- USMLE Step 1
- USMLE Step 2CK
- USMLE Step 3
- Comlex Level 1
- Comlex Level 2-CE
- Comlex Level 3
- NBME Shelf Exams
- Latest Posts
- Study Schedules
- Residency Matching
- Residency Applications
- Resource Reviews
- How To…
How to Write Your ERAS Personal Statement
Alexandra R., MD
4 Keys to Writing A Compelling Residency Application Personal Statement
There are a variety of mixed opinions about the importance of the ERAS personal statement in the residency application process. Some people think that a personal statement, if it is captivating enough, can be your gateway to obtaining an interview. Others, however, think that a personal statement is simply a formality and that most programs do not take the time to look at it closely. Thus, in the latter scenario, the main goal is to not have your personal statement stand out in a negative way. Regardless of what you have heard and may continue to hear throughout the residency application process, you need to interpret the advice in the context of your particular scenario: decide for yourself how important the ERAS personal statement may be in the setting of your background and experiences as well as how important it may be for the field that you are applying into.
In general, you should start working on your ERAS personal statement early so that you can have multiple rounds of revisions. It is actually completely normal (and a good sign) if you end up having multiple completely different versions! The hardest part is sitting down and starting- just do it! The earlier you start writing, the more time you have to continue re-working and re-thinking your story. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective. Remember, having a great personal statement hook is a key component to writing a compelling statement that residency program directors will actually want to read. The hook is so important, we have actually dedicated an entire post to writing it correctly here. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective.
MELS 2022 Anxiety Tips
USMLE Step 2CS is Cancelled
Once you feel comfortable with a first draft, consider who you would like to share it with to receive constructive feedback. Ideally, it would be somebody whose opinions you value and who has demonstrated some success of their own accord – either friends who have gone through the application cycle and matched at one of their top 3 ranked programs, or faculty you have developed a relationship with. Often, medical schools also have advisory deans or some advising office, who may provide valuable insight into what residency program directors are looking for. An alternative advising source may even be the career center at your university. Even though career centers advise undergraduates, professional degree students (MD, JD, MS, etc), and even graduate students, their writing advice is broadly applicable to any field and their close attention to detail can be invaluable. Additionally, if you have friends that have applied in previous years, particularly in the same specialty in which you are currently applying, it can be helpful to see if they feel comfortable letting you read their statement – this can give you insight into the many shapes and form the PS may take and can provide helpful tidbits of information they’ve gleaned from the application process itself. You can also ask your advising office / deans for examples of personal statements specific to your specialty. In the event that you exhaust the resources available to you and you still feel uncertain about your statement, we welcome residency applicants to look into our residency matching services at Elite Medical Prep. We offer focused professional personal statement help from students who have successfully matched into some of the most competitive and prestigious residency programs in the world.
Keep in mind that you do not need to incorporate everyone’s feedback into your personal statement. However, it is helpful to have multiple people’s advice and perspective, thus we encourage you to reach out to more than one person. We took a survey of our EMP tutors and ~60% said they worked with 6+ people, ~30% worked with 3-5 people, and 10% worked with <3 people to edit, read, and provide suggestions.
Lastly, once you have your personal statement finalized, please make sure you know what it is about. More than 85% of our tutors surveyed had an interview question about something specifically relating to their personal statement that was not anywhere else on their application. Be ready to talk about whatever stories you included—use the personal statement as an opportunity to help you shine and be remembered in a positive way!
We surveyed our tutors about advise they received about their own personal statements and collected feedback points from ERAS personal statements they have reviewed to see what feedback you should remember:
1) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement too long:
- The structure of the personal statement should be about 4 paragraphs.
- You do not want it to be more than one page single-spaced (standard font like arial or times new roman, size 12).
- If your personal statement is too long, it is even more likely for programs to not read it completely.
2) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement weird or controversial:
- “It’s okay to make your personal statement ‘vanilla’. You don’t want it to be a red flag /too creative that it strikes readers the wrong way.”
- “It’s far more likely that your personal statement will be entirely forgettable than that stand out, and that’s OK. Better to have a relatively bland, but acceptable PS and otherwise stellar application than to have a stellar application tainted by a PS that went too far in trying to be too interesting or original, or having something you write strike a reader the wrong way.”
- “Never write about something that could possibly make you cry if brought up.”
- “ Unless you feel very strongly about certain political beliefs or controversial topics (i.e. abortion) and would not want to be at a program where anyone felt otherwise, it’s probably better to avoid writing about anything polarizing in your statement.”
- “Your personal statement should be neither personal nor a statement”… basically, you aren’t necessarily going to stand out with your personal statement, you just want it to support the rest of your application, and it doesn’t need to be groundbreaking.”
3) Highlight what uniquely draws you to that particular specialty:
- “Remember that everyone reading your statement has gone into the field you have chosen and they know why it is awesome – so avoid singing general praises of a field – it needs to be PERSONAL!”
- “Tie everything into why you chose that particular specialty.”
4) Make your statement easy to read by telling a short and concise story about yourself:
- “That was way too long and formulaic. Cut to the chase but also paint a story rather than tell one.
- “Tell a unique story that gives insight to who you are as a person.”
- “Think about the purpose of your personal statement in the context of all the other components of your application: this is mainly useful as more of a personality gauge – ie who are you and what makes you tick?”
- “After reading your personal statement, the reader should come away with the feeling that they really want to meet you – not that you just summarized your ERAS in paragraph form. This is your opportunity to convey what is intangible on ERAS and in your letters – so use it as such!”
- “Even though your life is not coherent, you should present a coherent narrative – and make it brief! Not more than 500 words.”
- “Build a story around an interesting fact or experience.”
- “Show, don’t tell” – Try to use anecdotes as much as possible
Need additional help with an exam?
Elite tutors are qualified, professional, and 100% online.
Never Miss an Article.
Sign up to our newsletter and get the best of Elite Medical Prep, tailored for you.
About the Author
Alexandra earned her Neuroscience degree from the University of Michigan, graduating with Summa Cum Laude recognition in 2014. She continued her education at the University…
Never Miss an Article!
Elite Medical Prep
COMLEX Level 1 and Level 2-CE Score Percentiles
How Can I Improve My Reasoning Skills for the MCAT?
Best Resources for Understanding Biostatistics for Step 2CK
7 Reasons to Hire a COMLEX Tutor
Add Value as a Medical Student During Clinical Rotations
USMLE Step 3 Passing Score & What To Do If You Don’t Make It
Which USMLE Step Exam is the Hardest?
Make Your Medical School Group Study Suck Less
ChatGPT Passes the USMLE
Residency Application Timeline for IMGs
Your Trusted Advisors for Admissions Success
Admissions and test prep resources to help you get into your dream schools
Residency Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide (Example Included)
A step-by-step medical residency personal statement guide to help you match into your dream program.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: brainstorming topics for your personal statement, part 3: how to write an amazing residency personal statement, part 4: in-depth analysis of a full-length personal statement example, appendix: frequently asked questions.
Applying to medical residency programs isn’t exactly easy. After four years of medical school, and years more spent before that preparing for medical school, you’re probably ready for a breather. But residency applications hit you with everything from USMLE scores to Medical School Performance Evaluations (MSPEs). The uncertainty leading up to match day can be stressful and anxiety inducing—will your near-decade of work pay off?
Thankfully, the residency application process is fairly transparent—we know what the most important aspects of the residency application are. Every two years, the NRMP’s Program Director Survey reveals which factors are cited as the most crucial components of your residency application and are thus the core deciders for whether or not you’ll get an interview. Though the exact ranking varies from year to year and according to specialty, typically you’ll find USMLE scores, letters of recommendation from physicians in your targeted specialty, and MSPEs hovering at the top.
But these materials may not express what drew you to the specialty in question or what got you into medicine in general. And though it can seem as if programs are overwhelmingly interested in your scores and evaluations, they are also interested in the person behind the grades.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the factor that was fourth-most cited by program directors on the NRMP’s 2020 survey: the residency personal statement.
Before we get into the step-by-step guide, we’ll offer some general framing thoughts. Being able to communicate your motivations and personality through your application, especially your personal statement, bodes well for your ability to bring that same enthusiasm and drive as a resident and in the rest of your career as a physician, so take note.
Want expert guidance on residency admissions?
Enter your name and email for high-yield admissions strategies we use to help students match into their top-choice programs
100% privacy. No spam. Ever.
Thank you! Your guide is on its way. In the meantime, please let us know how we can help you crack the residency admissions code . You can also learn more about our 1-on-1 residency admissions support here .
Why does the residency personal statement matter?
The personal statement is an essay of about a page (one page in ERAS is 3,500 characters including spaces) in which you articulate who you are and why you want to enter a certain specialty. It’s your big opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants by highlighting anything that isn’t well represented in other parts of your application but that nevertheless contextualizes your CV and accomplishments. This context could include interesting life experiences and motivations for pursuing a given specialty.
There’s a good reason the personal statement is relevant for program directors. Because so much of the information that programs have to determine whether you’ll be a good fit is quantitative in nature, it’s likely that programs will receive many applicants who have similarly competitive scores and grades. What can serve as a tiebreaker?
Letters of recommendation offer qualitative information. But the personal statement is the main opportunity for you to directly make a case for yourself, on qualitative terms, before you attend residency interviews .
The personal statement can also weed out applicants who don’t demonstrate an adequate understanding of their specialty of interest or who come across as pretentious and pompous. For this reason, in addition to the basic requirements of proper grammar and spelling, you’ll need to strike the right tone with your essay: seeming aware of your motivations and accomplishments to date, passionate about what you hope to achieve in the specialty, and also humble.
Remember: a great personal statement cannot save an otherwise weak application, but a poor one could hurt an otherwise strong application.
What should the personal statement accomplish?
The residency personal statement should include and reflect:
What draws you to the specialty
The skills or qualities that will help you succeed during the residency and as a practicing physician
Your long-term plans, what you hope to accomplish, and your preferred setting
Personal attributes that make you well-suited to the specialty and training
What attracts you to a particular program (if you’re applying for a specific program outside of the national matching system or if you customize a personal statement within NRMP)
Ultimately, the combination of these elements will give program directors a sense of the kind of colleague you would be and how you would fit into their program.
Meet our students
Throughout this post, we’ll provide examples from students who have gone through this process so you can see their writing in action.
Roger: Roger immigrated from Mexico as a teen and attends a medical school in a rural area. His path to medicine wasn’t straightforward. After graduating from high school, he worked for several years in construction, quickly climbing the ranks to become project manager for a small roofing firm before deciding to go back to school. He hopes to specialize in dermatology because, after growing up in poverty and performing blue-collar work for years, he wants a comfortable life that will allow him to focus on his growing family.
Mohana: Mohana entered medical school believing her path was pediatrics. But after an away rotation in radiology, she’s leaning toward radiology, having become attracted to the more technical aspects of the field and its work-life balance. After years of schooling, Mohana mostly wants time for her musical hobbies.
Cynthia: Cynthia either wants to work at a research hospital or practice gynecology. She thinks she could be happy with either, but knows she’d be happiest if she could do both. She also received an MPH before attending medical school. Cynthia still has a taste for social justice, but it isn’t always evident on her CV.
Kazuo: Kazuo initially wanted to pursue thoracic surgery, but after spending time with surgeons, he decided the culture was not for him. Now he’s certain he wants to pursue anesthesiology, and isn’t entirely sure how to convey his interest. He is worried this change of heart may hurt his chances of matching into his top programs.
Before you begin writing, set aside time to brainstorm. Whether you have an idea in your head or are struggling with where to start, freeform thinking can expand your options, call to mind experiences you hadn’t considered, or even help you pick unique interests you otherwise might have left out.
If you’re uncertain of how to proceed, jot down your answers to the following questions:
What first drew you to medicine?
Was there an experience, clinical or otherwise, that had a significant impact on you? What was it and why is it meaningful?
When did you know you wanted to pursue the specialty in question? What attracted you to the specialty?
What are your greatest qualities? When have you demonstrated these qualities?
Where do you see yourself 20 years into your career as a physician?
What’s an important part of who you are that isn’t on your resume?
Who are your role models and why?
What are your most meaningful extracurricular activities? Why?
What’s an accomplishment you are most proud of?
What was your most enlightening moment?
What medical cause do you care about most, and how did you come to care about it?
These are just a few questions to get started. Add more as they occur to you.
Another way to approach the personal statement is to ask what qualities make a good physician in your target specialty and consider how you embody those qualities. For example, here are a few qualities that might represent pediatric neurology:
Strong communication or interpersonal skills
Passion for advocacy
After brainstorming, take anywhere from a few hours to a day or a week to step away from your notes. This will help you as you move onto the next step: focusing your ideas.
Focusing your ideas
Here are some sample topics our residency applicants came up with:
An accidental run-in with poison ivy
Advocating for his Spanish-speaking roofing clients
Adjusting to the U.S. after immigrating from a small town in Mexico
Teaching herself MaxMSP programming skills
Babysitting her nieces and nephews
Her away rotation in radiology
Giving sex-ed talks in local middle schools
Being a surrogate daughter for her next-door neighbor, Leticia
Presenting her research findings at conferences
His ten-year meditation practice
His experience in surgery rotation
Admiration for his father, who taught him darkroom photography
Once you’ve generated your list of ideas, consider how they do or do not compellingly answer the following questions:
Why this specialty?
Before writing your personal statement, you should be very clear, personally, 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 your specialty will entail. For instance, you might be interested in plastic surgery because it’s a highly paid field but fail to understand the importance of artistic anatomy in its practice. If your application fails to convey compelling reasons for pursuing a specialty beyond high salaries or the potential lifestyle benefits associated with it (especially true for specialties like radiology and dermatology), it may cost you an interview invitation.
(Suggested reading: The Most Competitive Medical Residencies: A Complete List )
What strengths do I have that are not apparent in my other application materials?
Though your recommenders may offer a sense of your personality and interests, you are in the best position to include meaningful details that can’t be found on a CV. What aspects of your life do you think might compel a selection committee to pick you over other applicants? What makes you unique?
How do I embody the qualities of a good physician in the specialty?
This is slightly different from understanding the realistic requirements of a given specialty. Instead, it joins the strengths of your full life to the characteristics of an exemplary practitioner in your field of choice.
For instance, an anesthesiologist who performs their role well may go unnoticed by a patient, whereas a pediatrician who is too technically inclined may come across as cold or uncaring. The decisiveness of a surgeon in the OR is distinct from a psychiatrist adjusting a patient’s depression medication through trial and error over time. Make sure that the details you select speak to the qualities of your chosen specialty.
Let’s look at how our students applied these principles.
With two young children and another on the way, Roger wants good work hours and enough money to give his children a high quality of life. He’d never thought much about dermatology until he had accidental contact with poison ivy and took an elective in the specialty. Also, Roger hopes to practice in a rural setting because the low cost of living would facilitate his family-oriented lifestyle, but he knows he must communicate a more selfless reason in his personal statement. Roger’s approach will combine seemingly unlike things (roofing, dermatology, advocacy for rural patients) into one cohesive portrait of who he is and what matters to him.
Mohana doesn’t list her hobby on her resume, so writing about it for her personal statement will illuminate a side of her that neither quantitative scores nor letters of recommendation can comment on. Programming beats is Mohana’s passion, and she wants to show off how her technical prowess can serve her in the field of radiology.
But what to make of her experience babysitting her nieces and nephews? For Mohana, childcare helped her learn that she was particularly adept at soothing children in unfamiliar situations. It isn’t her strongest idea because she’s primarily interested in diagnostic radiology but including it may convey to program directors that she understands that radiology remains as patient-centered as any other medical discipline.
So far, Roger and Mohana are using their experiences to tell a story, not just enumerate things they’ve done. At the end of the day, great personal statements tell stories—about you, your journey, and why you’re right for a given specialty. If your idea is a topic without a story, it’s not worth mentioning.
Questions to determine if an idea can be a story:
Can you reference a specific anecdote (a day, a summer, an interaction)? Can you include significant details that convey the specificity of what you experienced?
Is yours a story no one else could tell? You want a story that, even if someone had the same jobs, schools, or extracurricular activities as you, they would not be able to write in the same way.
Does the narrative have an arc? Do you demonstrate growth and insight over a period of time?
Is the voice of the essay yours? Is the language lively?
Regardless of the idea, you should be able to answer yes to at least one of these questions.
To that end, while Cynthia felt that her positive experiences presenting her research at conferences best expressed her passion for research, this information was readily available on her resume and could be a sentence in her personal statement, not an entire framing narrative.
On the other hand, Cynthia’s experience serving as a “surrogate” child for her neighbor, Leticia, could be used to encompass her interests in reproductive health, patient advocacy, and gynecology. Leticia, an elderly woman who had never had children of her own, was sterilized without her consent while receiving an appendectomy as a teenager in the 1960s. The injustice of this fueled Cynthia throughout her medical education.
Similarly, Kazuo thought his experience in the operating room was a natural place to begin: it was where he discovered he did not want to be a thoracic surgeon after all, but an anesthesiologist. But to convey a greater sense of his levelheadedness and exactitude, he chose to also talk about his role model—his photographer father—and the lessons learned in darkrooms and meditation, neither of which could readily be written about by another applicant.
Start with an outline
With so many great ideas and a narrative in mind, you might be tempted to start writing your essay now. But an outline will keep your ideas organized and help you write more efficiently. Even if you don’t start draft one with an outline and instead just “vomit draft,” consider making draft two a reverse outline so that at some point you have structure guiding you.
Here’s one path to follow:
First paragraph: Lead with detail
The residency personal statement is short—under 3,500 characters—and this brevity creates constraints. While an opening anecdote is a good approach to hook readers, you may choose to describe a situation or an experience more generally to accommodate the brevity.
Both options are possible, but what you choose depends on the anecdote in question and what you hope to accomplish over the course of the statement. The point is to pin your unique story to your interest in medicine by the end of the first paragraph if you can, but at the very least by the end of the second paragraph.
How do you choose your opening story? One way is to check against the questions above: Can you remember specific details? Is it something only you could write? Is there an arc or will there be one over a few paragraphs, even the whole essay?
Kazuo has a specific anecdote in mind for his hook: the first day of his surgery rotation. As you’ll see, the essay passes the specificity test by the strength of its details—an ovary riddled with cysts, the bright OR light, the origins of Kazuo’s surgical interest, the introduction of the father as a character—and sets Kazuo up to discuss how he came to be interested in anesthesiology.
One of the most powerful moments in my medical education occurred during an oophorectomy. As Dr. Srivastava removed a cyst-riddled ovary, I noted that his calm was contagious; I felt focused but at ease. The surgery finished without a hitch. In fact, it was anticlimactic, even unremarkable. Having dreamed of becoming a surgeon since age 16, when my father had to undergo emergency surgery after a heart attack, it was a let-down. But my photographer father’s words on darkroom printing—“Look at the shadows, and they will guide you”—made me reconsider. When I looked away from the bright overhead light, I saw the reason for our calm: our anesthesiologist, Dr. Grant, had been silently watching the whole time, making sure the infusion was working as planned.
Roger, on the other hand, describes a situation that conveys the roots of his advocacy.
As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hailstorms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, timeworn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, which drew me to medicine.
By distilling the career wisdom of years into one crystal clear statement about the relationship between allyship and medicine, Roger is anticipating an arc he will develop across the length of the essay while setting himself apart from his more traditional colleagues.
Body paragraphs: Connect your narrative to a thesis
Roger has, by the end of the first paragraph, indicated what drew him to medicine in the first place. This is a good approach, and a model that works for articulating the thesis for the specialty as well.
Mohana gives her thesis in her second paragraph. Her opening anecdote was about how playing her first MaxMSP composition for friends was the culmination of hours of online tutorials and technical discussions on programming forums.
She describes the elation she felt at seeing her creation come to life for others and the satisfaction she received from sharing a common language with those who like learning through doing. This anecdote conveys something about Mohana’s personal qualities but doesn’t mention medicine at all.
That’s where her second paragraph comes in.
My passion for making music machines and my interest in radiology are fraternal twins. I want to be a radiologist because it would put my analytic skills to use just as trouble-shooting atonal compositions compelled me to search for answers. As someone who enjoys collaboratively finding creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems, I am especially suited to being a “doctor’s doctor”—a radiologist. I love talking shop with knowledgeable colleagues. Establishing a common diagnostic vocabulary with fellow clinicians intrigues me most of all. In fact, my radiology rotation felt like a real-life MaxMSP forum except that, instead of collectively developing an audio patch, we jointly scrutinized sagittal reconstructions for complex fractures.
Connect the personal to the professional
Having described the impact of growing up next door to Leticia, Cynthia connects that personal story to how she envisions moving forward in her professional life in her third paragraph. She also takes the opportunity to make a case for both research and clinical practice, giving herself a flexible statement that could suit a variety of program environments.
As I researched sources of misdiagnosis among OB/GYNs, particularly pertaining to endometriosis and hormonal disorders, I was driven by memories of Leticia. She once described how it took her ten years after her forced sterilization to understand the female reproductive system enough to comprehend what had been taken from her. As an OB/GYN, I would make sure no patient left my examination room without a clear understanding of her reproductive health. Moreover, the sex-ed I do in Baltimore middle schools has inspired me to share my research findings through outreach. Over time, my clinical and research experiences will give me the authority to advocate for reproductive health education reform. It is my ultimate goal to ensure that no young woman suffer as Leticia did.
Demonstrate change and growth over time
One way to keep a personal statement reader engaged is by using the tried and true storytelling methods of conflict and resolution. Put another way, things have to happen—specifically, they have to change.
Body paragraphs are the perfect place to develop these transformations. What events incited your growth? How are these shifts related to your interest in pursuing a specialty or the kind of practitioner you will be?
Kazuo, for example, reckoned with the realization that surgery proper was not for him. But rather than consider this a failure of direction on his part, Kazuo uses this to his advantage, spinning it as a successful reorientation that more closely aligned with his experiences and values.
I was excited to alternate between preoperative procedures and pain management in the anesthesiology rotation. Some tasks felt familiar; assisting the attending in diluting medications called to mind the exact ratios I once mixed for my father’s developer and fixer so that his prints expressed the full gradient between black and white. Other tasks, like induction and the occasional corrections required for maintenance, were foreign. But the beeping monitors and visual cues entered my mind like the thoughts I’ve aimed to consider without fear or anxiety in my ten years of meditating. By honing my attention in darkrooms and in silent morning meditations, I’ve become attuned to others, often anticipating the needs of recovering patients before they can articulate these themselves. My anesthesiology rotation helped me understand that behind every unremarkable surgery was a great deal of foresight and diligence. These are the qualities I enjoy exercising most.
Notice how Kazuo includes personal biographical details and establishes their relevance to anesthesiology. Interests aren’t mentioned just for the sake of mentioning them. They have been selected because they illuminate some aspect of Kazuo, whether it’s his longtime—and personally meaningful—interest in mixing solutions or his mindfulness.
More importantly, however, is that these align with the qualities of a good anesthesiologist. For Kazuo, an anesthesiologist should not merely be reactive, but proactive, “anticipating the needs of recovering patients before they can articulate these themselves.” By the last line, Kazuo’s body paragraph is in conversation with his opening anecdote. In fact, Kazuo has demonstrated a transformation from the naïve student in the surgery rotation to the attentive, proactive, and self-aware anesthesiologist-to-be.
Communicate the kind of specialist you hope to be
Kazuo wants to exercise his foresight, diligence, and calm. Mohana wants to be a “doctor’s doctor.” Here are how Cynthia and Roger express the qualities they would like to respectively embody.
I want to take the expertise I gain in my OB/GYN practice and reproductive health research and apply it in policy.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Roger chooses to convey his ultimate goals in his conclusion, which can also be an acceptable approach if your essay’s structure invites it.
I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care.
In one sentence, Roger synthesizes the different facets of his interest in dermatology and returns to the advocacy he first mentioned in his intro paragraph.
Conclusion: Tie it all together
Your concluding paragraph should leave selection committees with an understanding of who you are and why you’re applying. There are several ways to think about an ending to successfully avoid falling victim to clichés:
Don’t pre-write your ending. Some people have deeply ingrained ideas of what an essay’s conclusion should accomplish and can even write with a conclusion already in mind. However, it’s best to let a conclusion naturally respond to the elements in the essay, so don’t force it.
Avoid declarative sentences. Program directors see it all the time: “And that’s what would make me a great oncologist” or “I would bring these skills to your program.” Don’t let their eyes glaze over. Write something more unique.
Consider ending on an image or with a callback to where you began the essay. This is one of the most organic and satisfying ways to conclude any piece of writing. Mohana’s essay, for instance, opens with playing her music for others. She closes with the following.
There is a joy in finding your tribe. I’m lucky to have several. The wider world of musical programmers is my creative community and the radiology team at Beth Israel Deaconess is an example of my ideal medical community. Whether creating a neural network for note generation or exploring new possibilities for interventional radiology, I know my fascination with innovation, technique, and diagnosis will help me find harmony between invention and the tried-and-true backbone of medicine–excellent patient care. People-centered radiology–that’s music to my ears.
After you’ve finished the first draft of your residency personal statement
First, celebrate! Writing is hard no matter what, and the fact that you’ve accomplished anything with language is no small feat. But you’re just getting started. Settle in for some revisions:
Read your essay aloud. This will alert you to typos, problems of pacing, and issues of form that you might otherwise miss. Reading aloud also helps you get a sense for your essay’s voice—it should sound like you when read aloud.
Ask for feedback . You should have a trusted peer, professor, specialty advisor, or admissions counselor read your essay. The core question to ask them is, “Do you have a good sense of who I am and why I want to pursue this specialty after reading this?” If the answer is no, revise, revise, revise.
For big changes, don’t edit—rewrite. It can be a pain to invest so much time into a draft only to scrap it, but if you decide on structural revisions or major changes in content, start with a new document. Starting anew may give you a more cohesive and coherent final product. This doesn’t mean all your hard work was in vain. Print out a hard copy of your original, keep it on the table beside you, and open a clean doc. Drawing from your previous draft for your revision will ensure you have one essay at the end, not two spliced together.
Before we go into our analysis, consider reading the personal statement example in its entirety. As you go through it, keep the following questions in mind:
Does Roger demonstrate an understanding of his specialty of interest, including the kind of qualities an exemplary resident in the specialty must possess? If so, which ones?
Does Roger tell a story about how his interest developed? How does Roger demonstrate growth and change?
Could anyone have written this statement, or is it unique to Roger?
After reading the statement, do you have a good sense of who Roger is and why he wants to pursue dermatology?
Let’s look at the dermatology statement Roger produced based on the process we described.
As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hailstorms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, timeworn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, which drew me to medicine.
In medical school, I serendipitously found the specialty within which I wanted to apply this passion after accidentally dumping a bag of mulched poison ivy on my head. The resulting rash was painful but interesting and sparked a curiosity in cutaneous manifestations of disease that later led me to a dermatology elective. There, I was impressed by the dermatologist’s keen eye for detail, and I found the diagnostic challenge and the detail-driven expertise to be both fascinating and rewarding.
Each new rash I saw was reminiscent of inspecting leaky roofs and I wanted to emulate my new mentors, who had developed the ability to diagnose and treat skin disease based on the subtle cues they saw. Such was the case when a grizzled farmer from a distant rural community with infrequent follow-up ascribed a sore on his arm to a specific trauma. Despite this history, the dermatologist recognized some subtle and suspicious features, prompting a biopsy that later showed invasive squamous cell carcinoma. In addition to the dermatologist’s diagnostic acumen, it was her relationship with the patient and her understanding of his community, values, and risk factors that allowed her to guide this patient to a better outcome.
In medical school I have enjoyed caring for those who, for cultural, insurance, or geographic reasons, have difficultly receiving care. After one shift in my inpatient pediatrics rotation, I brought my guitar to play for a Latino boy who was dying from leukemia and made his parents my favorite recipe for chile verde with pork. Although I couldn’t offer any more to them medically, I hoped to aid the fear and disconnection they had expressed with the unfamiliar environment now surrounding them. The connection made in that moment helped ease their suffering and fostered a better union between the treatment team and patient.
Multiple studies have suggested that outcomes for dermatologic conditions tend to be poorer in certain demographics. As part of my own research, I have begun investigating these disparities. This has included a research project where we evaluated the effects of social and demographic factors on melanoma outcomes. One finding that spoke to me was that outcomes tended to be poorer in areas with fewer dermatologists. Having grown up in a small town and having completed medical school in a more rural area, I feel a special connection to these communities. I hope to continue to engage in research that better elucidates these disparities to supply better care to these populations.
In my career I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care. Training at your program would enable me to meet these goals and effectively treat and advocate for these patients.
(Word count: 563; Character count: 3,498)
Residency personal statement analysis
Let’s analyze the entire personal statement section by section and answer the questions posed above.
As a young roofing project manager, I chose to work with Spanish-speaking clients with roofs leaky from hail storms many years prior. Because I was born in Mexico and had spent my younger years there, I felt a special connection when aiding non-English-speaking families who otherwise may have had difficulty navigating a complex insurance process to restore their damaged homes. I spent hundreds of hours learning to inspect and scrutinize the sometimes subtle, time-worn signs of hail damage to expertly advocate for those families. It was this love of advocacy, combined with my later love of biologic systems, that drew me to medicine.
Roger leads with details like “roofs leaky from hail storms” and “time-worn signs of hail damage” that make his previous career in construction vivid in the reader’s mind. The specificity also ensures that only Roger could write an introduction like this. He indicates the hundreds of hours he spent learning to examine subtle signs of roof damage in a manner that suggests, without stating it outright, both the kind of learner Roger would be as a dermatology resident and the transferable qualities he gained from his work and life experiences.
The last line of the paragraph, which helps anchor the reader in Roger’s motivations from the beginning, describes how Roger’s interest came to be. This thesis makes it much easier to navigate the essay and helps Roger compellingly articulate who he is and why he has chosen to apply for dermatology.
Body section 1: Specialty
In medical school, I serendipitously found the specialty within which I wanted to apply this passion after accidentally dumping a bag of mulched poison ivy on my head. The resulting rash was painful but interesting and sparked a curiosity in cutaneous manifestations of disease that later led me to a dermatology elective. There, I was impressed by the dermatologist’s keen eye for detail, and I found the diagnostic challenge and the detail-driven expertise to be both fascinating and rewarding.
In this section, Roger emphasizes his interest in dermatology and develops the idea he introduced in his opening paragraph: being attuned to subtle signs of damage. Roger finds kinship in the dermatologist’s “keen eye for detail,” relishes the “diagnostic challenge,” and emphasizes “detail-driven expertise”—all qualities he previously expressed about himself as a roofer and which he is now connecting to dermatology as a field.
In the second specialty paragraph, Roger turns his attention to a mentor to tell a specific anecdote that demonstrates his clear understanding about what dermatology entails. With his point about the visual and attentive elements of dermatology made, Roger transitions to describing the patient relationship toward the end of the second paragraph. The “understanding of his community, values, and risk factors that allowed her to guide this patient to a better outcome” sets Roger up to describe how he shares this awareness as well.
Finally, the specificity of the mulched poison ivy, its resulting rash, and the grizzled rural farmer makes this firmly Roger’s and no one else’s.
Body section 2: Advocacy
In medical school I have enjoyed caring for those who, for cultural, insurance, or geographic reasons, have difficulty receiving care. After one shift in my inpatient pediatrics rotation, I brought my guitar to play for a Latino boy who was dying from leukemia and made his parents my favorite recipe for chile verde with pork. Although I couldn’t offer any more to them medically, I hoped to aid the fear and disconnection they had expressed with the unfamiliar environment now surrounding them. The connection made in that moment helped ease their suffering and fostered a better union between the treatment team and patient.
In this section, Roger returns to the advocacy he mentioned in his introduction. He keeps it unique by describing a specific interaction with a single family and even mentions his favorite recipe, which gives the body paragraphs a touch of his personality.
The cultural angle helps remind the reader of the ways Roger has been interested in culturally-specific service since his days in roofing, when he advocated on behalf of Spanish-speaking clients.
Finally, Roger gives context to the research on his CV by showing how his preference for the underserved isn’t merely an ideological commitment. Rather, Roger’s attraction to dermatology dovetails with his passion for connecting with the underserved because his research credentials back it up. Even his upbringing in a different country finds a parallel in the rural environment where he hopes to practice now. The combination of details makes this section uniquely Roger and deepens our sense of who he is.
In my career I intend to apply my passion for human connection and community to providing high-quality dermatologic care and research to communities which have traditionally had difficulty accessing care. Training at your program would enable me to meet these goals and effectively treat and advocate for these patients.
Roger keeps it short, perhaps due to word count. Still, his first line clearly articulates who he is and what draws him to dermatology. Placing this line at the end of the anecdotes and examples Roger used throughout the essay helps the image of him crystallize in the minds of the selection committee. Roger’s last line isn’t our favorite—it’s a little bit common. But the rest of the essay is specific enough that we aren’t hung up on it.
By reflecting on how your personal attributes and interests inform who you are and who you might be in your chosen specialty, your well-crafted, authentic, and unique personal statement will help you land those coveted residency interviews and, ultimately, match into the residency program of your dreams.
ERAS allows me to use up to 28,000 characters. Do I really need to stick to one page?
Yes. A page is considered standard, and even if you submit more, many program directors may not read past your first page. Thus, keep your statement short and sweet. Remember that one page in ERAS is 3,500 characters including spaces, which equals approximately 550–750 words.
Can I edit my personal statement after uploading it to ERAS?
Yes, ERAS allows you to edit your personal statement at any time during the application season, even if you’ve already assigned it to programs you’re applying to.
Should I address red flags in my personal statement?
It depends on the severity of the red flag. We don’t recommend using your personal statement to explain a situation that’s simply less than ideal, such as a low but passing Step 1 score. However, if you have a serious issue in your candidacy—for instance, you failed the USMLE, you repeated a preclinical year or clerkship, or you have unexplained interruptions in your medical education or career—it’s generally advisable to address it head on in order to demonstrate maturity and honesty. Don’t make excuses; do take ownership of the problem and explain how you’ve learned and grown from your mistakes.
If there is a legal issue in your past, the ERAS application contains legal disclosure fields in which you can discuss the incident. It’s typically not necessary to also address the issue in your personal statement unless it played a formative role in your journey towards your specialty.
The above are our general recommendations; however, given the many nuances and gray areas that tend to accompany red flags, it’s usually a good idea to discuss how to handle them with a trusted advisor in your specialty.
Should I tailor my personal statement to specific residency programs?
Generally speaking, it’s not necessary to tailor your personal statement to each program to which you apply. That said, ERAS does allow you to upload as many personal statements as you wish, so it is possible to send different versions of your personal statement to different programs.
Before you consider doing so, keep in mind that it’s probably not realistic to send a customized personal statement to every program that you’re applying to. Instead, you might do so for, say, your top three programs. Another approach could involve creating two different versions of your personal statement to send out as you choose.
For instance, you might have one version geared towards research-heavy programs and one geared towards community-oriented programs. Or, perhaps a few programs on your list are in your home city and the rest are located elsewhere. You could then create a personal statement for the hometown programs that includes a few sentences reflecting your geographical tie and why it’s important to your medical career (e.g. “ Having grown up in a medically underserved community in Romulus, my lifelong goal has been to improve access to healthcare for the citizens of Wayne County …”).
In any case, you should only tailor your personal statement to reflect genuine, well-founded reasons for your interest in a program. Because tailored personal statements are neither the norm nor the expectation, half-baked attempts to demonstrate fit will be noticeable.
(Note: We should mention that the one situation that always calls for multiple personal statements is if you’re applying to more than one specialty.)
- Personal Statements
- Experiences & Activities
- Secondary Applications
- Quick Assessment
- Resume / CV
- Who We Help
- Our Approach
- Our Company
ERAS Personal Statement Length
What’s the ideal length for my residency personal statement?
A residency personal statement should be under 750 words. I shoot for a length of 650-700 with my clients. Yes, ERAS allows a whole lot more. Don’t take the bait. You’ll be a laughingstock if you submit a personal statement that’s overly long or ridiculously short.
Here’s the rub: Everyone will tell you that this sucker needs to fit on a single page. BUT, everyone also has a different calculation for what that means.
Let’s face it, the single page rule is a pre-digital dinosaur. Most of us aren’t printing out these documents anymore. Fun fact: aspiring residents used to mail handwritten letters to their programs of interest! (For those who complain about customizing residency essays to specific programs, at least you don’t have to worry about your penmanship.)
All this begs the question: How many characters or words are equivalent to one page in ERAS? Well, if you type directly into the form or cut-and-paste from Word, you may get about ~3500 characters or so. You may also get some funky formatting issues. However, if you follow ERAS’s instructions and type your essay into a plain text editor, then cut and paste that text into the ERAS form field, VOILA! You may have enough room for up to 650 words.
Check out our personal statement editing package , or feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like guidance on how to optimize those 650 words: [email protected]
Wishing you happy writing and a perfect residency match!
Subscribe to our email list.
We'll keep you posted on opportunities and promotional offers..
- EssayMD Reviews
In my internet life, I edit Nanoism and have been maintaining this site for over a decade, where I write about medicine, finance, being a better human, and other interesting miscellany. In the real world, my wife and I are physicians in Texas, and we have two adorable little kids.
How to write your personal statement for eras/residency applications.
The personal statement is occasionally a chance to “make” your application, but it’s always a risk to “break” it.
Keep in mind: it’s only 1 page (literally—it should fit on no more than one page when printed from the ERAS application, which is somewhere around 750-800 words on the longer end; 600-650 is a better goal; mine was around 500). On one interview, I was told that the program’s main criteria for evaluating personal statements was not noteworthiness but rather inoffensiveness .
Questions to ask yourself in approaching the PS:
- What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
- What are my career plans?
- What accomplishments do I want to emphasize?
- What outside interests do I have?
- What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
You don’t have to answer all of these questions, but answering one or two will help you get the point of view you need to get a draft going.
The personal statement is a chance to state why you are choosing a specialty (and a location or a specific program) and to try to convince the reader that you are a good fit. While you are trying to say that you are awesome, you cannot simply say you are awesome . Like fiction, you should show, not tell when possible. This is not a CV in paragraph form. You must be more subtle.
Things to do:
- Give yourself plenty of time to write; start now.
- Write more than one. Tell your story from multiple angles and see which one comes out on top.
- Often your first essay is not the best.
- Consider explaining gaps in your application (leave of absence, course failure, low Step 1)
- If there are particular programs you are desperate for, you may consider tailoring your statement for them. The individualized approach is obvious and is unlikely to make the desired impact. If you tailor, don’t be a sycophant (it’s too transparent). The most important time to individualize your PS is if you discuss, for example, your desire to be part of a big bustling academic center: make sure to change that if you are applying to a small community program.
- Be straightforward in your writing
- Edit and proofread your work carefully . Then do it again. And again. And then one last time for good measure.
- Be concise. Edit down until every word counts. I personally subscribe to the common reviewer adage: “The more you write, the less I read.”
- Ask for second opinions and feedback; you don’t always have to listen but it’s important to receive.
- Your parents and significant others are wonderful readers, but they are generally insufficient. They love you too much. Have your PS vetted by your Specialty and Faculty Mentors .
Things to avoid:
- Self-Congratulatory Statements
- Self-Centered Statements
- “Emotional” Stories (give it a try, but be wary). Telling your reader about your feelings directly often makes the feelings themselves feel contrived.
- Reality embellishment (anything you write is fair game as interview fodder; if you can’t discuss it at length, then it shouldn’t be there)
- Using tired analogies (or any analogies, really)
- Quotations (you couldn’t think of 500 words of your own?)
- Remember, your reader has a stack of applications. Don’t make your essay hurt to read, overly cutesy, or sappy to the point where it’s no longer convincing.
For most people, your personal statement will not/cannot stand out in a good way (standing out in a bad way, though, is entirely possible). Why you pursued medicine may have been an interesting story (hint: it probably wasn’t), but why you chose your specialty is likely even more banal. If you don’t feel like you have anything special to say, it’s because you don’t. That’s normal. Aim for competence.
There are sample essays available for perusal on medfools . I think even the “good” ones are pretty painful in general, but your mileage may vary. Here are some good tips from UNC. The AAMC Advisor also has some quick advice . If your remember your login, Careers in Medicine also has similar stuff.
Physician survey signup bonuses, mild to moderately severe, approaching the private equity job offer, the abr certifying exam will change (in 5 years), on building.
- Pingback: Obtaining Letters of Recommendation for Residency | Ben White
These are very good recommendations. In addition to proofreading and seeking advice from friends and family, I would also suggest considering a professional editing service. Although some of them can be costly, they see thousands of personal statements and will be able to objectively tell you if yours is competitive. This article also provides some good advice on residency personal statements: https://www.codeblueessays.com/top-7-tips-writing-residency/
I don’t agree with the need for professional services for the vast majority of applicants, and I really dislike people promoting their services through comments on my blog. In this case, the linked article isn’t terrible, so I’m not deleting this.
- Pingback: Your ERAS application photo | ben white
- Pingback: 9 tips on writing a winning personal statement for medical residency applications | dancing with doctors
- Pingback: ERAS Personal Statement Word Limit Guide
- Pingback: 5 Tips for Crafting an Excellent Residency Personal Statement – Splash Financial
- Pingback: The Residency Personal Statement Guide w/Prompts & Examples – WPTALKS
Leave a Comment. Cancel reply
Speak with an Accepted admissions expert for FREE!
Accepted Admissions Blog
Everything you need to know to get Accepted
July 11, 2022
13 Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Your Residency Personal Statement
Residency applicants can submit applications via ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) starting September 7th. Don’t wait until the last minute – get cracking on those residency essays now!
Why is your residency essay so important?
Your personal statement is a vital part of your residency application ; it’s where you’ll explain why you’ve chosen your specialty and show the committee why you’re the best candidate for training. And unlike other pieces of your application (such as your letters of recommendation or your medical school transcript), your personal statement is something that you have complete control over.
For a knockout personal statement, heed these do’s and don’ts!
- DON’T reuse your med school personal statement When you applied to medical school, you had to demonstrate an interest in medicine and demonstrate that you had the potential to become a successful doctor. At this point in your education, you are a doctor – or about to be one. Unless your premed school career is very relevant to your specialty choice, there’s no need to explain why you originally pursued medicine. And if you reuse your med school personal statement, your specialty decision could come across as unformed or immature.
- DO explain why you have chosen your specialty Your decision to pursue a certain specialty is a personal one, and program directors want to hear about it. Did you have a mentor who helped you see dermatology in a new way or did you love your time in the pathology lab? What is it about delivering babies that thrills you more than caring for them after they’re born? Use specific examples to illustrate your story and your distinctive experiences and perspectives. Most importantly, where do you see yourself in the future? Make your choice unambiguous and your commitment undeniable.
- DON’T offer superficial or generic explanations for choosing your specialty “Internal medicine is like solving a puzzle.” “GPs serve as gatekeepers.” “The OR just feels like home.” Cliches like these – without the proper care – can be the death knell for personal statements. But what if you do love diagnostic puzzles, or enjoy helping patients navigate the healthcare system? What if you really do feel most comfortable in a surgical environment?
- DO bring out your unique experiences and perspectives Sharing the very specific details of your experiences and supporting your explanation can elevate your reasons from a generic cliche to a specific, and personal insight. Use anecdotes to illustrate your story and bring your unique experiences and perspectives to life. To explain why you like the fast-paced energy of the emergency room, share a particular experience you had there, how your people skills and your ability to stay calm under pressure came into play, and how you felt a sense of accomplishment in helping patients in distress. To explain why pain medicine appeals to you, you might mention how you connected with an anesthesiologist who opened your eyes to the potential of this field. The more examples you can give about why this specialty is the specialty for you, the better.
- DON’T sound pompous or self-important When describing your skills, be mindful of the line between confidence and smugness. You want to sound enthusiastic and confident, but never arrogant or boastful . For example, it can be very off-putting to a reader if you talk about how work was too easy for you, making it sound like you think you’re more accomplished than everyone you worked with. After all, your readers are considering you as a potential colleague.
- DO emphasize your strengths with tact and grace You’ve gained some valuable technical skills and exposure to clinical practice, but so have all your classmates. Which of your unique qualities will make your #1 residency program rank you as their #1 choice? Your personal experiences, both in medical school and outside, reveal more about you than your CV and USMLE Step exams. A good way to think about this is in the context of what’s needed for that specialty. Will the listening skills you developed through mentoring premeds help you as a family practitioner? Have quick reflexes, honed through years of playing piano, prepared you for the technical dexterity you’ll need in surgery? Will teamwork skills developed at the student-run clinic help you contribute to an obstetrics team? Select specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and make your essay come alive.
- DON’T send the same personal statement to every program You’re probably applying to many residency programs and the thought of tailoring each one is daunting. Yet each program has certain distinctions that make it unique. If your personal statement talks about how much you love research and hope to continue that pursuit during your residency training, program directors in community-based programs might not think you’re a good fit for them. On the other hand, a completely generic statement of what you’re looking for in residency won’t appeal to anyone. How can you show your interest in specific programs without getting overwhelmed?
- DO create multiple interchangeable versions of your personal statement While it’s unreasonable to suggest writing a different essay for every school, tailoring certain features in a limited number of essays can be a useful strategy. You might have one version for academic programs that emphasizes your future research interests, while your version for community-based programs leaves that line out and focuses on clinical opportunities. Or you might have a version for rural programs vs. urban, or for programs in your preferred geographic location vs. the rest of the country. ERAS allows you to save multiple versions that you can upload to certain schools – just be sure you give each one a unique name to keep them straight.
- DO tailor your essay to your top program Do you have a dream program, one where you’re sure you’d be able to excel? If so, it’s well worth the extra time and effort to detail exactly why you want to rank it #1. This may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t take long to identify why you want to work with a specific researcher or continue learning where you had a great externship. Don’t underestimate the bonus points you can get for this approach. Tailoring your essay to their specific offerings demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested.
- DON’T use all 28,000 characters for your personal statement ERAS permits 28,000 characters for your essay – around 7,000 words! – but no residency director wants to read even close to that much. Instead, stick to a one-page essay – usually 600-800 words – that addresses your key points. Your essay will be more effective if you’re more to the point and concise. In order to do that well,
- DO keep your purpose in mind As you write, remember that you’re trying to land an interview, not detail every aspect of your medical school training. If you throw in everything but the kitchen sink, your story will be generic and lack any impact. Instead, select the key experiences that led you to your chosen specialty, the details that will demonstrate your fit for it, and where you see your future contributions in this field.
- DON’T submit without proofreading In their rush to submit, some applicants skip this step, only to later find a typo they’re unable to correct. To avoid this, take a break from writing – at least a few hours, or better yet, a day – before carefully proofreading your essay. Try reading aloud as you go along. Since your ear often picks up what your eye misses on the screen, you’ll be more likely to catch awkward phrases, repetitive sentences or ideas, or other glitches.
- DO have someone else also read your essay Even after you’ve done your own quality control, your own writing is so familiar that it’s all too easy to miss a typo. You also want to ensure that the entire essay reads well, hitting the high points that are most important, and striking the right tone. Getting the all-clear from another reader will give you confidence that you are ready to submit!
You’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your journey. Now that you’re ready for your next achievement, make sure you know how to present yourself to maximum advantage in your residency applications. In a hotly competitive season, you’ll want a member of Team Accepted in your corner, guiding you with expertise tailored specifically for you. Check out our flexible consulting packages today!
A former fellowship admissions committee member and administrator at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Cydney Foote has successfully advised healthcare applicants, including those applying to medical school, dental school, nursing and PA programs, veterinary school, public health and hospital administration programs, post-baccalaureate medical programs, residencies and fellowships. Since 2001, she has brought her marketing and writing expertise to help science-focused students communicate their strengths. Want Cyd to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- From Example to Exemplary , a free guide to writing outstanding application essays
- All You Need to Know About Residency Applications and Matching
- M3 Journaling: How to Do it and How it Can Help Your Residency Application
Accepted 1171 S. Robertson Blvd. #140 Los Angeles CA 90035 +1 (310) 815-9553 © 2022 Accepted
- Communities Pre-Med Medical Resident Audiology Dental Optometry Pharmacy Physical Therapy Podiatry Psychology Rehab Sci Veterinary
- What's new Trending New posts Latest activity
- Support Account Help Confidential Advising
- Vision, Values and Policies
- Medical Student Communities
- Medical Students (MD)
How long can (and should) your residency personal statement be?
- Thread starter Dr. Doctor MD
- Start date Jun 16, 2019
Dr. Doctor MD
- Jun 16, 2019
- Jun 17, 2019
If I recall correctly you can effectively submit a novella, but the informal rule is a single page. Remember that writing well is writing tight. If it helps, mine was a little over 4,000 characters and <700 words.
- Jun 18, 2019
Max should be 1 page typed in a word document.
No exact word count, but keep it under one page.
- Jun 28, 2019
As above. Err shorter than that if going into surgery
Thank You for Smoking
- Jul 1, 2019
Mine was just over a page. It should be concise and to-the-point: less a dramatic novel as your medical school personal statement may have been and more of a concrete discussion of your interest in whatever specialty you're applying to and, in broad strokes, what you hope your career to be in the future.
- Jul 4, 2019
Medic741 said: 100,000% this. Have dreams of working 6 months out of the year and travelling/mountain bike racing/rock climbing the other half. Telepsych is the goal with some cash only OMM on the side. Click to expand...
One page. Considering I was always reading 30-40 of these at a time I found it extremely irritating when someone would go over. Keep it under a page for sure.
- Jul 7, 2019
Sorry about being confused about this 1-page requirement, but is it 1 page single-spaced, or double-spaced?
- Jul 8, 2019
DameJulie said: Sorry about being confused about this 1-page requirement, but is it 1 page single-spaced, or double-spaced? Click to expand...
I missed the under a page memo and mine was about a page and a third. I matched (last year) so it just not have been a dealbreaker.
Is 800 words/4600 characters with space overkill?
I'm no superman.
- Jul 9, 2019
TheRongeur said: Is 800 words/4600 characters with space overkill? Click to expand...
mrbreakfast said: Probably a bit too wordy, bit it's your story and thus your call. Consider the one-page limit more of a polite nod to PDs who have to read potentially thousands of these. Click to expand...
- Jul 10, 2019
Long enough that you tell me something interesting. Short enough that I don't get bored.
- Sep 1, 2019
LyMed said: No exact word count, but keep it under one page. Click to expand...
- Sep 2, 2019
Yeah man, of course.
- Sep 3, 2019
for fellowship, mine was ~400 words and I got >10 interviews. the personal statement is just a huge waste of time for all parties, it should be done away with. for residency, mine was ~600 words and I had no shortage of interviews as well. say what needs to be said, don't say too much, and play it safe. don't talk about doing telepsych for money or cash only therapy in manhatten, talk about whatever psych PDs want to hear. remember, they are all ivory tower clinicans who drank the kool-aid. they are content getting paid 200k when they are worth 400k.
- Jul 3, 2000
- May 25, 2018
- May 7, 2015
- Jul 27, 2017
- Residency Applicant 2018
- Sep 3, 2017
- History, Facts & Figures
- YSM Dean & Deputy Deans
- YSM Administration
- Department Chairs
- YSM Executive Group
- YSM Board of Permanent Officers
- FAC Documents
- Appointments & Promotions Committees
- Ad Hoc Committees and Working Groups
- Chair Searches
- Leadership Searches
- Organization Charts
- Faculty Demographic Data
- Professionalism Reporting Data
- 2022 Diversity Engagement Survey
- State of the School Archive
- Beyond Sterling Hall
- COVID-19 Series Workshops
- Previous Workshops
- Mission Statement & Process
- Departments & Sections
- Find People
- Data Science
- Health Equity
- Global Health
- Diabetes and Metabolism
- Policies & Procedures
- A to Z YSM Lab Websites
- A-Z Faculty List
- A-Z Staff List
- A to Z Abbreviations
- Dept. Diversity Vice Chairs & Champions
- Dean’s Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Affairs Website
- Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion Website
- Office for Women in Medicine and Science
- Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine Website
- Director of Scientist Diversity and Inclusion
- Diversity Supplements
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Diversity, Inclusion, Community Engagement, and Equity Website
- Medical Student Council Website
- [email protected] Website
- Resident Fellow Senate Website
- SACNAS Chapter at Yale Facebook Page
- Women in Science at Yale
- Yale BBS Diversity & Inclusion Collective
- Yale Ciencia Initiative
- By Department & Program
- News & Events
- Executive Committee
- Aperture: Women in Medicine
- Portraits of Strength
- Event Photo Galleries
- Anti-Racism Resources
- MD/PhD Program
- PA Online Program
- PhD, Master’s, & Joint MD Programs
- Visiting Student Programs
- Public Health Programs
- Residency & Fellowship Programs
- Educator Opportunities
- Organizational Chart
- Academic & Professional Development
- First Fridays
- Yale International Physician-Scientist Resident and Fellow Research Award
- Fund for Physician-Scientist Mentorship
- Grant Library
- Grant Writing Course
- Mock Study Section
- Research Paper Writing
- Funding Opportunities
- Voluntary Faculty Teaching Opportunities
- Faculty Engagement Opportunities
- Teaching & Learning Center
- Continuing Medical Education
- Master of Health Science
- Research by Keyword
- Research by Department
- Research by Global Location
- Translational Research
- Research Cores & Services
- Program for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Team Science (POINTS)
- Physician-Scientist & Scientist Development
- CEnR Steering Committee
- Experiential Learning Subcommittee
- Goals & Objectives
- Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight
- COVID-19 Vaccinations in CT
- COVID-19 in Connecticut Schools
- Connecticut Towns COVID-19 Impact Dashboard
- Connecticut Town 14-Day Cases Time Lapse
- CT Correctional Facilities with COVID Cases Dashboard
- Connecticut COVID Presence Map
- CT Nursing Homes with COVID-19 Cases
- U.S. COVID Presence Map
- COVID-19 Case Density by US County
- Global Cases Dashboard
- Time-Lapse of Global Spread
- US Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Mortality
- Childcare Survey and Data Display
- Risk of Complications Conditional on COVID-19 Infection
- Travel Time to COVID Testing Sites in Connecticut
- Travel Time to COVID Testing Sites in the US
- Project Team
- Peer-Reviewed Publications by Yale Authors
- Issues List
- Print Magazine PDFs
- Print Newsletter PDFs
- YSM Events Newsletter
- Social Media
- Patient Care
- Residents & Fellows
Personal Statement Don'ts and Do's
Every year, I read hundreds of personal statements, mostly for residency, but my labor of love is to review the statements you write for fellowship applications. Residency personal statements are straightforward: we don’t expect applicants to have sophisticated career plans; we just want to know a student has a spark, can write well, and would fit into our community. In contrast, fellowship directors want mature applicants with a more advanced career trajectory.
For those of you getting ready to write your personal statements (and those who plan to write one someday), here are some don'ts and do's:
1.Don't dwell too long on why you chose your specialty: Beyond a sentence or two explaining why you chose your field, don't waste space extoling your specialty. All nephrology applicants love the kidney and you obviously love your organ too or you wouldn’t be applying. If you really have a special story—for example, your uncle had cancer and that motivated you to spend two years studying cancer genetics—then tell that story. But if your personal epiphany isn't unique, move on.
2.Don't trash other specialties: You don’t accomplish anything by saying other specialties bore you. Do you really think rheumatology is the only specialty that requires clinical reasoning? What if the cardiology chief’s wife is a gastroenterologist?
3.Don't exceed one page: No matter how fascinating you think you are, no one wants to read a long statement. Program directors have to examine hundreds of statements, often in long, exhausting sessions. Get to the point.
4.Don't pretend you're someone you're not: Be realistic about your trajectory. If you haven't done much research, don't claim you can't wait to return to the lab. And don't try to please everyone- almost no one has a career with one third clinical work, one third teaching, and one third research. Focus.
5.Don't make spelling and grammar errors: Pay attention to details. Read your statement out loud to find mistakes.
Take your time, make yourself shine, craft a masterpiece.
1.Do show how you plan to contribute: Fellowship Directors don't care what their program will do for you; they want to know what you will do for their program. And they really don’t want to hear about how you can’t wait to begin a new chapter or start your journey.
2.Do show sophistication: What are the big opportunities and new directions in your field? How will you contribute?
3.Do show where your career is headed: What do you expect to do after fellowship? How will you spend your time? If you can be specific—“I want to do cardiac transplant”—then be specific. If you don’t know, that's fine, but show you’re thinking ahead because fellowship directors need to know if they can give you the skills you need. And remember, not all fellowships offer the same training; if you want to do interventional pulmonology, you’re not going to excite programs that don't offer that.
4.Do be exciting: Use active voice. Don’t say “Directing a MICU would be a rewarding career pathway.” What a snore! Say “I hope to direct a MICU one day." And think big- fellowship directors like applicants with ambition.
5.Do show your draft to others: Show it to friends and family. I want to read all your personal statements, often if necessary, to make sure they're great.
So remember your personal statement is your last opportunity to boost your candidacy. Once you’ve applied, your clinical performance, board scores, research accomplishments, and extracurricular contributions are pretty much set. A fantastic personal statement will elevate you from a crowd of talented applicants. Take your time, make yourself shine, craft a masterpiece.
Enjoy your Sunday, everyone. I'm on my way to the MICU,
Featured in this article
- Mark David Siegel, MD Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary); Program Director, Internal Medicine Traditional Residency Program
The Residency Personal Statement (2022/2023): The Insider’s Guide (with Examples)
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 2022-2023.
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 2022/2023 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.
2021-2022 Residency Match Update
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.
Getting into a residency has never been more competitive. Founded by a former associate program director, the experts at MedEdits will make your residency personal statement shine. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been matched to one of their top-choice programs.
Need Help With Your Residency Personal Statement?
Schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation with a MedEdits expert.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 Statements
Residency Related Articles and Guidance
- Residency Match Statistics
- Residency Personal Statement: The 2020-2021 Residency Personal Statement Insider’s Guide (with examples)
- How to write a residency interview thank you letter.
- What Outfit To Wear To Your Residency Interview
- Medical Residency Timeline & Length
- Medical Residency Salary By Specialty
- How To Master MyERAS, The Medical Residency Interview, and Common Residency Interview Questions
- Master the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) & ERAS Timeline
- Residency Letters Of Recommendation (with ERAS Samples)
- Residency Letter of Intent
- How to Write a Residency Letter of Intent
- Residency Love Letters
- Residency Match Success: Lessons Learned 2020 – 2021
Residency Specialty Articles
- Family Medicine Residency Match: Beat more than 4400 Applications
- Pediatrics Residency Match: Beat more than 3000 Applicaitons
- Internal Medicine Residency Match: Beat more than 10,000 Applications
- General Surgery Residency Match: BEAT more than 1900 Applications
- Emergency Medicine Residency Match: BEAT more than 2600 Applications
- Anesthesiology Residency Match: BEAT more than 2,000 Applicants
How To Write The Residency Letter of Intent (2022-2023)
2023-2024 AMCAS Work & Activities Section (With Examples): The Ultimate Guide
Medical School Admissions Consulting Lessons Learned 2020-2021
- Premed Postbacc and SMP 210
- Medical School Interview 185
- Secondary Essay Prompts 185
- Top 100 MCAT Tutoring Cities 100
- Top Pre Med Schools 79
- Medical School Application Articles and Resources 26
- Medical School Admissions 25
- Medical School Admissions Articles 18
- BS/MD BA/MD BA/DO 12
- Website Disclaimer
- Terms and Conditions
Annual "how long should my personal statement be" post [residency]
I have a great draft just under 800 words. Everything I find online says that it should be around 650-850. After plugging it into ERAS and looking at the preview, I am well over with a full paragraph on the second page. It seems that one ERAS preview page is 640 words max.
After venturing to SDN, seems that there might be different formatting for the preview vs how PDs will view it.
Can anyone offer any advice?
I’ve heard that getting it into one page on ERAS is the gold standard. No matter how interesting your PS is, program directors want brevity. Especially this year as they will receive many more apps overall.
but what is "1 page" in ERAS? I've read all over the internet that 650-850 is 1 page, but the formatting is really messing me up
Someone on the admissions committee at the IM program I was with during third year said she will literally stop reading past one page on ERAS, and she’s a really nice person.
But how many words does that equate to? there seems to be a difference between what I am finding is one page on the internet vs one page in the weird preview screen on ERAS
One single spaced page in Word in a reasonable font with paragraph breaks.
Mine was 610 words (I just dug it up and checked).
Fellow applicant here. I read the same thing; stick to 1 ERAS page (=600-850 words). This wide range is due to the formatting. My draft was 780 words which I thought should be good enough but it went on to almost middle of page 2. My friend's draft is 698 words and he said he probably has a line to spare. My latest draft is about 610 words and it fits just right. Keep copy-paste-preview-ing to check how much fits and use that.
PS: I realised that if you copy and paste the lines without formatting (paste as plain text; Ctrl+shift+V) and then format in ERAS, it somehow reduces it by a line or two. Might apply to you, might not.
I have a 100 word essay due by the end of the week, and I haven't even started. fml
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 © 2023 American Academy of Family Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
- Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- TCOM Office of Medical Student Success
Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency
Tips to convey “ why you for residency specialty”, use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewer..
- Include topics that help the interview go smoothly.
- Be sincere and help the interviewer know what’s important to you.
- Include only the information that you want to discuss.
Write a focused essay, four or five paragraphs in length, that covers the basics.
- The first paragrap h could introduce the reader to you and could focus on what led you to a career in medicine, more importantly your specialty. The tone of the first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
- The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty. (Personal experiences from rotations, leadership activities, work, volunteer, community service, studying abroad, background and/or life/ family experiences).
- The third/fourth paragraphs should confirm why you think this choice is right for you AND why you are right for the specialty. This is an opportunity further distinguish yourself.
- The close/final paragraph could inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals and/or how you see yourself in this specialty. Also, avoid spending too much content on “ What I want/seek/am interested in from a residency program …” The focus should be more on why they should choose you over other candidates
Questions to ask when approaching your Personal Statement:
- What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
- What are your key attributes?
- What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
- What are your career plans and how will your background/additional education contribute to the field?
- What makes me unique enough to stand out among other candidates?
Your goal should be to write a well-crafted statement that is both original in its presentation and grammatically correct. Articulate your personal drive in as eloquent language as you can provide. The writing should flow. No one expects you to be a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about why you?
Don’t spend a lot of time providing information about you that programs will generally assume to be true for most competent medical students; “I want to help people”, “I love medicine”, “I want to match into a residency program where I can learn”
If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points beyond the career choice. Avoid spending too much time on “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine.” How did you arrive at your specialty choice and what experiences support how you arrived at the specialty choice?
Support your strengths and skillset with examples . Most medical student personal statement list similar strengths, “hard worker/will work hard”, “good communication skills”, “relate to/interact with patients” – so if you provide strengths that are common among medical students or even unique to you, it will be important to provide evidence to support your claims, directing programs to come to their own conclusion about your strength.
I f you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV , they should be relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis 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. If you can make it work, great, but don’t dwell on quotes. With only 800 words or less…it is favorable to make them all your own.
Do NOT plagiarize your personal statement.
Length ; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 – this will be acceptable for most residency programs.
Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?
- Melva Landrum , TCOM Residency Counselor will provide thorough feedback through an evaluation form that breaks down your entire personal statement including: content, grammar, structure, flow and overall impact. You can email your personal statement to [email protected] within one week.
- The Career Center can also review personal statements and Center for Academic Performance (CAP) office can provide feedback mostly on grammar and structure.
This page was last modified on October 26, 2021
- Media Contact
- Alumni Relations
- Accreditation summary
- Texas Veterans Portal
- Mental Health Services
- Report Sexual Or Behavioral Misconduct
- Minors On Campus
- HSC Trust Line
- Report Fraud, Waste Or Abuse
- Non Discrimination
- Accessibility Statement
Connect with us
- 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd.
- Fort Worth, Texas, 76107
- (817) 735-2000
- Student Life
- Patient Care
- COVID-19 information
- Continuing studies
- Student services
- After-Action Review
PrepScholar GRE Prep
Gre prep online guides and tips, how to write a stand-out personal statement for grad school.
If you’re applying to graduate school, you’ll likely need to write a personal statement. But what exactly is a graduate school personal statement? And what should you write about to give yourself your best shot at admission?
In this guide, we teach you how to write a personal statement for grad school, step by step. But first, let’s go over how the personal statement differs from the statement of purpose as well as what schools look for in a great graduate school essay.
What Is a Graduate School Personal Statement?
A graduate school personal statement is an admission essay that typically focuses on your personal reasons for wanting to enter a grad program and particular field of study. Essentially, you must tell the story of who you are and how you developed your current research interests.
So is a personal statement for graduate school the same thing as a statement of purpose? Well, not always (though it can be). Here are the general distinctions between the two essay types:
- Statement of purpose: A formal essay that summarizes your academic and professional background, research interests, and career goals. In this essay, you’ll usually explain your reasons for applying to grad school and why you believe the program is a good fit for you (as well as why you’re a good fit for it!).
- Personal statement: A less formal essay that focuses on your passion and motivation for wanting to enter your chosen field and program. This statement is typically more flexible than the statement of purpose, with a bigger emphasis on storytelling. Schools often encourage applicants to discuss (relevant) challenges in their lives and how they’ve overcome them.
Both the graduate school personal statement and statement of purpose are usually anywhere from one to three double-spaced pages long, depending on the program you’re applying to.
Below is a chart comparing the personal statement and statement of purpose:
Usually, the personal statement and statement of purpose are considered two different graduate school essay types.
But this isn’t always the case. While some schools consider the personal statement and statement of purpose two distinct essays, others use the names interchangeably.
For example, Michigan State University’s College of Engineering considers them two distinct essays, while The Ohio State University uses “personal statement” to describe what is essentially a statement of purpose.
Many schools require just one essay (and it’ll usually be the statement of purpose, as it’s the more academic one). But some, such as the University of Michigan , ask for both a personal statement and statement of purpose, while others, such as Notre Dame’s Creative Writing MFA program , want an essay that combines the features of both!
Ultimately, the type of graduate school essay you submit will depend entirely on where you’re applying.
What Do Schools Look For in a Personal Statement?
Many grad schools require a personal statement in order to learn more about you, your interests, your struggles, and your motivations for wanting to enter a field of study. Through this essay, schools can get to know you on a deeper, more intimate level and learn about you in ways they can’t through transcripts and letters of recommendation alone.
But what specifically do universities look for in a great personal statement for graduate school? Here are some of the most important elements to include in your essay.
A Compelling Story
First off, your personal statement must tell a story. After all, this essay is basically your autobiography: it introduces who you are, your interests and motivations, and why you’ve decided to apply to grad school.
Unlike the statement of purpose, the personal statement should focus mostly on your personal history, from your failures to your triumphs. All experiences should tie back to your field or research area, emphasizing what you’ve learned and what this means in terms of your potential as a grad student.
Since you’re talking about yourself, be conversational in your storytelling: use an authentic voice, open up about your experiences, and maybe even throw in a joke or two. Though you’re still writing an essay for school, it’s generally OK to be a little more informal here than you would in a statement of purpose.
That said, there are a couple of things you absolutely shouldn’t do in your personal statement.
- Open your essay with a quotation. Professors have heard the quotation before and don’t need (or want) to hear it again. Plus, quotations often take up too much space in an already short essay!
- Use clichés. Think of unique ways to tell your story and grab readers’ attention. Schools want to see you can be creative yet honest about yourself, so avoid clichés like the plague (see what I did there?).
- Get too creative. Your goal is to look like a serious, committed applicant—not a wacky risk taker—so write clearly and avoid any unnecessary distractions such as images, colors, and unprofessional fonts.
Most importantly, remember that your graduate school personal statement should focus on your successes. Try to use strong, encouraging words and put positive twists on difficult experiences whenever possible. It’s OK to mention your setbacks, too—just as long as you’re discussing how you ultimately overcame (or plan to overcome) them.
Inspirations for Your Research Interests
Schools don’t only want to see clearly defined research interests but also why you have these particular interests. While the statement of purpose elaborates on your professional goals, the personal statement explains what personally motivated you to explore your interests.
For example, in my personal statement for a Japanese Studies MA program, I wrote about my hot-and-cold relationship with the Japanese language and how a literature class and a stint abroad ultimately inspired me to keep learning.
Don’t make the mistake of going way back to the beginning to start your essay. Many applicants open their statements with something along the lines of “I fell in love with psychology when I was ten years old” or “It all started when I was in high school.” But these broad statements lack the creativity and zest needed to secure an acceptance, so avoid them at all costs.
Your Motivation for Applying to Grad School
Your statement of purpose should explain why grad school is a practical next step in your professional life—but your personal statement should focus on what personally motivates you to take this step.
Generally, schools want answers to the following questions:
- Why is grad school an appropriate step for you now?
- How will a graduate degree help you achieve your goals?
- Why didn’t you apply to grad school earlier (if you took time off after undergrad)?
- Were there any struggles or problems you faced that prevented you from applying to grad school before?
Be honest about why you’re applying, both to grad school and the program in particular. In my graduate school essay, I discussed how my passion for Japanese literature and desire to translate it inspired me to seek advanced language training at the graduate level.
Strong Writing Skills
A great personal statement shows that you can write cogently and coherently. After all, strong writing skills are imperative for success as a grad student!
So in addition to telling a good story, make sure you use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Use paragraphs to break up your thoughts, too. Because the personal statement is slightly less formal than the statement of purpose, feel free to play around a little with paragraph form and length.
Also, remember that good writing doesn’t necessarily equal big words. You’re writing about yourself, so use words that come naturally to you. Don’t grab a thesaurus and start throwing in a bunch of high-level vocabulary wherever you can; this will make your essay sound less authentic, not to mention stiff.
On the other hand, don’t get too colloquial. You’ll lose respect if you start inserting conversational words such as “gonna” and “gotta.” Therefore, look for the middle ground and write from there.
Want to improve your GRE score by 7 points? We have the industry's leading GRE prep program. Built by world-class instructors with 99th percentile GRE scores , the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through machine learning data science, then customizes your prep program to you so you get the most effective prep possible.
Try our 5-day full access trial for free:
Explanations for Any Hiccups in Your Academic Career
Lastly, the personal statement gives applicants a chance to explain any problems or changes in their academic histories, such as low grades or gaps in education.
Because transcripts and resumes are severely limited in what information they give, schools often use the personal statement to understand your reasons for abrupt changes in your resume and/or transcripts, and to see how you’ve overcome these barriers in your education (and life).
Essentially, a personal statement equalizes the playing field by giving you full rein to explain yourself and emphasize your success over any struggles you’ve had.
How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School: 9-Step Guide
The personal statement is a fiercely important part of your grad school application. In this section, we teach you how to write a memorable personal statement for grad school so that you’ll have a better shot at getting accepted.
Step 1: Start Early
Personal statements (actually, grad school applications in general!) take a lot of work, so don’t put off writing your essay until the week before your deadline. Rather, try to start working on your essay at least two or three months before your application is due.
You might want to give yourself more time to write it if you’re currently in school or working a demanding job. Setting aside more time lets you work on your graduate school essay routinely without having to squeeze in too many hours each week.
If you only have a month or less until your application deadline, get started on your essay pronto! Though it’s possible to write a personal statement quickly, I recommend carving out more time so that you can put more thought and effort into what you write and how you present yourself. (Doing this also gives others more time to edit your essay for you! We’ll cover this more in later steps.)
Step 2: Read the Instructions
Perhaps the most important step is to read your program’s instructions for the personal statement. Not following these instructions could very well result in a rejection, so always read these first before you start writing! Most programs put their personal statement instructions on their application materials pages.
Your program should give you the following information:
- What type of content your personal statement should include or generally focus on (you might even get an actual prompt to answer!)
- How long your statement should be
- What type of heading, if any, you must include on your statement
- How to save and submit your statement (e.g., .docx, PDF, etc.)
For example, let’s say you’re applying to the History PhD program at UC Berkeley . In this case, your personal statement can’t exceed 1,000 words (three double-spaced pages). You must also answer this prompt :
Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.
On the other hand, if you were to apply for an MS in Mining, Geological, and Geophysical Engineering at the University of Arizona , your personal statement would follow these parameters:
Your personal statement is an opportunity to sell yourself, in terms of your research interests, research experience and research goals. Unless you have extensive research experience, most personal statements should be about two single-spaced pages. Your writing should be clear, concise, grammatically correct and professional in tone. You may convey some personal experiences that have led to your current interests or that make you a particularly promising candidate.
Clearly, grad programs can approach personal statements quite differently. Some schools consider them the same as statements of purpose and want a formal focus on academic and research interests, while others want applicants to explain more informally the challenges they’ve overcome to get to this point.
Simply put, follow your program’s directions exactly in order to give yourself your best shot at admission. And if any part of the instructions is unclear, don’t hesitate to contact your program!
Step 3: Figure Out Your Angle
Your “angle,” or focus, in your graduate school personal statement will depend on a few key factors:
- What your grad program wants you to write about
- Your field of study and research interests
- How much experience you have in your field
As I mentioned in step 2, it’s extremely important to read the personal statement instructions for your program. Many times these guidelines will tell you what to include in your essay, thereby clarifying what your overall angle needs to be.
Let’s look back at the example we used above for UC Berkeley’s doctoral program in history. If you were applying here and came from a low-income family, you could discuss how you’ve overcome these financial challenges in your life to get to where you are today.
No matter the prompt, you’ll need to discuss your research interests (to some degree) in your personal statement. How much you talk about your interests, however, will depend on whether you have to submit a separate statement of purpose. If so, you can focus less on your research plans and more on your passions and motivations for applying.
On the other hand, if your personal statement is essentially a statement of purpose, dive deep into your research interests—that is, be specific! For example, those applying to English lit programs should think about the works, eras, and writers they want to study, and why.
More broadly, though, try to answer the question of what you hope to accomplish, either during or after the program. Is there any particular project you want to do? Skills you want to improve? Field you want to break into?
Finally, always choose a positive angle. Use affirmative words and phrases to highlight both your successes and overall enthusiasm for the program.
Step 4: Ask Yourself, “Why This Program? Why This Field?”
Although the statement of purpose usually answers this question directly, you’ll likely need to address this in your personal statement as well—ideally, with a less academic and more conversational tone.
As you brainstorm, try to come up with answers to the following questions:
- What goals or experiences led you to apply to this program?
- How will this program help you grow on a personal level?
- What made you interested in this field? Why do you want to study it more?
- What are your research interests? How did you develop these interests?
- Are there any particular professors you wish to work with?
Step 5: Make an Outline
Now that you’ve brainstormed some ideas, it’s time to start outlining your essay.
Want to improve your GRE score by 7+ points?
Check out our best-in-class online GRE prep program . We guarantee your money back if you don't improve your GRE score by 7 points or more.
PrepScholar GRE is entirely online, and it customizes your prep program to your strengths and weaknesses . We also feature 2,000 practice questions , official practice tests, 150 hours of interactive lessons, and 1-on-1 scoring and feedback on your AWA essays.
Check out our 5-day free trial now:
How you choose to outline your statement is up to you. Some people like drawing bubble charts for organizing their thoughts, whereas others (like myself) prefer to write a list of rough ideas in the general order they want to present them.
Even if you’re not sure whether you want to include something, just add it to your outline anyway. You can always cut it out later as you draft and edit.
Step 6: Draft Your Essay
It’s now time to start writing! Once you’ve got your outline ready, work on expanding what you’ve written into full-fledged paragraphs.
In the beginning, it’s OK to write down anything you feel is relevant, but as you continue to draft, try to look for any extraneous information you can chop.
Remember, most personal statements will be short— usually one to two double-spaced pages—so you don’t want to risk exceeding your program’s word limit. Schools want to see that you can tell a story concisely yet effectively.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a way to open your statement, try skipping around as you draft. Go ahead and jump to a paragraph you have more ideas for—it’s perfectly OK! Just make sure you start to tie all of your ideas together the closer you get to finishing your draft.
On a related note, be careful not to copy any material from your statement of purpose (if you’re required to submit two separate essays). These statements may share a little overlap but should still focus on different aspects of your (academic) life, accomplishments, and goals.
Step 7: Get Feedback
Once you finish drafting, give your essay to people you trust for feedback. This could be a parent, friend, sibling, or mentor (such as a former or current professor).
Ask your editors to give you specific feedback on what you can change, both stylistically and technically, to make it more impactful. Ideally, they’ll also note any unclear, awkward, or redundant ideas/phrases and will offer you helpful suggestions for improvement.
If you’ve written a separate statement of purpose, see whether your editors are willing to check that essay over as well so that you can ensure there isn’t too much overlap between the two.
Step 8: Revise & Edit Your Essay
Once you get feedback, revise and edit your personal statement using your editors’ comments as a guide.
For example, if your editors told you your essay lacked detail, look for places in your writing where you can be more specific and that are likely to have a strong impact on the admission committee.
As you revise, keep an eye out for any awkward sentences or extraneous information. Personal statements are usually pretty brief and you don’t want to accidentally exceed the word limit. So when in doubt, take it out!
Step 9: Proofread
The final step is to proofread your draft. Start by using your computer’s spell check function to quickly find any glaring typos and grammatical errors.
Then, proofread your essay one sentence at a time. Since it’s easy to miss errors in your own writing, I recommend editing your essay from back to front (i.e., from the last sentence to the first sentence). Doing this prevents you from glossing over words and lets you pinpoint punctuation, spelling, and grammatical errors more easily.
In addition, check that you have page numbers on each page (if required—though I suggest adding them regardless) and a proper heading (again, if required) that meets the requirements of your program.
Before you submit it, see if you can get someone else (preferably one or all of your editors from step 7) to look over your final draft as well. If anyone spots a problem with your essay, go back to step 8. If you get all thumbs ups, read over your statement one last time and then turn it in without looking back! (Seriously, don’t read it again or you’re going to want to change something.)
The Key to a Great Graduate School Personal Statement
The personal statement is an essential part of your grad school application. Like the statement of purpose, it highlights your research interests, experiences, and goals.
But more importantly, the personal statement showcases your unbridled passion for your field, lets you reflect on challenges you’ve faced (and subsequently overcome), and answers the overarching question of why you want to attend grad school.
A great graduate school personal statement will normally include most or all of the following elements:
- A compelling story
- Inspirations for your research interests
- Your motivation for applying to grad school
- Strong writing skills
- Explanations for any changes or problems in your academic career
Above, we walked you through how to write a personal statement for grad school. To recap, here are the nine steps to follow:
- Start early—at least two or three months before your application is due
- Read your program’s instructions for the personal statement
- Figure out your angle by brainstorming ideas
- Ask yourself, “Why this program/field?”
- Make an outline using charts, a list, etc.
- Draft your essay
- Get specific feedback from multiple editors
- Revise and edit your essay
- Proofread (and get other people to proofread it, too!)
Need to write a statement of purpose, too? Waste no time! Our expert guide offers tons of tips to help you come up with a statement of purpose that’s certain to impress admission committees.
Do your schools require a CV or resume? If you’re totally lost on where to begin, read our guides to learn how to put together a great CV or resume for grad school. And for extra help, check out our four original CV and resume templates !
What do you need to submit for your grad school application? Get the scoop on what kinds of materials you’ll need to prepare when applying to grad school .
Ready to improve your GRE score by 7 points?
Author: Hannah Muniz
Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel. View all posts by Hannah Muniz
What Is the Right Residency Personal Statement Word Count?
The sooner you submit your captivating residency text, the more of a head start you ensure! Outperform others with our brilliant experts and express delivery!
Taking no notice of quality will never lead to success but, conversely, to failure.
Apply with a unique residency application doc with all bits of your instructions covered. Send a medical text that will differentiate you from others and will also win the selection officers’ hearts and guarantee your recognition!
A thorough assessment of every text is provided to ensure adherence to the criteria of your residency program. Aside from that, your major specialty, as well as soft and hard skills, will be accentuated!
Submit your application with a personal statement that is crafted in compliance with the ERAS® requirements. Have strong confidence in the fact that our experts will assure congruence with the admission board’s most essential standards. Let them finally see a perfect text.
Perfect usage of medical terminology in your order is guaranteed due to our authors’ rich experience, medical diplomas, qualifications in different branches of this sphere, and keenness to compose admission texts.
Our writing hotshots are all medical university graduates competent in any sphere-related topic. Thus, they will deftly tackle any task at the agreed time. We have specialists in all kinds of application texts!
Filling the text with the info is just the first stage of this process. The other one involves editing, proofreading, checking sessions aimed at eradicating any possible imperfections, and also reaching flawless format.
Letter of Recommendation
MSPE, AND MORE!
Statement of Purpose
ERAS Application Form Completion
Hereupon, we’ll be doing the stressful task of preparing the required application package!
Anyone who requests documents from our service can later get editing assistance without covering additional fees. There is only one thing to add here: always count the days that went by from the deadline expiration since you have got 14 of those to use this bonus.
Find the quality of the residency personal essay provided by us frustrating? In such a case, demand that money spent on the assistance be returned. We promise that in case our writer doesn’t deliver a satisfactory text, your money will be returned.
Do not puzzle over the reason for contacting our medical authors as they will always patiently and attentively consider your idea, question, suggestion, etc. Apart from this, sharing information with the specialist working on your document does not entail covering any extra fees.
No matter how many hours are left before the deadline, our medical specialists will write a document on time. The fact that we do not miss deadlines is clear. However, we also pleasantly shock applicants when preparing residency docs beforehand!
You can finally calm down because, due to our up-to-date and innovative software, not a single money transaction process is in danger anymore. Whenever you wish to proceed with payment, feel free because your payments, card data, and funds are kept secure.
Once you enter our website, your personal data will get invisible. Our service ensures the absolute safety of all our clients’ individual records, order data, payment details, and any other information that somehow deals with you and is in our database.
Keep your competitors from becoming winners! Use our writing service with a 20% discount now!
Hang your hat on the service provided by our skilled and impressively clever authors who know each medical specialization inside and out. Don’t worry your head about it because all our specialists have passed challenging exams to be in our company!
Henry is proficient in IM and its branches, including gastroenterology, nephrology, hematology, and so on. He will masterfully approach the order requirements, comments, and suggestions given that he has a highly detail-oriented mindset! Ask Henry to prepare a residency application document, and he will craft it exquisitely.
Nuclear radiology, interventional radiology, breast radiology, and more are the areas that belong to John’s sphere of expertise. A master of breathtaking transitions, smooth structure, and brilliant grammar, John creates tip-top admission documents quicker than the speed of light.
Helen, our pride, is a holder of a doctorate in medicine. This medical specialist gets a kick out of producing residency personal statements within her specialization. Once you have requested Helen to work on your task, be sure she will consider each remark, instruction, and criterion of the program with special attention. Turn to Helen without further ado.
In search of the service to order an excellent dentistry admission doc? Reilly Heaton is a perfect pick for this task! This medical specialist is enormously competent in writing, qualified in dentistry, and simply a smart individual. Be confident that Reilly is worth your consideration!
Matthew accepts orders of the highest difficulty if they are related to clinical, molecular, or genetic pathology. Plus, this author is familiar with a tremendous number of other subspecialties. Tight time frames, tons of info, and even Saturday & Sunday are nothing to Matthew. Being a preferred expert for multiple customers, he is amazing!
Whether it is plastic surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, or any other type of surgery-related area, Kayla handles such orders in the blink of an eye. Let her learn your requirements, and she will exceed your expectations. Kayla loves her specialization, and she will never stop helping people achieve their ambitions!
Arthur’s number one priority in life is children and human well-being. Then comes Arthur’s neverending wish to offer professional support to those individuals who are in need of stunning residency admission texts. Do not let doubts confuse you. Arthur is the most dependable medical writer available online.
Carrie is an immensely skillful specialist. This intelligent author is familiar with family medicine and its subspecialties in all respects. Choosing Carrie Feeney would be your wisest decision!
Cole Crawford is an exceptionally good author who cares about the quality of texts to such an extent as if these documents could affect his odds of enrollment. Cole always tries to think like an applicant and guess what the admission representatives search for in your text. What is more, his typing score beats all records! From the first working day and until now, there has not been a single late order delivery by Cole.
Search for a perfect admission doc within psychiatry? Get in touch with us and select Ian as your preferred medical specialist. Community, consultative, administrative psychiatry, and a lot of other sphere-related branches are what Ian excels at. Order a residency medical text and allow this author to deserve your highest approval!
I needed help with my residency application, so I found this service on the web and submitted an order. Despite it was my first experience in using such a platform, everything was ok, no problems, no hurry. That’s what professionalism is!!
Thanks to the writer assigned to me, I got a good doc and, as a result, gained a very high rate among the applicants.
Thanks to a stellar personal statement by your writer Jeremy, hope to apply successfully to the Mayo Clinic residency program. Thanks for such incredible help ;)
I’m really grateful for your help cuz now I finally have a worthy personal essay for residency. And I’m not embarrassed anymore to submit this application =)
With weak writing skills, I didn’t want to take a risk and write an essay on my own. So I decided to entrust that task to specialists. Btw, I got some extra advice on how to do this myself.
I always have problems with generating new ideas and particularly creating convincing texts. Due to my personal writer, I got a catchy narrative written :)))
There was some hitch, I suppose, cuz I couldn’t upload a file, but it lasted just a couple of minutes, and then everything was ok.
What I liked most is an opportunity to discuss all questions regarding my order via a chat room directly with my writer. It facilitates the writing process and finding common ground with an expert!! ;))
This procedure will not take much of your effort. Complete the form to help us get a clue of what your requirements are, and hit the purchase button! To tailor documents to customers’ cases in full, our professionals have to be aware of your application specifics, achievements, the program considered, and the committee’s formatting rules.
- We really want our clients to be mindful of our Questionnaire, which you need to save, fill out, and attach to the order form. Pay attention to the fact that clients’ details are inaccessible to third parties. Furthermore, we protect our customers’ records, keeping their info secret.
Done with the purchase? Once we get updated on it, our medical author will commence the writing process. No reason to let fear conquer your mind because every transaction is 100% safe. Additionally, clients are informed of their successful payment by email.
The Customer Area login and password are sent to clients after the successful money transaction. Our website provides customers with the feature allowing you to modify your password if you need it. The Customer Area has been developed for tête-à-tête communication with your writer or support agent. Additionally, it lets you download final copies, order corrections to your docs, and request more orders!
Customers are informed of any updates through their email inbox. SMS notifications are optional if you aim at supervising your order constantly! Once your text is crafted, our Quality Department will see if there is strict conformity to the application requirements. After this verification, your order will be ready for downloading through the Customer Area. The last checked version of the text will be uploaded timely or ahead of the deadline! Also, you can request revisions for 14 days afterward.
Control each and every stage of the order execution in the most suitable manner!
Enter the chatroom with your medical writer, save docs, and register more orders with no problem.
Don’t think twice. Ask our support agents for immediate help with your order!
Many schools require applicants to write a personal statement when applying for SOAP residency because it is their basis to know more about the person. However, some schools specify their residency personal statement word count, which means applicants need to follow the word limit at the same time effectively explain who they are and what they have that others do not have. Thus, you must think of a good personal statement residency structure to get the attention of the readers.
Required Residency Personal Statement Word Count
If you are asking, “how long should a residency personal statement be,” then it can be 500 to 850 words. The personal statement and medical residency letter of recommendation are your chance to sell yourself, and even though there is only a limited word count or page limit, ensure that you put all the details that you think will help you in getting into the program.
When it comes to the word count, bear in mind that it must be limited to one page. This proves also important when submitting and printing on the ERAS application. A word count of 600 up to 650 words is better, but if you want a shorter one, then writing a 500-word essay is okay too.
Additionally, the personal statement is a one computed page in ERAS, and it must be between 750 to 850 words. Be sure that your statements fit in ERAS allotted space because if there are lines that exceed the length restrictions, the program will eliminate it. By the time that you know how long should a residency personal statement be, you must start writing it while you still have enough time.
Common Structure of an ERAS Personal Statement, Pro Writing Tips, and Tricks
- Use of paragraphs: Do not use many paragraphs, especially if you have a word or page limit. It is better to write 47 lines because they will help the admissions committee have an easier time to read your paper.
- A clear beginning, middle, and end: If you submit your personal statement AAMC application, make sure that your essay has a clear beginning and end. Doing so, you will make your essay flow naturally. It is important that all your sentences are connected together so that they are organized when it comes to flow. By following this tip, you can ensure that you’re making a well-presented essay.
- ABC method: If you decide to write about your experience, you need to use the ABC method. ABC stands for action, benefit, and course structure. What qualities you possess, what skills you have and what the activity is it that you did.
- Keep it short: Because you need to meet the ERAS personal statement word limit, you should limit your essay to 4,000 characters. In this case, you should bear in mind of its conciseness by using clear and short sentences. If there are unnecessary words, clichés, and overused words, you have to get rid of them.
Length of ERAS Personal Statement: How to Shorten It and Make Your Residency Application Document a Success
There are times that you need to shorten your essay to meet the ERAS personal statement word limit, so if you are asking yourself on how to do it, here are some tips to get started.
- Highlight all the adverbs: You need to read your personal statement again and highlight all the adverbs. To shorten your essay, remove all adverbs such as very, really, absolutely, completely and extremely. Doing this is essential to complete the medical residency application process by making a concise essay and submitting a good one.
- Look for short phrases or single words followed by a comma: In the medical residency application process wherein need to submit a personal statement, you cannot include them as they would waste space. You must shorten your page to meet the word count requirement. Spot on single words or short phrases, such as in fact, because of this, to be frank, last, hopefully, in fact, in conclusion, and quite frankly. Highlight the phrases or words, and then read the essay again without these words. Remove the ones that do not enhance your essay.
- Delete helping verbs: For instance, replace “is going to visit” with “will visit”.
- Delete to be verbs: Instead of saying “I’m a voracious reader,” try writing “I read voraciously.”
- Turn nouns into verbs: It is better to write, “I concluded” than “I came to the conclusion.”
Tips to Extend a Length of Residency Personal Statement
If you are thinking to extend your personal statement because it has not correct personal statement word limit, and it does not meet ERAS personal statement length, then there are great tips that you can follow.
- What you need to demonstrate: To extend your personal statement, you can write about enthusiasm for a certain subject, genuine interest or things you want to pursue. You can write about your suitability for the job or course and your commitment to study. You might also want to write about your motivation in studying the course and ways that it fits into your future plans. Other things to write in your essay to make it longer include your conscientious attitude, great communication skills, and hard-working attitude.
- The rules: If you forgot writing about “why you want to study that course,” then include it in your personal statement. On the other hand, be sure that you have not copied from others’ work just to get ideas on what you will write. It is better if you write it on your own. Also, when you write, avoid mentioning any courses or universities because the personal statement will be sent off to different schools, especially if you have applied for numerous programs.
- Structure and content: It is better to make a plan on what you will include in your personal statement. The content of your essay should include important points. Even though you want to make it longer, irrelevant words should be eliminated. To replace those words and sentences, you can include information on what have you done to pursue your interest in that subject, things that make you suitable for the program and ways that your grades support your chosen interest.
- Write what you studied: The personal statement is a place to demonstrate your intelligence. To extend your essay, you can talk about what you have found in that program that makes you interested in it and why relating it to what you have studied to reach this point.
- Support with evidence: Whenever you make a claim or statement, be sure to back it up with evidence.
Professional Writing Help with Your Residency Application Personal Statement
Even if you are fully aware of all ERAS® personal statement requirements, there are no guarantees you’ll be able to compose an outstanding personal statement for residency application that will impress the admission committee in a matter of seconds. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place where professional admission experts with decades of writing experience can help you with crafting all types of application documents including residency letter of recommendation, CV for residency application, letter of intent and anything else you’ll request! The ordering procedure is super simple: just fill out the order form, proceed with totally secure payment, get in touch with your personal residency personal statement writer and wait for the first draft! the final version of your personal statement for residency application will be delivered on time, written in adherence to the highest standards and with the correct residency personal statement word count.
Follow the right residency personal statement word count and submit an impressive essay today!
- Admission Essay
- Statement of Purpose
- Personal Statement
- Recommendation Letter
- Motivation Letter
- Cover Letter
- Supplemental Essay
- Letter of Continued Interest
- Scholarship Essay
- Role Model Essay
- Our Editors
- College Admission Essay Examples
- College Cover Letter Examples
- College Personal Statement Examples
- Graduate Personal Statement Examples
- Graduate Statement of Purpose Examples
- MBA Essay Examples
- MBA Personal Statement Examples
- MBA Resume Examples
- MBA Recommendation Letter Examples
- Medical School Personal Statement Examples
- Medical School Recommendation Letter Examples
- Pricing Plans
- Public Health
- Research Paper
- Academic Editing
- Motivation letter
- Letter of Recommendation
How To Write a Residency Personal Statement? Do’s and Don’ts
EssayEdge > Blog > How To Write a Residency Personal Statement? Do’s and Don’ts
Constructing your residency statement for residency programs may revive old feelings of frustration and despair similar to concocting your personal statement for medical school some four or more years ago. Just like your AMCAS personal statement, the essay for residency programs in the field(s) of your choice represents the only portion of your application over which you have complete autonomy. For this reason, many residency directors place great importance on this statement.
This document is intended to assist you in crafting a residency personal statement by providing a brief overview of the application system, and the “do’s” and “don’ts” in your essay.
Table of Contents:
Overview of ERAS
The Electronic Residency Application Services (ERAS) provided by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) is much akin to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) that most of you used to apply to medical school. ERAS allows you to upload your entire residency application online and forward it to all programs to which you wish to apply that participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). Please note that the following specialty programs participate in a separate early match outside of the NRMP:
Starting with the 2003 application process, the American Urological Association has placed most of its programs under the ERAS system. The other four specialties participate in the SF Match, a separate early match program. Please refer to each of these fields for their own special application criteria.
How To Craft Your MSPS
The personal statement can be no longer than one typed page on the ERAS system. This usually corresponds to a document between 750 and 850 words. Ensure that your statement fits in the ERAS allotted space, because the program will eliminate all lines that exceed its length restrictions.
Key differences from medical school personal statement (MSPS):
A) You actually have to provide your application reviewers with valuable information. If you discuss nothing else, the following three topics must be addressed in your statement.
- Why are you interested in the field of your choice?
- What are you looking for in a residency program?
- How does the field align with your professional goals?
B) Originality and creativity do not hold the same importance that they did in your MSPS. Once again, your application reviewers will be reading several hundreds of applications; so you will need to present an attention-grabbing statement. However, the fluffiness and individuality so valued in MSPSs are secondary to addressing the three themes mentioned in section A. While discussing your personal development always distinguishes you, you should focus such development in the context of your decision to pursue a chosen medical field.
C) Advisors in the specific field(s) of your choice are essential to determining the appropriate themes of your personal statement. Unlike your MSPS, in which an individualized, focused essay providing some sort of self-profile serves as the desired prototype, each specialty and subspecialty has certain types of individuals for which they are searching. For instance, many primary care fields place a huge emphasis on your community service involvement whereas more competitive specialties such as dermatology and orthopedic surgery seem to be more concerned with research endeavors and publications in their field. You should identify both a resident, who has just gone through the application process, and an attending physician, who is well-versed in the nuances of your desired specialty, to serve as advisors regarding the content of your personal statement.
- Unite your essay with a central theme. If possible paint multiple pictures of your medical school development around this theme, and link it to your field of choice.
- Unless you pursued another degree or participated in some significant research or community service project during your preclinical years, most of the content of your statement should address your clinical development during clerkships. Most residency programs express minimal concern for your preclinical performance, presuming that you suffered no academic failures or setbacks. If your institution has grades, your transcript will speak for your preclinical performance. The only information that you should address during your preclinical years of medical school should be related to obtaining other degrees or discussing significant volunteer or research endeavors. You should be able to relate the latter to your current interest to pursue the field of your choice.
- Use interesting or unique background experiences to complement your residency personal statement. This will be your “anti-clone” factor that distinguishes you from every other individual applying in your field. You will need to ensure that these personal factors, triumphs, obstacles, or experiences are clearly relevant to the progression of your essay. Fluffy and tangential topics will not be tolerated as well in residency personal statements as they were in MSPSs.
- Begin your statement with an attention-grabbing first paragraph.
- Provide specific narratives or examples in order to demonstrate any personal attributes you cultivated or lessons you learned. Avoid making statements such as “I am determined and hardworking” without backing them up with solid evidence.
- Keep your sentences concise and direct. Many of the physician application reviewers are busy people who cannot decipher advanced literary writing techniques.
- Link your conclusion back to your introduction.
Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:
- Your statement should not be an expanded version of your CV. The ERAS application allows more than ample space for you to discuss your paid work and volunteer experiences, research endeavors and publications, language fluency, hobbies and interests, and other awards and accomplishments. Only mention relevant endeavors or poignant experiences.
- You should avoid including any information in your essay that you could not discuss for at least an hour or that may be contradicted by other written evidence. Though this may seem facetious, some applicants will exaggerate their role in particular research projects or community service activities, but be unable to discuss them thoroughly in interviews. This can prove to be extremely detrimental to your candidacy. Also, some applicants have written things in these statements that directly contradict information written by their recommenders. Because waiving your rights to viewing letters of recommendation is the norm, you often will not know what your letter writers will say about you. Thus, only truthful information should appear in your statement.
- Lack of flow
- Spelling and grammatical errors
- Redundant or extraneous words
eRAS & Residency Submission Process
To simplify the submission process for all parties, there’s AAMC’s eRAS or the Electronic Residency Application Service. The system allows you to put together and send your application and all adjacent materials to the programs you are interested in. The eRAS system will be your one-stop-shop for distributing applications to institutions where you want to get post-graduate education.
The eRAS system is comprised of stand-alone but connected apps that make submission, review, and other steps easier for everyone involved:
- MyERAS AAMC. This is the app where you are going to finish your applications, chose where to send them, manage the necessary documents, and send the materials to residencies of your choice.
- The app for deans, which will help them add transcripts and performance evaluations to yours and all other incoming applications from potential students.
- Similarly, the Letter of Recommendation app will help the authors add the letters to the applications.
- Finally, the app for program directors is where they will be reviewing all the data coming from potential students.
Here is how AAMC’s eRAS works:
- You need to get a one-time registration code (also called a token) from your dean’s office and create a personal account.
- After, you can finish your application, choose where to apply to, and assign all supporting materials required for it.
- Your dean and LoR author submit all supporting materials to your application.
- The boards responsible for analyzing applications receive transcript requests and process them.
- The evaluation experts at the programs you applied to receive all your documents in the app for program directors.
MyERAS AAMC will be your main app all along. How to get the registration code? Contact one of the following institutions, depending on where you are coming from.
– Your US school, if you graduated in the country.
– CaRMS (Canadian Residency Matching Service), if you finished a medical school in Canada.
– ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates), if you graduated from an international school.
Here is what you need to know after acquiring the code:
– The system will guide on what you need to submit to finish your application.
– There’s a specific code for every season.
– Double-check the data you put in when you register. You can only use the code once.
– Note that third-year medical school tokens will only enable applicants to update their personal data section and submit LoRs to prepare for the next season. The remaining parts of the application will be available when the season begins.
ERA applications fees
You will need to pay a fee based on the quantity of programs you want to apply to per specialty. If you plan to send your application to less than ten programs per specialty, you’ll need to pay ninety-nine dollars. If it’s between eleven and twenty, each program will cost you fifteen dollars. The more programs you apply to, the more you will need to pay.
Payment methods include only VISA or Mastercard; AAMC doesn’t offer any refunds.
Overall, the most important advice to remember when crafting your residency personal statement is to provide yourself with plenty of time to write it. Two or three months prior to the date you wish to submit your final applications should prove sufficient. While respecting the different perspectives of each individual you wish to comment on your drafts, you should limit your statement to only a few individuals, making sure that one or two physicians in your desired field are among them. Also, do not be afraid to scrap one draft completely, and start another thought from scratch. Finally, be true to yourself in this essay. This is your one chance to show the unique side of yourself. Do not overdo it, but do not fail to do it. Good luck with your application process.
Admit that you won’t find a better guide on residency personal statement writing. We covered everything the applicant may need or want to know about this paper and its submission process. We hope this information will help you to finish writing faster. Keep in mind that you can always hire a college essay editor online to save time and get a high-quality paper fast.
You may also like
How to write a Great Residency Personal Statement
How to Make Your Residency Personal Statement Personal
June 2, 2022 by EssayEdge How To Start a Scholarship Essay: Catch Reader’s Attention Fast
May 16, 2022 by EssayEdge My Role Model Essay: A Few Ways to Elaborate on The Subject
May 3, 2022 by EssayEdge How To Start a Personal Statement? | Writing Tips and Samples
March 1, 2023 by alexeykhoroshun Questions to Ask In a College Interview
January 30, 2023 by EssayEdge How to Write a Hook For a College Essay + [Examples]
January 20, 2023 by EssayEdge Using ChatGPT for Writing Admission Essay: How It Can Ruin Your Chances of Success
©2023 Student Media LLC. All rights reserved.
EssayEdge: Essay Editing & Proofreading Service.
Our mission is to prepare you for academic and career success.
- Log In
- Sign Up
- Forgot password
Unable to log in? Please clear your browser's cache and then refresh this page and try again
Reset password Please enter your email address to request a password reset.
Check your email We’ve just sent a password reset link to your email.
This information is used to create your account
7 Tips for Writing Your AMCAS® Personal Comments Essay
The Personal Comments Essay section of the AMCAS application is your opportunity to tell medical school admissions officers who you are and what makes you unique. Here are seven tips to help you as you write your essay.
Many admissions committees place significant weight on this section, so we have compiled a list of seven tips to help you craft a well-organized and compelling essay.
1. Take time to think about the content of your essay before writing a first draft. As you’re thinking about the structure of your essay, remember to keep the content general because it will go to all medical schools you apply to. Try not to duplicate information provided elsewhere in the application as you only have about a page to write. Some questions you may want to consider before you begin writing include:
- Why do you want a career in medicine?
- What motivates you to learn more about medicine?
- What should medical schools know about you that isn’t described in other sections of the application?
2. Include details that might better explain your path to medical school. For example, you might consider:
- Addressing hardships, challenges, or obstacles that have influenced your educational pursuits.
- Explaining significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained elsewhere in your application.
3. Show, don’t tell . If challenges in your childhood or a defining experience led you to consider medicine, use details to describe those experiences and bring your essay to life.
4. Stay on topic. There is a 5,300 character limit (including spaces) in this section. This equals about one page of writing, single-spaced. Make sure your essay is interesting, follows a logical and orderly flow, relates to your reasons for choosing medicine, and describes why you believe you will be successful as a physician.
5. Don’t be afraid of the editing process. Be sure to write more than one draft. Ask additional people to review and make edits to your essay. Having others read your essay will help you gain new perspectives on your writing and refine the story you want to tell admissions committees.
6. Remember to proofread and be mindful of formatting. The AMCAS application does not include spell check, so be sure to proofread your essay for any typos or grammatical errors. You will not be able to go back into this section to make any edits after you submit your application. To avoid formatting issues, we recommend that you draft your essay in text-only word processing software, such as Microsoft Notepad or Mac TextEdit, then copy and paste your essay into the application. You can also type your essay directly into the AMCAS application.
7. If you are applying to MD-PhD programs, there are two additional essays you will need to complete. The first essay asks your reasons for pursuing the combined degree and is relatively short. The second essay asks you to describe your research activities and is about three pages long. You can read more about these additional essays in the AMCAS Instruction Manual or get further guidance from your pre-health advisor or career counselor.
For more AMCAS-related tips, please check out the AMCAS Tools and Tutorials page . There, you’ll find video tutorials, presentations, guides, and recordings of past webinars.
How To Write A Good ERAS Personal Statement [Ultimate Guide]
Learn how to study twice as fast with our free studying course.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through my link at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
Are you dealing with an ERAS personal statement for the first time? It’s not a simple document, and while you’re at it, you must make sure that yours stands out among other candidates .
I’m here to tell you what unsuccessful applicants do — not pay attention to miscellaneous details in the process, such as writing their residency personal statement !
Perhaps you’re searching for how to write one like a pro. If so, then stay put and read on to achieve a captivating personal statement and have a good shot at getting the interview!
Bonus: Want to learn how I got a 3.9 GPA in med school using a simple-to-follow study strategy? Get access to my exact study method from med school for free here.
Table Of Contents
What Is The ERAS Personal Statement?
Getting into the best residency program is vital for every medical professional. Not only will it add substantial value to your career, but it will also help you grow in more ways than you think.
You might be thinking about how exactly you get accepted into one. It would be best if you focused on writing a well-crafted personal statement for residency , among other things.
A personal statement is a one-page essay articulating who you are and why you want to be part of your chosen specialty .
An ERAS personal statement is essential to the whole ERAS application process. It must create an ideal picture of you as a candidate and why program directors should consider your application despite the limited slots available.
Get The Exact 8-Steps I Used To Get A 3.9 GPA In Med School For Free Below!
How To Write A Good ERAS Personal Statement
An ERAS personal statement should very much remind you of essay writing — it follows a logical order and requires distinctive sections such as an introduction, body, and conclusion.
Step #1 Start With An Outline
Too many ideas can cloud our heads, and they can sabotage our personal statements. To keep our thoughts organized, writing an outline is the best way to start !
Step #2 Lead With Details
As I’ve mentioned, a residency personal statement must be concise — under 3,500 characters plus the spaces are enough, but it creates constraints.
For a good introduction, you may want to start with an anecdote to hook your readers . You may describe an experience or a situation related to your specialty.
The point here is to pin a unique story to build momentum. My additional tip for you is to write straightforwardly but be as detailed as possible !
Bonus: Want better grades with more free time (and less stress)? Get access to our free 3-step study system here to see what other top students do that you may not be doing!
Step #3 Connect Your Narrative To The Main Topic
One way to keep a reader invested is by being a compelling storyteller . The body portion of your statement is the perfect place to develop transitions.
This is the section where you must describe what kind of medical specialist you aspire to be . You may also add the interests that made you pursue the specialty .
Your personal statement’s body can be of two sections or paragraphs — one for discussing your specialty and the other for your advocacy.
Step #4 Tie Them All Together
Your last paragraph should leave program committees with an understanding of who you are and your reasons for applying .
Keep this short and precise.
Want Better Grades In just 3-Steps?
Get Access To Our Free 3-Step Study System To Get Better Grades With Less Time & Stress
Does The Personal Statement Matter For Residency?
Some people think a personal statement is only for formality, and most directors would not take the time to read them thoroughly.
Yet, according to the 2021 NRMP Program Director Survey , the personal statement ranks second with 83.8 percent in terms of deciding whom the program directors want to interview !
Regardless of what others may think, a personal statement can be your gateway to acquiring an interview if it’s appealing enough. Moreover, you may want to keep an eye on your letters of recommendation as it ranks first in the 2021 survey .
However, presenting good letters of recommendation only offers qualitative information. The personal statement allows you to make a case about yourself in qualitative terms directly.
To answer the question of whether a personal statement matters for your residency application, of course, it does! Note that a poorly-written personal statement could hurt your firm application, but a good one could help you advance to the interviews.
What Should I Put In My ERAS Personal Statement?
Remember that a sound ERAS personal statement is not a hundred percent about what you do but better about who you are and how you present your passion, skills, and ambitions .
Your personal statement should contain information not found in your resume — it should offer new details about you . It must highlight what uniquely ties you with your specialty .
Try answering one or two of the queries below and convince the program directors that you are a good fit for them.
- What are your long-term or career plans?
- What outside interests do you have?
- What are your grounds for choosing the specific specialty?
- What accomplishments do you want to emphasize?
- What contributions can you provide to the residency program?
These elements give program directors information about who you are on a deeper level and what kind of associate you would be if you become part of their team.
You may also add a story to spice up your personal statement.
How Long Should An ERAS Personal Statement Be?
There are no specific word counts or number of paragraphs you need to follow to perfect your ERAS personal statement.
You may write long passages but only for proofreading purposes. Chances are, you still have to chop and delete some unnecessary words or phrases.
You know what they say, “less talk, less mistakes.” You don’t have to make your personal statement too long just to prove a point.
More likely, if your personal statement is too long, they won’t take the time to read it. One page single-spaced personal statement could be enough.
The format of your personal statement can be about four paragraphs. Make sure it’s short, precise, and easy to read.
More importantly, the length of your ERAS personal statement should not be your only concern. Plagiarism and grammar must also be on your list of priorities.
Want Better Grades In Med School In Less Time Using Just 3 Steps?
Click Below To Get FREE Access To Our Study Course To Discover The 3-Steps Hundreds Of Med Students Have Used To Increase Their Grades & Efficiency While Studying Less
What Are the Things To Avoid In Writing An ERAS Personal Statement?
After knowing what to put and what to write, it’s time to understand what things you should avoid in writing an ERAS personal statement.
Incorrect Grammar, Spelling, And Punctuation
Check your grammar thoroughly! There are plenty of free apps that may help you with this one.
SpellCheckPlus and Grammarly are some tools you might want to familiarize yourself with to be a better writer.
Don’t overcomplicate your sentences. Make sure not to give your readers a hard time decoding what you’re trying to say.
More importantly, try not to sound like a thesaurus. Be as authentic as you can.
An ERAS Personal Statement Should Not Be Like A Resume
Think of it this way, your CV or resume is the fancy, polished, and summarized version of you in a paper . Your personal statement is your chance to be more personal, honest, and vulnerable .
Give the program directors the chance to connect with you, so don’t just list off your accomplishments and focus exclusively on the momentous shiny parts of your life.
Don’t Make Someone Else The Hero
Yes, you may talk about a few people who have influenced you , but make sure you’re still the story’s main character! It’s a “personal” statement for a reason, not “someone else’s” essay!
When you re-read your personal statement and realize that you have a whole paragraph talking about someone else, scratch them and write a new one.
Don’t Whine In Your ERAS Personal Statement
You can write about the challenges you’ve encountered in your life or how much you’ve grown, but don’t spend too much time discussing how tough you’ve had it . After all, you’re vying for respect, not pity.
Additionally, if you’re talking about overcoming a specific challenge, make sure to focus on them, not just simply brush over it.
Don’t Put Anything Irrelevant
A lack of focus is one of the most common issues in any type of writing. Don’t throw in any information that isn’t relevant to your story.
Every sentence you write must contribute to the overall point of the personal statement . Unless you’re planning to dig deeper into details, it’s much better not to include them.
Should I Put My Red Flags In The Personal Statement?
This question heavily depends on what red flag you’re talking about. As much as we all want to be as honest as we can, sometimes, leaving out some details is the best way to do it.
Putting situations like having a low passing grade on your exams is not something the program committee would want to hear from a medical candidate.
On the other hand, let’s say you failed your first exam on the first try. Don’t make excuses; take ownership of why and what happened , and explain what you’ve learned from such circumstances .
Honestly, it’s all about how serious the red flag is and how far you can explain yourself as truthful and mature.
Do I Need To Hire A Professional To Write An ERAS Personal Statement For Me?
The truth is, you don’t need to hire a professional to write your residency personal statement . As the name suggests, writing one can be done by you personally.
Although you don’t need one, hiring a professional writer who knows what they are doing might help you progress . Take note that writing an ERAS personal statement is not as easy as it sounds.
If you don’t feel like engaging with a professional, try at least asking for others’ opinions regarding your personal statement . This way, you’d receive constructive feedback to further enhance what you’ve written.
I’m not talking about random friends here. Make sure you’re asking the right people — friends who have gone through the ERAS application cycle or faculty with whom you have developed a relationship.
When Should I Start Writing My ERAS Personal Statement?
Give yourself plenty of time to write. Start as early as now !
Most of the time, our first writing draft is not the best one. Generally speaking, you should start working on your residency personal statement as early as possible to have more time for a couple of revisions .
Edit your residency personal statement and proofread it carefully. Remember that every word counts, so take time to edit them until you’re fully satisfied.
Can I Edit My Residency Personal Statement After Uploading It To The ERAS?
Yes, you won’t have to worry about last-minute corrections. ERAS allows applicants to edit their personal statements anytime , but only during the application season!
Although we want to expose the best things about ourselves, sometimes, writing less is more. Always remember that program directors have limited time, so don’t make your ERAS personal statement hard to read at first glance.
Most importantly, a solid residency personal statement may or may not guarantee an interview, but a poorly-crafted one will indeed comprise your shot at the residency program.
Here is a step-by-step course to teach you exactly how to crush your first year of residency, even if you’re unsure of what to expect, overwhelmed by the workload, and even if you are starting to doubt if you’re even cut out to be a doctor.
The Intern Year Survival Guide is designed for any upcoming resident who is overwhelmed by the idea of starting residency but wants the blueprint to crush it as a first-year doctor. Get access here!
If this blog has assisted you in some ways, I’m sure you’ll learn more from these other content:
- How To Write A Medical School Letter Of Intent
- How To Write A Thank You Note After A Residency Interview
- How Tanya Went From C’s To Being A Top Student [Case Study]
- How To Apply As A Nontraditional Medical Student [Ultimate Guide]
- Medical School Interview Outfits
Until the next one, my friend…
Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
This site is supported by our participation in affiliate programs. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. With this said, our opinions are always our own and we do not recommend products we do not like.
© 2020 All rights Reserved. Design by TheMDJourney
Want To Be A Top Student On Your Medical JOurney?
Get access to our free library of video courses, books, and strategies to help increase your grades, productivity, and confidence on your medical journey.
Stick to the ERAS Personal Statement Length & Increase Your Chances
Get to Know ERAS Personal Statement Length and Word Limit to Follow
reating an ERAS personal statement is crucial for the admission process. Since graduates will obtain an advanced diploma, they need to focus on the requirements for the chosen program. A student should know the answer to “How long should ERAS personal statement be?” and what length limit is forbidden to exceed. An ERAS application length is the first thing the admission board checks – they won’t accept too long statements.
An ERAS personal statement is a document submitted via electronic residency application service that facilitates the admission process for applicants, program directors, admission boards, and authors of letters of recommendation. A student submits the needed docs via the MyERAS app, where they can craft personal statements, upload LoRs, transcripts, and other documentation. Since the application is critical for students, keep the length of the needed documents for ERAS® residency applicants from the start.
Concerning personal statement ERAS creation, a student should write a personalized application for each program preserving the needed length. Within the proper length of an ERAS personal statement, a student should highlight personal advantages and prove that they’re worthy candidates for the program. The more suitable facts to provide, the more impressive ERAS personal statement will be, and it’ll be easier to appeal to the admission officers.
Let’s move to the application length. Note that ERAS personal statement length is about 4,000-5,000 characters with spaces equivalent to 900 words. Such a length fits one-two page or a bit more. Don’t overload it with unnecessary information that isn’t relevant. Avoid text redundancy: preserve the defined ERAS personal statement character limit, make it consistent, well-balanced, and reasoned.
Tips on the Proper ERAS Personal Statement Format for a Winning Text
Usually, ERAS personal statement focuses on a student’s interest in the chosen specialization and proves their suitability. The more information you include about accomplishments and experience in your one-page-length ERAS application, the more convincing it’ll sound. You’ll engage the committee easily and match their expectations. Following the required ERAS personal statement formatting and putting fitting content within the proper length can simplify the reviewing process.
We’ve already mentioned the desired length of an application in the previous block. Now let’s see what ERAS personal statement format an applicant should use to fit the demands of the committee without multiple length editing. For getting a perfect ERAS personal statement, a student should outline the next facts:
- Interest in a specialty within an engaging introduction.
- Relevant experience, previous challenges, and goals.
- Extracurricular activities, hobbies, and background.
- Prior rotations, volunteering, or internship.
- Expectations from a residency program.
It’s not enough to enlist your traits and speak only about them throughout the entire length, but it’s vital to embody them with samples from professional life. This way, you’ll manage to control the needed length and won’t overburden the text. Remember all ERAS personal statement requirements, and the text length will be within the norm. Follow proper text layout and length to compose a personalized ERAS personal statement so the chosen program directors can highly assess it. Regarding ERAS personal statement font, you need to apply New Courier 10 font, left and right margins are 0.3 inches, top and bottom margins are 0.8 inches accordingly. Use plain text formatting for ERAS personal statement without any bold, italics, color, etc. If you use this font style, your application length will stay almost unchanged.
Another essential point for a personal statement , besides length and fonts, is preparing the needed docs. It includes a personal statement, several LoRs, COMLEX/USMLE transcript by adding an MSPE doc, and other standard personal documentation. It’s troublesome to select and contain only the most worthy information in one document without exceeding its length. To avoid problems with length, revise your application after writing each block.
Where to Find ERAS Personal Statement Examples and Create a Worthy Doc
Get assured that your ERAS personal statement speaks about your personality & achievements and preserves proper length and style. It has to flow well and sound clear. A personal statement for ERAS should outline your interest in the chosen specialty and your desire to become more qualified.
Here we collected some vital ERAS personal statement tips that will come in handy. Show yourself outside studying, tell about your extracurricular activities. Describe interests that fit the chosen area so that it can strengthen your presentation. Save proper text length to avoid content overload. If you doubt the correctness of the text length to follow, check the major demands once more.
It looks good when speaking about challenges you faced and how you succeeded in solving them. These facts show that you’re able to fix tough problems and make relevant decisions. Avoid telling in your ERAS personal statement old news about your personality, for example, why you want to pursue a medical degree or become a doctor – you already came to be. It’ll just cut ERAS personal statement length.
When preserving the length, don’t mention information in your ERAS statement that doesn’t offer context to your career choice. Focus on the present by considering past actions to advance and future intentions to show your ambitions. Miss introductory information about your specialty to save PS length. Stay honest and consistent, and don’t make up a story everybody would want to see in your ERAS personal statement. Always mind the needed length and check it each time.
To sum up, if something seems complex or you hesitate about proper text length, you can find ERAS personal statement examples on the trusted academic sources and check their length easily. Usually, some works are available on the sections dedicated to applying process or search it on professional writing services or writing forums. You’ll have no issues about the length and the question of how to write ERAS personal statement on your own following the given samples. You can ask your assigned supervisor or college tutor to give a piece of advice concerning your application format and length so that you can’t fail this task.
Residency Personal Statement Sample
Can Our Family Medicine Personal Statement Sample Help You? According to the figures issued by the NRMP Match over 11,000 of those graduates that applied for a residency were not matched in the last year, you can also read about the medical residency in...
Finding Out How to Write a Personal Statement for Residency Easily
Personalizing Personal Statements for Residency to Sound Convincing In various how to write a personal statement for residency solutions, you can find excellent tips. However, you need to remain with yourself. You can write an application doc about the...
- Residency Application
ERAS Timeline: The Absolute Best Timeline to Match to Your Dream Program
Which ERAS timeline should you follow? How does the residency match work? In short, medical students are matched into residency programs using a computer algorithm that considers the preferences of both students and programs. For a match to occur, the applicant and the program must both rank each other and there must still be space available in the program.
In the United States, the process is coordinated by the Electronic Residency Application Service ( ERAS ) and the National Residency Matching Program ( NRMP ). Each year, thousands of residency applicants compete for residency spots throughout America. Applying to residency can be stressful, so this blog will go over the best ERAS timeline to match to any program.Note that specific application season dates can vary from year-to-year, so it is important to verify the exact dates for each application cycle.
Note : If you want us to help you with your applications, interviews and/or standardized tests, book a free strategy call . If you are a university, business, or student organization representative and want to partner with us, visit our partnerships page .
Article Contents 10 min read
Eras timeline: prior to application season.
Although the ERAS season does not open until early June, and residency programs will not begin reviewing application materials until October, it is advantageous to begin planning for application season well in advance. Proper planning will help to ensure that the application process goes smoothly, that you will have ample time to secure strong letters of recommendation, that your application materials are of the highest quality, and that you have time to consult with experts for feedback before deadlines begin to approach.
For candidates using ERAS and NRMP, here is a timeline of key dates that will culminate in Match Week:
- Early June – Acquire your token to access MyERAS.
- Contact your Designated Dean’s Office who will issue you an ERAS token, which is a one-time access code used to register on MyERAS.
- Begin CASPer preparation. Make sure that you understand how the CASPer test is scored and how long it will take to prepare for CASPer. Review our blogs to learn how to prepare for CASPer and to review CASPer sample questions.
- Start of June – ERAS application season opens.
- Use your ERAS token to register in MyERAS and begin working on your application.
- Utilize the ERAS guides and worksheets to determine what type of information you will need to gather to complete your application.
- As you work on your application, search for your programs of interest and save them to apply to later. Saving a program will allow you to organize the documents required for each program.
- Be diligent as you complete your ERAS application, you can only register once.
- Applicants must register with both the ERAS and the NRMP to use the services of each.
- If you are interested in plastic surgery, ophthalmology, or urology, make sure to register for early match using the correct service. The military also has its own match program with its own timeline.
Looking for tips on how to make your ERAS application a cut above the rest? Check out our video with 7 tips to make your ERAS application stand out:
Begin interview prep. Review our residency tips and prepare for common residency interview questions and MMI questions . If you're applying to emergency medicine programs, check out our guide for acing the Standardized Video Interview (SVI) .
- Most medical students will apply using ERAS and will match through the NRMP system; however, there are some exceptions:
- Urology – Candidates will apply in ERAS, but match into residency through the American Urological Association (AUA) Match service.
- Ophthalmology & Plastic Surgery – Candidates will apply and match with a service known as the San Francisco (SF) Match, check timelines for each type of program as they can vary.
- Military Match - Some aspects of the military match process are similar to the civilian process. Applicants still use ERAS to upload their personal statement and letters of recommendation, but military students will use a different online ranking program. The decision-making process involves negotiation between specialties, programs, faculty and applicants.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best time to apply using ERAS?
It's best if your entire application is completed and submitted to ERAS on the day that the application process opens for your given specialty. The sooner your application is submitted, the sooner it can be reviewed by programs and the more flexibility you will have in securing interviews.
2. How do I find out which specialties and programs will be participating with ERAS?
A list of participating specialties and programs can be found on the ERAS website. If a program does not participate in ERAS, contact that program directly to determine how to apply.
3. When I register with MyERAS, am I automatically registered to participate in the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP)?
No, registering with ERAS does not register you for the NRMP or any other matching service. You must register separately through the matching service for your specialty.
4. Does the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) count as a letter of recommendation?
No, the MSPE is not a letter of recommendation. It is a separate requirement for the ERAS application.
5. What does the MSPE look like?
The MSPE does not have a standard format and it is up to each medical school to decide what format they would like to use. The MSPE includes six sections: Identifying Information, Noteworthy Characteristics, Academic History, Academic Progress, Summary, and Medical School Information. Ask your medical school if you can review your MSPE before it is submitted to ERAS. Please note that most schools do not allow any student alterations to the MSPE, but you may be able to see it (although some programs may allow you to see it only AFTER your application is submitted). This will allow you to understand its contents and even ask for revisions to be made. If you cannot secure a MSPE from your medical school, you will need to indicate this within the ERAS application and a neutral placeholder letter will be provided for you to use instead.
6. Does submitting my ERAS application early give me an advantage over other applicants?
For the ERAS application cycle, residency programs will begin reviewing applications in Mid - October. Applications submitted early will not be reviewed before this date, so you will have no distinct advantage in regards to residencies seeing your application early. Many residency programs will not review applications until MSPEs are released. Once residency programs begin reviewing applications, if you are still working on your application, aim to submit as soon as possible to ensure the best chances for securing interviews at your programs of interest.
However, we do recommend getting your documents ready for submission in advance of the deadline so you are not feeling rushed. Remember, you will be in your clerkship year and may be quite busy, so ensure you start preparing your documents in advance.
7. What if I am an International Medical Graduate (IMG) applying for residency in the United States or Canada?
Check out our blog on International Medical Graduates , which outlines the eligibility criteria for IMGs in Canada and the United States, how to prepare your residency application, tips for writing your personal statement, and recommendations for how to prepare for a coveted residency interview.
Matching to your top residency program is the next big step in your medical career and it can be a daunting process. You are competing with thousands of other applicants for limited spots, so don’t delay in getting started on your ERAS application. Give yourself ample time to work on your CV, secure strong letters of recommendation, and perfect your personal statement – these are all important documents that will need to be uploaded to ERAS in a timely manner. As you complete your ERAS application, be as diligent as possible since you can only register once. Remember that registering for ERAS does not automatically register you for NRMP, you will need to register for each system separately. Lastly, pay attention to unique deadlines for certain specialty programs. Once your ERAS application is submitted, and the interview season is underway, BeMo will be here to help with interview strategies and preparation. We are here to support you every step of the way leading up to Match Day!
Prefer to watch a quick video instead?
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!
Anything we didn't cover? Have a question? Ask below or share your comments!
Residency Personal Statement Examples: The Best 20 in
Most Competitive & Least Competitive Residencies in
How to Create a Memorable Residency Letter of Intent: The Guide
International Medical Graduate: The Ultimate Guide
Get Started Now
Talk to one of our admissions experts
FREE Training Webinar:
How to make your residency application stand out, (and avoid the top 5 reasons most applicants don't match their top choice program).
Time Sensitive. Limited Spots Available:
We guarantee you'll match a residency program or we don't get paid.
Swipe up to see a great offer!
Sign up to our Newsletter
Residency Application Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide
Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University
The residency application personal statement is an essential part of applying to residency programs. You might feel intimidated by the personal statement component. We get it.
It can be challenging to write about yourself and do justice to your life experiences within the space of one page (in the Electronic Residency Application Service, or ERAS, one page is 3500 characters including spaces).
Perhaps you are struggling with what to include in your personal statement, what to avoid, and how to tell a compelling story about yourself that highlights your unique, admirable qualities and convinces program directors to invite you for an interview. You are not alone in feeling anxious about writing a captivating personal statement.
For many people, the blank page is daunting and mysterious, but it doesn’t have to be. Our residency application personal statement ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know to write an outstanding personal statement that is powerful, professional, and polished.
Get The Ultimate Guide on Writing an Unforgettable Personal Statement
Importance of Your Personal Statement in a Residency Application
The importance of your personal statement in a residency application cannot be overstated. Yes, you have secured solid letters of recommendation from physicians and crushed your USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination), but 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 and review thousands of standardized, quantitative factors across the board like grades and test scores. They also read thousands of personal statements so they really 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. Because of how competitive residency programs can be, your personal statement may very well be the tiebreaker that leads to your acceptance into a top residency program over another applicant.
While a strong personal statement might not be enough to make up for low exam scores, a weak personal statement will definitely hurt an otherwise strong application.
What Should You Include in Your Personal Statement?
Knowing what you should include in your personal statement will help you get started. Your residency personal 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 that make you well-suited to a residency program and will help you succeed.
- Your long-term plans as a practicing physician after you complete your residency. This can include what you hope to accomplish in your residency and your preferred setting.
- What attracts you to a particular residency program and how it would make you a good fit.
Ultimately, program directors are looking for residents who are not only the best candidates but also the best colleagues to work with and train. A combination of the suggestions outlined above will give program directors a good sense of what it would be like to have you on their team.
Choosing a Specialty and Your Personal Statement
Before you get started on your personal statement, you should be absolutely 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 personal statement fails to convey solid, meaningful reasons for why you’re pursuing the chosen specialty, then 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.
Getting Started on Your Personal Statement
Staring at a blank page and racking your brain trying to think of what to say feels overwhelming. It’s also not the best way to begin because it lacks organization, resulting in an incoherent, poorly constructed personal statement. To begin drafting your personal statement, brainstorm. Brainstorming allows you the freedom to be creative and informal.
You do not have to worry about grammar, spelling, or editing when you brainstorm. You simply want to write all your ideas down and get your creative juices flowing. After you have a body of ideas to choose from, you can work on weaving one or several of those elements into a strong, concise narrative for your personal statement.
The following questions will help you get started brainstorming ideas for your personal statement:
- What first drew you to the residency?
- What are your greatest qualities, and how have you demonstrated these qualities? Focus on a few qualities that are desirable for a medical professional to possess during residency.
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- Name an experience, clinical or otherwise, that had a significant impact on 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, the purpose of brainstorming is 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 in your personal statement.
How to Write Your Residency Application Personal Statement
Now that you have completed your preliminary brainstorming, let’s go over how to write your personal statement for residency. Later in this guide, we will go over some samples of other applicants’ personal statements and analyze what makes them successful. In this section, we’ll cover a few tips to keep in mind on how to write your 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 personal statement. 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 that hobby and tie it together with your goals for your residency.
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 residency. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is important that your personal statement remains about you. Program directors often read personal statements that include information about the residency program that they already know and not enough information about the candidate.
Shift your tone to reflect on the things that make you desirable to the specific 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
Cite real incidents where you have demonstrated qualities. When you write about yourself and your desirable qualities, avoid generic and superficial declarative statements. 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 the ways in which 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 residency and what you would like 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 residency has to offer.
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, and not on over-explaining a program to its own directors.
Cite Strong Reasons to Choose a Particular Specialty
Include examples from your career. Clearly outline your interest in a particular specialty. Program directors want to be convinced of your understanding of and interest in a specialty. Highlight the things you have done in your career to explore a specialty and detail some of your insights and observations. 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. Perhaps you have a unique personal or professional achievement that isn’t 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 achieved 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 who is reliable, credible, and genuine.
Address Areas of Improvement on Your Application
If there are anomalies anywhere in your application, such as gap years or leaves of absence, address them in your personal statement 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 personal 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.
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:
- Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. Don’t assume that your reader knows everything. Be courteous and spell everything out.
- Avoid informal, casual writing and poor sentence structure. Be professional and make sure your personal statement is free of grammatical and spelling errors.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid vague and generic language. The most seasoned writers draw readers in with rich detail and nuance.
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 residency personal statement will get you closer to being accepted at your top residency choice.
Inspira Advantage is here for you. We are an admissions consulting firm with extensive experience helping candidates get accepted to their dream graduate schools with scholarships. Our superstar team of former admissions officers, MDs, nurses, and other accomplished, empathetic professionals would love to learn more about your career goals.
We will support you every step of the way, and our team will provide comprehensive assistance with every aspect of your residency application, including personal statement assistance.
Examples of Residency Personal Statements
It is advantageous to read examples of residency personal statements that program directors consider to be effective. Not only will you gain insight on how to structure your own personal statement, but you will also learn why program directors and career advisors find certain personal statements to be more successful than others. Let’s dig right in.
University of California San Francisco:
The medical residency statement, dissected .
Take a look at Fred Garcia’s residency personal statement. Notice how he uses a few personal experiences to weave a strong narrative, much like a thesis that has rich details to support the overall theme. Fred’s personal statement is well-organized, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and includes the desirable qualities of a physician.
In addition Fred highlights his strengths as a candidate and his reasons for choosing the residency. Be sure to read the program directors’ analysis of his personal statement and take note of what makes each paragraph strong and authentic.
University of Washington School of Medicine:
Six example residency statements .
UW School of Medicine provides residency applicants with six examples of residency personal statements. These personal statements were written by applicants who were successfully matched and went into residencies in their chosen specialties.
Program directors and career advisors have offered comments on each personal statement detailing what works and what could be improved. Be sure to pay particular attention to their feedback and tailor your personal statement to encompass similar elements.
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 personal statement.
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 residency program you apply to, but you should write a personal statement for every specialty. For example, prepare one personal statement for family medicine, and one personal statement 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 personal statements should be tailored for the specific specialty.
4. If I’m interested in a non-traditional path after residency, should I write about it in my personal statement?
If you are interested in pursuing non-traditional paths after residency such as consulting or pharmaceutical work, it’s probably best not to divulge those goals in your residency personal statement. Your personal statement should cover topics that are relevant to the specialty. Remember, you have limited space, so you want to make sure that every word counts.
5. Where can I find more samples of residency personal statements to inspire me?
See if your chosen residency’s website offers guidelines and samples of personal statements. Check with your career office from your undergraduate studies, old classmates, and recent graduates. You can also find inspiration from non-traditional sources. For example, if you are feeling blocked in general, read great fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
You can even read famous autobiographies and memoirs to see how authors tell fascinating stories about their experiences. Your writing will come easier if you are in a mental space that appreciates the use of language and storytelling.
6. I’m still struggling with the structure of my personal statement. What should I do?
There is no singular, correct recipe for arranging your personal statement. If you read other personal statements, you will find variations in how applicants chose to approach them. For example, some people will lead with a personal anecdote highlighting their qualities.
Others will lead with a statement of their professional objectives and then cite a few experiences that align with those goals. Read a variety of sample personal statements and use an outline that works for your experiences.
Writing a residency application personal statement is stressful, but our step-by-step guide will make the process of writing a well-crafted and unique personal statement much easier. Now go forth and match into the residency program of your dreams. We believe in you.
Schedule A Free Consultation
You may also like.
A photo file should not exceed these requirements: Dimensions: 2.5 in. x 3.5 in. Resolution: 150dpi File Size: 150kb Personal Statement The personal statement may be used to personalize the application to a specific program or to different specialties.
The structure of the personal statement should be about 4 paragraphs. You do not want it to be more than one page single-spaced (standard font like arial or times new roman, size 12). If your personal statement is too long, it is even more likely for programs to not read it completely.
Why does the residency personal statement matter? The personal statement is an essay of about a page (one page in ERAS is 3,500 characters including spaces) in which you articulate who you are and why you want to enter a certain specialty.
A residency personal statement should be under 750 words. I shoot for a length of 650-700 with my clients. Yes, ERAS allows a whole lot more. Don't take the bait. You'll be a laughingstock if you submit a personal statement that's overly long or ridiculously short.
How long is everyone's personal statement on ERAS? Looks like they changed the format again? I uploaded a draft which is 1.5 pages/1000+ words on default Word settings (entirely too long), and it came out to be exactly one page on ERAS. Old advice for PS seems to be 1 page limit on ERAS, but that seems waaaay too generous. This thread is archived
The personal statement is occasionally a chance to "make" your application, but it's always a risk to "break" it. Keep in mind: it's only 1 page (literally—it should fit on no more than one page when printed from the ERAS application, which is somewhere around 750-800 words on the longer end; 600-650 is a better goal; mine was around 500).
ERAS permits 28,000 characters for your essay - around 7,000 words! - but no residency director wants to read even close to that much. Instead, stick to a one-page essay - usually 600-800 words - that addresses your key points. Your essay will be more effective if you're more to the point and concise. In order to do that well,
for fellowship, mine was ~400 words and I got >10 interviews. the personal statement is just a huge waste of time for all parties, it should be done away with. for residency, mine was ~600 words and I had no shortage of interviews as well. say what needs to be said, don't say too much, and play it safe. don't talk about doing telepsych for ...
3.Don't exceed one page: No matter how fascinating you think you are, no one wants to read a long statement. Program directors have to examine hundreds of statements, often in long, exhausting sessions. Get to the point. 4.Don't pretend you're someone you're not: Be realistic about your trajectory.
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!
Everything I find online says that it should be around 650-850. After plugging it into ERAS and looking at the preview, I am well over with a full paragraph on the second page. It seems that one ERAS preview page is 640 words max. After venturing to SDN, seems that there might be different formatting for the preview vs how PDs will view it.
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.
One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 - this will be acceptable for most residency programs. Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?
Step 3: Figure Out Your Angle. Your "angle," or focus, in your graduate school personal statement will depend on a few key factors: What your grad program wants you to write about. Your field of study and research interests. How much experience you have in your field.
As long as you have not clicked "Certify and Submit," you can change any information you have filled out at any time. There will be a section on your application with the heading, "Biographical Information." ... ERAS Personal Statement. Your ERAS personal statement is an opportunity for residency programs to get to know you and to ...
Personal Statement ERAS Application Form Completion Work on Residency Admission Docs Is a Real Strain, Isn't It? Hereupon, we'll be doing the stressful task of preparing the required application package! Request Assistance More Bonuses 14 Days of Chargeless Editing
The personal statement can be no longer than one typed page on the ERAS system. This usually corresponds to a document between 750 and 850 words. Ensure that your statement fits in the ERAS allotted space, because the program will eliminate all lines that exceed its length restrictions. Questions to the Expert Melissa S. Professional Essay Editor.
5. Don't be afraid of the editing process. Be sure to write more than one draft. Ask additional people to review and make edits to your essay. Having others read your essay will help you gain new perspectives on your writing and refine the story you want to tell admissions committees. 6.
The format of your personal statement can be about four paragraphs. Make sure it's short, precise, and easy to read. More importantly, the length of your ERAS personal statement should not be your only concern. Plagiarism and grammar must also be on your list of priorities. Want Better Grades In Med School In Less Time Using Just 3 Steps?
Note that ERAS personal statement length is about 4,000-5,000 characters with spaces equivalent to 900 words. Such a length fits one-two page or a bit more. Don't overload it with unnecessary information that isn't relevant.
Applicants still use ERAS to upload their personal statement and letters of recommendation, but military students will use a different online ranking program. The decision-making process involves negotiation between specialties, programs, faculty and applicants. Frequently Asked Questions. 1. What is the best time to apply using ERAS?
Avoid informal, casual writing and poor sentence structure. Be professional and make sure your personal statement is free of grammatical and spelling errors. 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.