Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency
Tips to Convey “Why You for Residency Specialty”
Use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewer.
- Include topics that help the interview go smoothly.
- Be sincere and help the interviewer know what’s important to you.
- Include only the information that you want to discuss.
Write a focused essay, four or five paragraphs in length, that covers the basics.
- The first paragraph could introduce the reader to you and could focus on what led you to a career in medicine, more importantly your specialty. The tone of the first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
- The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty. (Personal experiences from rotations, leadership activities, work, volunteer, community service, studying abroad, background and/or life/ family experiences).
- The third/fourth paragraphs should confirm why you think this choice is right for you AND why you are right for the specialty. This is an opportunity further distinguish yourself.
- The close/final paragraph could inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals and/or how you see yourself in this specialty. Also, avoid spending too much content on “What I want/seek/am interested in from a residency program…” The focus should be more on why they should choose you over other candidates
Questions to ask when approaching your Personal Statement:
- What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
- What are your key attributes?
- What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
- What are your career plans and how will your background/additional education contribute to the field?
- What makes me unique enough to stand out among other candidates?
Your goal should be to write a well-crafted statement that is both original in its presentation and grammatically correct. Articulate your personal drive in as eloquent language as you can provide. The writing should flow. No one expects you to be a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about why you?
Don’t spend a lot of time providing information about you that programs will generally assume to be true for most competent medical students;“I want to help people”, “I love medicine”, “I want to match into a residency program where I can learn”
If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points beyond the career choice. Avoid spending too much time on “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine.” How did you arrive at your specialty choice and what experiences support how you arrived at the specialty choice?
Support your strengths and skillset with examples. Most medical student personal statement list similar strengths, “hard worker/will work hard”, “good communication skills”, “relate to/interact with patients” – so if you provide strengths that are common among medical students or even unique to you, it will be important to provide evidence to support your claims, directing programs to come to their own conclusion about your strength.
If you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV, they should be relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.
Use your own words rather than rely on quotes; your own thoughts are more powerful. If you can make it work, great, but don’t dwell on quotes. With only 800 words or less…it is favorable to make them all your own.
Do NOT plagiarize your personal statement.
Length; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 – this will be acceptable for most residency programs.
Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?
- Melva Landrum, TCOM Residency Counselor will provide thorough feedback through an evaluation form that breaks down your entire personal statement including: content, grammar, structure, flow and overall impact. You can email your personal statement to firstname.lastname@example.org within one week.
- The Career Center can also review personal statements and Center for Academic Performance (CAP) office can provide feedback mostly on grammar and structure.