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    Personal Statement Tips for Residency Applications


    Personal Statement Tips for Residency Applications

    By Sharon Perlman
    The Writing Web

    The personal statement is an important part of your residency application. Your grades and your USMLE scores are already set. The essay is your chance to "talk" to the department and to convince them to accept you. How should you write a great personal statement that will show the decision makers what an awesome doctor you will be? Here are some tips:

    What residency programs are looking for

    Keep in mind that the people making the decision about whether to admit you want to see (1) that you know something about the specialty you are applying to and (2) that you have that the qualities to be a good doctor and team member. They are looking for applicants who have demonstrated leadership, dedication, ability to work with colleagues and patients, and who are intelligent and have good communication skills.

    The four basic steps

    There are four basic steps to writing your personal statement: preparing before you write, writing, revising and proofreading. The first step is to take some time to brainstorm ideas and plan your essay. Then write your essay without worrying about it being perfect; you just want to get a first draft out. In the third step, revision, you can look at content, organization, clarity, etc., and improve the essay. Finally be sure to proofread your essay, making certain you have no spelling, grammar or syntax mistakes.

    Make it interesting

    You donít have to be a rocket scientist or have discovered the cure for cancer in medical school. However, your essay should be interesting to read. The key to making your essay come alive is to write about an experience or event that is/was important to you. Describe in detail what your thoughts and feelings were at the time.

    Hook the reader

    To make your essay stands out write about something you are passionate about and make sure your introduction hooks the reader from the very beginning. The first paragraph should be personal, unusual and interesting.


    Donít try to include too many topics. Itís better to focus on 2-4 experiences or ideas and develop these in depth. Was there a particular interaction with a patient that you had as a third or fourth year? Did you encounter a challenge in medical school that you successfully overcame? Describe your selected experiences in detail.

    Make it essay personal

    Avoid general statements like "I want to be a surgeon because I like helping people." Instead, use specific examples of what you are trying to say, thereby showing the reader what you did and how you felt instead of stating these feelings explicitly. For instance, if you helped with an appendectomy you might want to talk about how it brought your study of anatomy to life. It is more interesting for the reader to read descriptive stories and it sounds more realistic.

    Itís ok to mention your weaknesses but be careful

    If you have to explain some bad grades or USMLE scores thatís acceptable. Try to find something positive to say about any problem and be sure to balance this part with a section about your strengths.

    Get a second opinion

    Show your essay to other people to get feedback. Itís hard to look at and criticize your own essay objectively.

    Remember that your essay is fair game

    Interviewers will likely ask you about your essay in your interviews. Be prepared to discuss any topic that you mention in your essay.

  2. #2
    jim is offline Elite Member
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    Apr 2003
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    personal statement

    when i interviewed for med schools, only 1 state school, and Ross, actually mentioned my persoanl statement. but residency, that was a whole different story. my statemnet was taklked about at EVERY interview. it was also very well praised. i feel that it actually got me a few of my interviews on its own merit. here is what i did. i started months early. sent off drafts to my undergrad pre-med advisor, my grad school advisor, and a freind who is a personnel manager. they sent it back with suggsetions. after 4 months of going back and forth, they all felt it was good. so i spent about 160 more days on it then i did for my med school statemnet. i know my scores and grades and metters helped too, but i am sure that my statement was a big part in getting my #1 choice for residency.

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