Tuesday, June 1, 2021

How to write a Personal Statement for Residency

 

How to write a Personal Statement for residency


How to begin

  1. Daily start writing down ideas in Evernote/any app which lets you take notes
  2. Think of a strong patient interaction/personal story where you helped the patient and which also shows your medicine-related skills/knowledge/work ethic. Make it about yourself, what you did, and how it helped you. Do not write the entire history of the patient.
  3. Either with the same story as above or explain the reason/reasons why you are interested in that particular field.
  4. Make a list of your hobbies/ non-medical experiences and find a common connection between that skill set, which can actually help you during residency.
  5. Read loads of sample personal statements from google!!!
  6. Do not copy them (plagiarism is HARMFUL). 
  7. Once you are done, send your draft to mentors/English professors/seniors etc.
  8. Make sure there are absolutely no grammatical errors. (English being a 2nd language is not an excuse for poor grammar).

 

Don’t’s

        This is not the time to show off your creative writing skills. We are applying for a residency, not a literature graduate position. Keep it simple and easy to read.

        Do not use super-long sentences. IMGs have a tendency of using a lot of ‘and’ and writing 3-4 line long sentences. Keep it short.

        Target content that fits into one page. 600-700 words approx. Don’t go over 800, don’t stay under 500.

        Do not use negative incidents/ bad mouth your home school or resources.

        Don’t lie. You will get caught. If you say you have worked on multiple research projects and if you are unable to answer basic questions regarding your research, you WON’T be selected.

        You never know how much importance programs give to the PS, so always make sure it is a well-written PS.

        Don’t quote your CV.

        Don’t use clichés or common quotes.

        Don’t start every sentence with “I.”

        Come across as arrogant. This is the place to showcase your strengths, but in a humble way.

 

 

How to divide paragraphs: 1st paragraph

        The first and last paragraphs are the most commonly read parts. Make them interesting and strong. It should be personalized.

        Begin strong: Story/Hobby/What got you into medical school or you can skip that and talk about what got you interested in your specialty.

        It should be a story about yourself and how it relates to your specialty, not just a history of the patient you saw.

 

DON’T’s

·        “Every patient has a story to tell.”

·        Some major illness in the family/ death motivated me to become a physician.

·        “I love to travel. Each journey takes us down a different path. Each journey inspired a new thought. I feel medicine is similar to traveling. Every patient has his own journey and I want to be there to make it fruitful for them.” (This is not the right analogy. Travel and medicine have nothing in common)

·        “I will never forget ___”

·        “I grew up with dermatology in my blood”

 

DO’s

·        “Growing up in rural ____, I experienced ____. Here I realized _____. The strict value system of perseverance and dedication led me to ____.”

·        Start with your hobby.
E.g. Football….team sport….captain of the football team….motivated my team, resolved conflicts. At the same time I realized, that whenever someone got hurt, I would assist my coach with first aid. I realized that my inclination for helping my injured team mates extended beyond the football field. Bridge it into medical school and how you continued doing the same. Got you interested in EM/ortho etc.

·        “Medicine is a field in which my love for pathophysiology and my commitment to serving others can continue to grow. I have a strong desire to use my problem-solving abilities while helping people through their most difficult times.” And then give an example justifying these 2 statements.

 

 

How to divide paragraphs: 2nd, 3rd and 4th paragraphs

        Talk about your strengths in a very SUBTLE way, citing examples.

        Talk about your achievements and extra curriculars, your motivation and end it with what skill-set you derived from it.

        Include hobbies. Connect them with medicine and how it will make you a better resident.

        Relate how your actions and experiences during medical school will make you a strong physician.

        What will you bring to their program?

        Don’t quote your CV.

        Show who you are as a person, not just as an ideal medical student.

 DO’s

        Talk about your strengths in a very SUBTLE way, citing examples.

        Talk about your achievements and extra curriculars, your motivation and end it with what skill-set you derived from it.

        Include hobbies. Connect them with medicine and how it will make you a better resident.

        Relate how your actions and experiences during medical school will make you a strong physician.

        What will you bring to their program?

        Don’t quote your CV.

        Show who you are as a person, not just as an ideal medical student.

 DON’T’s

·        I love IM as it is such a broad field with a vast number of diseases.
(Same goes for FM and Peds and all other branches. Avoid such blanket statements.)

·        I want to be trained to manage patients on my own and do right by them to be one of the best in my field.
(Umm…isn’t this what residency is about. Everyone wants that. What is it that you are specifically looking for?)

·        Also, avoid “I love” “I want to”

·        “IM combines the wide spectrum of exotic and the mundane illness, providing a scope of touching maximum lives.”
Do you mean to say FM/EM/ortho/surgery etc. do not provide this?

·        “My mentor taught me more about medicine and how to approach a patient better than I had learned in all of my classes.”
Do not put your other classes in a negative light.

 

 

How to divide paragraphs: last paragraph

        Summerise.

        Tie in all your major attributes.

        Talk about: What you are looking for in a program

        Talk about: Where do you see yourself in a few years?

 DO’s

        I will bring to residency energy, enthusiasm, integrity, and ability. I expect a challenging, rich environment in which to learn and practice good medicine.

        I know I have set high goals for myself: clinician, educator, and health advocate. The majority of the time I find working with underserved populations extremely rewarding; however, it can also be emotionally demanding.

        The combination of working at an individual level to address health needs and at a more macroscopic level to affect health policy is synergistic for me.

        I eagerly await the unique privilege of participating in such a rewarding and exciting field of patient care.

 DON’T’s

        Don’t be too specific regarding fellowship goals unless you are absolutely sure.

        If you are sure regarding your fellowship, your CV should have enough experience to back it up.

        “Medicine encompasses numerous areas that I have always found intriguing. Becoming a physician is a lifelong dream that will fulfill both my personal and career goals.”
What are the goals? State them. What are the intriguing areas? It is a vague sentence. Avoid fluff.

        “My career goal is to enter a university-based anesthesiology program.”
Then community programs (forming a major chunk of interviews for IMGs, will not call you for an interview. Be diplomatic.


Time Frame

         June 1st half: Begin jotting down ideas and writing sentences. Focus on ideas. Don’t worry about sounding smart/grammar right now.

        June 2nd half: Start compiling the ideas and sentences into paragraphs. Check the flow. Keep reading samples to understand how to write it.

        July 1st half: Make your 1st draft. Send it to seniors/attendings/mentors.

        July 2nd half: Incorporate the changes suggested by them and make another draft.

        Aug 1st half: Send it out for suggestions again.

        Aug 2nd half: Make a final draft. Here your ideas, stories, hobbies, major points should be finalized and free-flowing. Now run a final grammar check. Send it to someone with professional level English for edits and grammar.

        Sept 1st week: Final draft ready

 

Take away

        Personal Statements might not fetch you interviews unless it is extra-ordinary. You will get interviews based on your scores and other aspects of the application.

        You may lose out on an interview due to a bad PS. (Incorrect grammar, poorly written)

        Interviewers love to talk about the hobbies mentioned in the personal statement, so make sure they are real!!

        They are looking to know you as a person, so make sure your PS does not describe 1000s of other medical students as well.

        Once you land an interview, the PS might play a role in getting you ranked high. The program wants a candidate that would ‘Match’ their expectations!

 

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