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 © 2024 American Academy of Family Physicians. All Rights Reserved.

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The Residency Personal Statement (2023/2024): The Insider’s Guide (with Examples)

Residency Match Personal Statement

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 2024.

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 2024 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.

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.

About MedEdits

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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.

Suggested outline:

  • 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.

Suggested Outline:

  • 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.

Final Thoughts

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 Statement Page 1

Sample Residency Personal Statements

Residency Personal Statement Example Page 2

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example personal statement residency

Personal Statement

Personal statements may be used to customize the application to a specific program or to different specialties. 

In This Section:

Creating the personal statement, formatting the personal statement, previewing the personal statement, reviewing/editing the personal statement, assigning the personal statement.

You create your own personal statements in the MyERAS portal from the Personal Statements section listed under Documents. 

  • Each personal statement must contain a Personal Statement Title and the Personal Statement Content. The title will be visible only to you to help you correctly assign it to programs, and the content will be visible to both you and the programs it is assigned to. 
  • The personal statement is limited to 28,000 characters, which include letters, numbers, spaces, and punctuation marks. 
  • There is not a limit to how many personal statements applicants can create. 
  • Personal statements created outside the MyERAS application should be done in a plain text word processing application such as Notepad (for Windows users) or SimpleText (for Mac users). The statement should reflect your personal perspective and experiences accurately and must be your own work and not the work of another author or the product of artificial intelligence. 
  • Personal statements created in word processing applications not using plain text may contain hidden and invalid formatting. 
  • Note: A number of websites provide examples of personal statements. Do not copy any information from these sites and use it in your personal statements without giving credit to the author. Such use is considered plagiarism. 
  • The ERAS program will investigate any suspected acts of plagiarism. 
  • Any substantiated findings of plagiarism may result in the reporting of such findings to the programs to which you apply now and in subsequent ERAS seasons. 

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When creating a personal statement in the MyERAS application, the following formatting options will be available: 

  • Underline. 
  • Strikethrough. 
  • Numbering. 
  • Align left. 
  • Align right. 
  • Increase indent. 
  • Decrease indent. 
  • Insert hyperlink. 

After entering the personal statement title and content, you will have the opportunity to preview your personal statement before saving it. This preview allows you to view your personal statement just as the programs will view it, including the number of pages.  

You are responsible for reviewing your personal statements before assigning them to programs. 

The Preview/Print option under the Actions column will allow you to view and/or print your personal statement. 

Personal statements can be edited at any point during the application season — even when assigned to programs that have been applied to. 

Personal statements that have been edited will be reflected on the programs’ side by an updated status containing the date of the updated version, but programs are not guaranteed to view or review updated versions of personal statements. 

You may designate the assignment of one personal statement for each program. 

  • Personal statements can be assigned to any saved or applied to programs from the Personal Statements page by selecting “Assign” under the Actions column of the intended personal statement. 
  • When assigning by personal statement, programs listed with a disabled checkbox already have the selected personal statement currently assigned. 
  • When assigning by personal statement, you should review any personal statements that are listed under the Assigned Personal Statement column before making selections or changes. 
  • Personal statements can be assigned by program using the Assign option under the Actions column on both the Saved Programs and Programs Applied To pages. 
  • Changes to personal statement assignments can be made throughout the application season, but programs are not guaranteed to view or review newly assigned personal statements. 
  • A personal statement cannot be assigned to programs that are closed. 
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Personal Statements

Your CV is a beautiful, readable, error-free summary of your accomplishments. You are moving on to your personal statement. You are ready, in one page, to tell residency program directors why they should select you, everything that has led you to this moment, to this decision, to this specialty choice. No pressure at all!

This blank page can be intimidating to many students. You are not alone. Take your time, so you can write several drafts.

Your CV tells people what you have done. Your personal statement tells people who you are.

  • Do not use space in your statement re-stating what is already in your CV or other parts of your residency application.
  • Don't redo your personal statement from your medical school application. You don't need to convince someone to admit you. You are in! You will have a job at the end of your fourth year.
  • Do use your personal statement to help you find the job that is the most ideal match for you and your goals. You are going to be a doctor in a few short months. This personal statement should be much more focused on your specialty selection, your professional traits and your accomplishments that will impact your work as a physician.

A well-written personal statement should accomplish the following goals:

  • Help pull you out of the crowd of applicants – be sure to include unique experiences, background, and information.
  • Give the reviewer a glimpse at the type of resident you will be – don't say you are hard working (all residency applicants are). Instead, include examples of how you have acquired the attributes you want to feature in your statement. (See more ideas below.)
  • Make the case that this specialty is really the right match for you. No program director wants to select a student who, six months into the residency, realizes they are not a good fit. What have you done to be sure this is the right career path for you?
  • Be specific about what you like about the specialty. Do you enjoy the procedures? Why? Do you like the environment of the OR? Why? What type of patients do you enjoy working with? What experiences led you to consider this specialty? And, ultimately, why did you select this specialty?
  • What about you will contribute to the specialty and the program? Residency programs, and residents, want to select their future peers and colleagues. What do you bring to them? What can you offer? How will you enhance that area of medicine?

Students should select six to 10 characteristics to weave into their statements. Some possibilities you could consider including are:

  • leadership skills
  • future practice location
  • team building skills
  • organization
  • ability to work under stress
  • problem solving
  • patient communication skills

Sample Personal Statements

Sample statements are from University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine graduates who matched into various specialties. Ideas can be used for any specialty choice. The Associate Dean and the Director of Student Services are available to give you feedback on your personal statement draft. You can email a draft to Cherie Singer .

  • Anesthesiology
  • Dermatology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Plastic Surgery

Online Resources

  • Medical Blog – personal statement pos

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example personal statement residency

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 08/08/23

Are you planning on writing your personal statement for residency? We’ll cover everything you need to know about the process.

all about your residency personal statement graphic

The residency application personal statement is an essential part of applying to programs, but it can be intimidating. We get it. It can be challenging to write about yourself and your life experiences within 3,500 characters. We’ll cover everything you need to know about writing a powerful statement!

Get The Ultimate Guide on Writing an Unforgettable Personal Statement

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Importance of Your Personal Statement in a Residency Application

The importance of your personal statement in your application cannot be overstated. Yes, you have secured solid letters of recommendation from physicians and crushed your USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) .

However, 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 From aspiring medical residents and review thousands of standardized, quantitative factors like grades and test scores across the board. They also read thousands of essays and 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.

importance of residency personal statement

Because of how competitive programs can be, your writing may very well be the tiebreaker that leads to your acceptance into a top program over another applicant. 

While a strong personal statement might not compensate for low exam scores, a weak one will definitely hurt an otherwise strong application.

Residency Personal Statement Outline

Knowing what you should include in your personal statement will help you get started. Your 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 make you well-suited to a  program and will help you succeed.
  • Your long-term plans as a practicing physician after you complete your program. This can include what you hope to accomplish in your residency and your preferred setting.
  • What attracts you to a particular program, and how would it make you a good fit?

Ultimately, program directors are looking for residents who are the best candidates and colleagues to work with and train. Combining the above suggestions will give program directors a good sense of what having you on their team would be like.

What to include in your residency personal statement

3 Tips to Help You Start Writing

Here are three tips to help you get started! 

1. Consider Why You’re Pursuing a Particular Residency

Before you start your application personal statement, you should be 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 writing fails to convey solid, meaningful reasons for pursuing the chosen specialty, 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.

UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine urges you to “remember that this is your chance to focus on your medical career objectives, i.e., what specialty you'd like to go into and what your ultimate goals might be.” 

2. Brainstorm 

To begin drafting your personal statement, brainstorm. Brainstorming allows you the freedom to be creative and informal. When brainstorming, you do not have to worry about grammar, spelling, or editing. You want to write down your ideas and get your creative juices flowing. 

After you have a body of ideas, you can work on weaving one or several elements into a strong, concise narrative. 

3. Ask Yourself Questions 

The following questions will help you get started brainstorming ideas for your personal statement:

  • What first drew you to the specialty? 
  • What are your greatest qualities, and how have you demonstrated these qualities? Focus on a few desirable qualities for a medical professional during specialization.
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Name an experience, clinical or otherwise, that significantly impacted 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, brainstorming aims 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.

How to Write An Amazing Residency Application Personal Statement

Now that you have completed your preliminary brainstorming, let’s review how to write a personal statement. Later in this guide, we will review samples of other applicants’ personal statements and analyze what makes them successful.

How to write a med school 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 narrative. 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 it and tie it together with your goals.

The Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine suggests that if you want to repeat accomplishments, ensure they’re “relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.” 

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 program. While this might seem like a no-brainer, it is important that your personal statement remains about you. 

Program directors often read narratives that include information about the program they already know and not enough information about the candidate. Shift your tone to reflect on what makes you desirable to the 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

Avoid generic and superficial declarative statements when you write about yourself and your desirable qualities. 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 how 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 program and what you want 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 program offers. 

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, not on over-explaining a program to its directors. 

Cite Strong Reasons to Choose a Particular Specialty

Clearly outline your interest in a particular specialty. Program directors want to know your understanding of and interest in a specialty. Highlight what you have done in your career to explore a specialty and detail some of your insights and observations. 

Perhaps you’ve researched the length of the residency and were swayed by it. Or you were intrigued by the nature of another one. 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. Your unique personal or professional achievement may not be 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 achieve 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 reliable, credible, and genuine.

Address Areas of Improvement on Your Application 

If anomalies are anywhere in your application, such as gap years or leaves of absence, address them 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 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.

5 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:

1. Acronyms and Jargon 

Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon. Don’t assume that your reader knows everything. Be courteous and spell everything out. According to The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), “If there’s a shorter, simpler, less pretentious way of putting it, use it.” 

2. Poor Writing Mechanics

Avoid informal, casual writing and poor sentence structure. Be professional and ensure your writing is free of grammatical and spelling errors. You don’t want programs to be distracted by errors while they read your story! 

3. Controversial Topics 

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. Even if the statements you make aren’t offensive, there’s no guarantee the person reviewing your application will agree with you. 

4. Rehashing Why You Want to Be a Doctor 

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. UCSF’s Office of Career & Professional Development offers this advice : 

“Presumably, new things have happened in the past four years that inform your decision to choose your specialty or career path, or that illustrate your dedication, leadership, and teaching skills, ability for empathy, etc.” Use these new experiences in your statement! 

5. Using Vague/Generic Language

Avoid vague and generic language. The most seasoned writers draw readers in with rich detail and nuance. Using descriptive language makes your statement easier to read and is much more likely to keep the reader’s attention. 

With these tips, you should be able to write your personal statement with ease.

Mistakes to avoid in a residency personal statement graphic

Get Professional Help Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

residents talking

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 narrative will get you closer to being accepted at your first-choice program.

Inspira Advantage is here for you. We are an admissions consulting firm with extensive experience helping candidates get accepted to their dream programs. An expert residency application consultant can ensure you get the support you need at every step while you write and edit your personal statement.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

​​Reading examples of residency personal essays that program directors consider effective is advantageous. Not only will you gain insight into how to structure your writing, but you will also learn why program directors and career advisors find certain personal statements more successful than others. 

We’ll review two good personal statement examples below. Please note that both have been anonymized to protect the authors’ privacy. 

Residency Personal Statement Example 1

Here is an ERAS sample personal statement: 

One of my most formative memories of medical school was a patient high-fiving me. A seemingly minute detail, that moment came as a culmination of spending hours with a neurologically devastated patient. At the young age of 40, he was unable to speak or even interact with any of the dozens of healthcare workers at his bedside every day. I felt helpless, yet compelled to spend my time talking and reading to him, and urging him to do simple things like turning his head. He suddenly dramatically improved, and it peaked when he gave me a high-five during rounds, after I had playfully asked for one every day for three weeks. In that moment, I felt elation that he was able to lift his arms and regain some ability and autonomy. Pride, in the healthcare system that I had chosen to be a part of. And surprise, that he had been hearing and processing my words all this time when he had given no indication of doing so. On that last day before transfer to a rehabilitation facility, he hung onto my arm and sobbed “thank you” while refusing to let go. I was so impacted by this patient because for such a long time, he was unable to communicate his wants and needs to the outside world. 

I believe medicine is the most fundamental form of equity and equality – ensuring someone’s health is the most elemental way to ensure justice for their being. As physicians, we are inherent agents of change, on both an individual and community level. I want to bring this to people all around the world – those desperately fighting just to survive and whose voices are not being heard. Global health is my calling – a consummation between my interest in humanity and my desire to heal historical traumas. This came as a lifelong dream after growing up on both the East Coast and Midwest, having been surrounded by large immigrant and refugee populations. My vested interest in global health has been reaffirmed through my experiences rotating at a children’s hospital in [city], Ghana, and taking trainings and courses aimed at decolonizing global health. Both in and out of my passion for global health came a natural attraction to med-peds. Both medicine and pediatrics have always drawn me in as they both afford me the opportunity to provide holistic care – fitting the puzzle pieces between physical, mental, and social health. Med-peds will also help me become the best trained and most adaptable physician for anyone, womb-to-tomb, in local and global medicine due to the vast fund of knowledge I will develop. 

One reason I best fit with med-peds is my adaptability and persistence. I have faced setbacks in my academic career, the biggest of which was after I failed a course during my second year and had to retake the semester. During a hiatus, I pursued independent sociology courses to expand my knowledge base. In the new semester, I developed new study techniques to truly learn medicine instead of just memorizing it. This experience helped me form a cycle of analyzing, changing, and re-examining the way I learn in different scenarios; I built on that methodology repeatedly as modes of learning changed, as evidenced by my step exam scores. I learned the value of reaching out, and I strived to become that person to lean on for my peers going through similar hardships. I am also proud that despite flaws in my test-taking acumen that I have worked on during my later years of medical school, I have always been able to readily apply my medical knowledge in the wards and clinics in a way that is reflected by my patient care. 

Furthermore, I see multiple sentiments of the med-peds community reflected in myself. Med-peds folk are mobilizers of change, always creating life-changing and systemic reforms – ideals to which I fiercely relate. I have done my best to embody the amplification of voices that I have seen so vigorously amongst my med-peds mentors both on an individual and community level. To that end, I have always prided myself on being a strong advocate for patients and acting as a loudspeaker for their voices. On a broad level, I started an organization early in my medical training called [organization name] which aims to alleviate food insecurity in [city], which has a complex racial history causing countless food deserts. I have been excited and proud to help [organization] partner up with local organizations and the student-run free clinic to expand access to nutritious foods. I learned to engage with religious and community leaders in [city] to build strong community relationships to sustain change. To address upstream causes, I am starting a voter registration drive for patients in my institution’s safety net med-peds clinic. These experiences taught me the strategy and logistics of organizing systemic changes and enlightened me to people’s powerful stories. 

I picture myself practicing a mix of both hospitalist medicine and primary care to adapt to any low-resource community. I want to establish continuity of care amongst those who need it most while also managing higher acuity situations. After rotating in Ghana, I hope to pursue a fellowship in global health after completing my residency. My first-hand experience exposed me to the unique conditions of disenfranchised nations that are not readily discussed in the US. I hope to utilize fellowship training to gain the critical knowledge and translational skills required to establish the greatest benefit. All in all, I am excited to use my experiences and skills to provide care to every type of patient, especially in low-resource settings. I am committed to amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised and helping navigate the difficult road towards better, more equitable healthcare. If, in the process, those voices come in the form of more high-fives, I would not complain.

Residency Personal Statement Example 2

Here is another example: 

It was not even the end of the first week of medical school, and I was fighting for my life — and the life of others. On September 19th 2017, Hurricane Maria hit and battered the Island of Dominica. I woke up the next day from a concussion after being thrown 20 feet in the air during the storm. This once lush island was reduced to brown sticks, live wires, and broken glass. I survived the storm, but the destructive aftermath was our new reality. 

During the evacuations and rescue missions, I solidified my purpose to become an Emergency Medicine physician. I joined the [EMS name], which was the only organized medical personnel available. One of my most inspiring experiences was the emergency medical evacuation of a six-month-old girl. This patient was an infant with untreated pneumonia. She came in with respiratory distress to our pop-up clinic at 1am. The child was assessed by the only physician on the island and her prognosis was poor, she was unlikely to survive the night. As a student, I realized that in these critical moments I want to be the first responder to aid and to make the best decisions for the patient. She needed to be on a ventilator, and we did not have the facilities or equipment to help the child, only the capacity to provide supplemental oxygen. With limited resources, we had to secure the airway if needed, and I was given the role to disinfect plastic tubing left on the ground. As we provided supportive care, we also organized the logistics of the medical evacuation – from security to cleaning a landing zone for the helicopter. As the helicopter finally arrived at 3am, the sign of relief was clouded by the debris inadvertently thrown towards us during the landing. Despite the difficulties, all team members were safe, and we were finally able to get the patient to a definitive center of care.  

To work in medicine, one must be able to function in a team. This event gave me first-hand experience of coordination of care. I was a part of this team for the little girl and learned the importance of delegating tasks, cooperation among members, and having defined goals. Moreover, I was tested to perform under pressure and think clearly. I have been able to translate these skills as I have moved forward with my education, always considering my responsibilities within a team in order to provide the best care. We found out that the little girl survived, and I could not help but feel relieved that our efforts were successful. At times, there is not always the end result that is hoped for however, it is important to persevere and act for the benefit of the patient. These challenges faced during the hurricane also reaffirmed my desire to address the needs of the population during emergency situations. I was exposed to making quick, yet thoughtful decisions in order to produce the best plan of action. These attributes are integral for patient care in the emergency room and I hope to continue to develop these skills as an emergency medicine physician.  

As my medical school journey continued, I experienced another challenge – completing my studies on a boat. We had no internet and there was limited space. I learned to cohabitate with four students in a 20 square foot living arrangement. We were docked at [country] during the night, but the school was at sea for four months during the days and we as a school were then displaced to various locations to complete our preclinical studies including [multiple cities]. The difficulties unfortunately continued, with the pandemic occurring at the start of my clinical rotations. The adversities of my limited learning environment did affect my academic performance and impeded me from participating in research opportunities. I struggled with trying to reset my foundational knowledge and had to repeat my third semester. Unfortunately, I shared similar setbacks in my USMLE step 1. I knew that my results did not reflect my abilities to become a clinician. I adapted and made appropriate changes in order to better my scores. I worked on expanding my medical knowledge by attending workshops, study groups, and taking extra time after class to talk to my professors in order to better understand the more complicated concepts. As a result, my clinical acumen improved. I strengthened my time management skills allowing me to study more efficiently, which proved successful as I bettered my Step 2 scores. I have learned how to study well despite distractions and this will be of benefit to me as a future physician.  

I did not have the conventional education as others, however the experiences that I encountered molded me into the individual I am today. My desire to help others brought me to the Ukrainian refugee camps as they faced a desperate humanitarian crisis during the war. I was drawn to volunteer this summer in [city] and joined the [organization name] to provide medical services to displaced civilians I wanted to improve people’s well-being through community healthcare services, medical care, and mental support. Having had my own experiences with disaster and crisis, I provided much needed empathy for those people who sensed that they have lost control of their livelihood. Being able to provide support and healthcare to this disenfranchised group of people was extremely gratifying. I continue to expand on my medical knowledge through my involvement in relief efforts and through my clinical education. I have learned to manage the external stressors of my environment, along with my academic deficiencies, by refocusing my efforts into robust translational skills. It is an important facet in my practice to take care of the welfare of the individual. Emergency Medicine would enable me to do so, providing a solid foundation to continue involvement in public health affairs and ability to impactfully respond to relief efforts. 

Medicine is a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and languages. To know that someone is there to help you in your time of need, you do not have to understand the language they are speaking to feel that impact. Emergency medicine truly has no borders. The “ER” is a centralized area of care. However, as an emergency medicine physician, I will be able to apply my knowledge outside the walls of the hospital to the rest of the world. I want to be that healing hand, to help as many lives as I can – whether it be in global health or in my surrounding community. With Emergency Medicine, I can achieve that and protect those who need help the most. I hope to continue to pursue opportunities for community aid and patient advocacy as an effective first line of care. I want to not only be able to identify life-threatening conditions, but have the capacity to treat patients and provide access to the appropriate avenues for their continued care. I will always strive to be someone who runs towards people in need, never away. 

More Sample Residency Statements

Looking for more personal statement samples that worked? These medical schools also have examples: 

  • University of California – San Francisco 
  • University of Alabama School of Medicine 
  • University of Nevada School of Medicine 

You can view these statements to better understand the tone and format programs look for.

If you still have questions about writing your personal statement, check out these frequently asked questions. 

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 essay.

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 program you apply to, but you should write one for every specialty. For example, prepare one for family medicine and one 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 writing should be tailored for the specific specialty.

4. How Long Should a Residency Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement can vary depending on the specific requirements of the program or institution to which you are applying. However, as a general guideline, most programs recommend that essays be approximately one page long.

Typically, a one-page personal statement consists of around 750 to 850 words. Your writing should be concise, focused, and well-structured to effectively communicate your experiences, motivations, and qualifications.

Final Thoughts

Writing a residency application personal statement is stressful, but our step-by-step guide will make the process much easier as you navigate your application timeline . Now go forth and match into the residency program of your dreams. We believe in you.

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Med School Insiders

Residency Application Personal Statement Guide

  • By Med School Insiders
  • July 4, 2022
  • Medical Student
  • Personal Statement , Residency Application

The residency application personal statement is an opportunity to detail your professional development over the course of medical school. Why do you want to join your chosen specialty? Why are you qualified to do so? What will you contribute to the program?

Continue reading our residency application personal statement guide for detailed advice on how to craft your personal statement. We’ll also share residency personal statement examples and common mistakes to avoid.

The ERAS Personal Statement

The majority of your residency application focuses on your scores and grades, and this doesn’t shed much light on who you are as a person. If there is anything you feel is underrepresented in the rest of your residency application, your personal statement is the place to highlight it. This is your chance to tell your story the way you see it.

Do not enter this process believing all you need to do is rewrite your medical school personal statement from a few years ago. While they are both technically personal statements, they are very different. When you wrote your medical school personal statement, you were a wide-eyed premed. But residency programs aren’t looking for medical students—they’re looking for young professionals who have earned their doctorate, deepened their dedication to medicine, and immensely improved their medical knowledge.

The success of your personal statement depends on your ability to effectively communicate these changes. Keep the focus of your residency personal statement on your professional development and how your experiences in medical school have crystalized your desire to pursue your chosen specialty.

Why is that specialty the one for you? What unique experiences, skills, and qualities can you contribute to the program? Speak passionately about what you hope to accomplish. Be confident yet humble about what you have achieved so far.

Remember, outside of residency interviews, this is your only chance to share your perspective and provide context to your accomplishments. Why you ? What’s your story?

ERAS Personal Statement Length

The residency personal statement length technically allows for 28,000 characters, but you do not need to utilize this entire space. We recommend keeping your residency personal statement to one typed page, which is anywhere from 500-800 words, depending on your writing.

Don’t try to fill the space to create a longer essay if you’re not actually adding anything relevant or new to your personal statement. Remember, you want to keep your audience’s attention and engage each member of the admissions committee. Being overly long-winded or repeating what they already know is a surefire way to bore committee members.

One page is the standard length for residency personal statements. Be clear and concise with your language.

How to Craft a Personal Statement for Residency

Hand writing journal Personal Statement prompts

1 | Illustrate Your Growth And Maturity

While residencies are educational, they’re quite a bit different from medical school. Residencies provide on-the-job training for people to acquire their medical license so that they can become a practicing physician. In order to be accepted into residency, your application needs to demonstrate that you are qualified.

Your residency personal statement must reflect your vastly deepened knowledge of and dedication to medicine. You are not the same innocuous premed you were when you wrote your medical school personal statement all those years ago. You are now a young professional with a doctorate, and this must be made abundantly clear to the residency program.

How have you developed professionally? Which aspects of your medical education have meant the most to you? Where have you made the greatest impact, where do you most want to make an impact in the future, and what about your experiences have made it clear to you why you belong in your chosen specialty?

Back up your ambitions with concrete, anecdotal examples of your accomplishments. Residency programs don’t care what you say you can do—they want the proof. Stay humble, but be confident about all you have achieved so far.

2 | Develop a Narrative Across Your Application

Your residency personal statement does not exist in isolation. It’s one aspect of your entire residency application, and that means it must work alongside all of the other components.

Do not simply regurgitate or rehash aspects of your CV or extracurriculars. The personal statement is an opportunity to expand and elaborate on aspects of your life, experience, skills, and assets that are not otherwise noted in your application. Don’t look at the personal statement as one more task to complete, but rather an opportunity to help decision makers see who you really are and why you would make an ideal residency candidate.

Use the personal statement to continue unraveling your personal narrative. This aspect of your application should work hand-in-hand with everything else to establish a clear and cohesive narrative of who you are and why you’re qualified.

Learn more: How to Develop a Cohesive Narrative Across Applications .

3 | Keep Your Word Count Down

You may technically have 28,000 characters, but that is far, far from what you should aim for. The standard length of a residency personal statement is one page in ERAS, which equals anywhere from 500-800 words.

Challenge yourself to be as clear and concise as possible. Show restraint and get your points across clearly and effectively in a short amount of space. Remember, you’re trying to engage your reader and entice admissions committee members. You don’t in any way want to bore them or risk that they don’t finish your personal statement due to its length.

If the first draft of your personal statement is longer than one page, continue editing and revising it until you’ve pared it down.

What aspects are superfluous? What words are not serving a clear purpose? How can you convey the same message in a shorter amount of space? Are there any areas (besides the conclusion) where you repeat yourself?

Utilize clear and direct language. Long sentences written with flowery language you got out of a thesaurus will not impress residency admissions committees.

4 | Start Early And Give Yourself Time

Starting early will give you the time you need to brainstorm, outline, write, revise, and edit your personal statement. Even though you’ve written a personal statement before, the residency personal statement is a different beast entirely, and it will require plenty of your time and attention.

Start thinking about your personal statement at the beginning of the year, many months before application season begins. Start by brainstorming ideas and reflecting on your time in medical school. What have you learned? How have you changed? What values do you continue to hold? Why were you drawn to a specific specialty?

Keep a journal or online document where you can continue to add your ideas and thoughts for your residency personal statement. By late spring or early summer, you should be outlining and writing a first draft of your personal statement.

This timeline will give you a few months to continue to revise and edit your personal statement.

View our breakdown of what you should prepare and work on each month leading up to residency: Residency Application Timeline and Month-by-Month Schedule .

5 | Take Time Revising and Invest in Professional Editing

Remember to allocate adequate time to the feedback and editing process. Spell checking tools are okay to start with, but remember these tools are only bots, and they will not be able to catch all mistakes or contextual issues.

Review your essay many times over yourself and gather feedback from qualified friends, family, acquaintances, or by hiring a reputable editing service. Whether or not you need to hire a service depends on if you know editors with adcom experience or who are intimately familiar with the residency admission process. For best results, look for an editing service that utilizes doctors with real admissions committee experience.

Learn more: How to Choose the Best Medical School Admissions Consultant .

Example of Residency Personal Statements

Utilize examples of successful residency personal statements to get a better idea of what admissions committees are looking for. It’s important that you use these examples to strengthen your knowledge of what’s expected, not to guide your own topic. Your own personal statement will be completely unique to your medical school journey, your specialty preferences, and what makes you an ideal candidate.

View our database of Residency Personal Statement Samples from real students who successfully matched into residency.

These sample personal statements are for reference purposes only and should absolutely not be used to copy or plagiarize in any capacity. Remember that plagiarism detection software is used when evaluating personal statements.

If you still feel stuck after reading residency personal statement examples, try completing a variety of prompts to get your ideas flowing. For example:

  • What is your greatest strength, and how can that strength be applied to your residency?
  • What major failures or setbacks did you encounter during medical school, and what did you learn from those experiences?
  • When did you first know you wanted to become a doctor?
  • What values are the most important to you?
  • What do you believe is the most important trait to have as a doctor?

Utilize our 25 Medical School Personal Statement Prompts to Spark Ideas .

Residency Application Personal Statement Mistakes to Avoid

Woman unhappy reading a paper Bad Personal Statement Examples

Common pitfalls are common for a reason. Admissions committees see these mistakes time and time again, no matter how many times medical students are warned. These common mistakes come into play when students rush their personal statement and don’t put adequate time into receiving feedback and acting on that feedback.

Avoid the following common residency personal statement mistakes.

  • Don’t treat your residency personal statement like your medical school application.
  • Don’t miss spelling or grammar errors in your essay. Ensure you have plenty of time for revisions and editing.
  • Don’t list your accomplishments or rehash your CV and extracurriculars.
  • Don’t use a thesaurus to come up with larger, more complicated words.
  • Don’t overuse the word I. Doing so makes you more likely to state your accomplishments instead of telling a story.
  • Don’t state the obvious or use clichés, such as your passion for science or wanting to help people.
  • Don’t ignore the feedback you receive from experienced editors or editing services.
  • Don’t speak negatively about another student, physician, or healthcare professional.
  • Don’t lie or make up stories. You may be asked about anything in your personal statement during interviews.
  • Don’t discuss anything in your personal statement that you won’t feel comfortable speaking about during residency interviews.
  • Don’t plead for an interview or opportunity.
  • Don’t procrastinate on your personal statement. You should be thinking about it months before your application is due.
  • Don’t submit your personal statement before gathering feedback from multiple, reliable sources.
  • Don’t use a personal statement editing service that does not utilize real doctors with admissions committee experience.

Residency Application Personal Statement Editing

Med School Insiders can help you prepare a stand out residency application that will help you match into your ideal program. We offer a number of Residency Admissions Consulting Services tailored to your needs, including comprehensive personal statement editing .

Our residency personal statement editing services include careful analysis of content and tone in addition to insights on how to improve your essay to impress residency program admissions committees. Your essay will be edited by a real doctor with admissions committee experience who knows the residency program admissions process inside and out.

For more strategies as well as the latest medical school and industry news, follow the Med School Insiders blog , which has hundreds of resources, guides, and personal stories, including a detailed guide on the residency application process. Read our ERAS Residency Application Guide , which is updated each application cycle.

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The College Application

The Residency Personal Statement Guide w/Prompts & Examples

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Intro- Writing a Great Residency Personal Statement

When you get ready to apply for residency, which could happen as early as your third year of med school, there are really  two main components  to the application process: submitting your application packet to various programs and completing the required interviews for the programs interested in you. But how exactly do you make sure you get that call for an interview? One way is by including an original, memorable residency personal statement as part of your application packet.

Residency Prerequisites

Before we get to the personal statement, though, let’s look at the steps required for you to be eligible for residency.

Step 1: Receive Your Degree

Although you’ll possibly start applying for residency during the fall semester of your third year at medical school, before you can be accepted, you must have your degree. It doesn’t matter if your application looks great and your interview blows the minds of the residency selection committee; if you don’t receive your M.D. or D.O., you won’t be eligible for residency.

Step 2: Pass the Examinations

In the U.S., you’re required to pass an exam before you can become licensed to practice medicine. Traditionally, students have taken the  USMLE  (United States Medical Licensing Examination), but some schools now require you to take the  COMLEX  (Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination) either instead of the USMLE  or  in addition to it.

For Foreign Students

If you’re a foreign student hoping to be placed in a residency within the U.S., there are a few  additional requirements  you’ll have to meet.

These include, but aren’t limited to, being certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), obtaining a legal VISA that gives you the right to work in the United States, procuring additional letters of recommendation from U.S.-based providers and more.

Applying for a Residency

What you’ll need.

As you’re putting together your residency application packet, you’ll be responsible for gathering:

  • Your completed application
  • Your residency personal statement
  • Your letters of recommendation

There are a few other things that must be included in your application packet, but your medical school will handle those items. They include:

  • Your complete and sealed transcripts
  • A copy of your MSPE (Medical School Performance Evaluation)
  • Your licensing exam transcript

Once you’ve gotten your half of the documents ready to submit, your medical school should take care of the rest. It’s important to fill out your application completely and accurately, as every bit of information included in the packet will be verified by multiple agencies.

The ERAS: What It Is and How to Apply

To apply for residency with almost all programs in the United States, you’ll be required to fill out an application through the  Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) . The ERAS was created and is maintained by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

It makes applying for residency much easier because you only have to fill out one application at a centralized location. That application then gets sent to all the different programs you’re interested in becoming a part of during your residency.

If you used the Common App as an undergraduate, you already have an idea of what the ERAS is like. Unlike the Common App, though, there’s one really great thing about the ERAS that many other centralized applications don’t include: the ability to submit multiple personal statements.

Why Submit Multiple Personal Statements

You may be wondering why you’d want to write more than one personal statement when writing one is stressful enough.

The simple answer is that writing multiple personal statements gives you the opportunity to personalize your statements for the specific program to which you’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for a pediatric residency in Brooklyn, you can write your personal statement specifically about why you chose that specialty and that geographic location. Additionally, if you also apply for an internal medicine residency in Washington D.C., you can write a second personal statement outlining your reasons for that choice as well.

ERAS Portal

There are  four main sections  of the ERAS application portal.

Section 1: MyERAS

This is the part of the ERAS that’s your responsibility. Using MyERAS, you’ll complete the centralized application, submit your required documentation and personal statements and select the programs to which you’re applying. When it comes to filling out the ERAS, this is the only section you’ll personally have to complete.

Section 2: DWS

The DWS, or Dean’s Office WorkStation, is where the designated person in your Dean’s office will submit what s/he is required to submit on your behalf. This will include your transcripts and performance evaluations.

Section 3: LoRP

The LoRP is the Letters of Recommendation Portal. You’ll direct people who’ve agreed to provide you with letters of recommendation to this location and have them submit their recommendation letters through the portal.

Section 4: PDWS

The PDWS, short for Program Director’s WorkStation, is where the programs you’ve applied to will receive and review their incoming applications.

Help with the ERAS

In addition to having everything you need for all your prospective programs in one place, another great thing about the ERAS is that the website provides you with  a lot of great resources  to help ensure you get everything done correctly and submitted in a timely manner.

There’s an  Applicant Worksheet  that allows you to see everything the application asks before you even start working on it. There’s also a  User Guide , an  Applicant Checklist , a  FAQ Section  and an  Application Timeline  to keep you on track.

Writing Your Residency Personal Statement

Although each residency personal statement you write should be different depending on the program to which you’re applying, there are some things that’ll remain similar or even the same in each statement, most notably the length and overall format of the statement.

Standard Residency Personal Statement Length

The ERAS allows you to use 28,000 characters (including spaces and punctuation marks) to complete your residency personal statement. This generally translates to about five to seven pages in length.  Don’t  use all 28,000 characters for your statements. That is entirely too long.

You have to be considerate of the time of the person reading your statement. S/he likely has thousands of personal statements to read through, and s/he doesn’t want to spend too much time on any one statement. If possible, you should keep your personal statements to about 3,500 to 5,000 characters. This translates to about a page to a page and a half for your statement. That’s a good length that should give you enough room to say everything you need to say without rambling on about non-essential information.

Standard Residency Personal Statement Format

The format of your statements will also be quite similar. You don’t have to worry about choosing your font, font size, or anything like that. With the ERAS, you’ll be using an embedded plain text box to type your personal statement. The only formatting options available to you will be:

  • Italics, Bold, Strikethrough and Underline
  • Center, Left or Right Alignment
  • Bullet Points
  • Numbered Lists
  • Add Embedded Hyperlink
  • Increase or Decrease Indent

Beyond those items, you won’t be able to change anything in the formatting, but your  content  format is important. You should have a short introduction of three to five sentences, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion of about three to six sentences. The information you put into these paragraphs will depend largely on what exactly you’re writing in your personal statement.

Red Flags of Residency Personal Statement to Avoid

There are definitely some things you want to avoid while writing your personal statement for your residency application. Let’s call them the “Don’t List.”

Don’t Use All 28,000 Characters

We’ve already discussed this, but it warrants being said twice. No one wants to read seven pages worth of a personal statement. Absolutely  do not  use all the provided characters for your personal statement.

Don’t Send the Same Statement to Every Program

This is another one that we’ve touched on already, but it, too, is worth repeating. The reasons you’re applying for various programs are bound to be different for each particular program. If you try to write one single personal statement that gets sent to every program, it’s going to end up sounding generic and unauthentic.

Different programs want to know that you chose them for a reason. They want to know what it is about their program that drew your interest. If you don’t give them actual reasons for your interest, they’re going to assume you’re just desperately applying everywhere you can in hopes of getting an acceptance. That doesn’t look good in a prospective residency candidate.

Don’t Spend a Lot of Time Talking About Why You Want to Be a Doctor

By the time you get to the residency portion of your career, you’re already a doctor. Why you decided to become one is kind of a moot point. This is one place where people often get tripped up. Your residency application is  not  a med school application. By this point, you’ve already proven you want to be a doctor by putting in all the work to become one. Why you did it doesn’t matter. You were obviously motivated to succeed. Don’t waste precious characters rehashing your reasons for going into medicine.

Don’t Be Generic

Be specific about why you’ve chosen pediatrics, internal medicine, surgery or whatever program you’ve chosen to pursue in your residency. The person reading your statement doesn’t want to hear that you’ve chosen pediatrics because you “just love babies!” You’re an adult with a medical degree. Use all those years of education and be specific about why you’ve made the choices you’ve made.

Don’t Be Overly Dramatic

You want your personal statement to be interesting and memorable, but you  don’t  want it to sound like the first page of a movie script. You don’t have to set the scene dramatically with overused and cliched stories about “Patient X lying on the bed, blood rushing down his head and barely conscious as I walked up and took his hand, looked into his eyes and told him I would save his life.” Just don’t do this.

Don’t Include Anything Considered Too Controversial

Your personal statement isn’t the place for activism. Don’t get into topics such as pro-life vs. pro-choice or why you think cloning is a sin against God. It’s okay to mention that you’re a regular church member; you don’t have to shy away from religion altogether, but you don’t want to include a strong stance you hold on something that’s known to be polarizing.

The person reading your personal statement might feel just as strongly as you do about an issue, but s/he might be on the other side of that issue. That could get your application discarded quickly.

Don’t Submit Unedited Statements

Never, never, never, never send in your first draft. Don’t ever send in a statement that hasn’t been proofread, edited, and then edited some more. Bring in a second pair of eyes to look it over ( hey! see our personal statement editing packages here ) if you need a fresh perspective, but never send in something that hasn’t been thoroughly edited for grammar, spelling, organization, and content errors.

Don’t Plagiarize!

Last but certainly not least: Don’t plagiarize your personal statement! We can’t overemphasize this point. If you aren’t a strong writer, it’s okay to reach out and have a friend, mentor or former professor help you organize your thoughts and edit the statement at the end, but no matter how much you may be tempted,  do not plagiarize  your personal statement.

First and foremost, you’ll get caught.

There are just way too many plagiarism checkers ( we recommend you use Grammarly plagiarism checker ) on the market today for you to get away with stealing someone else’s work – even if you only take a small part of it. Then, once you’ve been caught, you lose all professional respectability.

If you’ve plagiarized your personal statement, odds are you’ve cheated before now. No one trusts a doctor who cheats, and the person/people who caught you cheating have to wonder if you’re even a good doctor. Perhaps you just cheated your way through med school and really don’t know an obstetrician from an ophthalmologist.

Put simply, just don’t cheat. It isn’t worth it.

Residency Personal Statement Prompts

Although the ERAS doesn’t give you a specific prompt to follow while writing your residency personal statement, there are a few programs that do ask specific questions. If a program does ask a specific question on its website, you should strongly consider that question when writing your personal statement. Try to answer it as honestly and completely as possible.

Most programs don’t provide you with specific prompts, but there are still some questions to ask yourself to help guide your writing.

Below are some of the most commonly asked prompts and questions.

1. What are your professional goals?

This is a commonly covered question in many residency personal statements. Remember, at the residency stage of your career, you’re already a doctor, so this personal statement is no longer why you want to be a doctor; it’s about what you want to do now that you’ve become one.

Don’t be afraid to go into detail here. Talk about both your short-term (during residency and immediately after completing residency) and your long-term goals (15+ years from now).

Do you want to open your own practice? Do you plan to stay within the U.S., or would you prefer to take your expertise elsewhere through Doctors Without Borders or some other organization? What specific skills are you hoping to gain from the residency that’ll help you further your career goals?

2. What types of patients do you enjoy working with?

This question really concerns the specialty you’re interested in pursuing. For example, if you’re interested in working in pediatrics, the obvious answer here would be that you like to work with children. You shouldn’t leave it at that though.

Are there certain types of children you like to work with best? For example, would you prefer to work with special needs children as opposed to healthy children just coming in for check-ups? Perhaps you have a passion for women’s health or simply prefer to work with women.

If this is the case, an OBGYN specialty might make more sense for you. Do you want to work with the elderly? Would you prefer to work in neighborhoods full of predominantly low-income or minority households? If you hope to pursue plastic surgery, are you doing so because you want to work with amputees in order to build them new limbs?

All of these questions can be taken into account when talking about the types of patients with whom you most prefer to work.

3. What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?

Chances are, the program you’re applying to knows why you want to be accepted for a residency position by them, but why should  they  want to accept  you ? When answering this prompt, talk about what makes you a good fit for the specialty you’ve chosen. If you have any particular skills or strengths that would fit well with what you’re hoping to achieve during residency, mention those.

Something else to discuss is anything you’ve done in your history that would prepare you for working with the population you’re likely to encounter in that particular residency spot. If you have an undergraduate degree in psychology, that could be hugely beneficial if your residency serves a large veteran population.

If you grew up in a low-income, first-generation neighborhood or have teaching experience at a Title I school, that could prepare you for working at a hospital in a similar neighborhood.

4. What are your strong points?

This question is really just another way of asking what benefits you’d bring to the residency if you were accepted. Many of the same things you’d write about if answering the above-listed prompt are the same things you’d write about here. You could discuss the characteristics you have that make for a good doctor.

You could also list any strengths you have academically. For instance, if you excelled at one or two particular subjects, it’s a good idea to mention those. Receiving superior performance evaluations is also something worth noting.

Residency Personal Statement Examples

The following are some of the best examples of what to do and what not to do when writing your residency personal statements. Note that these are just examples; don’t use them in your own statements.

Example Personal Statement 1

“During my third year, I rediscovered my reasons for pursing [sic] a career in Pediatrics. […] I enjoy teaching young patients and their parents about their disease and how they can conquer hardships. Also, I am excited about taking care of patients from birth to adulthood. Working with young people is rewarding because of the chance to be involved in a growing relationship with patients as they mature and learn. […] Pediatrics gives me the determination to think through problems, the curiosity to learn, and the energy to stay awake at three in the morning. When you love your patients it becomes easy to work hard for them.”

– Read the rest  here

This is a very well-written personal statement. The writer clearly has a passion for working with children, but she doesn’t just come out and say that with no detail. She talks about the specific things she enjoys about working with children.

Furthermore, she talks about how she believes pediatric medicine to go beyond just treating kids. She talks about “a growing relationship” with the patients she treats and her desire to treat them as they grow and mature into adulthood.

In addition to being a moving example of a personal statement, it also shows that the writer plans to be in the medical field for the long haul. You don’t build relationships and treat patients from infancy into adulthood unless you plan to stick with the career.

This is her way of saying, “I plan to do this for the rest of my life” without having to come out directly and say those words.

Our Verdict:

Image of a smiling face with heart-shaped eyes emoji

Example Personal Statement 2

“I have many attributes to contribute to internal medicine. My experiences as a secondary education school teacher, Special Olympics swim coach, and elected class officer attest to my ability to lead and educate others. I am also analytical and detail-oriented. […] After my first year of medical school, I was awarded a scholarship to conduct research in the field of trauma surgery, an experience which enhanced my problem solving skills. These qualities include a never-ending quest for personal improvement, pride in my work or training, and the ability to focus on several tasks while balancing personal and professional obligations.”

– Read the rest  here

This is another good example, written in response to  prompt number three above . The writer tells about all the things he brings to the team, but he doesn’t focus specifically on medicine.

If you’re applying for residency as this author is, you’ve obviously achieved what you needed to achieve in order to become a doctor. You’ll bring all kinds of medical knowledge to the team. The problem is that every other applicant has also received his or her doctoral degree and also brings medical knowledge to the table.

The writer knows that and goes beyond medicine when talking about his strengths and what he has to offer. He talks about being a teacher and helping with the Special Olympics. This shows that he already has experience working with children – both healthy children and children with special needs.

He brings up being an elected class officer to show he has leadership potential and that he’s well-liked and well-respected by others (otherwise they wouldn’t have elected him). Only after listing all those extra strengths does he bring up med school. This is a very impressive list of accomplishments.

Example Personal Statement 3

“Every finger of the little boy’s hand was adhered to his palm except for the extended third digit. I examined the severe burn injury as the plastic surgery attending discussed how we were going to fix the damage. Several contracture releases, K-wires, and skin grafts later, I excitedly realized he would eventually regain function of his little hand. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at the start of my third year, but after patients and cases like this one, I was energized by learning what I found in no other rotation. […] I have found my place in medicine.”

While this personal statement is well-written grammatically, it breaks rule number five on the “Don’t List.”  Don’t be overly dramatic.  This is supposed to be his personal statement, not the opening scene to  The Resident  on Fox. The writer wastes an entire paragraph – his entire introduction – on a dramatic scene that ends with one single sentence telling us this is why he wants to work as a plastic surgeon.

First of all, an introduction should be more well-rounded and introduce the reader more fully to who you are. It shouldn’t set a scene that thousands of other prospective residents have told some version of already.

Secondly, one has to hope that one single child’s broken hand is not the sole basis for this person’s decision to become a plastic surgeon. I want a doctor who has thought carefully about his/her chosen profession and decided to pursue medicine because of numerous different reasons, not just because he saw a child’s hand being fixed once.

While these types of stories may seem like an easy, interesting way to catch the reader’s attention quickly, they’re best avoided. Trust us when we say that the person reading your personal statement has read  countless  other “war stories” about prospective residents’ experiences in ERs and other situations. As amazing as your story may seem to you, it isn’t likely to impress them.

example personal statement residency

Example Personal Statement 4

“Then disaster struck. I applied to Medical School and I didn’t get in. I was heartbroken. It never occurred to me that I might not get accepted. I felt completely lost. The only dream I ever had, the one that I had spent so many hours working on, was now dead. A part of me just died. It was one of the few times I ever cried. I know [sic] had to live with a void that could never filled [sic].

Looking back, not getting accepted to Medical School in 1985 was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. It fueled a desire in me to find something else. Fortunately, I found an area where I have become more financially successful than I deserve. […] Years later, I decided to give Medical School one last try. This time I was accepted. The void began to fill. I would like the opportunity to learn more and complete the process.”

This is absolutely, 100% what you should  not  do in your personal statements. If you visit the original statement, you’ll see we only removed about two total lines from this personal statement. That means it was about ten lines long altogether, which translates to about 1,200 characters.

That is  much  too short for a personal statement. You don’t want to use the entire 28,000 characters, but you don’t want to write something less than a page long either. There’s almost no usable information here.

The writer doesn’t mention what specialty she’s hoping to pursue, nor does she mention a single strength that would make her a good candidate for the position. Beyond not mentioning any strengths, though, she highlights her failures!

If there’s something negative on your transcripts or application, it’s fine to touch on it and give a brief explanation for it and how you corrected it, but it certainly shouldn’t make up the bulk of your personal statement.

This one is just bad from beginning to end.

An image of an unamused face emoji

Example Personal Statement 5

“While medical school can teach a student the science behind medicine, I truly believe it’s a doctor’s personality and character that ultimately determines his or her success with patients. One of my greatest qualities […] is my ability to quickly connect with people. At an orientation lecture […] a speaker discussed how […] anesthesiologists are among the best at making great first impressions. […] Patients always seem to fear going to sleep more than [surgery]. Yet, an anesthesiologist may have but just a few moments […] to instill confidence in their patients. […] Since that orientation, I’ve prided myself on mastering how quickly I can earn a patient’s trust. Enjoying the challenge of making a great first impression in the shortest amount of time is among the most important reasons that have guided me into the specialty of anesthesiology.”

Let’s end on a strong note. This is another exceptional example of what your personal statements should look like. This writer has a good grasp of number three on the “Don’t List.”  Don’t waste a lot of time talking about why you want to be a doctor.  

The writer touches on med school by saying, “ While medical school can teach a student the science behind medicine. ” Then she immediately goes beyond school into the real world.

In doing so, she also showcases a very important characteristic she’s developed – putting people at ease – and tells us the specialization she’s chosen. She also explains why her ability to put people at ease is so important for her chosen specialization.

She ends by saying that this skill was challenging for her, but the way it’s written shows that she was not only up for the challenge but legitimately  loved  it.

This whole statement is well-written, well-organized, and covers all the important aspects of what the residency selection committee wants to know about a person.

Image of a star-struck grinning emoji

In Conclusion

The most important things to remember when writing your residency personal statement are, to be honest, authentic, specific, and grammatically correct. You’ve already earned your degree; that alone shows the selection committee that you have what it takes to be a doctor because you already are one.

You just have to show that you have a passion for medicine and that you’ll bring something unique and important to their team. If you can do those things, you should be well on your way to the interview process.

Related Readings:

The Best Laptop for Medical School Guide Here

5 Best MCAT Prep Books, According to Med Students

5 Best MCAT Prep Courses, According to Med Students

The Ultimate Medical School Personal Statement Guide: (w/ Common Prompts & Examples Analyzed by Our Admissions Experts)

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What to Learn From the Best Personal Statement Residency Examples

example personal statement residency

No Ideas for Writing? Personal Statements Residency Sample Can Help!

Personal statement is one of the mandatory requirements for residency application. It’s a short essay where students tell the admissions office about themselves and why they should be allowed to take the program. This is one of the ways an applicant can set themselves apart from the numerous other contenders and improve their chances of getting picked. Sounds simple? That’s because any personal statements residency sample can prove it.

excellent residency personal statement sample

Actually, a residency personal statement is a nerve-racking paper that many individuals struggle to create. It can present various challenges because students are pressured to impress the admissions board. However, once you understand some of the basics of approaching this task, it can become an enjoyable experience. So pay attention to the various tips and tricks we’ve collected here, and check out some personal statement residency examples for an even better understanding.

Go Through Our Samples Collection

Having some ready-made residency application personal statement examples may help a lot. Especially if they’re created by true experts and have helped real applicants to achieve their goals. So look at these and pick up one that best suits your admission needs to refer to during writing.

internal medicine personal statement sample

Appropriate Format for Personal Statement for Residency Examples

A residency personal statement is short and should range between 500 and 700 words. It follows a simple format of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

The opening paragraph aims to make the reviewer’s first impression, so it should capture attention. Open with an anecdote to hook your reader. Also, you’re able to explore example residency personal statements to see what others often incorporate in this part.

Your body paragraphs should elaborate on your main thesis. It’s the most vital section in a good residency personal statement format. Connect the story to your professional life, highlighting how you intend to move forward. Then, demonstrate any change or growth you’ve experienced, introducing conflicts and how you resolved them. In the last body paragraph, illustrate the kind of specialist you aim to become.

The final paragraph should be a conclusion that ties it all together. Note that in most personal statement for residency examples, the summary part contains no new information. So it should only be a closure by painting an image or providing a callback to the introduction.

emergency medicine personal statement sample

Points to Consider When Exploring Residency Personal Statement Example

When checking examples written by others, note the elements that should appear in your paper. They include the following.

  • Reasons for Taking the Specialty

Aim to convince the committee about your interest by providing detailed information and experiences that showcase your genuine interest. Think about solid reasons that made you pursue the specialty, and if you feel blank, check out a sample personal statement for residency for some ideas, but adapt them to your case.

  • Your Career Aims 

What do you intend to achieve in your career in the long term? Do those aims align with the path you are taking? Research the residency you want to take and understand what they offer and whether it fits your purposes.

  • What You Expect from the Residency

Your document should show why you want to undertake the residency and what you aim to gain from it. Highlight some of the program’s strengths, such as curriculum, faculty, research opportunities, and culture. Do your research on the training program and review some example personal statements residency to see how to approach this.

  • Weaknesses 

There might be some red flags in your CV, and that’s okay. The program’s admission committee will notice them, and you might want to use the personal statement to explain what caused these red flags and what the challenges have taught you.

Useful Tips on How to Write a Good Personal Statement for Residency

While it might initially be intimidating, writing a compelling residency application document isn’t so complicated. Let’s check out some simple tips on how to make yours marvelous. We also advise preparing some thematic personal statement residency examples in advance and using them to visualize expert tips.

Talk About What’s Not on Your CV

The residency statement is meant to complement your CV and other application documents, not repeat what you already listed there. Instead of listing your achievements again, provide examples of situations where you applied your skills or values. Also, describe experiences that sparked your inspiration to the medical field. You can review a personal statement for residency examples to see the type of experiences other people write about but use your own.

Be Honest if You Want to Create Something Outstanding

Your statement should reflect who you are as an individual and a professional. Resist the urge to exaggerate some of your achievements or lie in your document. There’s also no need to try copy-paste achievements from someone’s example, even if it looks perfect. Just be yourself; it has worked for many before you, as you will see in personal statement samples residency , and is the best way to bring out your authenticity.

Acquire Feedback

Have your document reviewed by another person, preferably persons familiar with writing this paper. It could be your mentor, practicing residents, or a professional adviser. Another good option is to seek advice from an experienced author of numerous writing examples. They might be able to identify errors or ways you can improve your document.

Some Ideas for Using Residency Personal Statements Samples

Even when you understand how to write a good personal statement for residency, there is usually some doubt about how your document should look. Thus, examples of well-written application docs provide a way to see how the rules of crafting this writing piece are applied to produce a powerful statement. Samples will help you identify how to combine elements such as tone, language, grammar, and structure to craft a good piece.

Online templates and examples you may find on Residencypersonalstatements.net can guide you on the structure and show you how to put all the needed details in writing. And although the personal statement needs to be “personal,” you can find many good ideas by exploring pro-made examples. Review various residency personal statement samples to capture how different writers approached this task on a personal level.

What Not to Do With Examples?

A ready-made sample will guide you in crafting your unique statement.  As a smart student, you shouldn’t be tempted to try and submit any of the residency personal statement example you find online. It risks your paper being plagiarized and will automatically disqualify your application.

Closing Remarks About Example Residency Personal Statements

Use best residency personal statement examples to inspire your own writing but don’t feel the need to match the experiences that authors have described. They might provide inconsistencies in your work. Remember, it’s a personal story telling the committee about your own professional growth, cases that shaped you, your own aspirations, and achievements. You just must make it about you. So if you find this task difficult or have some complexities with adopting ideas from residency personal statements samples, our expert writers are always here to help you.

effective residency personal statement sample

Comprehensive Writing Assistance From Top-Rated Admission Experts

In worth mentioning that respectable writing experts crafted all our examples according to unique customers’ needs and particular residency programs’ features. The good news is that specialists can also help you produce another original personal statement that will meet your own demands and be made based on your own information.

Leave your request via the order form, chat, or phone, and your perfect admission document will be delivered soon!

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Overview of Anesthesiologist Residency Length & Benefits of Studying Medical students don’t worry about anesthesiologist residency length due to future career possibilities. Every hospital needs experts in this sphere. Most surgeon operations require controllable sedation of the patient. The length of producers can even take hours. By completing an anesthesia residency, you can help a […]

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If you’ve considered becoming a nurse, you’re probably aware that following this noble career path now requires that you have a college education. It’s hardly surprising as it’ll be your duty to maintain and improve patients’ health in the direst of circumstances. If you want to be the best of the bests, it’s worth your […]

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How to Write Personal Statement for Residency? [with Examples]

example personal statement residency

by Talha Omer, MBA, M.Eng., Harvard & Cornell Grad

In personal statement tips & advice.

A career in medicine is a never-ending feat. If it isn’t the 4-year medical school, it’s the USMLE steps.

Done with your USMLE?

Well, here comes the residency.

There’s always something waiting for you just around the corner when you get into this field.

So, you are done with your medical school and cleared all the USMLE Steps. What now?

Well, now is the time to put pen to paper and convince the program director why you are the best fit for a residency. The academic side of your career is more or less over. You have your transcripts, and you have your USMLE scores, which are all good and dandy. Now, it’s more about why you chose your specialty and why you deserve a shot at an interview.

Confused about where to begin?

This article will cover the main steps of how to write a personal statement for a medical residency, along with an example of a successful residency personal statement.

By the end, you should have a pretty good idea of what you need your statement to look like. So, let’s begin.

In this Article

What is a Residency Personal Statement, and Why is it Important?

What should a personal statement reflect, time to gather ideas, opening: pinning your story to your interest in medicine, main essay: market your qualities and potential, end: tie everything together, sample personal statement and analysis.

As far as the program director, the admissions board, or anyone in charge is concerned, there are  two  “you’s.”

The academic “you” and the real-life “you.”

Your transcripts, degrees, and test scores are sufficient to paint the academic “you’s” picture.

Beyond that, the personal statement takes over.

Your residency essay is a page-long essay that gives a window into who you are. It is a peek into your life to find out why you are fit for a particular specialty. Finally, it tries to justify your choice of specialty by relating it to something profound that happened in your life experience.

Grades and transcripts become meaningless at a certain point because most people would have similar grades. Hence, a personal statement serves as a deal-maker in many instances.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of structuring your residency personal statement, let’s see what to include and avoid.

Your statement  must  include:

  • The reason why your chosen specialty appeals to you.
  • Skills, attributes, and qualities that will aid you in your residency.
  • What do you hope to achieve in the long run, your plans, etc.?
  • Why you chose the specific residency program, and what makes you a good fit?
  • A brief purview on why you set out to become a doctor. It would help if you had deeper insights to shed light on your professional and personal experiences.

Your personal statement  must not  include:

  • Anything that causes a barrier between your story and the reader, such as abbreviations, jargon, and acronyms. Don’t assume prior knowledge on the part of the reader.
  • Murky and unclear language sounds boring. Avoid generic writing and draw in the reader with detail and nuance.
  • Religious, ethical, racial, and/or political talk. Anything controversial doesn’t belong on your personal statement.
  • Bad grammar, informal/casual language, and poor sentence structure and punctuation.

Blankly staring at your keyboard isn’t going to accomplish much. So instead, we need to get our mind organized.

First, relax and loosen up a little. Then, to break the ice, you will begin by writing the first draft, which will include the following ideas:

  • What attracted you to medicine? Was this an event, an incident, an inspiration, or a specific life experience? What was it, and why did it move you in this direction?
  • What drew you to your chosen specialty? When did you know you wanted to pursue this specialty?
  • What barriers did you have to overcome to reach this stage? What lessons did these challenges teach you?
  • What do you think are your best qualities? When and where have you demonstrated these qualities?
  • Who are some of your role models, and why?
  • What is that one medical cause you care about the most? Why do you care about it?
  • What is your life’s most significant accomplishment?
  • Is there anything you haven’t stated on your resume but is an integral part of who you are?

While you entertain these ideas individually, you must write down as much detail as possible. Better yet, don’t stop correcting grammar or spelling. Instead, jot down whatever comes to mind without breaking the flow. After all, this is what brainstorming means.

Let your mind loose. There will be plenty of opportunities to structure everything later.

How to Structure your Personal Statement?

Now that you have gathered a lot of material, you might be tempted to start writing. First, however, it’s essential that you first understand what goes where.

Nothing is more off-putting than a poorly structured personal statement. But, remember, your personal statement is, in fact, an essay, which is why it should read like one.

A good essay has an opening paragraph that hooks the reader, the main body that adds detail, and a conclusion that leaves the reader satisfied.

Furthermore, it is equally essential that you practice brevity in your writing. The word limit, usually around 600 words, puts a significant constraint on your writing style. Detail can be good, but too much detail will rob you of valuable real estate.

The opening of your essay will set the tone for the rest of the personal statement. Here, it would be best if you began with a personal anecdote.

Remember, the objective here is to hook the reader.

By the end of the first paragraph, you should have established a link between your story and your interest in medicine.

So how to choose your opening anecdote? First, go through your brainstorming notes and check:

  • Do you recall any specific details?
  • Is it something unique to your life?
  • Is there an arc? Room for development?

You must have formed a little shell of a story in your mind by now. A story that only you can tell. A story that sits at the heart of your interest in medicine. Something that set you on this path. This is your anecdote.

Be sure to make it personal, drawing upon real-life people who might have played a part, and include things that shaped your interest in your specialty of choice. The first paragraph is where it’s OK to go into personal detail. The more personal it is, the better the picture you will paint.

So, you have narrated a unique anecdote from your real life. This anecdote indeed conveys a deeper insight into why you chose to pursue medicine.

But what has kept that pursuit alive until now? In other words, your story is incomplete until you insert the personal qualities that make you suitable for the specialty of your choice.

However, there is a difference between outright stating something, such as “I am a very patient person,” and showing why you are a patient person. The latter relies upon storytelling and doesn’t come off as pompous. Just remember that you need to relate your qualities to the setting of your anecdote that you began with. Your entire narrative must look organic. Anything out of place will take away the authenticity.

One thing that looks good on a personal statement is someone’s ability to grow and learn.

If you have an example where a particular event set you back, narrate it. Show how, instead of accepting defeat, you took it as an essential life lesson and learned from it.

The ability to learn from setbacks and the willpower to not be deterred are excellent qualities.

It would be best to end your essay so you can organically bring everything together.

It should leave the selection committee with a picture of who you are and why you are applying.

One thing that you must avoid at all costs is declarative sentences. Writing things like “And that’s why I believe I would make a great anesthesiologist” seems cheesy and too convenient.

Instead, try ending on a call back to where you began the essay. Again, try to connect the start and the end as naturally as possible without forcing a specific outcome.

Here , you can read an example personal statement for residency in internal medicine. Don’t forget to read its analysis too.


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example personal statement residency

Match Application Blog

Residency personal statement samples and feedback.

Residency Personal Statement Samples and Feedback

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want my team to help you with your Residency Application, click here.

Sample 1: The Role Model | General Surgery

“Medicine is not a job, it is a way of life.” As the son of a cardiothoracic surgeon, my father’s mantra constantly echoed in my mind. I was raised in an environment where sacrifice and duty were familiar concepts from a young age. While my father did his best to balance work and family life, there were countless occasions when he had to prioritize his patients and commitments over personal events. Seeing his dedication and the impact he had on the lives of his patients, residents, and staff left an indelible impression on me.

After four challenging years studying biomedical engineering in undergrad, I was fortunate to be accepted to the University of Miami’s School of Medicine. While I was genuinely fascinated with almost every discipline of medicine, I had a particular interest in surgery. To give myself time to mature and explore this path further, I elected to take a research year after my second year of medical school and was able to secure a position in the laboratory of Dr. Seth Reigns, director of the Miami Transplant Institute. In the lab, I was tasked with characterizing Regulatory CAR-T cell populations in nonhuman primates. Excitingly, we found that two infusions of Regulatory CAR-T cells are able to prolong renal allograft survival in the absence of traditional immunosuppression. From a clinical perspective, witnessing the transformative impact of liver transplantation on critically ill patients was awe-inspiring. The chance to participate in donor procurements and witness the miraculous recoveries of patients postoperatively further solidified my resolve. Dr. Reigns, a true life-giver, provided me with a profound appreciation for the field of transplant surgery.

During my research year, I had the opportunity to hone my research skills and make significant contributions. However, it was my immersive experience as a third-year clerk on the trauma service that solidified my desire to pursue a career in surgery. Witnessing the remarkable expertise of the chief residents and attending surgeons in swiftly assessing and diagnosing patients amidst the chaos of the trauma bay, where vital information was often scarce, left me mesmerized. The urgency with which they inserted chest tubes and promptly performed emergent exploratory laparotomies was nothing short of exhilarating and profoundly inspiring. Equally fulfilling was the privilege of accompanying these patients throughout their hospitalization, observing their remarkable recovery from being intubated in the intensive care unit to the triumphant moment of their eventual discharge. This comprehensive experience further affirmed my passion for surgical intervention and reinforced my unwavering commitment to becoming a surgeon.

In addition to my research endeavors, I also became involved with Operation SECURE, a nonprofit crisis center in Miami that offers crisis counseling services free of charge. This experience has been humbling and rewarding, particularly as I counsel individuals struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. Drawing from my background in transplant surgery, I am able to provide a unique perspective on the long-term consequences of addiction. While surgical intervention can address these issues this experience demonstrated the importance of preventative medicine as well.

Looking ahead, my goal is to pursue a residency in general surgery, with the ultimate aim of specializing in abdominal transplant surgery through a fellowship program. I am well aware that the challenges I will face in my training are formidable, but I am constantly reminded of my father’s voice, urging me to approach this as more than just a job—a true lifestyle that demands my unwavering commitment. As I embark on this journey, I am eager to give everything I have to the field of surgery. It is my steadfast dedication to making a profound difference in the lives of patients, the pursuit of knowledge and innovation, and the opportunity to live my dream that fuels my passion for general surgery and the transformative field of transplantation.

Commentary on Sample 1

The first paragraph is what will set the tone for the entire personal statement. Ideally, you can open up with an engaging first sentence that will “grab” the reader. In this case, the applicant is providing a quote from her father describing the sacrifices that one must make as a physician. The applicant then sets up her father as a role model and the role this played in her decision to pursue medicine.

Note that often applicants feel the need to be “too creative” in the opening paragraph. A quote from a mentor or influential person or patient is ok, but you don’t have to always include quotes or extremely unusual stories. Further, recognize that some applicants will have more unique or interesting personal experiences than others. Not every applicant is a cancer survivor or has donated an organ to a family member or is the product of a war-torn country. The overall goal of the personal statement is to provide a concise, polished essay demonstrating your motivations for residency. Along the way, you tell your story while highlighting key aspects of your personality and CV.

These next two paragraphs are perhaps the most important. Here the applicant dives into what made her want to become a general surgeon. She talks about her research  experiences in a surgical lab and her clinical experiences with her mentor Dr. Reigns. Note that while she is not simply rehashing her CV, she does mention her academic accomplishments and drives key points home. Note that while the applicant elected to open the first paragraph with a quote from her father, she could have also chosen to open with an internal thought or reflection from these clinical experiences with Dr. Reigns (i.e., “I’ll never forget the moment we completed the venous anastomosis and ended ischemia time. Blood began perfusing the pale liver as it pinked up.”)

This paragraph draws on another crucial experience that the applicant had outside of the lab/OR. Remember, you are presenting yourself as a whole person so it is important to mention any other influential experiences (volunteering, service, etc.) that you are particularly proud of. Also, note that while the applicant is serving as a crisis volunteer, she circles back and relates it to her prior experiences above.

The final paragraph is also very critical. Here you should mention your long-term goals. It is ok to be vague and specific at the same time. Finally, you should try to tie things up and if possible, connect them to any comments made in the first paragraph. Here the applicant paraphrases her father’s quote that opens the personal statement. Finally, the applicant affirms their choice for applying to general surgery and provides an optimistic look on their future training.

As a final note remember that the personal statement is just one piece of an entire application. While it is important most applicants do not get an interview based on a personal statement, however, rest assured some applicants do not get an interview based on a poor personal statement. The vast majority of personal statements (~85%) are simply acceptable documents that tell your personal journey while mentioning key aspects of your application. They are well-written, logical, and polished with no grammatical errors. A small portion (less than 5%) are truly incredible literary documents that are beautifully written and tell an incredible story. Still, these personal statements will likely do little in the way of getting you an interview. Finally, the remaining 10% of personal statements are the ones that can have your application dismissed. These personal statements are unpolished, contain grammatical errors, or are trying too hard to fall in the top 5% and come across poorly.

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Sample 2: The Firefighter | Emergency Medicine

For as long as I can recall, it seemed my destiny was always to become a firefighter. Growing up as the son and grandson of two generations of City of Toledo Firefighters, I witnessed firsthand the selflessness and bravery displayed by these everyday heroes. They were the first responders who fearlessly confronted emergencies, rushing into flaming buildings and establishing deep connections with the community. It was their dedication that inspired me to follow in their footsteps. However, my path took an unexpected turn after high school when I decided to take a position working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) prior to college.

During that transformative year, as I immersed myself in the world of emergency medical services, I had the privilege of interacting with emergency physicians both in the field and in the trauma bay. During these experiences, I was immediately captivated by their ability to think critically, remain calm in the face of chaos, and save lives. It was in those moments that I realized my true calling lay in the field of emergency medicine.

Coming from a blue-collar family, I understood the importance of hard work and determination. As the first person in my family to pursue a college degree, I enrolled in Owens Community College to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Pre-medicine. During this time, I continued to work as an EMT on weekends and during summers, financing my education through steadfast commitment and sheer determination. After two demanding years at the community college, my efforts were rewarded when I earned a full scholarship to the University of Toledo to complete my bachelor’s degree before gaining admission to the Toledo School of Medicine. From the moment I stepped into medical school, my decision to pursue emergency medicine remained resolute. However, I recognized the value of acquiring a comprehensive understanding of various medical disciplines, as emergency medicine demands proficiency in almost every aspect of medicine. I approached every clinical rotation with enthusiasm, eager to develop the diverse skill set required to excel in the dynamic environment of the emergency department.

As a testament to my passion for the field, I took the initiative to establish the University of Toledo’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group, creating a platform where like-minded individuals could come together. Through this group, I organized lunch talks by members of the department and facilitated shadowing opportunities for first and second-year medical students. Furthermore, I dedicated two months of elective time to work alongside emergency medicine residents and physicians during prehospital care rotations across Toledo, solidifying my passion for the specialty.

Looking ahead, I envision a future where I split my practice between a large teaching academic center and an underserved, rural community. In the academic center, I aim to contribute to the education of residents and students, sharing my experiences and expertise to shape the next generation of emergency physicians. Simultaneously, I am deeply committed to serving in a rural or underserved setting, where I can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need. I believe that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, deserves access to high-quality emergency care, and I am eager to provide comprehensive and compassionate medical services to underserved populations. With the unwavering motivation and dedication inherited from two generations of first responders, I am ready to embark on the next phase of my training in emergency medicine.

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Sample 3: the impoverished| primary care/im.

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” These powerful words, spoken by my mother, have echoed in my mind since childhood. Growing up in a single-parent home on the south side of Chicago, my mother worked tirelessly as a nurse in Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s emergency department. Every night my brother and I would wait for her to arrive after her shift ended at 7 pm. As she shared stories of dedicated physicians and life-saving interventions, I began to view these doctors in the same manner my friends viewed superheroes or sports stars, inspiring me to pursue a career in medicine.

As an African American in a neighborhood lacking professional role models, the path to becoming a physician seemed distant if not impossible. However, my mother’s belief in the power of dreams instilled in me the courage to strive for the extraordinary. With determination, I worked diligently throughout grade school and middle school, propelled by the aspiration to transcend the limitations of my circumstances. Eventually, I was admitted to Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, a magnet school named after a civil rights activist and one of my personal heroes.

Continuing to embrace every opportunity, I was able to attend Northwestern University on a full academic scholarship, where I immersed myself in neuroscience studies. Additionally, I dedicated my time as a tutor, providing support to underserved children in my former neighborhood. Witnessing the impact of education and healthcare disparities further ignited my passion for addressing these inequities.

Entering the University of Chicago Medical School, I embarked on a transformative journey. During my third-year clerkships, I discovered my calling in primary care and internal medicine. Although initially drawn to the fast-paced environment of the emergency department, I found the thoughtful, cerebral approach of internal medicine captivating. Each day, I eagerly embraced the challenge of unraveling complex medical puzzles, weaving together a patient’s diverse comorbidities to form a comprehensive list of differential diagnoses.

Following my third year, I took a gap year dedicated to serving underserved populations in Chicago. This experience provided a profound understanding of social determinants of health and the importance of preventive medicine. It solidified my commitment to bridging the gaps in healthcare access and outcomes, particularly within urban communities like my own. Looking forward, my vision encompasses practicing as a primary care physician in an urban academic center, where I can not only provide compassionate patient care but also mentor and inspire medical students and residents. Furthermore, I aspire to conduct research that addresses social determinants of health, striving to make tangible improvements in my community.

Reflecting on my journey, I realize that my mother’s quote encapsulates the essence of my pursuit. With each step I’ve taken, from the dinner table conversations with my mother to my experiences in medical school, I have seen firsthand that dreams can indeed be transformed into reality. By embracing the challenges, dedicating myself to lifelong learning, and advocating for equitable healthcare, I am ready to embark on a fulfilling career in internal medicine—a path that resonates with my values, aspirations, and the indomitable spirit instilled in me by my remarkable mother. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” These words, once whispered to me at the beginning of my journey, now reverberate with even greater significance as I stand at the threshold of a future where I can make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

Sample 4: The War Survivor| Internal Medicine

The Afghan Civil War erupted when I was in elementary school. Soon after, the Taliban occupied Afghanistan, and, as a girl, I was barred from my school. I had always dreamed of becoming the first female doctor in my family, and this was a goal that required extensive education, let alone elementary school. My family uprooted everything to migrate to Pakistan so that I would be able to continue my education. Living in a country where we were not welcomed, bearing financial burdens, and worrying about safety issues, especially for girls, were the least of the challenges we faced, but that did not hold me back.

Still, that was not the last challenge I faced. When I graduated high school, I could not afford to attend medical school in Pakistan. Instead, I accepted the offer to serve as a teacher at our community school. Teaching at such a young age, tutoring those similar in age to me, and managing a class of thirty students taught me a great deal of discipline and leadership, skills which I have since carried with me throughout my career.

A decade later, the Taliban regime was finally over. We returned to Afghanistan, and I attended the entrance exam for Kabul Medical University. Among thousands of other participants, I was part of the lucky 25% who passed the exam. My endurance had paid off. Finally in medical school, I found myself fascinated by the detailed knowledge and interdisciplinary approach of my internist attendings. Their synchronized orchestration of patient care resonated with my experiences managing diverse students, while their instructive whiteboard sessions on pathophysiology echoed my own tenure at the front of a classroom. These encounters served as enlightening examples, aiding me in sculpting my identity as a burgeoning physician.

On my internal medicine rotation, I was responsible for the care of a patient with multiple myeloma. His low hemoglobin level led to significant limitations in his daily activity. His symptoms were initially attributed solely to his condition, but I was not satisfied with this explanation. When I ordered his iron studies, we were able to diagnose him with concomitant iron deficiency anemia. An iron infusion quickly helped improve his quality of life, which was precious to my patient, as I knew from the time I had spent with him. That ability to help my patient made me finally feel like the doctor I aspired to be. I had found my home in internal medicine. The convergence of laboratory tests, imaging studies, and critical analysis to reach a diagnosis fuels my desire to become an internist.

Despite my passion for internal medicine, women in Afghanistan faced scant opportunities in this field. This was due to a lack of female mentors and sociocultural constraints against females being on night shifts in predominantly male hospitals. Undeterred, I embarked on another journey away from home, this time to the United States. Here, I secured a position as a medical scribe, working in tandem with various healthcare providers. This experience allowed me to absorb their expertise, familiarize myself with the U.S. healthcare system, and diligently prepare for and ultimately pass the USMLE exams.

I have come a long way, and still have a long way to go. My accomplishment of becoming my family’s first female doctor fills me with pride. Yet, I aspire to achieve more – to become a distinguished internist and an empowering role model for the women of Afghanistan. I intend to personify the belief: if you dare to dream, you are destined to achieve.

example personal statement residency

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Sample 5: Changing Specialties| Internal Medicine

When I was a senior in high school, my girl scout troop would organize weekly medical trips to rural parts of our community, working with local physicians to provide basic medical services to underserved patient populations. I was particularly struck by the excellent care and bedside manner of one of the physicians who used his bilingualism to connect with a non-English speaking patient who had faced significant challenges in accessing care. The doctor’s small gesture left a lasting impression on me, and, for the first time, I realized not only the curative but also the humanistic power of medicine to connect with patients across cultural barriers and in some of their most vulnerable moments. Though I had always had a proclivity for science, it was not until that moment that I had ever seriously considered a career in medicine.

In medical school, I was captivated by pre-clinical coursework in pathology and lectures on disease pathophysiology. I was torn between pathology and internal medicine during my clinical rotations, as I enjoyed the cerebral, deductive nature of each field and the fact that neither was limited to a single organ system or patient population. The opportunity to be the frontline diagnostician and to utilize advanced equipment and laboratory methods eventually won me over to pathology.

However, during my pathology residency, the pendulum started to swing back toward internal medicine. I vividly remember the turning point in my decision making. I was staring down the barrel of my microscope at dozens of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes on a peripheral blood smear. I paged the internal medicine team to help confirm the diagnosis of cerebral malaria. Hearing the excitement and celebration of the medical team on the other end, who had been struggling to identify the etiology of the patient’s undulant fevers and fatigue, I felt a pang of envy, a distinct feeling that I was missing out on the human factor of medicine.

Similarly, in my research on the utility of galectin-3 immunohistochemistry staining in papillary carcinoma of the thyroid, I found myself increasingly drawn to the human impacts of scientific investigation. For example, after my successful completion of several experiments, our department was able to secure funding to examine a wider range of malignancies. I was particularly excited when my research enabled our hospital to offer estrogen and progesterone receptor testing and hormonal therapy for breast cancer patients. I quickly realized that I did not just want to diagnose but to directly treat patients, and with each passing day, I yearned more for the ability to heal through empathic listening and the formation of meaningful rapport with patients.

Eventually, I decided to undertake the goal of retraining in internal medicine. To this end, I elected to travel to the United States to undertake hands-on clinical experiences. My time in the U.S. gave me firsthand exposure to a complex healthcare system and a deeper appreciation for the impact of advanced diagnostic technology, cutting-edge treatment modalities, and patient-centered, evidence-based care. I also gained confidence in my abilities to function as a member of a large, interdisciplinary care team, drawing on a skillset I had cultivated from many years of leading my girl scout troop and performing in church choirs.

I aspire to enter a residency program with an emphasis on strong clinical skills training, excellent research opportunities, and a dedication to clinical mentorship. Moreover, I want to be part of a program with strong camaraderie among residents and faculty and a spirit of collegiality and tireless dedication to patient care. Ultimately, I believe that my background in and extensive knowledge of pathology, my compassionate disposition, and my penchant for diligence and collaboration will make me a strong applicant to your residency program. Thank you for your consideration of my application.

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5 Psychiatry Residency Personal Statement Examples

Psychiatry residency personal statement examples

Reviewing psychiatry  residency personal statement examples  is a great way to get inspired when you are starting to  prepare for residency applications  and brainstorming for your own personal statement. It gives you some idea of the kind of structure you are expected to follow and the information you need to provide. This is important because personal statements for psychiatry residency can be especially challenging to draft. Not only do we typically find it difficult to talk about ourselves, but in a residency personal statement, you need to find a perfect balance between highlighting your strengths and not sounding overconfident. 

Furthermore, most students understand how much weight the personal statement carries, whether you're navigating the  ERAS or  CaRMS application, which adds an extra layer of anxiety. This essay is your only chance to speak to the residency directors directly and explain why you deserve a spot in their program in your own words before the residency interview. So, it is imperative that you take the time to write and polish it until it is compelling!

In this blog, we share five psychiatry residency personal statement examples and five proven strategies for writing a stronger personal statement to help you improve your chances of matching to the right program. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 16 min read

Psychiatry residency personal statement example #1 .

I didn’t know that I wanted to be a psychiatrist until I started seeing a psychiatrist myself. It wasn't one because I saw them doing something and immediately wanted to do the same thing for a living. Rather, they helped me learn to be more introspective, which helped me figure out what kind of doctor I wanted to be. 

I come from a small family of overachievers who rarely stop and smell the roses. My mother is a social worker with 2 PhDs, my father owns a physiotherapy clinic, and my older brother was a professional athlete. Growing up around these hard-working people meant that I had no choice but to pick up the same habit. For as long as I can remember, every member of my family has always been busy. As a result, I always had to find a way to stay busy too. That's how I learned how to play three musical instruments, compete in two different sports, and lead a debate team while keeping up with my AP classes. 

Despite this, my family was close-knit. We always spent holidays together, and once a week, we volunteered at a local homeless shelter. I would watch my dad talk to people and provide them with supplies or tips that they would then come back and tell him had worked wonders for their back pains. I would also watch my mother put a smile and hope in people's eyes with a short conversation. I knew that I wanted to do what they did. Help people in the same way, but I wasn't sure which career path would be best for me.

Everything changed when I was 19, and I lost my brother to an illness that too many people are secretly battling: depression. My brother committed suicide at the age of 28, we later discovered that he had been depressed for some time. I didn't know how to deal with my anger and grief, so I buried myself in work. As you can imagine, that didn't work for long, and I needed to speak with someone who could give me better coping mechanisms. 

My psychiatrist helped me develop healthier work habits and coping mechanisms. He taught me how to be more psychologically minded and helped me realize that psychiatry combines the two aspects of my parents' professions that I love. As a psychiatrist, you get to use psychotherapy to help people in various ways and you also need to have a solid understanding of the human body and psychopharmaceuticals. 

I was completing my undergraduate at the time, but my interest had been piqued. I started to volunteer in the psychiatric ward at the hospital, and not only did I learn a lot about treating the mentally ill with respect and ensuring that they have autonomy, but it solidified my desire to become a psychiatrist. 

When I got to medical school, my interest grew. I would read the psychiatry textbooks in my spare time, diligently take notes, and excel at every exam. My curious nature would lead me to ask more questions in class. A conversation with one of my professors, Dr. John Doe, even inspired a research project on how depressive symptoms manifest differently in people of color, complicating the diagnosis process. We are currently working on the research project together, and hope to publish our findings soon. 

During my clerkship, a young woman came into the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath. She claimed that she had asthma and we decided to run some tests. I was tasked with monitoring the patient and we started talking. As she opened up to me about her struggles with Asthma, I began suspecting that she was describing a panic attack instead. I brought it up to my resident and attending who then followed up with some additional tests.

As it turns out, the patient had been having panic attacks for most of her teenagers and was not asthmatic at all. The attending sat with her for almost two hours, explaining precisely what a panic attack is, what she can do when she has one, and how therapy can help her identify her triggers and deal with them. 

I remember admiring the attending's patience and professionalism. Beyond that, I remember thinking about all the different ways in which our mental health affects our physical health and how we are just starting to understand those ways.

I hope to join the efforts of those who are helping the people who are already battling mental illness, those supporting the people who are suffering from it but don't know it, and those who are researching to help us understand more about brain chemistry and how our minds work. 

I believe that my sense of curiosity, work ethic, passion for the field, and psychological mindedness will make me a good psychiatrist. Now, I hope that I get a chance to train and learn from some of the best psychiatrists in the county so that one day, I, too, can help someone overcome difficulties and maybe even inspire another young woman to follow in my footsteps. 

"Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it." My high school counselor wrote this quote by Buddha on our whiteboard during my senior year and told us that, lucky for us, she was there to help us with the first part of our work. I remember rolling my eyes and thinking that I didn't need all that because I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I was going to be a neurosurgeon. 

I knew I wanted to be a neurosurgeon since I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy in which Dr. Sheperd had to figure out how to remove a tumor from someone's spine without paralyzing them. Of course, I now know that although very entertaining, Grey's Anatomy does not have a very accurate portrayal of surgery or medicine. But I remember thinking that it must be amazing to spend your days working on such complicated cases, thinking outside the box to come up with creative solutions to problems that were endangering people's lives.  

I've always loved a good puzzle. It is the reason I enjoy things like sudoku, and all my favorite books revolve around solving mysteries. I simply enjoy that eureka moment, and as silly as it feels now, in high school, I was convinced that neurosurgeons got the best eureka moments. 

My mind first started changing during a conversation with that same high school counselor who informed me that I would make a great psychologist or psychiatrist after asking me a few questions. I was baffled! I asked her why she thought so, and she told me that those fields seemed to align with everything I was telling her I wanted from my future career. Even though I didn’t believe her, I couldn’t help but look into it.

I knew that I wanted to become a doctor because I'd always been fascinated by how the human body, particularly the human brain, works. So, I was more interested in psychiatry than psychology. After doing some research on the internet, I reached out to a psychiatrist in my community and asked to shadow them for a few weeks. As I observed the doctor and later on worked with patients as a volunteer at the XYZ clinic in college, I began to place more value on other aspects of medical care. Specifically, patient interaction. 

I remember one instance where the doctors were having difficulty with a patient. She was 16 years old, seemingly in good health, but she repeatedly showed up at the clinic complaining of migraines, asking for pain medication, and refusing to get examined properly. After a few visits, she was referred to the hospital for further testing, but she never went and simply kept coming back to ask for pain medication. Most of the doctors and staff had pegged her as an addict, but Dr. Diallo instructed me to talk to her and get her information. I took some extra time to talk to her every time she came in, usually documenting her symptoms, and making a bit of small talk. On what must've been the patient's fifth or sixth visit to the clinic that month, she finally opened up to me and explained that she wears glasses, but they are broken, and her family doesn't have the money to fix them or take her to an ophthalmologist. Once we knew what the issue was, we were able to help her get a new pair of glasses.

That was one of many interactions that helped me realize that talking to patients, especially listening to them, is one of the most important aspects of medicine. I wanted to choose a specialty that would allow me to spend time with patients, have that connection and help them with the root issues instead of just managing their symptoms. 

It only took a few days on the psychiatry rotation during my clerkship to realize that it was the only specialty that would allow me to solve problems, find creative ways to help my patients, and interact with them constantly. So, as it turns out, my high school counselor, Mrs. Bloom, was not wrong after all.

Now that I have discovered my work, I am ready to give myself to it with all my heart. 

Use our residency match calculator to assess your match chances and find out if you are a competitive applicant for your chosen specialty. ","label":"Tip:","title":"Tip:"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

Psychiatry residency personal statement example #3

Growing up, I seemed to be on the path to success. I was an honor roll student, in the top 10% of my class, an elected student body member, and I was representing my school on the varsity soccer team. I already knew that I wanted to become a doctor, and there was no stopping me. 

However, I was under the false impression that the road to medical school would be easy. What I now realize is that I was accomplishing a lot without much conscious effort on my part. I was raised by parents who believed that hard work, academic excellence, and the pursuit of knowledge were always paramount. If my brother or I came home with a grade below A, my parents would act as if we had failed the assignment or exam. So, getting good grades became almost automatic to me.

I achieved great academic success, but I wasn't actively seeking knowledge or learning the true meaning of hard work at that stage in my life. I never really set any goals and worked towards them. I simply did what I felt would be just enough to make my parents happy.

I was never genuinely challenged until we relocated back to my parent's home country, Ghana, for a few years. While we had visited the country several times in the past, living there and going to school was a completely different experience. For the first time in my life, my performance was less than stellar, and I struggled to find my footing. Doing the bare minimum was no longer enough. It was when I found myself pulling all-nighters just to meet the graduation requirements that I knew that something had to change. 

I eventually realized that the problem was that the amount of effort I was putting in had not changed, despite the more difficult coursework I had to deal with. So, when my parents came back to the US, I took a different path. I'd found a premedical school in ThatTown Barbados that offered a four-year curriculum specifically for premeds. So, I packed up my bags and flew halfway across the world, anxious but eager. I wanted to prove to myself that I could rise to the occasion. I was finally setting my own goals, coming up with plans to reach those goals, and putting in the work. 

The dynamic between the mind and brain was always a topic of conversation around the dinner table in our house while I was growing up. My father is a psychologist, and my mother is a neuropathologist, and as much as they tried not to bring their work home to us, it always found its way into our conversations. I am not sure if their discussions led to my fascination with the human mind or if I asked them so many questions about it because I was already interested in the subject, but I was hooked either way. 

Even though I was a premedical student, no one was surprised when I decided to major in psychology instead of one of the natural sciences in college. I wanted to understand the mind and behavior better and hopefully get some answers to many of the questions that constantly plagued me. I wanted to know why two brains can have such completely different reactions in the face of the same external circumstances. I wanted to understand how and why our internal states transform our outer experiences. 

My degree in psychology was starting to shed some light on the complexity of the human mind. I was learning about the psychopathologies of mental illness and the anatomical and biological basis of psychiatric disorders. The more answers I got, the more questions I seemed to have. My curiosity and affinity for my mother often led me to her lab. We would discuss what I was learning in school as I watched her dissect neurological tissue under a microscope. During one of those many conversations, she reminded me how little we actually know about the brain and the mind and how we have so few resources available to help those struggling with mental illness. 

At the time, I was getting close to finishing my degree, and I had been working for a research facility conducting a clinical trial for a new anxiety medication. My mother's comment stuck with me, and it made me think about some of the experiences that the participants of the trial had been sharing with me. I remember one particular young woman in the trial who had explained to me that she did not know that she had anxiety. She always thought that everyone had headaches, stomach pain, and insomnia when they were stressed. 

When I finally got to medical school, it was with the full intention of becoming a psychiatrist. My years of learning about psychology and working with patients who had been suffering in silence for so long had convinced me that I was on the right path. I believe that as psychiatrists, we have the ability to improve people's quality of life by not only helping them mentally but also alleviating physical pain. 

During my internal medicine rotation in medical school, I was able to help a patient who came in presenting with intractable nausea and vomiting. She was about sixteen years old, and her medical workup was normal; she was admitted for observation because, although we couldn't find a cause, she had already thrown up twice in the space of two hours while being in the hospital. I spent some time speaking with her. She was timid at first, but she eventually opened to me and talked to me about a pretty difficult home situation that she was dealing with. My instincts told me that her problem might be more emotional than physical, so I discussed it with my resident. I was thrilled when I visited her a few days later on the psychiatric floor and found that she had finished all her food and had not thrown up once. 

Psychiatry allows me to continue learning about the mind and the brain while helping alleviate others' suffering, and that is why it is the perfect specialty for me. I believe that I am a good fit for it because I am not only passionate about it, but I am curious, compassionate, and very willing to learn. I am confident that with training, I can become a great psychiatrist. 

When they called my name on the day of my kindergarten graduation, I jumped out of my chair, ran to the microphone, and proudly proclaimed: "I am going to fix mummy's brain." I had a big smile on my face that slowly disappeared as no one clapped for me the way they had done when my classmates said what they were going to be in the future. It took a few very long seconds, but eventually, my mother started clapping slowly, and a few other people joined in. 

I am not sure what I felt at that moment because I do not remember any of it, but whenever I watch that video, I want to cry in shame and clap for myself a little. I like knowing that I always knew what I wanted to do, but I wish I had known better than to say something like that on a stage in front of my entire neighborhood. My mother's battle with mental illness was not a secret, though. One of my earliest memories is of her being carried away by men in scrubs, kicking, and screaming while my older sister tried to distract me with a doll. She was a paranoid schizophrenic, and I watched her fight her mind for over twenty years before she decided to take her life. 

My mother is the reason I first got curious about the brain and mental illness. As a child, I didn't understand it very well, but she repeatedly told me that she was just a little sick in the brain but that the doctors would fix it. As a teenager, I understood it a little better, and I spent a lot of time researching what it meant to be a schizophrenic. I remember being both fascinated and angry at the complex ways in which our own minds can cause us harm. As an adult in college, I understood that my mother was not the only person struggling with this illness and that many others are also struggling in ways that are very different but also very similar to hers, and I wanted to help. 

Growing up, my sister always made sure that I understood how to treat my mother with respect and dignity, even when she was going through a difficult episode. I spent most of my high school years volunteering in a psychiatric care facility, and I learned similar values there too. One of the doctors I worked with often complimented me on talking to the residents and making them a part of every decision instead of just telling them what to do like many other volunteers assumed they were supposed to do. 

I believe that my years caring for my mom and the residents of the XYZ facility helped me understand that the stigma surrounding mental illness often invites alienation, judgment, and other forms of gross misconduct. To be a good psychiatrist, you need to be more than just competent and knowledgeable in the discipline, but also empathetic and understanding of patients' daily struggles with their illness and society. 

By the time my mother passed away, I was in medical school, and my desire to help her had grown into a love for the field of psychiatry. I especially like the fact that even though we do not fully understand all mental illnesses yet, and we don't have a cure for many of them - we are able to provide some patients with the tools they need to live full, healthy lives using both pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies. 

I believe that my compassion, discipline, and passion for the field will allow me to strive in your residency program and eventually join the efforts of the many other psychiatrists who were able to help people like my mom live as long as she did. 

5 tips for writing a compelling psychiatry residency personal statement

Keep in mind that your residency personal statement is one of many application components, so you should use it to provide the residency program directors with additional information about you. For example, you should avoid rehashing the experiences that are listed on your  residency CV . They already have that document as well as your  ERAS experience section . Instead, talk about what you learned from those experiences and how they helped you prepare for psychiatry residency.  "}]">

While psychiatry programs are not among the most competitive residency specialties, they are becoming increasingly popular, so it is best to have a strong, compelling application if you want to match to a good program. 

Quite important. Your personal statement is your chance to tell the residency directors why you’ve decided to pursue your specialty and why you would be good at it in your own words. It also gives them a chance to evaluate your communication skills. So, make sure you take the time to write a strong and detailed personal statement. 

Unless otherwise stated, your residency personal statement should have between 650 to 850 words. 

We recommend giving yourself at least six weeks to work on your statement. That is long enough for you to brainstorm, write, edit and polish your residency personal statement. 

After reading your statement, the residency program director should be convinced that you are not only interested in the psychiatry residency program, but that you are the right candidate for it. So, talk about why you are interested in the specialty, and what qualities make you a good fit for it

Not many International Medical Graduates match psychiatry programs, but do not let that discourage you. If your application is compelling enough, and you’ve managed to get electives and clinical experience as an IMG in the US and Canada , then you can get into a psychiatry residency program. 

You can make your statement stand out by using specific examples to back up any claims you make about yourself, starting it with something catchy like a quote or an anecdote, and letting your personality shine through. Make sure you plan ahead before you start writing and seek help when you need it

Absolutely! Consider working with residency match services or signing up for an application review service for additional help with your residency personal statement. 

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Outstanding Residency Personal Statements Samples

Residency personal statement sample is a sample of a personal statement that has been written and the content is basically information which convinces those who are in charge of the selection of the prestigious residency programs that you have what it takes and therefore you deserve the chance. In your  personal statement ERAS  you are able to give a clear reflection of your goals, experiences, and qualifications in the most convenient and precise manner. Preparation should, therefore, be satisfactory otherwise you risk providing sketchy information or using the wrong format for the same. There is a protocol as to how this should be done.

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A residency personal statement sample will show you all the components of the document, what the correct sampling, what you should do in a particular situation, what you should not do, the common mistakes most people do alongside the remedies as well as many other features. Having something that you refer to often is very important since you will see the written pieces often and with time you will find yourself writing what is actually right. The writing process is therefore made easier since you have somewhere to refer to in case you are not sure about something and you are able to work on a task faster. Residency personal statement examples are perfect avenues where you can teach some do-it-yourself tips for someone who wants to learn how to write commendable statements on their own.

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An ERAS letter of recommendation is very necessary for the sake of the application process through electronic means. Statement of purpose length should be satisfactory meaning that it must have a minimum set number of words.

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Residency Personal Statement Examples: Top Tips for Best Length, Content, and Structure

Residency Personal Statement Examples Top Tips

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In this article, we look at residency personal statement examples with our top tips for the best length, content and structure.

A residency personal statement is an opportunity to explain why you’ve chosen your specialty and show program directors why you’re the best candidate.

You need to leave a lasting impression on program directors.

Program directors read thousands of personal statements so they really want to see something original.

Your statement should highlight specific qualities that make you stand out and shine in order to help you get into a top residency program.

Read on for examples that could be used by candidates for internal medicine, paediatrics and psychiatry residencies.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of the best structure for Residency Personal Statements

Residency Personal Statement Example 1: Paediatrics

  • Residency Personal Statement Example 2: Internal Medicine

Residency Personal Statement Example 3: Psychology

  • 8 Tips on How to write a Personal Statement for Residency?

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

More personal statement tutorials, examples of the best structure for residency personal statements .

1. Narrative Statement

For example, a narrative statement for a residency could be:

I wanted to work in the community health network since I was a young child in a very deprived neighborhood. My parents were both health practitioners and I grew up in a household where learning about medicine was the norm. In high school, I took advanced classes in biology, chemistry and physics and continued my studies at Georgetown University where I earned my medical degree. After completing my residency at Medstar D.C., I want to return home to help underserved communities as their new primary care provider.

In the second example below, the applicant writes about her childhood friend who had cancer, which made the applicant become passionate about one day studying oncology to help others in the same way.

2. Goal Statement

For a residency application, a goal statement could be:

I want to become an emergency medicine consultant in order to use my expertise in trauma medicine to improve emergency health care in developing countries. My dream is to join Doctors Without Borders to help treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people as well as to help train local healthcare professionals to provide sustainable high-level care.

This statement demonstrates the applicant’s desire to grow personally and professionally, as well as their ambition to use their knowledge for the greater good. It also shows that they have thought about what they want out of their career and that they are pursuing this specific field in order to work with an NGO or other non-profit.

In the first example statement, the writer states candidly that although they did not always know they wanted to be a paediatrician, they are now completely committed to this path with the goal of working in an inner-city community.

3. Challenges Faced

Have you struggled with an illness that affected your health and well-being – depression, cancer, or a serious accident? For example:

Being diagnosed with skin cancer at age 12 turned my world upside-down, and the treatment I received at our local hospital gave me both a future and a burning desire to become an oncologist myself. I aspire to work in pediatric oncology in order to help other families and to be the kind of empathetic doctor that every patient deserves.

Have you had a challenging upbringing or background – for example, growing up in poverty, or in the foster care system, have you experienced the death of a parent?

Could these experiences make you a better doctor?

In the third example, the candidate talks about how the challenges his sister faced as a high-functioning individual with ADHD, anxiety and depression and how that inspired him to volunteer with a charity overseas, ultimately leading him to pursue a psychiatry residency.

In applying for the paediatrics residency program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia I am aiming to join an outstanding team from whom I can learn to be an excellent pediatrician. I used to think I was quite an indecisive person because I wanted to try lots of different things and didn’t feel passionate about one particular hobby or sport growing up. However, I came to realize that in my own way I am unique because of having a wide range of interests and the ability to turn my hand to many different things. In the end, I tried fencing at 14 years old and found my ‘forever sport’ and am enjoying my volunteer role as our team medic.

I had the same feeling for the first few years of medical school – I was passionate about medicine, certainly, enjoying the theory as well as the various clinical rotations but didn’t have a clear idea about a residency specialism that many of my classmates seemed to, so it took a while to realize that paediatrics was the place for me.

My Pre-Medical Biochemistry undergraduate degree at B State University involved processing huge amounts of data and I enjoyed the challenge. Our pre-med advisor helped me sort through my strengths to choose a residency specialism and she pointed out that paediatricians work in a similar way, when confronted with symptoms presenting outside the usual range of childhood illnesses. The more challenging the cases I might encounter in Philadelphia, the more I can learn and grow as a doctor.

There were several moments of clarification along the way. I was fascinated by new research into sleep disorders among young teens and the negative effect some medications might have on them. Similarly, supporting a local clinic and attending workshops on screening for anxiety really resonated with me. During my final year, I sat in the NICU with an anxious first time mother whose baby was about to be discharged after six weeks. I walked her through a list of questions and a checklist to go through with the baby’s paediatrician and called myself to set up the appointment. In the end, I realized that I want to be a clinician who can support families and young people in the community, move towards a diagnosis or at least identify the right specialist, and see children throughout their journey to becoming adults.

I’m a people person and can quickly put patients at their ease, but understand the importance of focusing on asking what the child is thinking and feeling as well as what their parents or guardians tell me is the case. I push myself to achieve at the highest level and would thrive in a busy, fast-moving environment. I am able to work efficiently but also ask for help when necessary. My goal is to work in an inner-city practice where I can also be involved in the local community as a volunteer, and mentor and support other young people considering medicine as a career.

(500 words)

Residency Personal Statement Example 2: Internal medicine

When we were young, my friend Ella and I dreamed of becoming astronaut-hairdresser-brain surgeon-actresses. Later, this crystallized into a determination to become a doctor. We were fortunate to have families who encouraged us to dream big and believed that there were no limits to what we could achieve. Ella was diagnosed with leukaemia the week after her thirteenth birthday and as we cried, I told her, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be a doctor one day and I can fix you’. Her doctors were inspiring in their kindness, dedication and care and Ella was given a second chance at life, while I learned through many hours visiting her in the hospital that there are no hero doctors, only outstanding teams. An internal medicine residency at Hope Hospital would give me the opportunity to join just such a team.

Since studying pre-medicine at Kansas State and starting my medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, I have been determined to complete a residency in internal medicine ahead of pursuing a fellowship in medical oncology. During my radiation oncology rotation, I met with patients and conducted physical exams, observed radiation therapy and attended multidisciplinary tumor boards. Working with radiation therapists, specialist nurses and physicists, my final presentation was on a 50-year-old female patient with inflammatory breast cancer, receiving radiation therapy following chemotherapy and a mastectomy, who needed extra emotional and counselling support as she was bipolar and so struggled with multiple hospital appointments. Everything I learned about pathology reinforced the importance of collaboration and evidence-based decision-making across all internal medicine disciplines.

This spirit of collaboration was fully present when I worked with paramedics during a volunteer trip to Malawi and saw their indomitable spirit and optimism in the face of overwhelming community challenges. Taking time to reassure a frightened patient that may not have ever been in a hospital before is as important in a Malawian field clinic as on a children’s ward in the USA. I helped triage patients at a small rural community clinic and benefited from the incredible depth of knowledge of the local doctors who made sure that treatment was not just appropriate for the presenting condition but matched the patients’ cultural and local situations also.

In a relatively simple case, I prescribed a young female patient amoxicillin to take three times a day with food. Her mother, who had brought her on a bus from their village several hours away for treatment, looked worried when I gave her the box of pills and said goodbye. The doctor called the mother back, asked her some questions in an undertone and gave her a small carrier bag full of individually wrapped biscuits. The mother looked instantly relieved, thanked us both again and left with her daughter. The doctor said calmly, ‘That family only eat once a day. She needs a biscuit with the other two pills or she’ll develop stomach problems.’ It was a lesson I will never forget, emphasizing the importance of getting to know a patient’s situation to make sure that they have the resources and ability to correctly follow a course of treatment that is optimal for them.

Following my return to the USA, I put together a college marathon team and we fundraised over $40,000 to support the Star Children’s Foundation, which works on projects to improve medical care in rural areas in Malawi. I hope to go back there in the future and see the progress made first-hand, possibly contributing to advanced training myself when I have learned enough through an internal medicine residency at Hope Hospital to be useful!

(600 words)

I have long had an interest in better understanding psychopathologies and wish to pursue a psychiatry residency at Excellent Hospital after graduating from Columbia University Medical School. It has been fascinating to see the societal change in terms of acknowledging and talking about mental and social issues such as depression and anxiety as well as the contribution and importance of inclusion of neurodivergent people in our communities. As a future psychiatrist, I am committed to treating every patient with respect and dignity, ensuring I am treating the person rather than focusing only on the diagnosis.

My psychiatry rotation during medical school was an enriching experience and I became confident in taking patients’ psychiatric history and conducting mental status exams. My ability to build rapport with patients and question them directly but respectfully improved over the six weeks and I look forward to focusing more on these skills as I gain a deeper understanding of effective psychiatric care.

Last year I volunteered with a charity supporting mental health and neurodivergence awareness in Hanoi, Viet Nam, as I feel a deep connection with that country, thanks to having Vietnamese-American relatives. I learned that very few psychologists and even fewer clinical psychiatrists can prescribe medication and treatment. As increasing numbers of teenagers and adults as well as younger children are being diagnosed with ADHD, as in the US, there are often long waiting times, and challenges in accessing medication. There is much work to be done on the use of nonstimulants to treat ADHD where stimulants such as amphetamines are ineffective and I completed my final research paper on this topic.

In Viet Nam, it was interesting to me to encounter some of the same prejudices as my older sister encountered from relatives and her primary care doctor, who insisted that my sister could not have ADHD because she is a well-paid, successful accountant. The struggle to balance and often hide symptoms of her condition has left my sister battling anxiety and depression and I am particularly interested in developments in treating ADHD in combination with depression, severe anxiety and other psychiatric conditions.

Following my residency, my goal is to qualify as a psychologist and practice locally while offering continuing support to the team in Hanoi. I am determined to become an outstanding psychiatrist, enhancing my patients’ emotional well-being while supporting them as individuals with the best and most professional care.

(400 words)

8 Tips on how to write a Personal Statement for Residency?

1. include details about your past experiences and accomplishments..

  • Identify the qualities and traits you want to show off – for example, compassion, empathy, or hard work.
  • Think about real incidents where you have demonstrated these qualities and describe them in detail in your application essay. You need to use specific examples that illustrate how you have grown over time and what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Include any unique personal or professional achievements that aren’t listed on your CV in order to highlight why they are special and worthy of note in this particular application process/program/position you are applying for One of our students did volunteer work at a community clinic while still in high school as part of a state-wide program – it turned out, the director of the program was on the residency selection board! It’s always worth carefully checking as much information as possible about the residencies you are applying to.
  • Make sure all of the statements are relevant to the position for which you’re applying, so if you are applying for a dentistry residency program then focus on dentistry experiences.

2. Explain why you want to pursue a particular specialty.

  • Make sure your application shows your interest in the field by highlighting any experience or exposure you’ve had with it.
  • Use clear, precise language and focus on your reasons and motivation – there are 500-800 words allowed in most applications.
  • Make sure to use program-specific terms like “residency” or “fellowship” when referring to programs in order to show that you pay attention to detail; also use the specific program name.
  • Be specific when describing what you enjoy about the diagnoses or pathologies involved in the field, as well as with patients or settings in which you will practice it!
  • Include details about the classes, rotations, and volunteer work that you have done.
  • Identify the specialty(ies) that interest you and highlight the things you have done in your career to explore it.

3. Talk about any skills you have that will help you succeed in the residency program.

Remember that your statement needs to say clearly what draws you to medicine and your specialty so mention:

  • The desirable qualities, attributes, and skill sets that make you well-suited to a residency program will help you succeed.
  • Your long-term plans as a practising physician after completing your residency (e.g., what you hope to accomplish in your residency setting).
  • Excellent IT skills, the ability to use a particularly challenging piece of software or equipment if relevant.

4. Explain any obstacles that you have overcome.

  • Identify any obstacles that you have overcome in your life, such as a difficult background, mental health challenges, or an illness.
  • Explain the obstacle briefly and provide any relevant background information needed to understand it better.
  • Say how you dealt with this obstacle.
  • Make it clear that despite facing hardship, you took action to move forward in a positive manner and are now stronger as a result.
  • Make sure that you focus on highlighting how this experience has made you more likely to succeed as a medical professional.

5. Make sure that your statement is well-written and easy to read.

  • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and jargon – make it easy for your readers.
  • Avoid informal, casual writing – Make sure your personal statement is free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Avoid controversial topics like ethical issues, religion, and politics – Don’t make polarizing or potentially offensive statements when you don’t know who will be reading your statement.
  • Focus on why you have chosen this particular residency. Make sure they will clearly understand your motivation.

6. Add relevant information, such as a learning disability or foreign language proficiency.

  • Mention these in your personal statement with a brief explanation and a focus on how it makes you a better candidate.

7. Make sure that your statement is consistent with the rest of your application.

  • Your statement needs to be consistent with the rest of your application by making sure it reflects who you are as a person and includes relevant experiences/facts that show how you will be successful in the program you’re applying for.
  • Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors; read it over several times before submitting it to make sure everything sounds good together.

8. Have someone review your statement for accuracy and clarity.

  • Choose a trusted peer, teacher, specialty advisor, or admissions counsellor to review your statement for accuracy and clarity.
  • Ask them to read your essay aloud and provide feedback on typos or pacing issues.
  • Ask them if they have a good sense of who you are and why you want to pursue this specialty after reading the essay; if not, revise until it meets their expectations of accuracy and clarity.

Some of these questions were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version

What is the best length for a residency personal statement?

The best length for a residency personal statement is one page, which is equivalent to 750-800 words. This meets the academic law and is as allotted by the Electronic Residency Application Systems (ERAS).

Carefully check the word limit for your application as they vary.

What kind of content should be included in a residency personal statement?

It is important to include content that reflects on your strengths, experiences, and reasons for applying to a particular program, as the examples above show.

Ask yourself the following questions and make sure you include the answers in your statement:

  • What draws you to medicine/your specialty?
  • What are your qualities, attributes, and skill sets that make you well-suited to a residency program? What will help you succeed in it?
  • Your long-term plans as a practising physician after completing your residency program – where do you want to work and in which field?
  • What attracts you to a particular residency program (e.g., city or location)? How it would make you a good fit for the team/program setting?
  • Any experience working in the city or program being applied for or with the leaders of that program in previous roles.

What is the best structure for a residency personal statement?

  • Start off with an introduction that briefly describes who you are and why you are applying for the residency program. You can write about personal experiences that have shaped who you are as a physician or other related experiences to make them better connect to your story.
  • Provide details about your academic achievements, medical experience and volunteer roles to show your strengths as a candidate for the residency program.
  • End with a conclusion summarizing what makes you an ideal candidate and why it is the right fit for you.

How can I edit my residency personal statement?

  • Start early: Give yourself plenty of time to write multiple drafts and for others to review your personal statement.
  • Create bullet points: Write down all the ideas and topics you want to include in your personal statement without making them into full sentences at first.
  • Write your first draft: Expand on the points you chose from step 2, but don’t worry if the language isn’t perfect yet since this is still far away from your final draft.
  • Go onto the second draft: Give it a few days/weeks before transitioning into this stage so that ideas can settle in mind and focus on those that best convey the story being told in your personal statement (e.g introduction & ending).
  • Send out for feedback: Send it out to friends/experienced people who know how to edit personal statements for feedback (do not send it out randomly). If need help with editing services, check out our website re-write & structural editing service which offers professional guidance at affordable prices!
  • Revise after receiving feedback: Make sure changes reflect points you are hoping to convey in the final version of your personal statement after receiving feedback from an experienced person who knows how the residency match process works!

How can I make sure my residency personal statement is error-free?

  • Understand the purpose of a personal statement: A personal statement is used by applicants to showcase their strengths and why they are a good fit for the residency program they are applying for.
  • Identify the weaknesses in your current statement: Take time to review your personal statement and look for any mistakes or areas that could be improved upon. Try to be as objective as possible when doing this review so you can spot any issues easily.
  • Get feedback on your work: Once you have identified any weak points in your personal statement, seek out feedback from others who have experience writing them or who can provide an objective view on what needs improvement in yours specifically.
  • Revise based on feedback received. Leave it for 24 hours then re-read it for a final time with a fresh eye.
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