Every application process includes the preparation of a personal or autobiographical statement. Typically, application forms for residency positions include a request for a personal statement. Personal statements should also be included in cover letter form when applying for a job or another type of position.
When applying to a residency program, the personal statement is your opportunity to tell the reader — a residency program director, faculty, or current resident — who you are and what is unique about you as a potential residency candidate. Most importantly, you should emphasize the reasons for your interest in that specialty and in that particular program.
Feel free to highlight items in your CV if they help remind your reader of the experiences you’ve had that prepared you for the position. This is your opportunity to expand upon activities that are just listed in the CV but deserve to be described so your reader can appreciate the breadth and depth of your involvement in them. It should not be another comprehensive list of your activities, but rather should refer to activities that are listed in detail on the CV.
You may choose to relate significant personal experiences, but do so only if they are relevant to your candidacy for the position.
Lastly, the personal statement is the appropriate place to specify your professional goals. It offers the opportunity to put down on paper some clear, realistic, and carefully considered goals that will leave your reader with a strong impression of your maturity, self-awareness, and character.
The importance of good writing cannot be overemphasized. The quality of your writing in your personal statement is at least as important as the content. Unfortunately, not only are good writing skills allowed to deteriorate during medical school, but in some sense, they also are deliberately undermined in the interest of learning to write concise histories and physicals. For the moment, forget everything you know about writing histories and physicals. While preparing your personal statement:
- Avoid abbreviations.
- Avoid repetitive sentence structure.
- Avoid using jargon. If there is a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, do so.
- Don't assume your reader knows the acronyms you use. As a courtesy, spell everything out.
- Use a dictionary and spell check. Misspelled words look bad.
- Use a thesaurus. Variety in the written language can add interest -- but don't get carried away.
- Write in complete sentences.
Get help if you think you need it. For a crash course in good writing try The Elements of Style, Strunk and White, MacMillan Press, Fourth Edition. If you have friends or relatives with writing or editing skills, enlist their help. Student organizations at your school may host personal statement clinics, or your school may offer review services. Many student, medical, and specialty societies, local and national, may offer personal statement reviews or workshops.
Most importantly, your personal statement should be original composition. Get help where you need it, but make sure your personal statement is your original work. Remember, in the early part of the residency selection process, your writing style is the only factor your reviewers can use to learn about you personally.
Writing a Great Residency Personal Statement
Your residency personal statement is your opportunity to demonstrate passion and purpose in choosing your specialty. And this is the difference between a passable and a great residency personal statement. Creating a winning residency personal statement is less a matter of native writing talent than about having a good plan for achieving this goal. To ensure that you submit a great personal statement to your top pick programs, understand that this is not an overnight process nor is it a solo project: start early and get others to help you.
Why start early?
1. In all likelihood, you haven’t written a personal statement since med school. This means that you’re probably a little out of practice and need time to organize and write your residency personal statement
2. Your personal statement needs to evolve and develop, and this takes time. Starting early gives you the opportunity to sort through ideas, put the personal statement down for a time, and gives you some leeway in case you get sidetracked with other aspects of life.
Why get help?
1. Since you are very familiar with yourself, it can be easy to overlook things that would be important for another person to know in order to fully understand the points that you are making. Feedback will help you bridge these gaps.
2. As you move through multiple versions of your residency personal statement (as hopefully you will), your eyes and mind become inured to mistakes in the essay. You’ll be surprised at the sometimes glaring errors that another person can help point out to you.
While you are still in the writing process, it is an excellent idea to have your residency personal statement read by others who are in medicine. However, when you get the final stages of development, you may wish to consider hiring a professional editor from residency personal statement services. Working with professional residency personal statement services is a great way to ensure that your statement has quality content, is error-free, and conveys your intended message to residency selectors.
Residency Personal Statement Services Can Help you Get Selected to Your First Choice Residency Program
While most applicants understand the importance of the residency personal statement, the vast majority do not take the steps needed to ensure that their statement is free of errors – not only in technical aspects like grammar and word choice, but also in content. These types of errors can be substantial barriers to being selected to your first choice program, regardless of how qualified you are as an applicant. However, all of these things can be easily remedied with the help of experienced editors available through residency personal statement services.
See how EssayEdge experts from schools including Harvard, Yale and Princeton can help you get into medical school! Review our services.