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Residency Personal Statement
Samples and Feedback

Residency Personal Statement Samples and Feedback
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Think of your personal statement as your unique chance to share your journey! It’s like a hidden gem in the residency application. Let’s make sure program directors are eager to meet you with a standout personal statement.
Dive into this post, where we’ve gathered some fantastic personal statement samples to inspire and guide your own residency application journey!

Sample 1: The Role Model | General Surgery

“Medicine is not a job, it is a way of life.” As the son of a cardiothoracic surgeon, my father’s mantra constantly echoed in my mind. I was raised in an environment where sacrifice and duty were familiar concepts from a young age. While my father did his best to balance work and family life, there were countless occasions when he had to prioritize his patients and commitments over personal events. Seeing his dedication and the impact he had on the lives of his patients, residents, and staff left an indelible impression on me.

After four challenging years studying biomedical engineering in undergrad, I was fortunate to be accepted to the University of Miami’s School of Medicine. While I was genuinely fascinated with almost every discipline of medicine, I had a particular interest in surgery. To give myself time to mature and explore this path further, I elected to take a research year after my second year of medical school and was able to secure a position in the laboratory of Dr. Seth Reigns, director of the Miami Transplant Institute. In the lab, I was tasked with characterizing Regulatory CAR-T cell populations in nonhuman primates. Excitingly, we found that two infusions of Regulatory CAR-T cells are able to prolong renal allograft survival in the absence of traditional immunosuppression. From a clinical perspective, witnessing the transformative impact of liver transplantation on critically ill patients was awe-inspiring. The chance to participate in donor procurements and witness the miraculous recoveries of patients postoperatively further solidified my resolve. Dr. Reigns, a true life-giver, provided me with a profound appreciation for the field of transplant surgery.

During my research year, I had the opportunity to hone my research skills and make significant contributions. However, it was my immersive experience as a third-year clerk on the trauma service that solidified my desire to pursue a career in surgery. Witnessing the remarkable expertise of the chief residents and attending surgeons in swiftly assessing and diagnosing patients amidst the chaos of the trauma bay, where vital information was often scarce, left me mesmerized. The urgency with which they inserted chest tubes and promptly performed emergent exploratory laparotomies was nothing short of exhilarating and profoundly inspiring. Equally fulfilling was the privilege of accompanying these patients throughout their hospitalization, observing their remarkable recovery from being intubated in the intensive care unit to the triumphant moment of their eventual discharge. This comprehensive experience further affirmed my passion for surgical intervention and reinforced my unwavering commitment to becoming a surgeon.

In addition to my research endeavors, I also became involved with Operation SECURE, a nonprofit crisis center in Miami that offers crisis counseling services free of charge. This experience has been humbling and rewarding, particularly as I counsel individuals struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. Drawing from my background in transplant surgery, I am able to provide a unique perspective on the long-term consequences of addiction. While surgical intervention can address these issues this experience demonstrated the importance of preventative medicine as well.

Looking ahead, my goal is to pursue a residency in general surgery, with the ultimate aim of specializing in abdominal transplant surgery through a fellowship program. I am well aware that the challenges I will face in my training are formidable, but I am constantly reminded of my father’s voice, urging me to approach this as more than just a job—a true lifestyle that demands my unwavering commitment. As I embark on this journey, I am eager to give everything I have to the field of surgery. It is my steadfast dedication to making a profound difference in the lives of patients, the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, and the opportunity to live my dream that fuels my passion for general surgery and the transformative field of transplantation.

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Commentary on Sample 1

“Medicine is not a job, it is a way of life.” As the son of a cardiothoracic surgeon, my father’s mantra constantly echoed in my mind. I was raised in an environment where sacrifice and duty were familiar concepts from a young age. While my father did his best to balance work and family life, there were countless occasions when he had to prioritize his patients and commitments over personal events. Seeing his dedication and the impact he had on the lives of his patients, residents, and staff left an indelible impression on me.

The first paragraph is what will set the tone for the entire personal statement. Ideally, you can open up with an engaging first sentence that will “grab” the reader. In this case, the applicant is providing a quote from her father describing the sacrifices that one must make as a physician. The applicant then sets up her father as a role model and the role this played in her decision to pursue medicine.

Note that often applicants feel the need to be “too creative” in the opening paragraph. A quote from a mentor or influential person or patient is ok, but you don’t have to always include quotes or extremely unusual stories. Further, recognize that some applicants will have more unique or interesting personal experiences than others. Not every applicant is a cancer survivor or has donated an organ to a family member or is the product of a war-torn country. The overall goal of the personal statement is to provide a concise, polished essay demonstrating your motivations for residency. Along the way, you tell your story while highlighting key aspects of your personality and CV.

After four challenging years studying biomedical engineering in undergrad, I was fortunate to be accepted to the University of Miami’s School of Medicine. While I was genuinely fascinated with almost every discipline of medicine, I had a particular interest in surgery. To give myself time to mature and explore this path further, I elected to take a research year after my second year of medical school and was able to secure a position in the laboratory of Dr. Seth Reigns, director of the Miami Transplant Institute. In the lab, I was tasked with characterizing Regulatory CAR-T cell populations in nonhuman primates. Excitingly, we found that two infusions of Regulatory CAR-T cells are able to prolong renal allograft survival in the absence of traditional immunosuppression. From a clinical perspective, witnessing the transformative impact of liver transplantation on critically ill patients was awe-inspiring. The chance to participate in donor procurements and witness the miraculous recoveries of patients postoperatively further solidified my resolve. Dr. Reigns, a true life-giver, provided me with a profound appreciation for the field of transplant surgery.

During my research year, I had the opportunity to hone my research skills and make significant contributions. However, it was my immersive experience as a third-year clerk on the trauma service that solidified my desire to pursue a career in surgery. Witnessing the remarkable expertise of the chief residents and attending surgeons in swiftly assessing and diagnosing patients amidst the chaos of the trauma bay, where vital information was often scarce, left me mesmerized. The urgency with which they inserted chest tubes and promptly performed emergent exploratory laparotomies was nothing short of exhilarating and profoundly inspiring. Equally fulfilling was the privilege of accompanying these patients throughout their hospitalization, observing their remarkable recovery from being intubated in the intensive care unit to the triumphant moment of their eventual discharge. This comprehensive experience further affirmed my passion for surgical intervention and reinforced my unwavering commitment to becoming a surgeon.

These next two paragraphs are perhaps the most important. Here the applicant dives into what made her want to become a general surgeon. She talks about her research  experiences in a surgical lab and her clinical experiences with her mentor Dr. Reigns. Note that while she is not simply rehashing her CV, she does mention her academic accomplishments and drives key points home. Note that while the applicant elected to open the first paragraph with a quote from her father, she could have also chosen to open with an internal thought or reflection from these clinical experiences with Dr. Reigns (i.e., “I’ll never forget the moment we completed the venous anastomosis and ended ischemia time. Blood began perfusing the pale liver as it pinked up.”)

In addition to my research endeavors, I also became involved with Operation SECURE, a nonprofit crisis center in Miami that offers crisis counseling services free of charge. This experience has been humbling and rewarding, particularly as I counsel individuals struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. Drawing from my background in transplant surgery, I am able to provide a unique perspective on the long-term consequences of addiction. While surgical intervention can address these issues this experience demonstrated the importance of preventative medicine as well.

This paragraph draws on another crucial experience that the applicant had outside of the lab/OR. Remember, you are presenting yourself as a whole person so it is important to mention any other influential experiences (volunteering, service, etc.) that you are particularly proud of. Also, note that while the applicant is serving as a crisis volunteer, she circles back and relates it to her prior experiences above.

Looking ahead, my goal is to pursue a residency in general surgery, with the ultimate aim of specializing in abdominal transplant surgery through a fellowship program. I am well aware that the challenges I will face in my training are formidable, but I am constantly reminded of my father’s voice, urging me to approach this as more than just a job—a true lifestyle that demands my unwavering commitment. As I embark on this journey, I am eager to give everything I have to the field of surgery. It is my steadfast dedication to making a profound difference in the lives of patients, the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, and the opportunity to live my dream that fuels my passion for general surgery and the transformative field of transplantation.

The final paragraph is also very critical. Here you should mention your long-term goals. It is ok to be vague and specific at the same time. Finally, you should try to tie things up and if possible, connect them to any comments made in the first paragraph. Here the applicant paraphrases her father’s quote that opens the personal statement. Finally, the applicant affirms their choice for applying to general surgery and provides an optimistic look on their future training.

As a final note remember that the personal statement is just one piece of an entire application. While it is important most applicants do not get an interview based on a personal statement, however, rest assured some applicants do not get an interview based on a poor personal statement. The vast majority of personal statements (~85%) are simply acceptable documents that tell your personal journey while mentioning key aspects of your application. They are well-written, logical, and polished with no grammatical errors. A small portion (less than 5%) are truly incredible literary documents that are beautifully written and tell an incredible story. Still, these personal statements will likely do little in the way of getting you an interview. Finally, the remaining 10% of personal statements are the ones that can have your application dismissed. These personal statements are unpolished, contain grammatical errors, or are trying too hard to fall in the top 5% and come across poorly.

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Sample 2: The Firefighter | Emergency Medicine

For as long as I can recall, it seemed my destiny was always to become a firefighter. Growing up as the son and grandson of two generations of City of Toledo Firefighters, I witnessed firsthand the selflessness and bravery displayed by these everyday heroes. They were the first responders who fearlessly confronted emergencies, rushing into flaming buildings and establishing deep connections with the community. It was their dedication that inspired me to follow in their footsteps. However, my path took an unexpected turn after high school when I decided to take a position working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) prior to college.

During that transformative year, as I immersed myself in the world of emergency medical services, I had the privilege of interacting with emergency physicians both in the field and in the trauma bay. During these experiences, I was immediately captivated by their ability to think critically, remain calm in the face of chaos, and save lives. It was in those moments that I realized my true calling lay in the field of emergency medicine.

Coming from a blue-collar family, I understood the importance of hard work and determination. As the first person in my family to pursue a college degree, I enrolled in Owens Community College to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Pre-medicine. During this time, I continued to work as an EMT on weekends and during summers, financing my education through steadfast commitment and sheer determination. After two demanding years at the community college, my efforts were rewarded when I earned a full scholarship to the University of Toledo to complete my bachelor’s degree before gaining admission to the Toledo School of Medicine.
From the moment I stepped into medical school, my decision to pursue emergency medicine remained resolute. However, I recognized the value of acquiring a comprehensive understanding of various medical disciplines, as emergency medicine demands proficiency in almost every aspect of medicine. I approached every clinical rotation with enthusiasm, eager to develop the diverse skill set required to excel in the dynamic environment of the emergency department.

As a testament to my passion for the field, I took the initiative to establish the University of Toledo’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group, creating a platform where like-minded individuals could come together. Through this group, I organized lunch talks by members of the department and facilitated shadowing opportunities for first and second-year medical students. Furthermore, I dedicated two months of elective time to work alongside emergency medicine residents and physicians during prehospital care rotations across Toledo, solidifying my passion for the specialty.


Looking ahead, I envision a future where I split my practice between a large teaching academic center and an underserved, rural community. In the academic center, I aim to contribute to the education of residents and students, sharing my experiences and expertise to shape the next generation of emergency physicians. Simultaneously, I am deeply committed to serving in a rural or underserved setting, where I can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need. I believe that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, deserves access to high-quality emergency care, and I am eager to provide comprehensive and compassionate medical services to underserved populations. With the unwavering motivation and dedication inherited from two generations of first responders, I am ready to embark on the next phase of my training in emergency medicine.

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Sample 3: The impoverished| Primary Care/IM

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” These powerful words, spoken by my mother, have echoed in my mind since childhood. Growing up in a single-parent home on the south side of Chicago, my mother worked tirelessly as a nurse in Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s emergency department. Every night my brother and I would wait for her to arrive after her shift ended at 7 pm. As she shared stories of dedicated physicians and life-saving interventions, I began to view these doctors in the same manner my friends viewed superheroes or sports stars, inspiring me to pursue a career in medicine.

As an African American in a neighborhood lacking professional role models, the path to becoming a physician seemed distant if not impossible. However, my mother’s belief in the power of dreams instilled in me the courage to strive for the extraordinary. With determination, I worked diligently throughout grade school and middle school, propelled by the aspiration to transcend the limitations of my circumstances. Eventually, I was admitted to Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, a magnet school named after a civil rights activist and one of my personal heroes.

Continuing to embrace every opportunity, I was able to attend Northwestern University on a full academic scholarship, where I immersed myself in neuroscience studies. Additionally, I dedicated my time as a tutor, providing support to underserved children in my former neighborhood. Witnessing the impact of education and healthcare disparities further ignited my passion for addressing these inequities.

Entering the University of Chicago Medical School, I embarked on a transformative journey. During my third-year clerkships, I discovered my calling in primary care and internal medicine. Although initially drawn to the fast-paced environment of the emergency department, I found the thoughtful, cerebral approach of internal medicine captivating. Each day, I eagerly embraced the challenge of unraveling complex medical puzzles, weaving together a patient’s diverse comorbidities to form a comprehensive list of differential diagnoses.

Following my third year, I took a gap year dedicated to serving underserved populations in Chicago. This experience provided a profound understanding of social determinants of health and the importance of preventive medicine. It solidified my commitment to bridging the gaps in healthcare access and outcomes, particularly within urban communities like my own.
Looking forward, my vision encompasses practicing as a primary care physician in an urban academic center, where I can not only provide compassionate patient care but also mentor and inspire medical students and residents. Furthermore, I aspire to conduct research that addresses social determinants of health, striving to make tangible improvements in my community.

Reflecting on my journey, I realize that my mother’s quote encapsulates the essence of my pursuit. With each step I’ve taken, from the dinner table conversations with my mother to my experiences in medical school, I have seen firsthand that dreams can indeed be transformed into reality. By embracing the challenges, dedicating myself to lifelong learning, and advocating for equitable healthcare, I am ready to embark on a fulfilling career in internal medicine—a path that resonates with my values, aspirations, and the indomitable spirit instilled in me by my remarkable mother. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” These words, once whispered to me at the beginning of my journey, now reverberate with even greater significance as I stand at the threshold of a future where I can make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

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Sample 4: The War Survivor| Internal Medicine

The Afghan Civil War erupted when I was in elementary school. Soon after, the Taliban occupied Afghanistan, and, as a girl, I was barred from my school. I had always dreamed of becoming the first female doctor in my family, and this was a goal that required extensive education, let alone elementary school. My family uprooted everything to migrate to Pakistan so that I would be able to continue my education. Living in a country where we were not welcomed, bearing financial burdens, and worrying about safety issues, especially for girls, were the least of the challenges we faced, but that did not hold me back.

Still, that was not the last challenge I faced. When I graduated high school, I could not afford to attend medical school in Pakistan. Instead, I accepted the offer to serve as a teacher at our community school. Teaching at such a young age, tutoring those similar in age to me, and managing a class of thirty students taught me a great deal of discipline and leadership, skills which I have since carried with me throughout my career.

A decade later, the Taliban regime was finally over. We returned to Afghanistan, and I attended the entrance exam for Kabul Medical University. Among thousands of other participants, I was part of the lucky 25% who passed the exam. My endurance had paid off. Finally in medical school, I found myself fascinated by the detailed knowledge and interdisciplinary approach of my internist attendings. Their synchronized orchestration of patient care resonated with my experiences managing diverse students, while their instructive whiteboard sessions on pathophysiology echoed my own tenure at the front of a classroom. These encounters served as enlightening examples, aiding me in sculpting my identity as a burgeoning physician.

On my internal medicine rotation, I was responsible for the care of a patient with multiple myeloma. His low hemoglobin level led to significant limitations in his daily activity. His symptoms were initially attributed solely to his condition, but I was not satisfied with this explanation. When I ordered his iron studies, we were able to diagnose him with concomitant iron deficiency anemia. An iron infusion quickly helped improve his quality of life, which was precious to my patient, as I knew from the time I had spent with him. That ability to help my patient made me finally feel like the doctor I aspired to be. I had found my home in internal medicine. The convergence of laboratory tests, imaging studies, and critical analysis to reach a diagnosis fuels my desire to become an internist.

Despite my passion for internal medicine, women in Afghanistan faced scant opportunities in this field. This was due to a lack of female mentors and sociocultural constraints against females being on night shifts in predominantly male hospitals. Undeterred, I embarked on another journey away from home, this time to the United States. Here, I secured a position as a medical scribe, working in tandem with various healthcare providers. This experience allowed me to absorb their expertise, familiarize myself with the U.S. healthcare system, and diligently prepare for and ultimately pass the USMLE exams.

I have come a long way, and still have a long way to go. My accomplishment of becoming my family’s first female doctor fills me with pride. Yet, I aspire to achieve more – to become a distinguished internist and an empowering role model for the women of Afghanistan. I intend to personify the belief: if you dare to dream, you are destined to achieve.

What Does Our MATCH Application Package Include?

Personal Statement Editing

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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

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Sample 5: Changing Specialties| Internal Medicine

When I was a senior in high school, my girl scout troop would organize weekly medical trips to rural parts of our community, working with local physicians to provide basic medical services to underserved patient populations. I was particularly struck by the excellent care and bedside manner of one of the physicians who used his bilingualism to connect with a non-English speaking patient who had faced significant challenges in accessing care. The doctor’s small gesture left a lasting impression on me, and, for the first time, I realized not only the curative but also the humanistic power of medicine to connect with patients across cultural barriers and in some of their most vulnerable moments. Though I had always had a proclivity for science, it was not until that moment that I had ever seriously considered a career in medicine.

In medical school, I was captivated by pre-clinical coursework in pathology and lectures on disease pathophysiology. I was torn between pathology and internal medicine during my clinical rotations, as I enjoyed the cerebral, deductive nature of each field and the fact that neither was limited to a single organ system or patient population. The opportunity to be the frontline diagnostician and to utilize advanced equipment and laboratory methods eventually won me over to pathology.

However, during my pathology residency, the pendulum started to swing back toward internal medicine. I vividly remember the turning point in my decision making. I was staring down the barrel of my microscope at dozens of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes on a peripheral blood smear. I paged the internal medicine team to help confirm the diagnosis of cerebral malaria. Hearing the excitement and celebration of the medical team on the other end, who had been struggling to identify the etiology of the patient’s undulant fevers and fatigue, I felt a pang of envy, a distinct feeling that I was missing out on the human factor of medicine.

Similarly, in my research on the utility of galectin-3 immunohistochemistry staining in papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, I found myself increasingly drawn to the human impacts of scientific investigation. For example, after my successful completion of several experiments, our department was able to secure funding to examine a wider range of malignancies. I was particularly excited when my research enabled our hospital to offer estrogen and progesterone receptor testing and hormonal therapy for breast cancer patients. I quickly realized that I did not just want to diagnose but to directly treat patients, and with each passing day, I yearned more for the ability to heal through empathic listening and the formation of meaningful rapport with patients.

Eventually, I decided to undertake the goal of retraining in internal medicine. To this end, I elected to travel to the United States to undertake hands-on clinical experiences. My time in the U.S. gave me firsthand exposure to a complex healthcare system and a deeper appreciation for the impact of advanced diagnostic technology, cutting-edge treatment modalities, and patient-centered, evidence-based care. I also gained confidence in my abilities to function as a member of a large, interdisciplinary care team, drawing on a skillset I had cultivated from many years of leading my girl scout troop and performing in church choirs.

I aspire to enter a residency program with an emphasis on strong clinical skills training, excellent research opportunities, and a dedication to clinical mentorship. Moreover, I want to be part of a program with strong camaraderie among residents and faculty and a spirit of collegiality and tireless dedication to patient care. Ultimately, I believe that my background in and extensive knowledge of pathology, my compassionate disposition, and my penchant for diligence and collaboration will make me a strong applicant to your residency program. Thank you for your consideration of my application.

Looking for a detailed ERAS Application Template with samples of various experiences?
Hopefully, these samples will help you draft an excellent personal statement to tell the great story of your medical journey! If you need help with editing your personal statement or having an expert lay an eye on it and give you comprehensive feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out to us HERE!
Need guidance on crafting that perfect personal statement? Swing by our blog “How to Write a Good Personal Statement for your Residency Application” for a fun walkthrough on creating a standout residency application statement.
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