Are you looking for a residency personal statement template?
Like many IMGs, you could quickly feel overwhelmed when I started writing my personal statement.
I have seen a lot of people struggling to figure out what to write and how to write it.
After turning the internet upside down, I finally came up with a template that gathered all the relevant tips to help you ace the writing of your medical residency personal statement.
Please keep in mind that the purpose of this template is to provide you with a guide and give you a source of inspiration. When it comes to writing, there is no perfect recipe for success
How to start a personal statement – The introduction
In this paragraph, you will need to grab the attention of a recruiter who has probably already read many personal statements.
Since a personal statement should be at most 700 words, the introduction should be around 125-175 words. Therefore, your mission is to stand out while getting straight to the point.
To achieve that, here are three steps to follow:
- Start by writing something personal about you. It can be an experience, either personal or professional, a hobby you enjoy, or an encounter that has inspired you.
- Explain why you’re talking about that specific thing: What you enjoy most about your hobby, what you’ve learned from that experience and how it has impacted you.
- Make the transition to why you’ve decided to pursue a specific specialty by linking your story with some characteristics of that specialty.
For example, if you love playing chess, explain:
- What made you start playing.
- Details about what you enjoy while playing, and what this activity brings you.
- Connections with the specialty. For example, the focus and calm required to play chess reminds you of anesthesia.
Here are three examples of introductions that I found great to read and that follow this schema:
The body of a personal statement is usually subdivided into two or three paragraphs of 300-400 words.
This section is crucial as its purpose is to help answer three points:
- What draws you to this specialty? Do you have a realistic view of the specialty you’re applying for?
- Do you have the required qualities and skills that will help you succeed during residency (communication skills, research experience, team spirit, etc.)?
- What are your professional goals?
The best way to answer these questions is by enabling the reader to deduce your remarkable qualities through the text.
In other words, you won’t directly state that you’re a team player; you want the reader to understand and deduce that you’re a team player from your statement.
The best way to do so is by detailing your experiences. Your background provides your reader with the context in which you acquired your skills, your perspective of the specialty, and why you decided to pursue X and Y goals.
Context is what will make your message more impactful and memorable.
Here are some examples to guide you on how to answer those three questions:
What draws you to this specialty? Do you have a realistic view of the specialty you’re applying for? I highlighted in blue the part that addresses this specific point.
Do you have the residency’s required qualities and skills (Communication skills, research experience, team spirit, etc.)?
Another way to look at this question is:
What skills or qualities do you bring that will make you succeed during residency and beyond?
What are your professional goals?
The final paragraph emphasizes:
- Your goals for residency (research, techniques, knowledge, etc.).
- Your long-term goals ( e.g. working with minorities, research, education, evolving health policies, etc.).
The conclusion must reflect the experiences and values you discussed throughout your personal statement.
In other words, it’s logical to state in your final paragraph that you want to work with underserved populations if you’ve shared an experience working with those communities somewhere in your personal statement.
Here is an excellent example of a conclusion paragraph that shares both residency and long-term goals:
How many paragraphs should a residency personal statement be?
Personal statements usually include four or five paragraphs, but this number can vary.
A personal statement should contain approximately 550-700 words, and depending on the messages you want to convey, it’s up to you to organize your ideas throughout the statement to make the paragraphs flow well.
Remember that one section shouldn’t contain more than one main idea.
Therefore, if you are done with an idea, proceed with the following one in the next paragraph.
You can go on and write five or six paragraphs as it’s always more pleasant for a reader to read one small paragraph that gets straight to the point than four paragraphs that are too long and difficult to digest.
What makes a great personal statement for residency?
As the document’s name implies, your personal statement is subjective, and so is the reader’s perception of it.
Despite that, there are, in my opinion, broad characteristics that can make a personal statement interesting and enjoyable to read. It should be:
Free from grammatical errors
This one makes sense, but it’s always interesting to understand why it’s so important.
Making vocabulary or grammatical errors makes the reader believe that you’re not attentive and that you made little effort while writing your personal statement.
You don’t write a personal statement for your medical residency without paying attention to these kinds of details, just as you don’t go on a date to a fancy restaurant in pajamas.
Programs read thousands of personal statements each year.Therefore, they’ve developed a sharp sense of detecting deception, even if it’s in written form.
Be careful, because anything you say in your personal statement could come up during your interview, so being dishonest isn’t a good idea.
Your personal statement helps programs understand which life experiences are driving you towards pursuing a residency in their specialty, what you love about that specialty, and what your ultimate goals are.
These ideas are connected and give context, so they have to make sense with each other.
To give you an example, growing up in a specific community could be a source of motivation to provide people with better access to healthcare.
Logical and fluid
Concluding your personal statement by stating that you want to focus your career on research is good, but it’s going to be even better if you explain your reasons.
Not too long
Remember that it’s a human being who’s going to read your personal statement.
The concentration span of people tends to decrease over time, and by writing a very long personal statement, you might risk losing your reader’s interest.
Keep your ideas clear and concise, and refrain from adding too many details that might be perceived as irrelevant.
How do you format a personal statement for residency?
Although the ERAS platform indicates that you can use a maximum of 28,000 characters, keep in mind that according to most sources, it’s better to aim for 500-700 words.
Should you name-drop in a personal statement?
Yes and no.
If you want to mention a mentor, someone who significantly impacted your training or with whom you tightly collaborate, then go ahead.
But, if you’re doing it to drop well-known names, don’t.
Can you edit your personal statement after submitting ERAS?
Yes, it’s doable through the platform.
For further information, I suggest you watch this video from a Program Director who has some really good advice!
If you need a grammatical review of your personal statement, I have extensive editorial experience and I work with several native writers who can help make your letter flow well.
For this specific service, you can reach out here!