develop content for your residency personal statement, including a questionnaire provided by Residency Statement when you sign up for their development service. Google is a wonderful tool, isn’t it?

To save you a little time, here are a few particularly helpful questions I have come across:

  • What made you want to enter this specialty? Was there some sort of light bulb moment or trigger you can talk about?
  • What are your goals, short and long-term goals?
  • What are some character traits YOU embody and how have you used them in a medical capacity?
  • Are there any struggles that have helped you grow as a person or professional? (Don’t focus on the struggle, but how it made you stronger.)
  • What are your accomplishments?
  • Is there anything unique/unusual that distinguishes you?
  • What knowledge do I have about the specialty?
  • What can I bring to this specialty? This program?

To save yourself time in the future, feel free to answer these questions for more than one specialty. Meaning, just think of all of the wonderful qualities you have and experiences you’ve been through (maybe grouping them once you have enough down) and put them down in writing. After mentally drawing out the best parts of you, it’s time to focus that information into a concise, cohesive and stunning snapshot of you.

Those of you who thought you put those high school essays behind you, think again. Your general essay format is the perfect way to organize your statement (and you thought those essays were useless!) The key to an impressive statement is through organization. Think of this like those fridge magnets where you can create poetry with pre-printed words. You can have the most jaw-dropping information in the world, but if it isn’t organized correctly it will get lost in the jumble.

Although every statement will be different, you can follow this general format. Don’t worry too much about the length or perfection of the grammar for now, that will come later.

Introduction Paragraph

Introduce yourself through a hook to grab the reader’s attention

Connect the hook to your present medical aspirations

Announce your goals through a thesis (at least three)

  1. I want to specialize in (enter specialty) because I want to grow…improve…and teach…

Body Paragraphs

Address the goals in the order of your thesis

Include RELEVANT personal information/ experiences/ qualities

Have at least three different and well thought out points per paragraph

Conclusion Paragraph

Recap your goals in new way to tie everything together

What do you want from the specific specialty, what can you offer?

You really want to be yourself while showing medical programs you have the types of traits they are looking for like maturity, thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, and teamwork. You don’t need to overstate what you’ve done or lie, just honestly let the reader know what you are made of.

When you have finally slogged through the first draft, whew, now comes the difficult part: editing and revising. Until now, I’ve told you not to worry about being concise or perfect grammar. Now is the time to fix, shape and finalize. Re-read your work– even better, read it out loud to yourself or to someone.

As you go in for your next few read backs, keep in mind the following about your content:

  • Does anything come off as questionable or confusing?
  • Is every piece of information relevant to the specialty you are talking about?
  • Does having this information put you in a positive light?
  • Does any of the wording sound awkward, cliche or forced?
  • Is there any redundancy (repeat words, or ideas)?
  • Do you focus too long on something irrelevant such as your mentor or personal stories that don’t relate?
  • Did you SHOW the reader your qualities through my accomplishments or just tell? Can you reflect on your experiences?
    • Don’t just say you are motivated, show it through your activities

If the answer is doubtful to ANY of the questions, take it out! You can save this information for another written document but it does not belong in your Residency Personal Statement.

Other things to keep in mind are:

  • The language you use, make sure it belongs to you, but feel free to dress it up a little
  • Check your GRAMMAR
    • Spelling
    • Punctuation
  • Do you use varied sentence structures?
    • Ex. Instead of: I am smart. I read a lot. I like books. Try: I increase my intelligence through some of my favorite pastimes such as reading.
  • Did you use “I” too much?
  • Did you just parrot what is on your CV or ERAS application?
  • Are there any taboo topics such as religion or politics?

And to top it off, just a few formatting tips:

  • Keep it between 4 to 6 paragraph
  • Single spaced
  • 600-800 words
  • Absolutely no more than one page, no buts!
  • Mirror the ERAS format with one inch margins and Courier 10-point font
  • No special characters like bolding or italics

Once you have edited, revised, cleaned and polished, it is always a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes on your finished product whether it’s your friend, advisor or an editing service such as Residency Statement. You’ve been looking at this document over and over and there is a chance you missed something.

Make your final adjustments and you are done!…Sort of.

You will need personal statements for each program you apply to. Generic statements are easy to spot and not a good reflection on you. Making specialized medical residency personal statements is a lot of extra work, but can make all of the difference in a sea of spectacular applicants.

Please note, I have only touched on some of the many aspects involved with crafting a Residency Personal Statement. You may choose to try another way or look further into the content of the statement.

Should you have any questions, Residency Statement would be happy to help you, call 760-904-5484 ext. 3.


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