Think of your residency personal statement as an opportunity to show your best stuff. Your residency application requires a personal statement, where you have the rare opportunity to talk at some length about your talents. Use it to your advantage to indicate that you have what the hospital needs in terms of abilities, experiences, skills, and maturity. Demonstrate that you are the person the program is looking for. In short, show each program that you are a good “match.”
This is your chance to give application readers a personal understanding of your experience, motivation, and future goals in ways that your CV doesn’t. Here are a few tips to make the process as stress-free, rewarding and fun as possible.
1. Make it Personal
It’s right in the name: your personal statement should be authentic and unique to you. Be open and clear about what you are seeking in a residency and how you will contribute to your particular specialty. Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up! You want to be perceived as self-confident, but not as arrogant. Go into detail about your own accomplishments and interests. In such a technical profession, it can be a breath of fresh air to put your personal stamp. You might be exactly what a program is looking for.
2. Give yourself time- don’t procrastinate! Allow time for ample review.
Developing a high-quality personal statement takes time. While some reviewers only skim the statement, others read it very carefully. Since you don’t know how much weight it will carry at each program, do your best job. Many reviewers use the statement to learn more about an applicant’s personal qualities, which is information that not readily apparent in the application. Take your time, your future literally depends on it.
3. Consider your audience
Grab the reviewer’s attention by showing them how you’re their ideal resident. Do not simply repeat information from your application and CV. The personal statement is not an expanded version of the CV. Your audience will likely consist of the residency program director, your interviewers, and perhaps other members of the selection committee. These readers use the personal statement to learn more about you as an individual to help them determine if you have the qualities they are seeking in a future resident. Your statement will better support your application if it conveys that you are a mature, thoughtful, enthusiastic, responsible, and stable individual.
4. Review, Review, Review
Make sure your statement is clearly written! Seek help when writing your personal statement. Your statement should be reviewed by several people, including your advisor. Be sure to correct all spelling and grammar errors. Readers will interpret these errors to mean that you are not attentive to details and they will conclude that you approach the care of patients in the same way.
5. Learn from the best- Educate yourself
Although your personal statement is unique to you, learn what to include and what to avoid. Do your due diligence by asking for advice from current residents, professors and from your advisor. Although some creativity is encouraged, avoid showing too much creativity and flowery language. An unusual statement may be perceived negatively. Members of many selection committees tend to prefer more conservative statements. When discussing your reasons for choosing your specialty, avoid financial or lifestyle reasons. In addition, avoid discussing religion, political beliefs, romantic relationships, and opinions about sex or moral issues. Express yourself, but keep it neutral.
When it doubt, reach out to those who have been through it all before. Experience is truly the best teacher. Good luck with match!