ERAS Application, Part VI: Personal Statement

By | December 2, 2014

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Your personal statement is arguably one of the most important documents in the application. As an interviewer, I know for a fact that the personal statement is typically the only part of the application that is actually read in its entirety. The other components are simply skimmed for important details, but residency committees I have been involved with would spend five to ten minutes reviewing each applicant’s personal statement.

I have read hundreds of personal statements and what I have found is that the vast majority of them look eerily similar, especially those within a particular specialty. The format almost always has the following setup: 1) Introduction; 2) Early interest; 3) Interesting case, research, or travel experience; and 4) Summary. Instead of sticking to this generic style, I implore you to write about who you really are, not what you think the program wants to hear. This will help ensure you end up in a residency that is truly a good match, and remember that’s the whole point!

Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Your Personal Statement:

Use active, NOT passive, grammar
Make it truly personal
Emphasize your strengths
Explain any weaknesses
Discuss your goals for residency and beyond
Don’t use it as an extension of your CV
Don’t use any part of your medical school application PS
Read for pleasure to improve your writing skills
Give yourself a time limit to focus better
Have it proofread for grammar and spelling
Trash any draft you don’t like and start over from scratch