2024 Residency Personal Statement The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Your Residency Personal Statement

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2024 Residency Personal Statement
The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Your Residency Personal Statement

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The residency personal statement is a crucial component of your application. It’s your chance to provide a narrative that highlights your passion for medicine, your journey, and why you’re a perfect fit for your chosen specialty. While it might seem daunting, with the right approach, you can craft a compelling and authentic personal statement that enhances your application.

We also have detailed guides on how to complete your ERAS application, 200+ residency interview questions, and residency personal statement examples.

Table of Contents
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What is a Personal Statement for Residency?

A personal statement for residency is your story! It is a written narrative submitted as part of the residency application process serving several purposes:

  • Introduction: It introduces you to the selection committee, providing them with insights into who you are beyond your CV and transcripts.
  • Motivation: It explains why you have chosen a particular specialty and what drives your passion for this field.
  • Experience: It highlights your relevant experiences during medical school, such as clinical rotations, research, and volunteer work.
  • Fit: It demonstrates your fit for the residency program, showcasing your skills, qualities, and readiness for the challenges of residency.
  • Future Goals: It outlines your career aspirations and how the residency program aligns with your professional goals. 
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What is the Purpose of Your Personal Statement?

The purpose of a personal statement in the residency application process is multifaceted:

1. Personal Connection:

  • Allows you to share your personal story and connect with the selection committee on a human level.
  • Provides context to your application, explaining your motivations and journey.

2. Highlighting Strengths:

  • Offers a platform to showcase your strengths, skills, and unique qualities.
  • Allows you to emphasize experiences that have prepared you for residency.

3. Demonstrating Fit:

  • Shows how your experiences and goals align with the residency program.
  • Helps the selection committee assess your suitability for their program and specialty.

4. Addressing Red Flags:

  • Provides an opportunity to address any gaps, challenges, or setbacks in your academic or professional journey.
  • Demonstrates your resilience, growth, and ability to overcome obstacles.

5. Setting Yourself Apart:

  • Differentiates you from other applicants by highlighting your unique journey and perspective.
  • Makes your application memorable and compelling.

If you are looking for a full ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025, including personal statement examples, MSPE samples, ERAS application template, and much more, click here.

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Why is the Personal Statement Important?

The personal statement is a crucial component of your residency application. According to the 2021 NRMP Program Director Survey, 83.8% of program directors cited personal statements as an important factor in deciding whom to interview, with an average importance rating of 3.9 out of 5. This underscores the significant role the personal statement plays in the residency selection process, often serving as a deciding factor between similarly qualified candidates.

Data from the survey also revealed that certain characteristics highlighted in the personal statement can heavily influence a program director’s decision. Characteristics such as perceived commitment to the specialty, diversity characteristics, and having overcome significant obstacles were rated with a mean importance of 4.3, 4.1, and 4.1, respectively. Therefore, effectively communicating these aspects in your personal statement can enhance your candidacy and set you apart from other applicants.

Personal Touch

Your personal statement adds a human element to your application. It’s your opportunity to show the selection committee who you are beyond your scores and CV. A well-crafted statement can convey your personality, values, and motivation for pursuing medicine.

Opportunity to Stand Out

In a competitive field, standing out is crucial. Your personal statement allows you to highlight unique experiences and perspectives that differentiate you from other applicants. This is your chance to tell your story in a way that resonates with the readers.

Demonstrates Communication Skills

A clear, concise, and well-written personal statement reflects your ability to communicate effectively. Strong communication skills are essential in medicine, and your personal statement serves as evidence of these abilities.

If you want a detailed guide on how to complete your ERAS application, check out our other blog here.

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Tips for Your Residency Personal Statement

Things to Do

  • Be Authentic: Authenticity is key. Write in your voice and stay true to your experiences and feelings. Admissions committees can easily spot when a statement feels forced or insincere.
  • Highlight Your Strengths: Focus on what makes you a strong candidate. Discuss specific experiences that have prepared you for residency and how they have shaped your skills and attributes.
  • Tell a Story: Use storytelling techniques to make your personal statement engaging. A compelling narrative can draw the reader in and make your application memorable.
  • Be Specific: Use concrete examples to illustrate your points. Instead of saying you’re compassionate, describe a situation where you demonstrated compassion.
  • Stay Focused: Keep your statement relevant to the specialty you’re applying for. Highlight experiences and qualities that are directly related to the field.
  • Proofread and Edit: A polished personal statement is free of errors. Proofread carefully and consider having someone else review your statement to catch mistakes you might have missed.
  • Get Feedback: Seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or professional editing services. Different perspectives can help you refine your statement and ensure it’s effective.

Things to Avoid

  • Avoid Clichés: Phrases like “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a child” are overused. Find more unique ways to express your motivations.
  • Don’t Overdo It: Trying too hard to be memorable can backfire. Stay genuine and don’t exaggerate your experiences or abilities.
  • Steer Clear of Controversial Topics: Avoid discussing politics, religion, or other sensitive topics unless they are directly relevant to your medical journey.
  • Avoid Repetition: Your personal statement should complement, not repeat, information in your CV or ERAS application.
  • Don’t Plagiarize: Originality is crucial. Plagiarism can severely damage your credibility and harm your chances of matching.
  • Avoid Being Too Creative: Trying to be overly creative can come across as weird or awkward. Maintain a professional tone and focus on clarity.
Watch this to learn how to write a good personal statement for your residency application!

What is the Structure of a Residency Personal Statement?


Start with a Compelling Anecdote or Statement:

Begin with an engaging anecdote or a thought-provoking statement that grabs the reader’s attention. This could be a personal experience, a memorable patient interaction, or a moment that solidified your decision to pursue your chosen specialty.

“The first time I scrubbed into a surgery, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be. Watching the team work seamlessly to save a life was exhilarating, and I realized that this was the kind of environment I wanted to be a part of every day.”

Provide Context:

After your opening anecdote or statement, provide some context about who you are. Briefly introduce yourself and your background. This helps the reader understand your journey and sets the stage for the rest of your essay.

“As a medical student with a background in biomedical engineering, I have always been fascinated by the intersection of technology and medicine. My journey into the field of cardiology began during my internal medicine rotation, where I was captivated by the complexity of cardiac physiology.”

State Your Interest in the Specialty:

Clearly articulate your interest in the specialty you are applying for. Explain why you are drawn to this field and what motivates you to pursue it. This helps the reader understand your passion and commitment.

“My fascination with cardiology grew as I witnessed the immediate impact of interventions on patients with acute coronary syndrome. The opportunity to make a tangible difference in patients’ lives through both clinical care and innovative research solidified my decision to pursue a career in this dynamic field.”

Set the Tone:

The tone of your introduction should be positive, enthusiastic, and professional. It should reflect your genuine interest in the specialty and your excitement about the prospect of training in this field.

Be Concise:

While it’s important to provide enough detail to engage the reader, be mindful of the overall length of your introduction. Aim to be concise and to the point, setting the stage for the detailed experiences and reflections that will follow in the body of your essay.

By starting with a compelling introduction, you can draw the reader into your personal statement and set the stage for a narrative that highlights your strengths, experiences, and passion for your chosen specialty. 

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Personal Statement Body

Paragraph 1: Detail Your Interest in the Specialty

Explain why you’re drawn to this specialty. Discuss any defining moments that solidified your interest.

“My fascination with cardiology began during my internal medicine rotation. Witnessing the immediate impact of interventions on patients with acute coronary syndrome was incredibly rewarding. I was captivated by the complexity of cardiac physiology and the opportunity to make a tangible difference in patients’ lives.”

Paragraph 2: Discuss Your Relevant Experiences

Highlight your clinical experiences, research, and extracurricular activities that are relevant to the specialty.

“During my clinical rotations, I had the privilege of working on a research project focused on improving outcomes for patients with heart failure. This experience taught me the importance of evidence-based practice and fueled my passion for integrating research into clinical care. Additionally, my volunteer work at a community health clinic allowed me to develop strong patient communication skills and a deep appreciation for patient-centered care.”

Paragraph 3: Mention Unique Qualities or Skills

Discuss any unique qualities or skills you bring to the program.

“I bring a unique perspective to cardiology with my background in biomedical engineering. My understanding of medical technology and device innovation will enable me to contribute to the advancement of cardiology practice. Furthermore, my dedication to lifelong learning and commitment to compassionate patient care are qualities that I believe will make me a valuable member of the cardiology team.”

While the structure outlined—detailing your interest in the specialty, discussing relevant experiences, and mentioning unique qualities or skills—provides a solid framework for crafting the body of your personal statement, it’s not mandatory to follow this sequence strictly. Your narrative flow and the chronological order of your experiences might naturally lead you to integrate these elements differently. Feel free to adjust the order to best tell your unique story and effectively highlight your strengths.

Personal Statement Conclusion

Summarize your key points, reinforce your enthusiasm and commitment to the specialty, and end with a forward-looking statement about your future in the field.

“In conclusion, my experiences have solidified my desire to pursue a career in cardiology. I am excited about the prospect of continuing my training in a dynamic and supportive environment where I can grow both professionally and personally. I am committed to contributing to the field and improving patient outcomes through compassionate care and innovative research.”

Looking for a full ERAS Application Template including samples of Experiences, Education, Geographic Preferences, Publications, and Personal/Biographic Information? Get your FREE ERAS Template here!

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Steps for Writing a Residency Personal Statement


Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Brainstorm Ideas

1. Why Did I Choose This Specialty?

  • What specific experiences influenced my decision?
  • Are there any mentors or role models who inspired me?

2. What Are My Most Significant Experiences in the Specialty?

  • Which clinical rotations or patient interactions stand out?
  • How have these experiences shaped my skills and perspective?

3. What Unique Qualities Do I Bring to the Program?

  • What strengths and skills make me a good fit for this specialty?
  • Are there any personal attributes or experiences that set me apart?

4. What Are My Career Goals?

  • What do I hope to achieve in my career?
  • How does this residency program align with my goals?

5. How Have I Overcome Challenges?

  • Are there any obstacles I’ve faced and how did I overcome them?
  • What did I learn from these experiences?

Brainstorming is a crucial step in crafting a compelling residency personal statement. Here are some strategies to help you get started:

  • Reflect on pivotal moments that steered you towards your specialty, considering influential mentors and experiences.
  • Identify key themes you want to highlight, such as leadership, patient care, teamwork, or research.
  • Compile a list of significant experiences, including clinical rotations, research, and meaningful patient interactions.

At this stage, list as many relevant experiences and ideas as possible. Later, you’ll refine these into the most compelling content for your statement.

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Selection and Structuring

Choose the most impactful experiences that align with the core message of your personal statement.

If you’re struggling to decide, consider consulting with professionals who can provide guidance on crafting a cohesive and persuasive narrative. Our physician advisors can help you with this process through our personal statement editing.

Drafting Your Personal Statement

Create a rough outline of your personal statement. Start with an engaging introduction, followed by body paragraphs that explore your key experiences, and conclude with a forward-looking statement.

Begin drafting by expanding on your selected experiences, linking them into a coherent storyline. Focus on getting your initial thoughts down without aiming for perfection.

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Refine your narrative, improve clarity, and tighten the structure. Pay attention to the flow and coherence of your story.

Final Review

Check for errors, ensure it aligns with the rest of your application, and confirm it meets all requirements. Share your brainstormed ideas with mentors, advisors, or peers. Their feedback can help you refine your ideas and ensure you’re on the right track. If you need any help editing your personal statement, check out The Match Guy Personal Statement Editing HERE.

If you are looking for a full ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025, including personal statement examples, MSPE samples, ERAS application template, and much more, click here.

Personal Statement Examples

Get a list of 20+ personal statement examples by signing up to our ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025 here.

Is It Better to Cover All My Relevant Experiences, or Should I Discuss a Few in Particular?

When writing your residency personal statement, it’s important to strike a balance between breadth and depth.

Covering All Relevant Experiences:

  • Pros: Provides a comprehensive view of your journey and showcases the variety of experiences that have prepared you for residency.
  • Cons: Can become overwhelming and may lack focus, making it harder for the reader to understand your primary motivations and strengths.

Discussing a Few Experiences in Particular:

  • Pros: Allows you to delve deeper into specific experiences, providing detailed insights and reflections. This can make your statement more engaging and memorable.
  • Cons: May omit other relevant experiences that could demonstrate your suitability for the specialty.


Focus on a few key experiences that have significantly shaped your interest in the specialty and have provided you with the skills and insights needed for residency. Use these experiences to tell a cohesive story that highlights your growth, commitment, and readiness for the specialty. Mention other experiences briefly if they are relevant but avoid overloading your statement with too many details.

Watch this detailed tutorial on how to fill the ERAS Residency Application!

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing Your Personal Statement

Being Too Generic

Make sure your statement reflects your unique journey and perspective. Avoid generic statements that could apply to any applicant.

Example of a Generic Statement:
“I have always wanted to be a doctor because I enjoy helping people and find science fascinating.”

Improved Version:
“My desire to pursue a career in cardiology was sparked during my internal medicine rotation, where I witnessed the immediate impact of interventions on patients with acute coronary syndrome. This experience highlighted the importance of timely and effective medical care, solidifying my commitment to this specialty.”

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Ignoring the Specialty

Tailor your statement to the specific specialty you are applying for. Highlight experiences and skills that are relevant to the field.

Example of Ignoring the Specialty:
“I am interested in all aspects of medicine and enjoy working with patients of all ages.”

Improved Version:
“My interest in pediatrics began during my volunteer work at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where I developed strong communication skills and a deep appreciation for the resilience of young patients. This experience reinforced my desire to specialize in pediatric care.”

Poor Organization

Ensure your statement has a clear structure and logical flow. A well-organized statement is easier to read and more impactful.

Example of Poor Organization:
“I have always been interested in surgery. During medical school, I volunteered at a local clinic and also worked on a research project in cardiology. I enjoy working in a team and am committed to continuous learning.”

Improved Version:
“My passion for surgery was solidified during my clinical rotations. Volunteering at a local clinic taught me the importance of compassionate care, while my research in cardiology provided me with a deeper understanding of evidence-based practice. These experiences have prepared me to excel in a surgical residency and contribute effectively to patient care and team dynamics.”

Neglecting to Edit

Typos and grammatical errors can leave a poor impression. Take the time to proofread your statement and consider having someone else review it.

If you are looking for a full ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025, including personal statement examples, MSPE samples, ERAS application template, and much more, click here.

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How Do I Address Red Flags

Sometimes, applicants have areas of concern in their academic or professional history that need to be addressed in the personal statement. Here’s how to handle these issues effectively:

Explaining Gaps in Education or Training

A leave of absence can be seen as a red flag but addressing it honestly and positively can mitigate concerns.

“During my third year of medical school, I took a leave of absence to care for a sick family member. This experience taught me resilience, strengthened my commitment to medicine, and provided me with a renewed perspective on the importance of work-life balance.”

Discussing Academic Challenges

Failing an exam is not the end of the world, but it’s important to explain what you learned from the experience.

“The initial failure of my Step 1 exam was a challenging moment, but it also became a turning point. It taught me the value of perseverance and the importance of seeking help when needed. After reassessing my study strategies and utilizing available resources, I successfully passed the exam and gained a deeper understanding of the material.” 

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Addressing Clinical Performance Issues

Repeating a course can be viewed negatively, but explaining the context can help.

“Retaking my pharmacology course was a humbling experience. It made me realize the need for a different approach to my studies. By seeking additional help from professors and peers, I developed better study habits that have since contributed to my academic success.”

Addressing a poor evaluation requires honesty and a focus on growth.

“Receiving an unfavorable evaluation from an attending was challenging. However, it motivated me to seek feedback actively and work on my weaknesses. I used this experience to improve my clinical skills and communication, ensuring I provide the best care for my patients.”

What is the Difference Between Medical School and Residency Personal Statements?

A medical school personal statement and a residency personal statement serve different purposes and target different aspects of your journey in medicine.

Medical School Personal Statement:

  • Focus: This statement is often centered around your motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. It highlights your journey to this decision, your relevant experiences, and your passion for the field of medicine.
  • Content: Emphasis on undergraduate experiences, volunteer work, research, and personal stories that demonstrate your commitment to medicine.
  • Goal: To convince the admissions committee that you have the potential to succeed in medical school and the qualities needed to become a compassionate, competent physician.

Residency Personal Statement:

  • Focus: This statement is more specialized and focuses on your chosen medical specialty. It should highlight your experiences during medical school that led you to choose this specialty.
  • Content: Emphasis on clinical rotations, specific patient interactions, research in the specialty, and any other experiences that are directly relevant to the specialty.
  • Goal: To demonstrate your readiness for residency, your commitment to the chosen specialty, and your fit for the program. It should show that you have the skills, experience, and passion needed to excel in this field.

FAQ Section

1. How long should my personal statement be?

Most residency programs expect a personal statement to be around 550-700 words, typically 1 page plus/minus a paragraph or two. The maximum number of characters for the ERAS personal statement is 28,000 characters.

2. Should I address any red flags in my application?

It depends on the severity of the red flag. Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • Mild Issues: For less severe issues, such as a low but passing Step 1 score, it is often not necessary to mention these in your personal statement. Addressing minor shortcomings can sometimes draw unnecessary attention to them. Instead, focus on your strengths and achievements.

  • Significant Issues: If you have a serious issue in your candidacy, such as failing the USMLE, repeating a preclinical year or clerkship, or having unexplained interruptions in your medical education or career, it’s generally advisable to address it head-on. This demonstrates maturity and honesty. When discussing these issues, do not make excuses. Instead, take ownership of the problem and explain how you have learned and grown from the experience.
    “During my second year of medical school, I faced significant personal challenges that led to a temporary leave of absence. This experience, though difficult, taught me resilience and the importance of seeking help when needed. I returned to my studies with renewed determination and have since excelled in my coursework and clinical rotations.”

  • Legal Issues: If there is a legal issue in your past, the ERAS application contains legal disclosure fields in which you can discuss the incident. It’s typically not necessary to also address the issue in your personal statement unless it played a formative role in your journey toward your specialty.

The above are general recommendations; however, given the many nuances and gray areas that tend to accompany red flags, it’s usually a good idea to discuss how to handle them with a trusted advisor in your specialty.

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3. Is it advisable to mention any connections (family/personal or professional) to a particular program or geographic area?

Mentioning a personal connection to the location of a residency program can be beneficial if it is relevant and genuine. For example, if you have family in the area, have previously lived there, or have a strong affinity for the community, it can demonstrate your genuine interest and potential long-term commitment to the program. However, ensure you write multiple personal statements tailored to each program, especially if you are applying to programs in different locations. For instance, avoid stating your love for New York City in a personal statement for a program in Michigan.

4. What key points should I address in my personal statement?

Focus on highlighting your motivations for choosing the specialty, your relevant experiences, unique qualities, and career goals. Use specific examples to illustrate your points and demonstrate your suitability for the specialty. Discuss any defining moments that solidified your interest, relevant clinical experiences, research, extracurricular activities, and any unique perspectives or skills you bring to the program.

What Do Our MATCH Application Packages 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!

5. Is it necessary to write a separate personal statement for each residency program?

Generally, applicants write one personal statement for each specialty they are applying to and send that statement to all programs within that specialty. However, if you are applying to a small number of programs or if certain programs have specific values or missions that resonate with you, tailoring your personal statement to each program can be beneficial.

This shows a deeper level of interest and alignment with the program’s unique attributes. If there are a few programs where you have a special interest or connection, customizing your personal statement for these specific programs can highlight your enthusiasm and commitment. 

6. Can I edit my personal statement after I have assigned it to programs?

Yes, you can edit your personal statement even after you have assigned it to programs. Make sure to save and resubmit the updated version before the application deadlines. Double-check that the correct version is uploaded and assigned to the appropriate programs to avoid any confusion or errors. If a program accessed your application before you updated your personal statement, they will have the original version. Changes made after they’ve downloaded your application will not be visible to them.

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7. I’m applying to multiple specialties, should I use a different personal statement for each specialty?

Yes, it’s advisable to tailor your personal statement to each specialty you are applying to. When applying to different specialties like internal medicine and pediatrics, it’s essential to create distinct personal statements for each.

This shows your specific interest and commitment to each field, aligns your experiences with the specialty’s demands, and demonstrates that you have a clear understanding of what each specialty entails.

In general, you can upload as many personal statements as you want, however, you can only assign one personal statement to a given program.

8. What structural elements should my personal statement include?

Your personal statement should have a clear structure, including an introduction, body (detailing your interest in the specialty, relevant experiences, unique qualities or skills), and conclusion. The introduction should capture attention, the body should provide depth and detail, and the conclusion should summarize your key points and express enthusiasm for the future. See above for detailed examples.

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9. Is it ok to use ChatGPT to write my residency personal statement?

We don’t recommend using ChatGPT to write your personal statement as it is crucial that your personal statement is genuinely reflective of your personal experiences, voice, and aspirations. Moreover, some program directors may screen for content generated by AI.

If you are looking for a full ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025, including personal statement examples, MSPE samples, ERAS application template, and much more, click here.

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Final Thoughts


Find a balance between highlighting your achievements and staying humble. It’s important to convey confidence without sounding arrogant


Ensure your personal statement is consistent with your overall application. Your story should align with your CV and letters of recommendation.


Be confident in your story and your journey. A strong personal statement reflects self-assurance and dedication to your chosen specialty.
Need Expert Help to Ace Your Residency Application?


We hope you found this comprehensive guide to crafting your residency personal statement informative and helpful. Remember, your personal statement is a vital component of your residency application. It’s your unique opportunity to share your story, highlight your strengths, and demonstrate your fit for your chosen specialty.

Crafting a compelling personal statement takes time, reflection, and careful consideration. By following the guidelines and tips provided in this blog post, you can create a powerful narrative that resonates with the selection committee and sets you apart from other applicants.

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

You can also bundle your personal statement editing with ERAS application editing and interview preparation by signing up to our Match Application Packages HERE.

If you have any questions about any of our services, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer support service here.

If you are looking for a full ALL-IN-ONE Application Resources for MATCH® 2025, including personal statement examples, MSPE samples, ERAS application template, and much more, click here.

Thank you for reading, and we wish you all the best in your journey to becoming a dedicated and compassionate physician. If you need further assistance or personalized guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your success is our priority!

To your Match,
James Fisher, MD, PhD

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