One of the difficult parts of preparing for residency is writing your personal statement. It’s short, supposed to be to the point, but also explain all of your best intentions. Unlike your letters, grades, activities, this part is what you can control the most. A few challenging parts of the personal statement:
- You only have 1 page. There’s really not an opportunity to share every story or every reason why you want to go into a specific residency. Think about one or two key experiences that have shaped your experience.
- Don’t copy your resume. Yes, talk about your experiences, but focus on the WHY. Why were those experiences meaningful? What did you learn? What can your personal statement tell you that the resume cannot? I was told that the personal statement is a conversation starter for interviews. If that’s the case, what do you want to talk about?
- It’s difficult because most people don’t take time off between med school and residency, so gathering personal experiences are more difficult. So it’s okay to talk about formative experiences before medical school.
- Talk about your patients. What patients really stuck with you? Even if they weren’t in your field, what did you learn? (Disclaimer: Applying to surgery, I talk about a patient I had a meaningful connection with during my medicine rotation).
Write multiple versions. And multiple drafts. There will be no perfect statement for every reader. What you have to do is know that whatever statement you submit, be proud of it. Also, note that you can use different statements for different applications.
What are your thoughts?