Too many residency applicants underestimate the importance of a thoughtful and engaging personal statement. Still others approach this narrative document as an extension of their CV. Both of these misfires may prevent you from admittance to the program you desire.
Before you begin writing your personal statement, it’s important to understand why you have to write one in the first place. Resident and fellow selection committees look to your personal statement as an opportunity to get to know you – not what you’ve done, where you studied, or how well you did academically, but your personality. They want to know things a transcript and CV cannot convey: why you became a doctor; how you handle difficult situations and impossible decisions; the personal experiences that shaped you; your philosophy; your goals. This information helps determine whether you will be a good fit within the program, or whether you are desirable as a potential colleague. They may even play a part in connecting you with the mentors within your program who will best help you achieve your goals.
The best approach to writing your statement is to view it as a piece of creative (but not too creative) non-fiction rather than a professional summary. With these objectives in mind, it’s important that you construct a statement that is cohesive and centers around some common themes. One way to ensure focus is to begin with a quotation or proverb that relates to your narrative. It is also a good idea to share personal experiences from your past that inform the person you are today and shape your personal goals. To brainstorm, write down the three accomplishments you’re most proud of, or reflect on a particularly influential mentor and what you admire about him or her.
Once you’ve constructed your personal statement, read it aloud to yourself and others. Does it flow well, or does it seem disjointed? Is there a common theme? Do the anecdotes and examples you used throughout your statement illustrate the personal qualities you want to convey? Welcome critique and suggestions from people whose opinions you value and trust. Finally, ensure your final statement is free of grammar, spelling, and syntax issues. A personal statement that contains errors will give an impression that it was written hastily or haphazardly.
If essay writing isn’t your strong suit, it’s perfectly acceptable to seek professional assistance. Services like Career Services MD can connect you with professional writers who will help you transform your own personal experiences into a cohesive narrative that is uniquely you, giving you the competitive edge you need to ensure entry into your desired program and specialty.