You want to write a residency personal statement that will get you noticed – and matched! – at your top choice residency program. Not sure how to turn your boring draft into an application bestseller? Follow these 5 tips:
1. Focus on what attracts you to this particular specialty
This isn’t the place to tell your full life story or to rehash the story of why you decided to become a doctor. Instead, explain how you became interested in your specialty, and show that you have the skills and personal qualities to succeed in the residency you’re seeking.
2. Be specific
Draw on concrete examples from your experiences to illustrate your points. Was there a particular experience during a rotation that made you realize this specialty was for you? Did you have an especially memorable interaction with a patient or a mentor? What skills have you developed that will help you succeed?
3. Don’t just put your CV into prose
Your residency personal statement is not the place to simply list accomplishments from your CV. Let your CV do that job! This is your opportunity to tell a coherent story about your experience and goals – a story that provides context for the rest of your application.
4. Watch your tone
You don’t want to sound arrogant (after all, your readers are considering you as a potential colleague). Describe your skills confidently, but be aware of the line between confidence and arrogance. For example, it can be very off-putting to a reader if you talk about how work was too easy for you (in a way that makes it sound like you think you’re more accomplished than everyone you worked with!). Likewise, be careful of presenting your chosen specialty as the BEST one, or the only one a really smart or accomplished person would pursue – it’s the best choice for you! It’s a good idea to ask someone else to read your essay – ask them if you sound enthusiastic and confident, or if you’ve crossed the line into arrogance.
Make sure you avoid careless mistakes. One way to catch errors: take a step back and then return to your essay after a short break. You’ll be more likely to see things that you might miss when you’re tired. Another tip: read your essay aloud. This forces you to slow down, and you’re more likely to catch awkward phrases, typos, etc. Your ear will pick up what your eye previously missed on the screen.
There you have it – your 5 ingredient recipe for residency application success! For more guidance on cooking up the perfect personal statement, please be in touch.
By Dr. Rebecca Blustein, Accepted editor and former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships & Awards for Grad School. Rebecca will be happy to assist you with your grad school applications. Want Rebecca to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!