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Personal Statements

How to Craft

  • Use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewers. Think of it as your opening statement.
  • Unless the program faculty and residents know you personally through a rotation, your application — including personal statement — presents your entire professional persona to those who extend interview invitations. What do you want the program/interviewers to know about you first?
  • Write a focused essay, about four paragraphs in length, that covers the basics. Suggested outline for paragraphs
    • The first paragraph should introduce the reader to you (Who Am I?).
    • The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty.
    • The third paragraph should confirm why you think this choice is right for you, and could include such things as research, extracurricular or work experiences that are pertinent.  Do not simply restate your CV!  Tie these experiences into your specialty choice.
    • The fourth paragraph should inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals, or how you see yourself in this specialty.
  • Technical Points
    • One page in length. 
    • Standard one-inch margins
    • 12 pt font
    • Single spaced
    • Grammatically correct
    • Correct spelling
  • No one expects you to be a poet or a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about yourself.
  • Make the statement easy to read. The interviewers will normally have about two minutes to get through the information. Use paragraph breaks to encourage reading.
  • Your starting point in writing does not have to be the “Who Am I?” section. This is the most difficult part to write. Start with the ending paragraph—that will potentially be one of the easier ones to write.
  • Be specialty specific.  If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points about your specific specialty choice. Do not start with the “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine” concept that you used for your medical school application.  Move more into your specialty choice and why.
  • If you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV, they should be germane to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis in order to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.
  • Use your own words rather than rely on quotes; your own thoughts are more powerful. Students have been hung up in writing personal statements because they are intent on developing the whole document around some favorite quote. If you can make it work, fine, but don’t get mired down hanging onto a quote. If possible, develop a theme that carries you through the document.
  • Do NOT plagiarize or use a service to write your personal statement. Program directors are increasingly adept at using software to determine if the language in an applicant’s personal statement comes from sources other than the applicant. It is also increasingly common for programs to receive identical personal statements from more than one applicant. Your written work should reflect only your own effort.
  • Show your document to lots of people, starting with your LA. Your specialty career mentor should also review it. The hard work invested in this is worth it for the feedback.
  • Still having trouble crafting your personal statement? Reflect on the following questions to help you frame your statement:
    • Tell me why you decided on a medical career.
    • What specialty do you feel you are best suited for and why?
    • What led you to choose this specialty over others? (What selection criteria/resources did you use to make your decision?)
    • What do you hope to get out of your residency experience? (What are you looking for in a residency program?)
    • What are your future career plans in the area of the specialty you’ve chosen? (Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?)
  • Resources:
    • Writing Center – On Campus
    • Lead Advisor

Uploading to ERAS

  • You will not be able to upload a word document or PDF to ERAS, but rather will copy and paste your statement(s)
  • You can have multiple personal statements.
    • If you are parallel planning, you will have – at minimum – two personal statements; one for each specialty.
    • You can have program specific personal statements if you have a significant reason to match at a particular place or if the program requests a statement that specifically asks why you want to be there
  • In ERAS, you will have the opportunity to give your statement a name
    • This is only viewable by you so be descriptive
  • Once you have chosen programs for your application, you will select “assign documents”
    • From there you may choose the personal statement you wish to use with that program