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The Residency Personal Statement (2023/2024): The Insider’s Guide (with Examples)

Residency Match Personal Statement

A physician and former residency program director explains how to write your residency personal statement to match in to your top-choice residency program in 2024.

Read example residency personal statements and suggested outlines..


The residency personal statement allows residency program directors and associate directors the chance to get a sense of who you are and your commitment to your chosen specialty. 

As a former program director who understands how residency personal statements are reviewed, what “stands out,” and, most importantly, what will earn you interview invitations, the information below will help you write a residency personal statement to match!

It is imperative to make sure you get the most accurate guidance possible with regards to your residency personal statement content and optimal residency personal statement length (up to 5300 characters with spaces).

Want more personalized suggestions? Sign up for a FREE residency personal statement consultation .

Table of Contents

Goals for Writing Your 2024 Residency Personal Statement

Above all else, your residency personal statement offers the opportunity to show your interest in your chosen specialty when applying to residency to illustrate you are a good fit.

The more details you offer about why you are interested in the specialty and how your med school rotations, accomplishments and experiences have reinforced this interest, the stronger your personal statement will be, the more it will appeal to selection committees and the better you will do in the match process .

I encourage applicants to offer as much “evidence” as possible to “show” rather than “tell” what qualities, characteristics and interests they have. “Telling” a reader, for example, that you are compassionate and hard working means nothing. Instead, you must “show” that you embody these qualities based on your experiences in health care and the patients for whom you have cared.

The residency personal statement also offers the opportunity to write about who you are as a person to convey some details about your background, influences, and interests outside of your given specialty.

The Importance of a Balanced Residency Personal Statement

The key when writing your residency personal statement is to ensure that it is well-balanced so it appeals to a large group of people who might read your ERAS residency application.

However, it is important to understand that every program director and faculty member has his or her own idea of what he would like to read in a personal statement. As an applicant, you must go into this process understanding that you cannot please everyone, or a specific program, and your personal statement should therefore have the broadest appeal possible.

For example, some program directors would rather hear about your personal interests and curiosities and get to know who you are rather than have you focus on the specialty in which you are interested.

At MedEdits, we suggest taking a “middle of the road” approach; include some details about who you are but also focus on the specialty itself. In this way, you will make more traditional reviewers who want to hear about your interest in the specialty happy while also satisfying those who would rather learn about you as a person.

Above all, be authentic and true to yourself when writing your statement. This always leads to the best results! Read on to learn more about how to write a winning personal statement.

About MedEdits

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Residency Personal Statement Outline & Structure

Residency applicants often do well when given outlines or templates to follow, so, we will offer that, but, it is important to realize that many applicants deviate from these rigid rules. One very typical outline that serves applicants quite well in the residency admissions process is:

  • Compose a catchy introduction. Your intro can be related to your interest in the specialty to which you are applying, about a hobby or personal experience, or about your background. Regardless of the topic you choose, you want to tell a story and start with something that will interest your reader and engage him.
  • The next two to four paragraphs comprise the body of your personal statement. We encourage applicants to write about any significant experiences they have had related to their desired specialty and/or future goals. This would include information about rotations, electives, and sub internships related to the specialty, volunteer and research experiences and even significant outside interests.
  • Finally, you want to conclude your essay. In your conclusion, write about what you seek in a residency program, what you will bring to a residency program, and, if you have any idea of your future career goals, write about those as well. Your conclusion is also where you can tailor a personal statement to a specific geographic area of interest or type of program (rural, urban, community).

Residency Personal Statement Length & Residency Personal Statement Word Limit

Residency Personal Statement Length: Our recommendation is that your residency personal statement be between 4000 – 5300 characters with spaces or up to 900 words in length. 

The allowed ERAS residency personal statement length is 28,000 characters which equates to about five pages!

We have been hearing from more and more applicants that the personal statement should not exceed one page when typed in to the ERAS application . Because of this overwhelming trend, we are supporting this guidance unless you have extenuating circumstances that require your personal statement be longer.

Our recommendation is that your residency personal statement be a maximum of 5300 characters with spaces.

ERAS Residency Personal Statement Checklist

  • Ensure your personal statement flows well

The best personal statements are easy to read, don’t make the reader think too much, and make your path and interests seem logical. Rarely does a personal statement have a theme. Also try to have each paragraph transition to the next seamlessly. 

2. Your personal statement should be about you!

Your personal statement should be about you and no one else. Focus on your interests, your accomplishments and your path. This is your opportunity to be forthcoming about your achievements – by writing in detail about what you have done.

3. Be sure your personal statement clearly outlines your interest in the specialty.

Since the reader wants to be convinced of your understanding of, experience in, and curiosity about the specialty to which you are applying, be sure you highlight what you have done to explore your interest as well as your insights and observations about the specialty to show your understanding of it.

4. Make it human.

Again, your personal statement should be about you! The reader wants to know who you are, where you are from, what your interests are and who you are outside of medicine. Therefore, try to include those details about your background that are intriguing or important to you.

5. Express your interest in the specialty.

The reader fundamentally wants to know why you are pursuing the specialty. The more details you offer the more convincing you are about your commitment and your understanding of the specialty. Be sure to include details that might seem obvious. For example, in emergency medicine you must like acute care, but try to include more nuanced details about your interest, too. What do you enjoy about the diagnoses and pathologies involved? What do you value about the actual work you will do? What do you enjoy about the patients for whom you will care? How about the setting in which you will practice?

6. The start and evolution of your interest.

Readers want to know how and when you became interested in your specialty. Was this before medical school? During medical school? What have you done to pursue and nurture your interest in the specialty?

7. What you have done to learn more about the specialty.

You should explain what you have done to pursue your interest. What rotations have you done or have planned? What research, scholarly work or community service activities have you pursued to further your interest?

8. Where you see yourself in the future – if you know!

Without going into too much detail, write about the type of setting in which you see yourself in the future. Do you hope to also participate in research, teaching, public health work or community outreach as a part of your career? What are your future goals? Since many programs typically train a certain type of physician, it is important that your goals are aligned with the programs to which you are applying.

9. What do you bring to the specialty?

You should try to identify what you can bring to the program and the specialty to which you are applying as a whole. For example, are you applying to family medicine and have a distinct interest in public health? Are you applying for internal medicine and do you have demonstrated expertise in information technology and hope to improve electronic medical records? Do you have extensive research or teaching experience, and do you hope to continue to pursue these interests in the future? Have you developed a commitment to global health, and do you hope to continue making contributions abroad? Programs have a societal obligation to select residents who will make valuable contributions in the future, so the more ambitions you have the more desirable a candidate you will be.

10. What type of program you hope to join?

Do you hope to be part of a community or university-based program? What are you seeking in a residency program? Programs are looking for residents who will be the right “fit” so offering an idea of what you are seeking in a program will help them determine if your values and goals mesh with those of the program.

11. Who you are outside of the hospital?

Try to bring in some personal elements about who you are. You can do this in a few ways. If you have any outside interests or accomplishments that complement your interest in your specialty, such as extracurricular work, global work, teaching or volunteer efforts, write about them in detail, and, in doing so, show the reader a different dimension of your personality. Or, consider opening your statement by writing about an experience related to your hobbies or outside interests. Write about this in the form of an introductory vignette. I suggest taking this nontraditional approach only if you are a talented writer and can somehow relate your outside interest to the specialty you are pursuing, however. An interest in the arts can lend itself to dermatology, plastic surgery or ophthalmology, for example. Or, an interest in technology could relate to radiology .

12. Any personal challenges?

Also explain any obstacles you have overcome: Were you the first in your family to graduate from college? Were you an immigrant? Did you have limited financial resources and work through college? Many applicants tend to shy away from the very things that make them impressive because they are afraid of appearing to be looking for sympathy. As long as you explain how you have overcome adversity in a positive or creative way, your experience will be viewed as the tremendous accomplishment that it is. The personal statement should explain any unusual or distinctive aspects of your background.

  • Residency Match: How It Works & How To Get Matched

Common ERAS Residency Personal Statement Mistakes

Do not tell your entire life story or write a statement focused on your childhood or undergraduate career. 

Do not write about why you wanted to be a doctor. This is old news. From the reviewers perspective, you already are a doctor!

Do not write a personal statement focused on one hobby or begin with your birth. Some background information might be useful if it offers context to your choices and path, but your residency personal statement should be focused on the present and what you have done to pursue your interest in the specialty to which you are applying.

Do not preach. The reader understands what it means to practice his specialty and does not need you to tell him. Don’t write, for example: Internal medicine requires that a physician be knowledgeable, kind and compassionate. The reader wants to know about you!

Do not put down other specialties. You don’t need to convince anyone of your interest by writing something negative about other specialties. Doing so just makes you look bad. If you switched residencies or interests, you can explain what else you were seeking and what you found in the specialty of your choice that interests you.

Do not embellish. Program directors are pretty good at sniffing out inconsistencies and dishonesty. Always tell the truth and be honest and authentic. 

Do not plagiarize. While this seems obvious to most people, every year people copy personal statements they find online or hire companies that use stock phrases and statement to compose statements for applicants. Don’t do it!

Do not write about sensitive topics. Even if you were in a relationship that ended and resulted in a poor USMLE score , this is not a topic for a personal statement. In general, it is best to avoid discussing relationships, politics, ethical issues and religion.

Do not boast. Any hint of arrogance or self-righteousness may result in getting rejected. There is a fine line between confidence and self promotion. Some people make the mistake of over-selling themselves or writing about all of their fantastic qualities and characteristics. Rarely do readers view such personal statements favorably.

Do not write an overly creative piece. A residency personal statement should be professional. This work is equivalent to a job application. Don’t get too creative; stay focused.

Writing ERAS Residency Personal Statements For Multiple Specialties

An increasing number of applicants are applying to more than one specialty in medicine especially if the first choice specialty is very competitive. If you are applying to more than one specialty, even if there is disciplinary overlap between the two (for example family medicine and pediatrics ), we advise you write a distinct specialty for each. Remember that a physician who practices the specialty you hope to join will most likely be reviewing your statement. He or she will definitely be able to determine if the personal statement illustrates a true understanding of the specialty. If you try to recycle an entire personal statement or parts of a personal statement for two specialties, there is a high likelihood the personal statement will communicate that you aren’t sincerely interested in that specialty or that you don’t really understand what the specialty is about.

Writing About Red Flags in your ERAS Personal Statement

The personal statement is also the place to explain any red flags in your application, such as gaps in time or a leave of absence. When addressing any red flags, explain what happened succinctly. Be honest, don’t make excuses, and don’t dwell on the topic. Whenever possible, write about how you have matured or grown from the adversity or what you may have learned and how this benefits you.

If you have left a program or had a break in your medical education, you will also have the chance to explain this in your ERAS application . You should also write about this topic in your personal statement only if you have more to explain, however. 

If you have failed a Step exam or one course in medical school, this likely isn’t something to address in the personal statement. However, you should be prepared to discuss any failure during an interview. By the same token, it is best not to address one low grade or poor attending evaluation in your statement. 

Have you taken a circuitous path to medicine? If so you might address why you made these choices and what you found so interesting about medicine that was lacking in your former career.

Residency Personal Statement Example

Below are two great examples of residency personal statements that earned the applicants who wrote them numerous interviews and first choice matches. As you will see, these two applicants took very different approaches when writing the personal statement yet wrote equally persuasive and “successful” personal statements.

Residency Personal Statement Example, Analysis, and Outline: The Traditional Approach

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.

Suggested outline:

  • Introduction: Catchy Story
  • Paragraph 2: Background Information and how Interest Started
  • Paragraph 3: Write about what you did to explore your interest
  • Paragraph 4: Second paragraph about your experiences related to your specialty
  • Conclusion: Wrap it up. Write something about your future goals.

Below is an example of the traditional approach:

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.

Why It’s Great

This is a great personal statement because it clearly conveys the applicant’s interest in, and understanding of, obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) and what the applicant has done to pursue that interest. Not only does this applicant have a long-standing interest in OB/GYN, but, she conveys that she has experienced the specialty in different settings and understands the diverse nature of the specialty. She also includes information about her hobbies and interests and writes about her exploration of OB/GYN outside of the clinical arena. An added bonus is that the applicant writes well and uses descriptive language making her statement interesting and fun to read.

Residency Personal Statement Example, Analysis, and Outline: The Outside Interests Approach

Many mentors advise applicants to tell the reader something about them that is unrelated to medicine or the specialty they are pursuing. This is a fine idea, but be sure your personal statement also includes some details about your interest in your specialty if you decide to move in this direction.

Suggested Outline:

  • Introduction: Write a Catchy Introduction. Be creative! Think outside the box.
  • Paragraph 2:Elaborate on your introduction offering more details
  • Paragraph 3: Write about your specialty choice and what appeals to you.
  • Paragraph 4: Write more about your explorations in medical school.
  • Concluding paragraph(s): Write about your future goals, the type of program you hope to join and consider looping back to your introduction.

Below is an example of the outside interests approach:

The landscape before me was lush and magical. We had been hiking for hours and had found a great spot to set up camp. As I was unloading my backpack and helping to pitch the tent, I saw a scene I knew I had to capture. I quickly grabbed my carefully packed Leica before the magnificent sunset disappeared. Trying to get the perfect exposure, I somehow managed to capture this image so accurately that it reflected the beauty of what was before us high in the mountains of Utah, so far away from the hustle and bustle of New York City where we attended medical school.

Throughout my life, I have pursued my interests and curiosities with focus and creativity. One of those interests is photography. Even as a small child, I wanted my own camera, and I started snapping interesting scenes and images at the age of 6. As I grew older, this hobby took on more significance. I took a college level course in photography as a high school student, worked as a photographer’s assistant and even considered a career in photography. Paralleling my interest, however, was a desire to travel and experience new places, foods, and cultures.

I have been fortunate to travel all over the world. Rather than stopping in a city or place for a couple of days and seeing the sights, I prefer to immerse myself in my surroundings, eating the food, meeting the people, and staying for as long as I can. My fluency in Spanish and Italian has made it easier to “fit in” naturally. My most recent trip to Costa Rica allowed me to visit sugar cane fields and rain forests. I also volunteered in a clinic that helps the most desperate citizens. Of course, because I never travel without my camera, I also captured the beauty of this country; those pictures can be found on my blog.

Surgery seemed like a natural choice for me. It is a very tactile and visual field that requires patience, attention to detail and creativity—just like photography. The operating room setting is invigorating. I love to be a member of a team, and in surgery team work is an essential part of practice. The ability to deal with anatomical variations also satisfies my creative side; I have always been fond of puzzles, and the field of surgery represents a real-world puzzle to me. I also appreciate the intensity of surgery and believe I have the personality and demeanor for the field. I have always enjoyed solving problems quickly, something the field of surgery requires. My rotations in surgery – in addition to my core surgery rotation I have done trauma and cardiothoracic surgery – have helped me to understand the tremendous opportunities and diversity of the field. I have heard some residents lament that the only reason they went into surgery is to operate. However, I really enjoy seeing patients postoperatively. It is only at that time that a surgeon can really appreciate the impact of his or her work.

Finally, my trip to Honduras with a surgical team from my hospital and medical school made me realize that I can make a great contribution globally in the field of surgery. There we saw patients who had no resources or access to care. The facilities in which we worked were bare-bones. Yet the impact we made was tremendous, given that this was a group of people who otherwise would have no surgical care. In this way, I hope to combine my interests in travel and surgery as a resident, if I have time, and certainly as a practicing physician. My ultimate goal is to use my training to help populations globally and domestically.

To gain the most clinical exposure possible, I hope to train in a busy urban hospital. I believe that such a setting will give me the operative experience I need to be able to navigate many situations in the future. Such a setting will also give me the outpatient experience to understand how to manage patients once the surgery is completed.

I look forward to the day when I can be snapping my camera intraoperatively, documenting what I am doing and seeking to help other surgeons. For some, such pictures may not represent the art of those pictures I take in the wilderness, but for me they reflect the beauty of surgery and the great opportunity to make a lasting impression on another human being’s life.

This is a really intriguing personal statement because the author writes about his outside interests in a compelling way that makes him instinctively likable. He then goes on to explain what he enjoys about surgery and what he has done to pursue that interest. As you can see, this applicant writes less about his specialty (surgery) than the applicant in statement #1 did, but, he still convinces the reader of his understanding of, and commitment to, surgery. In this statement, the reader gains a much broader understanding of who the applicant is as a person and what he likes to do in his free time.

Final Thoughts

Writing your residency personal statement should be about telling your story in your own voice and style. You want to highlight your interest in the specialty for which you are applying while also conveying some ideas about who you are as a person to keep your reader engaged in learning about you as a person.

Residency Personal Statement Consulting Services

MedEdits Medical Admissions offers comprehensive guidance and document review services for residency applicants to every specialty in medicine. With more than twenty years of experience in residency admissions and founded by a former residency admissions officer and physician, MedEdits understands what program directors want to read and can help you decide what aspects of your background to focus on in your residency personal statement to earn the most interviews possible.

Getting into a residency has never been more competitive. Let the experts at MedEdits help you with your ERAS personal statement. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been matched to one of their top-choice programs.

Sample Residency Personal Statement Page 1

Sample Residency Personal Statements

Residency Personal Statement Example Page 2

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Residency personal statement: the ultimate guide.

best personal statements residency

Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 4/25/24

Are you planning on writing your personal statement for residency? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the process.

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The residency application personal statement is an essential part of applying to programs, but it can be intimidating. We get it. It can be challenging to write about yourself and your life experiences within 3,500 characters. We’ll cover everything you need to know about writing a powerful statement!

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Importance of Your Personal Statement in a Residency Application

The importance of your personal statement in your application cannot be overstated. Yes, you have secured solid letters of recommendation from physicians and crushed your USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) .

However, your personal statement is the one component of your application where you can make a case for yourself and leave a lasting impression on program directors. 

Think about it this way: program directors receive thousands of applications From aspiring medical residents and review thousands of standardized, quantitative factors like grades and test scores across the board. They also read thousands of essays and want to see something that will pique their interest. 

Your personal statement is an opportunity to show program directors specific qualities that make you stand out and shine . Program directors want to know the person behind the stellar numerical achievements. 

They want to know that you will thrive, reach your greatest potential in their program, and continue to have an exceptional career as a leader in healthcare.

importance of residency personal statement

Because of how competitive programs can be, your writing may very well be the tiebreaker that leads to your acceptance into a top program over another applicant. 

While a strong personal statement might not compensate for low exam scores, a weak one will definitely hurt an otherwise strong application.

Residency Personal Statement Outline

Knowing what you should include in your personal statement will help you get started. Your statement should include and reflect on a combination of the following:

  • What draws you to medicine/your specialty?
  • The desirable qualities, attributes, and skill sets make you well-suited to a  program and will help you succeed.
  • Your long-term plans as a practicing physician after you complete your program. This can include what you hope to accomplish in your residency and your preferred setting.
  • What attracts you to a particular program, and how would it make you a good fit?

Ultimately, program directors are looking for residents who are the best candidates and colleagues to work with and train. Combining the above suggestions will give program directors a good sense of what having you on their team would be like.

What to include in your residency personal statement

3 Tips to Help You Start Writing

Here are three tips to help you get started! 

1. Consider Why You’re Pursuing a Particular Residency

Before you start your application personal statement, you should be clear on why the specialty you’ve chosen is the right one for you . Program directors want to know that you have a realistic idea of what the specialty entails. 

If your writing fails to convey solid, meaningful reasons for pursuing the chosen specialty, you will likely not be invited for an interview. Don’t hurt your chances by sounding disinterested in the field or focusing on superficial aspects of the specialty, like high salaries and benefits.

UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine urges you to “remember that this is your chance to focus on your medical career objectives, i.e., what specialty you'd like to go into and what your ultimate goals might be.” 

2. Brainstorm 

To begin drafting your personal statement, brainstorm. Brainstorming allows you the freedom to be creative and informal. When brainstorming, you do not have to worry about grammar, spelling, or editing. You want to write down your ideas and get your creative juices flowing. 

After you have a body of ideas, you can work on weaving one or several elements into a strong, concise narrative. 

3. Ask Yourself Questions 

The following questions will help you get started brainstorming ideas for your personal statement:

  • What first drew you to the specialty? 
  • What are your greatest qualities, and how have you demonstrated these qualities? Focus on a few desirable qualities for a medical professional during specialization.
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Name an experience, clinical or otherwise, that significantly impacted you. Why was the experience meaningful, and how did it change you?
  • What obstacle, challenge, or failure did you overcome, and what did it teach you about adversity?
  • When did you know you wanted to pursue your chosen specialty?
  • What is your most meaningful extracurricular activity?
  • Who are your role models? What qualities do they possess that inspire you to be like them? How does this translate in your chosen field?
  • What medical cause do you care about the most, and what led you to care about it?

Remember, brainstorming aims to put down everything you can remember with as much detail as possible without worrying about grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or revisions. 

The more details you explore while brainstorming, the easier it will be to extract and expand upon the stories you want to tell.

How to Write An Amazing Residency Application Personal Statement

Now that you have completed your preliminary brainstorming, let’s review how to write a personal statement. Later in this guide, we will review samples of other applicants’ personal statements and analyze what makes them successful.

How to write a med school personal statement

Start With A Catchy Introduction 

A captivating introduction pulls the reader in and makes them want to read to the end. Your introduction should lead with detail. Don’t rely on platitudes, clichés, and vague language . 

One way to accomplish this is to have an anecdote or two in mind that will be the central focus of your narrative. Then, introduce that anecdote while being aware of both brevity and detail. 

Focus on Things That Aren’t on Your CV

The personal statement should never regurgitate what’s already on your CV . Instead, focus on important aspects about you, your experiences, and your qualities that do not appear on your CV.

For example, if you have a hobby that demonstrates personal growth over time, tell a story about it and tie it together with your goals.

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine suggests that if you want to repeat accomplishments, ensure they’re “relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.” 

Talk About You and Your Desirable Qualities 

Program directors want to get to know you as an individual and what you would bring to their program. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is important that your personal statement remains about you. 

Program directors often read narratives that include information about the program they already know and not enough information about the candidate. Shift your tone to reflect on what makes you desirable to the residency. 

When talking about your attributes, remember that quality is more important than quantity . Narrow your focus to one or two qualities, and work on incorporating them as part of your storytelling.

Make Use of Storytelling

Avoid generic and superficial declarative statements when you write about yourself and your desirable qualities. For example, don’t simply say, “I am empathetic and compassionate.” This is forgettable, and you will not stand out from all the other applicants. 

Instead, it is better and more memorable to show how you exhibited empathy and compassion by telling a story about a real event. Show, don’t tell. People will remember your name if you tell a great story.

Include What You Expect From a Residency Program 

Program directors want to know why you are pursuing their program and what you want to gain from the experience. Tie this in with nuanced details about what you have done to pursue your particular interests and how your interests will align with what the program offers. 

How will your interests and goals support their mission? What specific strengths will you add or hope to cultivate? Again, the focus should be on you and your expectations, not on over-explaining a program to its directors. 

Cite Strong Reasons to Choose a Particular Specialty

Clearly outline your interest in a particular specialty. Program directors want to know your understanding of and interest in a specialty. Highlight what you have done in your career to explore a specialty and detail some of your insights and observations. 

Perhaps you’ve researched the length of the residency and were swayed by it. Or you were intrigued by the nature of another one. The more details you can provide, the more persuasive you will be. 

For example, you might like acute care in emergency medicine but try to be more specific than that. What do you enjoy about the diagnoses and pathologies involved in emergency medicine? What do you enjoy about the patients in your care? What do you enjoy about the setting in which you will practice?

Include Your Personal and Professional Achievements 

Your achievements should demonstrate personal and professional growth over time. Your unique personal or professional achievement may not be listed on your CV. The personal statement is where you can delve into those exceptional and distinctive details about yourself that will set you apart from the crowd. 

Always uphold your credibility by being honest and authentic. People will pick up on subtle cues of inauthenticity. Remember, you don’t have to use your personal statement to convince someone of how perfect you are because perfection doesn’t exist. 

For example, if you achieve something with a group of colleagues, give credit where it’s due and don’t take the credit all for yourself. Remain true to who you are and the experiences you’ve had thus far. You don’t need to embellish or dramatize them to impress program directors. 

They’re looking for someone reliable, credible, and genuine.

Address Areas of Improvement on Your Application 

If anomalies are anywhere in your application, such as gap years or leaves of absence, address them with a brief explanation. You don’t need to dwell on areas that need improvement, and you shouldn’t provide long explanations or be defensive. 

It’s more important for your readers to see that you faced hardship but took steps to overcome it.

Deliver a Strong Closure

Lastly, end your statement with a punch. Don’t lose steam. Succinctly and naturally wrap up your story. You don’t want to end with a weak declarative statement like, “And that’s why I would be a great resident.” 

Instead, try to deliver a callback to your introduction and include the imagery and insights that bring everything together.

5 Things to Avoid in Your Personal Statement

There are certain things that you should avoid in your personal statement. As a rule of thumb, avoid topics and language that risk alienating your readers. Be aware of the following:

1. Acronyms and Jargon 

Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. Don’t assume that your reader knows everything. Be courteous and spell everything out. According to The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), “If there’s a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, use it.” 

2. Poor Writing Mechanics

Avoid informal, casual writing and poor sentence structure. Be professional and ensure your writing is free of grammatical and spelling errors. You don’t want programs to be distracted by errors while they read your story! 

3. Controversial Topics 

Avoid controversial topics like ethical issues, religion, and politics. You don’t want to make polarizing or offensive statements, so don’t cross the line. Even if the statements you make aren’t offensive, there’s no guarantee the person reviewing your application will agree with you. 

4. Rehashing Why You Want to Be a Doctor 

Avoid going into the origin story of why you wanted to become a doctor. You are not applying to medical school, so your personal statement should reflect deeper insights that support your professional and personal experiences. UCSF’s Office of Career & Professional Development offers this advice : 

“Presumably, new things have happened in the past four years that inform your decision to choose your specialty or career path, or that illustrate your dedication, leadership, and teaching skills, ability for empathy, etc.” Use these new experiences in your statement! 

5. Using Vague/Generic Language

Avoid vague and generic language. The most seasoned writers draw readers in with rich detail and nuance. Using descriptive language makes your statement easier to read and is much more likely to keep the reader’s attention. 

With these tips, you should be able to write your personal statement with ease.

Mistakes to avoid in a residency personal statement graphic

Get Professional Help Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

Contrary to popular belief, writers don’t need to hole up in a dark room, slouch over a messy desk, hit a wall with writer’s block, and suffer in solitude. Ask for help! Even the world’s bestselling authors need editors. 

Your storytelling ability and writing skills will only improve when you receive editorial feedback from trusted professionals. Getting professional help on writing your narrative will get you closer to being accepted at your first-choice program.

Inspira Advantage is here for you. We are an admissions consulting firm with extensive experience helping candidates get accepted to their dream programs. An expert residency application consultant can ensure you get the support you need at every step while you write and edit your personal statement.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

​​Reading examples of residency personal essays that program directors consider effective is advantageous. Not only will you gain insight into how to structure your writing, but you will also learn why program directors and career advisors find certain personal statements more successful than others. 

We’ll review two good personal statement examples below. Please note that both have been anonymized to protect the authors’ privacy. 

Residency Personal Statement Example 1

Here is an ERAS sample personal statement: 

One of my most formative memories of medical school was a patient high-fiving me. A seemingly minute detail, that moment came as a culmination of spending hours with a neurologically devastated patient. At the young age of 40, he was unable to speak or even interact with any of the dozens of healthcare workers at his bedside every day. I felt helpless, yet compelled to spend my time talking and reading to him, and urging him to do simple things like turning his head. He suddenly dramatically improved, and it peaked when he gave me a high-five during rounds, after I had playfully asked for one every day for three weeks. In that moment, I felt elation that he was able to lift his arms and regain some ability and autonomy. Pride, in the healthcare system that I had chosen to be a part of. And surprise, that he had been hearing and processing my words all this time when he had given no indication of doing so. On that last day before transfer to a rehabilitation facility, he hung onto my arm and sobbed “thank you” while refusing to let go. I was so impacted by this patient because for such a long time, he was unable to communicate his wants and needs to the outside world. 

I believe medicine is the most fundamental form of equity and equality – ensuring someone’s health is the most elemental way to ensure justice for their being. As physicians, we are inherent agents of change, on both an individual and community level. I want to bring this to people all around the world – those desperately fighting just to survive and whose voices are not being heard. Global health is my calling – a consummation between my interest in humanity and my desire to heal historical traumas. This came as a lifelong dream after growing up on both the East Coast and Midwest, having been surrounded by large immigrant and refugee populations. My vested interest in global health has been reaffirmed through my experiences rotating at a children’s hospital in [city], Ghana, and taking trainings and courses aimed at decolonizing global health. Both in and out of my passion for global health came a natural attraction to med-peds. Both medicine and pediatrics have always drawn me in as they both afford me the opportunity to provide holistic care – fitting the puzzle pieces between physical, mental, and social health. Med-peds will also help me become the best trained and most adaptable physician for anyone, womb-to-tomb, in local and global medicine due to the vast fund of knowledge I will develop. 

One reason I best fit with med-peds is my adaptability and persistence. I have faced setbacks in my academic career, the biggest of which was after I failed a course during my second year and had to retake the semester. During a hiatus, I pursued independent sociology courses to expand my knowledge base. In the new semester, I developed new study techniques to truly learn medicine instead of just memorizing it. This experience helped me form a cycle of analyzing, changing, and re-examining the way I learn in different scenarios; I built on that methodology repeatedly as modes of learning changed, as evidenced by my step exam scores. I learned the value of reaching out, and I strived to become that person to lean on for my peers going through similar hardships. I am also proud that despite flaws in my test-taking acumen that I have worked on during my later years of medical school, I have always been able to readily apply my medical knowledge in the wards and clinics in a way that is reflected by my patient care. 

Furthermore, I see multiple sentiments of the med-peds community reflected in myself. Med-peds folk are mobilizers of change, always creating life-changing and systemic reforms – ideals to which I fiercely relate. I have done my best to embody the amplification of voices that I have seen so vigorously amongst my med-peds mentors both on an individual and community level. To that end, I have always prided myself on being a strong advocate for patients and acting as a loudspeaker for their voices. On a broad level, I started an organization early in my medical training called [organization name] which aims to alleviate food insecurity in [city], which has a complex racial history causing countless food deserts. I have been excited and proud to help [organization] partner up with local organizations and the student-run free clinic to expand access to nutritious foods. I learned to engage with religious and community leaders in [city] to build strong community relationships to sustain change. To address upstream causes, I am starting a voter registration drive for patients in my institution’s safety net med-peds clinic. These experiences taught me the strategy and logistics of organizing systemic changes and enlightened me to people’s powerful stories. 

I picture myself practicing a mix of both hospitalist medicine and primary care to adapt to any low-resource community. I want to establish continuity of care amongst those who need it most while also managing higher acuity situations. After rotating in Ghana, I hope to pursue a fellowship in global health after completing my residency. My first-hand experience exposed me to the unique conditions of disenfranchised nations that are not readily discussed in the US. I hope to utilize fellowship training to gain the critical knowledge and translational skills required to establish the greatest benefit. All in all, I am excited to use my experiences and skills to provide care to every type of patient, especially in low-resource settings. I am committed to amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised and helping navigate the difficult road towards better, more equitable healthcare. If, in the process, those voices come in the form of more high-fives, I would not complain.

Residency Personal Statement Example 2

Here is another example: 

It was not even the end of the first week of medical school, and I was fighting for my life — and the life of others. On September 19th 2017, Hurricane Maria hit and battered the Island of Dominica. I woke up the next day from a concussion after being thrown 20 feet in the air during the storm. This once lush island was reduced to brown sticks, live wires, and broken glass. I survived the storm, but the destructive aftermath was our new reality. 

During the evacuations and rescue missions, I solidified my purpose to become an Emergency Medicine physician. I joined the [EMS name], which was the only organized medical personnel available. One of my most inspiring experiences was the emergency medical evacuation of a six-month-old girl. This patient was an infant with untreated pneumonia. She came in with respiratory distress to our pop-up clinic at 1am. The child was assessed by the only physician on the island and her prognosis was poor, she was unlikely to survive the night. As a student, I realized that in these critical moments I want to be the first responder to aid and to make the best decisions for the patient. She needed to be on a ventilator, and we did not have the facilities or equipment to help the child, only the capacity to provide supplemental oxygen. With limited resources, we had to secure the airway if needed, and I was given the role to disinfect plastic tubing left on the ground. As we provided supportive care, we also organized the logistics of the medical evacuation – from security to cleaning a landing zone for the helicopter. As the helicopter finally arrived at 3am, the sign of relief was clouded by the debris inadvertently thrown towards us during the landing. Despite the difficulties, all team members were safe, and we were finally able to get the patient to a definitive center of care.  

To work in medicine, one must be able to function in a team. This event gave me first-hand experience of coordination of care. I was a part of this team for the little girl and learned the importance of delegating tasks, cooperation among members, and having defined goals. Moreover, I was tested to perform under pressure and think clearly. I have been able to translate these skills as I have moved forward with my education, always considering my responsibilities within a team in order to provide the best care. We found out that the little girl survived, and I could not help but feel relieved that our efforts were successful. At times, there is not always the end result that is hoped for however, it is important to persevere and act for the benefit of the patient. These challenges faced during the hurricane also reaffirmed my desire to address the needs of the population during emergency situations. I was exposed to making quick, yet thoughtful decisions in order to produce the best plan of action. These attributes are integral for patient care in the emergency room and I hope to continue to develop these skills as an emergency medicine physician.  

As my medical school journey continued, I experienced another challenge – completing my studies on a boat. We had no internet and there was limited space. I learned to cohabitate with four students in a 20 square foot living arrangement. We were docked at [country] during the night, but the school was at sea for four months during the days and we as a school were then displaced to various locations to complete our preclinical studies including [multiple cities]. The difficulties unfortunately continued, with the pandemic occurring at the start of my clinical rotations. The adversities of my limited learning environment did affect my academic performance and impeded me from participating in research opportunities. I struggled with trying to reset my foundational knowledge and had to repeat my third semester. Unfortunately, I shared similar setbacks in my USMLE step 1. I knew that my results did not reflect my abilities to become a clinician. I adapted and made appropriate changes in order to better my scores. I worked on expanding my medical knowledge by attending workshops, study groups, and taking extra time after class to talk to my professors in order to better understand the more complicated concepts. As a result, my clinical acumen improved. I strengthened my time management skills allowing me to study more efficiently, which proved successful as I bettered my Step 2 scores. I have learned how to study well despite distractions and this will be of benefit to me as a future physician.  

I did not have the conventional education as others, however the experiences that I encountered molded me into the individual I am today. My desire to help others brought me to the Ukrainian refugee camps as they faced a desperate humanitarian crisis during the war. I was drawn to volunteer this summer in [city] and joined the [organization name] to provide medical services to displaced civilians I wanted to improve people’s well-being through community healthcare services, medical care, and mental support. Having had my own experiences with disaster and crisis, I provided much needed empathy for those people who sensed that they have lost control of their livelihood. Being able to provide support and healthcare to this disenfranchised group of people was extremely gratifying. I continue to expand on my medical knowledge through my involvement in relief efforts and through my clinical education. I have learned to manage the external stressors of my environment, along with my academic deficiencies, by refocusing my efforts into robust translational skills. It is an important facet in my practice to take care of the welfare of the individual. Emergency Medicine would enable me to do so, providing a solid foundation to continue involvement in public health affairs and ability to impactfully respond to relief efforts. 

Medicine is a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and languages. To know that someone is there to help you in your time of need, you do not have to understand the language they are speaking to feel that impact. Emergency medicine truly has no borders. The “ER” is a centralized area of care. However, as an emergency medicine physician, I will be able to apply my knowledge outside the walls of the hospital to the rest of the world. I want to be that healing hand, to help as many lives as I can – whether it be in global health or in my surrounding community. With Emergency Medicine, I can achieve that and protect those who need help the most. I hope to continue to pursue opportunities for community aid and patient advocacy as an effective first line of care. I want to not only be able to identify life-threatening conditions, but have the capacity to treat patients and provide access to the appropriate avenues for their continued care. I will always strive to be someone who runs towards people in need, never away. 

More Sample Residency Statements

Looking for more personal statement samples that worked? These medical schools also have examples: 

  • University of California – San Francisco 
  • University of Alabama School of Medicine 
  • University of Nevada School of Medicine 

You can view these statements to better understand the tone and format programs look for.

If you still have questions about writing your personal statement, check out these frequently asked questions. 

1. Is It Better to Cover All My Relevant Experiences, or Should I Discuss a Few in Particular?

When in doubt, quality over quantity. You should always aim to focus on one or two themes and include a few experiences in particular. Never sacrifice depth and detail just to accommodate quantity. If you write about all your relevant experiences, their significance will get lost in trying to compete for attention in a limited space. 

It looks better to hone in on key experiences and provide depth, self-reflection, and nuance. Your CV should list all your relevant experiences, not your essay.

2. Do I Have to Write a Personal Statement for Every Residency Program I Apply to?

No, you should not write a different personal statement for every program you apply to, but you should write one for every specialty. For example, prepare one for family medicine and one for emergency medicine. 

You do not have to completely rewrite personal statements for each specialty—you can use elements that will work across the board, like introductory or concluding sentences. Use your best judgment of what will work as a template, then tailor your personal statement for every specialty. 

3. I’m Applying to Multiple Specialties. Is There a Limit on the Number of Personal Statements I Can Upload?

No, there is no limit to the number of personal statements you can upload. Your writing should be tailored for the specific specialty.

4. How Long Should a Residency Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement can vary depending on the specific requirements of the program or institution to which you are applying. However, as a general guideline, most programs recommend that essays be approximately one page long.

Typically, a one-page personal statement consists of around 750 to 850 words. Your writing should be concise, focused, and well-structured to effectively communicate your experiences, motivations, and qualifications.

Final Thoughts

Writing a residency application personal statement is stressful, but our step-by-step guide will make the process much easier as you navigate your application timeline . Now go forth and match into the residency program of your dreams. We believe in you.

best personal statements residency

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residency personal statement

Residency Personal Statement [Ultimate Guide]

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There’s no doubt that a strong application for a residency program will open new doors and bring in a lot of opportunities for you. Aside from your shiny USMLE or COMLEX scores and your GPA in medical school, residency program directors look for a specific reason to accept you – and a residency personal statement is what they need.

In this post, we’re going to shed some light on your residency personal statement – enabling you to learn how to write a phenomenal personal statement that will land you an interview so you can match into the specialty you desire!

Table Of Contents

What Is A Residency Personal Statement?

what is a residency personal statement

A residency personal statement is one of the requirements when applying to residency programs. This is a formal letter that you get to write and personalize yourself to further showcase your strengths as an individual and as a potential resident of the specialty you desire to match into.

It is a medium that enables you to improve your residency application by going beyond what’s written in your CV and letting the program directors see why you’re perfect for their residency.

How Important Is The Personal Statement For Residency?

how important is the personal statement for residency

The National Residency Matching Program’s (NRMP) Director Survey shows a chart on the percentage of programs citing each factor and mean importance rating for each factor in selecting applicants to interview.

Here are the top 10 cited factors that residency program directors consider when choosing which applicants will pass to the succeeding stages of the application process.

residency personal statement (1)

Figure 1. Top 10 Factors Residency Program Directors Consider When Selecting Qualified Applicants

As we can derive from the figure above, residency program directors prioritize USMLE Step 1 /COMLEX Level 1 scores, letters of recommendation , Medical Student Performance Evaluation, USMLE Step 2 CK /COMLEX Level 2 scores, and residency personal statements come in at fifth place with a 78% citing factor and an average rating of 3.7.

Residency program directors will always put those numbers in your residency application on top of their list of priorities. If there’s anything I learned about mathematics is that numbers are universal. Your scores are what it is and there’s no other way of trying to understand it.

No matter what kind of student you were in medical school, how you treat your colleagues, or your attitude towards work and rotations – the first thing people will ask you is how much you have scored on your Step 1.

However, residency program directors are not just interested in these numbers alone. Otherwise, letters of recommendation and residency personal statements wouldn’t even be in the top 5 factors in selecting applicants for residency programs.

See, chances are, the applicants you’ll be competing with would have the similar USMLE or COMLEX scores as you. Everyone is competent enough to be accepted – so how is this going to pan out?

The residency personal statement serves as the tiebreaker for such situations. Your scores as yours to keep but your residency personal statement sets you apart from the rest – helping them remember your residency application as something to consider.

This is the opportunity offered to you to voice out your goals and motivations why you’re diving into the specialty that you are applying for. Doing so will help the directors determine for themselves if you’re applying to become the future physician that they’re exactly looking for and not just because you need something to pay the bills for.

What Do You Write In A Residency Personal Statement?

what do you write in a residency personal statement

Your residency personal statement should embody who you are as an individual and as an applicant.

While letters of recommendation provide qualitative information about an applicant from the eyes of the people around him, residency personal statements solely come from the words of the applicant.

Thus, it is a language understood only by the applicants and the program directors where they could know more about your personality and strengths and decide whether you would fit the environment and standards of their residency program.

Of course, for your residency personal statement to achieve its full capabilities – you must be able to write a coherent letter which includes some aspects that program directors expect to see.

You could ask for residents you know if you could have a glimpse of their residency personal statements for you to have an idea where you should start. There are also a ton of examples all over the Internet which I’ll be providing you later on.

Here are some of the common things to be written in a residency personal statement. Make sure that your residency personal statement answers the questions below. These are also a great place to start if you feel lost and have no idea what to write.

Motivations Behind Career and Specialty Choice

  • What has drawn you to pursue this specialty among others?
  • What are the instances in your life and in all your years of medical school that piqued your interest in this specialty?
  • How and what led you to decide that medicine is what you want to pursue as a career?
  • What medical cause do you feel should be addressed by you?

Qualities or Skills To Help You As A Resident

  • What are your strengths that other applicants don’t have?
  • How are your skills and qualities going to help you succeed as a medical practitioner?
  • Could the residency directors expect more from you?
  • Are you capable of learning and improving?
  • How do you think these will enable you to excel in this specialty?

Plans For The Long Term

  • What do you expect from this specialty in the long run?
  • What do you hope to accomplish besides paying the bills and making the world a better place to live in for patients?
  • Are you planning to become a partner or stay as employed?
  • How do you see your career in this specialty progressing, 20 years in time?

Personal Attributes Relevant To Your Specialty

  • If you’re applying for a pediatrics residency program, are you easily approachable by kids and their parents?
  • Are you empathetic towards women and have respect for their decisions?
  • Do you have the leadership skills that a surgeon needs?
  • What are the instances wherein you have strongly demonstrated your personal attributes to a clinical setting?

Accomplishments You’re Proud Of

  • Are there any extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you?
  • What are the accomplishments you feel most proud of? If these are already mentioned in your CV but you feel like this one certain accomplishment is kind of ambiguous and worth expanding on, then go ahead.

How Long Should A Residency Personal Statement Be?

As tempting it may be to tell your whole story on how you have decided to become a physician, don’t be that kind of applicant. Keep your residency personal statement at about just 3500 characters or 500 words. Make sure that you don’t go over 1 page.

You just want to promote your strengths, qualities, and skills at a personal level since your USMLE or COMLEX scores don’t really provide an insight as to what kind of person you are and how you approach your work. That’s all there is to it.

What Makes A Great Residency Personal Statement?

what makes a great personal statement for residency

A Unique Take Behind Your Medical Journey

Every aspiring medical practitioner has a story to tell. Think of a unique story coming from a very particular point in your life that had led you to realize that you want to pursue a career in the field of medicine.

The introduction should tell the story of the exact moment of your transition to be an aspiring physician . If you are one of the applicants who was dead set on a particular specialty before experiencing rotations and had a change of heart as you were going through with it – explain why and how you felt in this transition.

It’s important for you to write everything in detail . Writing the introduction with detail delivers the story vividly and clearly to the reader of your residency personal statement. Make them feel like they were with you on that day.

You want this story to be powerful but not too emotional, substantial but brief, specific but not too revealing, and something that only you can write . Make it memorable and something to remember. Give the program directors a chance to ask more about you on the day of the interview.

Personalizing Personal Statements

Everyone’s journey in the field of medicine is personal . A residency personal statement is not a place for enumerating every single achievement in your life and selling yourself like hot pancakes.

Your CV, USMLE or COMLEX scores, and letters of recommendation , are already enough quantitative and qualitative information to determine your competency.

A residency personal statement is one of the requirements for residency programs because they want to be able to connect with you on a personal level. They want to understand you as a person and as a potential resident.

Also, because they need something to talk about in your interview.

You must be able to describe how medicine is integral to you as an individual . How has it become something that can describe you as who you are, without wearing that white coat and a stethoscope wrapped around your neck?

Describe how your personality, interests, and the course of your life relate to the specialty you want to match into. Connect the dots from personal to professional.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

As a fan of movies, I fancy characters who display change and growth throughout the story. There’s nothing more boring than a one-trick pony kind of character. A movie with a character like that is not worth watching. Never watching it again for the rest of my life.

You could think of these residency program directors as an audience of the story of your medical journey. Provide them with a timeline that exemplary showcases why and how your points of view, opinions, and perspectives of yourself have changed throughout your journey before and during medical school.

Did you also have failures that had dramatically impacted the course of your life? Don’t be insecure about these failures and use them to your advantage. Sometimes your failures could even be seen as strengths.

Failures are a part of the things that make you who you are now. Program directors would most likely be interested in how you have overcome these failures and how you have used it as a pedestal to become wiser and stronger as a person and as a medical practitioner.

The Kind of Doctor You Want to Become

Do you picture yourself as a doctor who only cares about the politics inside the hospital? Do you see yourself as the kind of doctor who prioritizes the health and safety of your patients and staff above everything else? Are you going to be a doctor for yourself or the patients?

Promoting the current version of yourself in your residency personal statement gives the program directors an image of how you’re going to approach your work as a resident. However, you must also give them a visualization of the kind of doctor you want to be in the long run . This gives them something to look forward to.

What Should You Not Write In A Residency Personal Statement

what should you not write in a residency personal statement

Avoid Being Dramatic

You need to keep the tone of your statement to be as formal as possible even if you’re talking about yourself. You may be a bit carried away which could push you into writing a statement that’s kind of dramatic in a sense.

In other words – don’t make your residency personal statement a screenplay for a medical drama . You want to hook your reader by providing them interesting substances, not by adding too much flare. Keep your choice of words formal but personal, as well.

No Need For Rehashing

Don’t try to reiterate what’s already on your CV. Doing so is only a waste of paper, ink, and you’re only throwing this opportunity into the trash. You’re not helping anyone else . This is only acceptable if certain things seem ambiguous but deserves to be discussed more.

Don’t Be Too Declarative

Many applicants feel the need to advocate themselves in a sense that they deserve to be accepted to the residency program they are applying for. While I appreciate the confidence and credit the applicant gives himself – this is not unique. Anyone can write something like that.

Remember, your residency personal statement should be something that could only be written by you, no one else.

You Don’t Have To Promote The Specialty

What’s a promotion of the specialty doing in your personal statement? Program directors know what they’re doing and for what cause. Don’t waste your time and some paper on promoting the specialty you are applying for.

While I understand that applicants do this because they feel like they should come off as knowledgeable in the field, program directors are confident that you know plentiful enough about the specialty. Otherwise, why are you even writing that residency personal statement in the first place?

Don’t promote the specialty. Instead, promote yourself.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

residency personal statement examples

Below are some exemplary samples of residency personal statements that bring out the personality, strengths, and qualities of the applicant that sufficiently and efficiently provides an image as to why he is a perfect fit for the program.

For An Anesthesiology Residency Program Applicant

“Growing up the first-born daughter of a hard-working Saskatchewan cattle farmer and hairdresser, medicine was never a consideration. In a small town, I could easily see how too much free time got many of my peers in trouble. From grade 8-12 I devoted myself to sports, playing high school, club and provincial beach volleyball, weeknights, and weekends year-round. Despite my small stature and lack of innate abilities, with determination and persistence, I overcame these obstacles. At the end of my grade 11 year, I received an athletic scholarship and chose to pursue business administration and athletics.

After the first six months, it became apparent that I was not going to attain my full potential in education at [university name}. Despite my parent’s reservations, I left and enrolled at a [university name] for the next semester. This university was much more challenging as I was now balancing my educational and financial responsibilities by working evenings and weekends managing several part-time jobs. With little direction as to what degree I wanted to pursue, I happened to enroll in anatomy and physiology. This was the first time I became excited about my prospects and began actively considering a career in medicine.

The first time I applied to medicine, I was rejected. Despite my initial devastation, in hindsight, it was a great opportunity for me to reflect on my motivations for medicine and work as a laboratory technician at a potash mine in my hometown. I gained additional life experience, spent time with my family, and was able to help financially support my husband’s pursuit of education after he had so selflessly supported me for many years.

My first exposure to anesthesia was in my first year of medical school with [Dr. name here] as my mentor in clinical reasoning. I was again, intrigued by the anatomy and physiology with the interlacing of pharmacology. I remained open to all specialties, however, after summer early exposures, research, and clerkship it became clear to me that anesthesia is where I felt the most fulfilled and motivated.

In a way, anesthesia was reminiscent of the competitive volleyball I had played years prior. I was again a part of a team in the operating room with a common goal. Similarly, our countless years of education and practice had brought us together to achieve it. In volleyball, my role was the setter, which to many is considered a lackluster position as we rarely attack the ball and score points with power. However, as a setter, my role is to set the pace, strategize, and dictate the game from my team’s perspective. There is a long sequence of crucial events before a “kill” in volleyball and I strategized my teammate’s individual strengths in both offense and defense to win. Anesthesia gives me the same opportunities to strategize anesthetics, balance individual patient’s comorbidities and anatomy all while maintaining a calm demeanor and level head through unexpected circumstances. In volleyball, I never shied away from tense games or difficult situations, instead I trusted in my own abilities and training despite uncharted territory. Lastly, I didn’t need to actually score the point in order to understand my role and contributions to my team.

As an athlete, I understand the importance of practice and repetition which allows us to fail, but most importantly, to learn. I believe that the curriculum at this program will provide me with a well-respected education, which strongly reflects my learning style. I also admire the mandatory communication block in the curriculum because I believe an emphasis on clear and concise communication, is essential as an anesthetist.

Throughout the course of the next 5-10 years, I anticipate that both my husband and I will complete the next chapter in our educational pursuits. We both agree that [program name here] has the potential to nurture the next chapter in both our private and professional lives if given the opportunity.”

For A Dermatology Residency Program Applicant

“So many disconnected pieces, yet no clear starting point.” I think as I stare at the 1,000 puzzle pieces in front of me. I instantly rewire my brain to consider all of them but also how they fit in the big picture. Working for hours on puzzles with my terminally ill grandfather taught me there is something mesmerizing about simultaneously losing and centering yourself in a disarray of colors and shapes. Dermatology is a jigsaw puzzle in which the pieces sit in front of our eyes, waiting to be assembled into a diagnosis. Solving this intricate puzzle, which encompasses a wide variety of intriguing diseases, fascinated me early in my medical career.

During my first contact with patients as a research assistant at [name of center], I developed a genuine interest in this specialty. Witnessing the effects of severe and refractory dermatological diseases on their quality of life sparked my empathy and a desire to strengthen my knowledge in order to help them. This empathy grew over the course of my rotations, as I observed the distress brought on by a melanoma diagnosis, the debilitating pruritus associated with atopic dermatitis, and the emotional scars left by acne.

Driven by this experience, I founded the [name of race] with my devoted and inspiring team. Together, we raised close to $18,000, which was donated to the [name of society] for the advancement of malignant melanoma research and prevention strategies. This project allowed me to serve as a leader and a strong team player. I was also granted the hands-on opportunity to take concrete steps towards promoting prevention and advocating for patient health – competencies that will serve me as a devoted dermatologist.

As a result of my scientific rigors and dedication, I have had the opportunity to publish my work on inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and speak at international conferences. I recently submitted a case study to the [name of journal] and an abstract to next year’s [ name of conference]. I hope to further my contribution to the advancement of dermatology both scientifically and academically. Besides my interest in skin malignancy, I am also very passionate about immunodermatology, skin manifestations of IBD, and vascular anomalies, to name a few. Committed to a lifelong learning experience, I strive to expand my knowledge through academic research. My constant desire to improve, in addition to an insatiable curiosity, was valued during my rotations regardless of the specialty.

During my residency, I look forward to being challenged and surrounded by new ideas and perspectives. I wish to pursue my training in [name of city]’s multicultural epicenter, where I will be exposed to a wide range of unique cases. [Name of school]’s prestige for research and mentorship is second to none. During my elective at the [name of hospital], your commitment to patient care, your dedication to knowledge, and your pedagogical approach instilled a sense of belonging in me. It is with you that I hope to set the final puzzle pieces of my medical training into place.”

For A Family Medicine Residency Program Applicant

“My first exposure to Family Medicine occurred during my time as a Medical Officer working in a small clinic in Nigeria in fulfillment of the [name of service]. There, I recognized that a career in this specialty would offer me the opportunity to not only experience the aspects I cherished most about other specialties, but fulfill my personal interests in advancing community health.

My many encounters with patients during my days in the clinic reaffirmed my view of Primary care physicians as being on the frontline of diagnosis and preventive medicine. There was the middle-aged diabetic patient who had first presented to the emergency with diabetic ketoacidosis, the hypertensive man whose initial complaint of a persistent headache prompted the discovery of his soaring blood pressure, and the adolescent with a family history of allergies who was diagnosed with asthma. These encounters highlighted that as the first point of contact, the general practitioner is not only responsible for diagnosis, but often in ensuring patients are set on the path of healthy habits to prevent disease complications. This unique opportunity to significantly advance the well-being of a patient, and by extension, the community renewed my interest in the field.

An especially appealing feature of Family Medicine is that it provides an opportunity for patient care without limitations of age, sex, disease, or organ system. From treating colds and routine checkups to referral for suspected malignancy, I enjoyed that every day in the clinic was a learning experience and no day was routine. In addition, having a diverse population of patients and cases requires an abundance of clinical knowledge and I cherish the chance to learn and expand my skills every day.

I also value that an essential part of Primary care is in the enduring relationships the practitioners develop with patients. I recall several moments during my clinical experiences when I recognized that some of the bonds formed during ongoing patient interactions had evolved into lasting friendships. Being a practice of continual care, I appreciate that this specialty provides many opportunities to follow patients through different stages of their lives ensuring a deepening of relationship and compliance with care. I was inspired during my clinical rotation here in the United States when I saw how my preceptorís long-term relationships with patients enabled their compliance and often extended to different generations within one family.

Ultimately, I am confident that my experiences have prepared me for a career in this specialty. An agreeable, attentive, and compassionate nature has aided me in gaining trust as well as building meaningful interpersonal relationships which are crucial components of this field. Furthermore, my interaction with an extensive array of patients during my clinical and volunteer experiences has equipped me with the ability to communicate and relate to patients across different age groups and backgrounds. In addition, I enjoy working to coordinate patient care with colleagues and other specialties and value that the wellness of the patient is a result of hard work, dedication, and teamwork.

Thus, I hope to find a residency program dedicated to providing in-depth clinical training with a diverse patient population and an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention through patient education and community service. Moreover, I look forward to being part of a program that will encourage my pursuit of intellectual development and advancement to enable my transition into a well-rounded, competent, and skilled physician committed to serving people with needs in all areas of medicine. With a career in this specialty, I know that every day will bring a new opportunity to influence health behaviors, and while there will be challenges, fulfilling them will always be satisfying.”

For A Surgery Residency Program Applicant

“I was six years old when my father read to me the first chapter of “How Things Work.” The first chapter covered doors and specifically, the mechanics in a doorknob. What lay hidden and confined in the door panel was this complex system that produced a simple action. I credit this experience as the onset of my scientific curiosity and eventually my passion for complex systems found in medicine. Intensivists vigilantly maintain homeostasis within the human body, a complex system in and of itself, a concept I recognize as personally fascinating and enticing. I find myself especially drawn to the field of critical care and intensive care medicine. My dreams to become an intensivist would be highly complimented by a residency in surgery.

In critical care, each patient in the ICU is usually in a general state of shock. From the initial state of shock, the patient can be further complicated with comorbidities and chronic diseases that may require further intensive medical intervention so that they may recover from a recent surgery or traumatic event. This dynamic nature of the ICU is not available in every unit of the hospital and the high level of acuity does not suit everyone. I, however, enjoy the high energy of the enthralling, engaging, and exciting environment offered by the ICU. I am personally energized and awakened by managing patients with surgically-altered physiology coupled with comorbidities. There is an overwhelming satisfaction when a patient following a bilateral lung transplant gets up from his bed and walks through the unit after days of being bedridden, or the moment we can discontinue the lines we had the patient on and finally talk to them after two weeks of intubation and sedation. Being in the ICU also encompasses the emotional seesaw of going from a successful patient case to a room in which a family has just decided that comfort care is the best way to proceed, which gives me chills just to type and verbalize.

The work of an intensivist is not only limited to the patient, but also the emotional well-being of the patient’s family as well. My involvement in the ICU has taught me that sometimes it is necessary to talk to a patient’s family, to explain to them simply that the postoperative expectations that they had had, may not be met. Communication is key in this field, both with the patients and the physicians of the OR. Communication prevents perioperative complications, establishes a willingness to follow directions, and relays professionalism. It is important for an intensivist to have an excellent understanding of surgical procedures, so that they may explain to the patient what to expect as well as ease the nerves of the patient preoperatively. A surgical residency would facilitate this understanding and undoubtedly prove to be useful in my future training.

Studying medicine in Europe has taught me volumes about myself, how driven, motivated, and open-minded I can be. To move so far away from home and yet be so familiar with the language, I feel blessed to be able to say that I’ve had a high level of exposure to diversity in my life. The mentality in [insert country name here] is if you don’t see the doctor, you are not sick. This common thought has to lead to an outstanding environment to study medicine and to see end-stage, textbook presentations of various pathologies and their management. Studying medicine in two languages has in itself taught me that medicine is a language and that the way a patient presents, conveys themselves, and the findings of the physical examination, all represent the syntax of the diagnosis. This awareness has reminded me that patient care, relief of patient suffering and illness, transcends the grammatical rules of the patient’s native tongue. My clinical experience in [insert country here] will aid me in providing thoughtful care to my future patients.

All things considered, I am ready to leave my home for the last four years and come back to the United States, to enter the next stage of my life and career. I am ready to work harder than ever, to prove myself to my future residency program and most importantly, learn so that I may be a suitable candidate for a future fellowship program in critical care. My experiences abroad have constantly pushed me to new horizons and encouraged responsibilities that I don’t believe I would otherwise have. I’ve developed a new level of human connection through my work in the ICU, the OR, and my travels throughout Europe. These experiences will aid me in working with a diverse patient population and a diverse team of physicians. I hope [the program name here] can give me the variety and the background in surgery that I will need to succeed.”


All residency personal statement examples shown in this article are provided by Bemo Academic Consulting. Check it out for more samples for different specialties.

We also give credit to Shemmassian Academic Consulting , Thalamus , and Peterson’s as they have served as sources in writing this article on residency personal statements.

P.S. Did you know that you can seek assistance from AI in crafting your personal statement? Check out this article: 5 Crazy Ways AI Can Improve Your Life As A Med Student

I hope this article has provided you useful insights on how to write your residency personal statement that would leave an impression on the residency program directors. Go ahead – jot down your thoughts, pour every ounce of your writing skills, and land that interview spot!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1.   The Med School Handbook :   Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School Blueprint :  Join the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY   phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

3.   ​ Med Ignite Study Program :  Get personalized help to create the perfect study system for yourself so you can see better grades ASAP on your medical journey & see results like these. 

4. Learn the one study strategy that saved my  grades in medical school here (viewed by more than a million students like you). 

If you have enjoyed this post, check out some of our other blog posts!

  • Medical School Personal Statement Examples And Tips
  • Medical School Zanki: Should You Use It?
  • 25 Questions For Medical School Interviewers You Should Ask
  • PA vs MD: Which Should You Pursue?
  • How Much Do Residents Make?
  • Best Pre-Med Majors For Med School [Full Guide]
  • What Is A Transitional Year Residency?
  • How To Prepare Yourself For Residency [Step-By-Step]
  • How To Write A Thank You Note After A Residency Interview
  • ERAS Photo Requirements And Tips

Until the next time, my friend…

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Writing a Personal Statement for Residency Application

Personal statements are an essential, required part of applying to residency. Residency programs screen thousands of applications every cycle and read many hundreds of these statements in the process. You should aim to write an interesting statement that showcases your personality as well as your achievements. Perhaps most importantly, you will need to skillfully articulate the reasons for your interest in family medicine and the particular program you're applying to.

How to Write a Great Personal Statement

A great personal statement sets itself apart from a good personal statement in several ways.

  • First, it includes a level of specificity that shows your motivations and interests are authentic. For example, when conveying why you want to match into family medicine, show awareness of the exciting developments in the specialty, or describe your experience with or knowledge of topics like population health management, care coordination, and the social determinants of health.
  • Feel free to highlight items in your CV if they help remind your reader of the experiences you’ve had that prepared you for the position. This is your opportunity to expand upon activities that are just listed in the CV but deserve to be described so your reader can appreciate the breadth and depth of your involvement in them. It should not be another comprehensive list of your activities, but rather should refer to activities that are listed in detail on the CV.
  • The personal statement is also an appropriate place to address anything that may be ambiguous on your CV. In particular, you should address any nontraditional path you’ve taken through medical school, such as time off or an altered curricular journey. It is better to address these than to leave a program wondering. If you write about academic or personal challenges that you faced during medical school, make a positive impression by focusing on what you've learned from those experiences and how they brought you to where you are now. 

You may choose to relate significant personal experiences, but do so only if they are relevant to your candidacy for the position.

Sharpen Your Writing Skills 

The importance of good writing in a personal statement cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, not only are good writing skills allowed to deteriorate during medical school, but in some sense, they also are deliberately undermined in the interest of learning to write concise histories and physicals. For the moment, forget everything you know about writing histories and physicals. While preparing your personal statement:

  • Avoid abbreviations.
  • Avoid repetitive sentence structure.
  • Avoid using jargon. If there is a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, use it.
  • Don't assume your reader knows the acronyms you use. As a courtesy, spell everything out.
  • Use a dictionary and spell check. 
  • Use a thesaurus. Variety in the written language can add interest, but don't get carried away.
  • Write in complete sentences.

If you need a crash course in good writing, read  The Elements of Style ,  Fourth Edition  by Strunk and White. If you have friends or relatives with writing or editing skills, enlist their help. Student organizations at your school may host personal statement clinics, or your school may offer review services. Many student, medical, and specialty societies, local and national, may offer personal statement reviews or workshops.

Even if you're a great writer and feel confident about your application, you should ask trusted advisors, mentors, and friends to critique your personal statement (and your CV! ). They can help you make your statement as flawless as possible by giving you feedback about areas that might have been unclear or things that should be added.

Don't cross the line

Your personal statement should remain an original composition, even as you seek input and advice. Retain your voice as you refine your writing and don't ever plagiarize. Be aware of other ethical lines you shouldn't cross as well, for example, don't use vague references that would allow for the reader to misinterpret the nature of your experience, and don't take full credit for a project if others worked on it with you.

Copyright © 2024 American Academy of Family Physicians. All Rights Reserved.

The College Application

The Residency Personal Statement Guide w/Prompts & Examples

Image of a medical student in a residency program

Intro- Writing a Great Residency Personal Statement

When you get ready to apply for residency, which could happen as early as your third year of med school, there are really  two main components  to the application process: submitting your application packet to various programs and completing the required interviews for the programs interested in you. But how exactly do you make sure you get that call for an interview? One way is by including an original, memorable residency personal statement as part of your application packet.

Residency Prerequisites

Before we get to the personal statement, though, let’s look at the steps required for you to be eligible for residency.

Step 1: Receive Your Degree

Although you’ll possibly start applying for residency during the fall semester of your third year at medical school, before you can be accepted, you must have your degree. It doesn’t matter if your application looks great and your interview blows the minds of the residency selection committee; if you don’t receive your M.D. or D.O., you won’t be eligible for residency.

Step 2: Pass the Examinations

In the U.S., you’re required to pass an exam before you can become licensed to practice medicine. Traditionally, students have taken the  USMLE  (United States Medical Licensing Examination), but some schools now require you to take the  COMLEX  (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination) either instead of the USMLE  or  in addition to it.

For Foreign Students

If you’re a foreign student hoping to be placed in a residency within the U.S., there are a few  additional requirements  you’ll have to meet.

These include, but aren’t limited to, being certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), obtaining a legal VISA that gives you the right to work in the United States, procuring additional letters of recommendation from U.S.-based providers and more.

Applying for a Residency

What you’ll need.

As you’re putting together your residency application packet, you’ll be responsible for gathering:

  • Your completed application
  • Your residency personal statement
  • Your letters of recommendation

There are a few other things that must be included in your application packet, but your medical school will handle those items. They include:

  • Your complete and sealed transcripts
  • A copy of your MSPE (Medical School Performance Evaluation)
  • Your licensing exam transcript

Once you’ve gotten your half of the documents ready to submit, your medical school should take care of the rest. It’s important to fill out your application completely and accurately, as every bit of information included in the packet will be verified by multiple agencies.

The ERAS: What It Is and How to Apply

To apply for residency with almost all programs in the United States, you’ll be required to fill out an application through the  Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) . The ERAS was created and is maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

It makes applying for residency much easier because you only have to fill out one application at a centralized location. That application then gets sent to all the different programs you’re interested in becoming a part of during your residency.

If you used the Common App as an undergraduate, you already have an idea of what the ERAS is like. Unlike the Common App, though, there’s one really great thing about the ERAS that many other centralized applications don’t include: the ability to submit multiple personal statements.

Why Submit Multiple Personal Statements

You may be wondering why you’d want to write more than one personal statement when writing one is stressful enough.

The simple answer is that writing multiple personal statements gives you the opportunity to personalize your statements for the specific program to which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for a pediatric residency in Brooklyn, you can write your personal statement specifically about why you chose that specialty and that geographic location. Additionally, if you also apply for an internal medicine residency in Washington D.C., you can write a second personal statement outlining your reasons for that choice as well.

ERAS Portal

There are  four main sections  of the ERAS application portal.

Section 1: MyERAS

This is the part of the ERAS that’s your responsibility. Using MyERAS, you’ll complete the centralized application, submit your required documentation and personal statements and select the programs to which you’re applying. When it comes to filling out the ERAS, this is the only section you’ll personally have to complete.

Section 2: DWS

The DWS, or Dean’s Office WorkStation, is where the designated person in your Dean’s office will submit what s/he is required to submit on your behalf. This will include your transcripts and performance evaluations.

Section 3: LoRP

The LoRP is the Letters of Recommendation Portal. You’ll direct people who’ve agreed to provide you with letters of recommendation to this location and have them submit their recommendation letters through the portal.

Section 4: PDWS

The PDWS, short for Program Director’s WorkStation, is where the programs you’ve applied to will receive and review their incoming applications.

Help with the ERAS

In addition to having everything you need for all your prospective programs in one place, another great thing about the ERAS is that the website provides you with  a lot of great resources  to help ensure you get everything done correctly and submitted in a timely manner.

There’s an  Applicant Worksheet  that allows you to see everything the application asks before you even start working on it. There’s also a  User Guide , an  Applicant Checklist , a  FAQ Section  and an  Application Timeline  to keep you on track.

Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

Although each residency personal statement you write should be different depending on the program to which you’re applying, there are some things that’ll remain similar or even the same in each statement, most notably the length and overall format of the statement.

Standard Residency Personal Statement Length

The ERAS allows you to use 28,000 characters (including spaces and punctuation marks) to complete your residency personal statement. This generally translates to about five to seven pages in length.  Don’t  use all 28,000 characters for your statements. That is entirely too long.

You have to be considerate of the time of the person reading your statement. S/he likely has thousands of personal statements to read through, and s/he doesn’t want to spend too much time on any one statement. If possible, you should keep your personal statements to about 3,500 to 5,000 characters. This translates to about a page to a page and a half for your statement. That’s a good length that should give you enough room to say everything you need to say without rambling on about non-essential information.

Standard Residency Personal Statement Format

The format of your statements will also be quite similar. You don’t have to worry about choosing your font, font size, or anything like that. With the ERAS, you’ll be using an embedded plain text box to type your personal statement. The only formatting options available to you will be:

  • Italics, Bold, Strikethrough and Underline
  • Center, Left or Right Alignment
  • Bullet Points
  • Numbered Lists
  • Add Embedded Hyperlink
  • Increase or Decrease Indent

Beyond those items, you won’t be able to change anything in the formatting, but your  content  format is important. You should have a short introduction of three to five sentences, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion of about three to six sentences. The information you put into these paragraphs will depend largely on what exactly you’re writing in your personal statement.

Red Flags of Residency Personal Statement to Avoid

There are definitely some things you want to avoid while writing your personal statement for your residency application. Let’s call them the “Don’t List.”

Don’t Use All 28,000 Characters

We’ve already discussed this, but it warrants being said twice. No one wants to read seven pages worth of a personal statement. Absolutely  do not  use all the provided characters for your personal statement.

Don’t Send the Same Statement to Every Program

This is another one that we’ve touched on already, but it, too, is worth repeating. The reasons you’re applying for various programs are bound to be different for each particular program. If you try to write one single personal statement that gets sent to every program, it’s going to end up sounding generic and unauthentic.

Different programs want to know that you chose them for a reason. They want to know what it is about their program that drew your interest. If you don’t give them actual reasons for your interest, they’re going to assume you’re just desperately applying everywhere you can in hopes of getting an acceptance. That doesn’t look good in a prospective residency candidate.

Don’t Spend a Lot of Time Talking About Why You Want to Be a Doctor

By the time you get to the residency portion of your career, you’re already a doctor. Why you decided to become one is kind of a moot point. This is one place where people often get tripped up. Your residency application is  not  a med school application. By this point, you’ve already proven you want to be a doctor by putting in all the work to become one. Why you did it doesn’t matter. You were obviously motivated to succeed. Don’t waste precious characters rehashing your reasons for going into medicine.

Don’t Be Generic

Be specific about why you’ve chosen pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery or whatever program you’ve chosen to pursue in your residency. The person reading your statement doesn’t want to hear that you’ve chosen pediatrics because you “just love babies!” You’re an adult with a medical degree. Use all those years of education and be specific about why you’ve made the choices you’ve made.

Don’t Be Overly Dramatic

You want your personal statement to be interesting and memorable, but you  don’t  want it to sound like the first page of a movie script. You don’t have to set the scene dramatically with overused and cliched stories about “Patient X lying on the bed, blood rushing down his head and barely conscious as I walked up and took his hand, looked into his eyes and told him I would save his life.” Just don’t do this.

Don’t Include Anything Considered Too Controversial

Your personal statement isn’t the place for activism. Don’t get into topics such as pro-life vs. pro-choice or why you think cloning is a sin against God. It’s okay to mention that you’re a regular church member; you don’t have to shy away from religion altogether, but you don’t want to include a strong stance you hold on something that’s known to be polarizing.

The person reading your personal statement might feel just as strongly as you do about an issue, but s/he might be on the other side of that issue. That could get your application discarded quickly.

Don’t Submit Unedited Statements

Never, never, never, never send in your first draft. Don’t ever send in a statement that hasn’t been proofread, edited, and then edited some more. Bring in a second pair of eyes to look it over ( hey! see our personal statement editing packages here ) if you need a fresh perspective, but never send in something that hasn’t been thoroughly edited for grammar, spelling, organization, and content errors.

Don’t Plagiarize!

Last but certainly not least: Don’t plagiarize your personal statement! We can’t overemphasize this point. If you aren’t a strong writer, it’s okay to reach out and have a friend, mentor or former professor help you organize your thoughts and edit the statement at the end, but no matter how much you may be tempted,  do not plagiarize  your personal statement.

First and foremost, you’ll get caught.

There are just way too many plagiarism checkers ( we recommend you use Grammarly plagiarism checker ) on the market today for you to get away with stealing someone else’s work – even if you only take a small part of it. Then, once you’ve been caught, you lose all professional respectability.

If you’ve plagiarized your personal statement, odds are you’ve cheated before now. No one trusts a doctor who cheats, and the person/people who caught you cheating have to wonder if you’re even a good doctor. Perhaps you just cheated your way through med school and really don’t know an obstetrician from an ophthalmologist.

Put simply, just don’t cheat. It isn’t worth it.

Residency Personal Statement Prompts

Although the ERAS doesn’t give you a specific prompt to follow while writing your residency personal statement, there are a few programs that do ask specific questions. If a program does ask a specific question on its website, you should strongly consider that question when writing your personal statement. Try to answer it as honestly and completely as possible.

Most programs don’t provide you with specific prompts, but there are still some questions to ask yourself to help guide your writing.

Below are some of the most commonly asked prompts and questions.

1. What are your professional goals?

This is a commonly covered question in many residency personal statements. Remember, at the residency stage of your career, you’re already a doctor, so this personal statement is no longer why you want to be a doctor; it’s about what you want to do now that you’ve become one.

Don’t be afraid to go into detail here. Talk about both your short-term (during residency and immediately after completing residency) and your long-term goals (15+ years from now).

Do you want to open your own practice? Do you plan to stay within the U.S., or would you prefer to take your expertise elsewhere through Doctors Without Borders or some other organization? What specific skills are you hoping to gain from the residency that’ll help you further your career goals?

2. What types of patients do you enjoy working with?

This question really concerns the specialty you’re interested in pursuing. For example, if you’re interested in working in pediatrics, the obvious answer here would be that you like to work with children. You shouldn’t leave it at that though.

Are there certain types of children you like to work with best? For example, would you prefer to work with special needs children as opposed to healthy children just coming in for check-ups? Perhaps you have a passion for women’s health or simply prefer to work with women.

If this is the case, an OBGYN specialty might make more sense for you. Do you want to work with the elderly? Would you prefer to work in neighborhoods full of predominantly low-income or minority households? If you hope to pursue plastic surgery, are you doing so because you want to work with amputees in order to build them new limbs?

All of these questions can be taken into account when talking about the types of patients with whom you most prefer to work.

3. What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?

Chances are, the program you’re applying to knows why you want to be accepted for a residency position by them, but why should  they  want to accept  you ? When answering this prompt, talk about what makes you a good fit for the specialty you’ve chosen. If you have any particular skills or strengths that would fit well with what you’re hoping to achieve during residency, mention those.

Something else to discuss is anything you’ve done in your history that would prepare you for working with the population you’re likely to encounter in that particular residency spot. If you have an undergraduate degree in psychology, that could be hugely beneficial if your residency serves a large veteran population.

If you grew up in a low-income, first-generation neighborhood or have teaching experience at a Title I school, that could prepare you for working at a hospital in a similar neighborhood.

4. What are your strong points?

This question is really just another way of asking what benefits you’d bring to the residency if you were accepted. Many of the same things you’d write about if answering the above-listed prompt are the same things you’d write about here. You could discuss the characteristics you have that make for a good doctor.

You could also list any strengths you have academically. For instance, if you excelled at one or two particular subjects, it’s a good idea to mention those. Receiving superior performance evaluations is also something worth noting.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

The following are some of the best examples of what to do and what not to do when writing your residency personal statements. Note that these are just examples; don’t use them in your own statements.

Example Personal Statement 1

“During my third year, I rediscovered my reasons for pursing [sic] a career in Pediatrics. […] I enjoy teaching young patients and their parents about their disease and how they can conquer hardships. Also, I am excited about taking care of patients from birth to adulthood. Working with young people is rewarding because of the chance to be involved in a growing relationship with patients as they mature and learn. […] Pediatrics gives me the determination to think through problems, the curiosity to learn, and the energy to stay awake at three in the morning. When you love your patients it becomes easy to work hard for them.”

– Read the rest  here

This is a very well-written personal statement. The writer clearly has a passion for working with children, but she doesn’t just come out and say that with no detail. She talks about the specific things she enjoys about working with children.

Furthermore, she talks about how she believes pediatric medicine to go beyond just treating kids. She talks about “a growing relationship” with the patients she treats and her desire to treat them as they grow and mature into adulthood.

In addition to being a moving example of a personal statement, it also shows that the writer plans to be in the medical field for the long haul. You don’t build relationships and treat patients from infancy into adulthood unless you plan to stick with the career.

This is her way of saying, “I plan to do this for the rest of my life” without having to come out directly and say those words.

Our Verdict:

Image of a smiling face with heart-shaped eyes emoji

Example Personal Statement 2

“I have many attributes to contribute to internal medicine. My experiences as a secondary education school teacher, Special Olympics swim coach, and elected class officer attest to my ability to lead and educate others. I am also analytical and detail-oriented. […] After my first year of medical school, I was awarded a scholarship to conduct research in the field of trauma surgery, an experience which enhanced my problem solving skills. These qualities include a never-ending quest for personal improvement, pride in my work or training, and the ability to focus on several tasks while balancing personal and professional obligations.”

– Read the rest  here

This is another good example, written in response to  prompt number three above . The writer tells about all the things he brings to the team, but he doesn’t focus specifically on medicine.

If you’re applying for residency as this author is, you’ve obviously achieved what you needed to achieve in order to become a doctor. You’ll bring all kinds of medical knowledge to the team. The problem is that every other applicant has also received his or her doctoral degree and also brings medical knowledge to the table.

The writer knows that and goes beyond medicine when talking about his strengths and what he has to offer. He talks about being a teacher and helping with the Special Olympics. This shows that he already has experience working with children – both healthy children and children with special needs.

He brings up being an elected class officer to show he has leadership potential and that he’s well-liked and well-respected by others (otherwise they wouldn’t have elected him). Only after listing all those extra strengths does he bring up med school. This is a very impressive list of accomplishments.

Example Personal Statement 3

“Every finger of the little boy’s hand was adhered to his palm except for the extended third digit. I examined the severe burn injury as the plastic surgery attending discussed how we were going to fix the damage. Several contracture releases, K-wires, and skin grafts later, I excitedly realized he would eventually regain function of his little hand. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at the start of my third year, but after patients and cases like this one, I was energized by learning what I found in no other rotation. […] I have found my place in medicine.”

While this personal statement is well-written grammatically, it breaks rule number five on the “Don’t List.”  Don’t be overly dramatic.  This is supposed to be his personal statement, not the opening scene to  The Resident  on Fox. The writer wastes an entire paragraph – his entire introduction – on a dramatic scene that ends with one single sentence telling us this is why he wants to work as a plastic surgeon.

First of all, an introduction should be more well-rounded and introduce the reader more fully to who you are. It shouldn’t set a scene that thousands of other prospective residents have told some version of already.

Secondly, one has to hope that one single child’s broken hand is not the sole basis for this person’s decision to become a plastic surgeon. I want a doctor who has thought carefully about his/her chosen profession and decided to pursue medicine because of numerous different reasons, not just because he saw a child’s hand being fixed once.

While these types of stories may seem like an easy, interesting way to catch the reader’s attention quickly, they’re best avoided. Trust us when we say that the person reading your personal statement has read  countless  other “war stories” about prospective residents’ experiences in ERs and other situations. As amazing as your story may seem to you, it isn’t likely to impress them.

best personal statements residency

Example Personal Statement 4

“Then disaster struck. I applied to Medical School and I didn’t get in. I was heartbroken. It never occurred to me that I might not get accepted. I felt completely lost. The only dream I ever had, the one that I had spent so many hours working on, was now dead. A part of me just died. It was one of the few times I ever cried. I know [sic] had to live with a void that could never filled [sic].

Looking back, not getting accepted to Medical School in 1985 was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It fueled a desire in me to find something else. Fortunately, I found an area where I have become more financially successful than I deserve. […] Years later, I decided to give Medical School one last try. This time I was accepted. The void began to fill. I would like the opportunity to learn more and complete the process.”

This is absolutely, 100% what you should  not  do in your personal statements. If you visit the original statement, you’ll see we only removed about two total lines from this personal statement. That means it was about ten lines long altogether, which translates to about 1,200 characters.

That is  much  too short for a personal statement. You don’t want to use the entire 28,000 characters, but you don’t want to write something less than a page long either. There’s almost no usable information here.

The writer doesn’t mention what specialty she’s hoping to pursue, nor does she mention a single strength that would make her a good candidate for the position. Beyond not mentioning any strengths, though, she highlights her failures!

If there’s something negative on your transcripts or application, it’s fine to touch on it and give a brief explanation for it and how you corrected it, but it certainly shouldn’t make up the bulk of your personal statement.

This one is just bad from beginning to end.

An image of an unamused face emoji

Example Personal Statement 5

“While medical school can teach a student the science behind medicine, I truly believe it’s a doctor’s personality and character that ultimately determines his or her success with patients. One of my greatest qualities […] is my ability to quickly connect with people. At an orientation lecture […] a speaker discussed how […] anesthesiologists are among the best at making great first impressions. […] Patients always seem to fear going to sleep more than [surgery]. Yet, an anesthesiologist may have but just a few moments […] to instill confidence in their patients. […] Since that orientation, I’ve prided myself on mastering how quickly I can earn a patient’s trust. Enjoying the challenge of making a great first impression in the shortest amount of time is among the most important reasons that have guided me into the specialty of anesthesiology.”

Let’s end on a strong note. This is another exceptional example of what your personal statements should look like. This writer has a good grasp of number three on the “Don’t List.”  Don’t waste a lot of time talking about why you want to be a doctor.  

The writer touches on med school by saying, “ While medical school can teach a student the science behind medicine. ” Then she immediately goes beyond school into the real world.

In doing so, she also showcases a very important characteristic she’s developed – putting people at ease – and tells us the specialization she’s chosen. She also explains why her ability to put people at ease is so important for her chosen specialization.

She ends by saying that this skill was challenging for her, but the way it’s written shows that she was not only up for the challenge but legitimately  loved  it.

This whole statement is well-written, well-organized, and covers all the important aspects of what the residency selection committee wants to know about a person.

Image of a star-struck grinning emoji

In Conclusion

The most important things to remember when writing your residency personal statement are, to be honest, authentic, specific, and grammatically correct. You’ve already earned your degree; that alone shows the selection committee that you have what it takes to be a doctor because you already are one.

You just have to show that you have a passion for medicine and that you’ll bring something unique and important to their team. If you can do those things, you should be well on your way to the interview process.

Related Readings:

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The Ultimate Medical School Personal Statement Guide: (w/ Common Prompts & Examples Analyzed by Our Admissions Experts)

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Writing the Perfect Residency Personal Statement

If you’re in your third year of medical school, it’s time to sharpen your personal statement writing skills again for the ERAS application .

The good news is you already wrote a great one that got you accepted into medical school ! Now, you’ll need to dig deep and channel the same creative spirit that was there about 3 years ago. 

Many applicants are looking for a special formula for writing a personal statement . But here’s the truth: There’s no secret formula. A fantastic residency personal statement includes well-written storytelling detailing your experiences as a medical student and why you’re an excellent fit for the residencies you’re applying to.

In this article, we’ll talk about inspiration, length, structure, and dynamic writing. Let’s dive in.

What is the ERAS personal statement, and why do you need to write one?

Your residency personal statement is similar to your medical school personal statement in that it’s your chance to directly make a case for yourself . Residency program directors use these essays to get to know you beyond your CV. They can only learn so much about you from your medical education history.

Most of the information program directors use to determine if you’re a good fit is quantitative —  GPAs, USMLE scores, etc. Odds are, these numbers will be fairly similar across the board. 

What sets you apart from other applicants will be qualitative — your personal experiences and career goals, whether you’re hard-working or a team player.

What should you include in your residency personal statement ?

In your residency personal statement , include your experiences and interests that have driven your ambition to mature as a medical professional.

Take time to think about what qualities you’d expect in an exemplary physician. Then, create a list of topics reflecting these qualities from your background.  

Create a list of ideas of what to write from these prompts:

  • Memorable or “a-ha” moments during medical school (including specific rotations ) that changed the way you think about medicine.
  • Volunteering or non-profit work.
  • Your greatest skills and qualities and how you use them when practicing medicine.
  • Specific instances of when you used strong teamwork skills.
  • A personal anecdote that isn’t included on a resume, like an elective that led to an unexpected encounter with a patient that you won’t forget.
  • Professors, mentors , family, friends, or anyone else that has inspired your path.
  • Your goals in your future career.
  • Reasons you are drawn to your specialty.
  • Meaningful experiences in medical school or extracurriculars .
  • Your most commendable achievements.

Why did you choose your specialty?

When you explain why you chose a specialty, discuss the reasons why you enjoy that specialty and how your strengths will apply to your future career. 

Make your answer heartfelt and honest. If your only reasons are money and the lifestyle, your chances of an interview with the program directors will plummet.

Answer these questions while brainstorming :

  • What appeals to you about this specialty?
  • Did past experiences or clinicals influence your decision for this program?
  • What do you believe are the most important qualities for a physician in this specialty? How have you begun to cultivate these qualities in yourself?
  • Are there future goals you want to achieve in this specialty?
  • Have you done any research related to this field or the advancement of this specialty?

How long should a personal statement be for residency?

The personal statement essay section on ERAS allows for 28,000 characters (about 5 pages). 

Our advice? Don’t max out your character count.

Program directors must read the demographics, transcripts, MSPE, experiences section, personal statement , and letters of recommendation before making a decision. That’s a lot of reading.

Your goal is to make your point concisely — writing about a page plus a paragraph is the sweet spot.

Personal Statement Structure

Many applicants don’t know where to start, so we suggest breaking the essay into bite-sized pieces. Use a standard 4-5 paragraph structure. This way, you’ve got small, manageable goals.

Write your residency personal statement using:

  • An introduction paragraph.
  • 2-3 paragraphs to expand on your theme.
  • A conclusion paragraph to tie it all together.


Draw the reader in with a story or anecdote, and introduce a theme. A narrative voice works well here to engage the reader and get them interested. 

Don’t tell an extensive story; provide just enough to provide context and introduce a theme.

Body Paragraphs (2-3)

Explore and expand on the central theme of your personal statement . You can talk about the traits or life experiences that will make you good at family medicine , dermatology , or whatever specialty you’re pursuing. 

Ensure you’re being specific to the specialty — you don’t need to prove you’ll be a good doctor so much as a good doctor in the field you’re applying to .

Wrap everything up and end with a “bang.” The conclusion should serve to bring all your points together in one place. When I say end with a “bang,” I mean to finish strong . 

Stating: “For the reasons above, I believe I will make an excellent internist, ” doesn’t leave the reader with much.

Try something a bit more passionate, idealistic, and enthusiastic. Here’s an example:

“ Internal medicine is centered around improving lives, orchestrating, and managing complex patient care . To me, the true challenge is in the art of internal medicine — to tailor to patients’ needs to maximize their health and improve their overall quality of life.”

With this approach to the structure of your personal statement , the essay becomes more manageable. You can set yourself mini-assignments by just developing one component at a time. Complete one portion each week, and you’ll be done by the end of the month!

Should a residency personal statement have a title? 

There is no hard and fast rule about whether a residency personal statement should have a title. Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to include a title in your personal statement is up to you.

Consider these factors when deciding whether or not to include a title:

  • A good title can serve as a headline for the reader, making your essay stand out before they even start reading. 
  • A good title can make your statement stand out and help it to be more memorable.
  • On the other hand, a poorly chosen or overly generic title could actually detract from your personal statement.

Most residency programs do not require, or even want, a title for personal statements. Be sure to check the program’s guidelines before including one.

If you do choose to include a title, make sure it is relevant, concise, and impactful. Avoid overly generic or cliche titles, and focus on conveying the main message or theme of your personal statement. 

It is less common to have a title, so if you do it right, you may stand out from the crowd.

How To Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out

Take time to brush up on your writing skills to make your personal statement stand out . 

These skills may not have been your focus in the last few years, but concisely expressing your dedication to the specialty will retain a program director ’s attention. 

Oh, and always remember to proofread and check your grammar! If you specifically prompt ChatGPT to “review your personal statement for grammar and punctuation only,” it does a pretty good job. 

Just be sure not to have AI write your personal statement, as it doesn’t know your stories, and can’t convey your sentiment, tone, or emotion.

Language and Vocabulary

The simpler, the better. Hand your essay to a friend or family member to proofread. If they have to stop and look up any word, it’s probably the wrong word choice. Maybe it’s the perfect word for the sentence, but anything that distracts the reader from the content is a problem.

Avoid the following:

  • Contractions. Contractions are informal language. They aren’t appropriate for applications or professional writing.
  • “Really” as in “I really learned a lot.” Try the word “truly” instead. It sounds more sincere.
  • “Really” or “very” as in “it was a really/very great experience.” Here, “really” is a qualifier that holds the place of a better word choice; e.g., Really great = fantastic, wonderful, exquisite; Very important = paramount, momentous, critical.

Simple sentence structure is usually the best. Follow these rules:

  • Avoid quotations if you can. This is your essay, and it should focus on what you have to say, not someone else. There may be exceptions to this rule (like a statement a professor made that changed the course of your medical career), but these are rare.
  • Punctuate correctly. Misplaced commas or a missing period can distract a reader from your content. If grammar isn’t your strong suit, have a friend (or a spellchecker like Grammarly) check your essay for errors.

Avoid Clichés

Saying you want to go into pediatrics because you love kids might be true, but it’s also a given. Everyone going into healthcare is interested in helping people. 

This is your opportunity to make it more personal. Talk about the life experiences that have uniquely informed your career path and what makes you different from every other med student trying to get a residency interview . 

Don’t Make It Too Complicated

Be simple, straight to the point, and authentic. 

Aim for clear wording that communicates your central theme. If you talk about your professional future and goals, they should be realistic and carefully considered. Your goal is to leave program directors with a strong impression of your character and maturity. 

Try Dynamic Writing

Dynamic writing is all about feel and rhythm. Even good content written poorly can come out flat. Here are some cues to evaluate and improve your writing:

  • Read your writing out loud. Do you have to catch your breath in the middle of a sentence? If so, the sentence is too long and needs some additional punctuation, editing, or to be split up.
  • Vary your sentence structure and/or the length of the sentences. When you’re reading, do you feel like there is a repetitive rhythm? This usually results from too many short sentences stacked on top of each other.

Be Prepared To Revise Your Statement

You’ve done this part before. Once the bulk of your statement is done, have someone else read it, then start revising. The great thing about the revision process is that you don’t have to write the first draft perfectly. 

If you can afford it, consider working with a professional team for help with the residency application process , including personal statement editing.

Our friends at MedSchoolCoach can help you with personal statement editing. 

Should you write multiple ERAS personal statements ?

Write a residency personal statement relevant to each specialty you apply to, each with a clearly stated goal.

While it’s a good idea to write a personal statement for every specialty you apply to, you don’t have to write one for each specific program . Maybe you have research experience in a few different specialties and aren’t sure where you’ll get residency training .

A blanket personal statement to cover all specialties is bland at best and, at worst, a red flag . Your interest in becoming an OB/GYN should be informed by different experiences than your interest in anesthesiology or plastic surgery .

Anyone who reads your personal statement should have all the relevant information for integrating you into their program. Don’t overshare experiences or learnings from irrelevant rotations , classes, or experiences.

Let’s say you send your personal statement to a program director for a radiology residency program . If he reads that you’re torn between radiology and emergency medicine , is he more likely to accept you, or an applicant who seems all-in for his program’s specialty?

Ready to write? Get your residency personal statement prepared!

It’s time to knock out that first paragraph ! We have given you the structure and tools to write a personal statement that reflects your strengths. Remember, there’s no formula for the perfect personal statement , but there are tried and true methods for strong writing.

Schedule a free consultation with MedSchoolCoach to see how we can help you increase your chances of matching into the residency of your choice. 

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Residency Personal Statement – Guide for 2024

April 1, 2024

Crafting your residency personal statement requires careful planning and strategic thinking. Your personal statement is more than just a document; it’s your opportunity to convey your passion, experiences, and aspirations to residency program selection committees. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of writing a compelling personal statement that effectively highlights your unique qualities and suitability for your chosen specialty. We’ll also provide you with invaluable insights and practical tips to navigate the writing process with confidence and clarity.

Whether you’re a seasoned writer or approaching this task for the first time, this guide will equip you with the tools and strategies needed to create a standout personal statement. You’ll be one step closer to becoming the doctor or surgeon you’ve always dreamed about.

How Long is a Residency Personal Statement?

Generally, the residency personal statement should be between 500 to 800 words in length, roughly equating to one page. This statement is a critical part of your residency application, allowing you to communicate your personal and professional background, career goals, and reasons for pursuing a particular specialty, such as plastic surgery . In addition, it’s your chance to showcase your unique experiences, skills, and motivations that make you a strong candidate for your chosen specialty and residency program.

While it’s important to be concise, make sure your statement effectively conveys a compelling narrative that highlights your strengths and aligns with the values and objectives of the program you’re applying to. Crafting a concise yet impactful personal statement is crucial for making a memorable impression on selection committees. However, unlike the medical school personal statement , which tends to be longer, your residency personal statement is on the shorter side. In essence, it should focus specifically on your experiences and aspirations within your chosen specialty.

What Should You Write About in a Residency Personal Statement?

When writing your residency personal statement, consider incorporating the following topics to effectively convey your qualifications and motivations:

1) Passion for the Specialty

Discuss what initially drew you to the specialty and why you’re passionate about pursuing it as a career. Share personal anecdotes or experiences that highlight your interest and commitment.

2)  Clinical Experiences

Reflect on significant clinical experiences that have shaped your understanding of the specialty and reinforced your decision to pursue it. Also, describe memorable patient interactions, challenging cases, or research projects that have influenced your career path.

3) Skills and Attributes

Highlight specific skills, attributes, and qualities that make you well-suited for the specialty. This could include problem-solving abilities, communication skills, empathy , resilience , or teamwork . Furthermore, provide examples that demonstrate how you’ve demonstrated these qualities in clinical or academic settings.

4)   Career Goals

Clearly articulate your short-term and long-term career goals within the specialty. Explain what you hope to achieve professionally and how you envision making a meaningful impact in the field. Additionally, discuss any specific areas of interest or subspecialties you’re passionate about exploring.

5)  Fit with the Program

Explain why you’re interested in the residency program you’re applying to and how it aligns with your career goals and interests. Specifically, highlight specific aspects of the program, such as its curriculum, clinical opportunities, research resources, or faculty expertise, that appeal to you.

6) Unique Experiences and Contributions

Showcase any unique experiences, perspectives, or strengths that set you apart from other applicants. This could include cultural or linguistic diversity, research achievements, leadership roles, community involvement, or overcoming significant challenges. Also, discuss how these experiences have shaped you as a candidate and how they will contribute to the residency program’s diversity and excellence.

What Should You Avoid When Writing a Residency Personal Statement?

  As you compose your residency personal statement, it’s common to encounter pitfalls along the way. If you haven’t previously tackled a similar writing task, such as a medical school personal statement , you may inadvertently stumble into errors without recognizing them. Hence, it’s essential to acquaint yourself with potential missteps before diving into the writing process. By recognizing these common mistakes, you can ensure that your residency personal statement effectively communicates your qualifications and aspirations.

Content to Avoid in Your Residency Personal Statement

1)  Generic Statements

Instead of resorting to generic phrases, focus on highlighting unique experiences, skills, and aspirations that specifically align with the residency program and specialty you’re applying to. For example, rather than stating a broad interest in helping people, discuss a particular patient encounter or clinical experience that ignited your passion for the specialty.

2)  Irrelevant Details

When discussing your experiences and qualifications, ensure they directly relate to your interest in the specialty and your suitability for the residency program. Avoid including extraneous information or unrelated anecdotes that may distract from your main narrative. Instead, each detail should serve to strengthen your candidacy and provide insight into your motivations and capabilities as a future resident.

3)  Negative Experiences without Reflection

While it’s important to acknowledge and discuss challenges or setbacks you’ve faced, it’s equally important to reflect on how these experiences have shaped you as a candidate. Merely listing difficulties without demonstrating resilience or growth may leave a negative impression on the selection committee. Therefore, use these experiences as opportunities to showcase your ability to overcome obstacles and adapt in the face of adversity.

4)  Overly Technical Language

While demonstrating medical knowledge is essential, avoid using overly technical language that may be inaccessible or alienating to readers outside your specialty. Remember that selection committee members may come from diverse backgrounds, so aim for clarity and simplicity in your writing. Use layman’s terms when possible and explain complex concepts in a way that is understandable to a general audience.

5)  Plagiarism

Integrity is paramount in the residency application process, so never plagiarize content from online sources or sample personal statements. Your personal statement should be an authentic reflection of your own experiences, insights, and aspirations. Plagiarism not only undermines your credibility as a candidate but also violates ethical standards expected of medical professionals.

Styles and Tones to Avoid in Your Residency Personal Statement

1)  Arrogance

  Although it’s important to present yourself confidently, avoid crossing the line into arrogance. Instead of making sweeping declarations about your abilities or achievements, focus on providing concrete examples and letting your accomplishments speak for themselves. Humility and self-awareness are valued traits in prospective residents.

2)  Overly Formal Tone

While professionalism is essential, aim for a tone that is approachable and engaging. Avoid overly formal language that may come across as stiff or impersonal. Your personal statement should feel like a genuine expression of your personality and motivations, so don’t be afraid to inject some warmth and authenticity into your writing.

3) Inappropriate Humor

Humor can be a valuable tool for connecting with readers, but it’s important to use it judiciously and appropriately. Avoid jokes or anecdotes that could be construed as offensive or insensitive. Instead, opt for light-hearted anecdotes or observations that showcase your personality without detracting from the seriousness of your application.

4) Excessive Self-Promotion

It’s natural to want to highlight your strengths and accomplishments, but avoid coming across as overly self-promotional or boastful. Instead of simply listing achievements, provide context and insight into how these experiences have shaped your aspirations and prepared you for residency. Focus on demonstrating your potential as a future resident rather than simply listing accolades.

5) Lack of Proofreading

  Careless errors or typos can detract from the professionalism and impact of your personal statement. Before submitting your application, thoroughly proofread your statement for grammatical mistakes, typos, and inconsistencies. Consider asking trusted mentors, colleagues, or peers to review your statement for feedback and suggestions for improvement.

When Should You Start Writing Your Residency Personal Statement?

Writing your residency personal statement is a significant task that requires careful consideration and ample time. Ideally, you should start the writing process several months before the application deadline to allow sufficient time for brainstorming, drafting, revising, and polishing your statement. Starting early enables you to craft a compelling narrative that effectively communicates your qualifications, experiences, and motivations to the selection committee.

The timeline for starting your residency personal statement may vary depending on individual preferences and circumstances. However, a good rule of thumb is to begin the process at least three to six months before you plan to submit your residency applications. This timeframe allows you to gather your thoughts, reflect on your experiences, and develop a cohesive narrative that showcases your strengths and fit for your chosen specialty.

Starting early also provides you with the opportunity to seek feedback from mentors, advisors, or peers throughout the writing process. Sharing your draft with trusted individuals allows you to receive valuable insights and suggestions for improvement, helping you refine your statement and ensure that it effectively highlights your qualifications and aspirations.

Moreover, beginning the writing process early gives you the flexibility to iterate and revise your statement multiple times. By allowing for ample time between drafts, you can step away from your writing and return with a fresh perspective, making it easier to identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your message.

Personal Statement Residency – What’s Next?

  After completing your residency personal statement, the next steps involve refining and finalizing your application materials before submission. Take the time to review your personal statement carefully, ensuring that it effectively communicates your qualifications, experiences, and motivations. Consider seeking feedback from mentors, advisors, or peers to gain valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly review all other components of your residency application, such as your CV, letters of recommendation, and transcripts, to ensure they are accurate and compelling.

As you prepare to submit your application, take confidence in the knowledge that you have put forth your best effort in crafting a personal statement that reflects your dedication and passion for your chosen specialty. Trust in your abilities and the experiences you have shared, knowing that you are well-prepared to embark on the next phase of your medical career .

  • Medical School Admissions

Emily Schmidt

Emily is currently a professional writer in the healthcare industry. As a former journalist, her work focused on climate change, health disparities, and education. She holds two bachelor's degrees in English and Spanish from Stanford University, and a master's in journalism from Arizona State University. Her first published novel debuted in 2020, and she hopes to finish her second novel by the end of this year.

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Creating a high‐quality personal statement for residency application: A guide for medical students and mentors

Adaira landry.

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts, USA

Wendy C. Coates

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Harbor‐UCLA Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles California, USA

Michael Gottlieb

3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago Illinois, USA


In 2022, a total of 50,830 applicants applied to residency programs in the United States. 1 The majority of the application are data driven, including Step 1 and 2 scores, preclinical and clinical grades, and the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE or “Dean's Letter”). While there is some flexibility in choosing who writes one's letters of recommendation, there are caps on the number allowed and the contents are usually unknown to the applicant. Therefore, a high‐quality personal statement adds subjectivity and provides flexibility to frame an applicant in the strongest light. Prior research reveals that the personal statement has not always been valued universally. 2 , 3 However, the personal statement may be gaining importance with the recently increased focus on holistic review as well as the transition of USMLE Step 1 to pass/fail and the increasing prevalence of pass/fail grading in U.S. medical schools. 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 This is relevant as objective metrics inconsistently predict a student's ability to practice medicine and succeed in residency 8 , 9 and may present a potential for racial and other forms of bias in applicant selection. 10

While the objective aspects of the application emphasize comparison based on standard measures, the subjective narrative is curated and individualized by the applicant. Moreover, the National Residency Matching Program 2021 Program Director survey data suggest that personal statements influenced some applicants' likelihood of receiving an interview offer, especially when the application was near a program's self‐directed objective cutoff metric; however, its impact on rank list position was less influential. 11 Therefore, it is in the candidate's interest to craft a statement that engages the reviewer. The primary goal of the personal statement must be honest and reflective and be able to tell the story of the applicant (e.g., the influence of their background, key current personal interests, and future goals). Linear and crisp writing makes a personal story easier to read. Despite the stakes, there are few published resources guiding applicants on how to write an effective personal statement. 12

In this paper, we provide recommendations for creating a high‐quality personal statement. The authors have served as advisors to medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty for over 35 years across four separate major academic institutions. They have held core faculty roles, medical school, residency program, or fellowship leadership positions and have served on resident selection and interview committees and in the dean's office. The information compiled here was based on consensus of opinion as well as relevant literature where available. While the primary audience of this article is medical students, the principles may also be valuable for their mentors.


The personal statement provides context to your personal and professional experiences and ambitions. It should not be a line‐by‐line recap of your entire application. Rather, it should highlight aspects which deserve greater attention and detail than are provided in your curriculum vitae. 13 Resist the urge to exaggerate truth, but do not undersell your accomplishments. Stating what you learned from experiences can strike a balance. The personal statement offers a prime opportunity to discuss gaps in training, motivation to pursue a particular field, notable extracurricular activities, general career plans, and concerns with your application. Controversial topics, such as social or political issues, may occasionally be included after careful consideration on how to frame your message and language. A trusted specialty‐specific advisor or mentor can help determine which key points are strategic to address.

Most importantly, your personal statement should be unique and reflect your personal journey and not be at risk of being mistaken for a different applicant or plagiarized from a published work. We recommend that you craft your personal statement directly from your voice and through your lens. While it is prudent to consult a proofreader to check spelling and grammar, it is unacceptable to hire a writer to construct your statement.

Before writing your personal statement, we recommend engaging in self‐reflection. Focus on the crossroads of your path and application that you want to highlight. These form the central points of your essay and may stimulate conversation during your interview. Your trusted network (mentors, significant others, siblings, parents, and close friends) can help early to identify significant traits and experiences. Anything written in a personal statement is available for discussion during the interview, including some topics that are frequently disallowed. Be prepared to discuss what you disclose. Table  1 summarizes general pearls and pitfalls for the personal statement.

Pearls and pitfalls for the personal statement


Writing can be a challenge but following a few basic writing strategies can simplify the task. Creating an outline helps adhere to purposeful clarity and flow. The flow should be linear so that the application reviewer can easily follow the discussion without having to decipher the relevance of content or the meaning of vague analogies. The ability to compose clear, easily readable prose will reflect favorably on your communication skills.

Writing with brevity and paying attention to the word count yields readable, short, and sharp sentences. For many specialties, a one‐page personal statement is the norm; however, ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) does have a cap of 28,000 characters (approximately 5 pages). 12 Your mentor can advise on the preferred length for your intended specialty. Use simple words that convey your meaning to enhance comprehension, and avoid overly colorful language and unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. Minimize the temptation to provide extraneous details, especially when trying to set the scene of a clinical environment, patient encounter, or historic event (e.g., a family member with a medical encounter). You should be the focus of your personal statement.

After creating this first draft, several strategies can be used to improve it. Waiting a few days to edit the statement allows you to reread it from a fresh perspective. Trusted allies may offer valuable insights and assess for flow, context, and comprehension. Mentors can evaluate your statement from the lens of a reviewer. Listening to the statement being read aloud can help identify errors. It is common to need several revisions before settling on your ideal personal statement. As a last step, be sure to check the document for spelling and grammar. Table  2 provides resources that will help with the technical craft of writing.

Writing resources


There is no rigid template for a personal statement. Its design and development should be sculpted to describe your unique experiences and ambitions, while being mindful of the storytelling and writing principles outlined above. To that end, no singular format or framework will work for every student. The goal is not to capture the reviewer's or programs's exact preferences, because there is too much variability to predict what is desired. 2 The primary goal of the personal statement is to write clearly about your journey so that reviewers understand who you are. In this section, we provide examples of components to consider including in your personal statement. We do not expect that each of these components will be included in everyone's personal statement. Instead, each author should decide which components best represent their desired message. We understand the temptation to be creative with your writing; however, we recommend caution. A lively statement, specifically in the opening, runs the risk of being cliché or distracting. Table  3 offers suggestions of how to structure the description of your experiences.

Approach to describing experiences in personal statement

Motivation for pursuing medicine overall (consider including, if desired)

The decision to pursue the field of medicine is significant and worthy of discussion. Often students open with a brief description of an educational or clinical encounter, a relative's journey as a patient, or even a personal illness. You may briefly state your reasons for becoming a physician (e.g., enjoyment of clinical medicine, desire to improve health care delivery). No matter the influence that inspired you to pursue medicine, reviewers will appreciate your authenticity.

Motivation for selected residency field (included by many applicants 14 , 15 )

Describe why you are applying to your specialty and highlight personal traits and experiences that make you an ideal fit. Mentors in your desired specialty can discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and future of the field and can assess your compatibility. Avoid superficial phrasing such as “I am applying to emergency medicine because I am interested in helping people.” While this answer is honorable, it lacks a detailed understanding of the nuanced aspects of the field and could apply to any student and specialty. There is no need to describe the specialty to the readers—they are living it daily and want to learn why you will succeed within the specialty's framework.

Tentative plans for residency and career (included by strongest applicants)

If you have tentative plans for residency, possible fellowship, and your subsequent career path, you can include them and any supporting evidence. For instance, “Based on my research thesis studying cardiac biomarkers, I plan to focus on early signs of cardiac disease. I will pursue a fellowship in population health, obtain a Master of Public Health degree, and later work in an academic setting.” You may also link these ambitions, whether clinical or nonclinical, back to why you pursued medicine or the specific discipline. Selection committees value your ability to create a global plan, but they also understand that it may change during residency and will not be disappointed if you revise your path as you discover new opportunities during your training.

Brief context of academic experiences (consider including, if applicable)

The variety of applicants' experiences is as varied as the applicants themselves. It is important to clarify your motivation for engaging in an activity, the depth of your role, and how you improved as a result of your participation. For example, the experiences of a student who is listed as an author on a publication may vary from data entry to principal investigator. An honest reflection of your role and lessons learned is far better than hyperbole. Describe your decision making behind a project and how your skills improved or how it influenced your personal mission as a result. Detailed descriptions are not necessary. Instead, focus on the key components of one or two influential experiences. You may be expected to elucidate the details during your interview.

Relevance of extracurricular activities and prior employment (consider including, if applicable)

Most applicants have a long list of activities to report, and many may not be well understood by the selections committee. The personal statement gives you an opportunity to frame selected experiences. Highlight your important role in an activity or why the activity endorses your potential success in your specialty. There is a significant distinction between a student who created a student‐run clinic (e.g., generated the idea, sought approval, built a team, gathered supplies, scheduled students and faculty) and a student who staffed the clinic twice during medical school. Similarly, your role in a previous job, whether it was career focused or casual, can shed light on your skills (e.g., to highlight management skills, you could recount your experience as a residence hall assistant in college or your role as a team leader in industry).

Special considerations (consider including, if applicable)

The following are selected special considerations for writing your personal statement. They can carry a higher level of sensitivity, so be mindful of word choice. We want to emphasize the importance of discussing your approach with a trusted advisor or mentor. Be prepared to discuss any topics mentioned in the statement during your interview. While this may seem daunting at first, it is an opportunity to directly answer a question that the selection committee may have while reviewing your application. Reading your thoughtful explanation may allay their fears about the event in question and spur their decision to take a chance on extending an interview invitation. No matter the issue, be sure to demonstrate personal and professional growth and how, if at all, the concern enhanced your ability to become a physician.

Leave of absence

If you took a formal leave from medical school, we suggest you acknowledge it in your application. While ERAS has a designated section for leave of absences, consider also mentioning the absence in the broader context of the personal statement. You are not obligated to provide details. You are free to state, “I took 3 months off for a familial obligation.” However, further details can help the reviewer contextualize the absence: “This allowed me to spend the necessary time addressing the issue without compromising my training. Upon my return from leave, I fulfilled the expectations of my medical school.” It is important that your reason for the leave of absence is viewed by the school in the same fashion. If there is any conflict in the purpose of the leave, speak with your medical school leadership to discuss and resolve any disconnect.

Medical history

You are not mandated to disclose medical conditions. However, if the condition precludes you from performing your duties completely or partially, it is in your best interest to assess whether the program is supportive of providing the least restrictive accommodations for you to participate fully in the training program. While the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations, it does not require that you disclose your disability until they are needed. Early disclosure gives employers ample lead time to put accommodations into place but may also lead to bias. 16 , 17 We recommend you discuss with your support system when and whether to disclose a disability and whether this decision will cause relief or worry for you and your potential employer.

Shelf exam/board scores/grades

Standardized test scores may influence students' interview opportunities and ability to match in residency. 11 It is prudent to discuss low scores or failures. A brief but clear description of the likely cause, remediation process, and subsequent successful outcome is needed. Any additional positive data points can be mentioned. For example, “I have since passed all of my shelf exams and my Step 2 score was in the Xth percentile.”

Concerning evaluation

Clerkship evaluations on the MSPE may contain negative comments that might be detrimental to the application. You are generally allowed to review your MSPE prior to finalization. If a detrimental comment is found, you should discuss evaluation concerns with your mentor as soon as possible to plan how to mitigate any negativity. Some negative comments are truthful and constructive and will remain in the MSPE. If the comment remains in the MSPE, the personal statement is available to explain the circumstances clearly and concisely and without casting blame on others. It is important to share the most important stage of processing feedback: self‐reflection and identifying areas of growth. 18 , 19 It is reasonable to direct the reader to subsequent instances of how the initial concern later was cited as a strength.

Limited access to extracurricular activities

Statements often highlight select activities so the reviewer can focus on what you perceive to be the most influential activities. However, not all students have access to the same experiences. There is no clear quantitative marker for how many extracurricular activities such as research, volunteering, or leadership roles one should obtain. Resources can vary from one institution to another, and individuals may not have time to engage in copious activities if they have other financial or family obligations during medical school. The personal statement is an opportunity to briefly explain any limitations with obtaining extracurricular activities.

Social and political factors

Often our personal identity is closely entwined with our societal and political experiences. It is an individual choice how to tell your perspective through your personal lens and whether to disclose your preferences. Incorporating personal identifiers, such as your gender, race, age, ability, sexual orientation, parenting status, religion, or political affiliation, informs the reader on aspects of your life that you feel have influenced your journey. 6 , 7 Revealing these can run the risk of unfair or discriminatory judgment but can also demonstrate your comfort with yourself and positively support the reasons you will shine as a resident physician. 12 Depending on your passion and involvement in a particular topic, this can be an opportune segue to explain your interest and future ambitions. Be prepared to discuss any of these disclosures during your interview. Consulting with your mentor is a good way to gauge the impact this decision may have on your application.

Writing a personal statement can be a challenging task. A thoughtful, organized approach will help you create a meaningful personal statement that enhances your application. Streamline the writing to convey your message concisely. The best personal statements are clear and brief and contain specificity to reflect and explain your unique perspective. This is your opportunity to highlight why you are the ideal candidate for a residency in your chosen field. While this guide cannot guarantee an interview invitation or a match into a desired program, we hope this resource will help ensure that your personal statements can showcase your best possible self.


AL has received funding personally from EchoNous for consulting. The other authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.


The authors acknowledge Drs. Michelle Lin at UCSF and Sara Krzyzaniak at Stanford for their advice on leave of absences.

Landry A, Coates WC, Gottlieb M. Creating a high‐quality personal statement for residency application: A guide for medical students and mentors . AEM Educ Train . 2022; 6 :e10797. doi: 10.1002/aet2.10797 [ CrossRef ] [ Google Scholar ]

Supervising Editor: Dr. Jason Wagner

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Personal Statement Examples Residency to Unlock the Path to Your Dream

You know the parable about the bad blacksmith who caused the war to be lost. The essence is that he badly shod the messenger’s horse, who could not deliver the message in time, and the troops did not have time to reload, and the war was lost. One badly hammered nail ruined everything. The point is that there are no small things in important matters, and getting a residence permit to continue your career is fundamental. Among the huge package of documents that you will need to submit to the commission is a personal statement. This is a short document of only one page, up to 1000 words long, which can ultimately determine your fate, so it is necessary to be highly responsible.

To make sure you don’t get it wrong, it’s best to start by familiarizing yourself with personal statement examples for residency. It is even better to see examples of students who have succeeded and got the desired place. And we offer you just such documents.

How to Identify a Good Personal Statements Residency Sample

You can find hundreds of such examples by going to the Internet and entering the appropriate request. Each of them will almost certainly fit the description of the ‘sample personal statement residency.’ You will see someone else’s example posted online. But there is no guarantee that this particular paper is good and that its author was responsible for their work. You don’t even know if the personal essay is successful or not. All this is only true if you don’t know where to look.

We guarantee that in our service, all medical residency personal statement examples meet all the necessary requirements to be considered the gold standard of personal statements. All papers are written by professionals and, therefore, pass all the compliance checks accurately. Consequently, we invite you to browse our personal statements residency sample database and choose the best one to serve you well.

Why Residency Personal Statements Samples Are Beneficial for You

It isn’t easy to create something good with a range of requirements without the proper knowledge. You can use manuals or seek information on the web. You can rely on intuition and your own experience. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that this will bring the desired result. But what can be said with confidence is that studying excellent residency personal statements examples gives you many undeniable advantages and ways to improve yourself already in the process.

  • First and foremost, pro-made personal statement examples residency are visual references that you can look up to. These documents give you a broad idea of what elements should be included in a personal statement and how it should be designed.
  • Examples of residency personal statements help you understand which topics and approaches work and which do not. This will help you avoid unnecessary and trivial mistakes and help you know how to highlight your advantages. This is extremely important regarding the hugely competitive admission environment.
  • Winning examples may open your eyes to various styles and approaches to doing this work. In this document, you can determine the best and most appropriate way to present your best aspects.
  • A professionally created sample personal statement for residency is an excellent source for enriching your vocabulary and even gaining new knowledge. You will be able to borrow cool colloquialisms and learn how to make the right emphases.

Using our database of personal statements for residency examples correctly, you get an incomparable advantage over other candidates because you can familiarize yourself with dozens of different and, at the same time, high-quality works, take all the highlights from each of them, and create your own masterpiece.

How to Use Residency Application Personal Statement Examples Correctly

When you see great works, you may want to copy everything written and edit the example to suit yourself. We implore you not to do this. Doing so will undoubtedly lead to plagiarism charges and denial of your desired program position. To maximize the benefits of using our example residency personal statements, try using the following principles:

Inspiration, not imitation

Use our examples of personal statements medical residency as the foundation for building your own work. Be inspired by ideas, gain additional knowledge, and transform them specifically for you.

Analyze the structure in depth

Look at several residency personal statement examples and highlight the structure of each document. They may be slightly different, but by comparing the papers, you will understand the principle of how your work should be structured.

Find the key points

In each of our medical residency personal statements, there are emphases that the authors have put there. You can analyze them and understand how to lead your thoughts to the key conclusions to look even more convincing.

The main thing to remember is that creativity and your personal ideas will help you use our residency application personal statement examples most productively. Feel free to study other samples on our site as well. This way, you will have an even broader scope and thus get even more experience.

Why You Need ERAS Personal Statement Examples

Most applications for US residencies now go through the ERAS system. On the one hand, this helps to create a good database and simplifies the students’ application process. On the other hand, ERAS is very strict about the length and format of the text. It should not exceed 800 words. The system will automatically shorten anything longer than that.

In this case, familiarizing yourself with ERAS personal statement examples is a must. Thanks to our samples, you can see all the nuances of formatting work for this system and understand how to fit all the most important information about yourself in such a small volume.

What Not to Do With Personal Statement Examples for Residency

Our examples are in the public domain, and you are free to use them as you wish. However, we strongly advise you to avoid gross mistakes when using personal statement for residency examples, which can harm you.

  • Irresponsible copying : Parts of the work can be carried over unchanged, but you should be very careful about doing so and preferably avoid it altogether.
  • Ignoring structure : You may think your creativity will help you stand out, but missing a reasonably strict structure for this document will not benefit you.
  • Loss of individuality : Don’t adopt the personality and style of the author of residency personal statement samples. Instead, highlight your identity because this is what the admissions committee looks for in applicants.
  • Lack of editing : Even if you think the work looks very similar to the residency personal statement example and you have followed all the rules, it is better to give the work to an experienced editor to check.

Let Professionals Help With Your Medical Residency Personal Statements

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Pediatrics Residency Personal Statement Examples

Pediatrics Personal Statement Examples

Reviewing pediatrics personal statement examples is a great way to inspire your own in 2024! Your residency personal statement is your chance to stand out to the admission’s teams and emphasize your suitability for the profession, along with any relevant skills and qualities, that you feel will make you an excellent pediatrics resident.

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 12 min read

You’re an accomplished MD student with a passion for helping children, so it’s only natural for you to want to pursue a pediatrics residency! In order to be considered for admission, your pediatrics personal statement must not only detail your passion and qualifications as they relate to the field, but give the admission’s committee a good grasp of who you are as a person, why you want to work with children specifically, and why they should consider you to be a resident doctor in the field!

Pediatrics is one of the least competitive residencies currently. While it is still in-demand and a popular choice, pediatrics is a broad field. In pediatrics, you may not only be a primary care physician for a very specific group of people (infants and children under 18), but you may also provide care for pediatric patients suffering from terminal illnesses, acute and chronic conditions, injuries, musculoskeletal issues, neurological issues, and more. There are, of course, areas of specialization for each of these, but many pediatric doctors have the ability and passion to understand and study a broad range of pediatric health problems. Both graduates of MD and DO programs pursue pediatrics. Whether you’re Canadian and applying through CaRMS , or American/International and using ERAS , your pediatrics personal statement is a very important component of your application! 

Read on to view examples of pediatrics personal statements and learn more about how to write a strong and detailed personal statement that concisely highlights your relevant accomplishments personal experience, academic career, professional goals, and professional experience that, when all considered in combination, make you stand out as a candidate for residency.

Before you write and your personal statement for any field of residency, you should first allow yourself ample time to craft a few drafts to ensure you can accurately detail all relevant information in, approximately, 750 words!

This information should include:

Optional: a brief explanation of any gaps or unfavorable grades. "}]">

In just a few paragraphs, your personal statement should thoroughly describe why you’d be a great fit for residency in pediatrics, and provide examples of experiences and accomplishments that back up your statement.

 When crafting your personal statement, it’s advised that you revise it several times, and even read it aloud, to be sure that you don’t get sidetracked or include any irrelevant details, as this can be easy to do when you’ve only got a few paragraphs to tell a very specific story! It’s also imperative that you refrain from reiterating a list of accomplishments that are noted on your residency CV , ERAS experiences section , or additional portions of your application and transcript, as this is not what a personal statement is meant to do. If you choose to utilize a few sentences your personal statement as an opportunity to address poor grades or gaps in your medical school CV , ensure that you do so in a mature and optimistic manner, and provide information about the outcome. Most importantly, keep it brief, and stick to the facts! Overall, your personal statement should only include details that convince the admissions team that you’re a perfect candidate for pediatrics residency.

Example One

“You’re more insightful than most adults!” is what my sixth-grade teacher told me after she overhead me consoling my classmate after she experienced a traumatic event and received little support from her surrounding community. I was always interested in the social and emotional needs of my peers, and many adults in my life dubbed me, "the little therapist" and assumed I'd pursue mental healthcare as a career. But, little did they know that as I grew to be a teen, I became more invested in learning how their problems were addressed and met, and where they stemmed from. While I was in high school, I was president of my local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) that focused on bettering access to peer-to-peer de-escalation training, and a common theme I noticed among my peers was many had experienced medical trauma, neglect, and inadequate access to health care. I also volunteered with a local crisis hotline through my church, where I would listen to people who were struggling with depression or substance abuse. Many of whom had medical and emotional concerns brushed off as children, and many of whom had never seen a pediatric physician.

When I went to college, I decided to pursue a psychology with the initial intent of becoming a psychotherapist. However, my experiences learning psychology, along with understanding that many traumas stemmed from early experiences, helped me realize that I wanted to help young people take a proactive approach to coping with health issues, traumas and mental illness. And, I firmly believe that a positive interaction with a medical professional at a young age can truly make an impact and lasting impression on a child. As I continued in my undergraduate degree, I completed courses in biology, physics and chemistry in good-standing, and began to develop a passion for medicine.

My experience in my MD program was unforgettable. Going into it, I knew I was focused on helping children develop into healthy adults by providing them with the resources they need while they are still young enough for us to help guide them toward positive change. In my clerkships, I learned how to be a leader and how to work with others in a team setting, and collaborate respectfully with others, even in intense and challenging environments such as the pediatric oncology unit and the emergency department. I learned how to communicate effectively, both verbally and nonverbally, with patients of all ages and backgrounds. In my clerkships, I spent time not only in pediatrics, but in geriatrics as well, which offered me a completely 'opposite' perspective and experience working with an entirely unique group. Geriatrics taught me a lot of about the human condition, aging, and how, even at 90 years old, the inner child still exists, and the experiences of children are not frequently forgotten-- quite the opposite actually-- many elderly patients cling to their childhood memories, and require the same compassion and empathy from their healthcare providers as children do. This experience taught me to be patient, considerate, and genuine with my patients of all ages. I also spent time in emergency medicine and got to interact with children of all ages in the emergency department, as well as adults. However, throughout each experience, being with children was always what I found to be most rewarding.

When my family fell on hard times and moved to North Carolina, my siblings and I grappled with the fear and anxiety of joining a new community. But, we soon realized our new neighborhood was a place where everyone knew everyone, and children ran around outside without supervision. Older kids, like myself, often cared for younger ones. At the time I didn't quite grasp why, and it wasn't until I was older that I realized many parents were young, working several jobs, and falling through the cracks of society in terms of mental and physical health. The idea of having to supervise children all day long seemed so strange to me at first, but, I grew to realize the importance of my help, and the help of other leaders in our community. I began to see the benefits of having such a small community: it was easy to get involved in activities, and there were always people around who wanted to help out with projects and events. The community also provided a support system for families who needed it most, and as a self-declared leader in such a system, I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a helper in life. In my town, there were several families who struggled financially, with their health, and/or emotionally, and they were always grateful for any kind of assistance they could get from their neighbors. They were good people, but being from a medical underserved, disadvantaged community had left them, and their children, without the resources they required to better their health, and improve their futures.

My grandmother was not only my superhero, but, a superhero to many sick children. She had a profound impact on my life in many ways, and I like to think she did for others, too! My grandmother was an RN and worked in the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital where she lived. When she wasn't working, she would spend much of her time volunteering at the hospital's children's cancer ward. She would take me with her when she went to visit the children there and would often bring me along to deliver meals or other small gifts to them. Her time spent with these children—helping them get better and supporting their families—was always an inspiration to me, even though at the time, I was very involved in the arts and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life...I myself was still a child. But, I always knew that I’d follow in my grandmother’s footsteps, and, here I am today doing just that in the final year of my MD program, pursuing pediatric residency!

I think this early exposure is what made me gravitate toward pediatrics as a specialty choice; having seen first-hand how important it is to help young people live healthier lives, I knew that this was where I belonged. During my undergraduate degree, I studied both English and Psychology, but took the required prerequisites for medical school and much to my surprise, excelled in science and math. I also shadowed and volunteered at a local hospital in order to gain experience in the medical field. During this time, one of my favorite experiences was shadowing a pediatrician who specialized in caring for children with learning and developmental disabilities. I was amazed by her ability to connect with each child and provide them with the support they needed—even though she didn't always know how to help them herself.

Your pediatrics personal statement is an integral part of your residency application because it is your opportunity to share what makes you a qualified applicant worth consideration! In other words, your personal statement is your chance to highlight what makes you different and special, and what experiences you’ve had that will make you a great candidate for pediatric residency. Your personal statement is mandatory, and if poorly written, you run the risk of having your residency application tossed aside.

Along with having a great personal statement, having a strong CaRMS reference letter, or ERAS letter of recommendation, can increase your likeliness of standing out and can serve as a way to thoroughly detail your experience and skillset that makes you an exceptional candidate. 

However, it’s advised that you secure references and recommendations early to avoid rushing any parts of the process. You should also give yourself ample time to prepare a great personal statement in order to allow the opportunity for necessary revisions and rewrites; quality letters and statements seldom happen overnight!

While pediatrics is decently popular, it isn’t an overly competitive field at this time. MD and DO applicants often apply to pediatric residency!

Your personal statement should include the following:

  • A firm statement highlighting why you’re a good fit for residency in pediatrics
  • Any brief description of personal ties you have to the field 
  • Your professional goals and values as they relate to pediatrics
  • Any relevant details about your academic and/or professional achievements as they relate to the field
  • Highlight an experience or two (in your MD program, volunteering, clerkship, etc.) that inspired you to pursue pediatrics

It can vary but, in most cases, your personal statement should be 750- 800 words in length!

Follow the structure of an academic essay. As with any academic applications or professional documents, always refrain from using any bold or creative layouts or fonts. Keep it neat, legible, simple, and professional!

If you are only applying to pediatrics, then you will require one personal statement. 

However, most students apply to several programs within their speciality, and many may opt to apply to several specialities as well! Because of this, it’s advised that you prepare a personal statement for each specialty you are applying for.

Aside from following general advice about length, formatting, and details to include and not to include (such as irrelevant details or negative narratives), you should write from the heart! Ensure you are writing a genuine personal statement that is authentically ‘you’ and conveys the appropriate amount of passion in just a few short paragraphs. Share why you are excited to work in pediatrics and give examples of various experiences (or accomplishments) that motivated you to pursue this specific field. If you have personal and/or professional experience in pediatrics, or, a related field, briefly share the details and state why they are important to you.

If you’ve had other experiences, such as shadowing, or clinical rotations, in a field other than pediatrics, you can certainly mention it in your personal statement so long as it’s relevant and ties into your narrative. For example, you may have learned great teamwork and collaboration skills, or developed a passion for working with children, while shadowing a neurologist! If your experience in other fields does not directly relate to your desire to pursue pediatrics, do not include it. Remember, your personal statement is a narrative that describes your suitability for a field, not a list of experiences!

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