How to Write your Dermatology Personal Statement

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How to Write your Dermatology Personal Statement
How to Write your Dermatology Personal Statement

How to Write your Dermatology Personal Statement

Do you dream of becoming a dermatologist? This highly lucrative specialty is very sought-after, with an enormous amount of competition. In 2021, 13.5% of U.S. senior medical students did not match, according to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

While what you do before applying to residency is vitally important, such as where you do rotations,from whom you get your letters of recommendation, once you are actually filling out your ERAS application, your dermatology residency personal statement, a concise exploration of your interest in the specialty and experience, will showcase what makes you exceptionally qualified.

Dermatology Residency Personal Statement: An Overview

Any dermatology residency personal statement should address:

  • Your interest in dermatology
  • Your experience in dermatology
  • Your goals for both the program and your career in the specialty

This essay serves as a way for prospective programs to learn more about you in a qualitative sense — your personality, your passion for the specialty and medicine itself, and your background.

The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) allows you to submit a personal statement of up to 28,000 characters. At MedEdits, we recommend keeping it as concise as possible, no more than 5,300 characters with spaces, barring any extenuating circumstances. If you make it too long, you risk losing your audience’s interest. You may also be tempted to add fluff — non-relevant information — in order to beef up your essay, which will actually detract from it.

Dermatology Personal Statement: Themes

According to one study, the most personal statement themes for successfully matched applicants include discussions of a skin condition, why the candidate wants to pursue dermatology, and “storytelling.” 

The study’s authors found that storytelling themes — those focusing on a personal story concerning dermatology — were less prevalent in the unmatched group than in the matched group, but the discrepancy did not rise to the level of statistical significance. 

Having a family member in the specialty was also less frequently found in the personal statements of successfully matched dermatology resident candidates.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t color your personal statement with interesting details and anecdotes — this is a narrative, after all — but you should focus more on your passion for the field than the story behind it.

Ultimately, a dermatology personal statement should address the candidate’s interest in the specialty and the qualifications they bring. At MedEdits, we advise striking a balance between offering details about you and your experiences and discussing why dermatology is so appealing to you. As an intellectual field, you want to showcase your intellectual curiosity and genuine interest in the field.

By taking this approach, our applicants have been extremely successful with 95% matching into dermatology.

5 Tips for Your Personal Statement

1. Draw the Reader in

From the beginning, you should hook your audience with an attention-grabbing introduction. Use compelling language to demonstrate your passion for dermatology and why you’re drawn to it. Be careful not to be cliche. It’s a good idea to read examples of other personal statements to find out what other candidates write about so you can avoid choosing too common of a subject. 

Including as many details as possible. You could go with a brief anecdote or another personal topic. The goal is to present yourself as authoritative yet approachable. 

2. Dive into Your Qualifications

Review your experience, including work history, research, and activities both in and outside school, as it relates to dermatology. While you shouldn’t brag per se, you should present your achievements clearly, remembering now is not the time to be humble!

3. Discuss Your Interests

Present your interests, activities, and experience outside of the field of dermatology in addition to those related to it. This will help demonstrate who you are as a person, which is one of the main goals of your personal statement. If you can, find a way to tie your extracurricular interests to dermatology itself — but avoid overreaching if there really is no connection.

4. Address Why Your Passion Is Dermatology

This should be a theme throughout your personal narrative. All of the experiences, interests, and activities you touch on should contribute to the bigger-picture question: why do you want to pursue dermatology? You don’t need to spell it out precisely, but it should be clear. The reader must be able to answer this question by the end of your personal statement without having to do the legwork themselves. 

5. Show

Show, don’t tell is a bit of a cliche, but it’s important nonetheless. Rather than listing the qualities that will make you a great dermatologist, for example, paint a picture through meaningful, well-placed details. Ground your qualifications and personal attributes in these details, offering clear, specific evidence to support your narrative. 

Your dermatology personal statement plays a crucial role in matching with your chosen specialty, but that doesn’t mean it’s something you should fear. Coupled with a strong academic record, it can help land you a spot in a residency you love, as long as you convincingly make your case and show your authentic self.

MedEdits Medical Admissions Founder and Chairwoman, Jessica Freedman, MD

JESSICA FREEDMAN, M.D., a former medical school and residency admissions officer at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is the founder and chair of MedEdits Medical Admissions and author of three top-selling books about the medical admissions process that you can find on Amazon.

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