Applicants often write about what they want to do by detailing what they don’t want to do. They share in detail why they disliked the monotony of their obstetrics rotation or the lack of continuous care in emergency medicine, clearly identifying what aspects of their personality were not satisfied in these other specialties.
This is a natural thought process and one you should explore thoroughly as you make any important decision. In the relationship world, such a process of elimination might be called “settling” because nothing else is working for you. And no one – not a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, and certainly not a potential program director – wants to hear that you’re “settling” for them.
Residency programs want to know why you chose your particular specialty – not why you fled to it once you discovered that other specialties weren’t a good fit. It’s fine to note that even though you always pictured yourself a surgeon, you found yourself drawn to the other side of the table. But then write about what draws you to anesthesiology, not the negatives that have driven you from your dream of holding a scalpel.
This is not to say that you must be starry-eyed about your future specialty. Obviously you should recognize the challenges you’ll face. But by stating your motivations affirmatively, you’ll be able to express your practical awareness and still come out ahead.
Avoid Fatal Flaw #3: Affirmatively express your reasons for choosing your specialty.
“Settling for a Specialty” is the third post in our series, 5 Fatal Flaws: Eliminate the 5 Most Common Flaws in Your Residency Personal Statement. You can download the complete guide right here.