Personal Statement Tips
- First and foremost, never underestimate the power of a good personal statement. I personally believe that I got a couple of interviews (at least) because of my ps and it did come up in 3-4 interviews. similarly, a bad personal statement can really hurt your application.
- I believe no one else can write a personal statement about you other than yourself. look at the literal meaning: it is a personal statement, you are telling the reader what you have to say
- Think!! you’ll really have to dig deep into yourself to find the right answers to why you’re doing it. and even if you have no idea, you’ll have time to ask around, explore options, and set the tone of your personal statement.
- You don’t need to start with a quote or an impressive one-liner. honestly, it’s been done to death. however, if you have something really eye-catching that looks genuine and really grabs the attention of the reader, go for it.
A COMMON/GENERALLY ACCEPTED FORMAT FOR A PERSONAL STATEMENT SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- About you (your nature, your background)
- Why did you choose (Subject- medicine)/how did you end up in medical school
- Why did you like the subject you’re applying for (IM/FM/PAED)?
This Is Very Important And You Need To Give Substantial Answers Because You’re Choosing This Career Path For The Rest Of Your Life
- What are your personality traits that will augment your journey as a resident? (eg. curious/love kids/like to build a long term relationship with the patient)
- A brief mention of your future goals (if you don’t have any, be diplomatic and mention that you’re passionate about medicine yet open-minded about the future and want to explore all of your options during your residency)
- Finally, end well. if you want to add a personalized sentence or two about each program and why you would be a good fit there. however, it is optional. I personally did not do it.
- Keep it very structured, you could build it as origin-àmedical school and subject-àafter medical school-àwhy usmle/us clinical experience-àfuture goals and things you can bring to the program.
- If you have any objective achievements, do mention them subtly. do not mention your usmle scores, just about any scholarships, awards, or anything else that sets you apart.
- You will have to address any red flags on your application like failures, big score drops, etc. have a good explanation but do maintain the element of honesty.
keep it short! this is the hardest part but you need to keep your ps around 600-700 words, 800 words are the max. the simple reason is there will be thousands of applications, and people will initially have a minute to review your ps. a rule of thumb is to keep the final draft limited to a page.
please do not ask anyone for their personal statement! it is considered highly unprofessional if not an outright violation of rules. you will be influenced in one way or the other and might knowingly or unknowingly borrow some of their points.
Do not plagiarize, fabricate or lie in your personal statement, this will get you in serious trouble and may even end up with you never matching, ever.
About putting in emotional stuff: this is kind of a grey area. program directors are people too, some people like it and some do not. so you can go for it if you want. but do not get overly emotional or cheesy, that is a definite no-no. if you wish to portray hardships, do so from a position of strength and positivity.
Do ask for help polishing your personal statement. but I would advise you to ask only a select few people you think are the fittest. the simple reason is that you will get a lot of comments, and might end up being confused. everyone has a different personal view, and what you really need is for them to polish it without imposing their own views.
Be prepared to completely change your ps 2-3 times. if you get it right for the first time, that’s great. but chances are, in the end, your personal statement will be completely different from what you started with.
Some good people to ask for edits are your seniors who matched, (if you know any), us physicians or residents.
It won’t be perfect, some stuff will be left out! this is simply because of the brevity of the ps. you will have to decide what are the things you really need to express.
About professional services offering to edit your ps / write it for you: I would definitely recommend not to do that. simply because you don’t know what they do, or trust them. the other reason is they will be doing the same thing for tens (if not hundreds) of students and they are humans, even their creativity is limited. and I always feel that the programs can distinguish between a generic ps and a truly personal one.
Finally, enjoy the process! they are giving you a chance to express yourself and really show them how you feel subjectively. try to make the most of it.