The ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) opened back in June, and September is right around the corner, so it’s time to get cracking on those residency essays!
Your personal statement is a vital part of your residency application: it provides you with an opportunity to explain why you’ve chosen your target specialty and to show the committee who you are and why you’d be the best candidate for the job. Unlike other pieces of your application (such as letters of rec), your personal statement is something that you have complete control over. Make the most of it!
Here are 4 things you should AVOID when preparing your residency personal statement:
1. DON’T explain why you went into medicine.
This isn’t a med school application; you’ve already convinced your med school’s adcom why you want to be a doctor. Now that you are a doctor, that information is really beside the point.
2. DON’T offer a superficial or generic explanation for choosing your specialty.
Show that you are serious about your chosen field by giving a serious explanation. Saying that you have wanted to become a surgeon ever since playing Operation as a child doesn’t really shed the right level of knowledge or experience on your decision. Most likely, you’ve chosen your field based on something you learned or an experience you had during med school. Go with that instead.
3. DON’T send the same personal statement to each of the programs you’re applying to.
It should go without saying that since your reasons for applying to each of your given programs are different, then your essays should be different as well. After all, you’re supposed to write about why each program appeals to you – they can’t all have the same attraction.
4. DON’T use all 28,000 characters for your personal statement.
The 28,000 character limit (approximately five pages) set by ERAS is the absolute maximum your essay is allowed to be. But that doesn’t mean that it should be that long. In fact, no residency director wants to read that much, or even close to that much. Try and stick to a one-page essay that addresses all of your key points. Your essay will be more effective if you’re more to the point and concise. You can offer longer answers during your interview.
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