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: 

  • Bold. 
  • Italic. 
  • Underline. 
  • Strikethrough. 
  • Bullets. 
  • Numbering. 
  • Align left. 
  • Center. 
  • 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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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..

Introduction

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

Getting into a residency has never been more competitive. Founded by a former associate program director, the experts at MedEdits will make your residency personal statement shine. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 students and 94% have been matched to one of their top-choice programs.

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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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Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency

Tips to convey “ why you for residency specialty”, use your personal statement to introduce yourself to your interviewer..

  • Include topics that help the interview go smoothly.
  • Be sincere and help the interviewer know what’s important to you.
  • Include only the information that you want to discuss.

Write a focused essay, four or five paragraphs in length, that covers the basics.

  • The first paragrap h could introduce the reader to you and could focus on what led you to a career in medicine, more importantly your specialty. The tone of the first paragraph sets the tone for the rest of your personal statement.
  • The second paragraph should let the reader know how you arrived at your choice of the specialty. (Personal experiences from rotations, leadership activities, work, volunteer, community service, studying abroad, background and/or life/ family experiences).
  • The third/fourth paragraphs should confirm why you think this choice is right for you AND why you are right for the specialty. This is an opportunity further distinguish yourself.
  • The  close/final paragraph could inform the reader what you see as your long-term goals and/or how you see yourself in this specialty. Also, avoid spending too much content on “ What I want/seek/am interested in from a residency program …” The focus should be more on why they should choose you over other candidates

Questions to ask when approaching your Personal Statement:

  • What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
  • What are your key attributes?
  • What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?
  • What are your career plans and how will your background/additional education contribute to the field?
  • What makes me unique enough to stand out among other candidates?

Your goal should be to write a well-crafted statement that is both original in its presentation and grammatically correct. Articulate your personal drive in as eloquent language as you can provide. The writing should flow. No one expects you to be a novelist. The most important thing is to write a concise, clear statement about why you?

Don’t spend a lot of time providing information about you that programs will generally assume to be true for most competent medical students; “I want to help people”, “I love medicine”, “I want to match into a residency program where I can learn”

If you explain your reasons for entering the field of medicine, do so to inform the reader of points beyond the career choice. Avoid spending too much time on “Why I Wanted to Go into Medicine.” How did you arrive at your specialty choice and what experiences support how you arrived at the specialty choice?

Support your strengths and skillset with examples . Most medical student personal statement list similar strengths, “hard worker/will work hard”, “good communication skills”, “relate to/interact with patients” – so if you provide strengths that are common among medical students or even unique to you, it will be important to provide evidence to support your claims, directing programs to come to their own conclusion about your strength.

I f you repeat accomplishments already listed on your CV , they should be relevant to your personal/professional growth. You want the emphasis to encourage the reader to bring this up in the interview.

Use your own words rather than rely on quotes; your own thoughts are more powerful. If you can make it work, great, but don’t dwell on quotes. With only 800 words or less…it is favorable to make them all your own.

Do NOT plagiarize your personal statement.

Length ; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements in terms of Word Count will be within range of 650-850 – this will be acceptable for most residency programs.

Need a review of your personal statement…professional review and editing?

  • Melva Landrum , TCOM Residency Counselor will provide thorough feedback through an evaluation form that breaks down your entire personal statement including: content, grammar, structure, flow and overall impact. You can email your personal statement to [email protected] within one week.
  • The Career Center can also review personal statements and Center for Academic Performance (CAP) office can provide feedback mostly on grammar and structure.

This page was last modified on November 10, 2023

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How to Make a Statement with Your ERAS Personal Statement

  • by Med School Tutors
  • Jun 29, 2023
  • Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD

eras personal statement length

Dr. Leila Javidi, Taylor Purvis, and Dr. Brian Radvansky contributed to this article.

Starting your residency application can feel like an overwhelming task, especially when it comes to writing your ERAS personal statement. It’s not clear why essays of this nature are so intimidating—maybe it’s because not all medical students are well-versed in language arts, many of us dislike writing, or maybe just the thought of putting “who you are” onto paper brings to the surface some uncomfortable feelings of self-awareness (whoa—this just got intense!).

This is a joke or course, but to be honest, sometimes when we sit down to write our ERAS personal statement we immediately think things like, “I’m not that interesting,” or “I haven’t done anything cool in life, I’ve spent most of my time in school thus far.” And that is completely normal. The majority of us haven’t had those pivotal moments in life that shake the ground beneath us and form a new foundation for who we are, and that’s OK!

Your ERAS personal statement isn’t intended to be a best-selling memoir. It’s intended to add another dimension to the otherwise black-and-white application full of scores and grades. It is an opportunity to show program directors your personality, what motivates you, and what you’re looking for in a residency program.

While you’ve probably heard all of this before, we bet you have more specific questions about how to tackle the ERAS personal statement. All of us sure did! So, without further ado, h ere are answers to the 12 most important questions about medical residency personal statements.

12 Frequently-Asked Questions About the ERAS Personal Statement

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1. How big of a deal is my ERAS personal statement to program directors?

According to the 2020 NRMP program director survey , 78% of program directors cite the ERAS personal statement as an important factor in deciding which candidates to interview,  making it the fourth-highest ranked factor behind USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2, and letters of recommendation. So, it’s pretty important in the grand scheme of your application!

Now, from experience in talking to different program directors and mentors, it’s clear that the most important thing is that your ERAS personal statement is well organized, well written, with proper grammar, no red flags, and that it’s only one page single-spaced. The standard ERAS personal statement length is typically 500-800 words (roughly four paragraphs).

A personal statement typically isn’t the “maker” of your residency application—however, it can be a deal “breaker” if it doesn’t have those attributes. That said, if you have a memorable, well-written personal statement, program directors will mention it, and it will make you stand out as an applicant. If they are on the fence about whether or not to interview you, a personal statement could potentially be the deciding factor. So, it’s pretty important!

2. What are things I should include in my ERAS personal statement?

A good ERAS personal statement should include the following: 

A catchy introduction to grab the reader

There are different ways to go about doing this, but if you’re stuck, an effective way to grab the reader’s attention is to open with a patient vignette. An interesting case is sure to pique the curiosity of your reader and keep them engaged as they read. Preventing boredom is something to strive for, as your application is one of perhaps hundreds that they are reading.

Ultimately, though, remember this is a personal statement. After you reveal the diagnosis or outcome of the patient vignette, you need to let the reader know what the case meant to you! The point of relating the vignette is to reveal something about yourself, not just present an interesting story about a patient. 

An overview of your desirable qualities

When letting the reader know what your positive qualities are, it’s important to remember a basic rule of good writing: SHOW, don’t tell. For example, instead of saying you are compassionate, describe a story from your life that demonstrates your compassion.

Highlights from your life experience 

This includes jobs, extracurricular activities, and hobbies that would help you to be an ideal candidate for whichever residency you are applying to. Pro tip: DON’T REGURGITATE YOUR CV. This is your opportunity to tell people things that aren’t on your CV. Do you play chess in the park every Saturday, or have you traveled to some amazing places? Tell us about it!

You shouldn’t rehash your CV in your personal statement, but it is a great place to elaborate on activities listed on your CV. It can be used to explain why those activities are so important to you, how they have helped you grow as a person, and other things that don’t often shine through on the CV itself.

Proof of why you should be accepted 

The most important part of your statement is providing proof of why you should be accepted. Describe your strengths, but do not talk about things too generally. You should be able to back up everything you say. Give details and examples. Which doctors have you shadowed? What kind of research have you been involved in, and where was it published? Don’t just mention that you have volunteered, say the names of places you were at and what you were doing.

Why you are interested in your specialty

This doesn’t have to be a profound story, but it should be the truth!

What you are looking for in a residency program

Is a strong procedural curriculum important to you? Is the culture of the program more important? Try to mention things you know your programs of choice embody.

Address any red flags on your application

Did you do poorly on Step 1? Did you take a leave of absence for a long time? Best to just come out and talk about it without being defensive. Show how you have grown from the experience, rather than apologizing for it!

A cohesive closing statement

Sometimes the first and the last sentence of the statement are the hardest to come up with, but it’s worth your time to make it tidy, even if it isn’t profound.

3. What are things I shouldn’t include in my ERAS personal statement?

Controversial topics.

Stay away from extreme religious or political statements. It doesn’t mean you can’t say you are an active member of church, but don’t use this as an opportunity to discuss whether or not you are pro-choice. You never know who is going to be reading this, and anything too polarizing can be off-putting for some readers. 

Feelings of bitterness or negativity

Leave out any traces of bitterness, defensiveness, or anger about anything that has happened in your life. Everything must have a positive spin.  

Too much self-praise or too much modesty

Avoid talking about yourself in a glorifying manner, but don’t go too far the other way and come off as too modest.

Too many qualifiers

You don’t want to go overboard with the qualifiers, which are words such as “really,” “quite,” “very,” etc. In fact, in many cases, it’s better not to use them at all. 

“Flowery” language you wouldn’t use in real life

It’s a personal statement, not a creative writing assignment. Keep the language in your statement simple. You’re not going to score any points by using unnecessarily fancy words. Your goal is clear communication.

Also, don’t try to sound like a doctor. This is just another way of trying to impress the reader. You want the reader to like you based on the way you write, not be turned off because you are trying to impress them.

“Try to avoid using a lot of jargon and abbreviations,” advises Mary Dundas, educator at Academized. 

Exaggerations

Avoid talking hyperbolically about how passionate you are. As noted earlier, it’s better to show than tell so give examples of things you have done. Above all, keep the writing in your statement professional.

If you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll be way ahead of most applicants! 

4. How can I make my ERAS personal statement unique?

As evidenced by The Voice and American Idol , it is everyone’s impulse to divulge their “sob story” to help them stand out and garner sympathy from the audience. While it’s important to include stories that helped shape you as a person, it is very transparent and cliché to talk about that person you know who was struck by a medical tragedy, and how ever since you vowed to “save people.”

The best way to make your statement unique is to allow your personality to shine through. Use your words, your humor, and your depth to tell your story. Find a way to show yourself to your reader, and if you do this, your essay will be unique!

5. Should I have more than one ERAS personal statement to upload?

In short, absolutely have multiple personal statements to upload. Especially if you are applying to more than one specialty, it’s essential that you have several versions of your personal statement.

That doesn’t mean you have to write a whole new one, you just have to tailor it to fit that specialty. If you’re applying for a preliminary year, tailor your personal statement to explain how important you feel a solid foundation in medicine is for dermatology (or whichever specialty you are applying to) and what you’re looking for in a preliminary year.

Furthermore, I found that for the programs I really wanted to interview with, I would upload a tailored personal statement for that program saying something like, “I am seeking a family medicine residency position with ABC University program because of their dedication to XYZ.” Simply name-dropping their institution and noting the strength of their program demonstrates your attention to detail and interest in their institution. Even if you are an amazing applicant, if a program doesn’t feel you are interested in their specific program, they won’t interview you. It’s best to make sure you give those out-of-state programs some extra attention so they know you are willing to relocate for them!

Lastly, you should know that you can upload as many versions of your personal statement as you like onto ERAS, but be especially careful when uploading and make sure you apply the correct personal statement to each program! Triple-check your work! Pro Tip: Use your file names to help you stay organized. Pick a format and stick with it, such as “PS-JohnsHopkins,” “USCF-PS,” etc.

6. When should I start writing my ERAS personal statement?

The sooner the better, people. Get cracking now! You can even begin to think of ideas during your third year as you develop your interests in specific specialties. As ideas come to you, jot them into your phone so you don’t forget!

One of the best ways to begin writing your personal statement is to go over some questions about yourself. Ask yourself, who are you and what drives you forward? Think about the kinds of things that interest you and why you developed those interests. Maybe consider some mistakes you have made, how you learned from them, and how they have changed you. Or ask yourself, how do your interests and personality contribute to the goals you have set? 

Think about those kinds of questions and write down the answers. Reflect on them, put them away, and come back to them. Then, use them to form an outline—this will help you figure out all your points and what you want to say before you start writing. 

If you still feel like you just don’t know how to get started, give the five-point essay format a shot and see if it works for you. In short, you begin with a paragraph that is about four or five sentences long. The goal of this first paragraph is to grab a reader’s attention. Use the next three or four body paragraphs to talk about yourself. Try and have one of them focus on your clinical understanding, while another talks about service. Then end with a solid conclusion paragraph that mirrors your introduction, summarizes who you are, and ends by looking toward the future. 

7. Should I ask for any help with my ERAS personal statement?

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, YES! Absolutely ask for feedback on your personal statement. After getting your draft finished, show it to whoever will look at it—however, please remember to take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt and to strongly consider the source. It is absolutely essential to have your personal statement reviewed by an objective third party to ensure that the message you are trying to communicate is loud and clear. This means that you shouldn’t give it to a friend or family member who is going to placate you with a useless, “Yeah, looks great!”

Find a mentor, advisor, chief resident or attending, someone who is accustomed to reading ERAS personal statements, and get feedback from them. You can be certain that going through this step will only make your personal statement better. If you take their advice and don’t like how things are panning out, you can always revert back to an older draft.

But in just about every case, another set of eyes to give you big-picture feedback on what you’ve written will improve your piece. Do this early in the process, when you have gotten a simple draft together, so that you don’t present someone with an idea that you are married to, only to find out that it doesn’t come through clearly.

Be sure to ask other people what they think of your draft, but be careful about asking other students for help. Sometimes they get weird, and try to give you advice about making your statement more like theirs because they want to feel justified in their own efforts.

Finally, it should be mentioned that there are services out there that will “write your personal statement” for you. Aside from the obvious reasons why not to do this, you have to be really careful. Those services don’t know you, don’t know your voice, and oftentimes have very generic ways of putting these statements together.  Using a service to help polish your statement, though, is A-OK. Some you may find useful in that regard are ViaWriting , Writing Populist , StateofWriting , and SimpleGrad .

Lastly, you may consider working with a residency counselor who can help set your application apart with insider advice and ensure you optimize all elements of the residency application process. Our residency consultants are residents and attendings who have successfully guided hundreds of students from residency applications through the Match!

Typical residency consulting work consists of:

residency consulting

Not sure if a residency consultant is the right fit for you? Take this quiz to see if you would benefit from some extra guidance during the residency application process!

8. Where can I find examples of ERAS personal statements to inspire me?

Every good writer learned how to write by reading the works of other people. This includes personal statements! Very often your career offices from your undergraduate studies will have examples of personal statements that can serve as inspiration for your own masterpiece. You can also ask older classmates and recent graduates if they would feel comfortable sharing their personal statements with you. 

Remember, too, that inspiration can come from nontraditional sources. Try reading poetry or a novel before sitting down to write your statement. You might be surprised by how it helps to get your creative juices flowing!

9. Is it better to cover all of my experiences, or focus on a few in particular?

It’s better to focus on several key experiences rather than provide a broad overview of your life up to the present time. Your resume will fill in any gaps for your reader. The point of the personal statement is to spend a few paragraphs reflecting on one or two themes that define who you are as a person. Stay focused, and go deep!

10. How much should I share about my career goals in my ERAS personal statement?

Remember, the majority of training programs you will be applying to are academic medical centers. For those programs in particular, make sure to emphasize why an academic environment is a good fit for you. This does not have to mean research! Perhaps you like the idea of becoming a clinician educator and want to be at XYZ program for the opportunity to teach medical students. 

Likewise, if you are applying to a program at a community hospital, make sure to reflect on how your career goals are suited for that environment. Maybe private practice is on your radar, or you want to practice in a hospital that is more close-knit than a large academic center.

Whatever the case, try to make your stated career goals align with the orientation of the program you’re applying to. In reality, you may have no idea what direction you want your career to go in. But for a personal statement, try to commit to one general theme if possible.

11. What about my personal statements for preliminary or transitional year programs?

For applicants who are also applying to preliminary or transitional year programs, it can seem daunting to tailor your personal statement to a position that isn’t part of your ultimate specialty. But don’t worry—preliminary and transitional year programs still want to know who you are as a person and why you’re interested in anesthesiology, dermatology, or whatever advanced specialty you’re aiming for. You don’t need to change your personal statement as much as you may think!

The goal of a personal statement for these one-year programs is not to convince the reader that you suddenly love internal medicine despite going into radiology. The reader knows this is a temporary stopping place for you. Instead, emphasize the traits that make you YOU and will enhance their hospital!

12. What if I’m interested in a non-traditional path after residency?

Some of you may be thinking of alternative career paths after residency such as consulting or pharmaceutical work. It’s probably best to leave those specific goals out of your ERAS personal statement and allow readers to assume that you want to continue in clinical medicine after graduating from residency. You might want to instead phrase it as something you want to be incorporated into your clinical career, but not something you would leave medicine for, even if that’s what you have in mind!

Remember, you are under no obligation to share your every thought and desire in a personal statement! These statements are being read by reviewers who dedicated their lives to education and clinical medicine, so keep that in mind.

Further Reading

Keep these tips in mind as you write your ERAS personal statement, and you’ll be way ahead of the other applicants. If you start to get stressed out, remember, you have an amazing story to tell, and we are here to help tease that story out from the confines of your brain! For more help, reach out to one of our residency advisors .

Looking for more help during the residency application process? We’ve got you covered with more (free!) content written by Blueprint tutors:

  • How to Get Standout Letters of Recommendation for Your Residency Application
  • How to Maximize Your Chances of Matching With Your Dream Residency
  • What’s It Like Working With a Medical Residency Consultant?
  • Residency Interview Tips & Tricks: The Ultimate Guide
  • Dual Applying for Residency: Is It Right For Me?

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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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Writing the Perfect Residency Personal Statement

If you’re in your third year of medical school, it’s time to sharpen your personal statement writing skills again for the ERAS application .

The good news is you already wrote a great one that got you accepted into medical school ! Now, you’ll need to dig deep and channel the same creative spirit that was there about 3 years ago. 

Many applicants are looking for a special formula for writing a personal statement . But here’s the truth: There’s no secret formula. A fantastic residency personal statement includes well-written storytelling detailing your experiences as a medical student and why you’re an excellent fit for the residencies you’re applying to.

In this article, we’ll talk about inspiration, length, structure, and dynamic writing. Let’s dive in.

What is the ERAS personal statement, and why do you need to write one?

Your residency personal statement is similar to your medical school personal statement in that it’s your chance to directly make a case for yourself . Residency program directors use these essays to get to know you beyond your CV. They can only learn so much about you from your medical education history.

Most of the information program directors use to determine if you’re a good fit is quantitative —  GPAs, USMLE scores, etc. Odds are, these numbers will be fairly similar across the board. 

What sets you apart from other applicants will be qualitative — your personal experiences and career goals, whether you’re hard-working or a team player.

What should you include in your residency personal statement ?

In your residency personal statement , include your experiences and interests that have driven your ambition to mature as a medical professional.

Take time to think about what qualities you’d expect in an exemplary physician. Then, create a list of topics reflecting these qualities from your background.  

Create a list of ideas of what to write from these prompts:

  • Memorable or “a-ha” moments during medical school (including specific rotations ) that changed the way you think about medicine.
  • Volunteering or non-profit work.
  • Your greatest skills and qualities and how you use them when practicing medicine.
  • Specific instances of when you used strong teamwork skills.
  • A personal anecdote that isn’t included on a resume, like an elective that led to an unexpected encounter with a patient that you won’t forget.
  • Professors, mentors , family, friends, or anyone else that has inspired your path.
  • Your goals in your future career.
  • Reasons you are drawn to your specialty.
  • Meaningful experiences in medical school or extracurriculars .
  • Your most commendable achievements.

Why did you choose your specialty?

When you explain why you chose a specialty, discuss the reasons why you enjoy that specialty and how your strengths will apply to your future career. 

Make your answer heartfelt and honest. If your only reasons are money and the lifestyle, your chances of an interview with the program directors will plummet.

Answer these questions while brainstorming :

  • What appeals to you about this specialty?
  • Did past experiences or clinicals influence your decision for this program?
  • What do you believe are the most important qualities for a physician in this specialty? How have you begun to cultivate these qualities in yourself?
  • Are there future goals you want to achieve in this specialty?
  • Have you done any research related to this field or the advancement of this specialty?

How long should a personal statement be for residency?

The personal statement essay section on ERAS allows for 28,000 characters (about 5 pages). 

Our advice? Don’t max out your character count.

Program directors must read the demographics, transcripts, MSPE, experiences section, personal statement , and letters of recommendation before making a decision. That’s a lot of reading.

Your goal is to make your point concisely — writing about a page plus a paragraph is the sweet spot.

Personal Statement Structure

Many applicants don’t know where to start, so we suggest breaking the essay into bite-sized pieces. Use a standard 4-5 paragraph structure. This way, you’ve got small, manageable goals.

Write your residency personal statement using:

  • An introduction paragraph.
  • 2-3 paragraphs to expand on your theme.
  • A conclusion paragraph to tie it all together.

Introduction

Draw the reader in with a story or anecdote, and introduce a theme. A narrative voice works well here to engage the reader and get them interested. 

Don’t tell an extensive story; provide just enough to provide context and introduce a theme.

Body Paragraphs (2-3)

Explore and expand on the central theme of your personal statement . You can talk about the traits or life experiences that will make you good at family medicine , dermatology , or whatever specialty you’re pursuing. 

Ensure you’re being specific to the specialty — you don’t need to prove you’ll be a good doctor so much as a good doctor in the field you’re applying to .

Wrap everything up and end with a “bang.” The conclusion should serve to bring all your points together in one place. When I say end with a “bang,” I mean to finish strong . 

Stating: “For the reasons above, I believe I will make an excellent internist, ” doesn’t leave the reader with much.

Try something a bit more passionate, idealistic, and enthusiastic. Here’s an example:

“ Internal medicine is centered around improving lives, orchestrating, and managing complex patient care . To me, the true challenge is in the art of internal medicine — to tailor to patients’ needs to maximize their health and improve their overall quality of life.”

With this approach to the structure of your personal statement , the essay becomes more manageable. You can set yourself mini-assignments by just developing one component at a time. Complete one portion each week, and you’ll be done by the end of the month!

Should a residency personal statement have a title? 

There is no hard and fast rule about whether a residency personal statement should have a title. Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to include a title in your personal statement is up to you.

Consider these factors when deciding whether or not to include a title:

  • A good title can serve as a headline for the reader, making your essay stand out before they even start reading. 
  • A good title can make your statement stand out and help it to be more memorable.
  • On the other hand, a poorly chosen or overly generic title could actually detract from your personal statement.

Most residency programs do not require, or even want, a title for personal statements. Be sure to check the program’s guidelines before including one.

If you do choose to include a title, make sure it is relevant, concise, and impactful. Avoid overly generic or cliche titles, and focus on conveying the main message or theme of your personal statement. 

It is less common to have a title, so if you do it right, you may stand out from the crowd.

How To Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out

Take time to brush up on your writing skills to make your personal statement stand out . 

These skills may not have been your focus in the last few years, but concisely expressing your dedication to the specialty will retain a program director ’s attention. 

Oh, and always remember to proofread and check your grammar! If you specifically prompt ChatGPT to “review your personal statement for grammar and punctuation only,” it does a pretty good job. 

Just be sure not to have AI write your personal statement, as it doesn’t know your stories, and can’t convey your sentiment, tone, or emotion.

Language and Vocabulary

The simpler, the better. Hand your essay to a friend or family member to proofread. If they have to stop and look up any word, it’s probably the wrong word choice. Maybe it’s the perfect word for the sentence, but anything that distracts the reader from the content is a problem.

Avoid the following:

  • Contractions. Contractions are informal language. They aren’t appropriate for applications or professional writing.
  • “Really” as in “I really learned a lot.” Try the word “truly” instead. It sounds more sincere.
  • “Really” or “very” as in “it was a really/very great experience.” Here, “really” is a qualifier that holds the place of a better word choice; e.g., Really great = fantastic, wonderful, exquisite; Very important = paramount, momentous, critical.

Simple sentence structure is usually the best. Follow these rules:

  • Avoid quotations if you can. This is your essay, and it should focus on what you have to say, not someone else. There may be exceptions to this rule (like a statement a professor made that changed the course of your medical career), but these are rare.
  • Punctuate correctly. Misplaced commas or a missing period can distract a reader from your content. If grammar isn’t your strong suit, have a friend (or a spellchecker like Grammarly) check your essay for errors.

Avoid Clichés

Saying you want to go into pediatrics because you love kids might be true, but it’s also a given. Everyone going into healthcare is interested in helping people. 

This is your opportunity to make it more personal. Talk about the life experiences that have uniquely informed your career path and what makes you different from every other med student trying to get a residency interview . 

Don’t Make It Too Complicated

Be simple, straight to the point, and authentic. 

Aim for clear wording that communicates your central theme. If you talk about your professional future and goals, they should be realistic and carefully considered. Your goal is to leave program directors with a strong impression of your character and maturity. 

Try Dynamic Writing

Dynamic writing is all about feel and rhythm. Even good content written poorly can come out flat. Here are some cues to evaluate and improve your writing:

  • Read your writing out loud. Do you have to catch your breath in the middle of a sentence? If so, the sentence is too long and needs some additional punctuation, editing, or to be split up.
  • Vary your sentence structure and/or the length of the sentences. When you’re reading, do you feel like there is a repetitive rhythm? This usually results from too many short sentences stacked on top of each other.

Be Prepared To Revise Your Statement

You’ve done this part before. Once the bulk of your statement is done, have someone else read it, then start revising. The great thing about the revision process is that you don’t have to write the first draft perfectly. 

If you can afford it, consider working with a professional team for help with the residency application process , including personal statement editing.

Our friends at MedSchoolCoach can help you with personal statement editing. 

Should you write multiple ERAS personal statements ?

Write a residency personal statement relevant to each specialty you apply to, each with a clearly stated goal.

While it’s a good idea to write a personal statement for every specialty you apply to, you don’t have to write one for each specific program . Maybe you have research experience in a few different specialties and aren’t sure where you’ll get residency training .

A blanket personal statement to cover all specialties is bland at best and, at worst, a red flag . Your interest in becoming an OB/GYN should be informed by different experiences than your interest in anesthesiology or plastic surgery .

Anyone who reads your personal statement should have all the relevant information for integrating you into their program. Don’t overshare experiences or learnings from irrelevant rotations , classes, or experiences.

Let’s say you send your personal statement to a program director for a radiology residency program . If he reads that you’re torn between radiology and emergency medicine , is he more likely to accept you, or an applicant who seems all-in for his program’s specialty?

Ready to write? Get your residency personal statement prepared!

It’s time to knock out that first paragraph ! We have given you the structure and tools to write a personal statement that reflects your strengths. Remember, there’s no formula for the perfect personal statement , but there are tried and true methods for strong writing.

Schedule a free consultation with MedSchoolCoach to see how we can help you increase your chances of matching into the residency of your choice. 

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Matching into Residency After Submitting Your ERAS Application

You Submitted ERAS Application…Now What?

PersonalStatementMan

Join my mailing list, what is the ideal eras personal statement length (april 2024).

Updated: 18 hours ago

Person writing on tablet

What is the target length for your ERAS personal statement? Aim for between 600 and 800 words.

A great personal statement will help present you as a top-notch residency applicant, and making sure yours is the proper length is the first step toward engaging your readers.

That said, word count is not as important as content. If your residency personal statement is littered with errors or isn’t compelling, it will negatively affect your chances of matching. Check out my comprehensive guide to writing a winning personal statement for tons of tips.

Okay, but why am I so sure about my 600 to 800-word guideline? Because, over many years now, I’ve personally helped HUNDREDS of students land THOUSANDS of interviews. In fact, check out my comprehensive guide for tons of tips and best practices you can use to write a winning personal statement.

Table of Contents:

Why the "One Page" Myth Is BAD Personal Statement Length Advice

How to Write More

How to Write Less

What are the exceptions.

2 Takeaways

Please feel free to check out all the services I offer . Reach out to me to request help today !

Why the "One Page" Myth is BAD Personal Statement Length Advice

Ask an expert

By now you’ve probably heard from friends or advisors that your residency personal statement length should be exactly one page. No more, no less.

The problem with this rule is that “one page” could mean many different things.

For example, one page in Microsoft Word using Calibri 11pt font will yield a different word count than a single page in Google Docs’s default Arial 11pt font.

What if you use longer or shorter words? And didn’t you ever mess with a document’s spacing to try to spread that two-page undergrad term paper into three pages. Can you try those types of tricks with our medical residency personal statement?

No. You can’t.

ERAS automatically formats the text of your personal statement once you copy and paste it into its field. With ERAS standard formatting, 530 words or so are typically all that will fit on one printed page, and that’s only if programs even bother to print it out at all. Of course, word length, punctuation, indentation, and paragraph frequency and spacing factor in as well.

The truth is that most readers don’t care if your personal statement’s length is more than one page. Especially if it’s engaging.

All that said, you do want your personal statement to be at least 600 words.

How To Write More

Kid scribbling all over a page

500 words is not enough. If you submit such a short personal statement, many readers will think you are either bored or, worse, they may think you’re BORING.

But my life and/or medical journey is totally uninteresting, you might say. I can guarantee it’s not! Quite literally, there is nobody on Earth like you -- just being a human being ensures you are one of a kind.

Wave hello to your imposter syndrome, put it aside, and get to work brainstorming.

Don't worry about coming across as some kind of mind-blowing candidate. Forget about writing an earth-shattering personal statement. Think about it: That’s what your competition is doing.

Everyone wants to stand out, and in doing so, they’re all fitting in with one another.

No, instead of exhausting yourself and your readers by trying to jump off the page, highlight a few details about your journey and touch on them honestly.

So you want to enter IM only because you like it? Great! Jot down three things that, for you, separate it from other specialties.

Interested in surgery because you love fixing things with your hands? Cool! How did that start? When you were playing with Legos as a toddler? In the anatomy lab?

If it’s authentic, it’s probably worth talking about.

Also, consider that the patient story is typically an easy place to to fill out with more content. Add in a detail or two or three:

Over what subject did you and your patient connect? Did you have any interactions with their family members? What symptom made you think of the correct differential? What little thing did you do to help the team?

Often, even the smallest details are worth sharing because they all come together to paint a more vivid picture.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time."

Most residency applicants try to cram too much into their 600- to 800-word personal statement. Is that you?

If your medical residency personal statement length is over 800 words, readers might get the impression you have an over-inflated ego. Programs DO want stand-out residents. But they also want their star team members to be humble and hardworking.

Every element of your application is a brush stroke in the picture you’re painting for your readers. Keeping your medical residency personal statement concise shows you are respectful and aware of the rules.

Concise writing is difficult. If you’re way over 800 words, you’ll have to trim entire sections. Believe me, I know how painful that is after working so hard to make everything perfect.

Otherwise, reread your personal statement. Circle sentences that are:

1. pointing out the obvious

2. saying something you've already said, only in a different way, or

3. saying something that isn't very important.

Cut them without mercy or remorse because they are weakening your message and tiring out your readers.

Next, attack your adjectives and adverbs . Instead of those descriptor words, try using better verbs. While you're at it, remove unnecessary details. For example:

"I ran quickly down the hall to the patient's room." = 10 words

"I sprinted to the patient's room." = 6 words

Hand holding red flag

There is one notable exception to my advice about your medical residency personal statement length, which is the supplemental paragraph. It is an awesome tool for explaining ERAS application red flags , but it should only be used sparingly and in certain situations.

Otherwise, do you really not have enough to fill 600 words? Can you truly not communicate what you want to communicate in under 800 words?

I guarantee you can. Keep brainstorming, keep revising, keep trimming.

If you feel stuck, force yourself not to look at your personal statement for 48 hours. Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see what was there in front of you all along.

And if you want professional help, contact me! I offer an array of services and I’ve literally seen it all at this point.

2 Takeaways:

1) Your personal statement should be between 600 and 800 words.

2) Quality matters more than word count. If your residency application personal statement is well-crafted and genuine, readers will respond positively, and it will improve your chances of being invited to the interview.

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University of Maryland School of Medicine

Personal Statement Guidelines

Guidelines for writing personal statements.

The Personal Statement should be personal and specific to you and your experience/s. The goal of the personal statement is so that reviewers can get to know you as unique applicant and what you will bring to the program and the field. Consider the following when putting together your personal statement.      

  • Never use another person or program to write your personal statement.
  • Never copy another individual’s personal statement. This is a violation of professional conduct and the Match.

Before you get started:

  • Some specialties may require that you have a separate personal statement for each program.
  • Some students will choose to make a common personal statement but modify a paragraph that is program or location specific.
  • Be sure to check with specialty and program requirements when drafting your personal statement.

General Tips :

  • Grammarly® is an example of a free online resource.
  • Stick to 1 page
  • Save these highlights for your interview or your noteworthy characteristics.
  • We recommend that you create your personal statements in a text file.
  • The way you create a text file is Click on 'Start' menu on the desktop, under 'All Programs' Click 'Accessories', Click 'Notepad'. Change the Font to Courier New 10 which is used by ERAS. Keep it to less than one-page single spaced with one-inch margins all around and spaces between paragraphs.
  • Do not use any special characters such as Bold, Italics, Underlines, &, ñ, µ, @,#,% etc.
  • You don’t want it to look too cluttered.

When you may need more than ONE personal statement :

  • If you are dual applying, you likely will need separate personal statements
  • For a preliminary program personal statement, you may consider a separate personal statement or modify the personal statement to include what you are looking for in a preliminary program.
  • You may consider personalizing a personal statement due to location, family, other circumstances. We recommend that you do this either early or at the end of the personal statement.
  • If you are deciding between two or more specialties, it is sometimes helpful to write a personal statement for each. If you cannot see the real differences among them, others who read your statements may be able to discover your true passion.
  • Label your personal statement files well so that you know which personal statement is being used for which specialty or program

Before drafting your personal statement, please use the information below to help you organize your thoughts :  

  • 2-3 paragraphs with a theme (see prompts below)
  • Final thoughts/projections forward

Suggested prompts for your personal statement might be : 

  • Why you chose this field? 
  • Personality traits
  • Experiences such as education, leadership, service, research, or volunteerism
  • Related hobbies, etc. 
  • A brief explanation of gap time particularly for research, dual-degree or certification and how you see this time as beneficial to your residency goals.
  • Some things of that nature might be best explained in your MSPE, if you wish.  Discuss this with the OSA dean writing your MSPE. 
  • Applicants can describe any challenges or hardships that influenced their journey to residency. This could include experiences related to family background, financial background, community setting, educational experiences, and/or general life experiences. This question is intended for applicants who have overcome major challenges or obstacles.
  • Some projection into your future, of both a professional and personal nature, if you wish. You may not want to be too specific about sub-specialty aspirations, though. People like to see an open mind. 
  • What you see as the next exciting things happening in your field of interest? How do you see yourself as part of them?

Common Pitfalls:

  • Avoid being a just list of reasons that you like the specialty
  • Balance being personal without overly revealing in these cases
  • If you don’t want to talk about a situation in your interview, it shouldn’t be in your personal statement
  • If you can’t talk about a situation without becoming overly emotional, you may want to brainstorm if that should be in your personal statement (remember this is a job interview)
  • If the description of your story is 1/3 of your personal statement, you are missing an opportunity to talk more about yourself.
  • AVOID: I disliked all other specialties till I rotated on XXX.
  • AVOID: I noticed that I didn’t really like the way XXX interacted with patients
  • AVOID: The patient was angry and non-compliant.
  • Run the risk of losing the reader’s attention

Final Thoughts :

  • Be specific in what you ask them to review (I.e. grammar, content, voice)
  • Faculty members in the type of program to which you are applying.
  • People who know you well, on whom you can count for honest feedback, and who can make any necessary corrections in syntax and grammar. 
  • Read your personal statement out loud to yourself- this is the best way to hear/find things that do not make sense grammatically or in syntax.

Additional Resources:

  • Personal Statement Worksheet
  • Personal Growth Program

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How to Write Your ERAS Personal Statement

Alexandra R., MD

A prospective resident sitting at a desk, working on her ERAS personal statement.

4 Keys to Writing A Compelling Residency Application Personal Statement

There are a variety of mixed opinions about the importance of the ERAS personal statement in the residency application process. Some people think that a personal statement, if it is captivating enough, can be your gateway to obtaining an interview. Others, however, think that a personal statement is simply a formality and that most programs do not take the time to look at it closely. Thus, in the latter scenario, the main goal is to not have your personal statement stand out in a negative way. Regardless of what you have heard and may continue to hear throughout the residency application process, you need to interpret the advice in the context of your particular scenario: decide for yourself how important the ERAS personal statement may be in the setting of your background and experiences as well as how important it may be for the field that you are applying into.

In general, you should start working on your ERAS personal statement early so that you can have multiple rounds of revisions. It is actually completely normal (and a good sign) if you end up having multiple completely different versions! The hardest part is sitting down and starting- just do it! The earlier you start writing, the more time you have to continue re-working and re-thinking your story. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective. Remember, having a great personal statement hook is a key component to writing a compelling statement that residency program directors will actually want to read. The hook is so important, we have actually dedicated an entire post to writing it correctly here. Sometimes it’s even good to put it away for a few weeks at a time so that when you look at it again you can have a fresh perspective.

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Once you feel comfortable with a first draft, consider who you would like to share it with to receive constructive feedback. Ideally, it would be somebody whose opinions you value and who has demonstrated some success of their own accord – either friends who have gone through the application cycle and matched at one of their top 3 ranked programs, or faculty you have developed a relationship with. Often, medical schools also have advisory deans or some advising office, who may provide valuable insight into what residency program directors are looking for. An alternative advising source may even be the career center at your university. Even though career centers advise undergraduates, professional degree students (MD, JD, MS, etc), and even graduate students, their writing advice is broadly applicable to any field and their close attention to detail can be invaluable. Additionally, if you have friends that have applied in previous years, particularly in the same specialty in which you are currently applying, it can be helpful to see if they feel comfortable letting you read their statement – this can give you insight into the many shapes and form the PS may take and can provide helpful tidbits of information they’ve gleaned from the application process itself. You can also ask your advising office / deans for examples of personal statements specific to your specialty. In the event that you exhaust the resources available to you and you still feel uncertain about your statement, we welcome residency applicants to look into our residency matching services at Elite Medical Prep. We offer focused professional personal statement help from students who have successfully matched into some of the most competitive and prestigious residency programs in the world. 

Keep in mind that you do not need to incorporate everyone’s feedback into your personal statement. However, it is helpful to have multiple people’s advice and perspective, thus we encourage you to reach out to more than one person. We took a survey of our EMP tutors and ~60% said they worked with 6+ people, ~30% worked with 3-5 people, and 10% worked with <3 people to edit, read, and provide suggestions.

Lastly, once you have your personal statement finalized, please make sure you know what it is about. More than 85% of our tutors surveyed had an interview question about something specifically relating to their personal statement that was not anywhere else on their application. Be ready to talk about whatever stories you included—use the personal statement as an opportunity to help you shine and be remembered in a positive way!

We surveyed our tutors about advise they received about their own personal statements and collected feedback points from ERAS personal statements they have reviewed to see what feedback you should remember:

1) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement too long:

  • The structure of the personal statement should be about 4 paragraphs.
  • You do not want it to be more than one page single-spaced (standard font like arial or times new roman, size 12).
  • If your personal statement is too long, it is even more likely for programs to not read it completely.

2) Don’t make your ERAS personal statement weird or controversial:

  • “It’s okay to make your personal statement ‘vanilla’. You don’t want it to be a red flag /too creative that it strikes readers the wrong way.”
  • “It’s far more likely that your personal statement will be entirely forgettable than that stand out, and that’s OK. Better to have a relatively bland, but acceptable PS and otherwise stellar application than to have a stellar application tainted by a PS that went too far in trying to be too interesting or original, or having something you write strike a reader the wrong way.”
  • “Never write about something that could possibly make you cry if brought up.”
  • “ Unless you feel very strongly about certain political beliefs or controversial topics (i.e. abortion) and would not want to be at a program where anyone felt otherwise, it’s probably better to avoid writing about anything polarizing in your statement.”
  • “Your personal statement should be neither personal nor a statement”… basically, you aren’t necessarily going to stand out with your personal statement, you just want it to support the rest of your application, and it doesn’t need to be groundbreaking.”

3) Highlight what uniquely draws you to that particular specialty:

  • “Remember that everyone reading your statement has gone into the field you have chosen and they know why it is awesome – so avoid singing general praises of a field – it needs to be PERSONAL!”
  • “Tie everything into why you chose that particular specialty.”

4) Make your statement easy to read by telling a short and concise story about yourself:

  • “That was way too long and formulaic. Cut to the chase but also paint a story rather than tell one.
  • “Tell a unique story that gives insight to who you are as a person.”
  • “Think about the purpose of your personal statement in the context of all the other components of your application: this is mainly useful as more of a personality gauge – ie who are you and what makes you tick?”
  • “After reading your personal statement, the reader should come away with the feeling that they really want to meet you – not that you just summarized your ERAS in paragraph form. This is your opportunity to convey what is intangible on ERAS and in your letters – so use it as such!”
  • “Even though your life is not coherent, you should present a coherent narrative – and make it brief! Not more than 500 words.”
  • “Build a story around an interesting fact or experience.”
  • “Show, don’t tell” – Try to use anecdotes as much as possible

Good Luck!!!

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About the Author

Alexandra earned her Neuroscience degree from the University of Michigan, graduating with Summa Cum Laude recognition in 2014. She continued her education at the University…

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July 11, 2022

13 Essential Do’s and Don’ts for Your Residency Personal Statement

13 Essential Do’s and Don’ts For Your Residency Personal Statement

Residency applicants can submit applications via ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) starting September 7th. Don’t wait until the last minute – get cracking on those residency essays now!

Why is your residency essay so important?

Your personal statement is a vital part of your residency application ; it’s where you’ll explain why you’ve chosen your specialty and show the committee why you’re the best candidate for training. And unlike other pieces of your application (such as your letters of recommendation or your medical school transcript), your personal statement is something that you have complete control over. 

For a knockout personal statement, heed these do’s and don’ts!

  • DON’T reuse your med school personal statement When you applied to medical school, you had to demonstrate an interest in medicine and demonstrate that you had the potential to become a successful doctor. At this point in your education, you are a doctor – or about to be one. Unless your premed school career is very relevant to your specialty choice, there’s no need to explain why you originally pursued medicine. And if you reuse your med school personal statement, your specialty decision could come across as unformed or immature.
  • DO explain why you have chosen your specialty Your decision to pursue a certain specialty is a personal one, and program directors want to hear about it. Did you have a mentor who helped you see dermatology in a new way or did you love your time in the pathology lab? What is it about delivering babies that thrills you more than caring for them after they’re born? Use specific examples to illustrate your story and your distinctive experiences and perspectives. Most importantly, where do you see yourself in the future? Make your choice unambiguous and your commitment undeniable.
  • DON’T offer superficial or generic explanations for choosing your specialty “Internal medicine is like solving a puzzle.” “GPs serve as gatekeepers.” “The OR just feels like home.” Cliches like these – without the proper care – can be the death knell for personal statements. But what if you do love diagnostic puzzles, or enjoy helping patients navigate the healthcare system? What if you really do feel most comfortable in a surgical environment?
  • DO bring out your unique experiences and perspectives Sharing the very specific details of your experiences and supporting your explanation can elevate your reasons from a generic cliche to a specific, and personal insight. Use anecdotes to illustrate your story and bring your unique experiences and perspectives to life. To explain why you like the fast-paced energy of the emergency room, share a particular experience you had there, how your people skills and your ability to stay calm under pressure came into play, and how you felt a sense of accomplishment in helping patients in distress. To explain why pain medicine appeals to you, you might mention how you connected with an anesthesiologist who opened your eyes to the potential of this field. The more examples you can give about why this specialty is the specialty for you, the better.
  • DON’T sound pompous or self-important When describing your skills, be mindful of the line between confidence and smugness. You want to sound enthusiastic and confident, but never arrogant or boastful . For example, it can be very off-putting to a reader if you talk about how work was too easy for you, making it sound like you think you’re more accomplished than everyone you worked with. After all, your readers are considering you as a potential colleague.
  • DO emphasize your strengths with tact and grace You’ve gained some valuable technical skills and exposure to clinical practice, but so have all your classmates. Which of your unique qualities will make your #1 residency program rank you as their #1 choice? Your personal experiences, both in medical school and outside, reveal more about you than your CV and USMLE Step exams. A good way to think about this is in the context of what’s needed for that specialty. Will the listening skills you developed through mentoring premeds help you as a family practitioner? Have quick reflexes, honed through years of playing piano, prepared you for the technical dexterity you’ll need in surgery? Will teamwork skills developed at the student-run clinic help you contribute to an obstetrics team? Select specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and make your essay come alive.
  • DON’T send the same personal statement to every program You’re probably applying to many residency programs and the thought of tailoring each one is daunting. Yet each program has certain distinctions that make it unique. If your personal statement talks about how much you love research and hope to continue that pursuit during your residency training, program directors in community-based programs might not think you’re a good fit for them. On the other hand, a completely generic statement of what you’re looking for in residency won’t appeal to anyone. How can you show your interest in specific programs without getting overwhelmed?
  • DO create multiple interchangeable versions of your personal statement While it’s unreasonable to suggest writing a different essay for every school, tailoring certain features in a limited number of essays can be a useful strategy. You might have one version for academic programs that emphasizes your future research interests, while your version for community-based programs leaves that line out and focuses on clinical opportunities. Or you might have a version for rural programs vs. urban, or for programs in your preferred geographic location vs. the rest of the country. ERAS allows you to save multiple versions that you can upload to certain schools – just be sure you give each one a unique name to keep them straight.
  • DO tailor your essay to your top program Do you have a dream program, one where you’re sure you’d be able to excel? If so, it’s well worth the extra time and effort to detail exactly why you want to rank it #1. This may sound like a lot of work, but it really doesn’t take long to identify why you want to work with a specific researcher or continue learning where you had a great externship. Don’t underestimate the bonus points you can get for this approach. Tailoring your essay to their specific offerings demonstrates that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested.
  • DON’T use all 28,000 characters for your personal statement ERAS permits 28,000 characters for your essay – around 7,000 words! – but no residency director wants to read even close to that much. Instead, stick to a one-page essay – usually 600-800 words – that addresses your key points. Your essay will be more effective if you’re more to the point and concise. In order to do that well, 
  • DO keep your purpose in mind As you write, remember that you’re trying to land an interview, not detail every aspect of your medical school training. If you throw in everything but the kitchen sink, your story will be generic and lack any impact. Instead, select the key experiences that led you to your chosen specialty, the details that will demonstrate your fit for it, and where you see your future contributions in this field.
  • DON’T submit without proofreading In their rush to submit, some applicants skip this step, only to later find a typo they’re unable to correct. To avoid this, take a break from writing – at least a few hours, or better yet, a day – before carefully proofreading your essay. Try reading aloud as you go along. Since your ear often picks up what your eye misses on the screen, you’ll be more likely to catch awkward phrases, repetitive sentences or ideas, or other glitches.
  • DO have someone else also read your essay Even after you’ve done your own quality control, your own writing is so familiar that it’s all too easy to miss a typo. You also want to ensure that the entire essay reads well, hitting the high points that are most important, and striking the right tone. Getting the all-clear from another reader will give you confidence that you are ready to submit!

You’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your journey. Now that you’re ready for your next achievement, make sure you know how to present yourself to maximum advantage in your residency applications. In a hotly competitive season, you’ll want a member of Team Accepted in your corner, guiding you with expertise tailored specifically for you. Check out our flexible consulting packages today!

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How to write your personal statement for ERAS/residency applications

The personal statement is occasionally a chance to “make” your application, but it’s always a risk to “break” it.

Keep in mind: it’s only 1 page (literally—it should fit on no more than one page when printed from the ERAS application, which is somewhere around 750-800 words on the longer end; 600-650 is a better goal; mine was around 500). On one interview, I was told that the program’s main criteria for evaluating personal statements was not noteworthiness but rather inoffensiveness .

Questions to ask yourself in approaching the PS:

  • What are the reasons for choosing the specialty?
  • What are my career plans?
  • What accomplishments do I want to emphasize?
  • What outside interests do I have?
  • What contributions can I make to the specialty and the residency program?

You don’t have to answer all of these questions, but answering one or two will help you get the point of view you need to get a draft going.

The personal statement is a chance to state why you are choosing a specialty (and a location or a specific program) and to try to convince the reader that you are a good fit. While you are trying to say that you are awesome, you cannot simply say you are awesome . Like fiction, you should show, not tell when possible. This is not a CV in paragraph form. You must be more subtle.

Things to do:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to write; start now.
  • Write more than one. Tell your story from multiple angles and see which one comes out on top.
  • Often your first essay is not the best.
  • Consider explaining gaps in your application (leave of absence, course failure, low Step 1)
  • If there are particular programs you are desperate for, you may consider tailoring your statement for them. The individualized approach is obvious and is unlikely to make the desired impact. If you tailor, don’t be a sycophant (it’s too transparent). The most important time to individualize your PS is if you discuss, for example, your desire to be part of a big bustling academic center: make sure to change that if you are applying to a small community program.
  • Be straightforward in your writing
  • Edit and proofread your work carefully . Then do it again. And again. And then one last time for good measure.
  • Be concise. Edit down until every word counts. I personally subscribe to the common reviewer adage: “The more you write, the less I read.”
  • Ask for second opinions and feedback; you don’t always have to listen but it’s important to receive.
  • Your parents and significant others are wonderful readers, but they are generally insufficient. They love you too much. Have your PS vetted by your Specialty and Faculty Mentors .

Things to avoid:

  • Self-Congratulatory Statements
  • Self-Centered Statements
  • “Emotional” Stories (give it a try, but be wary). Telling your reader about your feelings directly often makes the feelings themselves feel contrived.
  • Reality embellishment (anything you write is fair game as interview fodder; if you can’t discuss it at length, then it shouldn’t be there)
  • Using tired analogies (or any analogies, really)
  • Quotations (you couldn’t think of 500 words of your own?)
  • Remember, your reader has a stack of applications. Don’t make your essay hurt to read, overly cutesy, or sappy to the point where it’s no longer convincing.

For most people, your personal statement will not/cannot stand out in a good way (standing out in a bad way, though, is entirely possible). Why you pursued medicine may have been an interesting story (hint: it probably wasn’t), but why you chose your specialty is likely even more banal. If you don’t feel like you have anything special to say, it’s because you don’t. That’s normal. Aim for competence.

There are sample essays available for perusal on medfools . I think even the “good” ones are pretty painful in general, but your mileage may vary. Here are some good tips from UNC. The AAMC Advisor also has some quick advice . If your remember your login, Careers in Medicine also has similar stuff.

These are very good recommendations. In addition to proofreading and seeking advice from friends and family, I would also suggest considering a professional editing service. Although some of them can be costly, they see thousands of personal statements and will be able to objectively tell you if yours is competitive. This article also provides some good advice on residency personal statements: https://www.codeblueessays.com/top-7-tips-writing-residency/

I don’t agree with the need for professional services for the vast majority of applicants, and I really dislike people promoting their services through comments on my blog. In this case, the linked article isn’t terrible, so I’m not deleting this.

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Better Guide: ERAS Residency Personal Statement Length

Table of Contents

Gaining acceptance into an ERAS residency program requires more than simply meeting qualifications. You must also deliver a powerful personal statement that stands out among the competition.

Crafting a compelling, concise personal statement can be daunting, and understanding the perfect ERAS residency personal statement length is essential to success. In this article, we’ll explore the correct length of the ERAS Residency personal statement and how to write one effectively.

What Is an ERAS Personal Statement?

An ERAS Residency Personal Statement is integral to the medical residency application process. It allows applicants to express their passion and commitment to pursuing a career in medicine and outline their goals for the program.

The admission committee can learn more about the applicant by reading the relevant material they have provided. It justifies their intent to be admitted to a particular specialty or field.

In addition to providing information on academic qualifications and accomplishments, a personal statement should include personal anecdotes. It must showcase an individual’s character and other unique qualities which make them an exceptional candidate.

Ultimately, an effective ERAS Residency Personal Statement can be instrumental in helping secure a place in a competitive residency program.

What Is the ERAS Residency Personal Statement Length?

There is a maximum character limit of 28,000 for the residency personal statement , but you do not have to use all of them. Depending on your writing style, it’s recommended to keep your residency personal statement to one typed page or 500–800 words.

If you aren’t genuinely adding anything new or relevant to your essay, don’t try to fill the space to make it longer. Remember that you want to hold your audience’s interest and involve every admission committee member. Overly wordy or repeating what they already know is sure to bore committee members.

The typical length for residency personal statements is one page. Be concise and unambiguous in what you say.

Can Eras Personal Statement Be Over One Page?

A common concern among candidates is: What will happen if my personal statement is over one page? Does this hurt my chances of being placed in a residency?

Typically, the response is no. However, it is recommended that you keep your personal statement close to one page. If your essay is longer than one page, ensure all the details and experiences you offer are pertinent to your application. As long as it is interesting and informative, reviewers will usually continue reading past the first page.

a black stethoscope placed over a brown leather case

How to Write a Personal Statement for ERAS?

Keep the following tips in mind while writing a personal statement for the ERAS residency program.

Focus on Your Strengths and Accomplishments

Make sure to showcase the unique talents that make you an ideal candidate for the ERAS residency program. Include relevant medical experience or research contributions. Describe your individual goals in a clear, concise manner to emphasize why this particular program is right for you.

Highlight Important Achievements

Illustrate how past experiences have made you more capable of succeeding in a residency program. Emphasize any awards or accolades you’ve achieved while furthering your career.

Use Real-Life Examples

To provide evidence of your preparedness for residency training, include specific anecdotes from your past experiences that demonstrate dedication and problem-solving skills.

Choose Words Carefully

Employ creative language with precise meaning that showcases your personality and allows readers to envision how you would fit within their residency program. Inject colloquialisms where appropriate to keep your statement interesting.

Include Uncommon Words

Sprinkle each sentence with at least one word that adds variety and demonstrates your knowledge base. This can also help diversify the structure of sentences throughout the personal statement.

Personalize Your Content

Express yourself through writing by conveying your passion and commitment to medicine. Tell a story about your motivations for wanting to join the ERAS residency program. Highlight the traits that make you uniquely qualified for it.

Organize Clearly

Structure your essay logically by breaking up information into easily digestible sections. Utilize headings and bullet points when possible to facilitate readability and clarity of thought.

Avoid Clichés

Common phrases like “I have a strong work ethic” or “I am passionate about healthcare” are often overused in statements. They don’t add much value to your statement. Instead, focus on differentiating yourself with concrete evidence and descriptions.

Final Words

The personal statement needs to be just as unique as you are. Keeping the residency personal statement limited to one page is recommended. But if you need to go past one page, ensure the information you add is engaging and adds value to your essay.

While you should consider the length of the statement, you should also plan to show different levels of interest in the field of medicine. You also want to demonstrate personal qualities and skills that will be your foundation for success.

The personal statement should display your commitment to the field of medicine. Describe how medicine is a career that you have chosen to pursue your goals and dreams.

Better Guide: ERAS Residency Personal Statement Length

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Residency Personal Statement Examples from Matched Residents

Residency personal statement examples

Use these residency personal statement examples as a reference as you are working on  preparing you residency applications . The following are printed with permission from our own past successful students who worked with us as part of our  application review  programs. If you are having trouble getting started, you are not alone. Many students find that the personal statement can be one of the most challenging components of the  ERAS  or  CaRMS  residency applications. However, your personal statement can make or break your application. Get started on the right track by following the guidelines outlined for you below reviewing the emergency medicine residency personal statement example , pediatrics personal statement example , cardiology personal statement example, and more..  

This blog will outline what types of things to include in your residency personal statement. It will also give you 10 examples of personal statements from 10 different specialties written by actual students who matched into those fields. Reviewing personal statement examples is also good essay writing practice if you decide to write a residency letter of intent . Many of the same principles you apply to the personal statement can be applied to other application materials as well, so consider this review comprehensive. Believe it or not, personal statements also entail a great deal of self-reflection, which means they also function as a great review for residency interview questions , like the “tell me about yourself” residency interview question .

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

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Article Contents 39 min read

Residency personal statement example #1: family medicine.

During the pre-clerkship years of study in medical school, I enjoyed learning about the many specialties within medicine and actively considered pursuing several of them. I was drawn to the complex pharmacology of the drugs used by anesthesiologists, the acuity of care faced by emergency medicine physicians and the complicated medical issues of patients cared for by internal medicine specialists. I also found myself interested in psychiatrists’ thorough history-taking and the technical skills in performing procedures exhibited by surgeons. It started becoming clear to me that I was interested in many different areas of medicine. I began realizing that I wanted a career that combined the many things I enjoyed in different specialties. A family physician has the flexibility to practice all of these facets of medicine. As clerkship drew nearer, I knew I wanted to gain more clinical experience in family medicine to see if it would be a good fit for me.

My clinical experiences in family medicine were fantastic. I worked with family physicians and family medicine residents not only during my core family medicine rotation and family medicine electives, but also during my psychiatry, surgery, anesthesiology, and pediatrics rotations. These clinical experiences confirmed my belief that family medicine is a diverse and exciting specialty; family physicians, while maintaining a broad base of medical knowledge, can tailor their practices to the needs of their communities and to their own interests and areas of expertise. During my family medicine rotation and electives, I also found myself greatly enjoying my encounters with patients. I enjoy hearing patients’ stories and sorting through their many medical and psychosocial issues. I am also naturally a fastidious person. Being a thorough history-taker and a meticulous recorder of details helps me in formulating a complete story about a patient. My joy in interacting with patients and my attention to detail allow me to appreciate patients as people, not just as disorders or diseases. I am both interested in learning about and have a certain affinity for, family medicine clinical experiences; pursuing a career in this specialty is an obvious choice for me.

The versatility and diversity of family practice initially drew my interest but the wonderful encounters I had with family physicians solidified my desire to pursue a career in this specialty. These family physicians have not only been skilled and knowledgeable clinicians but also, variously, dedicated teachers, researchers, and administrators. They were committed to improving their clinical skills by attending continuing education lectures and courses. They practiced patient-centered care and were knowledgeable about community resources that may help their patients. They worked cooperatively with other health-care professionals to improve patient care. Importantly, these physicians have also been friendly and approachable towards both learners and patients. The family physicians I have worked with also strive toward a healthy work-life balance; all of them seemed to have many interests and hobbies outside of their professions. These clinicians demonstrated to me what being a family physician involves: practicing both the science and art of medicine, advocating for patients, guiding patients through the health-care system, being committed to improving clinical knowledge and, importantly, maintaining one’s own health and happiness.

Being sure of the specialty I want to pursue is the first step in my career. There are many learning opportunities ahead. [Name of the program]’s family medicine residency program is attractive in so many ways: the protected academic days, the opportunity to participate in research and, most importantly, the clinical curriculum, all appeal to me. I believe the solid foundation of family medicine experience, as well as the exposure to other specialties, alongside the opportunities to build the skills necessary for life-long learning through the academic experiences and research, make this an ideal program for me. On a personal note, I grew up in [hometown] and did my undergraduate studies at [name of university]; I would be thrilled to return to my hometown and a university already familiar to me. My career goals after finishing my residency include having a community-based, urban family practice and being actively involved in teaching residents and medical students. I am also open to being involved in research and administration. Career goals, however, may change as I progress through my training. I am excited to begin the next stage of medical training and begin my residency in family medicine!

1. Emphasis on why the applicant wants to enter that specific specialty

This family medicine personal statement example does a great job of explaining why the applicant wants to enter that specific specialty. Their interest is clearly stated and the decision to enter the field is well explained. The author does an excellent job of talking up the specialty and stating what they like about the field based on their clinical experience. For your residency personal statement, you want to highlight any influential moment you had during these experiences. If you had a certain “aha” moment, you might mention this. If demonstrating this commitment is difficult for you, you can always find a reputable ERAS application review service .

2. Intentions are clear

Clearly stating your intentions and using the program's name makes your statement personal and stand out. It shows that you pay attention to details and that your goals and passion align with what the program offers. Use strong, precise language when you are writing. You only have about 800 words, so state your intentions and keep your story clear.

3. Personal connection is established

This particular applicant has a personal connection to the city in which the residency would take place. This won’t be true for every applicant, but if it is, be sure to make room to mention it as long as it fits with your personal narrative. In this example, the applicant also ties this in with one of their goals: having a community-based, urban family practice. In your personal statement, you should merge these elements together for a more cohesive essay.

What to Include in Your Personal Statement

Most residency programs, whether through  ERAS  (US-based) or  CaRMS  (Canada-based) require applicants to submit a personal statement or letter. Some programs will include specific instructions for what they wish you to talk about, while others will not give you a topic. When you’re doing your research for residency programs you want to apply for, you should also take a look at the selection criteria. Each school will have its own rubric that they use to evaluate candidates, so it’s a good idea to review these before you start working on your personal statement. Here is an example of some information stated by McMaster University regarding their residency selection criteria:

“Programs may consider a range of criteria in making their selection decisions for interviews including but not limited to: Medical School Performance Report (MSPR), scores on standardized tests, interest in and aptitude for the discipline, reference letter, experience in research or other scholarly activities, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities.”

ERAS, as well as most CaRMS programs, ask that your statement be within a one-page limit, about 750-850 words. Please check the specific program requirements through the ERAS or CaRMS websites.

The experiences in your  residency CV  can be used to help you indicate why you are applying to a particular program and how you came to that decision.

1. Introduction

Typically, your residency personal statement will have three to five paragraphs, which you will use to divide the introduction, body, and conclusion. The personal statement is a formal essay, so you must adhere to the proper structure. The introduction is for you to capture the attention of the reader; for this, you will need a strong hook or opening statement. Feel free to get creative with this. The remainder of your introduction should focus on what drew you to the specialty and how your background experiences informed your decision to apply to the school and program. Your introduction should also contain a thesis statement that allows you to connect your personal background with your suitability for the program, school, and a career in medicine (in this exact specialty).

2. Body (or middle)

The body of the essay is for you to expand on a few critical experiences that made you the excellent, qualified candidate you are today. A good strategy for the body paragraph(s) is to talk about relevant clinical rotation experiences; so for example, if you’re applying to a psychiatry residency, you can talk about a specific patient experience that solidified your decision to pursue this specialty, or an experience that sticks out in your memory. This will be similar to your answer to the interesting case residency interview question . Your goal should be to use these experiences to address your specific interests, goals, and what makes you a good fit for the program. Do some research into the program format, the patient population you will be working with, and the clinical environment. This will help you connect your experiences with what the school/program offers.

3. Conclusion

You might be thinking that once you’ve written a strong introduction and body, the conclusion will be simple. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. You need to use the space in your conclusion to tie everything together and show enthusiasm for the program and for your future career. You can revisit a few key points here to highlight them once again and to relate them to what you’re hoping to gain from the forthcoming training experience. Show passion, determination, and consistency throughout your letter and tie up any loose ends in the conclusion. Some applicants will use this part of the letter to mention a specific goal they want to achieve in residency, such as working with specific faculty members or research plans. You may also mention aspirations to complete a fellowship or what you want your future practice to look like.

Here's why "show, don't tell" is the most important tip for any personal statement:

Questions to Ask Yourself to Help You Brainstorm Ideas

  • What makes you right for this specialty?
  • What experiences drew you to this specialty?
  • What appeals to you about this specific program?
  • Do you have any experiences working in the city of the program you’re applying to?
  • How will your residency training help you achieve your goals?
  • What are some of your personal strengths that will allow you to contribute to the program?
  • What evidence do you have that you possess those strengths?
  • Do you have any research/publications that align with the research the school is doing?
  • Do you have any gaps in your medical education or evaluations that you would like to address?
  • What’s something you think the program director should know that isn’t obvious from your application materials?

  Growing up the first-born daughter of a hard-working Saskatchewan cattle farmer and hairdresser, medicine was never a consideration. In a small town, I could easily see how too much free time got many of my peers in trouble. From grade 8-12 I devoted myself to sports, playing high school, club and provincial beach volleyball, weeknights and weekends year round. Despite my small stature and lack of innate abilities, with determination and persistence, I overcame these obstacles. At the end of my grade 11 year, I received an athletic scholarship and chose to pursue business administration and athletics.

After the first six months, it became apparent that I was not going to attain my full potential in education at [university name}. Despite my parent’s reservations, I left and enrolled at a [university name] for the next semester. This university was much more challenging as I was now balancing my educational and financial responsibilities by working evenings and weekends managing a number of part-time jobs. With little direction as to what degree I wanted to pursue, I happened to enroll in anatomy and physiology. This was the first time I became really excited about my future prospects and began actively considering a career in medicine.

The first time I applied to medicine, I was rejected. Despite my initial devastation, in hindsight, it was a great opportunity for myself to reflect on my own motivations for medicine and work as a laboratory technician at a potash mine in my hometown. I gained additional life experience, spent time with my family and was able to help financially support my husband’s pursuit of education after he had so selflessly supported me for many years.

My first exposure to anesthesia was in my first year of medical school with [Dr. name here] as my mentor in clinical reasoning. I was again, intrigued by the anatomy and physiology with the interlacing of pharmacology. I remained open to all specialties, however, after summer early exposures, research, and clerkship it became clear to me that anesthesia is where I felt the most fulfilled and motivated.

In a way, anesthesia was reminiscent of the competitive volleyball I had played years prior. I was again a part of a team in the operating room with a common goal. Similarly, our countless years of education and practice had brought us together to achieve it. In volleyball, my role was the setter, which to many is considered a lackluster position as we rarely attack the ball and score points with power. However, as a setter, my role is to set the pace, strategize and dictate the game from my team’s perspective. There is a long sequence of crucial events before a “kill” in volleyball and I strategized my teammate's individual strengths in both offense and defense to win. Anesthesia gives me the same opportunities to strategize anesthetics, balance individual patient’s comorbidities and anatomy all while maintaining a calm demeanor and level head through unexpected circumstances. In volleyball, I never shied away from tense games or difficult situations, instead I trusted in my own abilities and training despite uncharted territory. Lastly, I didn't need to actually score the point in order to understand my role and contributions to my team.

As an athlete, I understand the importance of practice and repetition which allow us to fail, but most importantly, to learn. I believe that the curriculum at this program will provide me with a well-respected education, which strongly reflects my learning style. I also admire the mandatory communication block in the curriculum because I believe an emphasis on clear and concise communication, is essential as an anesthetist.

Throughout the course of the next 5-10 years, I anticipate that both my husband and I will complete the next chapter in our educational pursuits. We both agree that [program name here] has the potential to nurture the next chapter in both our private and professional lives if given the opportunity.

What Makes This Sample Effective?

1. the theme is personal and consistent.

In this anesthesiology residency personal statement example , the author of this passage carries the theme of athletics throughout the statement. Having a theme can unify your personal statement and give it direction. This is a good example of a way to use a theme to tie together different ideas. Having a good theme is also something you should keep in mind when you’re answering anesthesiology residency interview questions , as program directors want to see that this particular specialty choice wasn’t simply drawn out of a hat; rather, your emphasis on a theme can demonstrate that your choice was intentional and the right fit.

2. The tone is positive throughout

Also, take note of how the author explained the transition to different schools without speaking negatively of the institutions. In your own personal statement, feel free to use the names of the universities you attended. They have been redacted here for anonymity. This statement has parts where you could customize it. Use the name of the program when possible or the name of the town. Taking time to add this into your statement shows the program that you pay attention to detail while personalizing it to each program.

3. Lessons learned apply to medicine

The writer of this personal statement relies on analogy to connect their experience to their interest in anesthesiology: “I understand the importance of practice and repetition which allow us to fail, but most importantly, to learn.” This analogy works so well because it shows why the applicant is suited to the program and specialty, it reveals an important aspect of their personality with evidence, and it sets expectations for how they want to contribute to the field. In your essay, you can use a similar strategy by tying together a major life theme or event with what you learned and how that applies to your medical training.

I was six years old when my father read to me the first chapter of “How Things Work.” The first chapter covered doors and specifically, the mechanics in a doorknob. What lay hidden and confined in the door panel was this complex system that produced a simple action. I credit this experience as the onset of my scientific curiosity and eventually my passion for complex systems found in medicine. Intensivists vigilantly maintain homeostasis within the human body, a complex system in and of itself, a concept I recognize as personally fascinating and enticing. I find myself especially drawn to the field of critical care and intensive care medicine. My dreams to become an intensivist would be highly complimented by a residency in surgery.

In critical care, each patient in the ICU is usually in a general state of shock. From the initial state of shock, the patient can be further complicated with comorbidities and chronic diseases that may require further intensive medical intervention so that they may recover from a recent surgery or traumatic event. This dynamic nature of the ICU is not available in every unit of the hospital and the high level of acuity does not suit everyone. I, however, enjoy the high energy of the enthralling, engaging and exciting environment offered by the ICU. I am personally energized and awakened by managing patients with surgically-altered physiology coupled with comorbidities. There is an overwhelming satisfaction when a patient following a bilateral lung transplant gets up from his bed and walks through the unit after days of being bedridden, or the moment we can discontinue the lines we had the patient on and finally talk to them after two weeks of intubation and sedation. Being in the ICU also encompasses the emotional seesaw of going from a successful patient case to a room in which a family has just decided that comfort care is the best way to proceed, which gives me chills just to type and verbalize.

The work of an intensivist is not only limited to the patient, but also the emotional well-being of the patient’s family as well. My involvement in the ICU has taught me that sometimes it is necessary to talk to a patient’s family, to explain to them simply that the postoperative expectations that they had had, may not be met. Communication is key in this field, both with the patients and the physicians of the OR. Communication prevents perioperative complications, establishes a willingness to follow directions and relays professionalism. It is important for an intensivist to have an excellent understanding of surgical procedures, so that they may explain to the patient what to expect as well as ease the nerves of the patient preoperatively. A surgical residency would facilitate this understanding and undoubtedly prove to be useful in my future training.

Studying medicine in Europe has taught me volumes about myself, how driven, motivated and open-minded I can be. To move so far away from home and yet be so familiar with the language, I feel blessed to be able to say that I’ve had a high level of exposure to diversity in my life. The mentality in [insert country name here] is if you don’t see the doctor, you are not sick. This common thought has to lead to an outstanding environment to study medicine and to see end-stage, textbook presentations of various pathologies and their management. Studying medicine in two languages has in itself taught me that medicine is a language and that the way a patient presents, conveys themselves, and the findings of the physical examination, all represent the syntax of the diagnosis. This awareness has reminded me that patient care, relief of patient suffering and illness, transcends the grammatical rules of the patient’s native tongue. My clinical experience in [insert country here] will aid me in providing thoughtful care to my future patients.

All things considered, I am ready to leave my home of the last four years and come back to the United States, to enter the next stage of my life and career. I am ready to work harder than ever, to prove myself to my future residency program and most importantly, learn so that I may be a suitable candidate for a future fellowship program in critical care. My experiences abroad have constantly pushed me to new horizons and encouraged responsibilities that I don’t believe I would otherwise have. I’ve developed a new level of human connection through my work in the ICU, the OR and my travels throughout Europe. These experiences will aid me in working with a diverse patient population and a diverse team of physicians. I hope [the program name here] can give me the variety and the background in surgery that I will need to succeed.

1. Atypical experiences are justified

This surgery personal statement example has to do double duty for the admissions committee. It has to explain why surgery, what this student can offer, and why this student is passionate about the field while simultaneously explaining why the applicant chose medical school abroad. If you are applying to a country where you did not attend medical school there, you have to explain why you studied abroad. This often poses a challenge for students. Be honest and positive about your experience. This student did an excellent job of explaining why it was such a good fit for their personality while highlighting the advantages of this experience.

Focus on the characteristics you gained from your experience abroad. Explain how your experience will translate into success in your residency. There are many things to be gained from having spent time outside of your home country. Talk about the skills you developed from living abroad. Unique details like those will set you apart when you are writing your statement.

2. Makes unique experiences an advantage

This applicant studied abroad in Europe. The way they talk about it is key: they explain how the experience was a challenge that they learned from. Most programs and schools are looking for medical school graduates who can contribute to their vision of diversity. If you have experience travelling abroad, this is a good chance for you to explain how this enriched your perspective and professional capabilities. Some of the skills that this applicant discusses are assets for a career in medicine: speaking two languages, exposure to diverse people and methods, and the ability to work with a large patient and physician population from different backgrounds. If you endeavor to explain some of your diverse experiences, be sure to make it clear what you gained and how you can apply it to your residency training.

3. The writer’s voice and style are unique

To get matched to the program and school of your choice, you will need to stand out from the crowd. To do this effectively in your personal statement, give your writing a unique style and allow your personality to shine through. In this example, the writer achieves this in the first paragraph in the “hook” in which they describe when their father used to read “How Things Work”; this life event left a lasting impression, and the writer links this to why a residency in surgery would benefit their goal of becoming an intensivist. With a first draft, it’s okay to experiment with word choice and content. Make sure you include all the necessary elements and formatting requirements, but try your best to put the “personal” in personal statement. Note that this is a general surgery example; if you were applying for plastic surgery or neurosurgery, you should read plastic surgery residency personal statement examples or neurosurgery personal statement examples for a slightly varied essay strategy.

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Residency Personal Statement Examples #4: Emergency Medicine

One of the most surprising things that I learned through my emergency medicine (EM) electives is that working in an emergency department is like leading a horse. I grew up on a farm in the [name of city], and working with animals was very much a part of my childhood. When walking a horse, one must be prepared for anything should the animal become spooked. It can startle at any moment and one must react quickly and calmly to redirect the thousand-pound creature. Similarly, in EM, one never knows when the department is going to become “spooked” by what comes through the door. EM is exciting, with a variety of patient presentations and medical procedures done on a daily basis. I enjoy dealing with the unexpected challenges that arise in caring for patients with backgrounds vastly different from my own. It would be a privilege to gain the skills as an emergency physician to provide acute life-saving care, to connect patients with resources and other healthcare professionals, and to provide comfort to patients and families in the settings of acute loss or difficult diagnoses. I feel that the [name of program] is the ideal path to reach that goal.

First, the [name of program] offers additional support and training to continue to perform research and other scholarly activities. Through my experience in quality improvement, I have learned of the value of research and how it can be applied to practical problems. For instance, while volunteering in a pool rehabilitation program for individuals with neurological disabilities, a patient who I had worked with for a year tragically suffered a fall and broke his hip leaving him significantly disabled. This led me to research inpatient falls during medical school and I initiated a quality improvement project and presented at several conferences, quality improvement rounds, and meetings with hospital stakeholders. After several years of work, I am very proud that this led to the implementation of a province-wide quality improvement initiative funded by [name of organization]. This initiative is physician-led and is aimed at reducing inpatient falls across [name of city]. This project demonstrated how rewarding research is when it can be translated into tangible initiatives and is why I am particularly interested in quality improvement research. I look forward to more dedicated time in the [name of program] to develop my research skills and to apply quality improvement to EM.

In addition to increased training in research, the [name of program] offers the opportunity to subspecialize within EM. While in medical school, I helped my single mother raise my much younger siblings and this has inspired my interest in pediatric EM. I maximized my studying through the effective use of weekly group study sessions and podcasts to allow for free weekends to return home to spend with my brother and sister. Through my experiences teaching and playing with my siblings, I have learned to deal with children in a calm and friendly manner. I used these skills to maintain positive therapeutic relationships with children during my pediatric EM rotation at [name of hospital]. For instance, I was able to cast the forearm of a frightened child by first demonstrating the procedure on her toy rabbit, and then calmly fitting a cast on her arm. I enjoy the emphasis on patient and family education as well as the focus on making the patient feel safe and cared for. I would love to explore this field further as my niche within the [name of program] in emergency medicine.

Alongside research and pediatric EM, I am also interested in teaching. Some of my fondest memories involve the evening teaching sessions during primary and secondary school spent with my grandpa, a retired teacher. My grandpa modeled effective teaching techniques, first assessing my knowledge and then expanding on it by asking questions and providing guidance when needed. Similarly, some of my best memories in medical school include the five-minute bedside teaching sessions after interesting cases that were taught in that way. Inspired by many residents and staff I have worked with, I look forward to expanding my teaching role in residency. Like my grandpa and my clinical mentors, I hope to help future students maximize their learning potential through the delivery of lectures and bedside teaching. Training within the [name of program] would allow additional time to develop the skills necessary for this, through increased exposure to mentorship, teaching role models, and opportunities to be involved in curricular development.

I would feel privileged to join the resident team in the [name of program]. I was fortunate that most of my core clerkship training including EM, as well as my fourth year EM elective, was at the [name of hospital]. What stands out the most to me most about working in the [name of hospital] is the tight-knit community feel in the setting of a high volume, high acuity ED. I value that the small program leads to a cohesive resident group and staff who are invested in their learners. Furthermore, from my rotations there, I know the ample procedural and hands-on exposure residents get from the beginning of their training. With my interest in pediatric EM, I value the longitudinal exposure to pediatrics at [name of program], with opportunities to do dedicated pediatric rotations both at [name of hospital], as well as [name of hospital]l. Finally, the [name of city] is my home; my family and friends are here, and I love the hiking, fishing, kayaking, and snowboarding that are all less than an hour away. I would be incredibly honored to have the privilege of pursuing EM in the [name of program], and look forward to serving my community.

Read some more Emergency Medicine Personal Statement Examples !

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The thought of caring for severely ill children seemed disheartening and overwhelming when I first began shadowing [name of doctor] at [name of hospital] five years ago. I was very nervous. While some of the cases were indeed difficult, my experience was starkly different. In one of our first cases, I quickly jumped in to comfort a scared child suffering from kidney disease. The mother of our patient confided in me about her son's struggles with bullying due to the disfiguring edema. I felt how much she appreciated being able to share her son’s challenges with me. Throughout my clinical experiences, I saw that caring for a pediatric patient often involves delicately navigating complex social situations and family dynamics. From that point on, I knew I had both the passion and compassion to succeed as a future pediatrician.

I am particularly keen to complete my residency at the [name of school], because I had such an immersive learning experience completing 5 years of research with [name of doctor] at [name of hospital] and at [name of hospital], not to mention [name of school]'s stellar international reputation. The incredibly high standard of excellence at [name of school], as well as [name of city] being my hometown, make the [name of school] my top choice to complete my residency. To further demonstrate the excellent education, I remember a time while shadowing at [name of hospital] in the genetics clinics where we discussed the pathophysiology of Bartter’s syndrome. The residents were having a hard time understanding this disease, but [name of doctor] explained the exact pathophysiology and downstream effects of it. The incredible intellect, mentorship and leadership [name of doctor] demonstrated has inspired me to pursue a nephrology fellowship upon completion of my residency.

During my elective rotations in [name of cities], I saw indigenous pediatric patients with a variety of ailments from hypoglycemia to cystic fibrosis. I spoke with them about the struggles of travelling long distances to obtain care. As an Inuit member of the [name of group], I have spent time reflecting on the medical needs of this much-overlooked population and hope to explore ways of reaching out to underserved populations in my future career.

I am prepared to be a leader and engaged learner in my residency program because of my participation in impactful leadership roles. I am currently the president of the [name of society], where one of my main duties is coordinating the [name of initiative], an initiative that teaches children about hospitals and healthy living. I was able to spend one-on-one time with disabled children teaching them about the heart through dance and instruments and activities to decrease fears associated with hospitals. This demonstrated the importance of promoting health care initiatives for kids and educate families and their children on how to be advocates of their own health.

As a competitive Irish dancer for sixteen years, I developed perseverance, determination, and time management that have been critical throughout my medical school training. Competing in front of judges and thousands of spectators all over the world, performing to my best ability under intense pressure was a necessity. I persevered with the challenge of competing at an international level and still maintained a very high level of academic performance while achieving my career high of second at the World Championships.

As an IMG applicant born and raised in [name of city] and educated in [name of country], I believe that my international education provides many advantages. I was exposed to diverse cultures and innovative ways of thinking from teachers from all over the globe at the [name of college] that I hope to bring back to Canada with me. Through the last 6 years, I have also had many research experiences and clinical electives in Canada that have given me insights into the intricacies of the Canadian Health Care system.

I am confident that pediatrics is the field I wish to pursue and I cannot wait to begin my residency so that I can start becoming an excellent clinician who advocates for children, as well as a scholar involved in research projects that will help advance the field. After successfully completing my pediatric residency program, I plan to pursue a pediatric fellowship. I am excited at the prospect of working and learning at the [name of school] while being an active and professional member of your residency program. I am also looking forward to developing my teaching skills and contributing to the community while also enjoying bike rides down the paths in the [name of path] and to be reunited with my [name of city] based family.

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“Code blue, electrophysiology laboratory” a voice announces overhead during my cardiology rotation. As the code team, we rush to the patient, an elderly man in shock. Seamlessly, we each assume our preassigned roles. I quickly review his chart and note to the team-leader that this patient had a previous EF of 10 percent and just got cardioverted. Vasopressors administered, intubation, central line secured, and the patient is stabilized and sent to our floor. During my rotations in internal medicine, I was constantly elated by my team’s ability to come together at such key moments. This gave me a sense of joy I did not find in other rotations. Moreover, I had inspiring attending physicians and residents who served as my mentors. They taught me that an internist is a medical expert committed to evidence-based medicine and perpetual learning, a compassionate physician, and an engaged community member. These lessons and the satisfaction of managing highly complex cases with a dedicated team consolidated my interest in internal medicine.

Compassion and a holistic approach to medicine remain quintessential for patient care. During my rotations, I took advantage of opportunities to learn from my patients both at the bedside and through independent reading. As a senior student, I prepared learning capsules that I presented to my team. This taught me to synthesize and communicate information efficiently. Beyond that, I took courses outside of the formal curriculum such as a point-of-care ultrasound course to improve my ultrasound procedural skills. When we no longer had any curative interventions to offer patients, I learned that acknowledging the patients’ suffering and being present for them in their most vulnerable time can ease their pain. As a resident at [name of school], I will continue my dedication to academic excellence and compassionate, patient-centered care in my efforts to care for my patients.

I have built strong ties to my community serving as president of the [name of school] Biology Student Union. Together, we enacted a complex study space and locker initiative through my role as a mentor at [name of organization]. These experiences instilled in me the values of proactivity and advocacy which I aim to bring with me to [name of school]. There, I hope to continue my community engagement as a mentor with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of [name of city]. Moreover, as I learn more about [name of town]'s healthcare system, I hope to combine that knowledge with my medical education to add my perspective to health policy decision-making in the province.

In addition to its excellent academic reputation, [name of school]’s commitment to academic excellence and continuing education, as exemplified by the abundant academic teaching, drew me to the program. Moreover, given my belief that we develop to be an amalgam of characteristics and values our mentors espouse, I was delighted to learn about the mentorship opportunities available. This was a unique characteristic that motivated me to apply to [name of school]. Finally, having lived in [name of city] for the last ten years, I am looking forward to spending the next chapter of my life in a smaller, more tightly knit community of [name of city].

As I learned and modeled the different roles of an internist, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned of my thirst for knowledge, of my desire to treat as well as to heal the patient, and of my urge to be a leader in my community. These characteristics will play a defining role in my residency. I also learned of my passion for acute medicine. After my residency, I hope to further subspecialize in cardiology. As a future cardiologist, I aim to provide patient-centered care, conduct research, continue my community engagement, and act as a role model to future generation.

Get inspired with these Cardiology Personal Statement Examples !

Watch this to learn what red flags to avoid in your residency personal statement!

Residency Personal Statement Examples #7: Psychiatry

I grew up in a tight knit military family in a community struck with the stigma of mental illness. Throughout my childhood we lost friends to the complications of untreated mental illness including overdose and suicide. I knew at that point that I wanted to pursue mental illness and completed a psychology degree and then a nursing degree. In University, I volunteered in a distress service for 6 years, providing individual sessions to students on issues including suicidality, interpersonal violence and addiction. As a registered nurse, I honed my skills in mental status examinations and cared for their comorbid psychiatric illness with medical disease utilizing communication and building rapport. I saw the impact of life altering conditions and procedures on their mental health. As a medical student, I continued to explore psychiatry through City X summer studentship and appreciated the breadth of psychiatric practice. As a clerk, I completed a range of psychiatric electives, caring for patients in multiple care settings and across various socioeconomic and age ranges. I enrolled in the integrated community clerkship, in X town, a community 900 km North of X city. The socioeconomic disparities and lack of access to mental health services had a negative impact on community, with suicidality and addictions. I followed my patients across practice domains assessing their functioning, medication regimen and continued to build a collaborative relationship. This proved crucial to uncover their health status across domains and helped me identify areas to support their challenges. 

I value the ability to understand my patients from a biopsychosocial framework and addressing negative thought processes in support of their wellness. I view our duty in psychiatry is to support their strengths on a trajectory to wellness and provide guidance and resources utilizing pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies. Psychiatry is a newer field of medicine, allowing for ongoing innovations in treatment and practice. This is exciting to explore novel approaches to treatments as we continue to uncover the physiological, neurological and pharmacological dimensions of mental health. It is also important to recognize the challenges of psychiatry. The history of mental illness creates access to care barriers from both a structural viewpoint with longer wait times and on a personal level due to their concern about the social and occupational implications of stigma. As our population ages, this threatens to overwhelm the current psychiatric infrastructure and will require more complex approaches due to medical comorbidities and medication contraindications. We will require ongoing research focused on medical comorbidities of neuropsychiatric illness and treatment modalities to improve quality of care. 

I am drawn to the University of X psychiatry program due to its resident focused approach. I appreciate the ongoing mentorship and supervision and the preparatory endeavors including the mock examinations. From a clinical perspective, the program has a strong psychotherapy curriculum and offers unique elective opportunities including electroconvulsive therapy. The ability to continue serving rural communities solidifies my interests in this well-known program. 

Check out these Psychiatry Personal Statement Examples !

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Residency Personal Statement Examples #8: Internal Medicine

“People are drawn to medicine in one of two ways: the humanity or the science.” My mentor, [name of doctor], staff medical oncologist at the [name of hospital], once told me this. As a volunteer during my premedical studies, I assisted him with his impromptu lunchtime clinics while others were on break and was able to catch a glimpse of his patients’ unshakable trust in him. Those moments sparked my interest in Internal Medicine. Internists are entrusted with the most complex patients in any hospital. Therefore, Internists take on the responsibility of a patient’s trust in their lowest, most disoriented moments. Accordingly, when I finally started clinical rotations, I saw it as my responsibility to fully understand each patient’s motivations and fears to advocate for their goals. One patient I had gotten to know still stands out in my mind. She was 95, witty, and self-assured but was found to have bone metastasis causing excruciating pain during her hospital stay. She knew she did not want aggressive life-prolonging treatment and declined further workup, but how could we help her? I suggested palliative radiotherapy to my team because I remember her telling me “I had a good life. I am not scared of death, but if I have to be around for a while, can’t I be more comfortable?” Therefore, my team entrusted me to talk to her and her family about a referral to Radiation Oncology. She responded to me with “I don’t think there’s anyone who knows what I’d want better than you. You’ve listened to me so much. I trust you.” I spent the next half hour explaining the rationale behind the referral to both her and her family. She received urgent Radiotherapy two weeks later. Her narcotic requirement decreased by more than half. After that moment, I envisioned that one day, I could also look into the eyes of someone at their most vulnerable moment and give them confidence to trust me and my team with their care.

Although my interest in Internal Medicine is rooted in the human connection, my attention to detail, work ethic, and natural curiosity, also makes me especially well-suited for the challenges of Internal Medicine. Indeed, beyond the human connection, Internal Medicine’s challenges of complex problem solving, and large ever-growing breadth of knowledge is also what makes each day so satisfying. When I was on the Nephrology Consult service, I was following a patient with a kidney transplant who was admitted for Line Sepsis. I noticed a mild Non-Anion Gap Metabolic Acidosis and a persistent mild Hyperkalemia. I presented my findings to my staff as a possible Type 4 RTA. He complimented me on my attention to detail and warned that a Type 4 RTA in a kidney transplant patient could be a sign of rejection. We restarted his anti-rejection medication that had been held due to his infection, his electrolyte abnormalities corrected in less than two days. My attention to detail is a particular asset for Internal Medicine because more than any other specialty, the tiniest details like a mildly abnormal lab work, when pieced together in the correct way, could solve the most difficult clinical problem. That is also what makes problem-solving in Internal Medicine so satisfying. My mentors have always complimented me on my work ethic. However, I enjoy staying late for admissions and additional learning or reading hours around my patients at home because learning Internal Medicine is so interesting.

On the other hand, Internists are also tasked with the very large, working with multiple professionals and navigate system issues to keep patients healthy and out of hospital such as when [name of doctor] entrusted me with planning the discharge of a homeless patient during my Medicine CTU elective at [name of hospital]. The patient had Schizophrenia and Grave’s Disease and had been admitted to hospital multiple times that year with thyrotoxicosis due to medication non-adherence. During his admission, I had elicited the help of two homeless outreach coordinators to ensure proper follow-up. Therefore, by the time of discharge, he had a new family doctor, timely appointments with the family doctor and endocrinologist, maps with directions to each appointment, his prescription medications ready to go, as well as a new apartment application.

Ultimately, I am fortunate to be drawn to Internal Medicine for both its humanity and science. I believe that I have the qualities that will help me excel in its smallest details and its largest responsibilities. In residency, I aim to explore and learn as much Internal Medicine as possible before becoming an expert in one area so I can make an informed choice and be a well-rounded physician. Therefore, the fact that [name of city] has so many leading experts especially suits my learning goals. Indeed, during my electives in [name of city], I’ve already learned knowledge that I’ve not encountered elsewhere like the Bernese method of Buprenorphine induction. The availability of resources such as the DKA management simulation and the use of presentations of cutting-edge knowledge as part of evaluation also suits my self-directed learning style. Furthermore, my research has focused on the PMCC Gastro-Esophageal Cancer Database where we were able to discover various new details in the clinical behavior of Gastro-Esophageal cancer due to the large volume of patients are PMCC and its world-class expertise. This line of research would not work as well anywhere else in [name of country]. Indeed, our database is currently the second-largest in the world. Therefore, the second reason [name of city] is my ideal place for training is for its unique research opportunities, so I can continue to contribute to further medical knowledge. Lastly, [name of city] is the most diverse city in [name of country]. Growing up as an immigrant, I had experienced how cultural backgrounds can become a barrier to receiving good medical care. Therefore, the diverse patient population and strong allied health support in [name of city] could also allow me to hone the skills required to assist me in providing good quality care to all patients, regardless of background.

Here are more Internal Medicine Personal Statement Examples !

My first exposure to Family Medicine occurred during my time as a Medical Officer working in a small clinic in Nigeria in fulfilment of the [name of service]. There, I recognized that a career in this specialty would offer me the opportunity to not only experience the aspects I cherished most about other specialties, but fulfill my personal interests in advancing community health.

My many encounters with patients during my days in the clinic reaffirmed my view of Primary care physicians as being on the frontline of diagnosis and preventive medicine. There was the middle-aged diabetic patient who had first presented to the emergency with diabetic ketoacidosis, the hypertensive man whose initial complaint of a persistent headache prompted the discovery of his soaring blood pressure, and the adolescent with a family history of allergies who was diagnosed with asthma. These encounters highlighted that as the first point of contact, the general practitioner is not only responsible for diagnosis, but often in ensuring patients are set on the path of healthy habits to prevent disease complications. This unique opportunity to significantly advance the well-being of a patient, and by extension, the community renewed my interest in the field.

An especially appealing feature of Family Medicine is that it provides an opportunity for patient care without limitations of age, sex, disease or organ system. From treating colds and routine checkups to referral for a suspected malignancy, I enjoyed that every day in the clinic was a learning experience and no day was routine. In addition, having a diverse population of patients and cases requires an abundance of clinical knowledge and I cherish the chance to learn and expand my skills every day.

I also value that an essential part of Primary care is in the enduring relationships the practitioners develop with patients. I recall several moments during my clinical experiences when I recognized that some of the bonds formed during ongoing patient interactions had evolved into lasting friendships. Being a practice of continual care, I appreciate that this specialty provides many opportunities to follow patients through different stages of their lives ensuring a deepening of relationship and compliance with care. I was inspired during my clinical rotation here in the United States when I saw how my preceptorís long-term relationships with patients enabled their compliance and often extended to different generations within one family.

Ultimately, I am confident that my experiences have prepared me for a career in this specialty. An agreeable, attentive and compassionate nature has aided me in gaining trust as well as building meaningful interpersonal relationships which are crucial components of this field. Furthermore, my interaction with an extensive array of patients during my clinical and volunteer experiences has equipped me with the ability to communicate and relate to patients across different age groups and backgrounds. In addition, I enjoy working to coordinate patient care with colleagues and other specialties and value that the wellness of the patient is a result of hard work, dedication, and teamwork.

Thus, I hope to find a residency program dedicated to providing in-depth clinical training with a diverse patient population and an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention through patient education and community service. Moreover, I look forward to being part of a program that will encourage my pursuit of intellectual development and advancement to enable my transition into a well-rounded, competent and skilled physician committed to serving people with needs in all areas of medicine. With a career in this specialty, I know that every day will bring a new opportunity to influence health behaviors, and while there will be challenges, fulfilling them will always be satisfying.

Here I am, yet again. Last year, I also applied for a position as a dermatology resident. Though I was not selected, I return with the same diligence and perseverance, as well as additional skills and knowledge. My continued dedication to pursue a career in dermatology reminds me that no good thing comes easily and pushes me to stay motivated and work hard toward my goals. 

I am drawn to dermatology for a host of reasons, one of which is the opportunity to work with my hands. In my current residency program, I have had the opportunity to assist in various surgical procedures. I recall the subdued exhilaration I felt when removing my first lipoma and the satisfaction of observing the surgeon completed the procedure with precision and care. My excitement for surgery continued to be reinforced in the many subsequent procedures I assisted with and I look forward to honing my surgical skills further as I complete my training in dermatology. 

However, to me, “hands-on” is defined as more than just its literal meaning. The opportunity to build relationships with patients steers me more towards a career in outpatient medicine. During my dermatology outpatient rotation, I was involved in the care of a patient who presented initially complaining of a heliotrope rash and gottron’s papules. When she expressed a deep sense of shame about this rash, I became acutely aware of how patient’s external disease can influence their internal emotions. I thus responded empathetically, simultaneously validating her concerns and providing her with much-needed assurance. When she was later diagnosed with dermatomyositis secondary to underlying breast cancer, this patient requested to speak to me specifically, recalling the positive interaction we had shared before. Again, I was able to explain the diagnosis and treatment plan with patience and regard for her every concern. Developing a trusted physician-patient relationship is crucial in the field of dermatology because most patients exhibit strong internal emotions from their visually external disease. Also important is the ability to deliver difficult news and be considerate of patients’ feelings in these delicate moments. I plan to continue to use these skills during my career as a dermatologist.  

To me, dermatology is also a field that is thought-provoking and stimulating due to its constant evolution and advancements. Thus, during my internship, I committed to educating myself in the field of dermatology through multiple research projects. My research thus far has been focused on whether UV light lamps used in gel manicures increases the risk of skin cancers as well as the outcomes of using intralesional 5-fluorouracil for squamous cell carcinoma and keratoacanthomas. While my research was focused in the field of dermatology, I did not hesitate to take on additional projects, pursuing assignments in both breast cancer and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. I strongly believe the best doctors have a thorough understanding of the practice of medicine in totality as our ability to incorporate this knowledge in our diagnosis and treatment of our patients directly impacts their wellbeing. For these reasons, I strive to continually educate myself in not only dermatology, but other fields that might have implications on my practice. 

My ideal dermatology program would allow me to manage a variety of complex medical dermatological conditions and engage in research, both of which will continue to challenge me intellectually and push me to exercise creativity to develop innovative solutions to dermatological treatments. As someone who enjoys working with my hands and the instant gratification of the surgical approach as a treatment option, I would also value the opportunity to perform surgeries and improve my surgical skills. Furthermore, I have found that beyond medicine, the people in each program make or break an experience. Positive attitudes, expressed dedication, and mentorship are vital characteristics in any program of my interest.

I am confident my aspirations will be fulfilled in the field of dermatology, but more importantly, I know I will be a good contribution to this field and your program – my work ethic, motivation, and commitment unwavering. I am determined, impassioned, and excited to embark on this next phase of my journey. 

Check out even more Dermatology Personal Statement Examples !

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How To Address Areas of Concern

There are some things that are out of our control. Sometimes we have to take time off to deal with personal issues, or sometimes we have to retake tests. If you have something you feel like you need to explain in your application, the personal statement is the area to address it. If you had a leave of absence or failed an exam, you should offer a clear, unemotional explanation of the situation. Use positive language. Whatever the area of concern, try and phrase it in the most favorable light. Take accountable for what has happened, but do not place blame or make an excuse. Here are some phrases you can try and use in your personal statement.

Sometimes we have to interact with people who we don't see eye to eye with. When I worked with (you can choose to say the person's name or just use their title) I learned how to (insert a lesson here). Even though it was a challenge, I have gained skills that will better my future practice. ","label":"Unfavorable Evaluation by an Attending","title":"Unfavorable Evaluation by an Attending"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

Keep in mind that these are suggestions. If you are concerned about an area of your application that might be a red flag, it may be in your best interest to address it head-on. The choice to write about them is your own individual opinion. Your personal statement should highlight the best side of you. If you think that an area of weakness might hurt your chances, it may be beneficial to take ownership of the problem and write it in a way that will show what you learned and how it made you better.

For the most part, your residency personal statement should be within a one-page limit or approximately 750-850 words. Be sure to check your specific program requirements to verify before you begin writing.

It's entirely up to you if you want to address unfavorable grades or gaps in your studies. However, if you feel something in your application will be seen as a red flag, it's best to address issues head-on instead of having admissions committees dwell on possible areas of concern.

If you're going to address a gap, just ensure that you have a clear narrative for why you took these breaks, what you did on break and what this break means for your ability to function at a very high academic level for many years to come.

If you're addressing a poor evaluation, ensure that you take responsibility for your grade, discuss what you learned and how your performance will be improved in the future - then move on. It's important that you don't play the victim and you must always reflect on what lessons you've learned moving forward.

Absolutely. While it's not necessary to discuss your personal connection to a program location, showing program directors that you have ties to their program's location can give you a competitive edge over other applicants. The reason being is that it's a way to show program directors that you are invested in practicing medicine locally.

That's not to say that you have to apply to programs that are within your home state or province, but if one of the reasons you love a particular program is because of its location in your hometown, don't be afraid to mention this. Whether you enjoy the outdoor activities in the program's location, have family and friends in the area, or even grew up in the area at some point, these can all be great aspects to mention.

Firstly, it's important to check the program's specific requirements for your statement because some programs have a specific prompt or multiple prompts that you'll need to address. If you are not given a prompt, in general, your statement needs to answer “why this specialty?” and “why this program?”. Your responses must be supported with your personal experiences and your statement should incorporate your future career goals.

No, instead you'll be preparing one personal statement for each specialty. For example, if you're applying to emergency medicine and family medicine, you'll need to prepare one statement for emergency medicine and one statement for family medicine.

As long as it's during the application season, you can edit and review your personal statement. However, keep in mind that if you edit your personal statement, there is no guarantee that programs will review the most up to date version. For this reason, it's best to only assign your personal statement to programs once you've 100% happy with the final version.

No, there is no limit on how many personal statements you can create. 

Your personal statement should have three major structural elements: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Your thesis statement will appear in your introduction in the first paragraph. The body is for you to discuss major experiences relevant to your chosen specialty, and the conclusion is generally the place to summarize and highlight some of the item you mentioned in the body or introduction.

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ERAS Personal Statement Length

What’s the ideal length for my residency personal statement?

A residency personal statement should be under 750 words. I shoot for a length of 650-700 with my clients. Yes, ERAS allows a whole lot more. Don’t take the bait. You’ll be a laughingstock if you submit a personal statement that’s overly long or ridiculously short.

Here’s the rub: Everyone will tell you that this sucker needs to fit on a single page. BUT, everyone also has a different calculation for what that means.

Let’s face it, the single page rule is a pre-digital dinosaur. Most of us aren’t printing out these documents anymore. Fun fact: aspiring residents used to mail handwritten letters to their programs of interest! (For those who complain about customizing residency essays to specific programs, at least you don’t have to worry about your penmanship.)

All this begs the question: How many characters or words are equivalent to one page in ERAS? Well, if you type directly into the form or cut-and-paste from Word, you may get about ~3500 characters or so. You may also get some funky formatting issues. However, if you follow ERAS’s instructions and type your essay into a plain text editor, then cut and paste that text into the ERAS form field, VOILA! You may have enough room for up to 650 words.

Check out our personal statement editing package ,  or feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like guidance on how to optimize those 650 words: [email protected]

Wishing you happy writing and a perfect residency match!

Marci Martinez

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The Perfect Personal Statement ERAS: Your Ticket to Residency

eras personal statement length

Some Reflections on the Importance of Personal Statement ERAS

There are several fundamental opinions on compiling various applications. Some believe that a good personal statement ERAS is one of the most critical parts of your application package and this makes the difference between getting the desired confirmation or rejection. Another opinion is that although it is an integral part of admission, this is not what is too much to rely on, as the committees do not review these papers as closely as people think.

The truth is always in the middle, and the most important thing to get from these two opinions is that your document should be good. Why? Because in any case, your application will be viewed, and if it is, so to say, standard and will meet all requirements of the format, it will not cause any questions and perhaps be able to draw attention to your candidacy and add you a couple of points. But if you think writing an ERAS personal statement is just a formality and you can ignore some requirements, this will certainly pay attention. And here you can be sure it will become a problem.

Therefore, it is better to put aside thinking and philosophizing about the importance of personal application and do everything as it should and correctly.

Where to Start Your ERAS Personal Statement

Let’s start with the basics and briefly explain or remind you what ERAS is, who uses it, and how to prepare your personal statement for ERAS on this platform to benefit from it.

ERAS is an electronic residency application service, through which you submit all the necessary documents for ERAS® residency applicants and can receive feedback on the status of your application. It streamlines the application process by allowing applicants to simultaneously submit their materials, including applications, to multiple programs. But where do you start when it comes to preparing your personal statement ERAS?

  • Oddly enough, the hardest part is getting started. Put away the fear of a blank slate and transfer your thoughts to a draft. Think about the qualities making you a unique and attractive candidate. Identify key moments or encounters which ignited your passion.
  • Then do thorough research on the programs of your interest. Become familiar with the missions, values, and desired qualities of applicants. This knowledge will help you tailor your application to meet their expectations and demonstrate your appropriatness for their program.
  • Also, seek feedback and advice from mentors, professors, or health professionals who can offer valuable advice and guidance. Engage in self-reflection and brainstorming to organize your thoughts and ideas.

By beginning your preparation with self-reflection, research, and seeking recommendations, you will be well on your way to writing a compelling personal statement and demonstrating your unique qualities to residency programs.

Regarding the logical question about ERAS personal statement how to submit it we can note the following. Applications are submitted through the MyERAS Personal Application, a secure online platform that simplifies the residency application process and gives candidates a clear understanding of deadlines and requirements.

Optimal ERAS Personal Statement Length

This is quite a contra version that causes a lot of debate among future residents. Namely, a lot or a little volume is allocated to writing the application.

The standard ERAS personal statement length is usually about one page. This is sufficient to convey your motivations, experiences, and goals objectively and clearly while ensuring that your text is concise and focused. It is important to adhere to these length guidelines, as exceeding the recommended ERAS personal statement word count can lead to your work being ignored or marked as unsuccessful.

On the other hand, a personal statement ERAS length which is too short, can give the impression that you have nothing to say about yourself and lack the necessary qualities. Strike a balance between sufficient detail and brevity to maximize the impact of your statement on ERAS.

How Long Should ERAS Personal Statement Be?

As we said earlier, your personal statement should fit on one page. When it comes to the ERAS personal statement character limit, it has remained the same. Your application should be no less than 750 and no more than 900 characters.  It is important to follow these length guidelines as closely as possible. Note, the documents with excessive word count will be shortened automatically or may be canceled.

General ERAS Personal Statement Requirements

While most of the ERAS requirements relate to the formatting and length of submissions, it is also important to consider the specifics of your submissions. The system is not as strict on the context of a personal statement , but the quality of it is essential, first of all, to attract the attention of admissions committees and your success.

Your personal statement ERAS should present a compelling narrative that demonstrates your passion, highlights your relevant experience, and highlights your unique qualities as a candidate. Be clear and concise in your self-presentation, ensuring your ideas flow logically and coherently. Also, emphasize your personal growth and the lessons you’ve learned along your medical journey. Use specific examples to highlight your strengths and show how those experiences influenced your decision to apply for residency.

eras personal statement

Common Mistakes to Avoid

The text of the ERAS personal statement is not too long and does not take more than a page, but even in this small field, you can make many mistakes that prevent you from getting the desired result.

  • Lack of focus: Don’t try to cover too many topics and instead focus on a few key impressions or qualities.
  • Poor structure: A disorganized and ignoring ERAS personal statement formatting structure can make your application’s narrative difficult to follow. Provide a logical flow, using paragraphs and transitions to make your message coherent.
  • Generic content: General statements lacking personalization and examples of personal experience may not be memorable. Instead, emphasize the unique skills and knowledge set you apart from other candidates.
  • Grammatical errors and typos: Neglecting to proofread your personal statement can undermine your professionalism and leave poor impression.

Requirements Regarding ERAS Personal Statement Formatting

The platform imposes strict requirements not only on the ERAS personal statement word limit but also has strict formatting requirements.

  • Font and size: Use a clear and legible font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. The recommended font size is usually 10-12 points to ensure readability.
  • Alignment and spacing: Left-align the text and use single spacing. Avoid using extra spacing between paragraphs or lines, as this can make your narrative look disjointed or elongated.
  • Paragraph structure: For better readability, divide your ERAS personal statement into paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific topic or idea; a blank line is recommended for visual separation between paragraphs.
  • Special characters and formatting styles: Avoid using special characters, symbols, or formatting styles (bold, italic, underline) in your statement. Stick to plain text (ASCII) formatting to ensure compatibility with various systems.

Remember also, that you need not only to know how long should ERAS personal statement be but also to ensure it’s free from any inconsistencies, grammatical errors, or typos. So proofread your application several times before and after formatting.

Red Flags Residency Personal Statement to Consider

Indeed you have already read a lot of expert advice and recommendations regarding creating a personal statement ERAS. And you know that there should be no lies, exaggerations, and deceit here. The same applies to red flags, which intimidate most applicants:

  • Lack of reflection and growth, e.g., if more than 5 years have passed from graduation to application, this is already a red flag.
  • Any academic gaps for several years related to your chosen major.
  • Negative attitudes, including bad experiences, past job failures, or toxicity to former colleagues.
  • Lack of connection to the program, e.g., lack of appropriate educational background or failure to demonstrate a genuine understanding of a particular program’s possibilities.
  • Lack of professionalism – such as clinical experience in the United States, essential to have while applying to U.S. residencies.

These ones are the most common red flags residency personal statement that most applicants want to hide. However, you should not do it. Instead, you must try to explain your position, turning your red flags into your zest.

Get Professional Help From Admission Experts

The requirements and features of eras applications are only easy for those who have processed hundreds of them, so it’s normal for you to need expert feedback or support. No matter what reason you need assistance with, whether it’s a desire to sort out red flags or the pursuit of perfectionism regarding ERAS personal statement requirements, our writing professionals are here to lend a helping hand 24/7.

With vast experience and a thorough understanding of all the nuances of the admission process, our writers are ready to work on your application, turning an ordinary document into an outstanding personal statement ERAS that will lead you to victory.

Leave all doubts behind and rely on us. Just a couple of lines asking for help, and all your writing issues will be solved!

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  3. Guide on ERAS Personal Statement Length & Writing Tips

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  5. Online ERAS personal statement length help by Callum Sneddon

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  6. ERAS Personal Statement Length

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COMMENTS

  1. Personal Statement

    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 ...

  2. Annual "how long should my personal statement be" post [residency]

    Everything I find online says that it should be around 650-850. After plugging it into ERAS and looking at the preview, I am well over with a full paragraph on the second page. It seems that one ERAS preview page is 640 words max. After venturing to SDN, seems that there might be different formatting for the preview vs how PDs will view it.

  3. Residency Personal Statement : An Insider's Guide

    The allowed ERAS residency personal statement length is 28,000 characters which equates to about five pages! ... 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.

  4. Writing Your Personal Statement for Residency

    Length; Since one page in length in a Word Doc is not the same as what one page will equal one page in ERAS for personal statement formatting, the key is stick to 750-850 words for your ERAS/residency application personal statement. One page in ERAS equals nearly 1,200 words, however most programs preferences for a typical personal statements ...

  5. Residency Personal Statement: The Ultimate Guide (Example Included)

    Part 4: In-depth analysis of a full-length personal statement example. Before we go into our analysis, consider reading the personal statement example in its entirety. As you go through it, keep the following questions in mind: ... Yes, ERAS allows you to edit your personal statement at any time during the application season, even if you've ...

  6. 12 Top Questions About the ERAS Personal Statement

    The standard ERAS personal statement length is typically 500-800 words (roughly four paragraphs). A personal statement typically isn't the "maker" of your residency application—however, it can be a deal "breaker" if it doesn't have those attributes. That said, if you have a memorable, well-written personal statement, program ...

  7. Residency Application Personal Statement Guide

    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. ...

  8. The Top ERAS Personal Statement Requirements You Need To Know

    The length of an ERAS personal statement is generally one page. In words, that's about 500-600 words. The other format requirements include: Write your statement in plain text in either Notepad (for Windows) or Text Edit (for Apple) Or. Write your statement directly into the online dialog box.

  9. Residency Personal Statement Writing Tips & Structure

    Many applicants don't know where to start, so we suggest breaking the essay into bite-sized pieces. Use a standard 4-5 paragraph structure. This way, you've got small, manageable goals. Write your residency personal statement using: An introduction paragraph. 2-3 paragraphs to expand on your theme.

  10. How to Write a Residency Personal Statement (April 2024)

    My Residency Personal Statement Writing Suggestions. Okay, so no rules, but here are the tried-and-true parameters I follow: 1) Your ERAS personal statement length should be between 600 and 800 words. 2) Don't capitalize specialties. It's incorrect. 3) Don't name the the doctors/mentors you've worked with.

  11. What is the Ideal ERAS Personal Statement Length? (Jan 2024)

    What is the target length for your ERAS personal statement? Aim for between 600 and 800 words. A great personal statement will help present you as a top-notch residency applicant, and making sure yours is the proper length is the first step toward engaging your readers. That said, word count is not as important as content.

  12. Personal Statement Guidelines

    Guidelines for Writing Personal Statements. The Personal Statement should be personal and specific to you and your experience/s. The goal of the personal statement is so that reviewers can get to know you as unique applicant and what you will bring to the program and the field. Consider the following when putting together your personal ...

  13. How to Write Your ERAS Personal Statement

    4) Make your statement easy to read by telling a short and concise story about yourself: "That was way too long and formulaic. Cut to the chase but also paint a story rather than tell one. "Tell a unique story that gives insight to who you are as a person.". "Think about the purpose of your personal statement in the context of all the ...

  14. 13 Essential Do's and Don'ts for Your Residency Personal Statement

    DON'T use all 28,000 characters for your personal statement ERAS permits 28,000 characters for your essay - around 7,000 words! - but no residency director wants to read even close to that much. Instead, stick to a one-page essay - usually 600-800 words - that addresses your key points.

  15. How to write your personal statement for ERAS/residency applications

    The personal statement is occasionally a chance to "make" your application, but it's always a risk to "break" it. Keep in mind: it's only 1 page (literally—it should fit on no more than one page when printed from the ERAS application, which is somewhere around 750-800 words on the longer end; 600-650 is a better goal; mine was around 500).

  16. Better Guide: ERAS Residency Personal Statement Length

    Ultimately, an effective ERAS Residency Personal Statement can be instrumental in helping secure a place in a competitive residency program. What Is the ERAS Residency Personal Statement Length? There is a maximum character limit of 28,000 for the residency personal statement, but you do not have to use all of them. Depending on your writing ...

  17. Residency Personal Statement Examples from Matched Residents

    Residency Personal Statement Examples #6: Cardiology. "Code blue, electrophysiology laboratory" a voice announces overhead during my cardiology rotation. As the code team, we rush to the patient, an elderly man in shock. Seamlessly, we each assume our preassigned roles.

  18. ERAS Personal Statement Length: The Ideal

    A residency personal statement should be under 750 words, but ERAS allows up to 650-700 words. Learn how to optimize your essay length and format it correctly for ERAS. Find out the benefits of using a plain text editor and how to avoid formatting issues.

  19. How to Prepare ERAS Personal Statement Properly

    Optimal ERAS Personal Statement Length. This is quite a contra version that causes a lot of debate among future residents. Namely, a lot or a little volume is allocated to writing the application. The standard ERAS personal statement length is usually about one page. This is sufficient to convey your motivations, experiences, and goals ...

  20. How long can (and should) your residency personal statement be?

    Jun 17, 2019. #2. If I recall correctly you can effectively submit a novella, but the informal rule is a single page. Remember that writing well is writing tight. If it helps, mine was a little over 4,000 characters and <700 words. 2 users. Jun 18, 2019. #3. Max should be 1 page typed in a word document.

  21. How long is everyone's personal statement on ERAS?

    700 words-ish. It's like 80% of a page on word at size 11. 1. Share. chambered-nautilus. • 7 yr. ago. Around 675 words. My advisor told me to try for no more than 700. I feel like as long as its one page on ERAS you're probably fine though.