To get into medical school, you explained why you wanted to be a physician. Now that you’re an MD/DO, you need to show them you’ve got what it takes to be a valuable addition to a medical team. To that end, your personal statement should give the residency committee a taste of what you’re all about, and make them want more.
Here are four critical components of a residency personal statement to get you started.
- A focus on the specialty.
Your rotations let you sample each medical specialty. By now, you should have a pretty clear idea of which one you want to pursue. Just tell the residency committee how you reached that decision. What convinced you that you wanted to know more about neurology, and that you could never see yourself setting broken bones? What is it about delivering babies that thrills you more than caring for them after they’re born? Use anecdotes to illustrate your story and bring out your unique experiences and perspectives. Most importantly, where do you see yourself in the future? Make your choice unambiguous and your commitment undeniable.
- An emphasis on your strengths.
You’ve gained some valuable technical skills and exposure to clinical practice, but so have all your classmates. Which of your unique qualities will make your #1 residency program rank you as their #1 choice? Your personal experiences, both in medical school and outside, reveal a lot more about you than your CV and USMLE Step exams. A good way to think about this is in the context of what’s needed for that specialty. Will the listening skills youdeveloped in college debate help you as a family practitioner? Have your quick reflexes, honed through years of playing piano, prepared you for the technical dexterity you’ll need in emergency medicine? Will your teamwork skills developed as captain of your soccer team improve your coordination as part of a surgical team? Select specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and make your essay come alive.
- Your knowledge of the program.
You obviously don’t want to write about your love for pediatric medicine if you’re applying for a surgical residency program. What’s less obvious is that you can – and should – write about the specific advantages of a research-oriented residency program in one essay and the benefits of a purely clinical experience in another. You can even write a different personal statement for every program. It sounds like a lot of extra work, but don’t underestimate the bonus points you can get for this approach. Tailoring your essay to specific programs or types of programs demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested.
- Strong, persuasive writing.
Now that you have an idea what to write about, you need to know how to write it. Your tone of voice should be personable, but professional. Your story should be interesting and draw the reader into the story with specific examples, but use humor sparingly. Throughout your writing, keep your purpose in mind – you’re trying to land the interview, not detail every aspect of your medical school training or research project.
Without these “must-haves,” your residency personal statement will be lacking – lacking your understanding of your chosen specialty and your target program, and lacking a presentation of your skills and expertise as a future physician and as a writer.
Do you need help demonstrating all of the above personal statement components? An Accepted advisor can help! Check out our Residency Admissions Services, work with your own personal advisor, and create an essay that will get you matched at your top choice residency program.
• From Example to Exemplary, a free guide to writing outstanding application essays
• 4 Don’ts for Your Residency Personal Statements
• A Residency Admissions Tip for Third-Year Medical Students