17 Important Tips on Writing your Residency Personal Statement

17 Important Tip on Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

So, it’s time to write your residency personal statement, but you need a little guidance. Below is a list that will help you get started and an example essay.

1) Start with something catchy to engage your reader. The first one or two sentences are pivotal. If the opening of your essay bores your reader, he may stop reading.

2) End with a strong conclusion to leave a lasting impression.

3) Do not use cliché phrases such as “I like internal medicine because I enjoy working with patients.”

4) Avoid quotations. The personal statement is about you.


Show don’t tell.

5) In general, it is better to “show” through example or anecdote rather than “tell.” Instead of writing “I find the specialty of internal medicine interesting,” explain why, specifically, you find the specialty interesting and what experiences have led to this conclusion.

6) Avoid general statements like: “It was rewarding.” Instead offer specific details about what made an experience rewarding.

7) With every paragraph, ask yourself if someone else could have written it and, if the answer is yes, go back and make the paragraph unique. You don’t want your written work to be generic.


Do not regurgitate your CV.

8) Do not regurgitate your CV or write about something that can be read elsewhere in your application.

9) Do not repeat yourself. With each sentence, ask yourself, “Have I already said that?” If the answer is yes, hit delete.

RELATED: ERAS Application Entries: One size does not fit all.
10) Use the active rather than passive voice.

11) Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs.

12) Your essay should be authentic. No matter what advice others have given you, your essay must be a reflection of you and must be, as the title suggests, personal.

13) Don’t overuse the word “I.”


Be self promoting

14) Be self promoting but not arrogant.

15) Don’t be negative.

16) Don’t preach.

17) Avoid medical jargon and abbreviations.

Looking for a residency personal statement example?

The most common approach to the personal statement is what I will call the traditional approach, in which the applicant conveys her interest in the specialty, when that interest began and what she has done to pursue the particular specialty.

I looked into her eyes and saw terror. She knew the life of her unborn baby was in jeopardy. As tears streamed down her face, she looked to the attending physician. In desperation, she pleaded “Please save our baby.” She and her husband had been trying to conceive for more than two years, and they knew this could be their only chance to have a healthy child. She went into labor at home and because of a horrible snowstorm was not able to reach the hospital for several hours. When she arrived in labor and delivery, she was crowning. But, the baby was having late decelerations. Because of the sweat on my attending’s forehead I knew the situation was serious. Yet we all tried to remain calm and to keep the patient and her husband calm as well. I entered medical school with an open mind as everyone suggested.

Even as a first year medical student, however, I was fascinated with embryology. I entered my third year still unsure of what I would pursue. I knew I wanted a career that would be challenging and interesting. Because of my background in drawing and painting, I always loved working with my hands. Yet I also enjoyed working with people. Thankfully, my obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn) rotation was the first of my third year and I was immediately hooked. I quickly sought out opportunities for research and became involved in a clinical study investigating the impact of a vegan diet on birth outcomes. I have always had an interest in wellness and nutrition, and this seemed like a perfect fit for me. My research is still in process, but through this experience I have learned how to analyze data, stay objective and critically evaluate the literature. So far, our findings suggest better than normal outcomes for babies born to vegan mothers. This reinforces my goal to educate my patients about the important of diet and nutrition, which I hope to make a part of my future practice.

Early in my fourth year, I completed an elective rotation at Inner City Medical Center. There I cared for a diverse group of patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I realized how much I enjoy labor and delivery, but I also value the operative aspects of ob/gyn. I appreciate the importance of understanding the female anatomy so I can operate with precision. I also value the diversity of practice in ob/gyn. Whether caring for a woman about to give birth, helping a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer navigate her treatment options, or caring for a perimenopausal woman who is coping with symptoms of hormone fluctuations, I enjoy caring for patients with knowledge and compassion. The outpatient aspect of ob/gyn brings satisfaction as well. I look forward to building relationships with my patients, helping them to lead the healthiest lives possible. I have also realized how much I want to care for those who lack access to care. The work I have done at Medical School Free Clinic has helped me realize the gaps that exist in access to care and education. As a future practicing ob/gyn, I hope to work in such a setting at least on a part time basis. On that snowy night, when we realized the baby was having difficulty
being born because of shoulder dystocia, a simple maneuver eased the situation. The baby’s first cry brought such joy and relief to everyone in the room and, at that moment, I knew I had to be part of this specialty. I hope to join a program where I will have the clinical exposure that will give me the skills and experience to care for a wide range of patients. I do not yet know if I will subspecialize, and I will seek out mentors and experiences as a resident to make an informed decision. I would be honored to interview at your program and thank you for your consideration.

This post was adapted from How To Be an All-Star Residency Match Applicant: From the First Year of Medical School to Match Day. A MedEdits Guide. by Jessica Freedman MD

Looking for help on your residency personal statement?  Click here and contact Mededits.

17 Important Tips on Writing your Residency Personal Statement


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