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How to Write a Good Personal Statement for your Residency Application? Examples of Residency Personal Statements

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How to Write a Good Personal Statement for your Residency Application? Examples of Residency Personal Statements

The personal statement 📝 is the part of the residency MATCH¼ application in which I find the most mistakes. Many applicants do not even realize there are problems in their personal statement because the process of self-evaluation requires significant skill and insight. Furthermore, most applicants do not have access to high-quality personal statements to which they can compare their work. Therefore, I am writing this blog to help you navigate the personal statement writing process and provide you with templates of what a good personal statement should look like.

If you need help with your personal statement editing, please reach out to us on this page.

 

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What should you say in your personal statement 📝? 

 
Although there is no one template for a personal statement, it is highly recommended that you include the following elements:
 

 

1-Why are you interested in the specialty đŸ©ș?

  

You should try to convince the reader why you are interested in the specialty to which you are applying. Avoid cliché templates that you see online, and make sure that your interest in the specialty is as personal as possible by incorporating your experiences learning about it and what elements of this specialty most appeal to you. Think deeply about the reasons and the stories that pushed you to pursue this specialty before you start writing, and then you can put these experiences into words. 

Bad example: I am interested in internal medicine because of the long-term relationships with patients, diversity of pathologies, and intellectual challenges.

Good example: My interest in internal medicine started during my first month of clinical rotations. Seeing the diversity of patient presentations and the application of evidence-based medical knowledge in solving patients’ problems is what really drew me to the field.

As you can see from the ‘good’ example, rather than listing boilerplate characteristics of internal medicine that anyone can find online, I attempt to link my interest in the field to personal experiences.

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2-Why you đŸ‘©â€âš•ïžđŸ‘šâ€âš•ïž? 

 

Why are you a unique applicant and why you should be selected among hundreds of other applicants? 

You must be careful to not seem arrogant, but also do not be shy discussing what makes you stand out. Avoid clichĂ© self-descriptions such as ‘hard worker,’ ‘team player,’ or ‘passionate caregiver.’ Instead, replace these with unique experiences that demonstrate your defining personal qualities in action.

Bad example: I am a hard worker, and I always did my best to succeed and overcome hardships.

Good example: Growing-up in a low-resourced country and having to work two jobs to provide living for my family while in medical school, giving up was never an option. I always thrived in challenging situations, guided by both my diligent work ethic and a spirit of unrelenting optimism in the face of setbacks. My life experiences have imbued me with resilience and perseverance, qualities that will no doubt benefit me in residency.

As you can see here, I did not say that the applicant is a ‘hard worker.’ From the story, you can easily conclude that they have the resilience and perseverance required to overcome the challenges of residency.

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3-What are you looking for in a program đŸ„?

 

This part is not a ‘must’ like the previous two. However, including what type of programs you are looking for can help program directors to gauge whether you are a good fit. When discussing this point, you can emphasize factors such as good clinical training, research, camaraderie among the residents and the faculty, or any other important program elements you are seeking.

Since ERAS allows you to submit multiple personal statements for different programs, you can tailor these personal statements based on the programs to which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for programs that focus on research or to those that value clinical excellence, you can write two personal statements that reflect these respective emphases.

Additionally, if you are applying for two specialties, you can write two personal statements (one for each specialty).

Good example: I am looking for a program that offers me the clinical training to become a competent internal medicine physician in addition to providing me with the acumen to conduct pioneering research.

What Does Our MATCH Application Packages Include?

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ERAS Application Editing

The editing goes beyond language and grammar corrections to structure, design, and content based on your personal story and achievement.

Interview Preparation

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4-Career goals 🎯

 

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Your long-term career goals are another important piece of information to include in your personal statement. Read about the programs to which you are applying to ensure that your professional goals align with their educational philosophy and outcomes. If you are interested in conducting cutting-edge research during your residency, then it may not be a good idea to apply for a program with no research infrastructure or research output.

Examples of career goals include practicing in an academic setting, being involved in resident and medical student education, conducting research studies, or performing clinical duties in a large academic center or a low resource hospital (or some combination or variation of these). Again, try to understand the programs that you are applying to so they align with your career goals.

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5-Hobbies and interests
 

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The hobbies and interest section is another optional part to include in your personal statement where you list the activities outside of medicine that interest you. This section illustrates the qualities and passions that make you a unique candidate, whether it be winning a medal🏅in a competitive sport🏃🏀đŸ€șđŸ‡â›·ïžđŸ„đŸŠ, training as a ballet dancer, or playing the bagpipes. Try to explain how the skills you gained from this hobby or extracurricular activity will translate into making you a better resident/doctor.

Example: During medical school, I was a member of our local basketball team that won the national championship multiple times. Basketball taught me perseverance and the importance of putting the team’s interest over individual achievement and success. I believe the same principles apply to medicine in that even the most brilliant surgeons or physicians, cannot work on their own; rather, they must work together and combine their individual expertise to achieve optimal outcomes for the patient. I can think of many instances in which I applied this mindset in collaborating with other medical students, nurses, and attending physicians on my clinical rotations in order to provide the best possible care for a patient.

 

6-Weaknesses and how you address them ❌😳

 

Sometimes there are obvious red flags on your CV that every program director will notice, such as low STEP scores or multiple attempts on the USMLE exams. It might be a good idea to explain why this happened or how you overcame these hurdles and what you learned in the process. Others disagree with the idea of addressing weaknesses in your personal statement and prefer that you explain them during the interview if you are asked. My personal preference is to explain why the red flag happened if you have a reasonable explanation and story

Looking for a detailed ERAS Application Template with samples of various experiences?

7-The introduction and the end 

 
The introduction and the end of your personal statement should be the most engaging parts to read. Experienced writers tend to start with a catchy opening hook to grab the reader’s attention and often end with a paragraph that refers to the beginning of the personal statement, thereby bringing the story full circle.

For example, if you were talking how a family member’s medical problem encouraged you to pursue a particular specialty, you might start with a quick introduction talking about this experience, and then end with a line or two referring back to the introduction and stating how it has informed your future career goals. The introduction and conclusion paragraphs are the hardest to write but can also serve to make your personal statement stand out.

 

8- Why the US?

 

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If you are an international medical graduate (IMG), you might consider adding a few lines talking about why you chose to train in the US.

 

Mistakes to avoid when writing a personal statement for residency the application

 

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1-Starting too late

 

One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make when writing the personal statement is that they start a week or two before the application deadline. I personally started mine two months before the application deadline. This timeline allowed me to write multiple drafts before sending it to my mentors and residents for review and feedback.

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2-Submitting the first or second draft

 

I recommend that you do multiple revisions before you submit your personal statement. Before I submitted my final personal statement, it had gone through over 20 drafts. This number is just to give you an idea of the lengthy transformation process between the initial draft and the final product. Your personal statement should be the best version of your story summarized in 500-700 words. Your goal is to convince programs to invite you for an interview so they can get to know you better!

 

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3-Not getting feedback

 

I highly recommend you have your personal statement reviewed by an individual (or individuals) with experience in personal statement editing. This might include residents or mentors who have edited other applicants’ personal statements in the past, residents who went through this process and know how it works from personal experience, or even professional advisers. Try to seek out people who will provide you with structural edits, if needed, and not just superficial grammatical edits. I helped many students with personal statement editing by suggesting a complete overhaul of their original structure so that their story would shine through more effectively. I am happy to help students with significant editing and re-writing. You can check our website to learn more about our personal statement editing.

Keep in mind that the more you show your personal statement to others, the more revisions you will receive. You do not have to accept every individual’s revisions or suggested changes, but take them into consideration and keep those changes that you think are most effective at conveying your desired message.

 

4-Using online templates

 

Stay away from using online templates because you want your personal statement to be as personal as possible. It will definitely take you more time to create your own personal statement, but then again that is why it is called a ‘personal’ statement. You must spend significant time and effort so your personal statement does not look like the hundreds of other applications each program receives. The purpose of the templates in this blog is to provide examples rather than for you to copy these in your own personal statement. This would constitute plagiarism and could get you into serious trouble.

Get FREE exclusive sample personal statements, letters of recommendation, and letters of interest for your residency application!

5-Talking about why you got into medical school

 

If you are applying for residency, focus on why you want to enter a certain specialty rather than why you got into medical school. You are past the medical school experience at this point and you should not take a significant portion of your personal statement talking about what influenced you to choose medicine in the first place. You can definitely discuss that in a couple of sentences, but no more than that. Focus primarily on the specialty to which you are applying.

 

6-Having it too short or too long

Try to keep your personal statement around 500-700 words and discuss the points that have been mentioned above. Do not make it so short that people cannot understand your story or so long that it becomes boring to read.


7-Lacking structure and flow
  

Many students think that the main issue with their personal statement are problems with the English language, whether in regard to grammar or word choice. However, this is an easily fixable problem. The major mistake I find in most personal statements is a lack of flow in the content (jumping from one idea to another) which makes it difficult for the reader to follow. That is why a structural edit of a personal statement takes significantly more time. I recommend you stay away from services that only change a few words here and there to make the language correct. Seek structural edits if needed. It’s definitely good to have a personal statement free of grammatical errors. However, what is most important is having nice flow and structure that makes your story enjoyable to read.

What Does Our MATCH Application Package Include?

Personal Statement Editing

Our editing includes not only language but also context, structure, and content advising.

ERAS Application Editing

The editing goes beyond language and grammar corrections to structure, design, and content based on your personal story and achievement.

Interview Preparation

The best way to learn something is to do it. That’s why we divide our interview preparation sessions into two parts.
Mock Interview + Feedback

Residency Advising

We are able to provide you with the guidance you need at any step of your journey to make it to your final goal!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about personal statement for residency applicants

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Do I have to write a personal statement for the residency application?

 

Yes, you must write a personal statement for your ERAS residency application.


When should I start working on my personal statement?

 

Around 1-2 months before the application deadline.


How long is the personal statement for the residency application? How many words should a personal statement be?

 

500-700 words.


Can I write multiple personal statements for my ERAS application?

 

Yes, you can assign different personal statements for different programs and different specialties.

Don't risk your residency match chances with an average ERAS application. Allow our experts to enhance your accomplishments using our comprehensive ERAS CV editing services.

How many personal statements should I write for my ERAS application?

 

You should write at least one personal statement for your ERAS application. However, you can write as many as you like. You can assign different personal statements for different programs and different specialties. You can only submit one personal statement for each program.


Do you recommend editing your personal statement by non-m
edical professionals?

 

I would not recommend having your personal statement edited by a non-medical professional only, as they often will not understand the nuances of the residency Match process. Having good command of the English language is completely different from having a good sense of structure, flow, and content needed to successfully be accepted into a residency program.


How do I write a strong personal statement? 

 

Check the parts on what to include in a personal statement and the templates on this blog to help you write an effective personal statement.


Do you offer personal statement editing?

 

If you need help with personal statement editing, check out our re-write and structural edit services on this website.

Do you want our experienced team to edit your Personal Statement?

Is my personal statement an important part of the application?

 

Yes, definitely. Your personal statement tells your story and achievements, many of which get lost in your CV. Moreover, some of your interviewers might only have access to your personal statement but not your CV.


How do you write a personal statement for residency application?

 
 

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1-Start early

 

Starting early gives you the time to write multiple drafts and for other people to thoroughly review and provide feedback on your personal statement.

2-Start with bullet points

 

Write all the ideas and the topics you want to discuss you in your personal statement without necessarily making them into full sentences. At this stage, you are just trying to identify what you would like to include rather than how you are going to narrativize it. After you create your map of ideas, pick the ones that you think would be the most relevant and transform them into compelling text.

3-Start with the first draft

 

Expand on the points you chose from the previous step. Do not worry if the language is not perfect, because at this point, you are still far away from your final draft. Try to discuss why you are interested in the specialty, why you are unique, why you should be chosen for this spot, and what kind of programs you are looking for. Do your best to craft a memorable introduction and ending.

4-Go onto the second draft

 

Give it a few days to a week before transitioning to your second draft. This gap will allow the ideas to settle in your mind and for you to focus on those ideas and language choices that best convey the story you are trying to tell.

5-Send your personal statement to others

 

At this point, you can start sending your personal statement to friends who are experienced with editing and reviewing personal statements. Do not send it to random people you do not know because your personal statement is a confidential document, and it is unlikely that their advice will be of much value to you. If you do not know any people who are experienced with personal statement editing, seek professional guidance. I cannot tell you how many people have reached out to me to fix personal statements that they already paid for because the cheap service they first consulted was bad. You get what you pay for! If you need help with personal statement editing, check our re-write and structural editing service on this website.

6-Revise

 

After you receive feedback from others, do not accept every revision or suggestion blindly. Make sure that these suggested changes reflect the points you are most hoping to convey in your personal statement. However, if the person offering the advice is experienced in personal statement editing and/or the residency Match process, it is worth incorporating as many of their suggestions as possible.

At this point your personal statement is almost ready, and you can change a few things here and there until you are ready to submit the final version.

What Does Our MATCH Application Packages Include?

Advisor UNLIMITED Access

We get how stressful the residency match process is, so we're here for you - communicate with your personal advisor ANYTIME you need!

Personal Statement Editing

Our editing includes not only language but also context, structure, and content advising.

ERAS Application Editing

The editing goes beyond language and grammar corrections to structure, design, and content based on your personal story and achievement.

Interview Preparation

The best way to learn something is to do it. That’s why we divide our interview preparation sessions into two parts.
Mock Interview + Feedback

The FREE Personal Statement Template

 
 

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‘Females can never be surgeons!’ These were the words that resonated in my ears every time I expressed my interest in surgery. My medical school tutors, family, friends, all dissuaded me from pursuing this course. In a patriarchal society like the one I grew up in, women were expected to adhere to restrictive cultural norms. Thankfully, I persevered.

Growing up in war-torn Iraq made for a difficult and unusual childhood. War and fighting were the norm, as were constant displacement and unstable living situations. Due to the unrelenting violence that ravaged the country since before I can remember, the emergency room in my medical school hospital, Al Mosul University Hospital, was constantly flooded with trauma patients.

The combination of diverse cases and shortage of clinical staff proved the perfect storm for piquing my surgical interests, as I was afforded the opportunity to perform tasks typically reserved for first and second-year residents. Though I quickly rose to the intense demands of working in Al Mosul’s ED, my male colleagues would often remind me that surgery was not an appropriate avenue for women, and that I should instead choose an ‘easier’ specialty that would allow me to focus on raising a family. For me, however, the decision was crystal clear. Surgery was the perfect blend of manual dexterity and methodical decision making. I was not only fascinated by the diversity of surgical cases, but also by the surgeons’ abilities to repair and heal the horrific war injuries. Seeing patients who suffered bomb blasts on the brink of death be stabilized through expert surgical intervention sparked my passion for the incredible restorative power of surgery. The fast pace, required precision, and the exquisite coordination of working as part of a surgical team further cemented my interest.

At a local surgical conference, I was fortunate to meet a visiting US surgeon who was in Mosul as part of his mission trip to Iraq. After speaking to him at length about my burgeoning interest in the field, he encouraged me to follow my passion, and even helped me secure several rotations in the US. It was during these rotations that I received my first exposure to the US healthcare system, from its incredible access to technological advancements unheard of in most Iraqi hospitals to its focus on cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce. Following my rotations, I spent two years as a post-doctoral clinical researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), investigating longitudinal outcomes for trauma patients who sustained debilitating war injuries. My research years were transformational, not only providing me a robust foundation in clinical research, but also giving me a deeper appreciation for the positive impact of holistic care on trauma patients’ lives and wellbeing. As a result of my experiences at BWH, I hope to enroll in a program with equal parts emphasis on surgical and research skills development and that embraces diversity as a core value. Following my residency, I aspire to return to Iraq and continue to treat patients suffering from trauma, conduct research on optimizing outcomes for trauma patients, and educating the next generation of surgeons.

As a female growing up in Iraq, I faced many challenges during my quest to secure a residency spot in the US. Despite the discouragement of tutors and family members as well as the daunting prospect of starting a long and difficult journey in a new country, I am steadfast in the pursuit of my professional dreams. I have one goal that I will keep fighting for in the years ahead: an unwavering commitment to make a difference in patients’ lives and empower women in Iraq and around the world to help me make that difference. My message to those women who, like me, are told by those around them that they can never be surgeons: do not be discouraged. Let their words fuel your strength and fight to make the world a better place for yourself and your patients!

Do you want our experienced team to edit your Personal Statement?

I wish you the best of luck with your residency application. Here are some more personal statement samples that can help you draft your own personal statement. More Personal Statement Samples

By   Malke Asaad

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