10 Tips For Writing
An Effective Medical Residency
Unlike the case of other college and university admission essays and statements, there is a definite approach and technique for writing an effective personal statement when applying for a medical residency position.
In my ebook about writing personal statements, I detail what I have developed over the years as, “17 Essential Guidelines For Writing A Medical Residency Personal Statement”. Below is an abridged version of what I consider to be the 10 most critical of those 17 guidelines.
10 Tips For Writing A More Effective Medical Residency Personal Statement
Lead With Your Best Shot
A strong leading sentence is an essential strategy for drafting a personal statement or letter that will have impact. Review Committee members often have to speed-scan dozens of residency applications, so you need to “grab” the reader’s attention from the very first paragraph. A provocative lead sentence will be difficult to ignore.
Make It Personal
Be sure that your personal statement tells enough about who you are as a person and a medical professional. Who exactly are you? What makes you unique? What influences have shaped you? How do you see the world and medicine? What do you have to offer as a person and a physician? How have your experiences changed you? What will you bring to the institution you are targeting?
Write It For The Committee
When you are planning and writing your statement, keep in mind at all times who you think will be reading it. That will usually be some type of Review Committee comprised of medical specialists in the area for which you are applying. Try to picture these people in your mind’s eye as you write. What would they expect? What kind of information will they be looking for? Are you making statements appropriate for that audience?
Don’t Repeat What They Already Know
Make sure that your statement focuses on answering the specific question(s) posed in the residency application documents and doesn’t digress off topic. Do not reiterate information that is redundant, such as that which is already included in other parts of your application package, such as your cv.
Answer the Specific Question(s)
Be sure to answer the exact question(s) that is being posed. Most institutions will ask very specific questions in their instructions for residency application. You have to assume that they worded those questions as they did for very specific reasons. When you are at the final draft stage, go back to the original question(s) and make sure that you have answered it properly and completely.
Target the Institution If Possible
It is important that your personal statement makes it clear why you are applying to that particular institution. Find ways to weave the target institution and/or program into your statement by reviewing the institution’s website and looking for statements like: mission, vision, guiding principles, institutional priorities, etc. You will notice certain recurring words, phrases, principles, and/or ideas. Slant your statement to incorporate one or more of these themes.
Focus On Your Uniqueness
To get the attention of the Review Committee, you want your statement to make you somehow stand out among perhaps dozens of other applicants. What special interests and/or hobbies do you have? It would be hard to go through medical school without encountering some interesting and/or unusual cases that you can relate to your choice of specialty. Try to weave one or more of these points into your statement in an interesting and relevant way.
Avoid Controversial Issues
Your personal statement is not the place to try to convert people to your point of view; so stay away from controversial subjects. Members of the Review Committee will be from all kinds of backgrounds, socio-economic groups, political persuasions, and religions. So, regardless of your personal beliefs, do not write on a subject that might offend or cause some sort of misunderstanding. Specifically; avoid writing about politics, religion, or controversial social issues such as the legalization of marijuana, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, etc.
Provide Supporting Details
To make your personal statement more interesting and to give it more credibility, make sure that you provide supporting details and examples. Involve the reader by using colors, smells, visual descriptions, and feelings. These are things to which most people can easily relate. The “human” connection is important for drawing readers into your personal statement and showing that you’ve “been there and done that.” Engage the reader on the human level and they will relate to you more as a person.
Proof Read and Edit Carefully
It is critical for your credibility that you make sure that the spelling and grammar used in your personal statement are correct. You will almost always be submitting your personal statement to an institution affiliated with an educational institution. It is therefore likely to be reviewed by highly educated professionals in the medical field with above-average writing skills. Accordingly, there is no faster way to lose your credibility than to submit a personal statement riddled with typos and/or grammatical errors. Use the spell-checker and grammar checker included with your word processing software. Make sure you check and then double-check.
To see the expanded version of these tips with explanations and examples, you might want to check out my comprehensive ebook on this subject – which includes downloadable real-life personal statement templates. Just click on the following link:
For additional information and tips about writing medical residency personal statements in general, you can check out my medical residency resources page:
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